A profusion of


This succulent in the real is pale greyish green with little red dashes around the edges. Nothing like this drawing? I know. I do draw by observation but find I wander off a bit especially when I start using watercolour or oil pastel as it is in this case. 

This succulent came from a drive-by garage sale. Well, an over-the-balcony sale. Brief as it is, I enjoy the random interaction, the ecclectic things people own and that the setting gives you the tiniest glimpse of someone’s space. 

The background was meant to be simple but a profusion of succulents of sorts just took over. 

I think we are about to have a nice weekend ahead of us. Wherever you may be, enjoy.

Beauty in the act of making


I have a small stack of paper mache cups – the size of Chinese tea cups. They sit in a wobbly stack against a pile of books. Even though they have been there for a year or two, they caught my eye one morning for no particular reason. They just did.

I would love to say they are finely crafted and of great beauty but that would be a huge exaggeration! However, they do take me back to an evening I made them with my 8 and 5 year old neices. We ripped up newspaper, made some paste and settled into forming shapes.

As is often the case when we are making something, there’s a bit of ‘I’m going to make this. I’m going to do mine like this. I’m going to…’

And then, a silence descends.

Hands busy, eyes focussed, minds taking flight. In our own worlds and yet together, in the act of making.

Oil pastel and colour pencil, 19 x 21cm 

Observed but not quite


This is one of those drawings where I’m not quite sure where it’s headed as I’m going along. And here it is – layers of oil pastel and pencil, part observation, part made up. 

It is a small trinket box I found in an op shop one day. The intricacy, the red and carved-like rendering of the shapes made me wonder about its original design or at least the inspiration for it. A quick google tells me it is based on carved red laquerware that was predominant in 12th century China. 

The box I have is mass produced but it is kind of nice that the design has been inspired by the past.

Oil pastel and pencil, 19 x 21cm

A cutting from my neighbour


This cutting has lasted a while. It has come from a rambly type orchid that spills up and over a large pot. When in good conditions it brings strings of mini white orchids, apparently with a lovely perfume. Don’t think that will happen with this cutting.

Still, as a random thing to draw, I kind of like the way it breaks up a visual space. As I’ve used pencil and oil crayon, there are traces of where I’ve ‘moved’ the leaves. A thing I like about a drawing is being able to see the decisions – small or large – that have been made.

Maybe that’s the imperfectionist coming out in me.

Oil pastel and pencil, 19 x 21cm

Gingko leaves


I found these gingko leaves pressed flat between two art books – a belated gift from last Autumn. Their fan shapes are distinctive. And when put together, the spaces they make among them are just as interesting.

This piece has been inspired by the work of printmaker Jorg Schmeister. If you don’t know his work, do a pinterest or google search. It is worth your while. His images take you beyond the physical appearances.

Oil pastel and pencil, 19cm x 21cm

Past and present fragments: Ubud (7)


oil pastel and coloured pencil, 19cmx21cm

Hand carved teak fragments are often sourced from Javanese Joglo houses that are beyond repair. They are often used to create furniture, small houses or in the case of my friend Stacey, jigsawed together to create gorgeous windows and doors.

Curious about these pieces, I find out this about Joglo houses:

  • They are 19th century wooden frame buildings.
  • They have a thatched and pitched roof.
  • The basic building shape is simple, either square or rectangular. The simplicity symbolises the principle of carrying out responsibility in one’s life.
  • Artisans fast and meditate before carrying out specific parts of the building process.
  • Tongue and groove techniques are used without any metallic nails or bolts. This means that building parts are numbered, assembled and can then be disassembled, taken elsewhere then reassembled.

I find this amazing, don’t you?

And for someone, there are four daybeds on their way to rural New South Wales, Turon. Different use, different place and different people – the appreciation of something hand made with care so long ago.

Sources: A remarkable Javanese traditional home architectureand Javanese joglo house

For a great read of an Australian living in Ubud: Story of the rice joglo

Past and present fragments: Ubud (6)

oil pastel and coloured pencil, 19cmx21cm
When you visit the home and shops of carpentars like Ulin, you’ll find a deep and dusty clutter of hand carved teak fragments from Java. It is almost like The feeling as a child going into a sweets shop where the eyes constantly dart from one item to another as each is more beautiful than the last.

In this case, the green caught my attention. But as my eyes settled, I noticed the framed reflection of stillness of the ricefields behind me.

Patina of Ubud (5)

oil pastel and coloured pencil, 19cmx21cm
Two hours in the Ubud Neka Art Museum gave me a good sense  of some of the traditional styles of painting through to the more contemporary. The gardens are lovely and more so with gentle sounds from a gamelan player. 

My favourite was the work of Arie Smit, a painter originally from The Netherlands whose work shows a love of colour and Bali, the place he came to live in. 

I took a leisurely 3 hour walk back to Oolong where I was staying. With it being so hot and the roads narrow and uneven, slow is a good pace. And besides, there’s so many things to see. For example, this place with its colours, motley assortment of basketware and the peeling layers of wall paint caught my attention.

Here’s a great article I just found on Arie Smit: Arie Smit Turns 99 And this is where I stayed: Bali T House Oolong

Daily rituals – Ubud (3)

oil pastel and coloured pencil, 19cmx21cm
I took a series of photos of little morning and late afternoon offerings. Some are very simple and others more elaborate. All are arranged with thought, a sense of beauty and intriguing to my unaccustomed eyes.

This one caught my eye, as it has a little addition to it that looks almost calligraphic.

Now back at home I want to find out what they are about. After a quick search, I liked wikipedia’s clear and simple explanation:

  • They are called ‘canang sari’ meaning canang (beautiful purpose and small palm-leaf tray) and sari (essence).
  • Each colour and their position has a specific Hindu related meaning.

‘Beautiful purpose’. I like that.

I also thought this Lesson in making a canang sari posted by Tricia Mitchellan is informative and with great visuals.

I find it interesting that there is such a habit where one takes the time to make such beautiful objects each day, allow them take their natural course – let animals and insects eat them, cars run over them, spoiling by the heat – only to clean up and start again.

Little visual reminders of how transitory our lives are.

Every day. Twice a day.

Patina of Ubud (2)

oil pastel and coloured pencil, 19cmx21cm
Patina has several meanings but the one I’m thinking about is ‘a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use’ (miriam-webster.com). The background of this picture has been inspired by a front entrance door put together by artist Stacey and carpenter Ulin from old pieces of carved teak wood he has sourced from Java. The three bowls? Traces of old beauty is everywhere in Ubud – temples and compound houses with their ornate shrines and pavillions.