Monthly Archives: February 2015

online drawing challenges

There are many, many online art challenges available for anyone to participate in on websites, blogs and facebook. They are fantastic sources to inspire and motivate. Most of them  you can dip in and out of,  but can also use them as a way of committing to drawing. They are also a wonderful way of connecting with other artists online as you each have the same daily, weekly or monthly goal and can you comment on each others pieces. Looking at the various interpretations on a theme can create lots of fun discussion.

I decided to write this blog when I saw that this weeks challenge on the  Illustration Friday website is SLEEP. Here is my interpretation and then below are the other challenges I have participated in over the last few years:

Illustration Friday

19Feb15 Sleep for Illustration Friday provides one word to interpret and draw and post online by the end of the next week, when a new challenge is offered. This was an easy  choice when I saw the challenge. This old bear will surely provide a good night’s SLEEP. Here are all of my drawings for the Illustration Friday challenges

Everyday Matters EDM Weekly Challenges scan0022

Everyday Matters EDM Weekly Challenges .Everyday Matters is a group that grew out of Danny Gregory’s blog and books – Everyday Matters, The Creative License and An Illustrated Life –There  is a list of 328 challenges. They were posted weekly on a Sunday from 2009 and the participants added their drawing to a flickr group. I would eagerly await the new challenge each week.  Sometimes I knew exactly what I was going to draw as soon as I saw the challenge . Other times it would take a bit of thinking The list is still available here (to inspire you) Here are all of my drawings for the EDM Challenges.

Everyday in May

3517710918_7c11039eab_z Originally began by “French Toast Girl” with an idea to commit to create something every day in May – a painting, a drawing, a photo, a collage. Then share it. I  participated in 2009,when I chose my own theme of drawing my holiday souvenirs. You can see the whole months drawings here . I had such a great time drawing these and reliving my memories each day. In 2010, 2012 and 2013 I participated in the Everyday Matters in May (EDiM) challenge on flickr, (then a facebook group started as well)  using 31of the Everyday Matter Challenges , as daily challenges In the Month of May. Everyone used the same list. edm27 copy 2013 EDiM – see the rest of the month HERE scan0018 2012 EDiM- see the rest of the month HERE scan0007 2010 EDiM- see the rest of the month HERE I draw everyday, sometimes more than one drawing, It was exciting but tiring to draw  purposefully to the list for the whole month.

Virtual Paintout

scan0011 The goal of the project has always been the same; to give artists an opportunity to gather together virtually, and paint or draw in the same area. A city or country is announced by organisor and creator Bill Guffey . The artist must use a view found through Google Street View as the reference for the painting or drawing. So – go ahead join in !

drawing books

I recently started working in a beautiful historic library. I have been drawing a lot of books and library scenes since then and you can see them on my flickr site  here .

This page is all about my latest drawing.


The works of Plato : a new and literal version, chiefly from the text of Stallbaum. London : Bohn, 1854-1861. 6 v. ; 19 cm.

I draw at work in my lunch breaks  for about  1/2 hour. My previous drawings have all been in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks (13 x 19 cm). I have discovered that I really enjoy drawing books and do them well and so I  have started doing them on loose sheets of paper. I wrote a blog post last year on my search and experiments in locating loose sheets of paper that were equivalent to my sketchbook.   Since then I have discovered the perfect paper for me and my watercolour pencils . It is called University paper and I think that it is made by St Cuthbert’s Mill in UK. It is 210 gsm and this page was cut to A4. It was suggested to me by Deans Art in Melbourne.

I decided to draw two of the five volumes in a 1854 publication of The Works of Plato.  These books are only slightly worn, and have beautiful marbling on the sides of the pages and the end pages. (The books I really love to draw are those that are not in the best condition, however they are not a good representation of what is held in the library.)

 Progression from a sketch to a finished drawing


initial sketch. HB pencil on loose sheet A4 scrap paper

I started with a sketch on a scrap paper to try to get the angles right. This is not my usual approach, as I usually start straight in with the watercolour pencil on the page. However, I know that I find books difficult to draw – getting the proportions right and making them look like they are sitting flat and piled on top of each other. I have almost achieved it with this drawing. (It is hard to tell as these are photos taken at an angle)

The colour variation was not as contrasting as these photos suggest (that is the photography!) . However, I did attempt to match the colour of the book binding and used a mixture of the following three colours : Burnt Carmine, Pale Geranium (both Faber Castell) and Madder Carmine (Derwent), building the colour strength  and shadows over the days. The drawing reached a stage where the colour started to get ‘muddy’, so I stopped and worked on the detail.

