Thursday 27 November 2014

Travel Sketching Distance Learning

I have been drawing, sketching and painting for as long as I can remember. Some early memories are sitting in a classroom and drawing all over my books. From there it progressed to compiling recipe books and illustrating them, even writing a small book when I was about 11 - called 'The Adventures of Solo'. He was a pinto horse. I was mad about horses at that age. Fabulous little drawings throughout the book. There was always a pencil and paper in my hand.

I lived in Nadi, Fiji from age 15-17 and painted landscapes, people, the ocean, and sold these paintings. Art was something I didnt even think about. It has just been a part of me forever. I lived in Penang from 18-20, before there were any high rise buildings. When Golden Sands was a local beach. Where I was constantly recording my memories visually.

Travelling has been - and still is - a major part of my life as well. Realising how difficult it was to travel with non-artists and try to sketch, I decided to gather like-minded people around and sketch in a group. 

This is how my Holiday and Travel Sketching art tours began - over ten years ago. As far as I know I was the first person to take Sketching tours away. I also take Botanical Art Tours to Fiji each year.

Another chapter in my life was the finalising of my Travel Sketching Distance Learning course recently. All these things are a labour of love. Again another first as there is no one else doing this in Australia, or globally. It is proving to be amazingly popular and there is something in it for everyone.

There is absolutely no book on the market that I have seen that has even half the amount of information I am offering in my distance learning course. There is a cover page and an index, so the course can be made into a book on completion.

Anyone can sketch. You cannot make a mistake as you can change things around or add things into a sketch. You can be creative as you sketch a scene, the sky or water, and much more.

So I will leave you with some information on the course. Enjoy!

This is the information that is contained in the first module on Sketching Basics - and another five modules follow, each one unique in its presentation, information and subject.

This is the first page to give you an idea of what you will be experiencing in the course.

And I'll leave you with this information on The Rule of Thirds.

 To find out more about the course and download an outline, discover where my Travel Sketching Art Tours can take you, or to look at some of my sketches (am in the process of updating what I already have) see

Happy sketching!

Monday 27 October 2014

Perth Workshop

Spent a week in Perth teaching a botanical art workshop. Karen Frankel runs a teaching art studio in Morley and kindly allowed me to use her studio for my 5-day workshop. I was thrilled with the venue; great facilities, great light, and a really great group of motivated students, all with fascinating subjects.

Here are a few images from my week. I am sure they all learned a lot, as in 5 days I can spend absolute quality time with every student, always ensuring no one receives any more time than the others in the group. I am always mindful what sort of workshop I would like to attend, and it is certainly not where only certain people receive attention. My students are all equal - in all ways.

The group in the workshop

Howard with his very complicated Banksia flower

Hilary painting a Eucalyptus torquata

Jilll's Leucodendron washes

Robyn's colour charts, colour study and first washes of Anigozanthos manglesii     

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Sketching Bali

I have recently returned from a sketching tour to Bali. This island offers so many opportunities for unique and diverse sketches, and is always a popular choice.

From the temples to the markets, from the sea to the mountains, from Denpasar to Candidasa - and to lots of out of the way places. On this trip I explored further and found some exciting new sketching locations and the best cultural experiences. Somethings I think it doesn't get any better.

Valley vista Ubud

Village temple outside Sanur

There may be a lot of temples in Bali, but there are no two the same. Each has very different characteristics, some are in wealthy villages, some not so. All are beautiful and offer the most tranquil and amazing sketching experiences. I can honestly say I have never been 'templed out' in Bali.

Temple protector. Fabulous carvings, detail and colour

My favourite cultural dance is the Ke-kak fire dance. This particular venue was an open air temple. A highlight.

And I did get a little time for some sketching. This is a beach at Candidasa with fishing boats.
The carved stone doorway entrance to Le Mayeur Museum in Sanur.
 The carvings and intricate patterning are amazing. These sketches are truly meditative.

And what could be better than to finish the day on the beach as the sun sets, sipping an icy cold cocktail (or drink of your choice).

