Tuesday 6 September 2016

Sketching Central Australia 2017

I am thrilled to be taking an art group sketching to Central Australia in the first week of July 2017. This is somewhere I have always wanted to explore, and to be able to experience the incredibly red earth, the unique flora and to explore the gorges is going to be magic!

Here is some information:

1 - 7 July 2017

Sketching Central Australia with Leonie Norton

Capture some of Australia's most stunning landscapes and natural features on this amazing tour of Namatjira Country. Sketch and paint the majestic gorges, rolling hills and mountains, crisp white gum trees and much much more!  Flights, accommodation and most meals included. Optional balloon flight over the MacDonnell Ranges and a helicopter flight over Glen Helen Gorge.

For more information, brochure and Itinerary:

New web page for Central Australia in progress

Thursday 18 August 2016

Plants & Pollintors Workshop in Canberra

Last weekend I taught a workshop in Straithnairn, Canberra ACT on Plants & Pollinators. 

The weather was absolutely glorious and the spacious studio/workshop provided ample room with the sun streaming through the windows and the viewlooking on to the rural scene and distant mountains.

The lovely group was all very enthusiastic and I am sure they were inspired by their subjects. In Canberra the artists will focus on the local native plants and pollinators which can be often found in their gardens.

I get quite excited when I see the subjects they are painting, and often wish I could pick up a brush and also paint. The group is very motivated and I am sure they will now begin to create more works including pollinators. I personally find it enchances a painting by adding further information and interest and it also stretches their abilities and encourages them to think outside the square.

Enjoy these photos from the workshop.

View from the workshop/studio

Another rural view

The colour study, part of the process

Helen painting a Monarch butterfly on a callistemon

Colour study of a Eastern Spinebill

Jann's painting of a Eastern Spinebill, sourced from her own photographs

Colour study with notes for a Fisheye Finch

Drawing and Colour Study for the Fisheye Finch

New Holland Honeyeater chick on a grevillea

Mature New Holland Honeyeater drawing and colour study - on a grevillea
 This was an excellent workshop. I enjoyed myself asmuch as the students. Jean made the most incredible morning and afternoon teas. Orange and poppy seed cake, moist and moreish, chocolate fudge slice, orange and almond muffins, a cheese platter and much more......


A-Z Travel Sketching Part 3

Here are a few pages from my current article in Australian Artist magazine - Part 3 of the A-Z of Travel Sketching.

There is much more information in this article, on the Rule of Thirds when sketching, more sketches, top tips, perspective and how to actually create a sketch with comprehensive compositional information.

It is now available at all Newsagents. Next month is the final issue in this four part series.

Friday 29 July 2016

A-Z Travel Sketching Part 2

Australian Artist magazine has published Part 2 of my 'A-Z of Travel Sketching'.

It is now available at all newsagents.

Below are pages 1 and 2 of the article. The step by step demonstration continues on the following page.

Enjoy. For more information on my Sketching travels and tours, and the Travel Sketching Distance Learning Course, see www.holidaysketching.com.au

Wednesday 22 June 2016

A-Z of Travel Sketching article

My new article for Australian Artist Magazine is out now at newsagents. If you subscribe to this magazine you should have your copy now.

It is going to be featured in following issues with more information and sketches.

Here are a few pages from the article and some sketches from my recent Fiji trip where I took a group of enthusiatic participants to Koro Sun Resort in Savusavu.

Page 26

Page 29
Bulikula Beach - Savusavu Fiji
This was sketched from the workshop room I used while at Koro Sun Resort, Savusavu

The pattern on the cover of one of my Fiji Sketchbooks represents the traditional handmade tape cloth of Fiji. These are fun ways to decorate your sketchbooks from various destinations.

Monday 23 May 2016

Fiji - Painting in Pardise

Just back from an incredible week at the beautiful Koro Sun Resort in Savusavu, Fiji. I had a group of 11 participants for Botanical Art in the mornings and Travel Sketching in the afternoons. Some of the group became so engrossed in their botanical paintings they also spent the afternoons in the Workshop Villa. It is actually the Seaside Restaurant and the hotel gives it over to me for the week. It is the best location I have had for my workshops - a 180 degree view and ample room.

These are some views from the workshop villa.. It is a wonder we get any work done. What a unique space to be in.

Each morning at 10.30am precisely, a delicious morning tea was provided. A chef was appointed to prepare some delicious treats for us each morning, and these arrived still warm from the oven.

