270 Plein Air Outings

I’m rather behind with posting my Plein air sketches so this post is a bit of an image dump. This is also a little tour of the area that we are blessed to live in. Our town is situated on a very beautiful coastline, but quite rugged and treacherous at times as there is no land between us and Antarctica.

I am now regularly sketching each week with my painting buddies, and it’s a great way to try out different subjects and techniques. I love the fact that while out there I can just tune out, and the only worries I have is working out how the heck am I going to paint what’s in front of me. It’s good for the brain as well as the body ๐Ÿ˜„

On an unusually calm but overcast day we hiked up to the local war monument situated on a hill with amazing views. This hill was the last view of Australia many World War 1 soldiers had before perishing in the battle of Gallipoli.

From Wikipedia – “The statue at the top of Mount Clarence is a copy of one originally forming part of a memorial erected at Port Said in 1932, and which was destroyed during the Suez War of 1956, salvaged and re-erected in Albany in 1964.

It shows a mounted Australian Light-Horseman defending a New Zealand Mounted Rifleman standing beside his wounded horse. It is said to be based on an incident in the charge at El Arish in 1917.”

Albany was the final departure point for the first ANZAC troops on their way to the battlefields of the First World War.This precinct has many places to sketch and a lot of historic buildings so we decided to return the following week. I sketched one of the original old stone residences.The next sketch is an extra thrown in, as it was a beautiful sunny spring day and my hub wanted an outing. We took a picnic lunch to an inlet a little way along the coast. I painted while he walked.Back with the weekly sketch group we met at a little park overlooking the inner harbour. Those are wheat silos in the background in case you were wondering ๐Ÿ˜„ Next outing was around the bay to the old Whaling Station. This has now been made into a very popular tourist precinct. I sat on the jetty looking back at the staff cottages. One of the retired whaling ships is dry docked and part of the tourist complex. I always take several photos when I go out sketching, and I used one of them to do a quick gouache sketch at home, just to see if it would be feasible to take these paints out in the field next time. I’ve always had problems with gouache drying too quickly on on the palette in our dry atmosphere, so I devised a little kit to try and overcome the problem.

Today I got to use the kit in the field. I had a new set of Holbein gouache and filled a pill container with the colours. The mixing palette has a piece of palette paper over moist paper towel. I attached Velcro tape to the easel and palettes to keep them in place. As I paint I have to open and close each section of the pill container to pick up colour, which is a bit of a pain, but the paints stayed moist right throughout. At the end of the session I store the palette in a zip lock plastic bag with moist paper towel and so far it seems to work fine. Hehe, I felt like a real artist with this setup, instead of a sketcher sitting on my little stool with a sketchbook in my lap.

I’ll let you know in future how successful this system is.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in what our little group does you can see it here.


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 doesnโ€™t come, so its back to the old adage,  โ€œInspiration finds you workingโ€. So for the Day 12 prompt  โ€œShatteredโ€ 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 Iโ€™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 itโ€™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 ๐Ÿ˜„

# 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. Itโ€™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. 

#254 Pencils and paint

More portraits ๐Ÿ˜ It seems that I can’t go a day without a portrait now. Each time I go into my art room to think about starting a “proper painting” another portrait calls out to me. This next one is another watercolour pencil sketch with a waterbrush touched here and there. This process is a bit hit and miss, sketching, adding water with the brush, and going over that with pencil. If I need extra depth or colour I draw directly into the wet area and sometimes dip the pencil into water. Most of my watercolour pencils are Faber Castell with a few Staedtler and Caran D’Arche as well. This is a sketch of Joanne from Sktchyapp.

Another portrait of Jane from Sktchyapp painted in gouache with Pentel ink brushpen over.
A quick sketch from real life. I decided it’s about time I tried another selfie, standing in front of the mirror using a brown Pitt artist pen in a crappy sketchbook. I added the watercolour with a waterbrush and watercolour pencils. You can see the different pencil lines, the lighter ones are used dry and the darker are into wet areas.

And finally something different. We had a gorgeous autumn day last week so we went for a picnic at a nearby National Park. I did a little value sketch followed by a quick little gouache. I quite like the scene and hope to get around to doing a “proper painting” of this in the future.

242 Sketches from Bali

It’s been almost a month since I posted. A lot has happened in that time, a wedding, visitors and travel, with not a lot of free time for sketching.

First up is a sketch of the happy couple for the wedding card.


Next came the boring parts of travel. Trying to capture people at the airport certainly helps while away the waiting time, even if people move too fast, it’s all good practise.


