Category Archives: food

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 !!!

drawing lunch step by step

Another step by step drawing. 


My lunch. Drawn as a work in progress, knowing that I would probably eat it cold as I stopped to take photos along the way.

I draw all the main shapes and colours in their watercolour pencil colours. I do this so that when I add water to those lines, they become the object, rather than leaving an outside line.

I decided to add some of plate . I had considered just the food and chopsticks – you don’t need draw the plate to show the food is   on a plate. The viewers mind/imagination fills in this information.

I gradually build up the colours, adding dark. I decided not add dark around all  of the plate.

These are the watercolour pencils I used . I have about 26 in my pencil wrap and rarely use any outside of these (I have many other colours in the range in a box).

By this stage the page was getting murky and I was getting hungry. Time to stop and eat !

York – sketching my arrival

After this weeks reviews of my Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium experiences, I am now returning to my travel holiday sketchbooks. I shall whisk you onward to York today. We spent 6 days in York and I completed 45 pages of sketches. Like all cities/towns, York is very visual , but also has so much visual (and therefore sketchable) history from Roman, Medieval, Georgian and Victorian times.


The first sketch was on a very crowded train from Manchester to York, looking out the window. When we were well into the countryside and when I sketched this there was a consistency of the view. So what I sketched on the page was a compilation of the view in the distance (which remained the same for a while) and a typical view of a changing mid-distance, then some coloured flowers out the window.

Today’s post is setting the scene in York. They are drawings done over time in our hotel room. The urban sketching of the city comes later….


I changed sketchbooks mid-York and wanted to continue the narrative in Sketchbook Two, so I sketched the page above . It was fascinating to find out that “York” is derived (potentially) from yew. I love the yew tree and the myths and history that surround it. It is a very English tree to me.

31july2016-palm-court-york 31july2016-palm-court-view-york


As I mentioned in my Manchester blog, I usually draw my hotel and this was no exception for Palm Court  This lovely eight room family run Victorian townhouse is a B&B and our comfortable home for the week. Palm Court was only 5 minutes walk from York City walls – we walked through the early 14th century Monk Bar each day, and every time I was in awe of the history surrounding me.



Across the road from our B&B was the River Foss and a small park. It was not a particularly pretty park, but it did have a large flock of Canada Geese and a family of swans. I had collected some feathers earlier in the week, but It was not until the last day that I had time to sketch them .


I sketched five of my breakfasts in York – sometimes just the toast. On the final morning I had some of the FULL English breakfast. My special customised watercolour pencil wrap, it sits neatly on the breakfast table. Sometimes the times that you stop for food are opportunities where you have control over the time and space and view. I may appear that I draw food a lot, but this is actually because these are the opportunities that are there.  I also talk and sketch at the same time, so can interact with people.  Mum and I would plan some of our day over breakfast or be checking the map to see how to get to our first place to start the day.

Next weekend I will blog about sketching in York. I really enjoyed my time there and would return to do it all again tomorrow.

exhibition preview

Today I held a special champagne preview for some close friends of my upcoming exhibition “You Can’t Draw in Books?” for Melbourne Rare Book Week.


from left to right. Leon, Alissa, Louise, ,Michaela, Adam

Today’s preview was at my apartment for some good friends who will not be in town while my exhibition is on. The books were displayed, grouped as they will be in the different areas in Melbourne City Library. The difference was that today, they were spread out over a table, mantle piece and my bed, instead of labelled in display cabinets.

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The exhibition is at Melbourne City Library, Flinders Lane from 14 – 24 July. I will be giving a talk with book collector, Chris Browne  on Monday 18 July at 6pm. We will explore aspects of drawing in books, from early manuscript illustrations and the presentation of pictures on the printed page, to my own informal drawing in books. Book here for the talk.








Above are a selection of the books. There are forty in total.

We are now at the stage of designing the flyer, and writing the content for the different areas of the display. In just over three weeks we will set up the exhibition. Today, it was great to receive some lovely comments from my friends and to get their feedback on some questions I had.  Thanks all for a lovely celebration and sharing my exciting art adventures.











High Tea at The Gables

A morning of catching up with sketching friends Juliet, Jill, Jeanette and Kate  and celebrating various exciting events in our lives recently.  We decided to book in for a High Tea and found the perfect one at beautiful The Gables, a 1902 Queen Anne style house/function venue in Malvern East, Melbourne.

22May2016 The Gables desserts

Of course, we had to sketch. The sandwiches, quiches, scones , and then desserts were beautiful to draw and eat. … and the champagne and the tea cups….Our time went so quickly.

                      22May2016 The Gables champagne22May2016 The Gables tea





We stayed an extra half an hour outside in the garden. The weather has got a bit cool, otherwise we would have stayed a lot longer. As soon as I saw the photo of the house on the website, I wanted to draw some if it – either the windows, the stained glass, chimneys or some other character feature. I was happiest with this sketch from all my drawings of the day.

22May2016 The Gables


sketching my roast dinner

A few weeks ago I visited the Lost Trades Fair in nearby Kyneton.

I wrote about sketching my lunch at the burger stall run by  Sidonnia Hills Natural Beef


my sketch and my burger

Sidonia Hills were running a ‘photograph your burger’ competition. I entered a photo of my drawing and burger and was excited when I received a message that I had tied for first place.
My prize?     4 kg of beef cuts.

16April2016 Sidonia Hills beef dinner

The first big dinner was held last night at a friends house (who loves to cook) . Roasted topside of beef and vegetables. It seemed only fitting to sketch my dinner as well.

Thank you to everyone who contributed toward the meal !

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Louise cooking

I enjoy drawing food.

Enjoyed the main meal ? See some sweets and desserts on my flickr site

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.

Lunar New Year – fast & slow sketching

On Saturday at my local East Melbourne Library there were Chinese New Year celebrations, including Lion Dancing. There were two Lions (each had two people in it)  and a mischievous buddah,  accompanied musicians on the drum, gong and cymbal. A fantastic overload of sights and sounds to delight the small crowd . It finished in firecrackers (outside the library) .

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It was very challenging to try and capture the constant movement of the characters. They darted up and down, back and forward, in a seemingly impromptu fashion. They jumped up onto the loans desk and bookshelves, in amazingly acrobatic moves. I learnt afterwards that they had not been to the library before this date and it was all made up on the spot.

I am not sure if I could have prepared for sketching this. It required very loose hand,  and arm movement. I was trying to juggle multiple coloured pencils and this slowed me down.

20Feb2016 chinese lion5lr

It was a lot easier to draw the musicians – this was within my comfort zone !

After the finale of firecrackers outside the library and the ending of the ceremony, I moved back inside to try the deep fried dumplings and Chinese black tea. The makers of these explained the process as I watched and chatted to the library staff.

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Chinese black tea with Sarah Cowell from Teasense

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Deep fried prawn and pork dumplings with Corona So from Living Cuisine

Totally in my comfort zone here !