Some of the group enjoying morning tea

The group consisted on both absolute beginners as well and experienced artists, and I was amazed by what was produced. Most people explored the gardens and rainforests of the resort to choose their plants. Even though Cyclone Winston hit the resort in April 2016, the staff had worked tirelessely to have it back to standard for new guests. Nature did its part for us, and the trees that were ripped bare were making up for lost time by blooming profusely. Some of the gingers were produing up to five flowers from the top of the main stem.

Here are a few of the botanical paintings done in the week.


The resort is set between the rainforest at the rear and the lagoon and sea at the front. It is the epitomy of 'tropical' and I love every day I am there. This was my tenth year teachng workshops at Savusavu and each year I find new places to go. or to just relax in some free time and soak up the atmosphere.

It is extremely rewarding to be with such wonderful participants and to see what they produce for the week.

The resort spa. Enjy a massage while listening to the sounds of the waterfall

The infinity pool with sunken bar - just the place to watch the sun set.

We were so spoiled with the quality and presentation of the food in Koro Sun. Every meal was an absolute adventure. The chef's creations were not only totally delicious, but the menu was so well considered, that they was always something for any palette or even food intolerance (which seems to be more common these days). What we all appreciated was the serving sizes were not huge, and we always found space for dessert or a refreshing sorbet after mains.

So now I am back home and into my routine, which is working.........

Before I go I will leave you with a few images of the some of the group sketching in the rainforest, and the beautiful Mela, who does the best massages in the Spa, and is also an expert  on the medicinal properties of the plants on the island. She takes a Herbal Walk where she explains about the plants and their uses in traditional medicine.

So perhaps I will see some of you in Koro Sun next year - May 2017, for another extraordinary week. It is certainly hard to settle down to an 'ordinary' life..

Wednesday 23 March 2016

The making of Watercolour Paper

I came across avery interesting video of the processes involved in making watercolour paper (see link below), in this instance Saunders Waterford.

Situated in the ancient Cathedral City of Wells in the southwest of England, St Cuthberts Mill has been making paper since the 1700's, taking advantage of the pure waters of the River Axe.

St Cuthberts Mill

Paper storage in the Mill

The mill specialises in the paper manufacturing of high quality artists papers. The experienced papermakers carefully make professional mould made papers, using one of the few remaining cylinder mould machines left in the world.

The River Axe meanders peacefully within the countryside.

It is also interesting to see just how much manual work is involved in the process. An innovative and dedicated approach is key to perfection of archival papers of impeccable condition.

Click here to see a video of the processes involved, from the trees to your easel or studio.

Friday 12 February 2016

Sketching Historic Hobart

I have just arrived home from a fantastic 7 day sketching tour of Historic Hobart.  With eight in the group we used Hobart city as our base and ventured out each day to a different location. The weather was very good for us with daily temperatures of around 23 and 24 degrees. 

There is so much history connected with Hobart which is nestled on the banks of the Derwent River and was founded in 1803 initially as a penal colony. 

It is truly a city proudly exhibiting its heritage, culture and spectacular scenery. We drove 1-1/2 hours to Port Arthur where we spent a full day exploring and sketching. This was the site of the penal colony. The many houses surrounding the gaol complex have been wonderfully restored so you can experience where and how the inhabitants lived. Ongoing restoration work is apparent in the gaol. 

Port Arthur Penal Colony

There were sketches in Salamanca Place with its original sandstone Goergian buildings,  and of course historic Battery Point where some of the oldest houses in the area are found. Arthur Circle also proved a popular sketching site. 

Some of the original settlers cottages at Battery Point

Some of the group sketching the original houses at Arthur Circle

A spacious air conditioned bus took us out of Hobart for three consecutive days. In Richmond we sketched Australia's oldest convict built bridge, and enjoyed the warm sunshine while we sat beside the river with the ducks and geese enjoying a frolic in the water.

Australia's oldest convict built bridge in Richmond. 1923. 
There was a real English feel about Richmond, and with the sketch above you can see the quaint two storey cottage with bright red canna lilies and white and blue agapanthus growing on the banks of the river.

The village of Ross was on the itinerary and it was also convict built with celtic symbols around the bridge arches.

Celtic symbols

Sketching Ross Bridge

Another very historic town we visited was Oatlands which boasted some wonderful Georgian houses and Callington Mill, where flour was ground in 1837. Fortunes were won and lost on flour mills but gradually the mill closed down in the face of changing technologies.

The miller's cottage which was a very basic two room house.

Oatlands Lodge c1837 which was a guest house, and remains so today.

As all good things must come to an end, so we left Hobart feeling the richer for the history of our Nation that we captured in our sketchbooks. And I certainly look forward to another historical visit.