Category Archives: drawing

Getting in training

arezzoLess than a week now and I board that aircraft for Italy.  I have wanted to do some sketching from my photos ever since I came back last time. On the whole I don’t enjoy sketching from photos any more, but I must be in the mood for it at the moment. This is Santa Maria della Pieve in the Piazza Grande in Arezzo. Spending a week not far from here.

Another reason for this sketch is that I wanted to give the magic pencils a workout.  I haven’t used them for a long time , maybe since this sketch in 2010. I have a project in mind to do in Sicily and it may well be with the magic pencils, perhaps aided by a few watercolour shadows. But it might not happen, and it might very well turn out to be a dog’s breakfast, in which case I won’t show you.

Strangely, magic pencils are suddenly in the news, with Laurelines also using them very recently.


Filed under Arezzo, coloured pencils, drawing, Italy, magic pencils, sketchbook, sketching, Travel

Sketching around Newtown

warren_ballSketching yesterday around Newtown. A little park with some lovely old houses around it. One row of very elaborate large houses had so much architectural detail that you could sketch there for a month and still do something different every time. The first sketch I was  trying out the three-media technique (with a variation). I used a red Copic Multiliner to sketch it initially, then put my mid-tones on with  pink and peach Tombow pens – a bit too similar to each other. I needed to do that before the light moved around. Then a purple Tombow to reinforce the main lines and the darks. A waterbrush to just wash some of the purple over the  windows. Very quick, and even better…nothing to finish afterwards.

no_44The second one was from a row of small simple, but still old houses on another side of the park. This is the two-media technique. Green Copic Multiliner and watercolour mix of Antwerp Blue and Paynes Grey.

I did enjoy doing the pink and purple one. I have been wanting to do something in completely unrealistic colours and now I have.  It is the monster technique of course. Such fun to do, but perhaps I should get back to some serious stuff. I do enjoy trying new techniques though. Any suggestions?


Filed under Copic Multiliner, drawing, Newtown, sketchbook, sketching, tombow pens, watercolour

Old water pump at the Powerhouse Museum

water_pumpLast week we went sketching at the Powerhouse Museum. I took watercolour pencils and used those inside the Museum.  Also Copic Multiliner. It is quite dark everywhere in the museum so it was tricky trying to catch the different shades of grey from the shadows and the water in the tank and in the pump area.

We tucked ourselves away in a corner because there were some school groups visitng the museum, and we didn’t want to be in the way. However this water pump is able to be used, and most of the children who came by wanted to try. we had to reassure the parents that they weren’t blocking our view (well, not for long). Some little boys said it was really difficult to pump, but then two little girls came along and they really thumped at it and made it go fast. We didn’t try, ourselves.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, drawing, Powerhouse Museum, sketchbook, sketching, Stillman & Birn, watercolour pencils

The lightship Carpentaria

carpentaria_3An Urban Sketchers ‘event’ at the National Maritime Museum today. Perfect weather …23 degrees….for what is still the middle of winter. I was prepared with scarf and gloves for being cold down by the water. Not at all! I had to take my coat off.

I love to draw this ship. It is the brightest vermilion when the sun is on it. I have sketched it before. I turned one of those sketches into a solar plate and have printed only two from it so far. Both of them have gone into the collection of the State Library of NSW.

The Carpentaria was used as a beacon on rocks where it was not possible to construct a lighthouse, and it operated out of Cairns in Queensland. One of the Urban Sketchers there today had actually seen it in situ. I commented on its strange shape, and he said it had to be tough to be out there. There is something about it that reminds me of a bobbing barrel, though it wasn’t bobbing today on the calm waters of Darling Harbour.


Filed under boats, Copic Multiliner, Darling Harbour, drawing, National Maritime Museum, ships, sketchbook, watercolour

Kalibukbuk gate in Derwent Wash Pencils

kalibukbuk_gate_4Finally back to my sketchbook to do another sketch from my Bali photos. Ever since I did the earlier drawing of the gate at Kalibukbuk I have wanted to do another in pencil. I decided to use the Derwent Light Wash and Derwent Dark Wash. I do love these pencils. Once I had completed the drawing I scanned it before I put the wash on. I wasn’t sure how successful it would be. I have used these pencils before but mostly to sketch the cats. I hadn’t used them for something where tone would be so important. The top one is the one with the wash.

