The Creative Plan – Patterns


I’ve never really been into pattern/shape making. It’s something I would only subconsciously do when I’m in a meeting or on hold wth customer service purely to stop me from falling asleep.

Don’t get me wrong, patterns are cool. I love patterned fabric and am envoius of designers who can balance multiple shapes as well as colours. So I was very keen to start today’s exercises. They were still just black & white tasks in pencil but for someone like me who can’t work with more tha n3 colours it was a good baby step.



Prepared grid

I started off small and randomly coloured in triangles of 3 different tonal values, so a set of four boxes would contain two lots of white, ligh, mid and dark triangles. I didn’t worry about the order or alignment of the tones, just let it happen instinctively. I don’t evem know why I chose triangles either.

I did fall into a few traps where I was building up too many dark triangles in one area because I wasnt thinking ahead, but as a whole it doesn’t look too bad. Keeping it to only four shades gave it some consistency and flow when it was lacking in other factors.

Exercise_1_D3_geometric_grid_AThe second one was a repeated tonal pattern built over a sequence of eight squares. I was a lot more thoughtful in the balancing of the different tones and no surprise the result has more fluidity.

For instance, comparing the two, when reading them from top to bottom, your eyes flow more smoothly over Example B. But I do like the scatter gun energy of Example A. B is graceful and harmonious, A is spontaneous and unconvential.


I tried to just do square patterns but it wasn’t giving me enough complexity. I did find myself trying to balance it out symmetrically, despite not having a game  plan other than not to overwork it…which probably should have happened a tad earlier.


I left out shading and focussed on solid squares. The intention was for it to be symmetrical but perhaps my creative subconscious isn’t inclined that way as I lost it in the middle.


Image sourced from the Australian Museum

When I first came across zentangle artwork online my immediate reaction was that this is just doodle drawing, the way a kid decorates their school books with, something with no thought process behind it. However, in the hands of the right creative thinking it can become something really exquisite and beautiful. I’m in awe with the amount of detail, thought and effort that goes into building one.Exercise_2_D3_zentangle

option for another


However, I don’t think its my cup of tea. Although I’m happy with my first attempt at a zentangle I struggled trying to come up with pattern after pattern after pattern, while also being conscious that my choices must work within the shape and size of the area. I really didnt enjoy this at all.Exercise_3_D3_header


I started late today and only had time to create three, so I kind of merged some of the options into one. Tiled pattern design is also something I’ve never attempted before. I learnt how to sew last year so it has made me more aware of fabric patterns and it’s rules of design.

This exercise wasn’t really about that though as it would require more than just an afternoon to dissect what makes a good pattern design. It was merely a framework for me to structure an exercise that featured repeated patterns.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_geometric_1Example 1: In keeping with today’s theme I stayed with the geometric pattern approach. I didn’t use rulers or elipses, etc. (except for the base grid) so none of the shapes or spacing are accurate. Again, I applied a similar tactic to my very first exercise where all the tones are randomly chosen. For me it lacks spark and character.


After I scanned everything in, I quickly tiled my pattern to see what it would look like repeated. This might work better if it was balanced out with say, one larger flower device or a reversed block. But again, it’s not the point of this exercise.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_line_1Example 2: When I created these exercises it was some time ago so I can’t quite remember what my intention was. I dont believe I was to take the line pattern example so figuratively but after a day of drawing and colouring in squares and triangles, I needed to draw something more substantial! It’s a mix of No. 3 and 5.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_line_pattern_1I kept with the floral theme primarily because as the day wears on, it’s so easy to get hit with creative block. Time can be wasted having to come up with ideas just to carry out these tasks ‘What should I draw? No, that’s too hard. No, that’s too easy.’  By having prepared themes, images, templates or even props there’s less disruption with my creative process.


Example 3: This was a combination of the last three. I return to patterned shapes, but as you can see in the centre I lost count and got quite confused with all my overlapping petals. However, I do like the feel to this one. It’s very sensous and delicate.



Although it’s my first attempt at creating with patterns and geometric shapes I’m feeling it’s not my thing. It doesn’t seem to engage my mind enough. A lot of it felt more about keeping between the lines.

