296 Streetscape Journal

A recent project I am doing with my Plein air buddies is to gradually sketch our way along a street in town that has a great selection of Victorian buildings. For this project we had a small workshop showing others how to make a concertina journal, using one full sheet of watercolour paper glued to heavy card for the front and back.

The idea is to sketch a building on each fold, or over a couple of folds to create one long fold out panorama view of the street. There are a few newer buildings but we chose to ignore these and concentrate on the more interesting older ones.

I used a Uniball Vision Elite ballpoint pen for the sketches with watercolour on Bockingford paper.

The inspiration for this project comes from Helen Wilding. Her street sketches are amazing.

Kooka’s Building
The Old Courthouse
Old Bell buildings

It’s amazing how many people stop and chat while we are on site, sharing their memories and stories of the buildings. This project will be a long term one, so I will keep you posted on the progress from time to time.

282 Sketches from Far and Near

First sketch is a commission – Manhattan NYC – on the other side of the world to me. It’s not so easy doing a commission from somewhere you’ve never been from a lousy phone pic. I tried to create an illusion of distance in the buildings with an interesting skyline, while keeping the near buildings recognisable. The client was happy so that makes me happy.

Canson Montval paper, ink and watercolour.

Back to more familiar territory. This Victorian building is our local Town Hall. I sketched this with a Staedtler Stabilo pen on drawing paper. When watercolour is applied this ink bleeds and softens the linework.

Another day and a different view of the Town Hall. The building is undergoing refurbishment and we would like to think that it may house a permanent art gallery, as our town is sadly lacking one.

Sketched with a Lamy fountain pen with permanent ink and watercolour on drawing paper.

I love doing old decaying buildings. This one is an old woollen mill that is crumbling away. At one stage this mill was the largest producing carpet wool in Australia but was a victim of corporate collapse and the town lost a very important industry. I guess the building won’t be there for too much longer as it now a haven for skateboarders and graffiti artists. I really enjoyed doing the graffiti, only in my sketchbook though.

Ink and watercolour on drawing paper.

I am presently working towards an exhibition in a few months time. The exhibition will be part of an “Art Trail” with over 90 venues and open studios over a two week period. Most of my work on display will be Plein air sketches and paintings. I have also had a range of cards printed for this, most of them from my sketches about town. A wonderful local gift and garden store “Designer Dirt” is now stocking some of them.

Photos by Designer Dirt.

I will share some photos of the exhibition when it happens. In the meantime I’ll be busy matting and framing.

280 Sketches around Town

WordPress tells me it’s been a month since my last post so I guess it’s time for an update.

I have been busy, Plein Air painting, gallery painting, thinking about painting and simply messing around with paint. I’m trying to build up stock for the Southern Art Trail, an event that has about 80 artists and venues exhibiting all forms of artwork for two weeks in September.

I will be exhibiting in three of the venues, two of them being Plein air exhibitions, so some of these sketches might make it to the framers. I still have a few months to do more, so I’ll keep on painting.

I won’t bore you with too much but I’ll share a few I have done this past month.

These are mostly sketches from around town, done with ink and watercolour on various papers.

Firstly, the old buildings around town.

The old Post Office on Canaletto paper.

The first farmhouse built in the Albany area.

The oldest church in Western Australia.

The ruin of the Lighthouse keepers cottage.And the new – the Entertainment Centre.

And Rats Bar with a beautiful bougainvillea growing outside.

Looking across the bay to the town.

Lastly a watercolour sketch at one of the local rivers.

268 Inktober Sketches Part 3

I managed to keep up with the daily sketch, and even followed the official Inktober prompts. It wasn’t easy doing sketches of things I would never have normally chosen, as I followed the official Inktober prompt for the sketches and most of the reference photos were from Sktchyapp.

#22 Trail – Ink and watercolour

#23 Juicy – Ballpoint pen and watercolour

#24 Blind – Pigma Micron 005 and Pentel brushpen 

#25 Ship – Ink and watercolour

#26 Squeak – Ink and watercolour

#27 Climb – Ink and watercolour pencil used dry.

#28 Fall – Ink  and watercolour pencil. I was loaned a Sailor Fude fountain pen to try out. These are really different but fun to use. The thickness of the line is dependant on the angle you hold the pen so it takes a bit of getting used to. The ink in this was not permanent so I had to use the coloured pencils dry to avoid bleeding, even though I really wanted to watercolour those lovely colourful leaves.

#29 United – Preppy fountain pen with brown ink and watercolour. I’m no sports fan but even I have heard of Manchester United 😄

#30 Found – Ink and watercolour

#31 Mask – Ink, mainly Pentel brushpen and watercolour, plus a little colour pencil.

Most of the images used came from Sktchyapp and all were done in my handmade journal with Daler Rowney 160g drawing paper. It’s not watercolour paper but I quite like using it as it dries fairly quickly and the colours stay nice and bright. I made this journal initially for Liz Steels Online SketchingNow class, then used it for Every Day in May sketches a couple of years ago. This has almost finished this journal as there are only a couple of pages left. So it will be put away on the shelf till I find another way to use up those pages. 

