On a lazy, grey Sunday


This is colouring in , in reverse – an activity that allows your mind to wander wherever it feels it ought to go.



Ways to hold a pencil (3)

 Still using pencil sticks. Still scribbling till forms take shape. Still admiring the structure of this plant and its shadow.

A good thing about using materials designed for kids are the small number of primary and secondary colours they often come in. I can see more easily which of the two greens and two blues are the warm versions.

I get into a state of indecision when choosing from my other box of pencils accumulated over time – light ultramarine, phthlo blue, ultramarine, helloblue, grey blue let alone the blues that are greenish blue. And then there’s olive green, sap green, turquoise green, jade, viridian,  pthalo green, light green, earth green and so on. 

And don’t get me started on house paint swatches. My goodness. How many whites?!

And so, its a relief to just have two greens, two blues, two reds to choose from.

Ways to hold a pencil (2)

Not sure where I found them but I have a pack of kids coloured graphite sticks. Rather than having pencil points, they have hexagonal ends. This means you can get thick and thin lines. You can also do large shapes holding the sticks side on. 

But I got a bit carried away with scribbling, I felt I needed to bring back ‘a bit of order’ or definition and went over the two layers with a 4B pencil.

It kind of gives you a couple of goes at drawing the same thing. That’s ok, some of us (me!) need a few attempts. Imagine having the visual intelligence and accuracy of Leonardo Da Vinci or closer to our times, Lloyd Rees. Sigh.

Ways to hold a pencil (1)

If I hold a pencil in the ‘normal’ way or as I was taught ‘correctly’ in kindergarten (!), I am most likely to do contour lines whether through continuous line or blind drawing. This is one way. 

If I hold the pencil on its side, I am inclined to do tonal blocks and shapes. 

If I hold the pencil towards the top of it – as blogger Leonie Andrews has suggested to me – I get a scribbly effect. Feeling a bit not in control, Left Brain starts to get in the way! Left Brain says, doesnt matter …that’s how it is, try again.

Thing is, trying something that feels awkward or uncomfortable can be a way of gauging that I’m trying something different. 

Mmm…think I’ll leave this here…over thinking doesn’t help either!

From in here, to out there (2)

Still enjoying the simplicity of using pencil. This time I started blocking in the whole page with different tones using the side of a 6B graphite stick. Then I focussed on shapes but mainly working from the negative space. They kind of emerge when I do that. I find myself looking for shapes on the page rather than necessarily drawing what is in front of me. I quite enjoy it as there’s more scope for me to ‘move pots’ around, make up some foliage and even make my balcony look a bit bigger!

Semi-observational, semi-made up. 

Next, there will be giraffes, elephants and a flock of birds coming into my view…along a running water stream, of course.

From in here, to out there (1)

On grey and cold days, I prefer to be inside, looking out to draw. And yesterday, Brett Whitely’s drawing style came to my thoughts. In a youtube interview of his wife Wendy Whitely, she mentioned the notion of ‘from in here, to out there’ in his drawings. He has done for example, a huge harbour landscape and a matisse-like squiggle suggesting a balcony at the lower edge of the canvas. Maybe the concept is not new but his way of capturing it is refreshing to me.

When I look at his paintings or drawings, I can almost ‘see’ him using his whole body to draw – moving from one side of a huge canvas (or triptych) to the other side, reaching high up, bending right down and using large whole of arm, shoulder calligraphic moves. Very gestural, very expressive and so free.

I’m not sure how comfortable it would have been for me to have had a conversation with him, but I would loved to have just sat in a corner to watch him in action. I don’t think words would be needed anyway.

In comparison to him, I feel like a mini robot. I’m usually seated, with small wrist and hand movements which are almost always within the confines of an A5 space. 

How wonderful it is then, to be able to learn from such talent. 

Mmm…maybe I start by moving up from A5.

Just be, just do

What captured my attention to draw this was the strking play of shadows made by a dominating umbrella tree, a cordyline and another common plant I cannot find the name of. Interested in the shapes, I scribbled away, noticed the spaces between, added some lines, played with colour. I had intended to keep it simple and focus on the shadows. Somehow though, the drawing morphed into this. Not sure what it is exactly. 

But, I can say there is a wonderful feeling about being in a moment and not caring about achieving a particular result. This is in sharp contrast with the world of work where results do matter. Achieving in particular ways matters. Be efficient. Work smarter not harder. Be this, be that. And that is ok.  It is also ok to have daily little drawing sessions like these where it is ok to ‘just be’ and ‘just do’. More than ok, actually I’d say.

Where to next?

I know it doesn’t look much but this took me 3 mornings, 20 minutes a time. I enjoyed looking for shapes. I enjoyed the sun.

Its ‘finished’ but I have that feeling that I could do something more. Not quite sure what. I asked my 7 year old neice and with complete assurance she said, ‘it needs butterflies here and here and a bird there’. Wow. There you have it – an answer delivered with ease, confidence and imagination.
After months of ‘draw what you see’ it would take me a while to be able to shift gears to add such elements of imagination. Now…where can I go and get me some fluttering butterflies?!

Search for light and dark (3)

Another pencil drawing, minimal palette but with a lot of greens – so many greens in fact, that I can barely tell their differences! I started this in the morning basking in the warm sun and then finished it off in the evening. I always much prefer to draw in natural light.  Lead pencil tends to give off an annoying reflection under ceiling lighting. Oh well, what to do?

Search for light and dark (2)


Still persisting with thin paper – I have three A6 books left. But I must say I quite enjoy using coloured pencils almost in the way one might hold a palette knife. Working this way makes me focus on shapes and negative space. 

The light has been so warm and a sheer joy to be in.