Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Digital Portraits

Since the beginning of the year I have been trying to draw portraits more often. One of the easiest ways to make this happen is to do them digitally using the Procreate app. It’s so convenient to pick up an Apple Pencil and draw a few lines while waiting for something. And the clean up afterwards - well there’s none! 

Last year I upgraded my iPad Air to the  iPad 2018 and this, combined with the Apple Pencil, really is a game-changer. Previously I had been using a Jot Pro stylus which was alright but still quite difficult to use. When I look at some of these earlier portraits I can see the struggle. 

I also took a couple of online courses through Sktchy with Lisa Fillion. This improved my ability use Procreate more extensively and with more confidence. I enjoy the way I can now add textured paper to the background, move elements of the drawing around and just have a lot of fun. 

My first portrait was posted on the 18th April 2015. To date, I have completed 308 portraits.
Joan Martin was the first person to draw my attention to the app. It took me a while to “get it” but once I hooked I didn’t look back. Thanks, Joan.

Sktchy chooses portraits that they like to be featured as a “Pick” so when one of my early Procreate portraits was chosen I was thrilled. 

The Sktchy community is one of the most supportive online groups. The muses are provide a never-ending source of inspiration and my fellow artists are generous with support and encouragement. 

Monday, 22 July 2019

Back in the day - one small step...

Fifty years - it really doesn’t seem that long ago. 

On the 20th July 1969 I was in my second year of Art School in South Africa. I was scheduled for a painting lecture but announced to my lecturer that I was going to the Students Union so I could listen to the historic moon landing in the radio. 

Why listen on the radio I hear you say? Remember this was 1969 in South Africa. The Nationlist government with their rigid, Calvinistic approach deemed television to be a threat to its control of the broadcasting media and a threat to the Afrikaans language. BJ Vorster termed TV "The Devil’s Box". Television was not introduced nation wide until the beginning of 1976. We were so isolated from the rest of the world.

So while the rest of the world watched the grainy footage of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon and hear him utter the now iconic words:   “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” I listened to this historic event on the radio. 

(My lecturer came to check up on me to see that I was where I said I would be!). 

Later, we would see footage of the moon landing at the cinema where it would be shown along with other news. Now if something newsworthy happens I can watch it on my phone. Times have indeed changed.

In contrast, Australia played an important role in the broadcast of moon landing to the world. on Saturday night I watched a movie, The Dish, which told the story of the satellite dish in a sheep paddock in Parkes, New South Wales which broadcast the images to the world.

Monday, 15 July 2019

De-cluttering is good for the soul.

Each year our complex undergoes a check for termites. It’s a time when I need to wrestle with my storage area under the stairs. Useful as it is to have a place to store “stuff” unfortunately it often, no usually, becomes an area where things are shoved unceremoniously and pile haphazardly on top of other things. It gets to the stage where it becomes a "No Entry Possible" zone. In order for the area to be checked, it needs to be empty so that’s what I have been doing. 

I made a resolution this time to reduce the amount stored here. I planned to de-clutter anything that hasn’t been used since the last inspection. That’s easier said than done, because it’s tempting to fall into the trap of thinking an item might be useful in the future.

Upstairs I have a spare bedroom where I store canvasses. This too, has become crowded and many of the paintings are ones that haven’t worked. A few I have recycled and painted new paintings over the failed first attempt. This is often not good practice since the subsequent layers can be prone to cracking if the “fat over lean” principle is not adhered to. 

Oils can be painted over acrylic but the additional layers need a higher oil content than the underpainting. Acrylic can never be painted on top of oils since the new layers will simply peel off. 

There were a few stretcher frames that were not square or of poor quality. Some of the paintings were those that came in my container. A few paintings I will keep as a record of past themes but there were quite a few that just didn’t make the cut. These got the cut literally when I got busy with the Stanley knife and slashed the canvas to ribbons! 


Now I need to have a Studio sale and find homes for some still in storage. 

Friday, 28 June 2019

Lethbridge 20,000 - exhibiting Still Life with Lilies

Still Life with Lilies - oil on canvas 600 mm x 600 mm 

While I was pet sitting for my daughter, I bought these beautiful lilies and had fun photographing them in various locations around her home. I was fascinated by the reflection of the decorative wallpaper in the ornate mirror. I enjoyed painting the details in the wallpaper and the frame - time consuming but the result was worth it.

