Monthly Archives: June 2013

Drawing on envelopes – one week to go (and other travel drawings)

This is my final drawing on an envelope to my travelling companion.  It is my mum. She lives interstate and will be in Sydney next week, to fly out with me to London. A drawing of an airplane seemed a fitting theme for the last envelope in the trip preparation build up. She has told me that all of my envelopes are currently pinned on a notice board at her home. I hope that she will take a photo of them like that so I can add it to this blog.This “drawing on envelopes” began ten weeks ago and I have written about each one each week.
Up Up and Away
This week, I also drew my squirrel envelopes again to post to some English friends we are visiting and also some other English friends in Australia. I am not sure if any of them will appreciate the squirrels, since they are pests in the UK. This was my favourite envelope as  love the way the squirrel is looking up from the page.
squirrel envelopes are multiplying !
AND  my travel drawing this week is my new watch .
Why ? It is a special watch that has vibrating alarms set during the day to remind me to take my tablets. This is the first overseas travel I have done since my serious brain surgery and hospital stay two years ago which I sketched and journalled.
I am well and life had returned to normal, but I now take lots of tablets (packing my carry on bag has been an adventure). Using my mobile phone alarm was becoming impractical. I wanted an alarm that had no sound, just vibrates . I finally found one online and received it in the mail this week (with much less packaging then my pen!) 


So this holiday is very special for many reasons, one of which is that it is a major step to having a normal life  – not that I travel overseas very often! It is the fact that I can if I want to and I am alive and well enough to do so.

Barcelona Urban Sketchers Sympoisum preparation

With less than two weeks til we fly from Australia to the UK, trip preparation is down to specifics. I am spending two weeks in London and also a week in Barcelona to attend the Urban Sketchers Symposium

We had a Barcelona meeting Tuesday night in Sydney – Liz, Chris, Shantele (who especially travelled from Lismore)  and I are all going. We talked travel, paints, and asked Liz questions about previous USK Symposiums that she had been to, and what we can expect.
me, Chris, Liz and Shantele

Over the three days of Symposium we have to opportunity to enrol in five workshops from a long and exciting list. The workshops take place in emblematic Barcelona squares, streets and other public spaces and each workshop takes 3 hours.  From the descriptions supplied , I enrolled in workshops that seemed to offer me the most to learn and grow in what I already do.  Although I am also looking forward to being pushed outside of my comfort zone. And I fully expect it!

Most of the workshop I am going do not require me to buy any special equipment – except Marc Taro Holmes Drawing People in Action  I have most on the list apart from paints(which are being kindly lent to me) and the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. I could not find in Sydney, ordered it online from the USA and mailed FedEx Express International, so that I would receive it in a few days. I wanted to actually test it out it before I arrived ! I am glad I did as it will require getting used to and be fun too.
Pentel Pocket Brush pen


It has cartridges of ink that flow through the brush tip, which is harder than a paintbrush, but still has give in it to be able to make the variety of thick and fine lines.  These are my first test marks at the side of the page. My trip preparation included drawing my pen – lots of black !

When the pen arrived, it was highly over packaged  (for a pen) –  and all the packaging was not for protection  as the pen was placed on top of all the padding ! I then found where to buy them in Sydney city. At least I will know where to get refills!
an overpackaged pen
This week in the mail I also received my business cards and postcards that I had ordered through
The Symposium organisers (and Liz) advised us to bring some to the Barcelona to be able to exchange with all those many many sketchers we meet.They suggested business cards with our work on it, postcards, bookmarks (with our contact details) . Some bring their self published Blurb books, zines and stickers and buttons were also suggested as a popular giveaway to all our new friends
 I choose to have some of my gumleaf drawings printed on postcards and a few of the Sydney Harbour Bridge too – very Australian ! And I have many business cards which have my pencils drawn on them .I am so pleased with how these look – so professional !