On the plane and then the the first day at the resort. Hot, tropical weather is conducive to lounging by the pool with a glass of fresh juice. I drank a lot of fresh juices in Bali, guava, watermelon, mango, pineapple and some I’m sure I missed.img_1817

Another day, another beach. What a hard life it was ๐Ÿ˜Š I also tried to sketch the view from the front steps. Unfortunately taxis kept coming and going, blocking my view and filling the air with petrol fumes. It wasn’t such a good idea so I retreated back to the beach.


After an idyllic week of luxury resorting, we moved up to the hills of Ubud.


All of the above sketches were in my 23 x 15 cm journal. I then switched to my mini journal (16 x 11cm) and mini sketch kit on our day trips. I find I’m more inclined to do a quick scribble in the little journal, whereas the larger one I only seemed to use if I had access to a seat and table with room to spread out a little. 

The Campuhan ridge walk was very beautiful, although rather hot and sweaty, it was definetly the main highlight of the Ubud area. I did a quick line sketch while drinking a lassi (yoghurt fruit drink) at a cafe overlooking rice fields. 


I also managed another quick sketch of one of the many temples we visited. As we weren’t required to hire a guide for this one I had a few minutes to myself to do a line sketch and add the colour later.

Finally,  a couple of sketches done from photos in my mini journal.

Bali is a beautiful, tropical holiday destination with lots of different options. We stayed firstly at a luxury resort which is quite removed from the “real Bali”. The next few days were in Ubud in the mountainous region, which is surrounded by tropical jungle and rice fields. It was an artists colony and retreat in the past but is now very busy with traffic and street markets.  Then much more down market our last few days were spent in Legian which is very close to Kuta, the main shopping, bar and nightclub area. The area is completely congested with taxis, motor bikes, scooters and other vehicles all driving to the road rules that only Balinese seem to understand.

It was a wonderful holiday but it’s always good to be home.

235 A week of portraits

This week has been a week of portraits. Since discovering Sktchyapp I seem to be engrossed in sketching people. In the evening instead of watching a mindless tv program I grab a journal and pencil, pick a photo from Sktchy’s never ending stream and limit myself to a 15 minute sketch. These first 3 were all done in a Moleskine journal with a 7B pencil.

Then as I like to try something different, the next 2 sketches were done on Strathmore toned paper, first buff then grey, with an ink outline, and watercolour pencil and brush pen on top.

Each week a photo is chosen as a challenge on Sktchyapp. A beautiful photo was provided by Nadyia Duff for this week. I decided to do a semi blind contour drawing first. This is done looking at the photo and not the paper you are drawing on, while drawing a single line without lifting the pencil off the paper. I love doing these to loosen up.

After the fun I did a proper attempt, starting with a pencil sketch and using the colour of  Stonehenge paper for the skin tone, then adding a little bit of shading in transparent gouache with thicker paint for the eyes and hair.

It’s all very well working from photos for portraits but when it comes to sketching real people in real time it’s another matter. I tried some cafe sketching one morning, but people keep moving, especially if they think you’re drawing them and get self conscious. Oh well, it’s good practise and fun playing with a magic colour pencil and waterbrush.

I also managed to get out for a quick sketch walk. I wanted to test run my little palette I attached to my towelling wrist band with Velcro to see if it worked. And it does. One hand holds the journal and the other the brush. No trying to juggle palette and book in one hand. And I ocan fit the palette, journal and pen and phone into a bum bag. Super lightweight sketchwalk 

I hope I get to use this on my travels. Wish me luck. This may be my last post before I’m off for a month. If I’m able I’ll post to my Instagram account. That’s if there’s anything worthwhile to post ๐Ÿ˜„

230 Weekly sketches

I was enticed back to the weekend challenge on Wetcanvas last week after some time ( thanks Christine ๐Ÿ˜Š) and chose a photo of an everyday scene for the 2 hour challenge. As I am also doing paintings for #Worldwatercolormonth I decided to use the month to try out different papers. This one is on Strathmore mixed media paper. It takes washes really well and dries fairly fast, which is how I like to sketch/paint so I don’t know how it stands up to layering.