I am so delighted that this painting has been selected as a finalist in the Lethbridge 20,000 Art Award. It will be exhibited at the Latrobe Terrace Gallery along with other paintings in Group A. Another group of selected paintings will be shown at the Bulimba Gallery. In addition, there are a number of paintings in the online exhibition. My first entry to this show was in 2013 and am so pleased to say that I have had a painting selected every year. 

The exhibition opens this Saturday evening at 6.00 pm when the winners will be announced. 

Address: 136 Latrobe Terrace,
                Paddington QLD 4064
Tues 12pm - 6pm
Thur Fri 9am - 6pm
Sat 10am-5pm
or by appointment

Address: 7/11 Wambool Street, 
                Bulimba QLD 4171
Wed - Sat 10am - 5pm
or by appointment

This award is in its tenth year and is a way for Brett Lethbridge to give back to the art community. Early in his career he had received much needed support in his career as an artist.

Monday, 24 June 2019

More sketches for Milk Bar Cafe, Ashgrove

Since my previous post about my sketch becoming a mural at Milk in Ashgrove, I have been very busy painting some watercolours of the delicious treats that are served in the Cafe. These sketches are part of the recent renovations and decorate the windows on the outside of the shopping centre. 

Who doesn’t love Burger and chips ? 

Panoramic view of Ashgrove Avenue windows. 

Harry Street Windows 

Windows near the centre lift 

Raspberry Milkshake

Delicious Mango and Watermelon Frappes 

Green Vegan Smoothie.

Crunchie Milkshake

Double Chocolate milkshakes

When I was at Milk to take these photos I was able to get a shot of the inside mural - this time with no patrons!

Monday, 17 June 2019

Hooray! You’ve got sales!

This is the very best kind of email to receive - one telling you that you have made some sales. In this case, I had sold some copies of my book Colour - A Practical Approach. I self-published the book through Blurb towards the end of last year. Sales that happen while you sleep, are the best kind of sales to make, having done all the hard work previously. Although to be honest, for the sales to happen “while sleeping” one needs to do a fair amount of marketing while you’re awake!

And now that’s exactly what I am doing here - a little shameless self promotion. 

The book is available in a couple of formats. The most cost effective is, of course, the eBook which doesn’t involve hefty postage. (Believe me, I know all too well how the impulse to buy something online is quickly quashed when one checks the shipping fee!) 
The downside of a digital copy is that it’s not as easy to make notes on, and I confess to be very fond of a proper printed book. We work with screens all day long so it is pleasant to hold a book. When reading at night in bed it helps when you fall asleep and the book falls on to the floor!

Colour - A Practical Approach 8" x 10" is available in both Hardcover with cover design printed on the cover and Softcover with a flexible High gloss laminated cover. Here are the links to Blurb where you are able to order a copy or download the eBook:

Hard and soft cover Preview

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the printing. The book measures 8” x 10which is a good size to read and work with. 

I chose the standard white uncoated 105 gsm paper which is of a high quality but still economical. The colour reproductions are very good indeed and true to the original colours in my paintings and illustrations. 

The Contents page of Colour - A Practical Approach 

If you already have a copy of my book, thank you very much for your support. I would love to have some feedback. A review would be most welcome.

I enjoyed writing the book so much and have already been mulling over some ideas for another one. 

Friday, 7 June 2019

Sketching at Milk Cafe Ashgrove

I love sketching in Cafe’s. It’s a way of recording where I’ve been, and a great way to connect with people. A couple of years ago I did this sketch at Milk Bar Cafe, Ashgrove. 

Recently, the owner contacted me asking for permission to use the sketch as a mural in the cafe. Moreover, they were happy to reimburse me for the use of the sketch. So often today an artist’s work is appropriated without acknowledgement or payment so it is really gratifying to come across someone who does the right thing. 

I had to search to find the original sketch, (there is an intention to catalogue my sketchbooks but that is a distant intention) however, trawling through my Instagram page turned out to be the best solution. 

Here is my post:

The spread in my sketchbook with later additions - Ink and watercolour  in Handbook Sketchbook 


A view of the mural from the counter. It’s so satisfying to see a quick sketch given pride of place on the wall.  

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Proteas with a Jug at Rotary Art Spectacular 2019

Proteas with a Jug - oil and cold wax on panel 40 cm x 40 cm 

I am delighted that this little painting will be part of the Rotary Art Spectacular 2019. The exhibition opens on Monday evening - details below in a screen shot from the website.

