Sketching with the Sunshine Coast Plein Air Group

On my last trip to Oz I had the opportunity to attend several sketch outs with the local Plein Air group. They are incredibly inclusive; instant friends, and willing to share and instruct anyone with an interest. It is a long-standing group with a large following led by a small core. One of the organizers was secretary for a large USk group in the USA; she is just starting the long process for USk affiliation for the Sunshine Coast club.

They meet weekly (Fridays from 12.30-3.00). People take turns organizing locations, and they generally visit each spot two weeks in a row. All communication and trip planning is done via a closed Facebook group…

Like USk Calgary, drawing is often wrapped up in a coffee shop (Australia is full of independent cafes, and has a long history of coffee culture, thanks to waves of immigration from Italy and Greece). A ton of fun. Most people post online afterwards, and there is healthy chatter about techniques, tools and vacation plans. Cafes are also used for rainy day locations…

A few of the group are semi-professional. They sell their drawings and paintings at shows, on line, via Instagram etc. Others are retired art teachers, and some are active instructors. Passerbys and other artists often stopped for a chat. Regardless of level, it was all very positive.

Others have varied interests and styles. Some make their own sketchbooks, cutting up watercolour paper that they stitch and bind. Lots of colour on the sketches. People were experimenting with powdered colour that they would sprinkle on the paper and spray with water. Some brought paper to sketch on that they had underpainted in advance, to give a moody background. Really interesting!

Highly recommended if you are ever in the area! For me Fridays were a highlight that I looked forward to…

Fast and Loose on Australia’s Sunshine Coast

I recently spent a few weeks at my old stomping grounds north of Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia. Warm, semitropical, and hundreds of miles of beaches centered on Noosa National Park….

I have come to the conclusion that I don’t have the patience or skill to do high accuracy drawings! My general goal these days is to loosen up my style and get better at capturing the feeling of a place. Aussie sketchers are really big on colour, so I have been moving that way too. Lots of experimentation, with mixed results…

Encroaching cyclones produced huge waves and high winds, which were interesting. Water is difficult to capture at any time!

Most of Australia’s beach towns are an eclectic mixture of cafes, shops, pubs and markets. Plenty of places for practice. I am always amazed by the amount of interest from owners and passerbys. I was often approached by people, and the reception was always positive.

The main draw is the ocean though! And at any given time you would find groups of people sitting and watching it while lost in thought, surfers checking out the break, people walking on the sand, and lifesavers going about their business…

+15 Sketch Submissions for The City of Calgary +15 Policy

Hello Everyone

I was contacted by the The City of Calgary to see if we would be interested in submitting sketches we have done from the +15’s.  They want to show the different ways the +15’s are being utilized.  Submit your pictures to me by April 10.  They are asking they be in .png format, but if that is not possible, then .jpg format.  I will submit them all, and they will make the final decision.  My email address is

See you Thursday evening.

Sketching Friday, March 29 – Care To Join Me?

Hello Everyone

I am thinking of sketching on Friday, care to join me?  I am tossing around 10 – noon at the Glenbow, Dior Exhibition area.  Then I plan to take a short break, and weather depending, sketch the Conversation bronze statue and area at 200-216 8 Ave SW from 12:30/1:00 for a couple of hours.  If you wish to join me, please email me before Friday at so I know to watch for you.  If no one emails me, I may not stick to the above plan.

2019 Urban Sketching Workshop with Mark Vazquez-Mackay

Hello Everyone

You may remember that last summer I was in Mark’s Urban Sketching Workshop.    (See post from 2018 June 27)  Deb David was also in that workshop.  I am very pleased that Mark is offering the workshop again this June and July on Saturdays.  You can sign up for a package of 8, 4 or single classes.  Mark starts each workshop with a quick lesson, followed by plenty of individual instruction and attention throughout the day.  If you are interested, see his Web Site at  Select Educational/Art Retreats, then Calgary Urban Sketching.  If link becomes broken Google studio vazquez-mackay.

Schedule (If raining, you will receive an e-mail with an alternative location.)

  1. An introduction to materials and process in Industrial Calgary June 1st -Meet on Bonnybrook RD, north of 34th AV SE
  2. Architectural perspective in the Beltline June 8th -Meet east side of the Lougheed House: 707 13th AV SW
  3. Historic buildings of East Village with texture and tone June 15th -Meet at the front doors of Bell Music Centre: 850 4th ST SE
  4. Organic architecture in the Central Library June 22nd -Meet at Lukes coffee shop in the ground level of the library facing 3st. SE
  5. People and Atmospheric perspective in Bridgeland July 6th -Meet in Bridgeland community Centre on the SW corner of Centre AV & 9th ST NE
  6. Quick capturing of urban organic structure in the West Village July 13th -Meet in the parking lot to the north of the former planetarium on 11th ST & 6th AV SW
  7. Composition on Stephen ave July 20th -Meet on the benches in front of Arts Commons: 205 8th AV SE
  8. Mark making in industrial Ramsey July 27th -Meet on the triangular corner of 16a ST & Bonnybrook RD SE

From a snowy day in February

This is the Alexandra Centre in Inglewood, drawn on Feb 16 but only coloured with watercolour washes a few days ago. I struggled a lot with the colour of the shadows, and scrubbed off at least two versions before getting this cool gray on. On the right hand side, you can see where the “waterproof” ink was starting to give up as I scrubbed off the previous wash. The day was cloudy with a lot of snow falling, so the shadows were pretty weak.

Alexandra Centre cmprsd