Indoor sketching was the order of the day here due to there being a lot of wet stuff falling from the sky. Only dry media (pencils) allowed in the galleries, so I took myself down into the section with a series of marble busts, and found that drawing those things is far harder than it would appear. I wound up with a picture of Sir George Turner that looked somewhat odd and skeletal. I tried twice without getting a likeness that I was at all happy with. The second one is just below.  I pretty much gave up at that point…. rage-quit as my son would say.

To fill the last half an hour of the session I pulled out my mechanical pencils with the coloured leads and did some quick captures of the other four busts in the area. I just worked right over the top of my first failed attempt at Sir George rather than waste another page. I have to say I actually enjoyed doing those four far more than the first two graphite ones. I think I was trying too hard… and when I let myself be loose and free flowing with my strokes, I ended up with far more pleasing drawings.


On  whim late last month I decided to sign up for the Every Day in May drawing challenge and joined up to the Facebook group to share my drawings each day with hundreds of other artists around the world. I started out the month in fear and trepidation, and not enirely sure that I would be able to keep up with completing a drawing every day, but I surprised myself and had a great time meeting new artists via the Facebook group and being exposed to a vast variety of amazing art from around the world as we all worked though the same prompts and exhibited all manner of amusing interpretations on the theme each day.

This ladybug was my favourite piece of the month:

cropped ladybug_Fotor

Here are five things I learned from this month of drawing:
1. Practising every day does improve your skills slowly but surely – as the month progressed I found the sketching part of the process flowed more smoothly. I was seeing edges and proportions and shapes in abstract terms and drawing what I could see far better than before, which in turn meant less erasing and re-drawing. As a side note I also learned that the sketchbook/black pen combination I chose that I chose didn’t like erasing so much, so I switched over to using a red lead in my mechanical pencil and left the under-drawing as a “feature” 🙂 . You can see the faint red lines int he ladybug picture above.
2. A sketch is very different from a piece of finished art – some days I had more time to complete the drawing than others. Somedays I had half an hour and had to squeeze it in between other tasks, somedays I could take several hours to complete the piece by drawing at lunchtime and then painting bits and pieces over the course of a more relaxed evening. The products of each look very different, and I found myself fretting at times about the stuff ups and about the less polished pieces. In the end I came to the realisation that there is no right or wrong way to do things in your own art journal. It’s your space to fill how you please. If you only have a few minutes to scribble a sketch one day, that’s fine because at least you are drawing SOMETHING, just don’t expect it to look like a page you spent hours on.
3. The challenge was a good place to practice new techniques I was learning from online classes – I have been watching YouTube and Craftsy lessons of late as a way to fit some art tuition into my life. Rather than creating different pieces for practising what I learned, I simply applied the techniques to my journal entries. As a result, I have a bunch of disparate styles of art in there, and that’s ok too 🙂 .
4. I got really angsty about having to post a drawing each day, I did not want to miss a day and get behind, which probaby says more about my mental state than anything. I can easily see the days when I really couldn’t be bothered but was drawing because I had to and my emotions are on full display for anyone that knows me well enough. Subtleties in the neatness of the lines, or the colours chosen, or how playful the interpretation of the prompt is. (Don’t go back and attempt to psychoanalyse me 😛 you won’t get it even close to right.. professionals have tried and failed.) Though I will admit that I possibly need to relax when it comes to meeting self-imposed deadlines.
5. I can make time to draw or paint each day if I really want to – I have used the “I’m too busy” excuse far too often in the last year or so, but I have culled a bunch of activities out of my life that no longer appeal to me and I’m left with a couple of things that make my heart sing…art is one of them. Now to put a little discipline around developing my passion and not allow myself to get sucked into procrastination and meaningless timewasting 😀 No more excuses! A little practise each day adds up over time to improve skills and hone techniques.  And I hope to complete some larger projects this way too. This exercise has sparked a bunch of new ideas for things to paint and play with!
Will I keep drawing every day? Yes! I likely won’t post a full drawing a day, but rather work at having a piece of artwork on the go on my desk at all times so that I can choose to sit for hours to work on it, or sit for 15 minutes while I wait for the veges to cook for dinner. And of course the urban sketching will continue as I capture the sights and scenes of the world around me as I explore. I you are interested in seeing work in progress shots you can follow my Facebook page or Instagram for a broader cross section of life and the things that feed my creativity.
Here’s a slide show of all 31 drawings. I had a blast and will definitely be doing it again next year!

If you would like to see some of the other offerings from my fellow artists…the group has a public Flickr group HERE that you can browse and enjoy.

For some unknown reason I decided to sign up for the Everyday in May drawing challenge … I didn’t think I’d keep up, but I’m doing ok so far 🙂 I am enjoying seeing a diverse range of artists share their interpretation of the prompts supplied for each day and having fun coming up with creative interpretations of the prompts for my own drawings. The ebbs and flows of quick drawings and more involved ones as I work around what life throws at me shows me that there is always time to fit in a quick drawing here and there 🙂 I really hope this challenge keeps me drawing more regularly into he future….in the meantime I am looking forward to the final two weeks of this challenge!


Typical Autumn day in Canberra today…windy and cool, overseen by blue skies and the odd menacing cloud lurking about.  We met in the centre of town by the fountain that looks like dandelion seed that has been here for as long as I can remember, and then each took off to find our own spot to capture a scene. I chose the merry-go-round for very sentimental reasons. For many years my friend Rachel and I used to go into the city to have a ride and then to shop 🙂 That seems like a lifetime ago now!