I have written about the process of this painting in an earlier post which you can find here. I so enjoyed painting it and am so pleased with the result - I just love the colours. It’s really satisfying when everything just “works”. Although as you will have read in the post there were a few obstacles along the way.

Two more of my paintings are part of the Online Exhibition. There were so many entries this year so I am happy to have a painting selected to hang in the show. Once the online catalogue is on the website I’ll add a link here.

Transition - oil and cold wax on canvas 90 cm x 90 cm 

Digital Painting

Over the last couple of years I have become more and more fascinated wit h digital painting. I still have a lot to learn and try to expand my use of new digital brushes with each new painting. This painting started out as an oil painting on canvas. It had been started some time ago and then left while I went on to paint other images. I hauled it out of storage to re-work it and complete the painting. Photographing work in progress provides a way to assess the quality. I loaded this photograph to Procreate and then I realised that since the entries for the Rotary Exhibition were now open to digital images there was nothing to stop me submitting a digital painting. 

Time and Space - digital painting - suggested size: 60cm x 60 cm. 

Since this is a digital print on archival paper, the size can be altered to suit your requirements. Alternatively the painting can be printed on to a stretched canvas and would then require no framing. 

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Hamilton Road Studio - Term 2 2019

Art Classes Hamilton Road Studio

Please note that the Classes are suitable for adults
22/960 Hamilton Road, McDowall 4053
  • Tuition in drawing, watercolour, acrylics and oils is offered
  • During each class there will be some demonstration of technique as well as individually mentored tuition.
  • Classes are small (Max 6) so each participant can work in their chosen medium and at their own pace.
  • Students should be prepared to enroll for a term (usually 10 weeks).
  • Since my Studio is small, casual classes i.e. pay per attendance cannot be offered. 
  • For full details and Terms and conditions, please email Carol - carolbeckx@bigpond.com

Reviews from artists attending the Studio.

One of the artists wrote this in an email to me after a painting was accepted for the Rotary Art Spectacular Exhibition:

"Hi Carol
I’m so excited just to have my art accepted .
Your mentor ship over the years has been invaluable Thanks Carol and looking forward to my projects for next term." 

And this lovely email came from another artist...

Good morning Carol,

Just wanted to pop you an email to tell you about my experiences at your studio.

When I started art classes at your Studio 5 years ago I hoped that your classes would reignite my interest in painting.  I had dabbled with painting in high school and a few classes when my children were young but had not pursued it any further than that.  I have learnt so much from you….. I love that each student in your class is encouraged to pursue their own ‘style’.  I love that we, as a group, encourage and learn from each other. I enjoy the little talks or mini lectures you give on a different style or artist and how your classes are not just about the actual painting but also about the ‘love of art’ .  So good for the soul.  

When I started 5 years ago I had hoped to achieve certain things.  I have done this and more.  I thank you for sharing your knowledge with me ....

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Annie Wilson Lee nee Ross

Over the last few months I have been starting my day by doing some writing. It’s a way to focus my thoughts. Sometimes the words are stream of consciousness, usually its a time to plan or reflect. Occasionally the writing is a place to vent. 

This morning was different, April 20th was my mother’s birthday - she would have been 108 today so memories of her were strong. After writing in my journal, I decided that I would share these memories with you. She was always my staunch supporter, she encouraged my art and approved of everything I tried. The epitome of unconditional love.

Annie Wilson Ross, known always as Nancy, was a very special person - kind, generous and talented in many skills. I think of all those crocheted tablecloths that many family members still have and use. I can still see her sitting in her favourite arm chair (I’m sitting in the same chair as I write this) hands busy with the crochet hook as she fashioned each separate medallion. These were later sewn together to make huge tablecloths. 

When we lived in Kokstad, South Africa, I remember her making and icing wedding cakes. These were decorated with elaborate roses, leaves and trellis work all made with fine lines of Royal icing piped on to tracing paper and left to dry before being carefully added to the cake. Usually these had three tiers - how I wish a had a photograph of one of these to show you!

A rare photo of Nancy with her hair down. This was taken on board ship dressed up for a fancy dress which she and my Father won. 

Nancy was feisty too, and didn’t suffer fools. She would often return from a meeting (she served on a number of committees) exasperated by something or someone.

She loved arranging flowers, but soon found herself working as an organiser of flower shows ensuring the smooth running of these rather than doing the arrangements. She was a good person to have on a committee because she was a worker and would simply get things done. 

