Friday 26 October 2018

Flinders Ranges and Hahndorf

I have just returned from a wonderful nine days travelling and sketching through the Flinders Ranges and spending some time in Hahndorf.

Fourteen enthusiastic artists produced some amazing sketching during this time. We normally did one sketch in the morning and another during the afternoon, with a review as closure on the days work.

We were blessed with incredible weather - cooler in the evenings and mornings and daytime temperatures around 20-25 with a few quite hot days. Sitting in the shade of trees there was always a cooling breeze so all in all, it suited everyone.

At Hahndorf, South Australia
We travelled in comfort with Aussie Redback Tours and almost had the comforts of home. Their trailer was equipped with a kitchen and barbeque hotplate, so wherever we were there was tea, coffees and delicious cakes and slices. On occasion we enjoyed delicious gourmet sausages in rolls on the barbeque. Nothing was too much trouble.

Our first major stop was Burra which is 160km north of Adelaide where we spent another two nights. It is an historic copper town the 'the merino capital of the world'.  It was declared a state heritage town in 1994. There are so many historic buildings to sketch and it also has the Redruth Gaol, which later became a womens refortatory. The movie Breaker Morant was filmed at the Goal. 

Sketching within the gaol compound.
The next three nights was spent at Rawnsley Park Station, which has spectacular views of Wilpena Pound and was the perfect place for exploring South Australia's Flinders Ranges.

There were kangaroos outside our rooms as the sun rose behind the bluffs.

Leonie giving a demonstration

Historic Blinman was our next stop. It is the highest town in south Australia and began with the discovery of copper in 1859. Blinman may be small in population but it is huge in interest and history.

Leonie with demonstration sketch

Historic bush house in Blinman
 The last two nights of the art tour were in Hanhdorf, and the highlight was spending the day at 'The Cedars'  which was Hans Heysen's property. It had magnificent gardens and bushland and his studio was the first purpose built studio in Australia. We also did a tour of his house which remains as it always was.

Sketching Hans Heyson's studio

The studio
Leonie giving a review in Hahndorf

Sketching St Pauls Church in Handorf. Hans Heyson rented a cottage in 1908 in the block next door.

Some of the student's sketches.

It was a really great trip.  My next sketching tour with Aussie Redback tours is to Broome, which will be another wonderful trip. It is 6-13 July 2019.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Botanical art & Sketching in Bali

I have just returned from a wonderful week in beautiful Bali. It was so good to escape Sydney’s winter if only for a week, and to immerse myself in the warmer climate - balmy breezes, beautiful local people, a fantastic workshop environment and a fabulous group of dedicated students.

The morning was dedicated to botanical art and afternoons to sketching and sightseeing. There was time for leisurely massages, swimming in the ecolodge pool each afternoon, and some incredible shopping - where else but the art shops. The prices are unbelievably inexpensive and everyone bought up big. 

Udyana Ecolodge in Jimbaran. It was situated in a very quiet area with no tourists apart from ourselves.

The botanical art workshop was done in a room with a verandah, overlooking the beautiful gardens, in abundance with flowers and butterflies.

After a long day painting botanical art portraits,  spending time sightseeing and sketching in various locations, it was time for a swim.


The final review and exhibition contained a variety of  plants from the garden. The results were amazing. It is so rewarding for me as a tutor to see a participant who has never painted botanically before to produce such wonderful paintings.

Monday 30 April 2018

Grafton Workshop April 2018

I spent the most enjoyable week in Grafton teaching a group of lovely ladies how to paint their chosen subject. The workshop was Plants & Pollinators: the Birds and the Bees.

There are several reasons I do this and not have every student paint the same subject.
  • They can paint a subject they are passionate about
  • They are not forced to paint a subject with no relevance to their preferences
  • They receive absolute individual tuition so all necessary techniques and methods are clearly understood and demonstrated
  • They gain confidence as to how to complete their own paintings once they return home
  • They understand the workshop is not about producing a finished painting, but learning HOW to correctly complete a finished painting
Here are a few photos from the workshop of some of the student's paintings. 

Krysia's  painting

Felicity's eucalyptus - nearly finished

Grace's finished Strelitzia reginae - Bird of Paradise

The class enjoying morning tea. I am third from bottom left.

