Keeping up the habit (1)


I guess we all go through phases of unmotivation or uninspiration. Well. Ok, I’ll speak for myself. Sometimes everything looks a bit grey or ‘done that before’. A tiresome phase. 

But that’s when a bit of colouring-in helps keep the habit up. At least the hand is moving, the eyes are looking, searching.

Not sure when I did this ink drawing, but it now has colour. This very hardy plant is still out there on my balcony – taller, more shoots, very healthy. Just keeps growing. Don’t think it questions anything. It just is.


Book of little treasures

Came across a little concertina book tucked away in my bookshelf. From memory, I enjoyed doing these and especially where I get to the part of the drawing when the structure has been worked out and the tones just start to ‘pop out’ through darkening and also erasing.

It has been a while since I have done this kind of drawing – slow, intense looking and direct copying from nature.      

Queen of the night

Mum accidentally knocked this flower off its stem (leaf?) and put it into a small jar feeling rather apologetic that it had not yet bloomed.

Coming into the hallway after returning from a dinner, she noticed a strong yet delicate fragrance. Queen of the Night had opened up and beautifully. But, not for long. The next morning, it had returned to its closed and restive state.

Short-lived but worth appreciating.

The way of water

These Koh-i-noor watercolours are so boldly pigmented I find I want to knock the colour back a bit with white or black. I do like how quickly the brush loads up with colour and then off I go. No wishy washy colours. 

But the best part? Watching what watercolour does so beautifully – merging from one colour to the next, flowing with the direction of the water – here and there and oh, ooops there too.

A bit like staring at a lava lamp. Sort of.

Monsteria, a fern, two daisies, and an aloe

All are common houseplants or in my case, balcony plants. 

Common they may be, but as tools for practising the skills of seeing and drawing, they provide endless lessons in light, shape, line and a bit of making things up. On paper, it is also the easiest way of ‘moving’ plants around to form different arrangements. 

Oh…and I am still enjoying using kids textas.

For a short while (4)

I am a bit embarrassed to say that there could have been two cactii in this drawing. The other one lasted for a few months and got ‘thinner and thinner’ until it reduced to a piece of tiny prickly rubble. Methinks over watering was what ‘done it in’. Plants do it tough on my balcony.

The surviving cactus, as you can see, is flowering. Well, one flower. I find it amazing that a prickly round thing like this cactus can produce such a delicate, paper-thin looking flower. Just lovely.

The colour of spring (1)

With the chill in the air gone, clock to be set forward on hour for 7 months of longer daylight hours and all the pots of colour on the balcony it is definitely Spring. It is a pleasant time of the year.

By the way, in case you’ve not come across them, there is a series of BBC Art Documentaries available on YouTube – all in 15 minute segments for easier streaming. There’s a series on abstraction, drawing and ‘What artists do all day?’ profile of various artists. The one on ballerina Sylvia Guillem is wonderful. I have only just discovered them – what a treasure trove. 

Mmm…maybe a grey, cold wintery weekend wouldn’t be bad after all. Unlikely though, as we’re apparently in for 30+ degrees over this long weekend. Anyway, if you’re interested, just google BBC Art Documentaries YouTube. Enjoy.

Finishing the unfinished

Dawdling to draw this morning, I flipped through a sketchbook.

Mmm…a few unfinished drawings there. Can’t remember this one (top left) but I do remember buying a waratah to draw. This as subject matter, is very Margaret Preston. I see her hand coloured linocuts. Strongly drawn. Thick black outlines. Very Australian in what she chose to draw. I don’t know what mine is, but I felt like scribbling with coloured pencils, erasing, then scribbling back over the top. Oh well, at least it is finished now – for want of a better purpose!

Homage to Van Gogh (2)

I really like Van Gogh’s ink drawing of Garden of the hospital in Arles (1888). 

To spend a little time appreciating this work, I copied some of his marks. It is all lines, dots, curves. And with that, he has created a wonderfully rich shorthand depiction of this garden. The overall scene is serene and yet his marks are very energetic.

The drawing is 45.5 x 59 cm. To me, that is alot of marks to be making. For me, on a much smaller 14 x 20 cm page, it felt an an effort to draw in this way – having to create varied shapes, negative-positive shapes, dark to light, detailed shapes versus overall shape. In his work though, I get the sense, these marks just ‘flowed’ from his pen. Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know.

I then happened upon his painting version of the drawing and was very surprised to find that his brush strokes are the same or similar to his drawn marks. I have not compared his drawings with his paintings before and never noticed.

And then, I came across a blog post, Making a mark: Van Gogh: Drawing media and techniques which explained my surprise. Don’t you love discovery learning? I do.

And so it is…to learn from walking in the footsteps of someone with a gift that continues to amaze. Thank you.


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.