Author Archives: alissa

this weeks sketches

Today I have uploaded the sketches I have done this week. 

I am working ( that is not the right word as it is NOT work) on a few external projects on separate sheets of paper, so my sketchbook journal is not filling up as quickly as usual. 

I did manage some coffees, commuters and today’s breakfast.


I also drew on an envelope to send to my family who visited me recently and went to the mountains to see the sled dogs. This drawing on the envelope is from a photo they took 










drawings from my project – still a work in progress, 


Have a great week everyone, with lots of sketching.


Please let me know if there is any thing you would like me to talk about or explain or explore about my watercolour pencils and sketching.  

quick sketching and slow drawing

This blog was prompted by a conversation with one of my work colleagues and a sketcher about the time taken in completing a drawing.

The quickest is sketching I have ever done is as I walk behind someone  – it is done  real time.

Drawing is usually more studied –  at home , can be in one sitting or over several evenings.

(I have my own mental distinction between sketching and drawing which is highly subjective and changeable.)

Sketching while walking to work through Fitzroy Gardens. I’ve talked about sketchwalking  on my blog

The other quick sketching that comes to mind occurred in Barcelona at the Urban Sketching Symposium in 2013 in Richard Alomar’s workshop on Sketching Urban Place: People, Space and Street   You can read more about it on my blog at the time .  


Here are some of my notes at the time:

                quick!  quick! quick ! ” (it was a fast paced workshop)

                   “1 pencil , 1 sketch book – what‘s that in your hand ?–a second pencil – put it away!” 

                   We walked along the street  and told to stop, draw a Thumbnail square in sketchbook                  then have 30 seconds to draw the streetscene  we are looking down

                wow !  But after a few of these, my mind started to get into thinking  and seeing in that                 mode. So instead of spending the first precious 15 of the 30 seconds in a “mind freeze”                 when we stopped, I could look up and see the street scenes as major shapes and lines                 and shadows. I started to learn to see what is important. We also added notes around                      the thumbnail sketch – street names, feelings, colours of buildings etc

                  We repeated this with two minute sketches 

                 We then looked at the difference between two  sketches how much difference                              between the 30 sec and the two minute sketch?

                 how much more or less was capture the second time ?  



The longest drawing was done over a long time. It was actually on my table for months as a still life as I  attempted to figure out how to draw light lines over dark back grounds with my watercolour pencils. It involved experimenting with masking fluids, Click on the photo to read the process’

From still life – drawing a hat with some eggs in it in watercolour pencil on an 40cm x 55cm watercolour paper.

Creation of a birds nest hat

In everyday life my sketches take from five minutes to one hour.

I do drawings at home over a few evenings.  As they are in my journal, my sketches are part of my journalling process.

For example, here is this morning’s coffee drawn in about 20 minutes, with details added as I chatted to friends. I will not be going back to ‘finish’ the plate, teaspoon, background or any other details. I usually decide which part of the image is going to be the feature (in case time does become an issue).


MRBW day 4 – end

 Melbourne Rare Book Week continued …Monday to Sunday

Today I am continuing  last weeks summary of the first three days of Melbourne Rare Book Week (MRBW).   On this page are a selection of my sketches from over the past week. 

All of my MRBW sketches can be seen in my flickr album here. I still have a few more to add from the final day at the Fair. 

I attended 23 of the 60 events held in MRBW. The talks covered a wide variety of subjects. All of the speakers were so knowledgable about their topic and passionate about sharing their knowledge with the audience. I started to see familiar faces in the audience of some events at the week progressed and we talked about which events we had attended and why we were there. 

I have been thinking about how I approached the challenge of capturing these events on paper.

I had not been to many of the buildings or spaces that events were held in. And if I had, I did not know how they were going to set up on the day. I had between 45 minutes and 1 1/2 hours to sketch, with my watercolour pencils, Lamy Safari ink pen in my Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook.

I wanted to make each page unique, as each event was. I planned to do this through the use of colour, my position in the room or features of the room itself . I needed to make these decisions within a few minutes of arriving and take my place before the talk began. As part of MRBW , I did not book for any events so that I would not be taking the seating of a registered attendee. Many events were fully booked with a waiting list. 

I was fortunate to have access to a few places before hand and was able to access the collection and use some of the objects as background to the page. The books above are in the Melbourne Cricket Club Library. I could not resist the wonderful illustrated spines. 

It was an exciting and interesting week of sketching and book – my favourite combination !


MRBW days 1 to 3

Melbourne Rare Book Week    (MRBW) has begun again for another year!

      Melbourne Rare Book Week commenced in 2012 as a partnership between ANZAAB, the University of Melbourne and eight other literary institutions. 

      In 2017, over 60 free events will be held at libraries, literary and historical societies and            bookshops throughout Melbourne, attracting local, national and international visitors. Melbourne Rare Book Week is a major attraction for book collectors, librarians and all who have a love of words, print on paper and literary heritage. 

I am official urban sketcher for MRBW and will be attending as many events as possible over the next week, sketching at the talks. I hope to capture the essence of the people, the place and the events on the page. The talks go for 45 minutes to 2 hours. 

