Monthly Archives: July 2015

My first solo art exhibition

My first solo art exhibition. It is small but it is all mine.L1100034

My local East Melbourne Library provides display cabinets for residents to book for a month at a time for exhibitions. With the encouragement of friends, I booked a space for August. Then, with the incredible guidance and assistance of my good friend Louise, (curator and exhibition designer) we planned and then set up my display.


joined images1

This took many hours and the time that we spent planning paid off.   I learnt that there is a lot involved in finding a theme, keeping focus and using the space of the  glass cubes that make up the cabinets. I cut 12 squares of 30 x 30 cm paper (the number and size of each shelf) and spread them out over the floor at home . I then decided what should be placed in each shelf. We took it all down to the library last Saturday, making slight alterations on the day .

All along, I had visualised how I wanted my feather and nests sketches to be exhibited, and the final display exceeded all of my expectations.

The theme of the exhibition was based around the drawings I have had printed as Greeting Cards and envelopes (which are available for sale on my Etsy site). They include feathers, nests, library books and ladders and snails.


L1100010 - Copy

There is one display cabinet featuring library books and ladders.

I tried to add as many relevant sketchbooks as possible to the display as well as the finished drawings  on loose sheets of A4 paper as I am really a sketchbook artist.

joined images3


I also wanted to include some of the original objects that the drawings were inspired by.

joined images2


I have already received some lovely feedback from the library staff.

I hope that you have enjoyed strolling through my first solo exhibition with me today. It is very big event for me and I very proud of my exhibition.

Sketching Rare Book Week

This week was Melbourne Rare Book Week.

There were events on everyday.  It provided a chance to listen to  individuals talk about their book passions and share their knowledge. It also provides the opportunity for me to sketch ! (You may notice – there are no actual sketches of books in this blogpost).

I attended six events and sketched at four of them. I sketched using a graphite pencil or my Lamy Sarafi Joy ink pen.

before the talk  on The Joy of Books. A few of the audience looking at books on display and talking to the presenter

before the talk on The Joy of Books. A few of the audience looking at books on display and talking to the presenter

I deliberately chose a seat at the back and to the side of the room. This way, I can look over the audience and practice sketching crowds. The people stay still as they listen and I have a captive audience. In this time I can practice sketching the subtleties of slumped shoulders and tilted heads of people as they listened, entranced by the speakers. I really enjoy sketching groups of people and sketch instances like this often (and am therefore comfortable with it).

talk on Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

talk on Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary

The other opportunity the Rare Book Week talks provided was time to practice drawing the faces of the presenters. This is more of a challenge for me. I find that capturing the personality of a person is a skill that will take me a lot of practice – which is why this was a great opportunity.

Reading letters from 84 Charing Cross Road

Reading letters from 84 Charing Cross Road

While I am sketching I am also listening to the presenters. Drawing does not distract me, rather it helps me focus. This is hard to explain. The presentations were all talks, and not pictures or visuals on slides, so I did not need to look up all the time. My sketches do not look like the actual person but it was good fun.

23Jul15 Rare Book Week talk

a snails journey to Uppercase

My copy of the July edition Uppercase Magazine arrived in the mail this week. I knew that two  of my drawings had been accepted to be published in this “Stamp” issue and I had seen a low res online version. (Read about it here from a few weeks ago.)

I watched over the past two weeks as people in various countries around the world received their copies. They tweeted, instagrammed and facebooked their joy and excitement. And now I can join in. I hold my copy of Uppercase in my hands and savour each wonderful article. (frequently flipping to pages 11 and 59 to look at my drawings and pinch myself that I am in this amazing magazine)

How did I get here?   snail5 Looking back  through my flickr photos I see my first snail drawing was in my first Moleskine Sketchbook in January 2009. (Flickr is a an online image sharing platform that I have been scanning and tagging my photos to since December 2008. I use it as a searchable database of my sketches.) I drew this shell for an Everyday Matters drawing challenge of “draw a shell”. It is drawn  with a lot less detail than I would do now, as I was only just new to watercolour pencils.  At the time I wrote, “I came across this shell in the garden. It was empty so I took it home an drew it. Snails can be really beautiful- well, their shells are!” snail I also drew some “snails in action” in the same year and my comment at the time was “he actually moved around quite a bit, and  I think we were both pleased when his modelling session was over”.

Then came my entry for the Toowoomba Mail Art Competition in 2011 featuring snails on envelopes. The photo below displays all the envelopes I drew on, pinned to a corkboard.