Your_thoughts_post_itThe constant need to create new shapes or patterns along with making sure my ‘colouring-in’ never clashed with other sections was sapping all my creative energy. At no point did it feel instinctive. However, I will endeavour to try again, there is definitely the possiblity that I didnt push myself further enough with it. I do love the works of Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee, both of whom did inspire this whole day initially.Quite possibly when I start using different mediums it may reveal more.


Hey St Peters!

Who likes storage containers?! I’m not talking about any Scandinavian interlocking eco-friendly pantry organisers. I’m talking about the big mac of storage containers, like so…


You know you are an artist when an industrial site gets you excited. So on a cool winter’s day I met up with the Sydney Sketch Group in St Peter’s, an inner city suburb that is round the corner from Sydney International Airport, hence the storage facilities nearby.

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Artline pen and waterbrush pen

This particular area is pretty much boxed in by highways or main roads but our club organiser found these little lanes behind a pub that gave us some great views, and room to set up comfortably without inhaling petrol fumes!


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4B graphite pencil


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4B graphite pencil and Artline pens

CNY 2017

Chinese New Year came a lot earlier this year as it follows the lunar cycle rather than a set calendar date. I missed most of our lion dance performances this season so only did Friday and the weekend but that was exhausting enough! Usually I feel this tired after doing 2 weeks worth, not three days – I must be getting old.

I’ve written (plus sketched) in more detail in previous posts about what lion dancing is so if you would like to check them out please click on these links 2014, 2016.

Supplies – graphite pencil and inktense pencils

Lion dancing is always on the move – not just the performances themselves. We cover so much of Sydney and constantly broken up into teams that at anytime we could be sent off in different directions. So everything we need is carted around with us.

Unloading – 6B Pencil
Outside Star City – 7B pencil
Waiting for a car space – 6B pencil

It can also make parking an issue. This sketch was done at the Marigold restaurant in Chinatown. It’s four levels up with a very small ground level and basement carpark. Despite the number of years we have been booked here they still never leave car spaces for us. There is this constant ritual of having to negotiate space so we can unpack.

Macquarie Centre loading dock – 6B pencil

When we do shopping centres some at least allow us to use their loading docks.

Raise a glass

6B Pencil
6B Pencil

During this period large Chinese restauarants offer banquet deals – you book a table and they serve you a set menu with a lion dance included. Its such a celebrated event that in some restaurants its become more of a spectacle. When the lion dance starts it gives everyone the licence to go mad.



6B Pencil

Traditionally what happens is a table will offer the lion a red packet of money. The lion will come over to their table and collect it in its mouth. Many people place their red packet on a cup of tea or a glass of wine or beer with the intention that the lion also shares a drink with them, like spreading good cheer amongst the table.

Some like to take it to another level and cheekily stack the red packet on a tower of wine glasses, beer bottles, saucers, cups, bowls or teapots. The idea is that the lion “swallows” the entire tower and when its finished pulls away to reveal a different combination of cups and so on. Occasionally they are a little too high, or the lion head is a little too drunk (can happen) that it all comes crashing down. Thankfully the atmosphere is so lively and jubilant even the managers aren’t upset with the mess and damage. Though not so pleasant when the lion reverses into a chandelier or expensive light fitting.



Image courtesy of JWK LionDance Assoc

At the Marigold there is a low stage at one end where we set up the drummer and cymbal players. We also pop colourful paper confetti that makes the kids go crazy. They flock to the stage and collect it handfuls. Basically once they’re on the stage they don’t leave and jump and dance around.cny_2017_006_LR.jpg


A couple of little girls watched me draw, almost sitting right on top of me. As I was doing this sketch below, I hadn’t drawn the faces in yet as the drummer and cymbal players swapped with new people halfway through my drawing. They were completely different sizes or stood differently so it threw me a little. One of the girls asked me to finish the face of the cymbal player [left hand side] which was completely blank. I just drew in his glasses and left it, but she wasn’t satisfied so she took my pencil and drew in the eyeballs for me. They were so good I decided to leave them in – she drew with the book upside down too you know!