267 Inktober sketches Part 2

One thing about doing a monthly challenge is that it motivates you to sketch at least once a day, whether you feel like it or not. Some days inspiration just doesn’t come, so its back to the old adage,  “Inspiration finds you working”. So for the Day 12 prompt  “Shattered” I picked up a ballpoint pen and just started scribbling. I like adding an appropriate or amusing quote to each sketch, often simply to make me feel better about a drawing I’m unhappy with.

Day 13 – Teeming. I drew a few strokes with a white chinagraph pencil before applying a watered down ink wash for a rain effect.

#14 – Fierce. Sometimes it’s easier to find a quote first before looking for a reference photo. Ink, watercolour and brushpen. A brushpen is maybe a little heavy for a toddlers face 😄

# 15 – Mysterious – sepia ink with a waterbrush.

# 16 – Fat – ink and watercolour

#17 – Graceful – ink and coloured pencil.

#18 – Filthy – ink and watercolour. 

#19 – Cloud – permanent and water soluble ink. It’s a clouded leopard in case you were wondering at my interpretation. 
#20 – Deep – ink and watercolour

#21 – Furious – ink, brushpen and marker.

All these sketches were done in one of my handmade journals 10 x 7 inch of 160g Daler Rowney cartridge paper, with various inks as per Inktober challenge,  and the lettering with various markers.

Well, I managed to make it to day 21. Not too many to go so I think I can manage to do the whole month. 

266 Inktober Sketches

I am managing to do an inky sketch a day so far this month. It was an effort to actually get started, as I’ve been out of the sketching groove for a long time and this is always a great challenge to get motivated again. And it’s a great challenge to draw just in ink, although I have to resort to colour now and again 😄 

I really enjoyed doing a daily sketch when I started my little daily diary back in 2015 and was a bit sad when I finished it. I thought I’d take a similar approach for this month. You can see all the 150 entries from that diary here on Flickr.

I found it hard each day to decide what to sketch, and often I was disappointed with the result, so to make myself feel better about the sketch I added an appropriate text on the adjacent page, sometimes motivational, sometimes humourous and it gave a more light hearted approach.

So I decided to approach Inktober in the same way. I am doing the prompts from Sktchyapp, and using its vast library of reference photos for the challenge.

#4 – Underwater. Ink, brushpen and watercolour on cartridge paper.

#5 Long. Sepia ink in Preppy fountain pen, bamboo dip pen and brush on cartridge paper.
#6 Sword. Super quick one today. Ink, Watercolour on cartridge paper. Lettering is with a Pitt calligraphy pen.
#7 Shy. Ink, Lamy Joy fountain pen on cartridge paper.

#8 Crooked. Pigma micron pen, brushpen and watercolour pencils on Kraft paper.

#9 Screech. Brush pen and water soluble oil pastels on Strathmore tan paper.

#10 Gigantic. Pilot V pen with water soluble ink on cartridge paper.

#11 Run. Lamy Joy fountain pen, brush pen and watercolour on cartridge paper.

I hope I can keep up this month as I find I often run out of steam, and ideas about halfway. Wish me luck.

#219 The Final Pages

Easter weather here on the south coast is often a mixed bag. After a few rainy days the Monday was looking good and JJ was itching to get out into the great outdoors. He found a 4WD track out to a little inlet about 20 minutes out of town. It was a glorious day – sunshine, gentle breeze, isolated spot, lunch then a sketch to top it off. This sketch was in a Holcroft A5 225g paper journal – different to my daily diary.28 mar paWhat a great spot to be able to slip a kayak in and go for a paddle.DSCN0242I don’t usually include a photo of me but this is just because I am painting “plein air”. DSCN0236

That should have qualified for my daily painting but just because I’m still keeping up my daily diary I needed a little one for the journal, so I just painted what was right in front of me. I was wearing them most of the day in all that sunshine : )
mar 28Last week I started teaching watercolour journaling to a small class. I put a few plants on the table, demonstrated each on a piece of paper and gave the demos to the students. After they left I did a quick sketch of this succulent for the daily entry.
mar 29 A quick sketch from a trip to the supermarket. I remembered seeing this jam when we were in France. I’m off to France again in a  few months so this is getting me in the mood. Delicieux cerises!!!!
30 mar

Now I’m getting close to finishing this book I’m running out of ideas. Preparing dinner sometimes involves using interesting subjects so this was a rather quick sketch, before I started chopping and grating. And dinner was only a little late.mar 31I wanted to get another fun little portrait  in this book before the end. I have quite enjoyed these little portraits – they are only about 6 x 8 cm so rather tiny. One comment when I posted on Instagram was wondering whether it was Harry Potter or John Lennon. I guess that is one of the good things about art. It keeps you wondering.1 aprAnd finally…. ta da! The last page. Apart from 2 pages at the back where I did all the experimenting to find out what different media would work on this paper.