It is amazing to think that someone designed this carving, and executed it from a two dimensional drawing. At least, I assume that’s how it would have been done. kalibukbuk_gate_2There are carvings everywhere in Bali, and I have seen them doing the bas-relief ones into concrete. I will pay more attention next time. At one hotel years ago, we had a huge verandah with the Ramayana carved around two sides. So many things to love about Bali.


Filed under Bali, Derwent sketching, drawing, graphite pencils, sketching, Stillman & Birn

Another fun thing to do with inks

Photo 27-07-13 11 19 31 AMDerivan Dave and I had a play with this technique…oh, I don’t know…. over a year ago. At the time we were looking for new techniques suitable for Liquid Pencil. I found this idea in Moira Handly’s book “The Artist’s Drawing Book”. It’s an oldie but goodie, and if you are happy with a second-hand one, the price is certainly good!
I have had one of these left hanging on the fridge with a magnet since that day. I decided that this technique would work just as well with inks, so I had another practice at home before the demo. Photo 27-07-13 11 18 26 AM

The first step is very simple. You need a limited palette, a blue, a green and a brown. I usually add a bit of red to the green to make it more of an olive green. The aim is for it to look like the forest floor. You drip a few drops of ink ( or watered down Liquid Pencil works just as well) onto the area that will be ‘the ground’. Then tip the paper so that the inks runs in various directions, then take an ordinary drinking straw and blow little tendrils and branches out from the main lines of ink.  When you are happy with your composition, allow to dry. One alternative is to paint on a little colour before you start, as I have done with the olive green colour in the second one.

undergrowthThe first one pictured is the Liquid Pencil one from a long time ago. I drew into that one with ink and a ‘post office pen’. I used actual plants and drew them from life (weeds actually).

The second one is a new one with the inks, and I do wish I had toned that blue down with some orange.This one I used watercolour pencils as Moira Handly does, but for my preference they don’t stand out enough. I prefer the pen.

The third one is also with the inks. It is the one I like best. I loved the Liquid Pencil one before I drew on it, and wanted to think of a way to simplify. So I just started doodling some diagonal lines and I found that they looked like the veins of leaves, so I carried on in that theme. Easy as anything. You can do it with children.


Filed under drawing, inks, watercolour pencils

Mono printing with acrylic inks (from the demo @ The Art Scene)

Photo 27-07-13 11 17 10 AMLast week I did a demo of Matisse Inks at The Art Scene. They have two hour lunch time demonstrations throughout the winter months and I sometimes do one of them for Matisse Derivan.

The Matisse inks are in new bottles with a heavy stable bottom and a dropper attached to the lid. In view of this I was asked to use the inks in my demo, and shortly before I went to Bali, I spent a week or so experimenting with various techniques.

I found this technique in Maxine Masterfield’s book, In Harmony with Nature: Painting Techniques for the New Age and adapted it a little bit to my own ways. It is really easy. Anyone can do it. I also used another technique of hers, which is working on top of darks with white ink. You can see some wonderful examples of this technique in Painting the Spirit of Nature. I  use a ‘post office pen’. They are a bit scratchy, and give a bit of a shaky line. I like that, because it shows the hand of the artist much more truly than a gel pen, for example.

I posted the ‘Guilin Landscape’ a little while ago, and this one is the same technique. If I want a landscape I use blues and greens, then perhaps a little bit of the complement, maybe orange or burnt sienna to give some nice greys. Other colours can give you anything your imagination can create from an ink blot. As you see this one is “Fantasy Fish”.  I have one that is like a totem of animals, dogs and bears. Another is like a crazy bird with ruffled pantaloons, and yet another can easily turn into a Balinese mask. These have yet to have the pen work done. I even have one that doesn’t need anything done. It is called ‘Lotus Lake’.

This is the process. I am working on watercolour paper, about A3 size. I fold it down the middle lengthwise and press the fold with a bone folder. Then I drop a few drops of various colours of ink along the fold. I don’t necessarily do a lot at first, because I can always have a look and add more. Then I close the fold, and roll over it with a soft brayer, rolling away from the fold. If I am doing a landscape I work at right angles to the fold, but if not, I can roll at an angle or in a curve. Then I see what I’ve got and add more ink as necessary.

At this point, before the ink is dry, I can also use some of the other techniques I demonstrated. The fish has only a little spray of water as it as starting to dry, and that gives a bit of texture. But you can also use vinegar, dishwashing liquid, salt, urea, gladwrap, waxed paper. More sample pieces from the demo coming soon.


Filed under drawing, inks, Matisse Derivan