In her younger years, she was an expert marksman and later played a mean game of golf - I have a number of her silver teaspoons - trophies from various tournaments.

For as long as I can remember she had the same hairstyle - swept off her face in waves and always an “up” style. I can’t imagine her any other way.

I was one of three children, the afterthought, a third child after almost ten years. I’ll never really know if I was a ‘mistake’ or not but I was made to feel special and was very close to my mother. 

Nancy was a star baker. My children, wisely, would turn to her not me when they needed cakes for school. Her fruit cakes were sublime, and cheese muffins were melt-in-the-mouth good. She even indulged my father by laboriously making him green mango atchar (she never ate it) which he and I would enjoy. I still have her recipe book although I have had to rewrite some of the recipes because they were more like quick notes and a little short on detail. 

After Dad passed away, she continued to live with us in the Granny flat we had built for them the previous year. Nancy remained with us until her death in 1996. In all that time I do not recall ever being at odds with her. She was always there for the whole family, a constant kind and loving presence. 

Twenty three years on and I still miss her terribly. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2019


Transition - oil, oil pastel and cold wax on canvas 760 mm x 760 mm

Sometimes it is difficult to pick up and continue with a painting after leaving it for a while, as I discussed in my previous post. This was certainly the case with this abstract that was started last year and had remained untouched since the end of October. 

Sometimes paintings work and sometimes they don’t. Often the canvas will be destroyed - a few slashes with a craft knife can be very satisfying. If the canvas is in good condition and the paint surface smooth, I will recycle the support. I had a failed landscape which was ideal for recycling, making it ideal for this abstract.

17th October 2018. Some of these first shapes were suggested by photos of rocks. In this orientation the landscape element is obvious. This was not what I wanted so I flipped the canvas.

Later the same day...

23rd October 2018

24th October 2018. This is where the painting was left until the beginning of February.

After practicing the usual avoidance techniques i.e. do anything else other than the task in hand, and in my case this was working on two small still life paintings, I eventually took the canvas into the Studio and began. Using oil pastels and a looser approach, I added a few gestural lines. The curved shapes added a new element and improved the design. Oil pastels are a useful tool to introduce linear elements into a painting. 

I was reasonably satisfied with the painting at this stage but I felt that some areas were just too busy and too dark. So much, if not all, of abstract painting is subjective and intuitive so at times like this one has to work on how you feel. 

I felt that some quieter passages would be beneficial, since I think that “breathing space” in every painting is so necessary. I manipulated the image in Procreate - this is a useful way to try dramatic changes without compromising the actual painting. Then I applied those changes to the painting. 

Now I am happy and can call it “done”. 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Getting going after a break

Sometimes life takes turns that you have to take in your stride. At the beginning of December I had to have surgery which, though successful, left me with very low energy levels. 
While recuperating, I spent some time painting in watercolour and working with Procreate on a few digital portraits. 

I had abandoned my easel, canvases and oil paints, preferring to work with mediums more suitable to painting while away from my studio. (I spent the six weeks when I was unable to drive with my daughter and her family - and thoroughly enjoyed being with them over the holidays) 

After spending some time getting the Studio classes running, I decided that it was time to get back to painting. I realised with a shock that the last time I had worked on a canvas was at the end of October when I started a large abstract. 

Such a long break from a painting means that, in the interim, you have really lost your way. I couldn’t feel what I felt more than three months ago. I looked around the studio and discovered two small panels that been given a layer of underpainting. I realised that if I started with a surface that had already been painted this would be less intimidating. 

I had been wanting to paint King Proteas for some time. They remind me of South Africa and I love the strong design coupled with their soft colours. I found an old photograph to use as reference. (I couldn’t bring myself to pay an eye-watering amount for a couple of fresh blooms #sorrynotsorry!)

Here are some photos showing the progress of the painting. This panel had been covered in a very random application of paint applied with both brush and palette knife - and full disclosure here - I used up paint left on the palette from another painting)

Fig. 1.                                                                                   Fig. 2

In Fig.1 the random brushstrokes are visible, particularly on the left hand side and the form of the blooms have been drawn roughly with a brush. I worked directly from my photographic reference. I soon realised that the jug was creating an imbalance in the design.

Fig. 2 shows the addition of a couple of glasses in an attempt to correct this problem. I still did not like the design.

I turned to Procreate where I tried an alternative composition before attempting the changes on the painting. I copied the jug, and moved it to the left of the glass vase. 