7B Pencil and Inktense pencils

Chinese New Year is all about family, and we are seeing a young generation of lion dancers taking shape with my friend’s kids. cny_2017_009_lr

6B Pencil

Lion Frenzy

It’s amazing how fanatical people get over the lion, especially the Chinese. I suppose because I am a part of it I have a different perspective. There is no other way to describe it than they just go apeshit for lion. I apologise for my language but you watch mature well respected or at least mild mannered adults go manic over a lion, like Beatlemania or Beliebers. So when there is more than one in a room its a lion frenzy.

7B Pencil and Inktense pencils
6B pencil with inktense pencils

Later that night we performed at Sze Yup Temple in Glebe, one of the oldest Chinese temples in Sydney and still visited frequently by the Chinese community. During this period it is incredibly busy and on the eve of  the New Year it’s standing room only. The dragon dance performed by another group had already finished. This temple has a very small forecourt and dragon dances need some decent floorspace so I don’t know how they managed.


Even before we started the crowds already encircled us, they crept closer and closer like sharks around prey. Not only was it tight on the ground the air above was thick with burning incense or joss sticks both in and outside the temple.

It burns!

6B pencil
Sze Yup Temple 2015 – Photo courtesy of JWK Lion Dance Assoc.
6B Pencil

One worker who was dressed more like a hazchem cleaner would push his way out of the temple every ten minutes with a bucket loaded with lit joss sticks and candles because they were overwhelming the small urns inside. Only inches from your head were handfuls of lit joss sticks clutched in people’s hands as they pushed past to make their prayers. That’s why I drew this picture, it reminded me of a torch relay but one that stings your eyes from all the ashes.

Your typical day



Flemington Markets – 6B pencil with Inkense pencils
Flemington Markets – 6B Pencil with Inktense pencils

The next day I was out and about covering a whole lot of Sydney. That’s probably the most exhausting part to this side of lion dancing – the amount of travelling that happens from morning to midnight.

For the papers, Macquarie Centre – 6B pencil
Waiting at Blacktown – Inktense pencils

The only time I get to chill is when the others perform the lion dance poles – heartstopping, dramatic, highly skilled and disciplined moves. Admittedly I have drawn them jump before so gesturally I already know the most dynamic moments to draw. So even if I can only capture a fraction of it, I can, to some degree, fill in the rest of the sketch based on what I know and have drawn before.

Market City – 6B Pencils with Inktense pencils


Market City – Inktense pencils

Happy New Year folks, hope its a great one!

Hidden in Rookwood

Sydney Sketch Club organised a meet up for the annual Hidden Walk art exhibition at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. Thankfully it was only in a small section of the grounds as it is one large mother of a cemetery. This is my third or fourth sketching venture to a cemetery so won’t bore you with the reasons why I enjoy them so much. But if you would like to see and read some of my past trips to them please click on this link.

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Katana, Bushido Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria

One thing I did aim to do this time was to work solely with graphite pencils and a rubber/eraser. I liked the results of my Bushido series (shown above)  drawn when I went to Melbourne a few months ago (click here for link) and wanted to revisit that technique. So I took the below equipment with me. I’m not sure how I ended up with so many of the same pencil and pencil grade but it proved quite useful.SSC Rookwood Hidden equip LR

They were mostly 3B and 4B pencils which meant that only after a few seconds of sketching the sharpness of the soft lead point would disappear, and you can lose your momentum having to re-sharpen the same pencil over and over again. What I do is sharpen them all before I start and lay them out next to me. As soon as one goes blunt I pick up a sharp one and continue.

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Mind you my first drawing of the day is always the least successful (image above). It’s like what they say about making pancakes – the first one is always the “throw away” and the rest get better after that. The next three drawings show artwork installation from the exhibition.

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The rest are just wandering around the older parts of Rookwood. Its early spring in Australia so all the overgrowth is in full bloom.
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This next one I attempted to use some of my inktense pencils. I’m not sure if I like it or not. I don’t know if it adds anything extra being there. I will have to make a few more attempts next time.SSC Rookwood Hidden7 LR

This last one is my favourite of the day because I treated it more as a completed composition rather than just sketching what I see and then “finishing” it off. So I was very conscious of it working as a whole from start to finish.SSC Rookwood Hidden8LR

Thanks for stopping by.

