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.

Concertina Montage Sketchbook

I have just completed a concertina montage sketchbook. Travelling in the United Arab Emirates, then down through India, Colombo (Sri Lanka), and Singapore I had an enormous amount of sketches.

These countries are so rich in colour, atmosphere, sights and sounds. I never tire of the multituide of experiences that flood the senses.  So I decided to complete a montage sketchbook. This way I could record all my favourite things and capture the colour and vibrancy of these countries.

The page on the left is the basic pen drawing. These were done from my iPad images. Every drawing brought back such wonderful memories. The drawing on the right shows when I begin painting one of the buildings in Little India, in Singapore.

Working with this method of montages, you chose just sections of an image that really appeals to you. It also allows you to stop and start, whenever you have the time to add more drawings, or finish of paintings, as each drawing is really a minature painting (or sketch).

On the left is page one of the concertina sketchbook, which shows the map of where I travelled.
On the right is a page including Goa and Cochin in India. Sometimes the simplest subject has the most interest, and I love working with texture, shape and colour.

Here is the finished concertina sketchbook. Each page is 14cm wide and just over 20cms high, slightly smaller than an A5. I bought this sketchbook while in London, but would not use it again as I do not like the paper.  It is easy enough to make your own sketchbook and that allows you to choose the size and type of watercolour paper to use.

There are YouTube videos on making sketchbooks and these can be as easy or as complex as you wish. 

Happy sketching!

Saturday 13 April 2019

Free Online Sketchbook Revival

Free Online Workshops

I’m excited to announce that I will part of a great online event called
Sketchbook Revival.

My online travel sketching demonstration will be live on from  22nd April - 4 May 2019. 

Join me here

You need to register to gain access to not only my online video but the other artists videos as well. Click the link above which will take you to the registration site, where the organiser will explain about the free workshops. Just enter your name and email address.
Last year over 15,000 artists joined! And it is totally FREE. It will feature over 20 diverse artists from around the world, (fine artists, illustrators, intuitive artists, designers, art therapists, art journalers and expressive artists). You can follow along with their demonstrations and fill your sketchbook pages with watercolour, pencil, acrylics, college, ink, charcoal and more.

I am the only artist with a video demonstration on Travel Sketching with Pen & Watercolour Wash.

In my session you will have a list of materials and will follow me as I take you through the process of doing a pen and wash sketch, with various techniques, ideas and lots of tips as I go along. This will be a half hour demonstration and at the end, you will have own finished sketch.

The best part about the workshop is that it’s easy to join. No need to travel anywhere, book any tickets or rearrange your schedule. You can fit the workshop into your regular life and enjoy the sessions from the comfort of your own home, without spending a cent.

So what are you waiting for? Revive your sketchbook practice with fresh inspiration and motivation, new ideas and tips. All you have to do is sign up

Make creativity a priority while we sketch together. You are also able to access all other artists demonatrations.

Join me on my travels to Savusavu, Vanua Levu in Fiji…..and sketch along with me. There will also be a free gift at the end of the video demonstration.

Art Tours, Workshops, Distance Learning Course

Sri Lankan Cooking School

One of the most enjoyable experiences was the day the group spent at a cooking school in Galle. We were taken by tuk tuk to first choose our fish, straight from the sea. It couldn't get any fresher. Then off to the vegetable markets to source some very interesting and unusual produce.

The spice shop was next on the list, where the spices were all freshly ground, then packaged in bags. Nearly everyone stocked up on the spices, with visions of returning home and cooking a delicious Sri Lankan curry.

Everyone helped to chop, grind and mix the ingredients to make some spectacular curries, before sitting down to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

 Fish markets

 Vegetable markets

Fresh spices

 Myself at right with some of the group

 Everyone lent a hand

 I'm making fresh coconut cream

 A vegetable curry and a fish curry

 Delicious chicken curry

 Enjoying the fruits of our labour!

Sketching Sri Lanka

I have recently returned from an amazing sketching tour to Sri Lanka, where I took 12 very motivated and enthusiastic sketchers, and one photographer.

The scenery was incredibly beautiful and each day was a new adventure. We travelled at a very relaxed pace and stayed 2 and 3 nights in each hotel, all with outstanding accommodation.

Here are a few photos of some of the highlights of the trip.  Actually I could not single out only one, as each destination was spectacular.

 Elephants cooling off at the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala

 Me sketching with some of the group. We did one or two sketches everyday, as well as plenty of sightseeing.

