Autumn sun in Kingston

March 11th, 2024 § 0 comments § permalink

I almost decided not to attend this month’s Urban Sketchers meet-up. The temperature was predicted to hit the mid-30s, and I am not a huge fan of hot weather, but I figured a morning outing would let me get in and out again before it really got unbearable. We met at Green Square in the old part of Kingston, and I settled under one of the big old plane trees to sketch the Caribou pub — a Canadian-themed establishment that I REALLY want to visit for dinner sometime. I have always wanted to try poutine! I have added it to our date night list of places to visit.

The building itself is one of the fancier ones in the vicinity, and try as I might, I have not been able to find out its origins. The area itself was established in the early 1920s to support the nearby industrial area and has recently been gentrified after languishing in urban decay for decades. There are snazzy new apartment buildings and shops all around, but this lovely little old-style village green has been preserved as a place for the community to gather and enjoy the oasis of grass and shady trees … and, of course, fabulous coffee and food.

I set up my sketchbook spread ahead of time with the heading, map and metadata stamp and completed the main sketch on location. My experiment this time round was to use Mike Daikubara’s paint first, draw second method, and paired that with using brown ink rather than black to give it a softer feel. I am pleased with the way it turned out, though I think I should have done the drippy technique on the red sign as well to lift the bottom of the sketch where the details are sparse.

As always I finished the spread at home with photos and some journalling to fill it out.

Sketching alongside me and looking at the same view was my friend Sally, who you may remember I went out food sketching with last month. She kept up a steady stream of fun chatter, and we laughed together at the kids running around near us and quietly applauded the parents who were most effective in corralling their little ones with firm but fair guidance. We giggled most at a little girl being called by her mum … “Squirrel…come here please.” Was this child really named Squirrel? Perfect! We learned her real name after mum had repeated her pleas to the youngling several times … “Julianna! Come here now!” Sally and I both have grown sons, but remember vividly those times when we were the mum in that position. Though, Sally is an early childhood teacher, and she encounters squirrelly kids regularly!

We were lucky not to get whacked with the soccer ball that was whizzing around on the green beside us. I cannot get cranky at little ones enjoying the sun, running around, making happy noises, and having fun. No chats with strangers this time!

I had time to make two small postcards to leave behind as abandoned art to bring someone a smile with absolutely no expectation of hearing whether or not someone picked them up (though I did give the portrait to the lady I sketched, and she rewarded me with a surprised smile.).

Like last month, I videoed my act of guerilla kindness.

Green Square has some lovely quirky spaces. I took the photo of the laneway with the intention of sketching it sometime — it would make for fabulous perspective practice, and provide me with a challenge to make a traditionally dull space look interesting.

Autumn is here, so in spite of the summery temperatures, there were leaves of various hues dotting the ground. I also happened across this pair of handsome fellows in one of the arcades. I was not expecting that! Isn‘t it fun when we are greeted with these little surprises?

It has been a while since I showed my face here, so I had a play with my new phone — the portrait mode is fun — and saved one of my experiments to share with you. Hello!

Thank you again for reading. If you are interested in my Urban Sketching, I currently have an illustrated essay running in my newsletter that covers an 18-month project I completed to document the facelift of my local shops. Part two was published a couple of weeks ago. You can subscribe using the link in the side bar … it‘s free.


Farewell 2023!

December 31st, 2023 § 0 comments § permalink

It doesn’t seem long ago that I was looking back at 2022, and yet here I am, trawling through my work from 2023. I have completed more sketchbook pages and standalone pieces this year than in previous years, and I have explored new areas of art in the process. It is gratifying to look back and see that I have grown and developed as an artist this year. May it be so in the coming one!

The image below shows my top nine Instagram posts for the year. It‘s always really interesting to see what made it through the algorithm and caught peoples’ eye. It‘s never the ones that I think or, dare I say, hope people will like. At the end of the day, I create for myself, so it’s not a big deal, but it IS interesting.

Here are some of my favourite pieces from this year. As always, click to see a larger version of hte pic.