Fig.3.                                                                                     Fig. 4 Proteas with a jug  

                                                                                              oil on panel 405 mm x 405 mm

Happier with the changes that I had done in the digital version, I painted out the jug, adding stronger darker value blocks of colour. Where the jug would be, I prepared the area by adding the same pinks and yellows that had been present in the original jug. Once that layer of paint was dry I could add the lines of the jug. 

I had a second panel which had an under painting of bright blues and pinks. Lovely photos of peonies in a bucket that provided the perfect inspiration - they would be perfect with the colours of the under painting. Since I wanted to keep the painting loose, I did no drawing at all, and simply added areas of free brushstrokes. 

Fig. 5                                                                                  Fig. 6 Pink Peonies in a bucket - 
                                                                                           oil on panel 500 mm x 500 mm

One thing I love about painting is that each time you face a new canvas you can reinvent your story - the work can be detailed and defined or it can be very loose and almost abstract. 

You might remember some other peony paintings - this one Damask Peony - oil on canvas 900 mm x 900 mm which features a single huge bloom or this watercolour and ink Peonies. The links will take you to blog posts about these paintings.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Art Classes - Hamilton Road Studio 2019

It’s the beginning of a new year which is a good time to start a new challenge. Perhaps it’s time to learn a new skill or develop a talent that has been left on the back burner for too long.
If you have always wanted to learn to draw and paint, there’s no time like the present. 

I have been teaching in my Studio on Hamilton Road, McDowall for the last eight years. Teaching has been so rewarding, I love seeing the people who attend my Studio grow and develop as artists. The classes are designed for both beginners and experienced artists alike. The classes are small with a maximum of six people in each class. The small size allows for individual tuition as well as the opportunity to work in the medium of your choice. 

I strongly believe that artists should follow their own direction and find personal inspiration. I encourage them to find their own voice rather than producing work that looks exactly the same as the rest of the class. I work with each artist to assist in finding what they want to paint and how to plan the design of each work.

While my methods of teaching may not suit everyone, especially if you like to be given a set plan to follow. Doing your own thing can be a little confronting - you do have to come up with your own ideas but will do so with my guidance. After a short while, the artists soon start producing unique artwork.

Weekly classes

Wednesday  6.00 pm -   9.00 pm - fully enrolled for 2019
Thursday      9.00 am - 12.00 pm - space available 
Friday           9.00 am - 12.00 pm - space available 
Saturday      8.00 am - 11.00 am - space available 


Term 1  Wed 23 January - Sat 6 April
Term 2  Wed. 24 April - Sat. 29 June
Term 3  Wed. 17 July - Sat. 21 September
Term 4  Wed. 9 October - Sat. 14 December
  • Tuition in drawing, watercolour, acrylics and oils is offered
  • During each class there will be some demonstration of technique as well as individually mentored tuition.
  • Classes are small (Max 6) so each participant can work in their chosen medium and at their own pace.
  • Students should preferably be prepared to enroll for a term (usually 10 weeks)
  • Fees are $36.00 per class, paid at the beginning of term - single payment; or two payments during the term. Payment can be by bank transfer, cheque or cash.
  • Credit card facilities are available - Surcharge applies.
There are often blocks of a few weeks at a time when regular artists take holidays.

Please contact me at info@carolleebeckx.com for Studio Terms and Conditions.

Monday, 7 January 2019

The days in between...

Christmas is over. We’ve opened the presents and eaten the turkey. We have packed away the Christmas decorations and although it is only a few days into January, some shops, believe it or not, are advertising Hot Cross Buns - really? 

The New Year has dawned but it has not really begun. Many people are still on holiday. We fill the days in between with making plans, creating goals, and looking at ways to improve our lives. 

In reality, it’s best to just do something. Anything. And then do another thing and then do something else. 

I have been doing precisely that with this little series of watercolour portraits. 
A simple graphite drawing - then a light wash of watercolour - then some detail and deeper values for a bit of drama. 


Should you wish to have a watercolour painting of  your precious pooch or kitty I would be delighted to undertake a commission. 
Please contact me on info@carolleebeckx.com for more details.


The sketchbook I am using is a new one for me which I found at Art Shed Brisbane. It’s by Kunst & Papier and at 160gsm it is a little too light for very watery washes but I don’t mind a little buckling in a sketchbook. I do like the size and format, and since it’s hard cover it is good for plein air sketching. (More of those in another post)

The doggy muses are all courtesy their owners on the Sktchy app.