Category Archives: sketching

New Year’s Eve Sketching in Newtown

georgina_stSlack about blogging so far in 2016! Liz Steel and I went sketching together on NYE. I took her to the small park not far from King Street, Newtown, surrounded by wonderful houses. Definitely a place to take the local Urban Sketchers. I have been there many times before and done a much larger sketch of this house across two pages.  On only one page, I used my Hero 86 pen this time…I just love it. I love sketching these houses too. The Hero pen gives a different and quite recognisable look.

This house and the one at the other end of the row of terraces are called ‘the bookends’ by people who live there. The locals are very friendly, which is extremely nice when you know that some of these houses go for about $AUD3m. The street is called Georgina Street. I previously said Park Lane, but the map is ambiguous (Google!) and it doesn’t actually become Park Lane until it is right around the corner.

Georgina Street is known as ‘the best street in Newtown’.  The houses are not as vivid in colour as I have painted them. So many older Sydney houses are painted cream. It gets a bit boring, so I liven it up. My own street is up there with The Good Streets of Newtown, but with small single storey houses. My street is ‘good’ because it is wide, in an area where nearly all streets are extremely narrow, and the location is perfect.


Filed under fountain pen, Hero pen, Newtown, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

Cocktails by the pool

sea_templeNext day at Port Douglas was my travelling companion’s birthday. We had plans…….but they were swiftly hijacked by my friend Keithio who had arrived the previous night. He was staying just outside town at a very beautiful resort called Pullman Sea Temple.  He insisted we come over.

We sat in the reception lounge, overlooking a swimming pool like an inland sea while he treated us to a cocktail (at 11 a2015-12-11 11.35.50-1.m.) I had a Bloody Mary with lots of coriander. Very delicious.
After that, we went to admire Keithio’s apartment. Huge!  Then we changed to go back down to the pool and enjoyed a long long swim. I love to swim. Lunch, quite late, was pizza and a bucket of prawns by the Pool Bar, then another swim.

2015-12-12 14.17.08The following day, Keithio had arranged a BBQ package from reception, and he cooked a barbecue up on his rooftop terrace (nearly twice the size of my house.) Oysters, Moreton Bay Bugs, steak, sausages, salads….I forget what else. Sooooo much food.

Keithio had bought us each a bottle of champage for our birthdays and at the beginning of lunch I wore a glass of champagne. He had got very excited about reading something to us from the newspaper, and flicked the edge of my glass with the paper. I was drenched in champage, and sitting in it. But it didn’t matter…it was so hot it dried very quickly.  I just smelt like an old soak.  Another swim, getting on towards dusk  washed most of the champagne off me. And that was our last day in Port Douglas.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Urban Sketching workshops for Travellers in 2016

As someone who loves to travel and loves to sketch also, there’s nothing I would like more than to take a sketching workshop during my travels, with some of the really great teachers in other parts of the world. Unfortunately I have missed out on two already (Italy and Indonesia), just because they are not announced early enough. In Australia, we have to book our flights long ahead and we usually have a complicated itinerary because of the distance and the cost.  So this is a subject close to my heart.

I have been talking to the Urban Sketchers Workshop co-ordinator, who has taken our issue on board and notified the USK teachers from past and current symposiums that we need more time.

On the official Urban Sketchers Blog, on the workshop page, there are four  workshops, …….no WRONG…there are none listed for 2016 yet… checking with USK if there is anything is known about 2016 yet. (Edited).

All is not lost! As well as ‘official’ workshops, there are other workshops coming up that you would not want to miss if you’re in the vicinity……. Shari Blaukopf, Marc Taro Holmes and Roísín Curé teaching together in Ireland from 14-16 July. Here are the details. That’s right before the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester, England from July 27-30.

You can go to India for 15 days with Marc Taro Holmes in early 2017. Details here. Oh how I would love to do that one. Here is another great one in Italy in June, architectural drawing with Stephanie Bower. I have bought Stephanie’s Crftsy course, but I haven’t had time to address it yet. Too busy on Craftsy with Marc Taro Holmes and Shari Blaukopf.

So, if you can plan your travels around one of these workshops you are very lucky indeed. I will post on my blog if I hear of any more.








Filed under sketching, Travel

Port Douglas

tin_shedA couple of weeks after my trip to hospital, Broni and I went to Far North Queensland to celebrate our birthdays.  I hadn’t been that far north before. It is a three hour flight from Sydney to Cairns, then an hour’s drive along a beautiful coastal road to Port Douglas. It is a small beach town, but a little more sophisticated than most. (Map.)

We were exhausted by evening, but happy in our two bedroom apartment that looked out into the tree tops and where we became acquainted with a pied imperial pigeon who visited every morning. We went out for supplies (otherwise no breakfast) and decided to get takeaway pizza for dinner. Following a recommendation we went to the Central Hotel where we decided to sit down and eat the pizza at a table there. Just as well we did…it was the best pizza I have ever had, including any in Italy. Chilli prawns and chorizo. Highly recommended.