Drawing on Envelopes 2 weeks to go

In two weeks we fly from Australia to London for a holiday. I am also going to Barcelona for a few days for the Urban Sketchers Symposium, where I have signed up for five Urban Sketching Workshops on the streets of Barcelona – learning about perspective, putting people and context in my sketches.
However the last 10 weeks of travel envelopes and travel journaling postings on my blog have all had a specifically LONDON theme This is because my travelling companion , who lives interstate, is staying to holiday in the UK while I am in Barcelona. All of our time together is in London. Hence, the London themes and scenes that I have been drawing in this set of blog posts . Our excitement levels are VERY high
This week I am getting really specific and very coordinated. (I just realised this as I wrote this). I have drawn a London Underground sign and an London Underground Travel card. We will see these quite often as we are staying in South Kensington for the first week.  We will be travelling on the Tube when we are not walking around.
Oyster card for use on the Tube – tap on tap off
and here it is as a Work in Progress. I wish I has scanned it from when it first started the sketch. This is just to give you an idea of how my watercolour pencil drawings progress



Erin’s Sketch class and a days travel journaling

My first blog post, on 27 March this year was prompted by going to Erin Hill sketching classes to show her students how I use my watercolour pencils. I talked about it to the class and then I realised I really needed to put it in writing, as so much of it happens in my head. So that became my first blog.  Read about the steps I go through here

Yesterday, I had the honor of being invited back by Erin to show her current Sketch class how I use my pencils. I decided to also use it as travel journal day, as I knew it would be a full day out and I may have the opportunity to capture moments on my day. This is all in planning for my very upcoming holiday to the UK.

I filled 8 pages of my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. You will notice that there are a few different styles. Each is suited to where I am and the time I have, and how I feel.

I started my day on the bus into Sydney city and was not planning to draw, but the man in front had a hair “style” worth drawing. I knew I had 20 to 30 minutes to draw him, until the bus reached the city. When I got home at the end of the day I realised I had not  left a page for a map for my travel journal day , so I squished it in on the page around him.

On the ferry from Sydney city to Manly I had 30 minutes to draw something. No one else was outside where I was sitting, so I drew the scenery and me.  There is never nothing to draw! When I got to Erin’s class, one of the other students had also drawn her crossed legs on her journey in


At Erin’s class this week the theme was glass bottles and jars and she had them set up on the tables. I choose these old pottery bottles. I drew them once and then a second time to show the class of 10 how I use watercolour pencils. As you can see from the second drawing, there is not a lot of marks on the paper, bit there was a lot of discussion and questions. I hope that I opened the students eyes as to the different ways watercolour pencils can be used to make marks on paper and how I use them. It was inspirational to talk with them.

Erin has Thursday Friday and Saturday classes and the students glass bottles and jars drawings from those days  are here. A wonderful variety of styles, line work and colours !

We then walked a short way to a local Art gallery “Raglan Gallery” to sketch. They had some lovely glass and ceramic bowls and jars, but I chose a small alabaster classical statue.





 After about  30 minutes we went next door for lunch and more sketching . Although we were eating in, I noticed that their takeaway cups were blank – a ready made canvas.   I have only recently “discovered” this,  and have drawn on coffee cups at Cockatoo Island and  RPA . People have been doing this for ages and there a entire blog using them as the canvas for New York City.
At lunch I sketched y lunch, some of our group. Some of them also sketched on a cup  
After a few lovely hours with fellow sketchers, I made my way back to the ferry terminal, to discover the next ferry was not leaving for another 30 minutes. Time for another sketch! I drew the view across the water to the beautiful buildings . Then I saw the ferry pulling in, so quickly went through the ticket gate to join the queue. I was at the back of the queue, which didn’t move, as we had to wait for all the passengers to come off –  so I sketched the people !

 And then finally – a VERY big swell saw the ferry moving up and down in the waves as we left Manly Harbour. I could see how much we were moving as the horizon moved from the top of my line of vision to the bottom. A man stood on the side deck enjoying it all.
I think sketching the scene may have stopped me from getting seasick
A very big, long day, but I was immensely pleased with what I captured in my sketchbook and the opportunity to sketch with other motivated people

St Andrews College, RPA

Drawing on envelopes 3 weeks to go and INK

It is three weeks until we leave for London on holidays. And here is this weeks envelope to my interstate travelling companion.. Only two more envelopes to go !!! 
Trafalgar Square

Travelling with ink – the adventure so far….For the past two years I have used a Lamy Joy Safari ink pen. And I love it ! It suits my current drawing style so well. Previously I used PITT , Microns, and other ink pens, in the Fine range. I would be happy with them for a while and then they would get scratchy and my drawing would be uncomfortable and they just wouldn’t feel right. I think (my interpretation) was because of the hard flat edge of the ink pen as opposed to the flexible smooth nib of Lamy Safari Joy pen (introduced to me by Liz Steel – thank you Liz !) 

