drawing in a book – a work in progress

I am drawing in books again.

Those of you who have followed this blog may be aware of my 2016 exhibition “You Can’t Draw in Books” as part of Melbourne Rare Book Week.

Initially I had an exhibition as part of Melbourne Rare Book Week in 2016, showing 45 books which then travelled to another library and a bookshop. 

I am now selling the individual pages and books on my Etsy store . 

I have just begun another exciting special project as a birthday gift. (Louise, if you are reading this – stop now , and don’t spoil the surprise). I was asked by a good  friend to draw in 1909 recipe book that she had purchased. I have identified about 20 pages that have recipes which have attracted my attention for drawing potential. There are some very ‘of the time’ 









Below are six of my drawings on the recipes in watercolour pencil. The pages are a wonderful thickness and texture to draw on and I am have a wonderful time deciding which to draw on.

 I am working on another four pages and identified another six recipes that have potential.

I have about four weeks to finish and it is on track for completion. I love a project ! 


The first week of 2018

Best Wishes to everyone for 2018 

Here are some of my sketches from my  first week of 2018. There are only a few, but I think they sum up my week and my different styles of using my watercolour pencils. The year ended with a fall (no alcohol involved). No stitches required, but in bed by 9.30pm with a cup of tea and honey. This was my new year celebrations !

Back to work – drawing my work place and meeting sketching friends at lunch. A great way to start the year !

A train ride and back to the suburb of Heidelberg to meet with a sketching friend to walk through my planned route for my Travel Sketching Workshop with Arts on Burgundy on Saturday January 20th. The class is  full, but there is a waitlist and we hope to run more sessions in the future. I sketched this at the station while I waited for my train home. 

dinner with friends. A leftover. I had great fun drawing this. It all came together when I added the ‘dots’ (of the walnut) to the drawing of the cake. Before that it looked like a cheesecake, as the texture  was so smooth 


And finally, I have started on a special project for a friend’s birthday in March. I have been asked to draw in an old cookery book . It was published in 1909 and is about the size of a hardcover novel. I plan to do about 20 drawings. There are some strange recipes that I hope to illustrate in the book. Many of you will be aware of my “You Can’t Draw in Books” exhibition (illustrating pages in books that were about to thrown out) and now the sale of some of the books and pages on my ETSY online store


All of the best to you all in 2018. Happy sketching !

Looking back over 2017

I write a blogpost at this time each year looking back at what I have done during the year.   ( I have done this in 2014  2015 & 2016 )  

I look at the ‘professional’ art events in this review.  I sketch everyday and have so many personal highlights that it would be impossible to list them all.

I am always amazed at how much I achieved during a year and how quickly and yet how slowly time has gone by.  Once again, I have been involved in many wonderful events and projects in 2017, some planned, some unexpected.  All have come about due my Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook, Faber Castell Pencils, Lamy Safari Ink Pen and my love of drawing and sketching.

I have added links to many of my blogposts about the events as I mention them.

  • Daily sketching. I filled 10 Moleskine sketchbooks of everyday sketching of my day to day life. I scan every page of my sketchbook and put them all on Flickr (an image sharing website) Some go onto Facebook at Alissa Duke Art , some on Instagram alissaduke1
  • I have maintained my weekly art blog. Thank you to everyone who follows my weekly art blog. I hope that you find it enjoyable and interesting to read and  full of information. I hope that I am able to share a bit of my passion for drawing and watercolour pencils. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to explain anything I do . I hope to be able to produce a video one day, (but it is not in next years goals!) 
  • Etsy Sales – I have an Etsy online store selling my Greeting cards. This year I had 83 online orders, with single and multiple card orders from United States, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Singapore and within Australia and also and many directly from friends and family and  organisations.

    2017 month by month 

February – My exhibition “You Can’t Draw in Books” at Blarney Books & Art, Port Fairy 

Selling drawing in books 

I have decided to sell the original pages or books from my “You Can’t Draw in Books” books . They are taking up four boxes of books in my apartment and it is time to say goodbye, They are available for purchase on my Etsy store online 

February – East Melbourne Picnic market stall


My first ever market stall at a local picnic. A perfect introduction to stall, setting up, selling and everything else. The set up I had here has guided me for future markets this year. 