20230131 - roseate spoonbill
One of my first attempts at using a combination of watercolour and gouache in a painting.
202302 - old man
Completed over a couple of months in tiny slices during work meetings. Super simple, Bic pen in Moleskine journal
20230415 - don't care
I continued to use mixed media and collage to explore my inner world and de-fang old ways of thinking. I find this format really freeing…there are no rules and I can make my images as strange as my mind.
20230826 - fairy wren
This year, I delved into the world of nature journalling and fell in love. I can see myself doing a lot more of this kind of work, and I now have a dedicated sketchbook for these explorations. Who knew grey toned paper could be so fun?
20231102 - fruit bat
I was particularly pleased with the way these bats came out! Nature journalling has helped me slow down and notice what is happening in my own very tiny back yard, as well as further afield.
20231010 - whitlam
I played with a curvilinear perspective in my urban sketching practice and enjoyed the challenge. It really made me stop and think. I will definitely be doing more of this type of thing where it fits what I want to capture!
20230726 - paris in spring 3
Another challenge has been to add more people to my sketches. I can do passable likenesses of people if I go SUPER slow, but capturing humans in my quicker sketches has been difficult. More practise required on this front, but I am seeing progress. I have added more people to my urban sketches as well.

Remembrance Day is always loaded for me, and I try to use art each year to help process what is going on in my mind. This year I employed mixed media, including collage and gelli prints of old family photographs, and was proud of the outcome

20231029 - playtime fun
This year, I also finally finished an urban sketching project that I have been working on for a while now to capture the redevelopment of my local shops and playground. I will develop the pictures and stories as a series of illustrated essays in my newsletter in the new year. It‘s free to sign up, so please head on over and subscribe if you would like to see that. They will be posted here on the blog later in the year if you wish to wait 🙂

If you would like to look at all of my sketchbook work for this year, you can do so over at Flickr.

My plan for the new year is to start out with a location sketch somewhere tomorrow to celebrat ehte new year and then follow my nose as to how I continue to develop as the year progresses. The things I DO know are that there will be more urban sketches and more nature journalling. What happens between those two is anyone‘s guess! But it will be fun!

Thank you again for reading and for walking beside me this year. It means a lot to be able to share my ramblings and scribbles with you.

Look into my eyes……

January 23rd, 2022 § 0 comments § permalink

20220119 - thinking spiral
Pentel ink brush and watercolour in Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook

Keep staring at the centre of the spiral. Round and round and round. Are you sleepy yet? Or just confused?

20220119 - confusion
Lifted-type collage

It’s an interesting thought … nature knows what it’s doing … it’s us that get things all twisted up when we try to untangle it. Collage is a great way to create and unravel my mind when it becomes over-stimulated.

My muses! I am now a cat guardian!

June 14th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

I have been owned by cats now for a grand total of two months. They are teaching me to be a good cat guardian, and a lot about myself. You can read about that process over on my other blog.

They have also been showing up in my sketchbook. They don’t sit still for long for the most part – one of them is a hyper kitten – so I work from photos or I turn them into comics. It’s fun having two new muses to provide creative inspiration! They are always doing something silly or lovely that is worth recording. I thought I’d share a couple of pages with you.

20210328 - baby kiska 2

I drew this one from a photo I took when I visited my little fur-ball at the breeder’s home. She was checking me out from high up on her climbing tree.

20210419 - krasnyy

This big boy was a surprise addition to our family, but he is just adorable and has adapted well to his new home.

20210507 - kiska comes home

The first night with a new kitten is always….interesting.

20210521 - krasnyy adjusts

Krasnyy was a little suspicious of the fur-ball at first, but welcomed her quickly.

20210510 - afternoon nap

Occassionally Krasnyy sits still long enough for me to do a sketch from life. I grabbed my sketchbook and coloured pencils and captured him snoozing on his tree beside my desk while I dialled into a work meeting.

I have no doubt they’ll provide continue to provide many opportunities and creative inspiration in the years ahead. Perhaps Kiska will even sit still long enough for me to sketch her while she rests!

Art therapy in the time of COVID-19

April 5th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Get to know all about it
life etc
don’t disconnect,
reconnect
Explore what lies beneath
curiouser and curiouser
Find love

The world is an odd place at this moment in history.

I don’t like going to the shops for groceries at the best of times, but yesterday I found myself feeling incredibly anxious about leaving the house and possibly exposing myself to the virus. By the time I got home I was feeling exhausted and wanting to hide. I was annoyed because the feelings were not logical, I know the science and how to protect myself as much as possible, but they were there. And feelings are for feeling. All of them.

So I scrawled it all out onto a page in my sketchbook to get them out of my head. To see them, identify them and to acknowledge them. Reams of messy, scrawly writing tumbled out. Fears, insecurities, anger, frustration.

Now that all that was out of my head (for the moment) I could focus on adapting, responding and overcoming. One step at a time.

