Category Archives: “Supreme Court 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

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.

sketching at a conference

On Saturday I attended a conference “Judging for the People,” honouring 175  years of the Supreme Court in Victoria.

I am a librarian at the Supreme Court Library and keen to learn more about Melbourne and Victorian history, so it was a fascinating day for me. There are associated exhibitions at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and the Supreme Court Library, and a book to be launched next week that tells the stories behind the history.

09April2016 conference 1and2

I am practicing my reportage sketching at events. I decided to focus on drawing the speakers at this conference, after I had sketched my traditional “back of heads” audience scene. This is my comfort zone, so I was able to relax before taking on the more challenging sketching.

The session speakers sat at a desk while their fellow speaker took to the podium, and this provided me the ideal opportunity to sketch them . I have scanned the pages as I sketched them at the time.

I am going spend time in the next week or so thinking about how and where I add the writing on the page and to practice my lettering. I will think about who the pages are for and the information required. In this case, they are for me. However if the pages were sketched for the event organisers as a record of their event, I would need to add more information, explanation and maybe some quotes.

09April2016 conference session 1The sessions were

What the docquicentannnial of the Supreme Court means for Victoria.  (open keynote speaker)Session One Judge-made law and judicial independence (five speakers)

09April2016 conference molesworth

Justice Victoria Bennetts’s talk on Sir Robert Molesworth , (long time judge of the Supreme Court, 1856-1886) and his extraordinary matrimonial dispute, was bought to life by an actor. At intervals through her presentation he stood up, put on a wig and quoted from the relevant party – a court reporter, Editor of the Argus newspaper, barrister for Mrs Molesworth, Chief Justice Stawell and George Higginbotham, Solicitor General. Very entertaining and an unexpected opportunity for quick sketching.

09April2016 conference session 2

Session Two Unexpected impact of the law (four speakers)

09April2016 session 3 09April2016 session3 video

Session Three The Fourth Estate and Justice (three panelists and a moderator) . The Fourth Estate refers to the media. We watched a video of a judge (above) handing down a judgment that was televised .

All the talks were very fascinating and different and so well presented.

I also sketched the audience. My colleagues and I noted that there was a lot of tweed in the room.

09April2016 conference audience

I am gradually fine tuning my style of sketching people and how and when I use my pen and my watercolour pencils. It is a skill to be able to capture the likeness of a person on the page. I am trying to put one or two features down on paper . Often it is the shape of their head or hair, their sitting position and their clothes. I am trying not to add too many features on the face – eyes, nose, mouth, as this can get messy on the page.

My recent ‘sketching at events”  included Dromkeen Literary Festival

I am following the work of Veronica Lawlor , who has recently written a book “Reportage and Documentary Drawing” and also Liz Ackerley who is one of the correspondents documenting the Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester in July (which I am attending).



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


DSCF1109 DSCF1110DSCF1107


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




Old library books

A few weeks ago I showed this drawing as a work in progress and asked for advice on its composition. I received some very useful feedback.

books in frame

I have now completed the drawing. I decided to lean the books on each side and also have unfinished, disappearing edges. This is a style that I feel comfortable with.

24Apr15  Library books
Above is scan of the  finished drawing, on A4 paper with watercolour pencils. Read about the colours used in my last blogpost

The books are Dowling and Ryland’s MagistratesCases (1822-1827) an English Law Reports series.


I am going to keep the drawing in this frame on the wall so that I look at it everyday and notice subtle differences that I can make. It may be making some colours darker, increasing some shadow, or adding a line underneath to indicate a book shelf.

At a later stage I plan to create another set of Greeting Cards to add to my current set of eight Library and book cards in my Brand New Etsy Site
Now that the Winter months are here in Melbourne, I will be spending my lunch hours in the library I work in, drawing more books…..

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

Hello Mebourne

I have been in Melbourne for two weeks, after moving from Sydney,  and have found it easy to continue my normal sketching patterns. I carry my Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook and watercolour pencils with me everywhere. I have the opportunity to quickly capture my new daily life.
Corner of  Collins and Elizabeth Streets . commuters on their way to work
At Flinders Street Station, looking at the timetables and platform notices

Fitzroy Gardens


I am also using my lunchtime to sketch the buildings around me. I have been very fortunate with the weather.
Supreme Court Library dome

Supreme Court Library window


On the weekend
I have sketched with Urban Sketchers Melbourne twice. At the moment they are focusing on sketching in the inner city Council District of Booroondara, which includes a number of suburbs including Hawthorn, Kew, Canterbury. It is in preparation for a urban Sketches exhibition at Town Hall Gallery Hawthorn in November. If you are visiting Melbourne, drop by and visit it. So I am getting to explore parts of Melbourne as well as meet new urban sketchers. I already knew Evelyn, Kym, Angela and Jodi from previous visits and am happy to be able to sketch and chat with them on a regular basis now.
This Saturday’s visit was to Maling Road, Canterbury. A charming shopping village with beautiful shops, cafes and the weather was perfect too.
Classic fruits store

My lunch, of course