Wednesday 31 December 2014

Sketching as the year draws to a close

My time up the Sunshine Coast has been quite productive. Yesterday I was out by 6.00 am to try to beat the heat but it's just not possible!

This one, the view governed as always by any small patch of shade that I could find, is of an inlet below Point Perry. The sun was coming up casting strong shadows across the rocks. 
Minimal ink lines were used to establish the rocks and the rest watercolour with no further drawing. 

Rocks in sunlight Coolum Beach 
Canson Montval 300gsm watercolour paper, ink and watercolour

Then I moved along a little and found some shade (again the trusty Pandanus Palm) in the middle of the path. In these expeditions the Walkstool 45 has been invaluable, allowing me to sit and draw in relative comfort. The sketch was speeded up somewhat because the sun found my feet and started to burn - a feeling echoed perhaps in the colour of the rocks that became hotter and hotter. (The shadows were added later once the first layer had dried.)

Rocks in bright sunlight 
Ink and watercolour Zeta sketchbook

A more complete album of these holiday sketches are here on Flickr

Please note that all photographs in that album have been taken with my iPhone.

Happy New Year - I wish you all creative good things for 2015

Wednesday 24 December 2014

A chance encounter.

While holidaying here at Coolum Beach I have been venturing out early in the morning or late afternoon so that I can escape the heat of midday. Yesterday I was hoping to park near First Bay but everyone else had the same idea. Instead I stopped at the lookout at Point Perry and looked down on the bay.

I was looking for some shade and found a little patch on a bench. I could spread out my painting gear in comfort and I had a view of the beach below - if I looked between some trees.

My painting was almost finished when a couple with a little girl approached me.
They asked if they could see what I had been doing. 
"Your colours are the colours if heaven," she said.

Watercolour and ink on Arches Hot Press paper

We had a lovely conversation- of the sort that is unexpected and special. This is one of the joys of sketching - that connection with someone that makes your day. 

I asked her name - and she wrote it at the bottom of my sketch. Then on impulse, I asked if I could take a photograph of her. Last night I painted Fili's portrait - a special soul. 

Fili - Gouache, graphite and watercolour in Beta sketchbook

And now on Christmas Eve, I wish you a happy, relaxed day tomorrow. 

Saturday 20 December 2014

My wishes for you at Christmas

When I was deciding what image I should share with you this year, I decided that after a year of challenges and stress, we all need a little tranquillity in our lives as we celebrate Christmas and prepare to start a fresh year.

I do hope that you will find some time to relax, unwind, sleep late, read a book, go for a walk, and recharge your batteries.
Please enjoy “Deep Ripple” it comes with my love and very best wishes.


Saturday 13 December 2014

Nana's Portrait

When I asked my client what her Mother's name was, she looked surprised. She replied: "Her name is Phyllis but everyone calls her Nana."

Nana - oil on linen 16" x 20" © 2014 Carol Lee Beckx

This portrait was done from a tiny iPhone photo - she didn't want any other photos taken of her and when you are 91 then no-one argues with you - and in any case the portrait was to be a surprise.

However I was able to borrow the hat - Nana's Melbourne Cup hat. If you're Australian you will know about the race that stops a nation. Everyone, everywhere, frocks up and goes off to lunch. A hat or fascinator is obligatory.

Painting a portrait from a photograph can be really tricky but somehow the spirit of this remarkable lady came through and the painting evolved without too much of a struggle. The natural colour of the linen support avoided the usual "background" problems. It seemed logical to leave a lot of the linen unpainted so that the emphasis is on the portrait.

When I get to the finishing off stage of a painting I like to hang it in my living room for a while to assess what still needs to be done. Nana's portrait has been keeping me company for the last week - I'll miss her.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Deja` Bru Cafe` has a new Alfresco area.

My local café has some exciting changes. There is a new roof over part of the café.
This creates a lovely cool alfresco dining area. There is shade and coolness during these steamy days. Then, when we are lucky enough to have some rain, no-one has to scramble for cover.