Tricky insects

dip pen and ink
dip pen and ink

One afternoon I felt like doing some drawing. I do a bit on a regular basis but they are always project-based and at different stages requiring thought and patience. So after some “serious” art I wanted to splash out and have some expressive fun. A few months ago I came across a link to the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab flickr site, which displays amazing photos mostly taken by Sam Droege. Apart from being phenomenal images, I immediately thought they would be great reference material to draw from – so much wonderful linework, texture, shapes, detail, etc.


Watercolours, dip pen and ink
Watercolours, dip pen and ink


4b pencil and eraser
4b pencil and eraser

So I highly recommend a visit to this site and even if you aren’t interested in drawing them they are well worth viewing.


A rainy weekend full of sunshine

Japanese sumi watercolours and brushes
Japanese sumi watercolours and brushes

Two years ago I started to meet up regularly with three of my sketching friends to work on our Sketchbook Projects. We enjoyed the catch ups so much that after the project was over we decided to continue the drawing sessions but work on our own projects. We sketch, eat and chat (not necessarily in that order) for most of a day once a month.

All systems go - only four of the smaller bags were our clothes.
All systems go – only four of the smaller bags were our clothes.

A topic that always seemed to pop up in our conversations was how we have all bought, or been given, art supplies and never have the chance to try them out. Or how we would like to try out different styles or approaches that we don’t normally sketch with.

So I came up with an idea of the four of us heading off somewhere for a weekend and spend the whole time trying out and experimenting with a lot of the art supplies we own, and more importantly, to do something different. That was the paramount objective. The golden rule was to NOT use what we normally sketch or paint with, or in the style we always use. However, there were no rules on how you used the new mediums or what you drew.

Packed and... un packed
Packed and… un packed

We booked a “summer” house up in the Blue Mountains, 90 minutes out of Sydney. It was listed to be able to accommodate up to 8 people, but with all our equipment it was just enough space. Although this area is a wonderful and popular tourist location, we banned any sight-seeing, eating out and scenic drives and closed the doors for much creative art-making.

and this stuff.
and this stuff.

When we unpacked all the supplies it was quite intimidating at first but as we tested out some things that night, so we were able to go to bed with some plan of attack for the next day.

Bring it on

After a brisk morning walk we got stuck into it. We eased in with a 10 minute warm up where we all grabbed three different mediums and drew a picture. Then it was all systems go and nobody needed any prompting for the next one, or the next, or the next.

Because we only had one full day of art we even minimised time spent making lunch and dinner, by having a cold antipasto buffet for lunch where everyone could pick and eat as they worked, and for dinner we let the oven do all the cooking and popped a lamb roast and vegges in the oven. The dinner table was covered more with paint brushes and paints than cutlery and plates the whole day.

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My 10 min starter featuring our fifth adventurer we dubbed as “Numb”.

Collage and mixed media is something I dont dabble in a lot. It requires patience, and cupboard space to collect just too many things to make up these pictures. Although it was fun, and I could do it every now and then, I didn’t find it as satisfying as drawing or painting a picture. Its more about cutting, gluing, sponging and so on.

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Getting stuck into it
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The finished piece
Another one I did using old Chinese prayer books, red packets, gouache, indian ink and a gold oil pastel
Another one I did using old Chinese prayer books, red packets, gouache, indian ink and a gold oil pastel on the back of a cereal box.

I’ve been clearing out the family home and I found a box full of old Gestetner carbon paper. My mum used to work as a school assistant and when I was growing up, this stuff was used to reproduce work stencils and school newsletters. I think most from my generation, and past ones, will remember this stuff quite fondly. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here.

Gestetner paper
Gestetner paper

Anyway, the carbon still worked well and we started to experiment with it. Another thing that was quite exciting about it was when you applied water to your finished drawing, the purple coloured exploded everywhere and gave an interesting bleed to your linework.

I placed my drawing paper inbetween
I placed my drawing paper inbetween
Typically you would use a hard pen/biro to write on it or typewriter. But I found a 4B pencil gave a great result.
Typically you would use a hard pen/biro to write on it or a typewriter. But I found a 4B pencil gave a great result.
The "carbon" copy
The “carbon” copy
i added copy to give it texture
i added copy to give it texture

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I then washed water over the background and used watercolours on the centre object.
I then washed water over the background and used watercolours on the centre object.
My mixed media piece using gestetner paper, blue biro pen, water soluble crayons and drawn on cut out pages from a second-hand story books.
My mixed media piece using gestetner paper, blue biro pen, water soluble crayons and an old writing pad.

