Category Archives: Melbourne

Sketching in Fitzroy Gardens

Today I sketched with a friend and her 12 year old grand daughter in Fitzroy Gardens. We are three people who love to draw. Not everyone is as fortunate as me to have the time and opportunity to draw. So it is always special to spend time with other people who do. We each had different styles and approaches. I feel that it is so important to encourage young people and anyone to draw, especially if they show an interest. 


Grass Green

Chrome Oxide Green

Earth Green

Hookers Green (it is too bright. I am going back to Derwent Mineral Green)

I love a combination of a sketch on location and then finer details of smaller objects. This works for travel sketching, as I will have a ticket, or souvenir (or leaf) that I can sketch at home. Trying to capture the autumnal colours that are coming through after our late summer. A sunny 26 degrees today. Perfect for outdoor sketching.

I also used a lot of Light Chrome Yellow, Light Yellow Ochre and Bistre ( a new colour in my pencils, replacing Raw Umber, which had too much yellow in it).

A combination of old and new, looking through trees to a modern building in Clarendon Street.

A family picnic across the park. I am not sure if I am finished yet. Maybe some more colour and detail. Alternatively I may move onto my next project……

All in watercolour pencil and also Lamy Safari Joy ink pen in Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook.

Lunar New Year sketching

Over 40 (perhaps up to 60) Melbourne Urban Sketchers met on a blue-skied sunny day at Queen Victoria Markets to sketch for Lunar New Year. Although the markets are busy, especially on weekends, we found spacious, shady places to sketch. 


such a wonderful sight to see sketchers all around

The Queen Victoria Markets have been operating in Melbourne for more than a century. This historic landmark is spread over two city blocks, and you can shop for everything from Australian fruit and vegetables, and local and imported gourmet foods, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs . A place to visit for locals and tourists ! (

There was so much to sketch, and I choose two of the mythical creatures that were between the market sheds. I used my Lamy Safari Joy ink pen and watercolour pencils. I wanted to capture the people as well as the Lunar New Year.

a group photo at 1pm

We were one of at least 25 worldwide Urban Sketching Regional Groups that were sketching for the Lunar New Year.  

and here are some roosters I sketched a while ago . For Year of the Rooster

Urban sketchers in Ivanhoe

About 30 people from  Urban Sketchers Melbourne  met at Hatch Contemporary Art Space in Ivanhoe, Melbourne at 11am, then once again at 1pm after the sketch to share. This event is part of 2016 Pinpoint Contemporary Art Fair held by Banyule City Council. We sketched for the morning on postcard size paper (and some larger) on location in Ivanhoe. group

The sketchers included Lionel King visiting from Sydney and a few newcomers, including Colin, a local, who could give us local knowledge of where to sketch – a big thank you !
It was very surreal to be with Angela Williams, Alf Green and Lionel King, as the last time we were in one place together was in Manchester, UK in July this year for the Urban Sketching Symposium.


looking down a driveway/laneway near Upper Heidelberg Road


War Memorial on Upper Heidelberg Road

Above are my two postcards from the morning.

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The sketches were laid out on the tables at Hatch, as we chatted and enjoyed their hospitality of tea, coffee and biscuits !
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The finished “Postcards from Banyule” were then put in a display cabinet at the Ivanhoe Train Station (work will be displayed for 2 weeks).It is in the area where people buy their ticket or shelter from the weather, so should get a lot of people looking at them. (Ivanhoe is a suburb in the City Council district of Banyule).

MRBW Day 9

Melbourne Rare Book “Week” actually goes for 11 days, culminating this weekend in the  ANZAAB Australian Antiquarian Book Fair (Melbourne Rare Book Fair), held in the University of Melbourne’s historic Wilson Hall.

I am flying to Manchester for the Urban Sketching Symposium tomorrow and will miss the two days of the Rare Book Fair.

Today I sketched at two events.


State Library Victoria

Des Cowley

22Jul2016 MRBW Day 9am

Despite there being no agreed definition of what an artist book is, it is generally defined as a book made by an artist and intended as a work of art. This session looked at a selection of books made by artists, drawing from State Library Victoria’s collection of over one thousand artists’ books


Law Library of Victoria

The Law Library of Victoria brought together eminent members of the legal community to share their passion for books. Held in the iconic Supreme Court Library, the session celebrated the importance of the written word and the beauty of the book in people’s lives.

 22Jul2016 MRBW Day 9pm

It seemed very fitting for my final sketching session documenting Melbourne Rare Book Week events was held in my workplace, the Supreme Court Library. I have sketched in the library in the past. But they are more detailed studied drawings of the books, shelves and ladders of this beautiful space. They are available as Greeting cards from my Esty online store (I am away until 17 August and will take orders after then) or at stockists around Melbourne

IMG_001622Oct14 shelves229Oct14 old Commercial law bookalissa duke library shelves




The past 9 days have been a wonderful experience for me, as a sketcher and book lover. I have met an amazing array of people who are passionate and generous in sharing their knowledge of their specialist area of books. Thanks to everyone who has discovered and followed my blog, some who have introduced themselves to me at events. A special thank you to Kay Craddock, Chris Browne and the people who worked so hard to produce this event. It was humbling and exciting to be involved.  See you all next year.