May – CRAFT Victoria HATCH markets

My first professional markets . I was one of thirty stallholders of craft practitioners and artisans. I decided to get a banner to put up next to my stall- a great investment. I have used it several times and am really pleased with the graphic designer’s ideas and the quality of the final product. 


I was advised that it is a good idea to have a mailing list for people to sign up to at markets, and online, The online newsletter is aimed at people who would like to kept up to date on my art, but not every week on my blog. It is sent out occasionally when I have an exhibition, a new range of cards, workshops or other exciting news. Sign up on the front page of my website 

June – Melbourne Rare Book Week

I was the official Urban Sketcher at MRBW and sketched at 23 of the 60+ events over the one week. 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. An exhilarating week ! The sketches were  used in the AANZAB report and distributed  internationally .

June – East Melbourne travel sketchbook exhibition

My local library reopened after being closed for refurbishment, I was invited to have an exhibition for the reopening.  The exhibition  featured my travel sketchbooks and had sketchbooks open at travel pages (in display cases) and also display a few (reprinted by Blurb) completed sketchbooks for people to browse through. I received some lovely feedback and am beginning to be known around the community, 

June –  East Melbourne travel sketchwalks







Two afternoon sketchwalks with 12 participants.Great fun and a great group each time !

Winter East Melbourne and Jolimont News cover .

My drawings of local doors, windows and features were on the cover of our local quarterly magazine. A lot more local people are beginning to identify me as the sketcher /artist.

August – Craft Victoria HATCH markets

 I participated in the same Markets I did in May this year, This time I had a Paypal Reader to take credit cards. I learn something new each time. 

October – New Cards

I decided on  five new drawings to join my range of  greeting cards for sale in my Etsy online store. They were stocked by  current shops, some who restocked on other cards during the year


November – ETSY Made Local Market

A BIG market – over 100 stalls and 8000 people through the doors on the day .


 three challenging and exciting private commissions of local historical buildings. Here are some features



December East Melbourne Historical Society Christmas invitation

I was asked to draw something for the local history society Christmas invitation . My drawings of the roof tops of houses around a local park were used along the bottom of the inside and outside of the invitation, 









2018 – plans and ideas

January – Travel sketching Workshop – Arts on Burgundy

I was excited to be asked to hold a full day travel sketching workshop by a Melbourne framing and art store in just a few weeks, The class is filling up and there is a waiting list !

Travel sketching workshops

Melbourne Library Service at East Melbourne Library is re-running my Travel Sketchwalks . We are planning Saturday afternoons once a month in February, March and April . yet to be advertised . Watch this space….

Melbourne Rare Book Week 

The dates have been announced for 2018 July 29 June to 8 July 2018, My annual leave is booked and I am looking forward it, 


I plan to expand into selling prints of my drawings on my Etsy online store, I have investigated some of the basics of getting them printed and have received some great advice from  few friends. I will have to have a think about which images would look best at a bigger size, what size to print them and prices, I would be interested in hearing anybody’s ideas and suggestions!


This year has also been full of wonderful and interesting people – new friends and old. Drawing and sketching could be seen to be very solitary things to do. But for me they are interactive , social times where I talk with other sketchers or non-sketchers. Although I am documenting my objects and events in my world around me, I am also part of it. And after I draw, I share my drawings with my online friends, as I view and comment on their artistic adventures. 

Thank you for your continued interest in my art and I am looking forward to what 2018 will bring. 

Best wishes to you all for 2018 


Exploring for a travel sketching workshop

I am very excited to have been asked to hold a Travel Sketching Workshop by Sarah at Arts On Burgundy in Heidelberg, Melbourne. 

On Friday I took a day off to meet Sarah, discuss the January Workshop and explore Heidelberg, as I have never been there. I wanted to see where I could take the Travel Sketching group on a walk on the day.