I tried using some of the plastic stencils with acrylic paints. These were fun but I think it takes a bit of trialling to get it to do what you want it to do.

Acrylic paints and stencils
Acrylic paints and stencils on a vintage cash book

All of us had our own objectives to achieve this weekend. Mine was to try and put more “interest” in my pictures. What I mean is to give it more direction and more contrast, whether it is through light/shade, busy/quiet, loose/tight. While the others wanted to loosen up and be more expressive, I wanted to reign that looseness in and find that balance between drawing purely with instinct and executing some discpline.

First layer was using Derwent XL Charcoal that is water soluble.
First layer was using Derwent XL Charcoal & Graphite that is water soluble which I wetted with a short-hair dry brush
Then I went over it with Derwent Inktense pencils, and used a dry brush to paint with.
Then I went over it with Derwent Inktense pencils and continued with the dry brush.
Finished piece - after several layers
Finished piece – after several layers or inktense pencils

I was quite happy in the end. My goal was to lead the eye around the page through the dark blue shadows under the waves and rock, so that your eyes are moving in a continuous spiral.

Then a straight up acrylic paint picture and I kept my palette down to three colours. I also tried not to mix the colours too much beforehand, but rather let them mix on the paper. The key in this picture was to use the black sparingly, keep it “unblemished” and hoped that it tied the whole picture together. I also wanted to created balance between the flat surfaces and the textured areas.

Acrylic paint on paper

My next one was from photos I took of some old building blocks. Initially I wanted to play around with the strong lighting and shapes. So I used another water soluble medium, and wanted to spread the colour with my old Letraset markers I used to use for storyboarding. But they were sooooo dry I couldn’t barely colour in one side of a block. Thus, I lost track of what I wanted to accomplish in my attempt to get some ink out of these pens. I will say this, they didnt get re-packed for the trip home!

Started off with
Started off with Portfolio 24 Water Soluble Oil Pastels – a very smooth flowing medium

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At the beginning of my attempt to use half-dried Letraset markers
At the beginning of my attempt to use half-dried Letraset markers
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The finished piece

For the last one of the weekend I wanted to apply this new approach to materials I DO use all the time (ok I broke the house rules), but I really wanted to exercise some discipline with my splashes of colour and free flowing lines so that it had quieter spaces and points of interest.

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Inktense and watercolours
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colour inks with dip pen and more watercolours
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and… a bit more of the same

It was a great weekend, and for anybody else who might have spent the weekend in the Blue Mountains, the unrelenting cold rain, hail and mist (in spring!) would have ruined their time away. But for us it was the perfect weather for staying in and being creative.

Below are some of the results from my friends. If you would like to see more of their stuff, please click on their names below.



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kaz e dru

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Abu Dhabi Do!

Me drawing a very willing 4WD driver out in the desert. Photo courtesy of Heidi Yuko Lincoln.

In February I was given the exciting opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to play with TaikOz. A huge honour, considering I’m not one of their more dedicated students. It was a unique advenutre and a bit of an insight into the life of a professional touring musician, and it was to a part of the world I’m not sure I would have visited in my own time.

So I hope you enjoy my sketchbook slideshow of my time in Abu Dhabi. Please click on any image for a larger view.

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1 Taikoz UAE Syd Airport LR
Sydney Airport – watercolours and artline
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Dinner and a movie – watercolours and artline
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Arriving at Abu Dhabi airport – – watercolours and artline

There was plenty of time waiting in our portable dressing room, so I’m thankful I brought along my sketchbook. Most of these sketches were done during this period – waiting to do a rehearsal or sound check, waiting to go on, waiting to go to lunch, waiting for the bus to take us back to the hotel. There weren’t any windows looking out onto anything either, so all my inspiration came from within the room.

