250 Finishing UFOs

I decided this past week to finish off some of my ufo’s………unfinished objects 😊 I’m  working my way through the pile. This landscape was from a National Park we visited on our long trip around the country. It has been in the unfinished pile for ages, so now there is one less.  I think I salvaged it and will hopefully sell it at an exhibition later in the year. 

I do have a lot more unfinished paintings to work through and I will be ruthless. If I can’t make them work I’ll bin them.

In the meantime I had a morning with the local pleinair air group at the beach. Fine weather but the wind was a little chilly, which always makes me sketch a lot quicker. The first sketch is watercolour on cartridge paper.

The next one was a little gouache, looking across the bay.

And then I went for something completely different, a larger acrylic on canvas. I haven’t painted with acrylic for a long time and I forgot how much darker it dries, opposite to watercolour. This is 600 x 450 mm or 24 x 18″. Another one for the exhibition?


248 My week of Sketches

We are experiencing stunning summer weather here on the south coast, well most days. One day last week my painting buddy and I headed to the King River, an idyllic spot with beautiful granite rocks. I forgot to pack my watercolour paper and all I had was a tiny journal with me so I used gouache for this sketch.

I’d finished my painting but Zoe was still working on hers so I sketched her still working.

During the week I had  a mini class on portraits. I demonstrated the basic proportions and features using a reference photo from Sktchyapp. This is an excellent free app available for iPhone and iPad, with thousands of portrait reference photos to use for inspiration. Some not so good but there are excellent ones there too. Unfortunately it’s not available to android devices.


Each week on Sktchyapp there are a few challenges and prompts such as #quickdraw and #monday muse. The Monday muse last week loves the colour green so I grabbed a paint swatch from the hardware store and used that to sketch her for the QuickDrawimg_2448

You should know by now that I’ll sketch or paint on anything. While I was taking out the recycling papers and boxes I liked the look of the inside of a coffee box and thought it would be fun to draw on. I did another QuickDraw with a Pentel brushpen and seldom used oil pastels.


It’s all good practise for my pet portrait commissions. Here is another practise …. in my journal this time 😀 This is Tiger.


I am now doing custom paintings and if you would like a personalised portrait of loved pet or person, you can find further information on my Pets portrait page here.

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 😀

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 😀 

241 Pets and Gouache Kit

A mixed bag again this week. My ink sketches for the month of Inktober totally ran off the rails. Not surprising for me 😄

I decided instead I should do a few more pet portraits to try and boost interest in my Pet Portrait page on Facebook.

This is Thor, painted from a photo posted by Kay on Wetcanvas.

And a cat named Oliver Bean, painted from a photo posted by Yulonda on Sktchyapp.

These originals are both available for purchase – $AU60 150 x 170 mm Watercolour on 300g watercolor paper.

At last weeks outdoor painting group session I decided to try out a Stawet palette using gouache. It wasn’t very successful unfortunately. It was a rather windy day and the palette paper I used in the palette dried out too quickly and almost blew away. It might work in calmer conditions. 
I sort of followed James Gurney’s advice on making my palette. James is a master with gouache and a lot of information is available on his site –  this page has lots of information. You can also see how one reader made his own wet palette on another page

Anyway, this was the result of a very pleasant couple of hours with pleasant company, despite the wind.

I then changed my idea of how I’ll paint with gouache while travelling. I decided to use my tiny credit card palette, you can see how I made it here. Here’s a practise run with this setup, painted from a photo of the Italian Alps.

I pre moistened the gouache with a couple of drops of water and let it sit a short while before painting and it worked fine, and used my own design travel brushes 😊

The travel brushes I made from a 3/8 flat brush and a #6 round, cut down to fit inside the barrel of old calligraphy pens. I roughly measured the length of the handle to fit far enough inside the barrel so the bristles wouldn’t bend when the cap was fitted, then glued in place with hot glue. Works fine for me and now I won’t be worried about losing my good brushes while travelling 😄

223 Learning by doing

I’m always learning. I think the moment I stop learning is the time to pull the plug. Every time I sketch or play with paint I’m learning what works and what doesn’t and how I would approach things next time.

Im still taking part in Every Day in May sketching. Day 5 prompt was something you see in a park. I had been invited by a group of painters to join them at a local park so I sketched the view.image#6 – A timepiece. I found my old kitchen timer, and as I didn’t really have much time for this I set the timer for 20 minutes, sketched quickly with a Pentel brush pen and finished with watercolour. I almost made it in the 20 minutes. I just needed to add the minute marks with a white pen.image#7 – A gadget for cleaning. I didn’t find any of my cleaning items and appliances appealing to paint so I googled cleaning gadgets and found these. I thought they were hilarious but doubt that they would really work. image

# – 8 Boots. I’m still thinking about my future travels and what sketching items I should take, so this was an experiment with just a waterbrush and Koi Sakura travel palette. The Koi set is a cheaper range of watercolours but it is compact with good mixing areas. I found that by misting the paints first, dipping into pure pigment and using the water in the brush to spread the paint I was able to achieve a reasonable result. It is a bit tricky determining how much water squeezes out, but I think I can make this method work. It is much less hassle than juggling a larger palette, brushes and a water pot.

image# 9 – Someone I admire. This is Amanda Hyatt, an talented artist I was lucky to take a workshop with a couple of years ago. She is one of Australia’s leading artists and was the most inspirational and motivating teacher I have ever painted with.

imageIf you are not familiar with Amanda,  here’s a link to a great video showing how she paints her wonderful impressionist landscapes.

