Category Archives: “watercolour pencil”

greeting cards – from sketch to store

Very early in September I started drawing my next range of greeting cards, which would include some Christmas cards and also some drawn of the Supreme Court of Victoria and its architectural features. In hindsight I should have started a lot earlier as I have felt a bit of pressure to get these done to be ready for the Christmas season.

I am going to take you on the journey from an idea sketch to the printed card that can be purchased in stores. I am using my Koala and Gumnut Blossoms as an example.


After deciding to draw Australian animals on Christmas card I had the ‘lightbulb’ moment of including red and green in the gumnut blossoms. The design grew from there, 

I decided on five new cards and had the final drawings completed in watercolour pencil on A4 watercolour paper by the end of September. 

At the same time I reordered some of my previous card designs as stocks were getting low and Christmas is coming up and I have a stall at a big market at Etsy Made Local Melbourne in late November. Before sending my order to the local printing company for my new designs to be scanned and cards printed , I had to decide how many to print of each.  I was very fortunate to have two of local stockists Law Institute of Victoria bookshop and Paperpoint stationery  preorder 10 of some of my cards, including the Christmas koala and possum. I decided on 70 of each . Altogether I ordered 500 cards. 

I dropped my originals off to the printer on 25 September and received the cards on 18 October.  The timeframe was so long because I had received one set of hardcopy proofs to approve but I wanted to change the colour balance on some of them. I was then  sent another set of hardcopy proofs which I approved . Hence the delay. 

In the meantime I ordered 500 envelopes from my usual local stationery store and 500 cello bags to put each card in.

Saturday afternoon on my lounge chair’

Top Row : cello bags, cards, envelopes

Bottom Row: cards in cello bags with envelopes, strips from cello bags .

(hint learned from google searching. Put stickytape sticky side up on put cello strips on this. Otherwise they are full of static and stick to everything and anything . This keeps them in one place. )

They took all afternoon to package. But it was a nice way to occupy a chilly Melbourne Saturday afternoon. 

Today, Sunday, I took some very basic photographs so that I could put my greeting cards for sale on my Etsy online store. This also involves writing descriptions  and choosing keyword tags.  I will need to take  better photographs to showcase the cards. But the aim today was just to get them up online.

Easter weekend in Sydney

Last weekend I visited Sydney. It was my second visit since I moved to Melbourne two and a half years ago. I had lived in Sydney for ten years and made many good friends there, especially in the sketching world. 

I planned my visit to spend some quality time with friends, and I did, I had some lovely conversations and sketching time. It was definitely a sketching holiday and so relaxing. I filled twenty five pages of my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook (13 x 19) over the four day break.

I’ve included a few on this blog. If you would like to see them all they are on my flickr site from 13 to 17 April 2017.

I started sketching as soon as I left work on Thursday and was officially ‘on holidays’ – on the bus to the airport, at the airport. I sketched the view from where I stayed each night, food I ate and scenes along the way.  Some sketches are in ink and some in watercolour pencil and some a combination of both . Sometimes I can visualise what I would like a sketch to look like on the page, and I “know” (inside) that it will work in pen rather than watercolour pencil. On another day or another time I may have chosen different material. 

I am usually very happy with what i put on the page. Every now and then I am exceptionally pleased. I felt that this sketch of the cruise ship in Sydney Harbour really came together when I added the figures, The Sydney Opera House is in the background and it is a temptation to make it the focus.  However it did not fit on the page, so my decision was made.

I like to combine a feature of a building and the larger building to give it some context. This is beautiful The Russell Hotel  where I stayed on Thursday night.  I could spend some time on the interior, as I was leisurely eating my breakfast, and not meeting Chris and Liz til 10 am.  I tried not to get caught up in the detail of the staircase, The exterior sketch was done quickly, as once again I did not want to get caught up in the detail. I have been trying to figure out which room I was in and where I sketched from the Sitting Room Balcony, but it is a confusing building inside, with little staircases and rooms everywhere. 

Catching the ferry to Manly from Circular Quay. I sat on the top deck at the back. I watched as the city disappeared into the distance. This couple sat for a short amount of time on the bench in front of me. I got the lines of their heads and his arm down very quickly on the page, and was really pleased with the flow of the lines and getting their position down on the page. I can look at this and feel where his weight is and how she turns her head,. I ,quickly added some colour with my watercolour pencils, which was just as well, as they moved. I decided not to add the colour of the sky and water. 

Classic Manly on Easter Sunday. The Manly ferry , the coastal pine trees and Easter Eggs.

I sketched with about 12 few of Erin’s sketchers at Manly. I had met two when I was in Sydney, and had a lovely time chatting and sketching with them all. 

and home again. 

At the airport I decided   – no more sketching – (I did have a book to read) UNLESS I sat behind someone with fantastic hair, There was no one on the plane – but on the bus, there was a young girl with wonderfully braided hair AND bunny ears. How could I resist???? I’ve never drawn braids before and it was a  challenge ! It keep me very busy on the way into Melbourne city. Once I figured out the pattern, I could continue it while I waited for another bus.

I hope you have enjoyed my holiday. 

