Category Archives: eggs

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.

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.

Easter greetings

Happy Easter everyone.

1Apr15  bunny3

Each year I draw something for Easter. (see past years drawings )  In the last year I have been fortunate enough to move to Melbourne and into an apartment block where one of my neighbours  owns a chocolate shop called The Chocolate Box (based in Melbourne, but  wonderful online store too !)  She kindly invited me to draw anything from her store. It was a visual treat to wander around and look through the array of eggs, bunnies, chocolates and treats, all beautifully packaged.

30mar15  bunny

I decided on a little soft and fluffy toy bunny, some traditional chocolate eggs in foil and a chocolate nest of eggs. I find that foil is really difficult to draw, with all the shininess, so I did not choose too many of those.

29mar15 bashful bunny and eggs
30mar15  eggs up close






I  loved the Mini Half Egg with Hazelnut Praline Birds Eggs. Many of you will know how much I love drawing birds nests, feathers and eggs, so this seemed the perfect choice. 

1apr15 bunny2

I really enjoyed drawing the texture of the soft bunny and the colour of the chocolate. The foil was as difficult as I remembered!
What have you been drawing this Easter?

birds at the museum

I  spent a few hours at the Australian Museum in Sydney on Saturday and today. I wish I visited more often. I have a membership so can get in for free, so I should make effort to visit. The problem is  – to many wonderful things to draw, to many projects !
The Australian Museum
Although there are many wonderful floors to explore and sketch, I seem to always head for the Search & Discover Room . It is an information and resource centre. You have a chance to  touch and feel real specimens, and take them to a desk to position and sketch. I had SUCH a good time. Sometimes lines just flow from the pencil. It happened here.
I have sketched a few Australian birds before . As with any subject, the more you draw and really LOOK and SEE  it, the more understanding you have of it and the better you get.
I usually draw in a 13 x 19 cm Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook.  The only times that I want to draw BIG are at the Museum and the Zoo. So I took an A3 sketchbook this time.
I also took an old ledger that I had bought. I want to explore drawing on printed surfaces.

He is almost all black in colour. but I decided to finish in this sketch stage and not “colour in”
A3 Arches 300 GSM Smooth Watercolour Paper
Pied Currawongs are found throughout eastern Australia. They prefer forests and woodlands, and has become well adapted to suburban areas. Throughout its range it is common and familiar. Average size: 48cm Source:
Their song  can be heard in Australian suburbs

I sketched him again, but really  had to add all black otherwise he looked like a penguin with a white front.

The Australian Magpie is black and white. It is slightly smaller than the currawong  Its nape, upper tail and shoulder are white in males, grey in females. Across most of Australia, the remainder of the body is black. They are common and conspicuous birds.Australian Magpies are found wherever there is a combination of trees and adjacent open areas, including parks and playing fields. Australian Magpies can be very aggressive during breeding season and attacks on humans and pets can occur.
They have a beautiful song which I love to hear. It is a loud musical flute-like song, often performed as a duet or by groups

I always draw in watercolour pencil. On this page I was showing another sketcher, Jane how I use watercolour pencils to draw and blend. I have been using them everyday for over five years and love what can be done with them.
I draw lots of things and they all go on flickr

Creation of a birds nest hat

I draw daily and have a few different styles, depending on where I am, how I feel  etc.

I am an Urban sketcher, I draw on envelopes, I am a nature sketcher, and draw objects .

They are ALWAYS in watercolour pencil, which I love to use, and sometimes use my Lamy Safari Ink Pen. I draw and sketch ALMOST ALWAYS in my watercolour Moleskine sketchbook 13 x 21 cm

I am going to share with you a project that I worked on last year. It is a hat that is a nest !
I created it – (not found in nature like this !!) 
I had put it away for a while, as I got distracted by other drawing projects. But now I have started drawing feathers again and have more nests to draw ( and another hat)

I spent a lot of time this drawing,  more than I have even spent on a piece of art . I was out of my comfort zone in terms of the size of the paper I was working on  (56 x 38cm). When working larger I also had to show more detail and came across a few other issues that perplexed me.