The group numbers are growing for our Canberra Urban Sketchers group! So lovely to hang out with like minded people and learn from other artists!
20160501 - merry go round

These two quickies were squeezed into the last 15 minutes or so before the urban sketching group were scheduled to meet up for lunch. The Icarus sculpture was one of four of these huge, ominous looking figures in various poses on the one plinth. The installation was surrounded by plane trees in various states of autumnal colour and undress.

20160501 - icarus and tree

For millenia art has been used to send messages; some subtle and some not so subtle. It has been used to unsettle populations and to provoke action. It has been used as a medium for the voiceless elements of society to get a word in edgewise. From scribbled phalluses on Roman walls to Banksy’s grafitti dotted around city backstreets. From paper’ zines to online comics. Art has been a way for the voices of the voiceless to be heard and messages sent out to those who care to look.

Nigar Nazar is Pakistan’s first female professional cartoonist, and she is using her art platform to raise awareness of the oppression women and girls experience in her country, and to promote education for women and girls amongst other issues.

Read the whole story on the BBC site here… it’s inspiring! Art can be so powerful! (You can follow her work on Facebook too.)


Education is the key to breaking the bonds of patriarchy, terror and oppression of women and children. It will take some time for the effects to flow through, but it is well worth the effort to support these women, because they are the ones that will tell their little boys and girls how a better world can be made in the future.

So how can we support these women? You don’t draw and make a difference like she does? You don’t think you can help promote her cause?  Of course you can! visit and search for opportunities to lend to women needing help to fund their education from all around the world. There are no set monthly plans, you lend and relend via micro-loan providers as you are able. Just a couple of dollars here and there. (I get no kick-backs here, this is a genuine recommendation of a service that I have used for many years as a direct way to help people without the vast percentage of the cash being swallowed up by the machinery of the charities.)

Check out some of her other cartoons, they’ll give you a giggle and open your eyes to the way others are forced to experience life.



Some years ago I was honoured to be asked to be a featured artist in Mike Rohde’s Sketchnote Handbook and had a great time creating a page that captured my approach to visual note taking, so when Mike contacted me again a few weeks ago to invite me to participate in the creation of the French version of the book, I jumped at the chance! If you have been around my blog for any length of time you will know that I am a francophile from way back, so this opportunity was a double bonus! Mercifully I didn’t have to do the actual translation work (my French is not that good!), just provide the language elements of my page in French. It has been a very long time since I had to sit down and do this kind of language homework 🙂 but I loved it!

As I type, my final artwork is sitting on my desk beside me waiting to be scanned and sent off, and I am dying to see how it all turns out when the hardcopy of the book lands in my letterbox in a few months’ time.

Here’s where it all happened…I so love creating at this desk.

It took me a couple of goes to get it all correct and fitting into the space…so many more French words to say what I said in a few in English 🙂 Mike and his fabulous team that know how to use Photoshop better than I do will take my words and combine them with the elements of the English version of the digital artwork.

Congratulations to Mike for the sensation that the handbook has become around the world! You’ve worked hard for it! Thanks for the opportunity to participate again!



March 30, 2016 — Leave a comment



This is Fergus. He’s 12 years old and has had a distinctly unpleasant life as a racing dog and then (we think) as a stud dog in the greyhound industry. He’s a bit beaten up and rough around the edges these days. He’s a bit unsteady on his legs and he can’t see very well and his flatulence would clear an aircraft hangar. But he is a sweet boy in need of my loving care in his twilight years, and is always happy to see me. Glad to have you in my life Ferg!
This painting was created so that I could play with masking techniques. It was a lot of fun to be able to slop the background colour around with abandon, but I did learn to be somewhat careful with the masking fluid, which is a similar colour to the paper, and makes it difficult to see and little holes in the latex. You likely cannot see them in the photo, but there are a couple of little green spots on the Furry One 🙂 He’s not mouldy… that’s just me learning to be more thorough and not rush to the fun part 🙂

zippy vespa is zippy!

March 20, 2016 — 3 Comments

20160316 - zippy vespa

My scooter had to go into the workshop for a service this week and I was given a little Vespa scoot to ride for the day. I was somewhat unconvinced that it would have the oomph to get me where I needed to go without getting flattened on the freeway. It was only a 200cc … my Honda is a 250… what I failed to take into consideration was that the little Italian number was about 100kg lighter than my Honda. I liked the comparative zippiness of the Vespa…though I didn’t like feeling like I was sitting on a chair and speeding along. I think I’ll stick to the cockpit feel of my Honda for now. Though it is definitely time for me to consider trading up. Something with some storage so I can go touring and drawing around the place. I have been bitten by the bike bug 🙂

20160217 - goongarline

This installation by Malcolm Utley is located in the middle of the towncentre close to where I work. The artist drew inspiration for his granite and steel piece from the rocky hills around the area and took the name for the name given to the hills by the local indigenous people.

I have been working out this end of town for almost a year and walked past this sculpture almost every day, and up until I drew it the other day and hunted around for the plaque, I had the distinct impression that the steel spikes were instead pikes in need of the heads of traitors.

This month’s Canberra Urban Sketcher’s meet up was at the local airport, starting at the new Vibe hotel. The airport precinct has a lot of brilliant things to sketch  – anything from sculptures to people to buildings and funky new hotels. My challenge to day was to attempt to capture the movement in the water features up on the departures drop off area. They are hypnotising to watch…I have no idea how they work. It looks as through a tornado of water is swirling up through the middle of the glass tube and letting water shimmer down the outside. I had fun attempting to capture the reflected colours from the sky and plants and surrounding buildings, though i couldn’t quite get the shimmy of the water down the outside.

20160207 - airport water feature
Looking at this photo now I can see that i was so fixated on the feature itself that I completely missed the reflection in the surrounding support. :S