MRBW Day 4

A quiet Sunday, with only two Melbourne Rare Book Week events on today.


17Jul2016 MRBW Day Four am

John Arnold is an Associate Professor at Monash University lecturing in publishing and communications. He has been involved in the second-hand book trade as a dealer and collector for over forty years. In this talk he reminisced on bookshops past and present.  Lots of people in the room nodding their heads as he mentioned various people and businesses. This talk was held in beautiful room in the Old Treasury Building, so I decided to colour the room in this sketch.



14Jul2016 MRBW Day Four 4

Melbourne book collector, Professor Chris Browne, presented an entertaining illustrated talk about Penguin Books, focusing on their interest to book collectors, particularly looking at early Penguins from 1935 to 1970. He pointed out the important role of Penguin books during the Second World War and show how important innovations in book design were introduced by Penguin, He outlined the history of Penguin Books, both in the UK and Australia, illustrated the talk with examples from his personal collection of around 2000 Penguins.

MRBW Day 3


Melbourne Rare Book Week hosted six events today. Some were at the same times, so I had to make a choice about which ones to attend and sketch at. The decision was made easily, as one, A Walk on the Mean Streets, was going to have more sketching potential than the others.

The day began at the Rare Book Discovery Day at Melbourne Museum. It was an opportunity for people to bring along their books, maps and prints to this Antiques Roadshow-style event for discussion and informal appraisals from a panel of leading antiquarian booksellers. I arrived when they opened the doors and sat behind the appraisers.

14Jul2016 MRBW Day Three merged

I immediately realised that my ink pen was empty so I sketched in watercolour pencil. Instead of a quick sketch I stayed there for about an hour, drawing the appraisers first and then adding some people who had bought books along. I was pleased when a family arrived with a stack of books . I had a wonderful time watching, listening to the interesting conversations and sketching.

14Jul2016 MRBW Day Three am merged


After rushing home to refill my ink pen I went back into the city for A Walk on the Mean Streets. I knew in advance that the two presenters were dressing in period costume, which is why I wanted to attend this event. We had a perfect winters day – clear blue sky and sunshine.

15Jul2016 MRBW Day Three pm1

This walk was hosted by Dr. Lucy Sussex, an expert on Australian detective fiction, accompanied by Professor Chris Browne. We walked for two hours, stopping at some of the sites of Melbourne featured in the books of Fergus Hume, the author of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.


14Jul2016 MRBW Day Three pm214Jul2016 MRBW Day Three pm4 14Jul2016 MRBW Day Three pm3





14Jul2016 MRBW Day Three pm5



14Jul2016 MRBW Day Three pm614Jul2016 MRBW Day Three pm7











The walk finished at East Melbourne Library biscuits and coffee and with an interview with the ghost of Fergus Hume. We also viewed some early editions of the Mystery of Hansom cab and related titles and learned more about the publishing history.


counting down to travel and MRBW

The countdown is really on to two BIG events for me. Melbourne Rare Book Week in two weeks and UK holiday in three weeks.

Here is an update.


Three weeks to go ’til we leave on holidays to the UK – here is this weeks envelope to Mum. I a not at prolific this year and have forgotten to scan them before I send them !. Here are lots from  last holiday three years ago  to the UK.21Jun16 squirrel envelope


As I have described previously I am going to be sketching the events of Melbourne Rare Book Week. They will be quick sketches in pen, maybe adding a splash of colour. I plan to combine these with some sketches of the buildings or room they are held in to provide context, interest and colour. Yesterday I spent time at the beautiful State Library of Victoria (after dropping some of my greeting cards off at  Readings bookshop – they reordered ! Hooray. But that’s another story) .

Five talks are being held there in two different rooms at State Library of Victoria. I could only gain access to one room yesterday – The Red Rotunda. I sketched from two angles – both sketches are very heavy handed, but they give an idea of the room. I may go back and redo these.

2Jul2016 Red Rotnuda 2Jul2016 Red Rotunda2



The other part of my involvement in Melbourne Rare Book Week is my exhibition “You Can’t Draw in Books?” at Melbourne City Library. Yesterday I met with one of the Library staff to look at the practicalities of the display. We tried to find display stands to suit the various book sizes and see how they would look in the different areas of the library.

photo 2photo 3photo 1 Life is very busy and exciting !

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.











Melbourne Rare Book Week

“Melbourne Rare Book Week – for the love of books” was launched on Monday night. The program of free events has been announced and bookings are open. It is on from 14 -25 July 2016.

I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to be involved with the event in two ways. Melbourne Rare Book Week (MRBW)  is a very prestigious event – attracting a wide range of local, Australian and global visitors.

Firstly, I have an exhibition, “You Can’t Draw in Books?” and an accompanying talk. I have over 40 books that I bought for a dollar or two, or were being discarded. I am illustrating on pages in reaction to the text on the page. One of my thoughts is that this drawing may make the viewer look deeper at the page and the book. And by doing this, giving the book a new life.