I will base it on the very successful plan of my East Melbourne Library Travel Sketchwalk except this is a full day workshop, not just an afternoon. 

I am not teaching how to draw, but how to see and to sketch an impression of your moment. No erasers or rulers,  wobbly lines are  just fine. Nothing matters but enjoying what you do. 

I also want to introduce people to watercolour pencils as a everyday art medium or a travel sketching tool. 



I also took the opportunity to catchup with sketching friend and artist Jodi Wiley. We started the day sketching our food and talking a lot.  I got a lot of ideas for where to sketch locally from Jodi and then Sarah.

I walked around and around the streets of Heidelberg.  I stopped at three places and did two 15 minute sketches at each.

This will hopefully give the participants an idea what can be sketched at each. I  looked for places to stop where we could stand or preferable sit for 15 to 30 minutes.

I need to know about the potential for shade as it will be January in Australia. However it is Melbourne – so who knows what the day will bring.  


My day ended at Heidelberg Railway Station, knowing that I had just missed a train and had 19 minutes to wait. Time flies when you are sketching !!!

Melbourne Urban Sketchers Sketchwalk

Melbourne Urban Sketchers Sketchwalk

Forty sketchers signed up for a full day of sketching in Melbourne city. It included a Senior Art sponsored ‘goodie’ bag, including a T-shirt , paintbrush, Daniel Smith watercolour sample sheet, handmade 10 cm x 14 cm accordion fold sketchbook and A4 Visual Diary.

I completed both sides of my accordion fold book. It required a concentrated effort not to spend too long on each sketch and keep moving though the pages, I am so glad that I did !

We met at 9am and started sketching at The Great Petition . I had seen it but had not realised what it as. I think that (if you can) it is important to know a bit about what I am sketching. It is a large scale sculpture (those are sketchers sitting in it) , installed in 2008  to celebrate 100 years of women’s right to vote in Victoria. A petition was presented to Parliament in 1908 signed pages were glued to the sewn strips of calico the length of which was 260 metres.

St Patrick’s Cathedral was in one direction, the city skyline on the other, 

Then to Kere Kere Cafe in Fitzroy Gardens for lunch and a watercolour demonstration by Jay. 

Out into Fitzroy Gardens  to sketch the people, trees and buildings.

We met at 4pm for a final photograph and show and tell. (with a lady from Captain Cooks Cottage, which was the subject of quite a few sketches)

We were very lucky with the beautiful sunny weather today as last weekend when this was scheduled was very wet! Thank you to  Evelyn for organising and to all the helpers making donating and purchasing things especially Janice Ng Kwong Yap  and Kym Steinke

I was also very fortunate to win one of the lucky draw prizes . Janice Ng donated of her handmade sketchbooks. The Sketchbook is filled with Fabriano Artistico hot press paper. 100% cotton . Beautiful . I hope that I will do it justice!

ETSY Made Local Market

Yesterday I had a stall at the Melbourne ETSY Made Local Markets. It was a one day market for Melbourne people who have an ETSY online store. 

What is ETSY?  A global online market place for handmade, craft  and vintage goods. My “store ” is here  You can purchase with Paypal or a credit card .

I was one of 136 Melbourne stallholders with handmade goods including homewares, clothing. ceramics, jewellery, stationary and arts and crafts.  The markets are part of a national initiative by ETSY to connect shoppers to the local makers and designers living and working in the area. As well as the handmade gifts available on the day there was live music, a selection of food trucks and a bar serving local Melbourne brews. 

A coffee at 9.50. The doors open in 10 minutes !

The day went quickly as we were saying hello and talking to people all day. I had interesting conversations with a few people, when they started looking at particular greeting cards. Or we talked about drawing or sketching. 

I was very fortunate to have a friend assisting, who not only was a great salesman and  assisted carrying my gear to the markets, but also gave me the opportunity to take breaks and sit down for a few moments every now and then.  It would have been a lot bigger day if I was on my own. A few friends popped by and also a few Instagram followers introduced themselves, which was delightful. 

