Monthly Archives: March 2016

Dromkeen Literary Festival

On Saturday I was fortunate to go to the Dromkeen Literary Festival at Riddells Creek, 45 minutes train ride from Melbourne.

It is a festival celebrating Australian Children’s Literature and Storytelling, where “authors and illustrators bring favourite stories to life”.

19Mar2016 Dromkeen HUSH

the Festival Opening of the Making of the HUSH Treasure Book “Created for the Hush Music Foundation, famous for its original music albums used in hospitals all around the world, this book is a treasure trove that will delight and entertain the whole family”

Read more about the wonderful HUSH book

Dromkeen Homestead has became a home for Australian children’s literature and in 2013 it was purchased by the Joiner family and reopened as a centre for Australian children’s literature. There is so much I could write about this wonderful place , but for today’s blog I will focus on my sketching activities at the Literary Festival. To read more about Dromkeen please visit their website.

The authors and illustrators and storytellers  of Australian children’s books talked about their books and their own literary/art journeys. many of the presentations were for children and were interactive I went to listen to a few specific illustrators whose style I like and admire – and to sketch.  I was there for five hours and enjoyed every moment of it.

19Mar2016 Dromkeen illustrators

Marc McBride “Dragons and airbrush art”. Adam Wallace “”Writing and Illustrating a book”

19Mar2016 Dromkeen Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson “illustrating our incredible world”

19Mar2016 Dromkeen Sue DeGennaro

Sue deGennaro “Illustrating a picture book”


19Mar2016 Dromkeen Mark Wilson audience nowords

the audience at Mark Wilson’s “Illustrating our incredible world”

At the moment I am focusing on sketching groups of people at events and specific people. If you know any of these illustrators (above), you will realise that these sketches do not look like them at all.  Many of the illustrators spoke to the children in the audience about practice and not giving up on your first try. This resonated with me !

19Mar2016 Dromkeen Storytelling

19Mar2016 Dromkeen childrens activites19Mar2016 Dromkeen face painting & balloons

It was a grey day, but there was no rain or wind and a healthy number of people came through the gate. I heard glowing praise all day from enthusiastic children and happy stall holders. There was face painting, storytelling, cartooning demonstrations, puppetry and book mural art. I was fortunate to have a small involvement in the set up on Friday and saw the dedication and immense amount of work of the organisers and volunteers to put this day together. A big congratulations to them all for keep alive and boosting the tradition of children’s literature in Australia.

Below is a sketch of the Country Fire Association(CFA) volunteers at the traditional fund raising sausage sizzle for lunch !

19Mar2016 Dromkeen sausage sizzle


My burger at Lost Trades Fair

Yesterday a friend and I spent the day at the Lost Trades Fair at Kyneton, just over an hour by train from Melbourne. The Lost Trades fair showcases traditional, rare and unusual arts and trades and actively promotes the people who practise these skills.

The weather was just perfect  and I sketched all day completing 10 pages. I was experimenting with reportage sketching – telling a story.  I still have to scan my sketches and write commentary. I need to reflect on how I managed the day and what I would do differently. These will be the topic of a later blog.

Today is all about my lunch at Lost Trades Fair.

14mar16 LTF lunch

After sketching and talking to some incredibly interesting stall holders, we stopped for a well earned lunch at Sidonnia Hills Natural Beef for their Drover’s Burger.







We sat on hay bales and I sketched my burger and finally ended up eating a slightly cool, but delicious burger. I chatted to people in the queue about sketching and my pencils. 

I like to draw a detailed object in watercolour pencil and then use my Lamy ink pen to sketch the context. In this case it was the people at the markets.

Here are the watercolour pencils I used (with a waterbrush)


Left to right : Grass green, Chrome Oxide Green, ivory, Burnt Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Light Yellow Ochre, Deep Scarlet Red, Walnut  Brown, Burnt Umber, Magenta, Burnt Sienna, Madder Crimson.

All are Faber Castell  Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils, except the last , which is a Derwent.

See my blog posts  and sketches from last years Lost Trades Fair



Illustrating a recipe

Earlier this year I had a motivational and inspiring Skype conversation with the wonderful Victoria Johnson. a designer who provides art consultations. I did this to help me refocus on my art licensing goals. These had taken a back seat in the last 12 months as I was establishing the printing of my Greeting cards of my drawings for sale on my Etsy shop. I also took amazing opportunities for exhibitions along the way. I do not regret these sidetracks for a moment as they are both leading to other amazing opportunities and making wonderful connections.

One of the goals that Victoria suggested was to enter my art work onto They Draw & Cook (TDAC) It is the internet’s largest collection of illustrated recipes created by artists from around the world. It is where creative people share their love of food and art through illustration. Those of you who have been following me will know I love to draw food. ( I am not so keen on the cooking part, but have friends who can test/provide me with recipes).

Here is my first entry.

Alissa Duke

In creating this I discovered a few things

♦ It was a challenge to draw in a different format  –my current sketchbook is 19cm x 13cm .The size required for the website is 42cm x 15cm

♦ I have a lot to learn about composition of a page. I will have to design the illustration around the recipe, not the other way around.

♦ It requires planning. I will need to think about a page and not just start drawing on the page, as I usually do in my sketchbook. It requires a different approach.

♦ I will look at hand lettering options and styles of lettering. I would prefer not to use a typo graphic font at the moment.

♦ I am going to have to learn more on Photoshop . As this was another goal from Victoria, these submissions will provide me with practical experience. (Photoshop is an image editing software that allows you to manipulate, crop, resize, and correct color images.) I need to learn Selection Tools and Layering as a start.

♦ I really love to draw food – raw ingredients or finished pieces. It took longer to work out how to layout the recipe instructions than it did to draw the food – and more stressful.

Here are some of my previous food drawings of sweets and desserts and raw ingredients and sandwiches.

I am really looking forward to creating my next recipe.