Friday, 20 March 2020

Australian Artist magazine article - Borneo rainforest

The latest edition of Australian Artist magazine is now available. It's titled 'How to Sketch in a Rainforest'.

The May edition is part 2 of this adventure where I will tell the story of my rainforest sketching experience and introduce you to some of the amazing creatures found in the Amazon rainforests.

Here are a few images from the article.



My sketching group stayed at Rimba Lodge, right on the Sekonyer River and we visited three orangutan rehabilitation stations: Camp Leakey, Tanjung Harapan and Pondok Tanggi.


This was my initial sketch for the rainforest scene. I added a page to the existing watercolour book which folds down back into the book when closed.



This was the finished pen and wash sketch of the rainforest scene with various creatures in the rainforest.

Watch out for part 2 of the Australian Artist article which is available in May, 2020.



Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Amorphophallus titanum

My painting of the Amorphophallus titanum (Titan arum) is finished. I painted on Arches 640gsm hot pressed paper and the size is 75cm high x 57 cm wide. It was definitely a labour of love and I enjoyed working with many techniques.

Some of the detail and use of masking fluid for the stem. 

Final painting

More detail on the spadix, achieved with masking fluid.


I will be painting a partner to this flower - same family and slightly different species. It is not often I have the chance to paint 'at my leisure' and have things nicely finished before an exhibition.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Titan arum - new painting

Recently I visited the Cairns Botanical Gardens in northern Queensland. The very hot and humid conditions were ideal for their collections of tropical plants.

I fell in love with the incredible Carrion Lilies with their huge presence, colours and design elements.  They grow to about 3 metres.

Above is the Amorphophallus decus-silvae which is found in Java, Indonesia.

After returning from Cairns I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and discovered the wonderful Amorphophallus titanum - Titan arum,  which is an herbaceous flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world.

It is commonly known as the Corpse Lily due to its foul smelling inflorescence. The odour resembles rotten flesh which attracts the pollinators Flesh Flies and Carrion Beetles. The Titan arum is endemic to the hot and humid rainforest areas of Indonesia but they can be seen in many botanical gardens worlewide, including Sydney, Australia.

They only bloom every 4-10 years which make them a very special addition to any collection.

Below are the initial washes of my flower, and I am planning to do a second painting of the Amorphallus decus-silvae to compliment the Titan arum.








The spadix has a very 'bubbled' surface, so I applied masking fluid over a very light wash. More washes are to be painted over the masking fluid.

Still lots of detail to complete to finish off this painting - and this is the part I love the most!!!


Monday, 9 December 2019

Broome, Western Australia July 2019

In July 2019 I was in beautiful Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. This is a very interesting coastal town of nearly 19,000 people and is famous for pearling. It is full of vivid colour and natural phenomena, as well as having sunset camel rides and dinosaur tracks in the beach rocks, dating back 130 million years. The sunrises and sunsets are unbelievably spectacular.

I had a group of 12. I only take limited numbers as I demonstrate and tutor constantly, so everyone gets the very most out of the tour and has individual tuition and guidance.

Here are some of my sketches from this trip. 


Broom courthouse on left, where markets are held weekly, and Johnny Chi Lane on right, with people waiting for their bus.

We sketched in the grounds of a pearl shop, where there were many historical artifacts from the pearling days.


And a very special sketch from the Japanese Cemetery, the largest Japanese cemetery in Australia dating back to 1896. Most of the graves are of the Japanese migrants who settled in Broome to prosper from the rich pearling industry. It is a memorial to those who were loved and lost.


The wording on one of the gravestone read:

"We did not see you close your eyes,
we did not hear you sigh.
We only hear that you were gone -
without a last goodbye."




Sketching in Bali & Borneo May 2019

In May, I was privileged to take a small group of 9 to Borneo, where we sketched the amazing orangutans of Central Kalimantan. As travel was along the river waterways, the klotok boats we travelled in did not accommodate any more.

Prior to flying to Borneo, we spent three days in Jimbaran, Bali, and I ran workshops on how to sketch the orangutans. We also ventured further afield for more sketching and a little exploring. It is a beautiful place with lovely people, and I never tire of visiting. Over the years have taken many groups to very special places on the island to sketch, away from the crowds.

Le Mayeur Museum, in Sanur. This is a place I try to visit when I go to Bali. I love the history of the Museum and the wonderful detail in the buildings.
We flew from Denpasar in Bali to Surabaya in Java, transited there and continued on to Central Kalimatan. Our aim was to visit three orangutan rehabilitation centres in the Tanjung Puting National Park. 

During this tour we not only saw and sketched orangutans, but proboscis monkeys, gibbons and the long tailed macaque monkeys, all unique. In the ecolodge we stayed there were a troop of gibbon monkeys living in the trees. I also saw a giant monitor lizard stealthily moving along on the muddy river environment underneath the walkway I was sketching from.

There were various colourful birds (the Bornean Bristlehead, stork-billed kingfisher and garnet pitta), and green water snakes which could be seen along the river.

This is my forest scene, showing the various birds and animals to be found along the river environment.

Mother and child eating bananas at the rehabilitation centre. The babies stay with the mother until they are about seven year old. There is a very special affectionate bond between them.

This was my cabin along side the river and set into the forest. The gibbon monkeys would occasionally jump on the roofs of the cabins during the night.  
With the logging of the forests these endangered species may only be with us for another ten years.

I have an extensive article on this tour which will be published shortly in Australian Artist Magazine, where I describe the sketching tour in more detail, and with more sketches.

Melaleuca thymifolia finished

I have completed my Melaleuca thymifolia for the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney Florilegium exhibition in 2020. The botanical exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of Sir Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander's voyage of exploration to Australia will be held in Sydney. There will also be a book published of each artist's botanical painting contribution. These will all be plants that were discovered by Banks and Solander during their time in Australia.

Leonie painting Melaleuca thymifolia

Details of plant

Final painting



Saturday, 20 April 2019

Melaleuca vinimalis - Thyme honey-myrtle

I am just beginning to record my next botanical painting, which will be for the Florilegium Society at the Royal Sydney Botanical Gardens. The exhibition will be in 2020 as that is the 300th anniversary of the voyage to Australia of Sir Joseph Banks and Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, among others.

Banks was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences. They joined Captain James Cook's first voyage to the Pacific on the Endeavour in 1768-1771. During this voyage of discovery they landed in Botany Bay in 1770.

During the eight days of their visit, Banks and Solander investigated various areas around Botany Bay, and including explorations both south  and north west of Sydney Cove.

They collected, pressed, dried and sorted specimens with botanical descriptions. On 3rd May, Banks reported that the collections of plants had grown so immensely large he was concerned about care and longevity of the pressed specimens.

The Banks and Solander exhibition will be showcasing the plants collected from the area of the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens and that are still growing there.

My contribution is the Melaleuca thymifolia which is found growing near the gates at Mrs. Macquaries Road.  Here is my progress to date.

 I contacted the arborist at the Gardens and he showed me where the shrub was growing and made three small cuttings for me.  You can see it is a very small flower, approximately 2 cms across, so the painting will be enlarged.


 This is a cutting of the flower.

 The opening buds are very interesting.


 This is my initial drawing with one of the cuttings.

Australian natives can be kept for months in the fridge. I use a plastic container lined with damp paper towels, and wrap the stems in damp paper towel. Put on the lid, place it in the bottom of the fridge and it keeps its colour and shape beautifully.