Monthly Archives: December 2013

Christmas day . a baby possum

Christmas morning

A special day was made even more special for me by a little adventure that my mother and I had in the morning.
I had travelled home for Christmas to Toowoomba (regional Queensland – population (150 000)  from Sydney and had promised myself to do more nature sketching when I was there. I wanted to go out into nature to draw, rather than drawing nature objects , such as feathers,  in my apartment.

I had my chance before I knew it (although it still was sketched at home) !

On Christmas morning, Mum and I went for an early morning walk. Up the street we came across a dead brushtail possum on the footpath, just off the road. This is not unusual, as possums live in the urban community and can be pests (especially if there is one living in your roof). This one must have been knocked by a car and wandered onto the path to die. There were no visible injuries. But she was definitely dead. We looked closer and saw movement. 
There was a baby possum in her pouch !
The tail was the only thing poking out from the pouch, and when I touched the pouch he moved more.  (I shall call it a he rather than it or she) . Movement was a good sign!
But we did not know what to do! Thankfully, I remembered the name of an organisation that takes care of injured native wildlife and phoned to get their number. I left a message on voicemail and we walked home, as there nothing we could do.
I sketched what I had seen from memory, not knowing how the day would turn out or if I would see it again


Trish, the volunteer carer from Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation and Education Association called back (she was out feeding 12 baby joeys) and gave us instructions. This was all before 7.30 am on Christmas morning !!!

The volunteer lives 35 minutes drive away and still had some animals to feed. We walked very quickly back to the possum, hoping that nothing had happened in the meantime. We had been asked to see if he was off the mother teat, but he did not want to move away from inside the pouch. So we picked up the body of the mother (about the size of a small cat) with joey  still in pouch. She was so light. I expected a heavy body.
A quick walk home and followed more instructions. The mother’s body temperature would be dropping so we filled a drinking water bottle with warm water and laid it against the pouch.



It was an anxious wait to see if he would stay alive. Every now and then I would go in and stroke the pouch, the joey would wriggle inside and I would sigh with relief that he was alive.

I also had the chance to sketch a special moment. I have sketched animals taxidermed at the museum before, but was not sure how I would be about sketching a recently dead animal. I felt ok as the little baby was still alive. I am not sure how you all feel about this?
I guess I am an inner city Sydney girl, who does not have much interaction with nature. 

Trish arrive at 10 am. She removed the joey carefully and put him in a little soft material pouch. If he was taken off the mother’s teat too quickly it would have torn the inner membrane of his mouth. I am so glad I did not try to do that. Mum took one quick photo as Trish held him. We would have loved to take more and look longer, but it was not the right time or place. Getting the little possum into proper care was most important.

He is 15 weeks old and nice and healthy.

His skin is velvety and he is about 15 cm long,

Trish will feed him every three hours at first . He will stay in her care until maturity.  

I felt a huge sense of responsibility for this little vulnerable animal. It made my day that we assisted in saving his life.  and on Christmas Day it seemed even more special. I will be making a donation to Trish and her volunteer carers who do such wonderful work in helping our native wildlife.

 This is what a possum looks like (with and older baby on her back)




Christmas drawings

The countdown to Christmas is on and I have been drawing Christmas objects and scenes over the last few weeks. I thought that I would gather them all here on one page to share the festive joy. Season’s Greetings to everyone.
It began in early December when I made brooches from my used pencils. – the red and green ones – to wear in December. I only wear two or so at a time but decided to do all of them . I had gathered them together on the table when completed, and decided to draw them as they sat
drawings of brooches
The sights around Sydney also provided wonderful opportunities to sketch. This gorgeous Christmas tree dress in the QVB Building had  to be drawn. This gets lots of comments

The large floating Santa’s in Darling Harbour are also very festive and hard to miss

I then began to draw some presents that were waiting on my table to be wrapped.

and made a Christmas card . I drew some sweet handmade Croatian biscuits that I was given by a neighbor for Christmas and I will give the card to her

On the weekend I drew on letter writing paper and an envelope I am posting today. Those of you who know me will know that I enjoy drawing on envelopes. I have a lovely time drawing and someone enjoys receiving it in the mail.

and finally – on the top of a friend’s tree. I was sent a photo and had to draw it ! 


Urban Sketchers – Cockatoo Island

 Yesterday, about 15 sketchers met at Sydney’s Cockatoo island (a quick ferry ride in the harbour)for the final Urban Sketchers Sydney event for the year. The weather was all blue skies and sunshine, as summer has finally decided to arrive in Sydney. We have visited Cockatoo Island regularly as is so full of inspiration and potential sketching opportunities
I always like to arrive  a little early to start sketching before everyone arrives and I start talking. I sat the café with Phil & Chris and looked back to Sydney, sketching the panorama in watercolour pencil. Is was so peaceful.

Often when I visit Cockatoo Island I feel the need to draw BIG-  the buildings are big, the cranes are big . I draw everyday on a 20 x 13 cm moleskine watercolour sketchbook. So this time I came prepared with some larger sheets of paper, Unfortunately, I was in the mood for drawing small….so the papers were left untouched this time. But I will return in the New Year to experiment with size and equipment


The Drawing Office is one of my favourite buildings on the island. And that was even before I knew that it was called the Drawing Office and then that just made if more special. The Drawing Office was established in 1914 as part of the dockyards of the Royal Australian Navy, which were based there.I love the colour and textures, the greens and the rust .I have sketched it a few times previously. We only had about half and hour for this one before meeting everyone for lunch.


some of the sketchbooks from the morning
We chatted, compared notes on what and where we sketched and the experience of the morning.


Liz Steel reminded me that Cockatoo Island was the first place we met and sketched together way back in 2008. It was an International Sketchcrawl and we were the only two that turned up. How much has changed in our sketching lives since then! So many wonderful art adventures, meeting some interesting and inspirational people. There have been opportunities in the art world that I never would have dreamed of.

Certainly my sketching has changed. I think that I am more confident in my line and colour. I feel like I am capturing a lot more character of the object I am drawing. Below are my sketches from 2008.

I can see that my subject matter has not altered at all, and I could have chosen the same objects this weekend.  That would have been interesting!
I am still using watercolour pencils, as I had only just discovered them then and am now a complete aficionado.
I was using Pitt pens and Micron pens then, whereas now I love my Lamy Safarfi Joy ink pen. The flow of ink off the nib is so smooth and suits my drawing style.
I also drew on castoff sheets of A4 card stock then, and now I am up to Moleskine watercolour sketchbook number 37 since December 2008. I will be starting on sketchbook number 38 as I fly home for Christmas in a short time. I sketched at the airport for my Christmas flight in 2008 in the first pages of my first Moleskine. I am getting nostalgic thinking about it!