I set myself a challenge to sketch every day in January (2018).

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1 January 2018 - Fishing

1 Jan – Fishing

Rock-fishermen at McCauley Beach headland.

1 January 2018 - Sandbar, Thirroul

1 Jan – Sandbar

In front of Thirroul Surf Club and the cafe, a sandbar provided a lovely child-friendly lagoon on the high tide.

2 January 2018 - Silver beach

2 Jan – Silver beach

Early morning beach scene while the colours were still silvery.

2 January 2018 - Lifeguard

2 Jan – Lifeguard

The Lifeguard at Thirroul’s sea-water swimming pool surveys his charges; he sat still for just long enough!

3 January 2018 - Cycle Club at the Beach Cafe

3 Jan – Cycle Club at the beach cafe

Still at the Thirroul Beach – cool and blustery – what a change in the weather. The ocean looked wintry, but the cyclists provided some colour.

4 Jan – QVB Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree and cafe patrons ‘Eyes Down’ at Queen Victoria Building, Sydney.

4 January 2018 - Spit Hill

4 Jan – Middle Harbour from Spit Bridge

Very Quick Sketch of Middle Harbour, from the new double-decker bus, waiting for the Spit Bridge to open.

5 Jan – Pizza lunch & cricket

Classic Aussie garden lunch: sunshine, shade, freshly-cooked pizzas – and of course the cricket!

6 Jan - McCauley Beach, our favourite 'dog beach'.

6 Jan – McCauley Beach in the late afternoon

Our favourite dog beach, everyone enjoying ‘playtime’ while I balanced on the rocks in the shade.

7 Jan - McCauley Beach, start of a very hot day.

7 Jan – McCauley Beach 8 am – beginning of a very hot day

I started early, though not early enough; the wind had already ruffled the ocean, then blew away my tissues, upturned my shade-umbrella, and generally made things difficult. Motto to self – get up earlier next time!

8 Jan - Milkshake at Nadia's Cafe

8 Jan – Milkshake at Nadia’s Café

A grand-daughter with a far-away look; we’ve spent a lot of time in cafes this holiday.

9 Jan – Sunset over Bulli

After a destructive, but brief, storm the sunset was brilliant. The power was off and I had to work quickly in the fading light, so a very simple sketch today.

10 Jan – “Look Grandma – handstands!”

Dozens of handstands – what energy the youngsters have.

11 Jan – Narrabeen – holiday adventurers.

I walked the path around Narrabeen Lake’s eastern shore, where many families were enjoying the surrounds. These little girls screamed with horrified delight at the black mud!

12 Jan – Blue sky in the south.

Beach café again, another dull day – but there’s blue sky on its way.

]13 Jan Carpet

13 Jan – a.m. Carpet

A young man answered my Gumtree advert about a rug. He had travelled to Thirroul by train, and intended to return with the rug as luggage! Later, when re-telling the story, and thinking it would make an interesting sketch, I visited the railway station to check how it looks, then made the drawing remembering what I saw after taking him down in the car.

13 Jan – ‘white horses’ and surfer-boys

Another dull, showery day. Then in the afternoon a couple of bright sunlit hours, when I again perched on the rocks at McCauley Beach to sketch the boys in the surf, and the wild ‘white horse’ out on the ocean. The Norfolk Island Pine trees on the little headland behind cast long shadows across the beach, and shaded me too.

14 Jan – The Stetson Hat

Sunday morning coffee with friends and doggies in Thirroul’s delightful War Memorial Park – one very proudly wears his Real Stetson Hat.

15 Jan – The rose

Very windy again, too much to be painting outdoors, so I brought in the last intact rose  from the ‘Seduction’ bush and made a little painting of the living room’s sunny corner. Quite complicated!

16 Jan - Stormy seas

16 Jan – Storm seas

Another blustery morning, with huge seas on a very high tide. The foam was crashing against the foot of the cliff, then rain spotted my work and I decided to return home to finish the colouring-in at my desk while the scene was fresh in my mind’s eye.

17 Jan- Cricket

17 Jan – Cricket practice

After a glorious Sydney summer day, the boys were just finishing their cricket practice when I arrived at the park in the early evening. Just in time to sketch, but they were chatting, not playing.

