Monday 10 December 2018

Eight years in Australia!

Today, eight years ago, I arrived in Australia from South Africa. The years seem to have passed by quickly, although as one ages each year seems to pass faster and faster. Perhaps it’s because we want to cram as much as we can into each day. Looking back at previous posts, I found this one written at the 5 year mark.  It sums up much of my current feelings. 

My years here in Brisbane have been happy and fulfilled. The classes are well supported and artists have been attending my Studio a few years. In fact, one student has been here from the very beginning. 

Not only have the classes enabled me to support myself, but teaching has given me a very fulfilled life. I love teaching. I achieve so much satisfaction seeing creativity blossom and grow. Frequently, someone will join a class never having done any drawing or painting for some years, often as far back as their schooldays. After a few hesitant lessons, a quiet confidence emerges and lovely work is produced.

An added bonus is that the artists who attend the Studio have become friends - to me and to each other as well. Creating a nurturing, supportive environment in the Studio has been one of my main aims.

As I write this, I am recuperating at my daughter’s after successful surgery last week. I am doing well and trying to behave and take it easy. (Not being allowed to drive for six weeks will be a challenge)

Thank you all so much for your friendship and support. 

The lovely Hannah from Sktchy. Portrait using Procreate 

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Seasons Greetings and a newsletter

I have just published a newsletter - yes they are rather rare... so infrequent I can never be accused of creating spam!
Here's a link to Seasons Greetings from my Studio

You will also be able to sign up for future editions.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

New product designs on Red Bubble

As the end of the year approaches, we start to plan gifts for our loved ones. There is just enough time before the holiday season to order a unique gift and support an artist as well so you can spread some holiday cheer all round.

I have many of my paintings available on a wide variety of products on Red Bubble. I have adapted a number of these. There are so many different products. Each design can be applied to cards, cups, cushions, mobile phone cases - the list goes on and on. I receive a small commission on each item sold. 

Here are just a few examples. Click on the highlighted product name go to Red Bubble.

Mobile phone cases - pretty link roses.


Tote bags. The current trend is to avoid using plastic so these sturdy and beautiful bags are the answer. 

Monday 5 November 2018

Sketching at Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens

It was a sunny morning yesterday at Mt-Coot-Tha. I had previously sketched the Japanese Gardens where the rest of the sketchers were meeting, so I decided to look for something else. I found this striking view of the Tropical Display Dome and a magnificent baobab tree. I started directly on the tree with watercolour - no drawing. The dome was tricky so here I used a light pencil sketch to keep me on track.

Mt Coot- Tha Tropical Dome - watercolour and ink in a Beta Sketchbook

First pass with watercolour and the pencil sketch of the Tropical Dome. 

Once this first wash was dry, I went in with some ink (Pilot Metropolitan Fine nib) to draw in the details of the branches. I wasn’t concerned about keeping to the painted areas, rather worked to redraw new details. 

More progress - ink and watercolour 

Summer in Brisbane, it seems, is here in earnest. It was very hot day and the shade I had been sitting in was disappearing. By the time it came to painting the Dome, I decided this would be achieved much more easily with a table, proper shade and cup of coffee. I moved into the cafe to complete the sketch. I was so wrapped up doing this that I only noticed the rest of the crew when they stood up to take photos! 

It’s strange how our brains translate what we see into manageable symbols. I must have stared at the Tropical Dome for over an hour before I started to paint it. My brain saw ‘diamond’ shapes and painted them accordingly. It was only when I was halfway through painting the Dome that I realised that the ‘diamonds’ were in fact triangles. Talk about painting what you think you see and not what you actually see!

Graphite drawing to re-see the Tropical Dome 

The reality...

Wednesday 31 October 2018

More Inktober - the second half

As I write this, on 24th October, the end of the month is in sight. I have been able to maintain the discipline of doing an ink drawing every day. I must confess that I am now starting to get a little bored and I’m looking forward to November! 

All drawings, with the exception of the collaged portrait, were done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook A5. It’s a favourite for ink because of the smooth plate finish. At 270 gsm the paper is tough and even where there is crazy, heavy cross hatching there is no show through on the  back of the page. 

Amellie from Sktchy - Black BIC ballpoint pen

Amellie II. Using the same Sktchy muse as the previous portrait - this time with watercolour, collage and ink.

Rick N from Sktchy - Pilot Metropolitan F nib, Faber Castell brush pens on gesso

Jul Zus  from Sktchy - Pilot Metropolitan F nib with water brush for the wash. 

Pink Roses - Pilot Metropolitan F nib with Daimine Hope Pink and water brush with coloured ballpoint pens.

Mike A from Sktchy - Back to the trusty Black BIC ballpoint pen

Chris Mathews from Sktchy - Black BIC ballpoint pen

Umgeni Reeds I - Lamy Safari 1.5 mm nib with Pelikan Smokey Quartz 

Umgeni Reeds II

Umgeni Reeds 

Gary Dadd from Sktchy - Black BIC ballpoint pen

Spot from Sktchy - Sailor Fude with Sailor red-brown ink.

For the last four days of Inktober I have decided to do a larger drawing, posting as I completed a corner.

Pink Roses - Top LH corner of the last Inktober drawing. 

Bottom LH  corner 

Top RH corner 

Bottom RH corner
And here’s the completed drawing:

Pink Roses - Pilot Metropolitan with Daimine Hope Pink and Waterman Inspired Blue. Water brush for the washes and assorted coloured ball point pens.

I have to admit that last few days have been a struggle. What I have found, though, from the discipline of regular daily drawing, is that I really do enjoy losing myself in an image. The meditative state induced by cross hatching is addictive. Portraits using a simple ballpoint are the most satisfying since the marks have a subtlety not easily achieved with a fountain pen or felt tip pen for that matter.

