Wednesday 4 November 2015

'Painting with Leonie Norton'

I have just had a Collectors' Edition of my work published by Woodlands Publishing NSW.  It is available in most newsagents and can be found in the Art Section. If you are unable to locate it, just ask the newsagent to order some copies.

The magazine has a lot of information and step by step demonstrtions on Botanical Art, Natural History Art and Travel Sketching. There is something there for everyone.

Feet on the ground for a while

I have had an unbelievable year with travel and work, and love every minute of it. I have a great balance in my life so it is easy to juggle the many diverse things that I do, which are almost all art related. I have met so many wonderful people over the years through art and it is always a privilege to be able to share my knowledge with others.

This year I have been away or teaching for nine months (not all togther of course). Sometimes I even have to think where I went and when. Here is an overview:
  • Lots of weekend workshops at WEA Sydney
  • A week at Koro Sun Resort in Savusavu teaching Botanical Art and Travel Sketching. This is definately a holiday wrapped up in a workshop at the most incredible Fijian resort
    Koro Sun Resort, Savusavu.  Some of the group enjoying morning tea.
  • River cruise where I managed to do lots of my own sketching
  • Visit to Prague which was an amazing experience. Really loved it.
  • 2 weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam taking a travel sketching group. This was such a wonderful experience with the most fabulous sketching opportunities. Doing Cambodia again 2016
  • Teaching workshop for the Botanical Art Society Queensland at Mt.Cootha Botanical Gardens
  • Talks for the Australian Historical Garden Society and the Vaucluse Garden Club
  • Five day botanical art workshop at Mossman, far north Queensland 
  • Two back to back workshops in Perth, WA
  • Four days in beautiful Beechworth. I love that place and have done many botancial art and travel sketching workshops there over the years
  • Coming up - two day botanical art workshop mid November at Sturt, Mittagong, southern highlands NSW
Here are a few photos from this year:

 In between all these engagements I have my Distance Learning Courses in Botanical Art, Natural History Art and Travel Sketching. This is almost a fulltime job on its own with hundreds of students, but it is just one aspect of my working life which gives me a lot of enjoyment. I just seem to fit it in somehow, or rather fit in my other committments.

I have just begun a new work for the 2016 Botanica exhibition which will be in the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens. I will try to get three paintings done this year. I am working on birds as pollinators and have almost finished the initial drawing. Will blog the progress.

Here is my 'bird' painting from last year's exhibition - Eastern Spinebills (male, female and juvenile).

I am loving painting birds and insects in conjunction with my work as it gives me a new challenge, expands my repertoire and enhances the botanical subject.

Eastern Spinebill birds on Bongala Spinebill Grevillea

Details of birds

Monday 17 August 2015

Favourite photos from Cambodia & Vietnam

Looking through my photos on return from my recent Cambodia and Vietnam sketching tour, with a fabulous group - I attempted to choose some of my favourite photos to share with you.

Each day was a wonderful  new experience. Each place held magic of its own.

Hope you enjoy just some of my Favourite Photos.

Cooking in the local markets, just out of Siem Reap

The local food markets were to the locals, like the supermarkets are to us - except their produce was all fresh and not from packets.  No wonder these people appear so healthy, happy and certainly none were overweight.

There was the fresh vegetable section, spices, rice, eggs, ducks, pork, fish and miscellaneous.

This little girl was waiting on the motorcycle while her mother shopped at the markets
From Angkor Wat temple
A Buddhist monk at Angkor Wat temple
Massive tree roots, centuries old at Angkor Thom
Some of my students sketching a village house in Siem Reap
Night markets in Siem Reap
Buddhist monk bestowing a water blessing in Siem Reap
Sleeping Buddha in city temple, Siem Reap
Stilted village, KampongPhluk, Siem Reap. 
Unbelievably in the wet season the water comes right up to the floor level of the houses.

It was so difficult to choose just these few photos from many hundreds, but each one holds a special place....

Sunday 16 August 2015

Cambodia and Vietnam

I have recently returned from an incredible sketching tour of Cambodia and Vietnam. I took a dedicated, inspirational and interesting group - what more could I ask for?  Often it is the wonderful people  you meet or get to know on your holidays that make it that much more special.

The sketchbooks contain personal memories of a special time and for me, and I am sure others, the sketches are far more personal and meaningful than a photo.

I can always visualise exactly where I was when sketching, what the weather was like, who was around me and also aromas.

So I would like to share with you a few of my sketches done on this latest sketching tour.


Buddha in Preah Prohn Roach, city temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat temple, near Siem Reap
Kompong Phluk stilt village, Siem Reap
When the river rises the water comes up to the houses, the streets are flooded and the children row to school in boats. See below a photo of more stilt houses.


Hu Hua temple in the old town on Hoi An

The villagers were constantly watering their crops from the wells situated around the vegetable area. This area also boasted a temple, a wonderful cafe, a cooking school and the greenest, healthiest crops I have seen.

Gom Thanh Ha pottery village, Hoi An
The pottery village is a 16th-17th century traditional occupational village. They still use the original potting wheels which are operated by foot, and the original wood fired kilns.

This is a 92 year old woman still making pots. Notice how the wheel is turned by foot. There might be a message here for us in the modern world - on how to stay bright and healthy in later years.

Isn't she wonderful?