18 Jan – North View

In the early evening, I  sketched the view to the North and would have liked to have taken more time with this one. The surf was still big, but with so much sand washed further out and the low tide, there’s a wonderful shallow area for enjoying the water safely.

19 Jan – At War Vets

My day out, to visit my father at the War Veterans’ Village near Narrabeen. Beautiful outdoor spaces with mature white-barked eucalypts. Dad enjoys the sunshine.

Jan 19 - Thirroul, 7 pm

19 Jan – Thirroul Beach, 7 pm

What a beautiful evening! The surf is much calmer and the wide, shallow beach is perfect for cooling off after a hot day and many families enjoyed the twilight. This is another sketch I had to finish at home, as the initial pale wash for the sky was taking time to dry.

Jan 20 – ‘Francais’ – The Lagoon Café

The world is getting back to ‘normal’ and I went along to the Alliance Francais Saturday morning get-together, this time spending more time sketching than chatting!

21 Jan - Smoke above the horizon

Jan 21 – Smoke above the horizon.

Today is the second day of the huge bushfire in the Royal National Park, near Bundeena. The wind has pushed the smoke out in a horizontal mass along the eastern horizon. Sketched from the top of Phillip Street, Thirroul.

'China Easyway' by Tasman Island

‘China Easyway’ by Tasman Island

Jan 22 – Tasman Island

I had to check exactly what Tasman Island looks like, for the composition. What a stunning place!

'China Easyway' Sydney to Hobart 2017

‘China Easyway’ Sydney to Hobart 2017

Jan 22 – The winchman

No ‘plein air’ work today; in the studio studying dozens of photographs of a friend’s boat in the recent Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, to eventually make a couple of oil paintings. This is going to take some time, but these initial studies must be approved before I go any further.

23 Jan - Shed

23 Jan – Shed

Re-sizing a new door to fit. The Shed is a sketcher’s delight, though somewhat simplified here

24 Jan - Martin Place

24 Jan – Martin Place p.m

With a little time to spare in the afternoon, I sat on the steps of the beautiful old GPO building in Martin Place. There’s so much to draw here, but today I had to be quick, so it’s just the flower-boxes and passers-by.

24 Jan - Wynyard

24 Jan – Wynyard a.m.

Today ‘Men at Work’ : the site of the recently demolished Menzies Hotel at Wynyard, opposite the bus-stops. I didn’t really have time to finish this sketch – especially the gorgeously decorated hoardings – and the paint was applied later, as I rode the bus!

25 Jan - Repairs

25 Jan – Repairs

Today ‘Man at Work’ :  Ian has been very busy fitting the re-sized door to the shed, and repairing the pergola.

26 Jan - Australia Day

26 Jan – Australia Day

Breakfast at the beach café again, this time sitting inside for a more elevated view, and chatting to a friend about plans for the day.

27 Jan – Kiama Show

It was a nice change to sketch the horses, between events at the stable area at the Kiama Showground and I had an interesting chat to one of the lady rider/owners. She told me that the odd-looking contraption on the bay horse’s back is a massage-machine and that the horses love it!


28 Jan - Coffee dog

28 Jan – Coffee dog

Raining today, so the coffee-friends and dogs crowded together under some shelter. Good company

29 Jan 2018 - Hazelhurst

29 Jan – Hazelhurst

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre at Gymea is a wonderful artspace – set within lovely gardens. The shop there stocks my Bass & Flinders book, and there’s a very pleasant cafe  where I can sit and sketch while enjoying a good coffee.

30 Jan – Cricket

Having to stay home today, I made a tidy little watercolour from two tiny sketches drawn at a schoolboys’ cricket match a couple of years ago. Not exactly ‘plein air’, but it needed to be done, so perfect day for it.

31 Jan 2018 - Studio

31 Jan – Studio

Last day of the month, and back to other things.  I prepared a couple of canvases and began the oil paintings of the yacht race, re-thinking the sketches and checking details.

This month’s daily sketching and preparing the images for inclusion on the website has turned out to be a surprisingly time-consuming activity, but excellent practice!