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.

272 Plein Air Popularity

Plein Air outings are now a regular event each week for me. I find I am learning a great deal from painting on the spot, such as how to simplify a scene, choose colours and trying to make a painting work without being a slave to exact realism. My aim is to capture my thoughts and feelings about what I am experiencing at that time.

A couple of weeks ago our group visited a local winery and were able to set our easels up amongst the vineyards. I liked the view looking towards the distant Ranges.

Here is a photo of what I saw, although I find taking a photo in landscape mode always seems to flatten the image. And of course I exaggerated and used my artistic license.

The following week we painted in a street full of historic cottages, all lovingly cared for with beautiful gardens. We found out by chatting to one of the owners that many of these cottages were flat packed and imported from Scandinavia in the 1890s to house mill workers in the town.

At this time of the year on Instagram you see lots of posts popping up with the # 2017bestnine hashtag. A website works out the algorithms for your most popular posts for the year. It is interesting and often a surprise to see what pops up. This year mine were predominantly Plein Air sketches and paintings, with a junky tree study and a really quick silly Inktober sketch.

Does this mean I should concentrate more on Plein Air?

My downfall is that I can’t just stick to one thing. I love portraits, pet paintings, still life and more, and I want to try it all and keep on experimenting. I’m planning on taking a summer school course next month touching on abstraction. It will be interesting to see where that leads me. I’ll keep you posted.

255 Outdoors and Indoors

Last week our pleinair outing was at the old cemetery. Some of the group were reluctant to paint in a spooky place but I thought we were paying homage to the old forgotten graves. I’m sure the spirits of the departed would have looked on us as friendly visitors. The weather wasn’t so kind to us though, as after about an hour the skies opened up and we were soaked in a matter of minutes 😄 Luckily I took a photo just before the drenching and the paint running and dripping off the page.

Back safe and warm indoors I resorted back to portraits from Sktchyapp, trying different techniques and materials. First up is an ink and coloured pencil sketch on Strathmore tan toned paper. The white highlights are Uniball Signo white pen.

Next was a gouache and Pentel brushpen in a Quill journal.

And because I have a couple of commissions coming up I thought I should try out some “good” Fabriano Artistico paper again, and do some step by step progress shots. This is the ghastly stage 😄 Using a very limited palette – cadmium yellow, cadmium red and a little cerulean for the flesh tones. Adding some darks with burnt sienna, ultramarine and pthalo blue, and a few splashes to try and loosen up a little.

The final dark accents on the face, glasses and background.

180 River Scene and Urban Sketching

Another attempt at a landscape still trying to follow Shari’s tutorial on Craftsy. I used a reference photo by Marie Thomas for the 2 hour challenge on Wetcanvas. Try as I might I still can’t get the effortless look I so admire in her work, but I hope I am slowly improving. I’ll just keep on trying : )


River scene – Bockingford 300 gsm paper 25 x 19 cm.
This landscape was painted with my new Winsor and Newton palette, found while browsing in an art store I hadn’t visited before. It was on special and even though I don’t know that I will actually use all these colours I love the long palette.  A new brush, pen and sketchbook just happened to fall into the basket too. This sketch was a try out the of the new colours in my new Draw and Wash sketchbook.


While in the city I am able to do a little sketching. This tree was in a very large park in the metro area. Lots to do here and it has a huge dog exercise area too 🙂 Great for little Arfie.


It’s also been great to be able to meet up with some local sketchers. The plan was to meet at a local historic house for some outdoor sketching but wet weather forced us indoors. First, a cafe sketch.


Then on to the Belgium Bar and Cafe for another sketch and lunch.


On Sunday I met with Evelyn, a keen urban sketcher who does some wonderful people contour sketches. It was another wet day so I tried the view across the street while sitting in the shelter of the awning. It wasnt too long before the awnings were lowered because the rain was increasing. So I turned around and did a contour sketch of an old geezer at one of the tables


179 Coastal Scene and City Sketch

This is my second  sketch following  Shari Blaukopf’s landscape tutorial on Craftsy. I love her painting and she makes it look so easy. Deceptive these teachers are. It’s not easy but I have learned so much from her lessons. Shari is great with her feedback too, pointing out that the composition could be improved by omitting the shrub on the left. She is right of course. Simplification is the key, I just have to put it into practise. My reference was from a photo posted by Valri for the 2 hour weekend challenge on Wetcanvas.
Micron fine liner and watercolour on Bockingford paper.


I’m not very experienced with urban sketching, as I mostly sketch from photos and I’m a bit of a wimp outdoors. But I’m in the city for a month and yesterday I tried my new little kit and sketched the view from the balcony looking towards the city. Hopefully I can meet up with some local sketchers while I am here.
Staedtler triplus brown fineliner and watercolour in Strathmore mixed media journal.