My next Bali Travel Sketching Tour is 12-18 October 2015 - so plenty of time to prepare for this.

See my website and let me share my love of Bali and its gentle, friendly people with you while you join me on some off the beaten track sketching locations....

London & Venice

July 2014 - beginning - Mittagong, Southern Highlands NSW
At the beginning of July I taught at Sturt Winter School in Mittagong, which is one of my favourite venues. Winter School is so relaxed with half as many students as Summer School, wonderful morning teas delivered to us each day, fantastic staff and a really wonderful week.

July 2014 - end - London & Venice
At the end of July I flew to London, where I spent some time as a 'home base' and I taught various workshops in Botanical Art. All my botanical art students are so enthusiastic and motivated, it makes my work so very enjoyable. After teaching managed to get some free time and went to Venice.

Everything seems so close when in London. It is a Travellers Delight. So inexpensive to almost fly in and fly out. Here are a few sketches I did while in London. Love the architecture!

Kensington London

 Here are a few sketches from Venice. Every corner, every bridge, every street is an artists paradise. I love the colour, the vibrancy, the architecture and also the serenity.Would love to spend more time here. Having been many times before, I never tire of Venice. This grande old dame changes with the seasons and the sunrises and sunsets. Always magnificent.

Looking from St Marks to Giudecca Island, where coincidentally George Cluny stayed in the Cipriani Hotel for his wedding.

Saturday 12 July 2014

Back to Basics

Sometimes artists power on in their haste to finish a painting. Details omitted from the master drawing can result in an inaccurate painting. Not having the correct placement of the midrib vein is also something that absolutely stands out in a finished work.

With botanical art there are really no shortcuts. The more information and detail you do in your drawing and colour study, the better the final painting will be. 

I write an article for each issue in Back to Basics quarterly magazine and my latest article for the current issue is 'Drawing and Foreshortening Leaves'.  A frequent question from students is 'how do I show a foreshortened leaf?" This article takes all the guesswork out of drawing leaves.

Sunday 6 July 2014

Work produced at Sturt Winter School

The experience of staying at Sturt in Mittagong for a week is invaluable. At the end of the week each class has its exhibition to display what they have achieved.

Each evening there are also tutors presentations, and the talent of the tutors is world class. There is a huge variety of classes, from ceramics, weaving, working with beeswax, woodwork, calligraphy, botanical art, book binding and more.

So I thought I would like to share with you just some of the work produced throughout the week.

These are examples of the knitting. You will never think of knitting in the same way again. It was just amazing!

Some examples of basketry - very contemporary and innovative

Beeswax and colour

Winter School at Mittagong NSW

I have just returned from a week teaching at Sturt - Australian Contemporary Craft & Design Centre  in Mittagong in the NSW Southern Highlands. Some of the grounds and trees are heritage listed, and it has a very special ambiance.

This is the North Wing - the building my classes were held in
Early morning as the sun was rising over one of the sculptured gardens

These beautiful colonnades and wrought iron was just outside my room.

I had a wonderful class of very talented students, who worked extremely hard all week. The object of the course is not only to demonstrate how to do a botanical painting, but the important aspect is the PROCESS. 

My class at work
The four P's are vital: Passion, Practice, Patience and Perseverance. There are no shortcuts, but often an easier way of doing things. Many of the students were absolute novices and I was thrilled by the work they produced. At the end of the week each class held an exhibition, which was a real highlight. Here is just some of the work they did.

This was the class exhibition at the culmination of the week

Sue Grieve's excellent example of a master drawing, colour study and final painting of a Kangaroo Paw
Penny Kater's work in progress of the Macadamia tree

Sandra Berrick's eucalypt leaves - in progess  
Mary Uldyne working on her painting of the Hardenbergia sp.

The finished painting of the Hardenbergia
I would have liked to have featured every single students work, as they were all quite exceptional, especially due to the beginners status of many.