Hare Preservation Act

The drawing from my exhibition that was chosen to go in the MRBW promotional brochure (above) for the event  is drawn in a old law book. I have illustrated the Hare Preservation Act 1892 (UK) . Just read deeper and you will find out about regulating the hare breeding season.

The exhibition has an associated talk , with book collector Chris Browne, who will explore aspects of drawing in books, from early manuscript illustrations and the presentation of pictures on the printed page to some examples of formal and informal book illustrations in more modern times.

Here are some of the sketches in books I have already shared online. They are all still “works in progress “as I have a bit more to add to each before July.

Ross's Outlines of English History

Ross’s Outlines of English History

Undomestic Goddess

Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

All but one of the books are on open pages.

However the London A-Z Street Map is falling apart and is just asking to have many pages drawn on.
30Apr16 london busLondon A-Z

July may seem a long way away, but is rapidly coming closer. My time between now and then will be spent investigating signage, labels… and completing the drawings.

23may2016 MRBW

Secondly, I am involved as an urban sketcher. I was excited to be contacted by Chris Browne last year after Kay Craddock (the organiser of MRBW) had seen some of my sketches from various Melbourne Rare Book Week events last year.
Chris suggested the idea of me visually recording some of the events and activities in 2016 through drawing. I started by sketching the launch (above). Urban sketchers draw what they see, on location, in real time, as it happens, and share their drawings on line. There are 55 events over the week and I will be kept very busy! You will see more about this over coming weeks on my blog, facebook, Instagram and flickr.

And then before it ends, I jump on a plane and fly to Manchester for the Urban Sketchers Symposium !

Lost Trades Fair Part 2

Lost Trades Fair PART 2

Last week I wrote Part 1 of my visit to the Lost Trades Fair in March. Here is the next part of my day of sketching at the Lost Trades Fair.

I have been asked about who runs the Lost Trades Fair and here is a little information about Glen & Lisa Rundell. Please see more at their website Rundell & Rundell . There is a wonderful five minute video that gives an insight into the day. It is really interesting and well worth viewing.
Who are Rundell & Rundell ? Lisa & Glen Rundell initiated and founded the Lost Trades Fair and it has grown so quickly with their passion, drive and organisation. LISA RUNDELL runs “The Chairmakers Wife” traditional trading store in Kyneton, with international traditional quality makers and showcasing work by local artisans that are part of the growing ‘Lost Trades’ guild of makers. GLEN RUNDELL is a Chairmaker, designer, woodworker, artisan, instructor and craftsman and holds bespoke workshops.

MY sketching day  …
I wandered down the wide grassed areas , with white tents either side. I would choose a stall that looks interesting to draw, has a place for me to sketch, without blocking other people.

Mar2016 Whisky and Wolf LR
The first stall I stopped at was Whisky & Wolf , where I talked to Leon, the artisan leatherworker. I stood in the stall and sketched. There were the finely handcrafted leather goods in a beautifully displayed area – old fishing gear, a stuffed pheasant, old books and nests. I felt relaxed in these surrounds and started drawing the pheasant. I heard about the hand finishing and stitching of the goods, and how Leon got to be doing what he is today.

There are fascinating stories everywhere at Lost trades Fair.

Mar2016 Pete Von Trott LR
I often observed a stall for a while, firstly for my own appreciation of the skill and knowledge of the person and their trade. Secondly, to see how the person is going to move around while I try to sketch them. Often they are making a specific object by hand in front of a growing audience. They stand alone, the onlookers kept back behind a rope. They explain the process of creating the object as they do it. Sometimes it involves repeating processes and stances .

Pete Von Trott – spoon maker was a great example of this . He worked on the same block of wood, using different tools, to carve it down to a fine wooden spoon. He told us about the timber (sycamore) , wood grain and carving and tools.

Mar2016 Glen Rundell LR
In the stall next to him was Glen Rundell with his wood lathe. Glen is the Chairmaker and features in the video.

Mar2016 Doug Tarrant LR
But sometimes I didn’t discover how much someone moved until the person had changed positions and moved about. For example, Doug Tarrant, the blacksmith only used the fire to periodically heat the rods (I am getting all the technical names wrong here). He would pump with his foot, which would turn the wheel and add air to stoke the glowing coals. The majority of the time was spent with his back to me , talking to the onlookers on the other side of the table.

Mar2016 Duncan McHarg LR

Duncan McHarg is a custom boot and shoemaker. He uses traditional construction techniques, and described them to us: from hand sewing every seam, to measuring and making of the wooden shoes lasts. This fascinating 4 minute BBC video explains a lot
Mar2016 Wood Duck Press LR

Sam Fray demonstrated the centuries-old craft of letterpress printing. Her company Wood Duck Press specialises in letterpress printing vintage, hand-fed, letterpress  She was working on “Daisy” a 240 kg press built in 1905, describing how she found the press in a factory alleyway rusty, neglected and how it came to be the working press in front of us.

It was two months ago that I visited the Lost Trades Fair. Looking back through my sketches and writing this blog has made me realise that I will remember these people and their passion and their skill for a long time.