I only left my stall a few times during the day and it was not until about 3.30 that I had the opportunity to look around and speak to other stall holders. The variety and quality of things for sale was amazing.  I talked to some really interesting people. 

I had a steady trickle  of greeting card sales, gave out a lot of business cards and have a potential collaboration. I will be interested to see how many views and sales I get on my ETSY online store over the next week or two, that may have come from interest at these markets. 

We left the house at 7.45 am and got home at 6.45 pm. It was a big day, from getting there to setting up, chatting with all of the lovely people, working with cash (and PayPal credit card reader) and all sorts of different things. Great fun . Energising, but exhausting. Today is a day to put my feet up (sketch them ) and relax !

Sketching at concerts

This week I went to two classical music concerts in libraries and sketched at each . Both concerts were beautiful and I am in awe of the skill of the musicians and performers . They were:

I am most pleased with the above sketch of Saverio , at the second concert I attended. Perhaps I had warmed up my sketching the night before. I think I may have been a bit self conscious at the first (Bottled Snail) concert, as it was held in my workplace and a few people know that I was sketching,

Habeas Chorus of Bottled Snail at Supreme Court Library. They were warming up just before the concert began

I have sketched irregularly at classic (and other) music concerts over  the past few years. It is something that I enjoy, but don’t feel in my comfort zone. I often draw people in groups, audiences or events, but for some reason I am not entirely happy with the results of musicians.

Sketching while listening to music enhances my appreciation and relaxation.  However, it all depends on the music. Sometimes  I will put my pencil down, close my eyes and soak it all in.

I have been reflecting about why I don’t have the same level of comfort as in other situations. I don’t have the answers but I think I know why I don’t have the answers,

One thing I have learnt – each situation is different – indoors, outdoors, amount of lighting, size of audience, number of musicians and how many musical pieces and the length of the pieces.  Sometimes I can choose where I get a seat but not always. There are often unknowns.


Choosing pen and ink to sketch the highlight of the black and white of the choir , the outline of the audience members. Adding colour to the Chief Justice’s portrait and the gasolier lamp.


I know that I need to make an early decision on what to draw with. I need to decide whether to choose my Lamy Safari ink pen or one or a few choice watercolour pencils. I then put everything else away. I don’t want to be disturbing and distracting other audience members by fiddling around, looking for colours. 

Although listening to a concert is an audible experience, there is often so much visual.

One of the decisions I think that I need to make is about what to focus on and put down on paper. Are they sketchy or detailed ? Often this depends on my mood. 

Do I want to capture 

  • The feeling of the music
  • Musicians – faces, feet, hands, their movement
  • Instruments
  • Audience
  • Surroundings – the building, stage

I will try to think of them as a suite of options open to me.

At the moment I think that I try to capture it all. Some concerts are only 45 minutes, some much longer and will have a few different sets of musicians playing .



an even quicker sketch. The music ended

I know that I had seven minutes to sketch Kylie, the accompanist.

another quick sketch

Sculpture by the Sea sketching

Last weekend we flew to Sydney

to do a few things, including the Seven Bridges Walk, which I featured last week ,

One of the other main events was to visit  Sculpture by the Sea . 


Sculpture by the Sea returns to the Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach coastal walk as the world’s largest free to the public sculpture exhibition. See the spectacular coastal walk transformed into a 2km long sculpture park over three weeks featuring 
100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world.

see a short video here  of some highlights.

My sketches are about the people visiting and viewing the sculptures, rather than the sculptures themselves. Sometimes I like the idea of a sketch telling a story , rather than a standalone drawing of an object, especially when it is in urban spaces. 


It was a warm sunny day (26 degree) and the walk is quite exposed along the Bondi Beach cliff (which are a work of natural art and sculpture and worth visiting without the sculptures and crowds) . I did not stay out in the sun too long sketching.

A great day . I was happy with my sketches. 

Seven Bridges Walk sketching

This past weekend I flew to Sydney with my Mother to participate in the  Seven Bridges Walk  . It is a 28km walk through some of Sydney’s most scenic locations and raise funds to beat cancer with NSW Cancer Council .