Here is a link to my sketches on my blog from 2016.   Melbourne Rare Book Week 
Last year I blogged every evening about that days events.

This year I am scanning my sketches and 

  • instagraming at the end of the day alissaduke1 
  • all sketches are posted on the MRBW facebookpage 

You can follow me there. 

Here are some sketches from the last three days. 





All events have been incredibly interesting and the speakers have shared their passion and knowledge of their specialised field of knowledge.  I am looking forward to the rest of the week !

East Melbourne travel sketchwalk

If you have been reading my weekly blog recently, you will have noticed that the focus has been on my East Melbourne Library Travel Sketchbook exhibition and the associated Sketchwalks.

We had clear crisp skies to start the Sketchwalks each day on Friday and Saturday and everyone had their warm layers on. 

My two sketchwalks were wonderful experiences. Each day a group of 13 enthusiastic participants arrived and embraced the concept of travel sketching . After a short introduction to the watercolour pencils and the idea of travel sketching,  we headed out into crisp winter East Melbourne day, drawing trees, leaves, houses, fences, signs and whatever else attracted each person. They only had 15 minutes at each of the three locations, so it was all about getting marks and an impression down on paper. 









 A giant orange crane working in the street attracted some people on the Friday. It was not there on Saturday, so those Friday sketchers had really captured the moment !

Saturday sketchers had the football fans walking past on the way up to the MCG , so some sketched the scarves and team colours.

I think that most people finished the day with a new way of thinking about travel sketching and eager to put their newly found skills into practice, 

Each day we headed back to into the warmth of East Melbourne Library to chat, share and look through some other examples of sketchbooks (my own and published books) that I had brought in.  

They are not’ how to draw’ books, but rather show different people’s sketches and styles. I’ve put links if you are interested, I will often borrow a book from my local library before deciding to purchase it.

An Illustrated LIfe by Danny Gregory

Reportage and Documentary Drawing by Veronica Lawlor

London You’re Beautiful by David Gentleman 

Taking a Line for a Walk by Christopher Lambert

Drawing Paris by David George Holm

Manchester Sketchbook by Manchester Sketchers

An Eye on the Hebrides by Marie Hedderwick 

A great book to start drawing is Danny Gregory’s book  Creative License .   It will open your eyes to creativity and drawing. I return to it regularly to refocus and relearn.

Here are the links to my previous blogposts about the East Melbourne sketchwalks and my exhibition. 

Preparing for a travel sketchwalk 

East Melbourne Sketchbook 

Video of my East Melbourne Sketchbook


Happy sketching !








preparing for a travel sketchwalk

I am preparing for my local Travel Sketching ‘walk and talk’ that are on this Friday and Saturday. Both sessions (1pm -3.30pm ) of 15 people are fully booked out and there is a waiting list ! The wonderful Melbourne Library Service have promoted the sessions widely and there has been a lot of interest to run repeat sessions. 

Yesterday I spent time walking the route and stopping at my planned locations.We are only walking a few blocks and there is so much potential to draw. The idea of the day is to inspire people and  to open their eyes to the possibilities and concept of travel sketching (not to try to teach them to draw in two hours) .


We start in the Library, where I will talk a little about travel sketching, my own approach and what we will be doing. Melbourne Library Service is supplying watercolour pencils, waterbrush and paper for the day.

There are three stops along the way once we leave the Library, each with so many potential things to draw – up close or vistas. We will stop for about 20 minutes at each .  I walked the walk yesterday doing my own sketches which I can show as examples on the day.

These are very quick sketches, as sometimes when you travel you do not get the opportunity to sit down and sketch for a long time.  I also don’t want people to stress about the drawing and getting caught in the details. 

Stop 1
Stop 2

Stop 3.

After the final stop, the plan is to retrace our route back to the Library, giving people the chance to spend more time on a previous sketch or do some more. 

When we arrive back at the Library, afternoon tea awaits and also time to talk about the day and share experiences and sketches if people are comfortable with that. I also have some examples of published travel sketchbooks from my own collection for anyone to browse through to inspire  them to continue. Ad there is my own Travel Sketchbook display on in the Library. 

It will all be very flexible on the day. This is the first group talk I have given and it will be a positive learning experience for everyone. 

My only concern is the weather. It is Melbourne in winter. This week has been 14 degrees and sunny blue skies. Fingers crossed that this continues. The wet weather alternatives are not exciting. However that is all part of travel sketching. Sometime weather changes your plans and you have to make do with alternatives.  

video of my East Melbourne sketchbook

My East Melbourne sketchbook. 

A few weeks ago I wrote about creating sketchbook of my local area and now here is the finished sketchbook. 

It is installed in East Melbourne Library as part of my Travel Sketchbook exhibition which opens Tuesday until 31st July

I am also taking two local sketchwalks. Register here if you are in Melbourne.

Participants will be provided with a sketchbook and watercolour pencils . I plan to give a little talk about my travel sketching before heading outside with the group to walk around a planned route, stopping three  times along the way to sketch. We then walk back to the library for afternoon tea and a chat. 