I like to do collage style pages when I feel unsettled, as a way to reframe the stories I tell myself. To remind me to be gentle with myself. I cover the chaotic feelings with smears of paint and scribbles and new words and images and focus on that instead. It is a technique that lends itself to layers upon layers as I swim towards the surface. I tell myself a new story about the things that are happening around me. This time the words that formed themselves into verse as I sifted through my stash of magazine clippings steered me towards connection and love. A good reminder at a time like this.

Art can be a great way to process life at times like this. It is one of the many things in my coping toolbox. How are you dealing with our new normal?

Looking back on 2019

December 22nd, 2019 § 2 comments § permalink

2019 has been an odd but wonderful year. Much happened, but not a lot of it was art related! In fact my energy for art and blogging seemed to dwindle as the year progressed, but my yen to knit and read ramped up exponentially. It seems my brain needed a different kind of stimulation. That is not to say that I didn’t draw or paint, I did, but it was not my obsession as it was in previous years.

I was able to complete a couple of very detailed watercolour paintings, and a raft of comic portrait commissions throughout the year, and again added sketches to my sketchbook and played with zentangle-style doodles to soothe when required.

I am not sure what the new year will hold, but I do know paint and pens will be involved!

Here are some of my favourites from this year. Do you have a favourite? Tell me in the comments below.

sunflower raw scan

Sunflower
Oh I love sunflowers! They are so bright and cheerful. I had such fun painting this one.

us wedding

Wedding comic
I drew this one to use on our marriage announcement in the middle of the year. We did not have photos taken, so I immortalised our outfits in one of my comic portraits.

Booty Fruity

Booty Fruity reporting for duty
I have come to really enjoy painting pinups. I did this Royal Marine tribute for Remembrance Day – though I stuffed it the first time and had to repaint her, which was more than a little annoying. She is kitted out with a Heckler and Koch VP9 and Faibairn Sykes ready for duty, but I’m not sure she’d get far in those boots.

PCOS pinup edited transparent background

PCOS pinup
This one was a commission for a dear friend.

20190219 - Green CApe lighthouse

Lighthouse
This sketch brings back such memories! I took a trip to the NSW south coast in February … it was a very blustery day and the clouds made me think of the weather in years gone by that would have caused shipwrecks up and down the coast. That’s the best thing about location sketching isn’t it? It locks in the memories.

20190429 - be softer

Be soft with yourself
Soothing bubbles that ended up looking like bubble wrap, and a reminder to treat myself well.

20190116 - messages from minime

Never forget how to play
I have enjoyed using prints of old baby photos to add a fun collage element to these mixed media pages in my sketchbook.

All of my sketchbook sketches from this year can be found here (I can no longer embed a slideshow as in previous years due to Adobe Flash landing on the scrap heap.)

And if you want to see more frequent updates than I manage here on the blog, you can follow me on Instagram.

I also write here, though updates have been sparse there this year too!

Looking for beauty among the ashes

April 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

This morning I woke to the news that Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was burning. I cried for the loss of something so beautiful and iconic and then more when I saw Parisians crying and singing quietly in the streets, mourning as they watched their grand old lady burn. Footage of fire fighters, the spire falling and the gutted remains of the cathedral were everywhere.

As the day wore on I began to see photos of destruction interspersed with sketches and paintings and holiday snaps. Artists were sharing hundreds of memories and flooding my feeds. People were reminiscing and grieving, and searching for the remembered beauty. It meant so much to so many and for a million different reasons.

Sketching or painting something captures memories of more than just the building. A sketch is imbued with your emotions, impressions and interpretation of your experience of the place at a moment in time. I think this is part of what artists everywhere were looking for.

I visited Paris in 2011 but I wasn’t a confident sketcher then and the details of the Notre Dame architecture scared the life out of me, so I didn’t even try. I thought I had, but was sad to discover I had not sketched it at the time. What I do remember was the feeling of awe as I took in her size and tried to wrap my head around the centuries’ worth of pilgrims that had made their way there seeking shelter or solace.

Today I flipped through my photos and searched for beauty as I tried to process the devastation on a page in my sketchbook. I found one where the sun was flaring across the front facade and did my best to capture her on that glorious Autumn day.