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Ten minutes to dress rehearsals – watercolours and artline
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Our happy Hanten coats hanging out – watercolours and artline
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Curious onlookers from the dressing room next door – watercolours and artline
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Early morning breakfast box – inktense pencils
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The 12 faces of my breakfast apple – inktense pencils and artline pen
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Yet another rehearsal call – artline pen
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Colourful dengaku okedos (roped drums) – inktense pencils and watercolours
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The youngest member of our tour group – inktense pencil
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My clean white tabi (ankle sock shoes) on the first day and last day of performances – watercolours and artline

We had afternoons and evenings free so we managed to do some sightseeing and shopping whenever we could.

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Central Souk Market – watercolours and artline
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The Grand Mosque – watercolours and artline
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The Grand Mosque – watercolours and artline
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The Grand Mosque – watercolours and artline

I found the Mosque to be one of the more visually appealing and challenging sights for me. Because of its clean white exteriors the light reflections, especially as the sun set, was quite interesting. So I stayed to try and capture the sunset, and made a second visit to capture it at night. These were done with watercolour/brush and ink/dip pen.

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We had most of one day to ourselves so we headed off to do a 4WD Safari.

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Camels – watercolours and artline pen
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Rasheed – dip pen and ink
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Bellydancing under the stars – inktense pencils

An international security and defence expo was on at the Exhibition Centre.

Ready and waiting - watercolours and artline
Ready and waiting – watercolours and artline
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Old and new parked on either side of the motorway – watercolours and artline
Military manoeuvres - watercolours and artline
Military manoeuvres – watercolours and artline
UAE Defence force were obliging and posed for me - artline pen
UAE Defence force were obliging and posed for me – artline pen

The last day before we hit the malls, I did some sketching around Emirates Palace.

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A typical sight in AD, cranes and construction – inktense pencils
Etihad Towers and a work in progress gold tower - watercolours and artline
Etihad Towers and a work in progress gold tower – watercolours and artline
Emirates Palace at night - watercolours and artline
Emirates Palace at night – watercolours and artline

And back home… sorting out the souvenirs from the shopping.

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Watercolours and artline

Sydney Open Day

The Historic Houses Trust of NSW ran a “long” weekend event called Sydney Open. With the co-operation of several private and public buildings in the city centre they opened their doors to the general public for a look round. It was a drawing opportunity I could not miss, so went along Friday night with the Sydney Sketch Club and on my own Sunday. There was something like 32 buildings in all open on Sunday, but as I wanted to spend some time drawing I only visited four. I probably could have fit a fifth one in but I was exhausted and found myself standing very close to a bus stop home.

I wasn’t sure of what I was allowed to use in these buildings or how crowded it would be, so I opted for pencil and a very tiny travel watercolour set, very minimal. After all my architectural studies I tried to keep two things in mind for all these sketches: 1. spend some time looking before I start; and 2. make more of an effort to create spatial difference. For a closer look at my sketches please click on the image.

I was quite happy with the Level 7 paint sketch. The view was quite high so I wanted to capture the distance between myself and the scene below. I also wanted to show the distance between the trees and the park benches, and the cityscape sitting behind the cathedral but without it crowding the church spiers. It was all to do with subduing the colour palette in the park and the cityscape (distant images) and painting it more like a wash. The sun was setting very fast so the colours and lighting kept changing. But I think the intense blue colour links the whole scene together and helps create that space I was after.

Waiting in line at St James Church

My next stop was St James church, it was All Saints Day so there was a service on before we could head in. One great thing about being a sketcher is waiting in line is merely another opportunity to sketch.

Inside St James Church

The church was designed by Francis Greenway. He was an Englishman born into a family of architects and builders in the early 1800s. He was sent to Australia as a prisoner for forging documents but managed to by-pass his prison term and served as a civil engineer and architect. He is responsible for several government and public buildings in Sydney that are still in use today. He even appeared on our old $10 note. Nice to know some crooks get a second chance.

It was an unusual church interior for me. It didnt have the typical crucifix-shaped plan with shadowy corners and aisles that I’m use to, but was instead one really long room. For me the most striking thing was the gallery as shown above on the left page. Which I was told by a fellow sketch clubber that Greenway didn’t design (oops, sorry Frankie). On the right I attempted a semi-continuous line of the organ. It looked quite cool but then I added colour and made it too busy.