Please let me know if you have any questions about my sketching, using watercolour pencils, or my sketchbook journalling. I love to share my passion/obsession with sketching and the joys of watercolour pencils. 

 

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.

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looking down a driveway/laneway near Upper Heidelberg Road

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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).

Sketching Mum’s favourite London

I have almost finished scanning and uploading my three UK holiday sketchbooks to my flickr website. Every sketch holds a memory of a time and place and I feel like I want to show you them all. These blogs have been more of a ‘holiday snaps’ than art talk. I did not know where to start and stop sharing my English holiday sketches on my blog.

However, my mother (and travelling companion) has recently mentioned a few places and events that express what London means to her.  I have taken her suggestions to form the basis of my blog this week.

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Mum & I in Regents Park, London

I have taken Mum’s words and added my sketch

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  •  the green spaces, so many lovely squares. We were using our Oyster Card just like all the locals and other tourists – Russell Square, King’s Cross, Jubilee Line, Westminster!!!!

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the places to visit like British Museum and Library

 

 

 

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  • then there is beautiful Regents Park, an oasis in the busy streets around Baker Street. Pity we had a little trouble finding our way back to Bloomsbury

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  • London is the red buses, telephone boxes and post boxes

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  • not forgetting that time we sat eating lunch after hearing the ‘Bells of St. Clements’

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  • and looking down the street at the Royal Courts of Justice.

London is all that and more……………

 

 

my UK holiday sketching journey begins

I am not sure where to begin sharing my sketches and stories from my recent three week holiday to England from Australia, which included the Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium, a week in Manchester, York and London. I have so many wonderful memories associated with each sketch.

I have started scanning the first of three sketchbooks.

My sketching for holidays always begins months in advance. I like the excitement of the countdown to a holiday, the research it involves  and the little things that need to be purchased that let you now you are going on a holiday . I have already written about these:

and that is before the plane leaves the ground !

When I leave, I already have in mind some the opportunities I may have and the scenes I may draw although I do not know what some specifically look like. These are fairly controlled situations and usually involve a lot of waiting time.

  • on the bus to the airport
  • at the airport
  • on the plane
  • my hotel – the exterior and the room, breakfast if it is included

These are the sketches I that I am including today. They are only a selection.  I am adding them all to flickr albums .

Each sketch is a specific memory of time and place, although some are contain generic shapes and objects (airplanes ). The more I draw these the better I get and the more comfortable I am with the process and limitations of time/space/equipment.

23Jul2016 to the airport

On the Skybus on the way to Melbourne airport.

It is a 20 minute bus journey to Melbourne airport . From previous experience, I know that I will have a view of the luggage racks or the back of someone’s head in front of me.

23Jul2016 at the airport

Melbourne airport . our plane !

At the airport there are always lots of planes to draw. It is great if I can draw the plan I am flying in (as in this case), but any plane will do. They involve lots of strange shapes (at the nose of the plane) and inconceivable foreshortening for the rest of it (lots of measuring and comparing size and angles). I usually end up with the wing going off the page . I wrote the notes on the page later to try and remember the process of customs and immigration and what we had to do when.

23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi 2

 

 

 

 

 

22 hours of flight provides lots of drawing time – the people, their shoes, the food and more. How often are you given time like this ! I can easily spend the time trying different techniques. However I am also distracted by the movies,  reading, and discussing our upcoming travel adventure.

28Jul2016 The Midland Hotel

Midland Hotel . Manchester

We were staying in Manchester for a week. I thought that would be plenty of time to sketch the exterior of the stunning Midland Hotel, as well as the interior of the rooms. As usual there was not. Life was so busy and I was still completing the drawings  on the day we were leaving. This drawing was completed in four sessions of between 15 and 30 minutes. I would  leave the hotel at 8ish , walk across the road and sit on the same bench at the back of Central Library and add a few more lines and colour. My new best friends are Venetian red and Dark Sepia Faber Castell watercolour pencils. But more about that later…..

I hope you enjoy joining me on my sketching journey . Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to talk about. I could talk on and on about travel sketching .

 

 

 

Return from UK holiday – catching up

I have just returned from 3 weeks holiday in England, which involved a lot of sketching. Slighty jet-legged, I am sorting out, catching up, reliving wonderful holiday memories and planning ahead. The sketches on this page are a few that I have scanned today.

27Jul2016 Manchester Town Hall rooftop

I travelled to Manchester for the Urban Sketching Symposium and then to York and then to London.27Jul2016 Symposium opening event

The holiday was wonderful and very special. I was overwhelmed with the history that surrounded me and the architecture of these three cities. I travelled with my very very patient mother, who understood and accommodated my sketching as we travelled – it is so easy to get distracted and ‘need’ to sketch something as you pass by it.

1Aug2016 York The Shambles

1Aug2016 York Micklegate Bar

I filled almost three sketchbooks (Moleskine 13 x 19 cm) with travel sketches in those three weeks. I now have the long task of scanning them. But before I can do that, many of the pages need to be ‘finished’ . This usually involves adding the date, heading, transcribing my scribbled pencil notes into the page in pen. Sometimes I want to find out more information about the place I have sketched and look online for details. I usually don’t add anymore to the sketch that I did on location, unless it is to add a bit more colour, or intensity to some areas.

