Category Archives: sketchbook

Marc Taro Holmes Online Travel Sketching course – Lesson 1 Homework

iseh_penI haven’t done an online course for —–years. However I have just this week started doing Marc Taro Holmes Travel Sketching course on Craftsy. Fantastic! Yesterday for one day only they had 50% off all courses, so I bought a couple more, but also got on the phone to my friends to say, buy it!

The course starts with  drawing without lifting your pen off the paper. Broni and I did that back in May in Bali, on the left on this page.

batur_penThe first image here is from a photo taken in the village of Iseh, high up on the slopes of Mt Agung. The photo I used is in this post.

My second image is from a photo taken in a restaurant on Mt Batur while I was sketching this page. It started out very similar to this sketch, although I was using a blue-grey watercolour pencil.  As I sketched during lunch, I had the time to finish it.

rendang_penThe image of the rice-fields drove me a bit batty. I am obsessed with tone and I needed darks. But then we moved on to using an ink brush-pen to add darks.

santisMy first try here is of Säntis, in Switzerland, where I did a lot of back-and-forth lines following the striations on the mountain. The second is a similar rice field view, now using the darks.

Already I have learnt that it is worth doing a quick sketch as simple as this, rather than no sketch at all.  Less than five minutes. Prsidemen_penactice will make them better as I do more. A few notes on the page and perhaps a business card glued on will make the layout more interesting.

For my homework, I am using a cheap spiral bound book, A5 size, as I need to do many of these to become more proficient. I plan to do many, MANY. I plan to take this book with me when I go out sketching and do a quick sketch in it as well as in my main sketchbook. (I do like to keep my sketches consecutive, so I prefer not to have more than one sketchbook on the go.)

Only downside of the course……Marc Taro Holmes has line drawings like this that make me want to weep.   But it is something to aspire to.


Filed under Bali, sketchbook, sketching, Travel

Sydney University

twirly_chimneyI live not far from Sydney University. It is a collection of beautiful old sandstone buildings. I didn’t go there for my degree though. The art school is on different (equally nice) premises, a bit further away, but the ‘word on the street’ seemed to be that the University of New South Wales was the better art school.

On Sunday, there was a ‘rock and roll market’ at Sydney Uni, with some vintage cars outside and many young girls done up in extreme 50s clothing. Hideous, in my eyes. I remember those things from the 50s. I remember all the rules for women of all ages that have thankfully gone. So don’t expect me to get excited about the 50s.

faculty_medicineI went with the Sydney Sketch Club. Fun to go with a group and see what everyone else sketches. Many did the vintage cars. They were a temptation, but once I saw the twisty-twirly chimneys it was all over. I wanted to use my  book of toned papers now that it has a new lease of life.  The way the light fell on the sandstone was just the sort of thing I love to sketch.

It was a hot day. Gorgeous. We were sitting in the sun and after a while got very thirsty indeed. The only place we could get a coffee was inside the market, so we paid and went in. We found coffee and food as well.  It was interesting sitting in there having our lunch and watching the over-the-top fifties gear. Many of them had little chiffon scarves tied around their heads with a knot in front. Maybe that was an American thing. I remember seeing pictures like that, but in my part of the world it would have definitely meant ‘working class’.

After lunch, out in the car park, there was a bunch of girls with little straw hats.  I guess they looked as if they were going to the races. But my parents went to the races all the time, and I don’t remember those hats. The dresses, yes.  We went back to sit in the sun and I sketched the entrance to the faculty of medicine. I was intending to continue up the page, but suddenly it was ‘show and tell’ time.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, Prismacolour pencils, sketchbook, sketching, toned paper

Newtown in the spring

19_brown_stThis weekend, spring was here! I have been longing to get out sketching but there have been so many days with chilly breezes. Now at last it is warm.

We wanted to sketch ‘the pink building‘, but at this time of the year there is no light on it at 10 a.m. With my obsession with tone, I am not eager to sketch anything without the light falling on it in an interesting way. We wandered around a few streets, looking at the way the light fell and looking to find something to sketch. In Wilson Street, we struck it lucky and found a group of attractive houses. This house was a pale blue, towards the violet rather than the green,  so I added a bit of alizarin crimson to liven it up.  It is a large drawing (15″ by 7 1/2″) across the two pages of my sketchbook. This house is a lot less elaborate than this previous one  and its ‘bookend‘ at the other end of the block. However they are only a few streets apart.

