263 Mini Canvases

I’ve been experimenting with gouache over gesso on these little canvases. It’s not as receptive as paper, as I like to begin with thinned paint to block in the shapes, progressively adding thicker paint strokes on top. The gesso is a bit resistant to the initial layer of paint and it takes a little extra work to cover the white spots that show in the weave. When finished I give the canvas a couple of light coats of Matt varnish spray.  Ready to hang on the wall without having to frame behind glass.

Why bother with gouache instead of acrylic? No particular reason, I just love gouache!

And at last, my first selfie sketch without glasses! I have had follow up eye surgery after 5 months following complications with the first surgery. Now all is good and I am just using cheapie x2 glasses for reading. 

Watercolour with watercolour pencil in 6 x 8 Quill cartridge paper journal.

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262 Taking a Break

I’ve been on holidays, camping out in the great outdoors and also taking a break from social media. Mobile coverage is very patchy when travelling in this big country, so it was rather nice to switch off and chill out for a while. I took it easy and only did a few sketches at some of the stops along the way. 

I took along a Strathmore 500 Mived Media journal and used it for this sketch of the original cottage on a large grazing station. It was painted while sitting in the shade of a large eucalyptus tree – a very enjoyable hour.

Further up the coast the soil changes to red and is a great contrast to the white sand, blue sky and aqua water. This peaceful bay is inhabited by a friendly family of dolphins.

I also had a Moleskine journal with me and used it for these little thumbnail gouache sketches of a couple of campsites along the way. The paper in this journal is great for gouache.

I didn’t make much use of my mini journal although it was really handy for a couple of quick sketches when I only had a few minutes, just enough time to scribble a few lines and add colour.


And one in a larger journal. This is Buddy, a cute little fellow we met at the caravan park. He was a rescue dog and is totally devoted to his mum and charmed everyone who met him. I did this painting and gave it to his mum, but Buddy wasn’t too sure about it. He growled at it. Maybe he didn’t like that other dog looking at him, lol.

This was in a 11 x 14″ in a Holcraft Journal 200 gsm cartridge paper. I know I said I was going to travel light and take minimal supplies but I just happened to call into a RiotArt store on the way and spotted these discontinued journals at less than half price. As an added bonus if I spent over $40 there was another 50% reduction. 4 journals for $24! How good is that 😊

261 Creative Slump.

I haven’t done a journal page for ages. In fact I haven’t done much in the way of sketching or painting for ages. 

But we are heading off on a road trip shortly and I’m getting my sketching supplies ready in anticipation. Art supplies are usually the first things I pack. I thought I’d share my favourite super lightweight sketch kit. I like to take this when I’m hiking or out strolling, not knowing whether I’ll actually get around to sketching, but have the supplies on hand if the mood strikes. That way I’m not lugging heavier and bulkier items then feeling peeved if I don’t get to do some sketching. 

I will also be taking along other supplies, gouache and an easel in the hope that I might get to do a painting or two. Wish me luck.

The tiny palette is fashioned from a credit card holder. You can see how I made it here. The mini journal is stitched with a sewing machine. The assembly and sewing instructions can be seen here. 

The only other sketch I managed to do over the last few weeks is an experimental portrait done with a BIC 4 colour ballpoint pen. Thanks to M Elizabeth and Sktchyapp for the reference photo.


The inspiration for trying ballpoint pens came from seeing the awe inspiring work of Nicholas V Sanchez. You can see his incredible sketches here

251 Daily Sketching

I’m late catching up posting my daily sketches. I am continuing to do a little sketch daily, but I struggle with finding inspiring subjects. I do like to do different stuff and I like to experiment a bit but inspiration is sometimes lacking and the paper in this journal is challenging.

After three weeks of mundane things I got a little bored so I  decided to do a little pencil portrait each day, as pencil is more acceptable to this paper. I don’t have to think of something different to draw each day, but there is enough variety in faces to keep me challenged. I do enjoy drawing faces and I can sit in the living room and do a little sketch in my lap, keeping the hub company while he watches tv. And there is an endless supply of interesting faces to be found on Sktchyapp.

After I’d decided to do these daily portraits I read that Marc Taro Holmes (Montreal, CA) and Liz Steel (Sydney, AUS) are inviting the world to join in with #OneWeek100People2017. The goal is to draw 100 people in one week from March 6th to 10th. I’m going to try for this – 20 quick sketches a day – 5 minutes apiece should be doable if I can speed up a bit and not worry too much about the likeness. Just so long as they look human. The aim is practise, not perfection and this should be an interesting exercise. Anyone else going to do this? 

For something different this week I also managed to meet up with the local sketching group for an outing at a national trust historic farmhouse, situated in wonderful garden surrounds. It’s always fun to paint with a like minded group in a beautiful setting.

247 My Week of Sketches

Thank you everyone who commented on my last post. It is good to know that my posts are appreciated, as writing sometimes takes me longer than painting 😀 I will try to do a post a week but no promises.

I’d rather sketch than go shopping, so I opted to wait in the car instead. While I was waiting I quickly sketched the truck across the road. I still had time to kill so added the cafe behind.