I still have to find a method of representing lettering in drawings, both on the outside on the spine and front cover, as well as the print inside a book. This drawing was a bit of an experiment. Instead of leaving the white space of the letters on the page and trying to fill them in with colour (not enough space), I coloured all of the book and then tried to add the words by writing over the colour with both yellow pencil and gold highlighter. I also added white gel pen and then colouring over that with the yellow. None of these were spectacularly successful. I welcome any suggestions and links to examples of words on books.

However, I am pleased that it does give the impression of the gold crest stating that this book belongs to The Library of the Supreme Court of the Colony of Victoria. This shows the age of the book from the collection.


In 1770 Captain James Cook landed in Australia. In 1835 Melbourne was established. In 1850 the new “Colony of Victoria” (after Queen Victoria) was founded  with separation from New South Wales. At the beginning of 1901, Victoria ceased to be an independent colony and became a state in the Commonwealth of Australia.

This  drawing is almost complete. I will put it aside for a while and then make some minor changes to details. I would like to see it as a print or on a card one day . In the meantime I will begin another book (to draw, not to read)



Writing on sketchbook pages

I was recently asked “why do sketchers feel the need to add writing? I don’t think you need it. Is it a tradition?”

28jan2015 Fed Square

I have thought about this a few times over the last few years in relation to my sketches/drawings and this seems a good opportunity to put my thoughts in order and onto ‘paper’ , so to speak.

My answer to the query was”

“I describe my sketchbooks as sketchbook journals. It is a record of my observances at a particular time and place. It is a record of my life, I have just started my 50th sketchbook journal since Dec 2008. But when it comes down to it I just LOVE TO DRAW, but I like to give it context.”

Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks

Moleskine watercolour sketchbook


I have drawn all my life, but only regularly since 2005 (ish), in any sketchbook I could get. I was then using watercolour pencils and ink pens and graphite pencils. I have continued to use these materials, exploring and building on my knowledge of how they work and the effects that can be achieved. Every now and then I splash out and experiment on a large sheet with charcoal or go to a life drawing class, but in general this is my thing!

In December 2008 I bought my first Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook (13 x 19 cm). This was a watershed moment in my drawing path. There have been many discussions on facebook groups about the format of a sketchbook (landscape/portrait) and what is ‘best’ and the effect on a sketch. I love to use this format and fit my sketches to the format

I carry my sketchbooks, watercolour pencils ink pen with me everyday, everywhere. Read about what and how I use my drawing material here  There is always the opportunity to draw! I also draw longer studies of objects at home in the same sketchbooks.

The most important part of the page is the drawing but I also like to provide a short narrative. These are my journals of my life. I can look back to a date and see what I was doing (or drawing) at the time. I have captured everyday matters, travel and serious illness.

10jan2015 Kyneton Farmers Markets - Copy3DEc14 princes bridge

The words are not the focus of the page but provide a context and narrative.

There is an excellent book called Globejotting : how to write extraordinary travel journals (and still have a good time on your trip ) by Dave Fox which provides some ideas about what to write about. But I do not want the words to overtake the page. Although sometimes feel like I have so much to say , that I could write for pages.

  • One of my friends thinks I write too much and prefers my pages with few words.
  • Another tells me that they can hear my voice in the words on the page and that makes it even more personal and special and enjoys when I write a lot!
  • People who do not know me and browse through my sketchbooks often comment on the fact that I write notes and are fascinated by the idea.
  • But in the end I ask myself “who are the journals for” – they are for me !

At one stage I questioned drawing on both sides of the page – (it is a topic that s raised regularly on Artists Journal Workshop facebook forum and others. ) I have considered drawing on one side of the page  because of two issues

  • Colour smudges onto opposite page
  • some drawings I am so pleased with that I don’t want to “ruin them”

But in the end I decided I want to turn the page and tell a story. To overcome these issues I have done the following

  • If I have a particularly special drawing,  or heavily coloured drawing that would smudge I put a piece of Baking paper between the pages to protect them.
  • I have started drawing subject that I know I have become good at and want to start drawing on separate sheet – feathers, nests and now books. I want to draw them a bit larger than my 13 x 19 journal size and also potentially have them framed for an exhibition, sell prints and cards. One day soon..

But I will continue to draw everyday, capturing and documenting moments of my life and enjoying every sketch!

14Nov14 Australian black duck