The night before, in the lead up to the event I drew the map and my sneakers . 

Mum took a photo of our shoes before the walk started

We were on our feet from 7 am when we left the hotel until 4 pm when we returned. It was 30 degrees and sunshine , so we kept well rehydrated all day .

And of course I sketched ! They are very quick sketches  either five or ten minutes. Sometimes it was on the lead up to the bridge and other times after we have walked over the bridge and I looked back. I stepped to the side and let the steady stream of walkers pass by. 

I sketched in Moleskine watercolour sketchbook with my Lamy Safari Joy ink pen. At each bridge and Village we got a stamp. I asked the volunteers to stamp in my sketchbook. 

I participated in the event in 2012, a year after my medical adventure, but was not able to complete it  as it was just too much,   I also sketched then!


More details …. The course is a 28km closed loop circuit that travels clockwise around Sydney Harbour, highlighting many magnificent views and harbourside localities. Participants can register and start at any Village, where they can pick up their Event Guide, which includes a course map and official event wristband.  There will be water stations at each Village for participants to fill up their own water bottles..Around the course participants will use existing pathways and will therefore need to abide by normal road rules. No special event clearways or road closures will be in place. All participants walk in a clockwise direction only, so as to ease congestion and make the walk safer for all.

I did sketch and walk on one bridge. I have written about my sketchwalking in a previous blog post. 


The walk was hard work. Much of it was flat, but there were some very challenging and very steep suburban streets which we walked up and down . We walked up and across a bridge and then down to the park at the bottom of them where there would be toilets, water and sometimes food and entertainment.  We walked through some older and historic suburbs and one street had amazing Halloween decorations on most of the houses. 

Sydney Harbour Bridge deserved two sketches (above and below) 

Today (Monday) . Our leg muscles are aching, but that will disappear in a day or two. But the memories and my sketches remain !!!

greeting cards – from sketch to store

Very early in September I started drawing my next range of greeting cards, which would include some Christmas cards and also some drawn of the Supreme Court of Victoria and its architectural features. In hindsight I should have started a lot earlier as I have felt a bit of pressure to get these done to be ready for the Christmas season.

I am going to take you on the journey from an idea sketch to the printed card that can be purchased in stores. I am using my Koala and Gumnut Blossoms as an example.

After deciding to draw Australian animals on Christmas card I had the ‘lightbulb’ moment of including red and green in the gumnut blossoms. The design grew from there, 

I decided on five new cards and had the final drawings completed in watercolour pencil on A4 watercolour paper by the end of September. 

At the same time I reordered some of my previous card designs as stocks were getting low and Christmas is coming up and I have a stall at a big market at Etsy Made Local Melbourne in late November. Before sending my order to the local printing company for my new designs to be scanned and cards printed , I had to decide how many to print of each.  I was very fortunate to have two of local stockists Law Institute of Victoria bookshop and Paperpoint stationery  preorder 10 of some of my cards, including the Christmas koala and possum. I decided on 70 of each . Altogether I ordered 500 cards. 

I dropped my originals off to the printer on 25 September and received the cards on 18 October.  The timeframe was so long because I had received one set of hardcopy proofs to approve but I wanted to change the colour balance on some of them. I was then  sent another set of hardcopy proofs which I approved . Hence the delay. 

In the meantime I ordered 500 envelopes from my usual local stationery store and 500 cello bags to put each card in.

Saturday afternoon on my lounge chair’

Top Row : cello bags, cards, envelopes

Bottom Row: cards in cello bags with envelopes, strips from cello bags .

(hint learned from google searching. Put stickytape sticky side up on put cello strips on this. Otherwise they are full of static and stick to everything and anything . This keeps them in one place. )

They took all afternoon to package. But it was a nice way to occupy a chilly Melbourne Saturday afternoon. 

Today, Sunday, I took some very basic photographs so that I could put my greeting cards for sale on my Etsy online store. This also involves writing descriptions  and choosing keyword tags.  I will need to take  better photographs to showcase the cards. But the aim today was just to get them up online.