I couldn’t think of an apt quote for the last page other than time running out on pages, energy, ideas, and the motivation to do a daily painting, not to mention finding suitable quotes. 2 aprNow it’s completed it looks like an ancient little journal, to be put up on the shelf maybe to be discovered in years to come by my future grandchild who takes it along to the Antiques RoadShow to be told it’s worth a squillion. Hehe.

Much as I complained about the paper in this journal I must admit that it was really tough stuff. It’s only fault was that it wasn’t easy to do wet watercolour washes which seems to be my preferred method, as it tended to behave a little like blotting paper. If I had the patience to put down a colour, leave it to dry thoroughly I could apply another layer on top. But as these were really only meant to be quick sketches I didn’t really have the patience for that. And because it was so thin staining colours and ink bled through to the other side. But the journal itself was really very robust. All the rough handling and flattening out for photographs haven’t damaged the binding at all and after using it for 150 days the cover is still in great condition. So if you are ever in Florence near Pont Vecchio? (I’ve never been there so I’m trying to remember what my sister told me),  and you happen to find a bookbinders store, apparently there is a wondrous world of journals and books available, handmade by the talented owner of the store. 

However, now my new challenge to myself is to use up all the partially used journals I have before I buy any new ones. I wonder if I’ll stick to that challenge : )


#205 Doodling or Drawing

It’s official! Doodling is good for you and there are now many reports out there confirming it. 
I’ve never been a wordy person but I’ve always been a doodler,  scribbling while on the phone or simply making marks while the brain is supposedly otherwise engaged.  According to Wikipedia “doodling can aid a person’s memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain’s processing power, as well as from not paying attention. Thus, it acts as a mediator between the spectrum of thinking too much or thinking too little”.
Sunni Brown has written a whole book on the benefits of doodling and says there’s no such thing as a mindless doodle. The physical act of producing a doodle necessarily engages the mind, opening doorways into the imagination, the intellect, and the oft-hidden centers of insight. 

There’s also a great talk becoming a great artist through doodling by Stefan Bauman on TED here

I guess thats one of the reasons behind the current fad of colouring in books. Its a way of keeping the pencil moving without putting too much thought into it. Calligraphy or drawing letters is also a form of meditative doodling so I guess that’s why I enjoy adding text to my sketches.


This week I also discovered Etegami.  This is a wonderful way to tune out the brain. The speed of drawing is slowed down and you concentrate completely on the way the ink flows onto the paper, on your breathing and heartbeat. With etagami it’s actually better to complete a clumsy drawing than a perfect one.


Because the paper in this journal isn’t meant for wet ink drawing,  the bleed through to the next page was pretty unsightly. So I used the blobs for a mindless zentangle of an imaginary flower. A zentangle is another state of drawing where you go into the zone.  Drawing repetitive designs can be very calming.


You need to be an Aussie to appreciate the jingle on vegemite  – you can see it on youtube. The cat and vegemite sketches were from photos by crispur for the weekly 2 hour drawing challenge on Wetcanvas.


And this one’s just because I like to try and do one portrait a week.


Something we use a lot of, and this time of the year money does seem to disappear a little faster.


Sometimes its hard to think of different things to sketch each day. If you get stumped on what to sketch you can find 400 ideas here.

Finally this will be my last post before Christmas so here is my greeting card from me and him to all of you 🙂 Best wishes for a safe and wonderful Christmas.


#203 A week of sketches

I’m guilty of neglecting  the blog again, but I’m still sketching ….. sort of. All still in my little diary/journal with it’s unfriendly paper. But what I am finding out is how to work with difficult papers. Gouache is so forgiving, it works so well on this flimsy paper.


Watercolour works in a fashion but only if I put a layer of gesso on the page. It’s not the ideal surface for watercolour but it can take a layer or two. Good enough to try out different mixes for skin colours. It seems almost any yellow red and blue will give a reasonable flesh colour.


I need to think of different things for each day, maybe I’ll dedicate one day a week for a portrait. I remembered David Rankins 5 minute Sketching Recipe. Not that my sketch was 5 minutes but I will keep trying. If you are interested in quick face sketches have a look at his site. Very cool.


Which led to to another weekly page idea. Dogs or animals ….. lots of scope there.


A page for ideas and experiments and what I am currently using.  Still Cyan,  Yellow and Magenta. But I did use ultramarine for the background on the dog page, just because it was easier than trying to mix the blue I wanted.


A brainless contour sketch because I couldn’t think of anything else. I should do more of these too. Great practise in hand eye coordination.


A page or two for the weekly challenge on Wetcanvas.


I forgot that the brushpen bleeds through this paper as you will see on the following page.


The Micron liner doesn’t deposit as much ink so there is little bleed through on this sketch and it works well with gouache.


And to finish the weeks post with another dog (actually it was more than a week). I’ll try to keep to the weekly posting.
This week I have also been posting on my Facebook page. I was nominated by a friend to post a painting a day for seven days and to nominate another friend to do the same. As a relative newcomer to facebook I find from my little list of friends (sad isn’t it?) that most have already done the challenge or are too busy at this time of the year. So instead I’m sharing a painting each day along with one a painting or sketch from seven artist friends who have inspired me.