In keeping with the décor of the Café, a coat of bright red paint enhances sections of the walls of this new area. I have done three paintings of Paris, The Arc De Triomph, The Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame de Paris. 
I made good use of Google Earth street view. It's the next best thing to being there in real life.This photo shows the three paintings all together.

These paintings have the same colour palette as the large interior mural and keep to the Parisienne theme of Deja` Bru Cafe`. There’s a difference though, these three paintings are for sale.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these paintings please contact me or the Cafe` staff.

Arc De Triomphe - Acrylic on canvas 600mm x 600mm © 2014 Carol Lee Beckx

Eiffel Tower Paris - Acrylic on canvas 600mm x 600mm © 2014 Carol Lee Beckx

Notre Dame de Paris - Acrylic on canvas 600mm x 600mm © 2014 Carol Lee Beckx

And here's a reminder of the interior painting...

Deja` Bru Cafe` acrylic on canvas 1200mm x 3600mm

Deja` Bru Cafe` McDowall Village corner Hamilton and Beckett Roads, McDowall.
Phone: 0438 794 398

Sunday 7 December 2014

A workshop with a difference - a Hen's Painting Party

The best thing about teaching art is that you get the opportunity to introduce people to abilities they don’t think they have. Usually the classes and workshops in my studio are attended by people who have done some drawing and painting, even though it might had been years since they picked up a brush. More often they will be regular students at the studio. 

Yesterday afternoon my studio was filled with enthusiastic novices. It was a Hen's party with a difference. (And in case you’re wondering there was no life model in attendance.)

 I had some ideas prepared for my guests - photographic reference and some templates; small canvases and plenty of acrylic paint in rainbow colours.

After a glass of bubbly to start, I gave a brief explanation and the ladies started creating their paintings. 

Once the paintings had progressed somewhat it was time to let the paint dry and take a break for snacks and delicious cake. 

Three hours later and all the guests went home with a completed painting. I think they surprised themselves. I love introducing people to the fun of painting - I had the most enjoyable afternoon.

And  to Tania - a most capable assistant - a special thank you.

Saturday 22 November 2014

My Watercolour sketching kit - Part Two

Key to Sketching kit
  1. Pink zipped bag from Officeworks containing:
  2. Derwent spray bottle
  3. Small water bottle with lump of Pres-stick to hold it down
  4. WN paint box
  5. Zip-lock bag with cellulose sponge
  6. Re-cycled travel wallet with foam core cut to size keeps brushes flat
  7. Leather pen pouch for two fountain pens - Neon Coral Lamy Safari EF and Noodler’s Konrad Flex pen 
  8. Pencil/pen roll from Officeworks (Australia)
  9. Rosemary & Co Series 301 Golden Synthetic #6
  10. Rosemary & Co 3/8” Shiraz dagger 
  11. Pro-art 313HF flat #12
  12. Neef Squirrel mop #0
  13. Pentel Waterbrush Large
  14. Rosemary & Co Travel Pocket brush #10 (fits into pencil/pen roll)

My watercolour palette is a vintage Winsor and Newton paint box. This was on the materials list when I started art class in High School - and no, I’m not saying when that was…

Originally there were two hinged metal flaps that held the paint pans in position. These became rusty so I removed them and in doing so made room for pans down the centre of the box. There’s almost too much room so this palette is not a minimal one.

When I was in Germany some years ago, I bought a Schmincke watercolour palette. It came with 24 pan colours some of which I have moved to the WN box. The pan paints certainly last well. 
The smaller box fits neatly into my pink zipped bag. The down side of this box is that it's a bit heavy. I have a lighter Cotman's Travel box (now filled with artists tube colours) but I prefer to have the double mixing flaps so more colours and washes are easily mixed.

Current colours in the WN palette are the following:

I use a number of different brands - Winsor & Newton, Schmincke and more recently some Daniel Smith watercolours. Each brand provides a favourite colour and they work happily together.

A few favourite mixes...

Here are some useful links to product suppliers. 
DISCLAIMER - please note that I do not receive anything from these suppliers for mentioning their products

Click on the highlighted name.
Rosemary & Co for brushes - very high quality and good value. If you are out of the UK remember the Vat % comes off.

