Monday, January 31, 2011

Macquarie Wall

110129 RBG Macquarie Wall
Spent a few lovely hours in the garden again on Saturday. It is amazing the things you discover when you actually start looking around! I have been conscious of walking through this wall many times but never stopped to see if it had any significance! But of course it does... built by Governor Macquarie. Was such a lovely afternoon to sit in the shade and sketch- chatting to a number of passers by as I was sketching or painting away.
110129 RBG Shop
Earlier in the day I did a quick sketch from the table I was sitting at in the cafe...view looking towards the shop. There is just SO much to sketch in the garden - everytime I go I see more things that I want to sketch!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Woolloomooloo Gates

I stopped to draw these grand gates, just across the road from the Art Gallery. It was late afternoon and the sun was glaringly bright against one side of the sandstone gate.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Hi everyone,
I am the teacher of the book-binding and sketching classes. I'm just finishing the drawings in a book like the one we will make in class. This two-page spread will soon extend over four pages but is not quite complete. I drew the water-lilies yesterday in all that heat. When my book is complete I'll try to photograph the whole thing. I haven't done any writing or collage in this book, but I do in my 'normal' sketchbook.
I should tell you something about myself. I went to art school in 2002 as a mature age student. I painted but wanted to improve my drawing. I did a three-year full-time Advanced Diploma of Fine Art at the Sydney Gallery School. Then I did a Bachelor of Fine Art at COFA (part of the University of NSW). I have been keeping a sketchbook ever since. I teach painting at Sydney Community College and sometimes paper art and book art classes at Artwise (the Amazing Paper shop).
I'm really looking forward to this course. I have so much to share with you and it's so much fun sketching in the gardens.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bookmaking & Sketching Workshop

The Gardens will be offering six Saturday morning workshops with artist and bookbinder Wendy Shortland.  You will make your own sketchbook in the first session, then progress through the basics of sketching and creative page layout  –  while capturing the Garden with your own eyes and hands.

When: Saturdays 12 March – 16 April, 9:30 am – 12 pm
Price: $220 for all six sessions, Friends of The Gardens $198
Bookings essential: 9231 8134

This sketch was created by Alissa Duke and is an example of the kind of sketches you could do at the workshop.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lions in the gardens

There are some lovely lions in the statues and fountains in the Botanic Gardens. I could easily spend a day looking for them and drawing them. Each one has a very different face and expression. I am sure that the more that I go back and look at them and draw them, I will get more familiar with what a lion looks like !

near the Rose garden

near Woolloomooloo Gate

Botanic abstractions

These are a couple of pages from my book for the forthcoming exhibition. I am rediscovering the challenge and fun of creating images inspired by what I see.

A long time ago I did a lot of painting, finally mostly in watercolours, I have dug out my old watercolours and started playing around. Then I discovered the Derivan Artist Quality inks - these are wonderful as they dry with a semi gloss finish and can be worked over without disturbing the image.

There are also collage pieces happening and a more graphic approach. I did not want to try an be an illustrator, more I was fascinated with shape and texture. Hope you like these pages.

Quite a few more pages to complete then my concertina can be assembled. You can see them at the exhibition where I am in very good company with 14 other book artists.

Monday, January 24, 2011

tree stump with a timeline

I’m Alissa and I have been drawing since high school in graphite pencil, later adding coloured pencil. In the past few years I have been introduced to watercolour pencils and waterbrush pens and they have opened up a whole new world to me.

I carry my sketchbook with me everyday and draw the things that are around me, and parts of my life. Everything becomes interesting as you observe and draw it ! I’ve visited the Botanic Gardens a few times to draw and I am looking forward to spending more of this summer and autumn exploring the grounds and discovering more about the plants, people, animals, building scenery and everything else that the Botanic Gardens has to offer for me to sketch and enjoy.

(see my other sketches at

A Greek Monument

To introduce myself.... my name is Liz Steel and I am an architect. I have been drawing in some way or other all my life, but when I discovered watercolours in 2007, I started sketching regularly... and haven’t stopped since then. I fill sketchbook after sketchbook with a visual record of my life which I share on my blog Liz and Borromini. One of the things that I love about sketching is the fact that it slows you down, making you stop to look and appreciate the world around you.

I have lived in Sydney all my life and love it so much. Since becoming the Sydney Correspondent for the international group of Urban Sketchers, I have made a determined effort to get out on a regular basis to sketch my wonderful hometown in order to share it online with people all around the world. The Royal Botanic Gardens has such a pivotal role in our city – it is essential to the classic view that the world sees as ‘Sydney’ and also is involved in many of the big social events during the year. It has held a special place in my life as well – when I wander its grounds I am always reminded of events in the past such as visits with overseas friends, weddings, concerts, picnics and school excursions.
110108 Botanic Gardens choragic monument

I am very excited to be a part of the Great Garden Sketchabout and look forward to sharing my sketches and adventures with you all on this blog – there is so much to explore, not just the plants, but also the buildings, the views, the sculptures, the animals... The list goes on.

Here is a sketch I did a few weeks ago when I was in the garden for a few hours -it is a sketch of the Choragic monument of Lysicrates replica (copy of something in Athens... don't worry I had to take a photo of the plaque and google it myself!)
Notice the Harbour Bridge in the background.

Black Bamboo

Many wonderful colours in this group of bamboo in the gardens.

Sketching tutor's updated website

I am Wendy Shortland, the tutor for the Bookmaking and Sketching workshop. I've given my website a complete re-work. It's not entirely finished - two pages left to do and a whole lot of tinkering. Over the weekend I finished the web page with images from my sketchbooks, so I thought I'd share that with the Garden Sketchabout blog. I will be working on my website some more over the next weeks and by the time the classes start I plan to add more resources - more links about sketching and a book review page.

I am working on studies for drawings for the exhibition at present. They need to be 'new work' so I can't share them with you, so here is a drawing from 2009, done in the gardens, where the lotuses are blooming beautifully now. There are more flowers than I've ever seen, so I'd recommend seeing them while you can.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wendy's sketch of the blooming lotuses at the Royal Botanic Gardens

Wendy Shortland captured our lovely lotuses while doing a little sketchabout in the Royal Botanic Gardens with Liz Steel on Christmas Eve. To see more of Wendy's sketches, visit

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Liz's sketch of Woollie Gate at the Royal Botanic Gardens

This beautiful sketch of the Woolloomooloo Gate was done by Liz Steel on Christmas Eve when she and Wendy Shortland came sketching in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. To see more of Liz's sketches, visit