I use Noodlers Bullet Proof ink – it is waterproof, so once I draw the pen lines on, I can go over them with my watercolour pencils and then the waterbrush (after giving it a little time to dry). Noodlers have a huge range of ink colours, but not in the Bullet Proof range. I  have the Black. and have a Polar Brown as well.
MY DILEMMA  – I will be away for three weeks of constant drawing . I will need to refill my ink cartridge . So I will take ink. So far, (touch wood) I have never spilt my ink when refilling. This was a major concern, as I can see it happening and ink going all over the cream carpet in my (rented) apartment ! I can also envisage my ink leaking through my luggage. So after much discussion and advice , I have plan.
Instead of the glass ink bottle I have a small used plastic bottle from a hotel bathroom. (from Milan!!)  I am going to bubble wrap it,  put in another plastic jar  – all well sealed. and put it in my luggage in the hold of the plane.
BUT … along the way… I rinsed the bottle and then as a final wash, I poured boiling water into it. It immediately crumpled and twisted. At first I was dismayed, but then realised how very Gaudi -like it was. If you are not familiar with Gaudi have a look at this link and you will see why . Since I will be visiting Barcelona for the Urban Sketchers Symposium , the city of Gaudi architecture and design it then seemed inspired, and the lid still seals , So I am still going to use it ! 
and so I drew it !
Gaudi inspired travelling ink bottle

my Lamy Safari in action – always in my hand ! Eat and sketch

Drawing on envelopes – 4 weeks to go (and other travel sketches)

It is only four weeks until we leave for London on holidays. And here is this weeks envelope to my interstate travelling companion.
Royal  Albert Hall .This is just around the corner from where we are staying in London, so we may see it often – Very exciting ! This is drawn in watercolour pencil on a heavy cream envelope. You can see the texture of the paper in the scan
And my travel drawing this week .
A little bit of tweaking to the perfect sketching shoulder bag . I bought my Hedgren bag just over a month ago and wrote about it and sketched it  
I have been wearing and using my bag daily, and kept getting confused as to which of the front two pockets held my pencil roll and which holds my Moleskine sketchbook. As there are only two pocket on the outside, you would think it would be hard to get that confused !- and I need both for the sketch anyway .  But I often want to grab my sketchkit quickly as I see an opportunity to sketch , and want the sketchbook and only one pencil.
Any way all problems solved today – I attached a very used pencil to the zip pull of the pocket that holds the pencils .
I got this idea from my pencil brooches. I have been using watercolour pencils for about 6 years and have not thrown any of the used stubs away. They have been on so many adventures with me! In the last year I have been making brooches and magnets  from my used pencils. At the moment they are just for me to wear (which Is why I am not turning them into any other sort of jewelry) But I am getting together a bit a collection now and may sell them one day …..I wear the brooches to any sketching event or when I am out on weekends. The brooches are a great talking point too. People are fascinated that they are the real thing and were actually used to draw.

Urban Sketchers Sydney – University of Sydney

Urban Sketchers Australia, Sydney event.

Eleven sketchers met on a cool grey day at the University of Sydney- Australia’s oldest university (1862) to paint, sketch and draw . Most of us stayed in the oldest area – the Quadrangle. But there is so much detail – where to begin ?



a short simple sketch in ink of the building

close up of details

more details

I decided to approach the day by pretending I was on holidays  in London and planning my sketching day as a travel journal .It was easy enough as I  just had to  imagine squirrels scampering across the green lawn in front of the quadrangle. In preparation for my upcoming (next month) holiday to the UK,  I have been reading about the Victorian Gothic revival buildings of London , including Westminster , which this building was modelled on. So I was in the right mindset to draw this wonderful building.

Last year I participated in Sketchbook Project , where I revisited a 2007 holiday to Paris as if I were the avid sketcher that I am now ! I experimented in the sketchbook on pages to see what would work, what I wanted to include, how I approach the day. See my flickr Paris 2007 set  to see all the pages of my project. I have also written my thoughts about the process  on Artists Journal Workshop

In summary, I decided  
  • each day leave the first page or two blank – at the end of day draw a map and write notes here . I also have the time to draw on object I have bought or a picture from a brochure or a ticket 
  • sketch throughout the day – what I usually would do
  • sketch large buildings in ink only and don’t spend too much time on them , then add details of the building  in close and colour as I am better at these.
  • I can improve composition of the pages by connecting colours (at home/hotel) across the pages, for example in the writing on the page

After a few hours of sketching we had a discussion about our sketches from the morning .

I then drew on the bus. I was too tired to draw my lunch in the city. but potentially would have !