Category Archives: library

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

New Greeting cards

I am very excited that I have SIX new greeting cards available for purchase. They are printed from my watercolour pencil drawings.

christmas-mince-pies christmas-pudding

There are TWO new Christmas cards to join the four that I already have . These two Christmas images were drawn in the last two month, specifically for these Christmas cards. They were drawn on A4 watercolour paper . I tried to think of colourful Christmas themes that fit within my drawing style. I love to draw food and smaller objects. These two were great fun.


fungi – drawn from fungi on small branches collected in Toowoomba


Squirrel – Drawn from one of many photographs I took of squirrels in Kensington Gardens in London.


Drawn from old keys that I have collected over the years,


Old Law books on the shelves at work.

I have been working on this project for about two months. Four of the drawings are from my  sketchbooks over the last few years. It took a long time to decide which drawings would look good on cards and appeal to other people. Just because a drawing looks good, doesn’t mean that it will make a good card.


The excitement of taking delivery and unpacking my new cards

Once again, my local printers Print Together, have reproduced the subtle colours and lines of watercolour pencils. The cards were delivered last Wednesday and I have spent the last few days, putting envelopes inside them and sealing each one in a cellobag. Yesterday I started to take photographs of the cards to put up on my Etsy online store. It was a lovely sunny day, so I went to the park.

They are now available for purchase from my Etsy online store for $AUD 5.50.

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.











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 !

Library coffee cups

Today was my work Christmas party. It was held in the tearoom at work, everyone bringing a plate of food and taking the time to  relax. My contribution to the lunch (along with bread and juice) were these paper coffee cups that I had drawn on. They are  drawings of the Supreme Court of Victoria.  The library that we work in is under the dome. The other drawings are of books in the library. People could take a cup if they wanted to, and happily did.

cup and books

Above is a cup against the books.

Below are the different drawings I did.

Here are the BOOKS


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and here is the LIBRARY

















The cups were bought by my colleague Monica at the markets in a stack of 100 (thank you !) . I didn’t think I would use that many but I can see lots fun potential. I have drawn on them with my Lamy Safari Joy ink pen . I hope you enjoy.

If you love books and library you can purchase my watercolour pencil drawings of them on Greeting cards in my Etsy shop




an open book

An old open book has so much potential – what do you see written?

open book

This is my dilemma.

I have drawn a beautiful old book with yellowed pages, brown spots on the page (known as foxing) and a worn spine.

The book is open , inviting you in to read. However I do not want to use the original title page of the book as it is Ecclesistical Cases law reports published in 1703. I have drawn this on a loose sheet of A4 paper and may want to have it printed as a card or print in the future. I would like to have a wider audience than lawyers.

I ask for your suggestions on what you can visualise written on the opening pages of  this mysterious book  …

The thoughts so far – please comment and makes suggestions

  • leave it blank
  • Once Upon a Time
  • an illuminated letter or elaborate image or frontispiece

I look forward to reading your ideas and will let you know what happens in a future blog post .

*this was drawn with watercolour pencils in my lunch breaks at work . Warm Grey II, Burnt Ochre, Paynes Grey, Ivory, Raw Umber, Sketched lightly in HB pencil first to get the perspective and proportions in place.




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.


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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.

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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.

My Etsy shop is Open !

I have opened my Etsy Fine Art Shop.

The product?
Blank Fine Art Note or Greeting Cards featuring eight of my drawings of books and libraries.
Today I’m here to share a little more about this.

Where did the idea come from?
I have been longing to get my drawings printed as cards and prints for quite a while (as my friends know). I have spent time looking for a printing company that would produce a product with a quality of colour and finish that I was happy to put my name to. When I arrived in Melbourne I found (through recommendations) the company Print Together who were just right !

Why did I create cards?
I love paper products and the enjoyment of the written word. I love stationery, books, hand written notes and receiving something in the mail, and I know that many other people do too, even in this digital age. I write a letter once a week and love to post cards and think about the enjoyment and surprise on the recipients face when they open it .
I have been drawing the books and shelves in my new workplace and realised they would make a perfect set of cards.

What to expect?
Each card features a single image on the front and a blank interior, and a description on the back. They are printed on 300gsm card with a smooth finish that has an easy to write on surface. Each individual card comes packaged in a protective plastic sleeve with an envelope.

spine with pen

So where can you find them?
You can find my Etsy shop at where you have a look at and order these cards.
*Keep an eye for new images on cards coming soon. Have a look at my website at the DRAWINGS tab to see just a few of my other type of drawings. Or ALL of my art everyday on flickr.


Books on shelves in the Library

Another drawing of the library I work in. I have not included any of the  library ladders  that I have drawn previously. This time, I wanted to focus on the ‘bookishness’ of the library. This particular area with the book shelves above the doorway, leading into another room of books seems to exemplify this. These are the Commonwealth Law Reports above the door and on the surrounding shelves.

 This drawing was done over a week of lunch breaks and probably took about 2 1/2 hours. It is drawn in a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook 13 x 19 cm. I stood up, leaning on a bookshelf with my pencil wrap open next to me .(See more about my pencil wrap  at

Step 1

I knew from the first sketch that it was going to work and have the look and feel I wanted. I first marked out the lines in 2H Pencil . Then I started drawing with the watercolour pencils. Watercolour pencils allow me to draw and then add water with a brush to the page to blend the colour. I can then add more colour with the pencil. Detail works best if I have remembered to sharpen the pencil !

Step 2
Step 3

I used a lot of brown shades in this drawing, I might try a colourful object next !

The main Faber Castell watercolour pencils  used were:

Walnut Brown
Burnt Umber
Burnt Ochre
Light Yellow Ochre
Orange Glaze
Payne’s Grey
Burnt Carmine

Read a bit more about me, my watercolour pencils and drawing in one of my first blogposts


ANOTHER Library ladder

Another beautiful library ladder and bookshelves in my workplace (see my previous library ladder sketch HERE)
This time I wanted to include a bit more context, with some of the surroundings.
I drew this in my lunch breaks. Five days, of half an hour each for drawing time.  
As a work in progress….

You might be able to see a second ladder in the foreground in the drawings below. While I was drawing the first one I decided I could not draw another – too much perspective and counting. I was a little tired of library ladders by then.

I drew light lines and marks in pencil first to get the perspective right.
The following watercolour pencils colours were used to draw this . All are Faber Castell except where noted.
and a waterbrush
Madder Carmine(Derwent)
Burnt Carmine
Payne’s Grey
Schwarz Black
Light Yelow Ochre
Burnt Ochre
Walnut Brown
Burnt Umber
Raw Umber (Derwent)
I will give ladders a break for a while and go back to drawing books