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Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Old Horse Barn

Along Hwy 101, south of Mendecino

Graphite pencil drawing on Lana cold press Aquarelle (reverse side). 
I took this photo along Hwy 101 on a recent road trip up the California and Oregon Coast. I love  old disused barns and decided to draw this one as a demonstration as 'Landscape drawing in Graphite' for my Wednesday and Friday classes. I usually use a hot press paper so working on the cold was a bit of a challenge - although I did use the slightly smoother 'wrong' side of the paper. Additionally, I do not often use paper stumps or tortillions, but I did so on this work to help blend the tones into the rougher surface and create soft tonal under layers.
2H, HB, 2B, F and 4B were used - HB/2B blended with the paper stump. 2H and HB points for sharper detail. F pencil for tonal blending and the 4B to punch in some darks. This took maybe 8 hours all up? Thereabouts. Finished size is a tad over A4.

Saturday, 25 August 2018


Auntie's Cat, 'Girl'

This is 'Girl', my Great Aunt's beloved new cat. Girl was a barn cat, raised in the crushing shed of my counsin's winery. Half wild, a fearsome hunter she now has 'adopted' my Aunt. Her eyes are a bit crazy, but that's the way she looks at you!
 This work was done as a demonstration for my Monday and Thursday night classes. Support is Art Spectrum 'suede' paper Kangaroo Blue colour. Medium is Carbethello Pastel Pencils with touches of soft pastel Sennelier White and Rembrant Burnt Ochre.


From the Oregon coast

Three little 'dollars' brought back. Graphitint and Graphite.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Redwood burls

Avenue of Giants to Stout Grove - Jedediah Smith State Forest

The burls on redwood trees are fascinating and fantastical. Here are a couple of sketches from my recent trip up the California coast.

Graphitint pencils (Indigo, Chestnut and Sage), 4B Watersoluble graphite, Fineliner ink pen

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

California & Oregon 2018

Travelling about in July

I have just spent the last two weeks travelling (road trip!) up the stunning California/Oregon coast, across to the Columbia river then down through Central Oregon. Lots of driving, hiking and visiting sights, but very little drawing was done - too much to see and do! But here are a few of the small drawings I managed to squeeze in on the way in my two small pocket sized sketchbooks:

Pencil sketch of a Scrub Oak and notes on birds sighted in Amador County, California

Watercolour wash sketch of my cousin's vineyard in Amador County, California. Much wine was drunk! 

Watercolour wash sketch of the Oregon Dunes on the John Deiffenback trail - I only managed about a mile or so of this very difficult 5mile sand/dune-walking hike.

Birds, Sealions, seals - quick graphite pencil sketches from Lincoln City beachfront area. Saw this pair of Great Blue Herons strutting and posing about, but they flew off before I could dig out my sketchbook.

Nice (easy!) 5 mile hike along the Crooked River in Smith State park, Oregon - stopped at Monkey Face rock watched the climbers and rested by the river. Watercolour wash with black ink pen of the river.

Watercolour wash with black ink pen. Juniper Tree study. I love these trees! 

Friday, 29 June 2018

Nesting Season

My backyard friend
My resident Magpie couple have returned for the winter/spring nesting season. They are carroling on the back fence as I write. He is actively collecting nesting material and she is supervising. This work was drawn a few months ago based on sketches and photos taken of him last year. Graphite pencils on Lana Hot Press 300gsm.  I will be exhibiting it and other works at the annual VAS Teachers and Students Exhibition 26 July to 7 August. This is a wonderful exhibition showcasing the work done by the VAS teachers and their students. Come along to opening night at 7pm Thursday July 26 and join the fun! Details @ VAS

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Floral Studies

A triplet of floral study work created as demonstraton pieces for my Wednesday and Friday drawing classes. The top (Margeurite) has been drawn on Fabriano Artistico Hot Press 300gsm, the other two are drawn on Lana Hot Press 300gsm. Graphite pencils 2H, HB, 2B and 4B.