I saw a comment on Twitter where someone commented: “posting all your holiday snaps of Notre Dame is not helping”, and I imagine there are similar sentiments circulating about the artwork that is being posted. Perhaps they think it is an attention seeking thing? I know everyone processes these tragedies in their own way, but I would beg to differ and believe that sharing beauty can help. It is the same reason we have pictures of our loved ones at the funeral when they die. We are remembering the beauty of their lives. Even now, artists all over the world are digging out photos and drawing and painting to find the jewel among the ashes that we have been presented with today.

I felt silly being so upset about it, but was reminded by the Viking that I am attached to beautiful things, and that is not a bad thing. I am not the only one a long way from Paris shedding tears…I am reading of people all over the world reacting the same way. Never be afraid to attach yourself to beauty and to mourn it’s loss when it goes. We don’t buy a bunch of roses without knowing that it will be withered and in the bin a week or two later. Nothing around us is guaranteed to be there tomorrow — be it flowers, a pet, a loved one or an 860 year old cathedral. We cannot deprive ourselves of these things because we know it will hurt at some point.

The heartbreak of seeing Notre Dame burn is still present, but the beauty and the memories remain, albeit in different form. It will not be experienced in the same way again, even when she is rebuilt. We will mourn her loss and then celebrate again when she is reborn.

Beauty is one of the things we all cling to in a world that is at times so very ugly. It can unite us when so much is at odds around us. We need to keep looking for the beauty around us and not be afraid to get attached. Keep drawing, keep seeing the beauty even when it seems dark.

If you draw the world becomes more beautiful, far more beautiful.

EO Plauten


Urban Sketching at Old Parliament House

July 8th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

What a difference two and a half years makes! The top sketch was done this morning in about 45 minutes flat. Mostly because I misread my watch and thought that I had been sitting there for an hour longer than I had been. This was not a big leap for my poor brain to make since it was 9 degrees C with an apparent temperature of about 2 degrees with the wind taken into account. The next sketch was done in the opposite conditions – a midsummer scorcher. I remember sitting there for almost the full two hours labouring over the proportions and perspective. It was, I think, my second ever Urban Sketchers meet up.

20180707 - old parliament house

20160113 - king george monument

The two sketches are wildly different. I tried something different with today’s one, in that I focussed on a single part of the facade rather than trying to capture all of the rather long, low building. It is far looser and was completed quicker but the lines feel steadier even if the sketch is pretty wonky. I also left a lot of the page untouched with pigment.

The older sketch has far more tentative line work and I appear to have worked hard to cover the entire page with paint. It feels scratchy and wonky even though I was trying to be careful. The shadows are clumsy and I think I may have turned King George V into a little person. It is fascinating to be able to compare my growth as an urban sketcher using samples of my own work rather than looking at the giants in the field and winding up feeling defeated. I can see improvement in what I am producing, and that is encouraging.

At the end of the day I like both sketches, not just for the fact that I exited my hermitage to interact with other urban sketchers for a couple of hours, but for the life memories attached to them. Oddly I can remember what was happening in my life when I was trying to figure out how to render a bronze statue on a flat piece of paper. There’s something about drawing that sucks everything in and locks it into the image. I love it!

Dem Bones – Sketching at the National Museum

June 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

We’re in the midst of the coldest start to winter in 10 years here in Canberra, so I figured sketching inside at this week’s Canberra Urban Sketchers meet up was the thing to do. We met at the National Museum of Australia, and whilst there are LOTS fabulous things to draw, I have always wanted to draw a dinosaur skeleton, so I settled in the atrium and drew the muttaburrasaurus cast that was towering over everyone. The background ended up a bit of a smudgy mess because whilst I was aware that the ink was not waterproof, I failed to take into account that any moisture from my hands would also make it slide all over the place…or perhaps I was too impatient and didn’t let it dry long enough before resting my hand on the page. I will admit to rushing the background… it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the big pile of bones in front of me.

20180623 - NMA dinosaur

 

December 17 to April 18 Sketchbook flip through and a speed-draw video

May 6th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

I finally got around to filming a flip through of my most recently finished sketchbook! I really enjoy seeing the things I’ve played with over the course of a couple of months. I hope you do to!

I also filmed a timelapse video of the latest church drawing for my upcoming Churches of Canberra calendar (available early November). This is the first process video I’ve made, and I am really pleased with how it came out. I love watching other peoples’ work in progress videos because they inspire me and give me tips and tricks for my own work. I plan to show more of this type of video in my Instagram stories.

 

Here’s how my calendar paintings are looking so far. I am so excited to see the project coming together! If you want to keep up with release dates for the calendar and special deals on originals and prints please sign up HERE.



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