Sunday, April 27, 2014

Maplewood Farm

This lovely cow stayed relatively still while I sketched her. The sheep on the other hand……not so much. I rediscovered how an iffy sketch can come to life with a dab or two of watercolour. I had fun at Maplewood farm, watching tiny children frolic and speak to their tiny animal kindred spirits. "Baa, maaa, mooo. Spring at the farm is a study in babies of all species. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Coffee Morning and a Rogue Parsnip

View from Waves

Here is the view from Waves as we sit and relax on a Saturday morning. I'm not a big fan of hanging around in coffee shops, mostly because I don't drink coffee and have other things I'd rather be doing than reading the newspaper. But illustrated journaling is the perfect thing for coffee shops, especially when the weather is still a bit cool for outdoor sketching. (I am a ninny!) It is nice to get a seat near the window.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Catching a Glimpse: The Power of Shapes, Lights and Darks

Traffic Cop in Shanghai

Let's be honest. This is a pretty terrible painting. But that is not the point. The process of learning to paint is about trying things, perfecting those things and then pushing past the comfort of a "good" painting towards the next challenge. I'm no great artists, but I have been getting much better at pen drawings and watercolour washes. I call it illustrated journaling. 

But then I see the work of artists like Joseph Zbukvic, Herman Pekel and particularly Alvaro Castagnet and I wonder how the heck they paint like they do. I came across their absolutely crazy YouTube video, with all three of these guys painting on a huge piece of paper at the same time. ( Seeing that made me want to try their fast and loose style for myself. More honesty. These guys are brilliant and have really paid their dues. They have mastered their chops and can paint like the devil. That said, I thought I'd have a go.

In spite of the shortcomings, I got really excited about the car and the traffic cop in my painting. I caught a glimpse of how to capture the essence of shapes without trying to actually paint the details. And I can see the punch of leaving white spaces. So back to the painting desk for more experiments.

Cookies and Multitasking

Chocolate Chip Cookie
I've been taking an online course called Sketchbook Skool. Every week for six weeks, a different teacher posts lessons, videos and inspiration about the daily practice of keeping an illustrated journal. I've been following Danny Gregory's blog and books for a few years, so when he offered this course with Koosje Koene, I was super keen. We are three weeks into the class and it has been inspirational and motivating, as promised. I've been making an effort not to follow the posts and comments of the other students too closely though because I could spend my entire time perusing the musings of the 1400 other students. Yikes.

So in the spirit of spontaneous and quick sketches, I painted this cookie on the cooling rack. I was also cooking dinner at the time. The painting turned out well. The dinner……..was rather too well done =:O

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fake Journalling and Mentors

Hidden Alley Off Dong Tai Lu, Shanghai
Roz Stendall is a fabulous artist whose blog I have been following for a while. ( The two words I would use to describe her are zany and prolific. Every April, she launches her International Fake Journal Month (IFJM) project. It is basically an excuse to step outside of yourself, possibly take on a different persona and try things in your journal that you might not otherwise do. Here is a link if you are curious. (

 I have had an expensive, large format journal that I have been waffling over and basically not using. I have also been pouring over the work of my favourite German illustrator, Felix Scheinberger ( and marvelling at his evocative and fluid watercolour and pen sketches. So in the spirit of International Fake Journal Month, I have created a persona for myself in the form of Werner, the German Illustrator. I am using a really big format and trying to work fast and messy. Another great aspect of Felix's work is that he does not paint every part of a drawing, often just using colour where he wants to draw the viewers attention. He is great at using dark paint to create depth and letting wild colours flow in other parts of the drawing. Finally, Werner never writes or journals on his paintings. This is because, I am trying to be true to this year's theme for IFJM, which is "No Explanation". Ironically, this whole blog entry breaks that "rule" but, heck, it is Werner's journal. I don't think he even knows about Roz. This is all getting a bit too contorted. Time to go and paint…. right Werner?

Snagglepuss of Wires and Lone Tree, Shanghai