Sunday, 20 May 2018


It was a chilly Tuesday night last week in Box Hill, but about 12 people braved the wet and cold to come watch me demonstrate with Derwent Graphitint Pencils. I enjoyed catching up with old friends, especially the wonderful botanical artist Beverley Ednie -  check out her facebook page, her detail work is wonderful and her nest drawings are superb.

As I indicated in my last post, I worked on a drawing of a Sugar Glider possum. Prior to the demo I worked on a quick 15 minute free hand sketch of my chosen reference so I understood the animal, proportions and position. This was checked to the references, then a simply light outline of the drawing was transferred to a sheet of light grey Art Spectrum 300gsm cotton paper. Paper was securely taped on all four sides to a drawing board.

I started with graphitint (indigo and russet) and 4B watersoluble graphite as a washed base. Drying off with a hair dryer*, I built up on this first wash I intensified the hues with more indigo, cool brown, 4B and touch of port in the feet and nose, lightly washing/dabbling to soften and blend the hues. Once totally dry I then worked progressively over the entire drawing witht he graphitint pencils and 4B 'standard' graphite. Touches of white pastel were added to bring out the whites in the fur.

The demo work took about 90minutes and was completed to what I felt was about 80% done. Once back in the studio I spent another hour or so refining the work, building up and intensifying the graphitint colours, gently touching with water if required. I also introduced some Faber Castell colour pencil soft pink into the feet and nose, and some deep 4B and 6B Staedler Mars Carbon/Graphite. A little more white pastel to highlight and it's done.

As a demonstration work I am not too disappointed in it. I can see issues with some of the rear leg anatomy and the 'tree' surface. But I guess it turned out pretty much okay in the end.
Thank you to WASA for once again allowing me to demonstrate with them. As always I had great fun and they are a wonderful group of artists.

*Note. I generally do not use a hair dryer but let washes dry naturally. However, as time was limited a fast drying method was needed.

Friday, 11 May 2018

May 15 Demo at WASA

Sugar Glider

This Tuesday Night, May 15, the Wildlife Art Society of Australasia (WASA) has kindly asked me to do a demo. This will be held at the Box Hill Library meeting room, Whitehorse Road, Box Hill Victoria 7pm for a 7.30 start. It is free for members and for guests - all welcome. 
I will be drawing a Sugar Glider using Graphitint pencils supported by graphite, carbon and white pastel pencil on a 300gsm grey Art Spectrum art paper I found at my local Art Shed. This is the first time I have tried this paper, but it has a nice weight and lovely textured surface.
The little 'pos shown here is a test drawing I have just completed to trial the pencils on this paper.
Observations and photographic references were taken earlier this year at the Moonlit Sanctuary in Pearcedale. A wonderful sanctuary for Australian wildlife - especially nocturnal animals.

Do come along to the Demo in Box Hill if you can! Would love to see you there.

Saturday, 5 May 2018


Visited the North Wharf at Docklands this morning. Wandered about and looked at the reconstruction happening on the 3 masted topsail schooner 'Alma Doepel'.  Currently the masts have been removed and most of the structure is being replaced. You can see images of the 'skinned' ship on the website link. While you could not go onto the Alma Doepel one of the volunteers took me around the shed as showed  the work in progress. Lots of bits and bobs go together to make a sailing ship!
Further down the wharf was docked the smaller 2 masted topsail schooner, the Enterprize. This is replica built in 1997 of John Pascoe Fawkner's Schooner 'Enterprize' that sailed from Van Diemen's land (Tasmainia) in 1835 with the first permanent white settlers to what eventually becomes Melbourne. Traditionally rigged ship with all the tradtional tar covered hemp ropes, flax canvas and lots and lots of block and tackles and woody things. 
They allowed you to come on board the Enterprize and have a look about. I loved all the piles of ropes, belaying pins, brass bits and wooden blocks. I can see some drawings in the near future! I did a sketch of some of the blocks while sitting aft:

And from the wharf, a sketch of the ship from the front view. Boy, there is lots of rigging! So any sailors out there, I know I didn't get half of it on the page, and the half I did is not rigged correctly!