Amanda Hyatt

And just to show what a wonderful teacher she is I’m reposting this landscape I completed in her morning workshop. All credit to Amanda as I was only following her instructions. Now if only I could do this on my own 😀

101 ahyatt

I’ll just have to keep doing and learning some more, and have fun trying.

#217 Weekly Sketches – Blogging and Instagram

I started this little journal in November as a way to make me sketch daily. Because the paper has it’s limitations I decided to use one page for paint and write on the other. I intended to use it as a diary with an added sketch but I decided that writing daily stuff isn’t inspiring for me, in fact it was just plain boring. So it has evolved into a book of mainly quotes that inspire or amuse me. I have had to improvise a bit along the way though, often because I have used the wrong materials.

I started posting these images to Instagram, just for fun. Instagram was new to me and my first few posts were cropped to the square format and came out looking pretty silly, and the images are so tiny that it is hard to see much anyway. Then I got about 4 or 5 likes for each one. Gradually I started to learn my way around. It seems there is quite a different audience out there. I started getting followers, and I always check to se what is in their feed. Some were looking for partners, showing off their bodies, their cooking skills, selfies or advertising something. Time wasting but interesting.

All of a sudden last week my followers jumped up to over 200, mostly by arty types and there is more communication happening. It’s interesting to see what images people like over others. I also still post to Flickr, mainly as a way of keeping a photo album and I can sort the individual albums so it makes looking for an image easy. And if my computer crashes the photos are all still there. The images are much larger and can be increased in size to view unlike instagram.  But I still prefer blogging, it’s more of a personal thing rather than just sticking a picture up that is gone in a few moments.  So back to blogging, despite my computer glitches, and this weeks sketches.

 Here I am, thinking about what colours I will put in my palette when I’m off on my next trip ….. which is months away…… but nothing like getting ready early. And it gives me time to practise travel sketching : ) Hopefully I will have time to do some sketching in places other than airport lounges.15 mar Another one in my fun series of artists. Just as well they aren’t living artists but maybe they will come and haunt me. 16 marA quick one today. I almost didn’t post this but you need to see the bad ones along with the not so bad 🙂

17 mar

On my morning walk I just happened to see some figs hanging over a fence, and I just happened to have a plastic bag in  my pocket. Not planned hehe. I don’t particularly like figs but JJ loves them and they are always good to sketch. Trying out a Tombow marker with watercolours.18 mar This is my weekly sketch from the 2 hour challenge on WetCanvas from a photo posted by Lin aka oldrockchick. Just pracising for the time when I will be doing travel sketches. I did do a quick thumbnail first for composition before a pen sketch, then watercolour.19 mar Something quick again. This time I put the paint down first, let it dry, then used an Artline Calligraphy pen for the linework. 20 mar And finally, another silly artist portrait sketch with scary eyes. 21 mar


#216 Weekly Sketches

Woe is me. Yesterday my wonderful Samsung tablet came to a sad end. The battery had been playing up for some time and no-one in this state even wants to change the battery, all enquiries seem to direct you to posting it east! So we googled the problem, and found out that Samsung batteries suck!! Also found a youtube video on how to take the device apart and replace the battery, and sent for the repacement with tools. 

Now I see why nobody wants to take responsibility for this. It just doesn’t work at all anymore. So I am back to taking photos with my camera, loading them onto my dinosaur mac, cropping, editing and uplpading onto the WordPress site. This process takes so much time and I’d forgotten how much more hassle it is than using the WordPress App which I’ve been doing for a while now. And I don’t even want to think about Instagram or Facebook at this stage!!!! All I have for that is my little cheapie phone, although quicker than using this old mac the pictures are so tiny it takes the fun out of it.

Well, that’s enough of my complaining, almost. I had a whole blog post in draft ready to add yesterdays photo so I just have to start over again, and post “new” photos that I took this morning. 

Firstly, last Tuesday was Interntional Womens Day so I painted a pic of one of Australia’s favourite women painters. Margaret Olley was an inspirational, irreverent, generous patron of the arts who painted right up till her death in 2014, hence her quote.

8 mar

That one took me more time than I like for a quick sketch so I decided to do an Etegami type sketch for Wednesday. A quick search in the fridge for something to draw and found this brainy looking thing. So quick to do – a no brainer really, hehe. But finding a quote takes more time than the sketch.

9 marSometimes I feel lilke throwing up my hands in frustration. I like to do different stuff but I’m often stumped when I go to paint. This time I did a pencil outline and scribbled random thoughts in the shape.

mar 10I always have the weekly 2 hour challenge on Wetcanvas to fall back on for inspiration. The challenge this week was to paint colourful penguins from a photo posted by MBeckett. So I used Permanent Rose, Cobalt, Permanent Orange and Cobalt Turquoise, adding Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson for the darks.

11 marAnother photo form MBeckett was of this little girl. Once again I spent way too long on this and started getting too fussy, so I abandoned it at the 2 hour mark….. I think. I quite like the unfinished result.

12 mar

I’m really looking forward to finishing this journal so that I can play around with good watercolour paper once again, but I couldn’t resist so I used watercolours on this page. This paper is so unforgiving. 13 marThe next page was a real mess so I took the easy way out and pasted in a little landscape I did while sitting in my front garden. I never get tired of the view.

mar 14

I hope I will have my tech. problems sorted out for next weeks post and get back to a quicker process.