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Themed Sketchbooks

Sketching can be even more fun if using a themed sketchbook. These can be made or decorated in any way you wish. You are only limited by your imagination.

My recent article in Artist's Back to Basics' has just been published with hints, tips and information on how to make your own sketchbook.

There are also many excellent articles in this edition #6_1.  I usually do an article for every issue and have been doing this since the magazine's inception. It is sometimes a challenge to come up with something new and different and it is great to expand the imagination with various techniques, subjects and ideas to share.

Sketches through Europe

Had a recent trip to Europe when I combined work with pleasure, and did some sketching along the Rhine and Danube Rivers in Europe, predominantly in Germany.

Just sharing these with you. Once I returned home there was so much work to do that all thoughts of more sketching were quickly forgotten.

I spent five days in and around Prague which I loved and took many, many wonderful photos. Definitely want to do a series of building sketches as architecture is one of my loves.

The sketch captions are self explanatory.

Just getting ready to leave for Siem Reap, where I am taking a group to Cambodia for a week, sketching Ankor Wat and many other places. Then on to Hoi An for a week of very different culture and scenery.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Botanical Art & Travel Sketching in Savusavu, Fiji

I have just returned from an incredible week with a group of delightful, motivated and enthusiastic participants - drawing and painting the flora and attractions of Savusavu on Vanua Levu, Fiji. We stayed at Koro Sun Resort which exceeded all my expectations. This was my first time at this resort, but I have been going to Savusavu since 2006 and have taught many courses here.

The lily pond on Koro Sun Resort

Over water villas - the view from one side of our painting room

The staff were always smiling and could not do enough to make our stay very special. What can I say - fantastic service, food, accommodation and the most amazing area to paint in. We were able to use the Seaview Restaurant which was right over the water with an almost 360 degree view and windows all around. Tons of room for me to move around and for the students to spread out.

Our painting 'room'
 Here are a few of the paintings done by the class.

Jill and Ida's paintings
Margaret and Judith's paintings
Two of Pat's paintings

Some of the other subjects were of different heliconia species, vibrant and glowing red hibiscus and orchids. After some reconnaissance around the resort, I have recorded many plant and flower species that would be perfect for next year.

Some of the group were absolute beginners and had never done botanical art before. They greatly impressed me with their finished work. Every single painting done was worthy of hanging and will be admired by family and friends alike. 

There were excursions most afternoons, to  a waterfall, a village visit, herbal walks, into the rainforest, into the town to sketch and investigate the markets and shop.

Sketching at the Copra Shed, and enjoying fantastic icecream and smoothies.

Sketching in the rainforest
This was an incredibly successful art retreat. I will be taking another group same time next year. Did I mention perfect weather? Around 28 degrees each day, beautiful breeze, no humidity. At no time was anyone ever hot. May is almost into winter, with the least rain of the year.

Many of the ladies enjoyed relaxing spa treatments, such as the 2 hour banana wrap, scrub and massage. There was also the wonderful relaxing foot and leg scrub and massage. The spa personnel would come to the rooms to do this. Nothing was better than to enjoy this just before bed.

Some of the group enjoying morning tea. I am third from right, sitting at the table with a navy and white striped top.
The week finished with a lovo (food cooked in the ground) buffet and a very enthusiastic meke by the Fijians from a local village.
Local Fijian women at the meke, enthusiastically enjoying their national dance.
Until next year......

Thursday 23 April 2015

Back to Basics Magazine Articles April 2015

I write articles for Back to Basics art magazine for each issue. It is now a bi-monthly magazine and has articles to appeal to all skill levels and all mediums and techniques. My recent articles appear in Issue 5_4 and are related to travel sketching.

The first article is How to Sketch Water. It is very comprehensive with lots of sketches and photos, as well as a step by step demonstration.

The sketch at the top is from Norfolk Island, bottom left is Patong Beach in Phuket and the bottom right is Kiama on the south coast of NSW.

There is a step by step demonstation of this sketch in the magazine

The second article in the magazine is Greens in the Landscape. This is a valuable article not only for sketching, but for the valuable information of various greens that are around us, either at home or away.

This is a sketch of the lagoon at Werri Beach on the south coast of NSW

Left: Fiji - right: Cranbrook WA

Lismore northern NSW

Wherever you are you can carry a small sketchbook and basic equipment to quickly sketch the enviroment.  I also take groups travel sketching to various areas both in Australia and overseas. It is so much easier to sketch with a group and lots more fun!

Saturday 21 March 2015

Botanica Exhibition 'The Birds & The Bees'

I worked to strict deadlines to finish my paintings for this year's Botanica Exhibition at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens which will open to the public on 18th April.

The theme is The Birds and the Bees. This produces some spectacular paintings with an enormous variety of pollinators. Lots of fun to do and as an artist, I love the opportunity to explore and expand into other areas of botanical art and to work with more diverse subjects.

Below are my two submissions for this years exhibition.

I love the designs that nature creates, and when I first saw this extremely large Japanese Spider Chrysanthemum I fell in love with it. It definitely chose me. The pollinator bees also lend interest and scale to the flower.

Japanese Spider Chrysanthemum

I loved the design and colour elements on the Eastern Spinebill birds, and also the complexity of the feather arrangements. It was a very rewarding painting for me and I thrived on the research and information gathering that went into the work.
Boongala Spinebill Grevillea with Eastern Spinebill birds (male, female, juvenille)

Juvenille Eastern Spinebill