Fountain pens - Goulet Pens have a comprehensive range and in addition many videos on pens and their maintainence. Regular Q&A sessions will answer all your quaetions.

Australian readers can also check out LarryPOST in Sydney for pens,ink and sketchbooks.

Notemaker, based in Melbourne is another stockist. 

Thursday 20 November 2014

My current sketching kit

It has become second nature to carry around some sketching materials with me where ever I go. It means that if I have to wait anywhere I can use the time to sketch. In fact, having to wait almost becomes a bonus.

It’s always good to review what one uses and here are some of my current tools. A number of years ago I treated myself to a Waterman Fountain pen and ballpoint set. The ballpoint was appropriated by someone fairly early on. Fortunately the fountain pen didn’t fall prey to the same fate and I still use the fountain pen at home every day.

For some years I used fibre-tipped fine liners - mostly the Uni-Pin. These have different nib sizes, ranging from 0.005 through to 0.8. However, I tired of them running dry and becoming scratchy. So a few years ago I started using fountain pens filled with permanent ink.

Here are some of pens that I use for drawing.

Two Lamy Safari pens, one with the EF (extra fine) nib and the second has an Italic 1.1 nib.

A Noodler’s Konrad Flex pen - currently filled with Noodler’s #41 brown making lovely expressive lines, easily turned into ink and wash.


Hero 812 eight running horses - a bent nib calligraphy pen - good for very thick/thin line combinations.


Pencils and watercolour pencils

Derwent Sketching pencils are water soluble and come in Dark wash 8B; Medium Wash 4B and Light wash HB. These are useful for quick sketches of people.

Caran D’Ache watercolour pencils - these are a recent addition to the roll although I bought these in Hong Kong a number of years ago and have only used them occasionally.These can be used when it’s not practical to whip out the watercolour palette.

All of these fit into a pencil roll I found at Officeworks (Australia) for the princely sum of $5. It has pockets along the bottom, elastic running along the centre of the roll and a flap at the top, keeping everything safely inside.

I keep my two Lamy pens in a separate pouch in a zipped compartment in my handbag. The thinking is that if either goes AWOL I still have what’s in the other pen roll.

These sketches are in a new sketchbook - Stillman & Birn Gamma landscape. Ivory 150gsm Vellum surface. The colour is more creamy than the Alpha so I'm testing the paper along with various sketching tools.

Here are some useful links to product suppliers.
DISCLAIMER - please note that I do not receive anything from these suppliers for mentioning their products

Click on the highlighted name.
Rosemary & Co for brushes - very high quality and good value. If you are out of the UK remember the Vat % comes off.

Fountain pens - Goulet Pens have a comprehensive range and in addition many videos on pens and their maintainence. Regular Q&A sessions will answer all your quaetions.

Australian readers can also check out LarryPOST in Sydney for pens,ink and sketchbooks.

Notemaker, based in Melbourne is another stockist. 

To be continued - My watercolour palette and brushes.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Two Commissions delivered this week

Two commissioned paintings were delivered this week and they are quite different. The first was a portrait, not of a person but of Blaze - a much loved pet.
He was not too keen on being photographed, wanting to be at his master's side rather than posing in the sunlight. Eventually, however, I managed to get a lovely image that I could use for his portrait. My client is so delighted with this portrait that he has asked me to paint another so he has a gift for the vet who has been treating Blaze. 

Blaze - oil on canvas - 8" x 8"  © 2014 Carol Lee Beckx

The second painting to be delivered had a nostalgic theme. My client's Mother passed away a few years ago and she wanted a painting to honour her Mother and their close bond. We decided on a still life featuring her Mother's favourite cup and teapot, a lacy tray cloth and with the addition of a plate of Dutch Poffertjes. This was a treat mother and daughter often enjoyed together. Of course, I had to do extensive research to get the Poffertjes correct. A couple of cafe visits were necessary - an artist's life is tough.

