Defense mechanisms

We’ve all got them – defense mechanisims. These two characters here are no different. In fact, I was just a bit too close to the one with the ‘big ears’ and my hand got covered with spikes. Very itchy and prickly indeed.

The hairs are so fine and difficult to see. But a quick Google gave me a simple remedy. Just apply a thin layer of PVA glue over the skin, leave to dry then take it off. This pulls away the cactii hair with it.

How clever people are to think of such a thing. And how clever is nature to find ways of protecting itself. Still, I think I need to put these two under a cage or something


Nature’s fine details

As you might tell, this drawing is not quite yet finished. I’ve paused a bit as I’m wondering where to head with it.

Every now and then, an exercise in absolute concentration and intense scrutiny (!) has its rewards. Nature presents so many wonderous patterns and symmetry. The lines, the hexagonals, the circles, the overall design…wow. One has to admire surely and wonder about the tiny living creatures that once lived.

I’ve used a Lamy fountain pen to draw this and really enjoy the fine lines you can obtain by using the reverse side of the nib. I did this in the drawing in the top right corner. It feels more scratchy but the lines are more delicate.

Conplex constructions


It seems that every few months or so, that something about this plant (crown of thorns) catches my attention. Is this what’s called an ‘artist’s muse’? Anyway, it has a recurring interest.

This time, it’s the complexity of the structure of the flower. It’s an interesting exercise to look at the one object from its various angles.

The final background is a layer of ink over a layer of watercolour washes of leaves and thorns. It’s a process to get to the heart of what you actually want to focus on.



A bit of magic

IMG_4201.JPG‘Wow. Bit of a jungle out there.’ is what people might say when they see my balcony. And yes, I can see how they might think that.

But, on this morning, this is what I saw. A bit of magic. Prone to a bit of exaggeration? I guess. For the cause of drawing? Surely it’s ok.

This drawing took a couple of sittings. It began with pots then shadows. No plants. It kind of looked like a balcony the Addams’ Family could have enjoyed. Flowers with no heads. Not really my story to tell. Not today anyway.

So I added a plant. It somehow looked a bit magical. And that’s how this drawing evolved.

It’s midnight here.
I wish you good dreams or a good day…wherever you may be.

Layers (2)

IMG_4200.JPGYesterday an elephant ‘walked into’ my picture plane. This time, I’m seeing mountains. Not so odd except that I live in a very ordinary suburb where the views are of cars, pavement, women with prams, joggers and a frangipani tree. No mountains. Not even a hill.

Charcoal though a bit messy, can have results that lead the imagination elsewhere.

I started with a goauche drawing of the frangipani tree outside my window. I’m grounded in reality. Sort of.

I went over the top of that with a layer of charcoal and painted over that with random textures (or something). Then worked in another drawing layer with gel pen and more goauche.

So, there you have it. Two frangipani tees with mountains. A title? Mmmm…

Layers (1)

Strange but true…an elephant walked into my picture plane this morning.

This is what happens when you look at something long enough, turn away for a split second and you suddenly notice something that’s been there all along. Yesterday I was drawing. No elephant. Today, continuing with the same drawing. An elephant.

Does that happen to you?

Here I am playing with layers of transparency, thin layers of gouache.


This little drawing is with charcoal, goauche and watercolour. Can’t remember the last time I used charcoal. I usually find it a little bit messy for doing something quick. But there’s potential for some interesting variations of line, shape and mood. I think I’ll stay with it a little while and see where it takes me.

Not great, but done (3)

Maybe I should rename ‘not great, but done’ to ‘persistence’. I cut up the inital watercolour drawing in half to see how I could make it more interesting. Collaged one half and added some stitching. More interesting? Texturally maybe.

It got me thinking about the needs of this variety of peacock plant. Moist but not too moist. No wet feet. Sun but not too much. With the right conditions, it will be happy and colourful. A bit like us? To a degree, I guess.

Not great, but done (2)

IMG_4142.JPGNot quite sure that the colours of this one works. I used a combination of watercolour pencil and paint. But looking at this plant got me thinking how much beauty there is in the ordinary if I just stop and look.

I don’t know the name of this plant but it’s often a ‘filler’ plant rather than a ‘showpiece’ or ‘center stage’ plant. A bit like the role of a music accompanist. But you know what? The role of the accompanist is in some ways harder as it needs the ability to be attentive, to enhance and to work in with the lead.
Oh. Where was I? Amongst the succulents on my balcony, the petals of this plant is taking center stage.

Textures, lines and looseness (2)

IMG_4147.JPGRefreshed after a morning swim in the rain, I did the first drawing sitting in the car. Not sure why, but it took 30 minutes. My eyes move around a lot. Too much. And so, I have problems working out how much of what I’m seeing is to be included. And then being fickle, I change my mind. Halfway. Not a good idea.

The exercise was to do a vertical composition – a bit of foliage, a bit of a building.

The second drawing I did in 15 minutes at home. i wanted to simplify the first attempt. I should try it a few more times and take inspiration from someone like Paul Klee. Now that would be an interesting exercise.