This is the first time that I have videoed a sketchbook (or anything else!) . This was on my iphone and was not as straightforward as I thought.

I would like to try and do a video of me sketching so that you can see a fast sketch on the page or a longer drawing build up. Sometime in the future…

my weeks in sketches

This weeks blog has my sketches from this week. I sketch everyday, but not always in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook when I am involved with other projects . It has been a busy week, so I will leave you with pictures  …


Pacific Black Ducks in Treasury Gardens. He was not asleep but stayed very still for me

coffee on the way to work

sketching at a concert

more sketches from the concert

Urban Sketchers Melbourne met at State Library of Victoria (1856). The statue is Sir Redmond who instigated the Library with Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe


Craft Victoria HATCH markets

Last week I wrote about setting up my stall for Craft Victoria HATCH  markets . Yesterday the big day arrived and all of the preparation paid off. It was a wonderful day. 

The venue was an old factory (I think) in inner city Melbourne and had a good vibe, even when there were quiet moments. There were about 30 stall holders including jewellers, ceramicists, textile artists, print-makers and more all retailing their handcrafted wares.

I went with the expectation of no sales and taking this as a learning experience. At the end of the day I did make some sales, met some amazing stall holders with a passion for their craft and willing to share their experiences and knowledge. I also had conversations with some interesting people visiting the market . A few friends turned by to lend their support and also an instagram follower visiting from interstate introduced themselves. 

I sketched a few times during the day but forgot to take any photos of the room in full swing.

Visitors seem to come in waves s throughout the day, giving time to talk, tweak the stall, eat snacks and take it all in. I handed our  business cards, talk to some people about drawing and gathered a few names for my mailing list. I now have am occasional newsletter which will be sent out to subscribers when I have  upcoming events or exhibitions or new card designs It is a separate sign up than this weekly blog.  Sign up on the right had side of the page if you would like to receive this. I plan to email the next one out tomorrow. 

Craft Hatch program supports emerging makers and who have never had their own market stall before. The program includes mentoring and professional development guidance, and is a perfect way to get a face-to-face experience. It lived up to all of that !

I arrived home at the end of the day inspired and motivated but exhausted!

Market stall – next week

When I first decided to ‘do something’ with my art as a business I was advised that 60-80% of my time would be spent working on the business (i.e. not drawing) and I have found this to be true (but it makes me appreciate my drawing time even more) .

I am working on four  projects at the moment – a commission, an exhibition, workshops and a market stall.







I thought I would give you a glimpse into the behind the scenes of my first commercial market stall. In April I applied and was accepted for Craft Victoria HATCH market.  HATCH are markets for emerging makers in Melbourne. Since then have been to a mentor session, asked questions in their Facebook group and received lots of support.

In the last two weeks I have been very busy working through checklists that have been provided, with lots of hints and tips from previous stall holders. Last weekend I did a mock up to see what would work on the day.

Things I needed to do

  • I needed a banner for my stall. I decided on a pull-up banner that could be used at all sorts of future events (including my next exhibition). I had an initial concept and a local printer did a wonderful job of bringing it all together. I looks so good and makes me feel very professional .
  • Create a Newsletter – people can sign up to a mailing list on the day at the markets or on my blog site. I tried myself, but ended up paying someone .There is now a button where you can subscribe, This is different from my Weekly Art Blog. It will be occasional and emailed to subscribers when I announce exhibitions, events, new cards – add your name now if you would like to receive it.
  • Decide on how much stock to take on the day ie how many copies of each card. I decided 15, with 5 on display and the others in a box under the counter

  • Decide which cards to display. There is  room for 20 of my 36 designs. I will bring the others in a little display folder to show people (had go to Office Works to find folder)
  • Set prices – they should be all the same retail and my store , so they are now $7 everywhere
  • How much float? I will need lots of two and one coins as the price is now $7
  • I decided to be cash only and not tackle using credit cards. It may lose me some sales, but will decrease the stress for me on the day.
  • Needed to purchase paper bags and bought 500. It is a big box. Then decide how many to take on the day . I decided on 50
  • Table cloth – The one I have had creases from never being used – I needed to get it drycleaned
  • My table is against a back wall – I have three A4 picture of one of the drawings as a work in progress, Then I have finished product framed – I had to find suitable photo frame (at Red Cross store yesterday)
  • Checked out the space during the week – Great place – I discovered it had Masonite wall – had to buy 3M hanging tabs – as my pins and blue tack would not have worked
  • How to pack it all up to transport on the day by taxi
  • It fits into a suitcase, a backpack, the pullup banner and the two display stands that I have wrapped in bubble wrap.
  • When I checked out the venue I saw that I could be dropped outside the door by the taxi , unload my gear There are 30 stallholders all arriving at the same time

The BIG day is next Saturday and I am looking forward to the experience, the people I will meet – the other stall holders and the market customers.  It is predicted there will be about  500 on the day. Drop by if you are in Melbourne

map of where to find HATCH