Tea Time Memories - oil on canvas - 16” x 20” © 2014 Carol Lee Beckx

Wednesday 5 November 2014

More artichokes

Recently I posted a painting of an artichoke along with other flowers on my blog. I was approached by Stillman & Birn, the sketchbook manufacturer, who wanted to feature this painting on their blog. I am honoured to have my sketch acknowledged in this way. 
You can see this post here.

I thought it would be interesting to re-visit previous artichoke drawings and paintings.  
The first one is a miniature  - very fine detail using a tiny brush, most likely 5/0 sable.


Miniature diameter of image 50mm (2 inches)
Dimensions of wooden frame 90mm x 90mm (3.5 in x 3.5 in)

Artichoke - watercolour on Arches paper

This drawing was done using a Noodler’s Konrad Flex pen with Noodler’s #41 Brown ink. The wash has been created using a water brush while the ink was still wet. 

Artichokes watercolour on Arches paper 
Image size 170mm x 120mm 

Artichokes - Framed

And here is the painting that Stillman & Birn featured in their blog post:

Artichoke - ink and watercolour Alpha series Sketchbook

Soon some of these will be available as prints in my Etsy shop. I'll post details here and on Facebook when these are ready.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Sketching people

Sketching people is often something I avoid. Recently I have been making a conscious effort to remedy this omission. 

In Pensive mood
Ink & Derwent watersolouble sketching pencil in a Strathmore Mixed Media 500 sketchbook

Here are some quick sketches. 

I took my granddaughter to have her hair trimmed. I skipped the gossip mags and sketched the hairdresser instead. She was too quick. No sooner had I got into the groove than she was finished.

At the Hairdresser - ink

At the Hairdresser - ink - Hero 812 calligraphy pen

This one was done in a café while having a cup of coffee. I decided that instead of reading the newspaper - the news is really depressing anyway - I would try to draw people.. Since people move (a lot) of necessity many are unfinished. I think that's part of the charm, a rapid impression, trying to capture a gesture.

I have been working with pen - and using a Hero 812 calligraphy pen which has a bent nib. Used in the conventional way the line is thick and chunky, flip it upside down and the line is thin and delicate. It does take a while to change one’s hold on the pen for the different lines - good exercise for one’s fingers! 

Some drawings are with my usual Lamy Safari EF nib 

Monday 13 October 2014

BNE Open House 2014 day two

On day two of Brisbane Open House 2014 some of us from USK BNE gathered at the Treasury Hotel and Casino. We were able to join a tour of some of the rooms with a group of Instagrammers.

Originally the building was the Lands Administration Building so we were able to see some of the historic rooms including a secret stairway where the Premier could escape to George street!

We also toured the Commissariat Store Museum and National Trust House. These provided good photographic material.

Sketches during the day included this one of the Old State Library with a sketcher while waiting for the treasury tour to begin. All were done in ink using a Lamy Safari EF nib and/or a Hero 812 pen with some grey brush pen in places. Sketchbook - Stillman & Birn Alpha.

Then I did a quick drawing of an inner courtyard at the Treasury Hotel and Casino.

After the tour we had coffee at Ryan’s on the Park so captured some fellow sketchers.

Lunch stop at the Coffee Club.

I missed my bus by five minutes and was feeling tired and grumpy. Then I looked across the road and saw that the Albert Street Uniting Church was also part of Brisbane Open House 2014. 

I spent the hour waiting for my bus resting in a pew doing a drawing of the magnificent interior. Lovely to catch my breath and restore my mood.

The church celebrates 125 years with special services starting next Sunday.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Open House Brisbane 2014 - a visit to Toonarbin

Open House Brisbane is an annual event allowing the public a glimpse of Brisbane's historic and architectural treasures.

On Saturday afternoon I spent a most enjoyable hour visiting one of Brisbane's oldest houses - Toonarbin. The house was built around the mid 1860s by Benjamin Backhouse and sold to Captain Henry O'Reilly. Yes it's the same O'Reilly of the Bonded Stores in Margaret Street that were recently felled by the demolisher's wrecking ball.  

Those of us who won a place on the tour, were able to see inside. The owners generously led us on a tour of the whole house, telling the story of its original owners and the subsequent changes over the years.