Hilary's painting of an Eastern Spinebill bird on a banksia. Almost finished

Janet painting her New Holland Honeyeater on a banksia. 

Jenny's first washes finished. 

The Coldstream Gallery at Ulmarra held a tutors exhibition during the week. There was wonderful response from the locals as well as tutors and students. A great opening night.

I am second from left, with Hilary, Jude and Janet.
I will be back in Grafton in 2020, and look forward to another rewarding week.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Grevillea victoriae - large painting

I enjoyed my previous painting of the Grevillea victoriae so much that I decided to do a large scale painting of the actual florescence. There are so many interesting growing formations and various hues which respond beautifully to transparent overglazing to make them glow.

I have been working diligently every day and set myself a goal to do each day, which helps me to focus and manage my time efficiently.

Here are some of the stages of the painting. It is large scale on a half sheet of 640gsm Arches watercolour paper, which is a joy to work on.

I am also experimenting with some new brushes - da Vinci Maestro series #10 which you will see in one of the images. So far, so good. They are not expensive, are retaining their lovely points and are comfortable to use.

The painting to too large to fit comfortably on my painting desk in the studio, so I have moved to the dining room table. Love the light here.

My original colour matches and basic colour study

My initial first washes


I love working on the detail
I leave on Saturday to teach a 5-day workshop in Grafton, NSW, so this is another incentive to get as much done as I can on this painting before I leave.

Will post more as the painting continues to progress.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Hobart

I recently visited the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart, which is 200 years old this year.
The weather was perfect, with clear blue skies and a few fluffy clouds, very warm with a light breeze. It could not have been better for my first experience of the gardens.

The bridge over the lily pond

The Subantartic Plant House
The Fernery

I left no stone unturned, and with my map in hand I explored every feature and every garden. There was the Chinese Collection, the Japanese Garden, the Subantarctic Plant House, the Conservatory and more.

The Conservatory on left
Me in the conservatory

There were cacti gardens, a fernery, a eucalyptus section, the Lily Pond and more.

And I could not resist buying a wonderful memento of my visit there, a lovely flowering gum canister.

I would highly recommend his unique and historical garden for all to visit.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Colour Mix and Match Workshop

Although it can be a tedious exercise to paint colour charts, it is worth its weight in gold once completed. It takes the guesswork out of 'what colour/s will I use?'

I begin these workshops with demonstrations on how to paint the colours in the appropriate sections. This teaches how much water and paint to use, how to dilute colours and brush control. 

So there are a lot of skills rolled into one workshop.

Students working on the colour charts
I teach my Sydney workshops at WEA which is right in the city. The amenities are excellent, including fantastic light, ergonomic chairs, whiteboard and projection facilities and access to water and drawing boards.

Beginning the Orange Colour chart
For these charts I use 6 primary colours - red, yellow and blue in both warm and cool tones. I discuss how to also incorporate other colours to broaden the 450 colours made on their three charts. The dilutions are very important as they are another colour and easily demonstrate whether the colour is warm or cool.

Once the green charts are finished, the students match various green leaves to the colours they have made on the charts. Then they can paint the leaves. More class and individual demonstrations.

One of my demonstrations
Some finished charts
After more charts are completed the students can match a flower or other subject they have brought in.

It was a really enjoyable and successful workshop and enjoyed by all.

Sunday 25 February 2018

Hobart Botanical Art Workshop 10-13 February 2018

I spent six fabulous days in Hobart teaching a workshop for the Botaniko Art Group. They are an amazing group of local artists who meet weekly to share ideas and techniques. As you will see from the images below, the final results of the workshop were incredibly impressive.

I love going to different places to teach as the groups all produce local subjects which makes it quite exciting for me. And they are always so generous and welcoming. 

Myself (left) and Janet, in the Fern Hill Community Centre

Works in Progress - some drawings, colour studies and first washes

The last day of the workshop. Superb progress was made by all, and many need just a few more washes.

I loved teaching this workshop, and managed through several seasons of weather during the day, but ample heating, and the loan of a woollen scarf saw me through.

The workshop was not all about finishing. It was about the processes and techniques required to get to the final painting. I say to my students that workshops are so beneficial, as if you just take home one valuable piece of advice, it is worth it.

There are some more notes about the paintings and the artists on my Facebook page.