The finished (or is it?) drawing. It is too big to put on my scanner at home, so I have had to take a photograph

Below is how it evolved from an idea to where it is today (above)

In May 2010 I drew a hat that I owned for an Everyday Matters Challenge “Draw something old”. Years ago I was given an old hat box and inside it were two hats.

hat I was given

quail eggs from the markets


In 2012 I went to a local community art class and we were encouraged to draw a still life – thinking outside of the box. These are some quail eggs that bought from the local markets to draw.  I drew on a large on a large sheet of cartridge paper. It did not take the water very well, so I left it as watercolour pencil.  It is not very different from the final result

experiment on cartridge paper
I decided to take this on as a project. The hat/nest/eggs sat on my dining table for weeks on end over the course of the drawing
I did the first sketch in a large size on a spare sheet of paper .  
I bought a large sheet of paper Fabriano (56 x 38cm). (not sure what weight) and started on the hat

I had done quite a lot of work on the hat and realised that I had better figure out where the quail eggs were going to sit. They were hollowed out so were very light and I used blue tack to try and get them to stay in the same place. But a slight knock against the dining table sometimes had my careful arrangement collapsing

I had to experiment to try and allow for the light coloured hat netting to be seen against the dark fur. I used fluid masking fluid for the first time – varying degrees of success.  I experimented on a spare sheet of paper but the final version had varying areas of success.

You can’t add a lighter colour over a darker colour with watercolour pencils. I discovered that watersoluble crayons were successful for adding lighter highlights and lines. I could not add much contrast or detail, but they were useful

I then needed to add the branches where the nest/hat is sitting.
I photocopied the drawing in colour and did a lot of rubbing out and changing. Some branch placings just did not look right. There was a lot of experimentation again as the angle had to be just right so that it looked like it was actually sitting in the tree. This is something I should have thought of when I planned the page. It took a while and asking a lot of advice from friends. A good suggestion was to hold it up against a mirror to see if it looked ok.
where to place the branches

The next decision was to how to draw the branches – sketchy, detailed, coloured, graphite??

 I did some mock ups in each style and held them up against the hat/nest.

 My final decision was to a sketchy graphite, with a hint of watercolour . See the final drawing at the top of the page

So after many, many weeks it was time to put the nest and eggs back in the display cabinet, and put my drawing away for a while. But I have taken it out now and am a lot happier with it than I was at the time . I was too close to my work – like a university assignment that you have worked on for too long and makes complete sense to you ,but also no sense at all.

I will add a few tweaks and put it up on the wall. Then I can start on the next one- did  mention I got two hats in the hat box !




Illustration Friday – EGG

 Illustration Friday(IF) is a weekly illustration challenge. A topic is posted every Friday and then participants have all week to come up with their own interpretation. If you go to the IF website, you can see how people interpret the theme and all the different styles and mediums they use.

This week’s theme is EGG ! A great one for Easter, but I could think of lots of there ways to illustrate it. I did not have ay Easter eggs at home, but as soon as I was given this egg by Trish & John I knew that I had to draw it. And then I thought of other eggs. If I had more time I would have drawn a whole nest full of them 
Have a look at a sample of my previous Illustration Friday in the tab above. ALL of my previous responses to challenges are on flickr

I tend to use IF challenges to draw from photographs. Usually I draw objects from life or use my sketchbook journal to capture people and places and events in my day.

watercolour pencils in Moleskine watercolour sketchbook
Walnut Brown
Burnt Umber
Cool Grey VI

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all.
Each year I draw an Easter card for my mother and also somehow find another treat to draw in my sketchbook. This year is no different .

This is a china rabbit that I have .He comes out and sits on a shelf at Easter. My grandmother remembers that it belonged to her mother and it was there about the time she was married – so maybe in the 1940s.

I also have a hot cross bun that will be drawn and eaten and added to this page over the next day or two….check back. I will see how long it lasts , sitting there temptingly on the kitchen bench in its brown paper packet.
I have four days of relaxation, socialising, and drawing ahead of me . Wonderful

This is the same rabbit when I drew him last year

03Apr12 Easter bunny by alissa duke
Watercolour pencil on Fabbriano paper.
03Apr12 Easter bunny, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.

 and other previous years Easter drawings

05Apr12 hot cross buns ! by alissa duke05Apr12 hot cross buns !, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.


06Apr12 hot cross bun - one bite by alissa duke

01Apr10 Easter rabbit by alissa duke04Apr10 Easter rabbit - oops by alissa duke

01Apr10 Easter rabbit, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.
04Apr10 Easter rabbit – oops, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.


12Apr09 Easter Day by alissa duke
12Apr09 Easter Day, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.