A neighbour talked to us and told us this house is about to have a big renovation out the back.  I enjoyed sketching this. I liked the palm tree taller than the house. We will no doubt go back to this street to sketch because there are other houses nearby that are quite different. And there is a coffee shop nearby.




Filed under Copic Multiliner, Newtown, sketchbook, sketching, urban landscape, watercolour

A new cover

I imagehad never liked the previous cover of this book. The grey of the book board showed through the white of the paper, so I gave it a coat of shellac.  This book of toned papers has been going for quite a while. I used it recently with my Volterra series, and I decided to replace the covers and give it a new lease of life. I used another piece of itajime paper, but this time I covered the boards with white paper first.

I don’t knowimage who made this itajime paper. I asked the friend who I thought made it, and she said no. I remember a few years ago accompanying her to a place where she taught a workshop, so perhaps it came out of that day. Anyway it suited my mood.

imageI haven’t sealed it. If it gets dirty, it gets dirty. This sketchbook is nearly half full already.

For the inside of the front cover I used a solar plate etching of a gang gang cockatoo – a proof, with some Geimagelli printing over the top.  Inside the back cover I used a piece of credit card paper.

Now I can get on and fill it up with sketches on toned paper.



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Filed under book art, decorated papers, Gelli printing, sketchbook, solar plates

Balinese book cloth

imageMost mornings, for over a week, the first thing I have done is make book cloth. It needs to dry overnight and the only place I can keep it safe from the cat is on top of the washing machine, so it’s one sheet at a time.

Three of these pieces are from silk scarves bought in Bali in May for this purpose. I previously used this beautiful red and gold, and another similar fabric of a vibrant purple  from fabric I had  bought about ten years ago. After much searching, and a visit to the fabric market at Klung Kung, I found that although there are many gilded fabrics that look similar to these, they are all polyester, and not suitable for bookcloth. One must use pure cotton or silk, which is then laminated to kozo paper.

imageAt Klung Kung market in February I found a navy and white pure cotton man’s headcloth  from which I have  made one piece of bookcloth so far. It will be very robust and look good too. When I got home, it occurred to me that I could make bookcloth from the silk scarves that are available everywhere in Bali. So in May, I bought these three scarves. The blue one at the top is not as blue as it has photographed. More a burgundy/tan colour with some blue and magenta. I think it is my favourite.


The pink has photographed true to colour, though the one with the peacock green pattern is brighter.

peacock_scarf Three scarves (and a headcloth) make a LOT of bookcloth. Each scarf has used a whole sheet of kozo paper. The silk is not very robust. When I made my first piece of bookcloth, I thought I had damaged the silk in the process, but once I went on to make the others, I saw that the silk, which is finer than silk I have used for bookcloth before, has many small flaws and I am not making them worse. See close-up. peacock_scarf_flaws

I’m not sure how the silk will last  ‘in the field’. The books are intended for the 30th anniversary of my first trip to Bali in 1986. We have enough bookcloth though, that should it become too ragged, we can make new covers.



Filed under artist's book, Bali, book art, sketchbook, Travel

Volterra – series 2, sketch 4

volterra_s2_sketch_4This Volterra sketch is done on pale grey paper. The choice of colour was inspired by the colour of the building. It was partly grey, partly ochre. So I got out my Prismacolours to add some yellow ochre, partly to make this sketch fit in with the rest of the group, partly because the grey is a little pale for a mid-tone.

Something completely different coming up in my next blog post.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, Italy, Posca pen, Prismacolour pencils, sketchbook, sketching

Volterra – series 2 – two more sketches

volterra_s2_sketch2So far in this new Volterra series on toned paper, I am sticking to earth tones. Maybe when I get further down the track I may surprise us all with something entirely different. Strangley, I have found, now that I have three of the new series on toned paper done, that two of the earlier series can also be included, as they are predominantly ochre in colour.  See below;  I have included them again so you can see what I mean.

volterra_s2_sketch_3I am enjoying working on the toned paper again. However this Posca pen
volterra_sketch_2has inspired me to buy a few more, and when I get off the toned paper I will be experimenting with them.

A number of other people are doing Volterra drawings from Google Maps travelling a particular route, which can be seen here.

Our drawings are due on 20th August and are slowly being published on the Facebook group SW Games.



Filed under Copic Multiliner, Italy, Posca pen, sketchbook, sketching