This makes my life so rewarding when I can see the enjoyment and progress each individual experienced throughout the week.

Sunday 8 June 2014

Japanese Spider Chrysanthemum

I was so excited to see the amazing Japanese Spider Chrysanthemum at my local shopping centre on Mothers Day. I had never seen one before but was blown away with its beauty and intricacy, and seductive colours.

Some colours attract certain people and I am often drawn to delicate lilac shades. I think we are drawn to colours that suit us. You would be amazed how many times students have shown up to class or course with a flower the same colour as the top they are wearing!

My drawing for the flower is finished - now to find time to begin the painting. I need a clear desk and a clear head, with no work pending. Then I will just work on it until it is finished.

I love working with detail, thank goodness as I am a botanical artist, and I find the whole process absolutely meditative. It takes me into another place. At the end of a session I will often look at my work and think "did I do that?"

I am looking forward to this very enjoyable journey into the world of the Spider Chrysanthemum. It is a flower a feel a real connection with.

Sunday 25 May 2014

'Botanica' Exhibition in Sydney

The Friday night opening of the annual 'Botanica' exhibition at the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens was a great success.

It was the best 'Botanica' I have seen presented, for many reasons. The selection of paintings was extremely well balanced, although paintings by single artists I feel should be limited, to allow for others artists who are equally talented, to exhibit their works. 

The exhibition was beautifully curated by Judy Dunstan for the first time, and I look forward to seeing her in this role again next year. 

Another interesting and profound element was that there were no extravagently overpriced paintings. Most well priced paintings will sell, but with some artists insisting in previous years of pricing themselves out of the market, I think this point has hit home.

The general public is not aware of the 'names' in botanical art, and with so many wonderfully talented artists out there, it would be difficult to choose one artist over another. They are all extraordinary in their own right.

This is a wonderful exhibition, and I am sure it will sell extremely well. I look forward to visiting again at least twice (or more) as there is so much to take in. If you are going along, take note of the framing as well, which forms part of the overall presentation of the painting, and can 'make or break' some work.


With my painting of the Banksia menziesii and Banksia prionotes

Thursday 22 May 2014

Fiji Holiday Sketching

This was my eight year teaching botanical art and holiday sketching workshops at Daku Resort in Savusavu, Fiji. The place is such a hidden treasure, totally uncommercial and it is a place where time has stood still.
On this trip I detected signs of Progress, which is not always a bad thing. Many new roads were being made, and road upgrades had also been done, making it a much easier trip from Savusavu to Labasa (the capital) which is 1-1/2 hours across the island. Previously at least half the road was dirt and rocks and  extremely rough.
The new roads were the first indications of developing infrastructure. Perhaps Savusavu and the island of Vanua Levu will not be hidden treasures for much longer.
A sketch of a few of the bures nestled amongst the tropical rainsforest


This is the northern end of Savusavu town. Not much has changed, but I think the future will bring many changes.
The weather was superb, except for the last few days when the tropical rain came down with gusto. Not cold - just wet. I get the group participants out and about as weather permits so if it does rain, we have experienced as much as we can on the fine days.
Global warming has even come to the tropics with unseasonal weather. Even the dry seasons can produce torrential rain and very hot days. Years ago I would go at a certain time and know it would be fine and warm for the week. Past years this has not happened, so I am prepared for all eventualities.
Here are a few of the students work from the week. Botanical art is done in the mornings and sketching in the afternoons. I am always thrilled with what is produced for the week, It gives myself and the students themselves a great sense of satisfaction.
If they only take back one or two pertinent elements of knowledge it is worth it - but I am sure they all learned a lot.
Not everyone who joins me on my workshops is experienced. I take all skill levels, so some of the students had never done botanical art before. You would be amazed with the standard of work.
Will leave you with three of the paintings, and a general overview of the rest.

The paintings of Helen, Carole and Annie

The group's drawings and paintings for the week

If you would like to read my Holiday Sketching Newsletter, subscribe by emailing and I will send you my latest issue.