Then I chose a photo from Sktchy for a rather quick painting on Fabriano Artistico. This is lovely paper which holds the moisture for a longer period, allowing nice wet in wet merging, as seen under the cap brim. img_0760

Another portrait from Sktchy. Loved the colours this lady was wearing, but I’m not too sure about the likeness. If you can’t see the original photo you’ll never know ๐Ÿ˜„ I used Bockingford paper which I didn’t enjoy it one bit. It seems like blotting paper to me, and is very difficult to lift any colour off. Where I attempted a small area the surface started to disintegrate.img_0801

I needed a break from portraits so in preparation for my upcoming trip I decided to see if I can do a believable sketch of my view in 10 minutes, using a dark sepia Pitt artist pen and colour with a waterbrush, then just using the brushpen to sketch the geranium pot on the deck. I think 15 – 20 minutes all up, so I can do it. I just have to have the confidence to put it to practise  ๐Ÿ˜„. 

The page then needed something else so I added a little bird and some lettering to fill the page. This practise page is on Arches hot press paper. Not bad stuff!

I really should post more often and I won’t have so much catching up, but I’m not good at keeping up to date. I’d rather be messing with paint than writing stuff. So here is this weeks Wetcanvas 2 hour challenge – on Saunders Waterford paper. It’s great to paint on, and doesn’t dry too quick which is good for the colour mingling you can see in the background.

I used a different technique with this painting, mainly with a 3/4 inch flat brush. A few people were interested in the background so I thought I’d add a couple of images and hopefully explain what I did. I used the 3/4 inch flat brush with plenty of juicy colour, placed the tip of the brush on the edge of the line and pressed the bristles down almost flat against the paper. Reload the brush with more yellow or blue and placed the brush next to the first stroke.

For variation I dipped one side of the brush into yellow and the other side into blue, and dropped other colours into the still damp paint. Here I used some turquoise and quinacrodine gold. 

I enjoyed painting with that larger flat brush, so much that I might even have to see if I can find a flat waterbrush and play with that.

#221 Another reason to sketch.

Last night I watched another excellent BBC documentary hosted by Dr Michael Mosely. It was on general health stuff but one item in particular was on improving your memory. A study was done with 3 groups of volunteers. One group did mind puzzles and crosswords, another exercised briskly for 3 hours a week and the third took part in life drawing sessions. Yes, guess which group come out on top. Maybe it was because they were standing up to draw at an easel but the art definetly exercises the brain. I can smugly say I do all three of these with daily walking, sudoku and sketching, so hopefully I’ll keep dementia at bay in my old age

Although this week I have only a few sketches to share. I’ve slowed my pace down a little this month, but next month I’ve decided to take part in Every Day in May on Facebook once again. I joined in for the first time last year and became rather addicted to sketchbook journaling. It was fun and introduced me to a whole new world of Facebook and art related sites. A list is posted a day or so before the start of the month. If you join up you can share your art and enjoy all the other work posted. Plus it’s good for your brain.๐Ÿ˜€ It’s always interesting and inspiring to see how others interpret each prompt.

But back to my sketches for the week. The first sketch is the first page in a concertina journal – a gift from my sketching buddy when she came to stay for a couple of days. Thanks Margaret. It’s a way of breaking in a new journal while testing pigments and brush drawing…..no ink lines ๐Ÿ˜Š 

I’m always trying something different. This time it’s direct drawing with a Pentel ink brush pen and watercolor pencils on grey Strathmore paper, using a waterbrush to blend some of the pencil. Reference photo was posted by Breadmerchant for the 2 hour challenge on Wetcanvas.

Talking about water brushes I went to use my new Pentel waterbrush this week and it just wouldn’t work no matter what I did. I googled the problem but found no answers so I gave it to my technical adviser ๐Ÿ˜€ My dear man solved the problem for me. It seems that some of the hairs were inserted right into the water feed hole, and he was able to clear it by removing the offending hairs. You can see the offending hairs in the photo. It works fine now, although it is a little slimmer. I filled it with watered down ink for a test run.

I like to use a waterbrush when I go out sketching. It is so convenient. If I use a water bucket and regular brush I almost always end up spilling it and making a mess.

I ventured out sketching last week as our local town was given an art makeover when several local and international artists were invited to paint boring empty walls and laneways around the Main Street. I did a little urban sketch  of some of the guys just as they finished and were photographing their work.

And just one more for this post. Painted from a photo on Wetcanvas by KreativeK for the 2 hour weekend challenge. I did spend a little more on this but sometimes I think that my quicker sketches are much more appealing and not as laboured. 


The titles of my journal entries might all appear in French for a while. I’m trying to learn a little of the language before my next trip so I’m learning while painting. This title translation came from google so I don’t know if it’s right ๐Ÿ˜„