These snails are the drawings that I have used for the Uppercase submission.  I then chose five of these drawings to print on my snail mail envelopes that are available for purchase on my Etsy site.

Of course, there were some printing blips along the way (below) as I figured out how to place the snail on the envelope.

snail1 snail2 snail3 snail4







But I am so pleased with the result DSCF0931 The snail journey is not over yet. You will be seeing more snail adventures in the next few weeks as they venture out in Melbourne.

Weekend in Kyneton


12jul15 kyneton

A friend & I visited Kyneton for a long talked about long weekend. Kyneton is a thriving country  town 85 km from Melbourne in Central Victoria and is just over an hour by train. It has become renowned as a country destination for good food. It has Art galleries  and lovely shops for home furnishings, craft, books, nurseries, gifts, food, wine and clothes.

These are my drawings from the weekend.


I started in my sketchbook the night before, drawing a map of the area and listing the train stops along the way. Then I sketched at Southern Cross Station.
Our cottage was newly renovated, stylish and also cosy and warm on a chilly weekend.


I sketched inside and out.



Exploring Kyneton


Kyneton Museum

Unlike a majority of towns in the area, Kyneton predates the Victorian Gold Rush  having been established in 1850, and gold rushes started the year after that. Some of the finest Bluestone buildings to be found in Victoria are a main feature of the town and date back to the Gold Rush era when Kyneton was a major supply town for the diggings.


Food from the farmers markets

The food at the farmers markets. Delicious to look at and draw. The stallholders were delightful to talk to and we had some lovely conversations. A place to return to.

Why drawing makes me happy

Drawing makes me happy

I have been thinking about why drawing makes me happy, without getting too philosophical, and I have tried to put it in words. This proved more difficult than I thought, so this is a longer blogpost than I imagined.

I have been drawing on and off (mainly off) all of my life. About ten years ago I started drawing almost daily, then I began carrying a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook, my Watercolour pencils and Lamy Safari Joy ink pen with me everywhere. Now, drawing is a part of me and my life. It is not a hobby or pastime, but part of what makes me – me. This realisation came when I was very ill about four years ago and had (successful) brain surgery. I was asking for my pencils and sketchbook in intensive care a few days after the operation and then sketched constantly in hospital over the following months. See all my drawings from my medical adventure here


operation on the evening of 30 March 2011. This was sketched in ICU on 6 April 2011

Now, I draw everyday, a quick sketch capturing a passing moment or a longer drawing over a few days or nights. If I don’t put pencil to paper for a few days I get itching for it – looking at people or scenes and visualising how I would capture it on paper – what would I include, what features to emphasize or which colours I would choose.

When I draw I am happy. I switch off from everything else in life, time stops, peacefulness reigns, there is freedom and fluidity. I try and draw in my lunchtime at work. When I make that time, I sit in the library shelves where I work and draw the books. For that half an hour, although I am at work, I do not think about deadlines, goals or things to do lists.

24Apr15  Library books

I read a quote from happiness guru Csíkszentmihályi describing this as FLOW, which is “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one… Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

It has taken years to find my own drawing style and become comfortable with it (although I am still learning constantly). I feel as though I have finally found something that I am good at. I have accumulated skills and learning through years of practice. Sometimes my pencil moves confidently and smoothly over the page, other times tentative and exploratory. But I am always enjoying it as I work and explore within my comfort zone on the paper.

As I draw I am subconsciously thinking about the drawing, its proportions, what colours will work on the page. I am visualising how something may turn out. However, they are not thoughts I have to think too hard about – ah well, except proportions and perspective – that requires a bit more thought. The finished result may meet my original idea, or may not, but still exceed my expectations. In photos of me drawing, you would not think I am happy – hunched over, furrowed brow, intense expression- but honesty I am!!


There have been a few times when I have become very emotional and almost bought to tears at the thought of how much joy I experience and how fortunate I am to be able to draw. They were moments of an unexpected upswelling of joy. Below is one of those times. I was sketching on my own in the streets of Barcelona, after the Urban Sketching Symposium in 2013 on a Sunday morning, surrounded by the everyday happenings of peoples lives.


Barcelona July 2013 after the Urban Sketchers Symposium. Sketching on my own

There is so much more to write about drawing and happiness . Especially the concept that when drawing you are not only looking but observing what you see everyday as you never have before . But this is the subject of another blog another day…

I shall finish on David Hockney quoting an old Chinese saying “Drawing needs three things, the heart, the hand and the eye, two won’t do.”