Three generations of the O'Reilly family lived in the house, buying up the surrounding land down to the river and on either side until the property measured 24 acres. Subsequently, land was sold off and in 1926 the property was sold to the Catholic Church. 
Many alterations changed the house considerably, in fact the original house was hidden by the extensive verandas and the red brick cladding present today.  Countless partitions divided the interior to accommodate the Sisters of Mercy Convent to the extent that at one time there were 17 bedrooms - granted most were very small!

The best part of this story is that of the current owners.They have lovingly and painstakingly restored this historic building. They took down the partitions; stripped paint off cedar window frames; re-created ceiling roses and cornices. Craftsmen skilled in these almost forgotten trades have been employed to restore every room. Every care has been made to honour the heritage of this lovely house.   
Toonarbin Ink and watercolour S&B Beta sketchbook

I arrived about 40 minutes before the scheduled tour time and found a very convenient bus stop bench directly opposite Toonarbin. This position was ideally situated for me to do a sketch while waiting. Once the tour was over and we reluctantly made way for the next group, I crossed the road and added watercolour to my earlier sketch from the comfort of the bus stop bench.  

Tuesday 7 October 2014

A visit to Cedar Pocket

This last weekend I was fortunate enough to explore a new (for me) part of Queensland. About two hours north of Brisbane, inland from Noosa near Pomona is the picturesque Cedar Pocket. One of my Friday artists invited some of us to join her for the weekend. Their weekender home is an old Queenslander relocated from its original home in Mitchelton. These old houses are lifted intact off their stumps, loaded on to a low bed truck and moved to a new location.

A spacious deck has been added to the front and side of the house. The view from here is breathtaking - so beautiful that one doesn't need to move away - the inspiration you need is right there before your eyes.

I woke early on Saturday morning and was rewarded with a magnificent sunrise.

We decided to go down towards Cedar Pocket Dam which was visible from the deck to find somewhere to sketch. As we approached the dam we saw another Queenslander near the water. We crossed the bridge and from the other side we had a wonderful view of the dam and the lovely house nestled in the trees.

I had packed my Julian sketching easel which I have had for years but haven't used that much. Chief reason being that it's really heavy even without anything packed inside! I plan to do much more plein air painting so I'll have to find something more practical. This set up is fine if I paint right next to the car but that doesn't work more often than not.

If anyone has a good plein air set up to recommend I love you to let me know. 

I'd like the easel to be able to accommodate a reasonably sized canvas/panel with a tray to hold my bits and pieces. I think I would get frustrated after a while if I had to work on very small canvases.

Here's a progress shot with the beautiful view. 

Once back home I added some details to the veranda of the house and a few trees but the rest is pretty much as it was on the day. 

Cedar Pocket Queenslander oil on linen 16" x 20" © 2014 Carol Lee Beckx

Friday 26 September 2014

a new page - More about me

There’s a new page at the top of this blog. There you’ll find me in all sorts of places - on my website, Instragram, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

Here's a detail of a new painting - just to liven up this boring page...

Spring Flowers detail - oil on canvas 

Now I’m going back into my studio to paint.

Monday 22 September 2014

Brisbane Sketchers feature on The Great South East show.

Here is a link to a video of The Great South East . Brisbane sketchers were filmed on location in Post Office Square recently. A big thank you to Harry Ting who recorded the segment for our group.
I was one of them giving some drawing tips to presenter Blair Allsop. He's one of the Brisbane Greeters - a group of friendly folk who show visitors around our beautiful city.

The Segment opens with some of my sketches. The film crew went to a few locations to show the buildings and the sketches together.

Queensland Parliament House - ink and watercolour Zeta sketchbook

Queen Victoria and the Treasury Casino Hotel - ink and watercolour Zeta Sketchbook

While waiting for the TV crew I did a preparatory sketch using Noodlers #41 Brown and a waterbrush for the wash.

GPO preparatory sketch - ink and wash Alpha sketchbook

And here is the completed sketch done on the day. The text and buildings in the background were added after the film crew left.

Brisbane GPO ink and watercolour Zeta sketchbook