Then back home I decided I needed to try different ways of depicting different trees, instead of painting the same stuff all the time. I started in my journal but I was painting rather fast and couldn’t wait for the paper to dry to turn the page, so I started on plain copy paper and scrap paper. Copy paper is not really very good for watercolour but it’s cheap and good for quick experiments, and I don’t care how much I use. Most end up in the bin anyway 😀

I was then able to put my tree practise to good use as the following day I met with a painting buddy for a pleinair session at a local park. It’s good to get out there as it is a very different experience  to painting in the studio from a photo. It’s good brain exercise too, trying to work out how to paint it, and deciding what to leave in or out of the scene. There was actually a whole lot of cars and houses behind the distant tree, but I didn’t want them there so I ignored them.

Back in the studio and back to Sktchyapp for inspiration. The challenge for the week was to do a quick scribble sketch without lifting the pen from the paper. My first attempt was more or less a contour drawing with a .6 Artline pen on Kraft paper. The pen has a tendency to bleed a bit when pausing and it looks a bit like a dot to dot drawing 😀

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So I tried a different approach. For the second attempt I scribbled with a Uniball vision ballpoint pen on Kraft paper. I like this pen as it doesn’t need to be used in an upright manner like Artline or Micron pens, so it feels much more like a comfortable writing position.

Finally I felt like getting out the gouache again for another portrait. The more I use gouache the more I enjoy it. It is such a forgiving medium, although it can be a frustrating learning curve. I like to start with thin watery washes, gradually building up in thickness. If too much water is added to the next layer of paint, it can dislodge  the previous one. This can be an advantage though if you want to blend a harsh edge, and very fine detailed work can be achieved using gouache.

Not for me though. I’m still trying to get a more painterly look as opposed from too detailed. I enjoyed doing this little sketch on tan Stonehenge paper. Lovely surface for gouache. 

I’m happy to say this portrait is on its way to a new home across the big ocean 

I’m up to date now with my posts. Stay tuned for next week for another episode of random sketches 😀 

244 Too Many Journals

I wish I was more disciplined in my use of journals. I read on some blogs how some can just fill up one journal before starting another. I seem to have several on the go at one time and have different preferences according to where I am or what I’m painting. I am getting a little more organised now though, and I’m keeping one for car sketches, one for gouache, my mini one for sketchwalks. That’s not counting my junk journal or other assorted ones with toned paper and my good paper ones.

Here are a couple from my car sketch journal, one while we were driving through the tall timber country and I tried to convey the impression of the huge trees towering above the road.


At a stop along the way trying to capture the beach scene.

When I want to paint but can’t settle on a subject I find myself browsing through photos on Sktchyapp looking for a victim. I tried the Staedtler fineliner pen and waterbrush on Sketch and Wash paper. This would have been more successful on a better watercolour paper.

I really want to speed up my sketching of faces and figures so I browsed through the Wetcanvas photos for the Weekend Drawing Event and decided that I’d try a quick 15 minute waterbrush sketch of a young girl. I added a few lines with watersoluble pencil over. Not too successful,I might add.

I decided to try a different minimalist approach, even faster, with a couple of 5 minute sketches both from Sktchyapp, using Conte charcoal pencil and crayon.

These were rather fun to do and hopefully I can learn a little about capturing the character quickly without unnecessary fiddling about.

And talking about unnecessary fiddling about I did a little gouache sketch of my beautiful granddaughter. It look me quite a bit longer than 5 minutes 😀 I loved the photo of her sleeping on a striped towel in her beachwear so I wanted to capture the moment.


I love gouache but I’m still coming to grips with it. I don’t know if I’ll ever master it but it’s fun trying. It’s very forgiving while being very frustrating at the same time.

243 Random Sketches

One last sketch from my Bali trip. I wasn’t able to sketch a lot on site so I took lots of photos, sometimes from the car while driving through all that crazy traffic, trying to capture some typical Balinese street scenes. This little sketch was from one of these, shot while we were passing a group of women wearing their elegant and colourful outfits, carrying their offerings to a temple.

I always find it difficult to get back into the daily grind, and coming home with a touch of Bali Belly didn’t help. I was feeling rather flat post trip, and suffering from acute lack of motivation and inspiration. Then I happened to notice the beautiful light on the trees out the front window which made me want to do a quick sketch with watercolour and my relatively new water soluble oil pastels. I would like to play some more with these at a later date.

One online friend suggested doing an daily advent calendar sketch leading up to Christmas, so I stole an idea from another trying 3 different techniques on the same subject. Strawberries 3 ways, watercolour brush sketch, then gouache and a contour drawing with some colour splashed on.

My new car was the subject for my next sketch. It is a beautiful apple green and I found that Koi Sakura green in the travel palette was the perfect colour. I love the fact that I can find my car easily in car parks filled with white or grey cars.

Next sketch was of poor old Snoopy, found while looking through some boxes. Snoopy was my sons very first toy and is wearing a jumper knitted by his Nanna. 

The marker I used for the lettering smeared when I used an eraser. Maybe I just didn’t give the marker time to dry on this paper. I’ll need to experiment with this a little more.

As I was supposed to be doing Advent type sketches I thought I’d do something Christmassy. I haven’t put up the large tree for a couple of years as we were spending Christmas elsewhere and it does take a some time to set up and decorate. But this year the crowd will be at our house so out came all the boxes.


And then the decorations, too many to sketch 😀

These sketches were in my resurrected Stillman and Birn Alpha journal. I took this with me when I visited France a few months ago but it didn’t get much use. I found I preferred my little lightweight handmade journal that I could slip into my bumbag when I went on my morning sketchwalks, and I tended to use the S & B only when I was able to sit at a table or desk and spread out a bit. 

So the next challenge for me is to fill up this journal 😀