Next day we got off to a late start and after driving around trying to get our bearings, we found a place to sit by the sea and have lunch tin_shed_photowhile sketching the scenery.  This was the ‘Tin Shed’ which is a licensed club, but you can sign in with your drivers license. I hadn’t thought much about the food in Far North Queensland but seafood is definitely on the menu. We each had a caesar salad with six large fresh king prawns around the plate. Being Australia, we peeled them ourselves. Then we had to wash our hands up to the elbows before we could sketch. A very long leisurely lunch, accompanied by ginger beer.

This is the first page of my new sketchbook. A fairly simple sketch, trying to keep it to just a few lines.  Now that I have scanned it, I will write my name and contact details in the sky. The tide was going out and as it did, sand appeared near the distant land. It shows on the sketch but not the photo (taken sooner). The clouds never left the tops of those mountains in our five days at Port Douglas.





Filed under fountain pen, Port Douglas, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

Roman baroque

939_roofIn Rome, I stay in a hotel in the pink building. Looking in the other direction, way in the distance there, are the Spanish Steps. It is  less than ten minutes’ walk. If you go down either side of the building, the two streets meet up, and they all head for the Pantheon. Less than 5 minutes’ walk. This particular day I went down Via Pallacorda, and happened to look up. You can see this amazing piece of baroque architecture and also how narrow the street is. I took a photo anway.

I used some techniques from Marc Taro Holmes to lessen the acute angles I got from standing so close and pointing my camera so high. I could do it better next time, because I observed the structure a lot more closely while I was sketching it.

The building I lived in, when I lived in Rome many years ago was right across the road. I found out recently that it is the Palazzo della Famiglia Borghese, built by Cardinal Scipio Borghese (who was a patron of Caravaggio and Bernini) for his family and retainers, right across the piazza from the grand Palazzo Borghese. Here is my sketch of the door I entered every day for most of a year, back in the 70’s. And this is the solar plate of the door of Palazzo Borghese. I must see if I can find out more about this building with the almost hidden baroque.

With the help of a historian in Rome, I found that this building is Palazzo Cardelli, and what I have sketched is part of the “pensive garden”. You can see more here, if you look down the page to the pink building.

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Filed under fountain pen, inks, Italy, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, watercolour

Iseh village

iseh_wcAnother sketch from a photo, using some of the Marc Taro Holmes techniques.

NOTE: The Craftsy courses are on special during November. Buy Now! This course “Travel Sketching in Mixed Media” exceeded my expectations. Join up here.

Iseh village is high up on the slopes of Mt Agung in Bali. This volcano was thought to be inactive, however in 1963 there was a major eruption over a long period. Over 2000 people were killed. At the time, an English couple were living in Iseh, and Anna Mathews wrote a book about their experiences. In May, we went up the mountain as far as the road goes to see the places first hand. No tourists up there! You can read more about our trip here.

I sketched Iseh in lesson one. It is in this post, looking in the other direction. Also Mt Batur in the same post. Most of my landscape photographs are from Bali. At home, I am a city girl. It seems even in Europe I am a city girl.

Volcanos fascinate me. The first time Broni came to Bali with me (about 20 years ago) Mt Batur was erupting while we were up there on the rim. It goes down again, where there is a village, and up to the cone. I remember Broni cavorting along the fence line saying “Mana bisa, mana bisa! They’re living IN the volcano”. Photo and sketch here.

In August this year, Mt Raung, a volcano in east Java (to the west of Bali) was disrupting flights. As I post, Ngurah Rai airport in Bali is closed again because of the eruption of Mt Rinjani in Lombok, immediately to the east of Bali. I hope my next trip is not disrupted.

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Filed under Bali, fountain pen, inks, pen, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, watercolour

Noto …perspective

notoThis is the Marc Taro Holmes Travel Sketching course lesson on painless perspective.  Marc gives you three ways to handle perspective. I am supremely lucky that I went to TAFE – the Sydney Gallery School and got an exceptional grounding in perspective in first year.  So this one is ‘winging it’. Easy, from a photo.

This is my own photo taken in Noto, in Sicily last year. I was only able to do one sketch as I was with a group. I even got left behind because I was taking photos. Noto is an amazing place……there is a lifetime’s sketching just along that main street. A world heritage site, and of such beauty. Also (in my opinion) the best contemporary bar in Italy…. Anche gli Angeli.

I am fairly happy with this one for straight-in-with-the-pen. I do so wish I had the light touch that Marc Taro Holmes has, but his mark is his, and mine is mine. It’s not going to change. I make a very deliberate mark. There’s a reason for that. I had polio when I was two years old. Not very badly, but it affected my wrists, hands and legs. My father helped me overcome it by teaching me to write before I started school (yes, running writing).  Ballet lessons helped with the skinny skinny legs….overdid it, if you ask me. But I still hold my pen with a bit of a death grip, or else I’ll drop it.

Super5 pen with Lexington Grey on Fabriano Hot Press paper.

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Filed under fountain pen, pen, Sicily, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, watercolour