5Aug2016 London Russell Square 5Aug2016 London Trafalgar Square

 

 

Once scanned, I will add them all into an Album on my flickr site, and a few on this blog.

Many people have been sharing their sketches and summaries and videos of their Symposium experiences on facebook and their blogs. I am looking forward to spending time looking through these one day.

I had decided not to blog, scan or try and keep up with any social media while I was away. I wanted to spend my time experiencing the sights, meeting people and sketching. However I did end up posting one drawing a day to Instagram. I am alissaduke1 if you want to see them. I also shared these to my facebook page Alissa Duke Art.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

stocking up for travel sketching

I have I started thinking about my art gear for my upcoming three week holiday in the UK, and have purchased and ordered some supplies. Some had to be ordered online and I bought extras to stock up for home as well.

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I am going to attend the Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester for three days, and will I be continuously sketching for the entire time.  I sketch daily now and will have even more to draw when I am away.

I’ll be taking my current pencil wrap (same old one as my new one did not get made), filled with  new Faber Castell LONG pencils. I’ve bought new watercolours pencil and will take doubles of a few that I am prone to use/loose.  Payne Grey, Ivory, Light Yellow Ochre.

I also bought some new watercolour pencil colours that I have been advised for UK trees, buildings  – Sap Green, Hookers Green, Alizarin Crimson.

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I am taking three Moleskine 13 x 19 cm Watercolour Sketchbooks. I have already started the first one by holiday sketching- drawing my new suitcase, some British pounds. I’ll sketch my clothes before I go. Then at the airport, on the plane ….

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My eraser is specific – it fits in my pencilwrap in a pencil space. TOMBOW Mono Zero 2.5 x 5 mm

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I’ll take two waterbrushes – one in use and one spare. I use ZIG Brush H20 Medium Tip. It has a filter that slows the flow of water. This suits my drawing style, as I don’t flood the page with water and colour and I like to work in small areas on the page.

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And a spare sharpener.  Blunt pencils make for a bad drawing – so much of my drawing of objects relies on the hint of detail,  which a sharp, fine line provides.

Of course, this is just my usual sketching gear. I am enrolled in four workshops and four activities at Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium. They will all challenge me and build my techniques and skills but are all suited to my drawing based approach. I will buy some extra art gear in Manchester when I get there. I am sure to get ideas from the other 500 sketchers there !

Dromkeen Literary Festival

On Saturday I was fortunate to go to the Dromkeen Literary Festival at Riddells Creek, 45 minutes train ride from Melbourne.

It is a festival celebrating Australian Children’s Literature and Storytelling, where “authors and illustrators bring favourite stories to life”.

19Mar2016 Dromkeen HUSH

the Festival Opening of the Making of the HUSH Treasure Book “Created for the Hush Music Foundation, famous for its original music albums used in hospitals all around the world, this book is a treasure trove that will delight and entertain the whole family”

Read more about the wonderful HUSH book

Dromkeen Homestead has became a home for Australian children’s literature and in 2013 it was purchased by the Joiner family and reopened as a centre for Australian children’s literature. There is so much I could write about this wonderful place , but for today’s blog I will focus on my sketching activities at the Literary Festival. To read more about Dromkeen please visit their website.

The authors and illustrators and storytellers  of Australian children’s books talked about their books and their own literary/art journeys. many of the presentations were for children and were interactive I went to listen to a few specific illustrators whose style I like and admire – and to sketch.  I was there for five hours and enjoyed every moment of it.

19Mar2016 Dromkeen illustrators

Marc McBride “Dragons and airbrush art”. Adam Wallace “”Writing and Illustrating a book”

19Mar2016 Dromkeen Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson “illustrating our incredible world”

19Mar2016 Dromkeen Sue DeGennaro

Sue deGennaro “Illustrating a picture book”

 

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the audience at Mark Wilson’s “Illustrating our incredible world”

At the moment I am focusing on sketching groups of people at events and specific people. If you know any of these illustrators (above), you will realise that these sketches do not look like them at all.  Many of the illustrators spoke to the children in the audience about practice and not giving up on your first try. This resonated with me !

19Mar2016 Dromkeen Storytelling

19Mar2016 Dromkeen childrens activites19Mar2016 Dromkeen face painting & balloons

It was a grey day, but there was no rain or wind and a healthy number of people came through the gate. I heard glowing praise all day from enthusiastic children and happy stall holders. There was face painting, storytelling, cartooning demonstrations, puppetry and book mural art. I was fortunate to have a small involvement in the set up on Friday and saw the dedication and immense amount of work of the organisers and volunteers to put this day together. A big congratulations to them all for keep alive and boosting the tradition of children’s literature in Australia.

Below is a sketch of the Country Fire Association(CFA) volunteers at the traditional fund raising sausage sizzle for lunch !

19Mar2016 Dromkeen sausage sizzle

 

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.


 

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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)

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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

http://www.alissaduke.com/2015/03/lost-trades-fair-sketching-part-1.html

http://www.alissaduke.com/2015/03/lost-trades-fair-sketching-part-2.html