I think I have found the solution to keeping my interest high and completing some worthwhile drawings. 

I would still plan to draw every day but to do fewer drawings with a more holistic theme. I could perhaps take a few days or a whole week to complete each drawing. At the end of the month I would have a coherent body of work with a meaningful theme instead of 31 disparate drawings. 

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Keeping up with Inktober - the first half

So far, so good. It’s twenty three days into October and I have been able to keep to the challenge of drawing in ink each day. Some days it has been a struggle. I knew ahead of time that being true to the offical prompts would be problematic so I decided to draw whatever I felt like if the prompt was not inspiring.
Here is a selection of the drawings. I’ve used a variety of pens and inks, ranging from the humble ballpoint pen to the calligraphic Sailor Fude or brush pen. 

#Poison - ballpoint pen 

Bike at my local cafe - Pilot Metropolitan 

Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens - Sailor Fude pen

Sailor Fude pen with Sailor red/brown ink 

Pilot Metropolitan M nib with De Artramentis Fog Grey #Drool - none here...

Pilot Metropolitan F nib with Daimine Hope Pink #exhausted

Lamy Safari 1.5 mm nib with Pelikan Smokey Quartz #Precious

A series of a biker leaving my local cafe. Sailor Fude, black ink and water brush. 

Pilot Metropolitan F nib De Artramentis Document Black and a water brush for the wash 

 Lamy Safari 1.5 mm nib with Pelikan Smokey Quartz and Pelikan Smokey Quartz #Guarded

A mixture of cheap coloured ballpoint pens. 

Sailor Fude De Artramentis Document Black

BIC ballpoint pen, Pilot Metropolitan with a water brush for the wash. #angular

Please note: all photos taken quickly with a phone - saves time for drawing!

Monday 15 October 2018

Looking back to the beginning of Sketchbook Skool

Yesterday I listened to the podcast Art for All hosted by Danny Gregory. The episode looked back to the start of Sketchbook Skool in April 2014. I had followed Danny’s blog since I moved to Australia at the end of 2010 (Wow that was eight years ago!) so I heard the first announcements of this new online course. 

When he talked about starting this online course aimed at encouraging people to get and sketch more I realised this was what I needed. I had always sketched, but mostly only when I was away on holiday when I had time on my hands, before but now I wanted to make drawing a daily routine. 


I loved that first course as did many others. We didn’t care that it was a little rough and ready.(Truth be told I don’t think many of us knew that it could have been more polished)  The enthusiastic and supportive community that quickly grew was, I think, the main reason for its success. Membership of the Facebook Group today has grown to a whopping 17,655 people from maybe 1,500 at the start.

I wrote a letter to Danny - The six weeks that changed my world about my experiences doing Beginning. All that I said there still applies today. 
You can find this in a separate Page here.
I did my homework religiously. Here's mine for Tommy Kane - first my living room and then I went to my local cafe to record EVERY detail!

My local Cafe...

I created an album on Flickr for these sketches for the first Semester and another for the second, Seeing.

I like many others painted Tommy Kane and many other tutors. Click this link to see them.

I went on to complete Seeing and Storytelling, as well as Bootcamp for those who had completed the first three courses. Some time later Urban Sketching came along with a mixture of old and new material.

Then I took a break. 

I was interested to hear  on the podcast that about the time that I took a break, Danny and Koosje were pondering the future of Sketchbook Skool. 

The courses that followed didn’t ‘speak’ to me, I didn't really want to make cards or maps or play with lettering. 

Painting and Teaching

Painting in oils was my main focus and I was exhibiting in local exhibitions. By this time too, my Studio where I teach art to small classes was quite well established. Since much of my time is focused on teaching I’m always looking for ways to enhance and grow my teaching skills. I try to read widely; look at a lot of art; listen to podcasts and take an online course here and there.

Watercolor Rules

I had just finished writing a book called Colour - A Practical Approach published by Blurb, when I saw the promos for Watercolour Rules. (You can read about my book here.)

Since there was a short holiday coming up I could devote time to a course . When I saw that Ian Sidaway was a tutor I decided to enrol. I’ve followed and admired his work for some time. His demonstrations did not disappoint. 

While these techniques were not new to me, as a teacher I learned a lot. He has a clear approach to explaining concepts and  demonstrating watercolour. August Wren and Inma Serrano have different styles and techniques which are also giving me fresh ideas and inspiration. I’m so pleased that I signed up because there's always something new to learn.

Now they are getting ready to host the first Sketchkon in November! 

Thursday 13 September 2018

Colour - A Practical Approach Part 2

Such exciting times - the hard covered copies of my book Colour - A Practical Approach arrived today! It’s so rewarding to see the results of months of writing and re-writing, painting illustrations, selecting photographs of paintings and then editing and re-editing. Click on the link to see a preview. The book is available in both hard and soft cover and an affordable EBook. 

The book is a no-fuss practical handbook to be a companion to painting in the Studio. The colour wheel is explained and illustrated along with notes on complementary colours. I have a few colour “rules” to keep you on the right track and there are also chapters with basic tips for mixing paint.  There are suggestions for the arrangement of paint on the palette to help develop a more organised approach.

There are twenty colour exercises to work through. These cover many aspects of colour mixing. I suggest doing these in a dedicated colour sketchbook so you will have a comprehensive personal reference book at the end.

Many artists work from photographs so there is also a chapter on how to make the most of this resource. Step by step photos of my own paintings will give you some insight to my process of working form photos.

Finally, a book like this would be lacking without some explanation of the terminology of art. A comprehensive glossary sheds light on some of these mystifying terms.