 I love this photo! We were at the archaeological ruins of the Ancient Kingdom at Polonnaruwa, and a mischevious little monkey had stolen an ice cream. I managed to capture him actually licking this ice cream with great enjoyment.

 Some of the group sketching the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Most of us climbed to the caves to see the beautiful frescos.

 A stilt fisherman at a beach out of Kandy. Didn't actually catch much while we were there, but he certainly looked quite comfortable.

Some tea plantations in the hills above Kandy.

A fire eater at a cultural performace. There was also fire walkers and of course cultural dancing.


 At elephant orphanage
 Black line sketch of some of the archaeological ruins at the Ancient Kingdom.

Perhaps you can be tempted to join me on another tour to Sri Lanka in March 2021.

Friday 12 April 2019

Botanical Art Exhibition in Sydney

The Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney is currently holding its annual 'Botanica' exhibition. This exhibition celebrates 20 years of Australia's leading contemporary botanical artists and their paintings.  It runs from 30 March until 14th April 2019 at the Lion Gate Lodge at the Gardens in Sydney.

I was thrilled when four of my five paintings were the first to sell on opening night. They all have a story to tell, and were all a labour of love.  Last year was an extremely busy year for me, so I surprised myself when I managed to complete five painting, two of them very large.

Eucalyptus vinimalis
 Last year I took a sketching group to the Flinders Ranges which was called 'The Hans Heyson Trail',  While there we visited Hahndorf and explored the famous 'Cedars' which was Hans Heyson's home and studio. I fell in love with the beautiful Eucalyptus vinimalis, commonly known as Manna Gum, with their peeling bark and beautiful colours.

I decided I would paint this once I returned home and only a large scale painting would do justice to its beauty and majesty. Mostly I painted it on the dining room table, but would occasionally put it on a vertical surface where I could get better perspective on what I was doing.

This was the result. I included the background as this was actually where it was growing, just outside the Cedars with others trees in the background.  I loved every minute of painting this subect!

 Here is a photo of me on opening night with the Sold sticker. I know the new owner of this painting will love it as much as I did.
Grevillea victoriae

 For the Botanica exhibition 2018 I painted and sold a much smaller painting (below) of the Grevillea victoriae, where I had collected the specimen when staying with a friend in Uralla, NSW. So it also had a special significance. Below is also the habitat background which I also love painting.

If you look at the larger painting above, you can probably see that it is an enlargement of some of the buds from the painting below, but enlarged x10. The large finished painting was 580mm wide x 760 mm high.
 And last but not least I sold the three bankia paintings below. They were framed separately and were approximately A5 size, which is perfect as it is easy to find a spot of a wall. These three were actually the very first paintings sold on opening night at Botanica.

I am about to start work on a new painting which will be for the Florilegium Society of the Botanical Gardens of Sydney and will be for the prestigious 2020 exhibition celebrating 200 year since Banks and Solander were in Sydney collecting specimens.

So I will keep you posted on how this new painting progresses.

Friday 8 March 2019

Beechworth Victoria Sketching Workshop

On a beautiful Spring weekend, I held a sketching working in the heritage town of Beechworth Victoria.

I have been going there for many years teaching workshops, and the history of the town and area always excites me.

The newly formed Mayday Hills Art Society has renovated buildings in the Mayday Hills estate in Beechworth. The society is going from strength to strength, with not only workshop areas, but artist studios to rent, a theatre, exhibition space, art library, and the list goes on. And it is run by an amazing group of volunteers.

A group of 12 enthusiastic students were both inspired and motivated on their weekend. Here are just a few of their sketches. What talent some of the students have, and every sketch is really a work of art and skill.

Students sketches of the Beechworth gaol, and part of the Mayday Hills estate.

Sketching the former wardens house at Beechworth Gaol
Sketching the telegraph office in Ford Street. Built in 1858
The flowers were in full bloom, and I have rarely seem more glorious displays. The town obviously prides itself on its gardens and the mixed varieties were magnificent. Many species I had not seen before, and the tulips and irises glowed in the brilliant sunlight.

These blooms deserved to be 'honored' and enthusiastically painted. I felt very passionate about these blooms.

So I am running a weekend Botanical Art Workshop at the Mayday Hills Art Society, Beechworth on 17th and 18th September 2019, called what else but 'Beechworth in Bloom'.

Another workshop for 'Landscapes of Beechworth'  will be held on 14th and 15th September 2019.

The surrounding hills and trees are really unique, and every time I drove through them, I thought they would be wonderful to sketch. So  the workshop is now in place.

Please contact for any further information on either of the workshops or accommodation