The Creative Plan – Day 6 Graphite Pencil



Today was about drawing out on location. As I had to go there for personal reasons anyway, my sketch location was the Sze Yup Temple in Glebe, Sydney. Unless you know about it most would not be aware of its existence (except at Chinese New year when it goes off around midnight!)*. It’s been at this location since 1898 and appears on some suggested heritage tourist walks, but it has been, and still is, a place of worship and spiritual connection for the Chinese community.

Sze Yup Temple

I stuck to the eraser technique I developed during my expressive drawing day (see post.) I was hoping to do some cross-hatching as well but as I enjoyed the expressive-eraser style so much I wanted to try it again, partly to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, and to see if it could translate to other formats like location drawing.

Outside urns

It was really, really enjoyable. Although some time was spent building up the base layers it was and is definitely worth it.


I was sitting under coils of lit joss or incense sticks. Although they had “catchers” for the ash, occasionally I was dusted with it.

I don’t know whether it only suits textural subject matters though. The two scenes I chose were because they lent themselves quite well to this technique – the urns are caked in a constant build up of incense ash and sit exposed to the elements all year round for as long as I can remember, so they have a lovely gritty feel to them. The slow, hazy smoke coming off the joss sticks also creates another layer.

Some of the stages of the above drawing

The reason I question it is because I was going to draw the temple’s entrance but it wasn’t as “well worn”. It was cleaner and brighter. This is probably due to the fact they are just an entrance and most visitors always drive or walk right through it. Whereas everything else inside the grounds is more hands on. All subjects I’ve drawn in this style have lots of tactile surfaces or some expressive movement. So at a later date I need to try this style with something static like a bowl of fruit or that is quite new in feel and nature.

Temple entrance


Second drawing angle

Today was immensely satisfying! it wasn’t just about being happy with the final pieces but I enjoyed the process of creating it as well. In all honesty, it’s the most fulfilled I’ve been with my work in a really long time. Overall it was a very good day for me.


*If any Sydney-siders plan to visit to sketch please be wary that it is a very small temple and as expected when visiting churches, cathedrals etc, people are there for very personal reasons, possibly during very delicate times in their life. Unless you travel “light” when you draw or paint, I would be very considerate of drawing inside the temple. Temple-goers also make use of a lot of the floor space inside and outside the temple, particularly in front where the urns are. However, there is plenty of space along the sides where some picnic tables are and a large grass area that for as long as I can remember is never used, so that would be perfect for external angles. It also depends on what time of year you visit. Admittedly I went at the tail end of New Year so it was still quite busy, even on a Monday. There is a caretaker there who I would recommend you speak to first to get their permission, again their main concern would be that you upset someone’s rituals or reverie. Like other houses of worship it is non-profit and they do have donation boxes which would be a nice gesture to give something. If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me. Also be prepared if you suffer from asthma, again, depending if its a quiet or busy day there, there is constant incense and ceremonial paper burning at the temple.

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