Sydney Theatre Company

On Sunday I started the big day out at the Sydney Theatre Company. I was early and they were late opening up so I painted a few little thumbnails and sat patiently in the foyer till I could go exploring.

Left - Sydney Theatre Company. Right - Royal Automative Club of Australia
Left – Sydney Theatre Company. Right – Royal Automative Club of Australia

I went back to my normal habit of painting the background colour first then the linework (I used W&N watercolours and a Faber-Castell Pitt pen). But today once I finished the pen work I went over it again with colour, more particularly the darker tones. Once the paper had dried by adding the darker hues again, and with less water added to my brush, it gave the pictures more depth and a finish to them.

City of Sydney Fire Station

I was really happy with this fire station drawing. I’m not a big fan of drawing vehicles as I haven’t quite worked out their skeletal structure. But for me it was the challenge of spatial depth – particularly the yellow trucks parked further in from the red truck. Again it was down to all the things I mentioned earlier, but I also think having a small colour pallete unified the picture. I only had one blue and one yellow in my palette so mixing it with the other colours created an overall harmony through the picture.

The Great Synagogue of Sydney

All vistors had to check their bags outside before entering so I just took a pencil, my sharpener and book with me. Here was a challenge of capturing a scene that was so intricate with architectural detail but still had a sense of space and airiness. So again I tried to manage the attention to detail and shading so that it helped achieved that feeling.

All in all today was very satisfying. Sadly, this event only occurs once every two years. But I did find out some venues are open to the public most days. Oh and I love this new sketchbook (Hahnemühle Sketch Book). I normally use looseleaf paper, primarily because sketchbooks don’t like colour inks and dip pens. But a larger format sketchbook was great. It may be a little cumbersome for some, but for those of you who like sketchbooks do try one at a larger size every now and then. There’s more elbow space and room to explore with a big size.


It’s Easy As…

I’ve created a couple of new pages showcasing all the materials I use as well as my own personal tips on how to handle them or how I use them. I dont have any professional background when I offer this advice, it’s garnered from regular use and a lot of jumping in the deep end but I hope it helps. I would also love other people’s feedback on anything listed below.


My new love. Using colour inks is like moving into a new house. It’s all very exciting in the beginning – new scenery, new thoughts but mostly unexplored and you’re not quite settled in. Some things are still in boxes and only the necessities have been unpacked.

My drawing style is a bit out there, but as far as exploring what these inks and other kinds of colour inks can do I still haven’t breached the surface. I have no idea what the difference is between my Winsor & Newton drawing inks and Acrylic inks, so if anyone has any info to share that would be great. Click here to read my review on colour inks.


People familiar with my old blog will have seen my extensive use of Indian ink and dip pen. It’s still a favourite and I will continue to push it to its limits, despite the mess! Click here to read my review on Indian ink and dip pens.


Not a medium I use a lot, but when I see objects sitting in natural light, my first thought is “That would look great in pencil”. I recently did a small drawing using a rubber or eraser as part of the drawing process. I quite liked it and will explore that technique more one day. Click here to read my review on graphite pencils.


Another new medium that has great colour intensity. I love its saturation. It reminds me of those picture books where all you had to do was add water with a brush and the colours would appear. Of course the paper was terrible and by the time you finished “painting” a page it looked more like a swimming pool. But it was always exciting to see colours appear from nothing just by adding water. And Inktense pencils are the same – I cant wait to add the water to see how it all comes together. Click here to read my review on Inktense pencils.


Watercolours have become my salt and pepper, I add it to almost everything. Especially my half pan palette. As much as I love using watercolours, I think it’s more the format which makes it so handy. You can add colour quickly to a sketch, or paint up a last minute birthday card. If you have a travel palette small enough you can even sneak into a museum or gallery. Click here to read my review on watercolours.


Not sure if that’s what you call them these days. But I always make sure I have a handful of fresh pens around to use. When I use to work in a design studio I hated it when the “suits” wanted to use these pens to write with. They were under the false impression that it made their writing neater – WRONG! They were so heavy handed with them that they would push the nib into the metal bit and ruin a perfectly good pen. Bloody suits! Click here to read my review on pens.

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