My Little Bella Book

Autumn sun“Drawing is a very important way of thinking without words”…………… Antony Gormley

351 1 1It’s turning colder and there is nothing like autumn sun streaming through the window to warm the bones and that means my life model stays still for longer.  At times she lays on her back, stretched out and her belly turns a soft pink.

4 Every now and then during a drawing session she will fall into a deep sleep and I can see her twitch in her dreams.  It’s when this happens that I know I can grab my little orange book especially for these moments. I use my favourite Lyra colour-giant brown pencil.  bella2There are other times I draw her and use pens or whatever is handy but I like this little ritual.

I also like that the end of the pencil is a little chewed from leaving it behind.



Drawn Out

Tim Allen: Folded and Faulted Sediment III

Tim Allen: Folded and Faulted Sediment III

After the Bacon exhibition I went for a look at the Dobell Drawing Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.  This is the last Dobell Drawing Prize after 20 years and I was pretty sad about that.  It struck me that Bacon had no sketchbooks displayed in the exhibition and I was then curious about his habits and it appears most of his work went straight onto the canvas. I’m currently reading David Hockney’s biography A Rakes Progress whose drawing is such an important foundation of his work.  I remember being in awe of a simple line in his drawing that went from black to red so easily and obviously. Beautiful.

Graham Fransella: Figure and a Bell

Graham Fransella: Figure and a Bell

I remember seeing the Dobell prize for the first time and my excitement of drawing that I continue to have. I remember being obsessive, taking the sketchbook in the bath to draw the taps, taking it fishing to draw while the line was dangling, always at the beach and having a sketchbook especially for train trips small with an orange cover so I knew the difference.

I still have a sketchbook with me at most times but I don’t have that obsession anymore. I don’t know where I lost it but wish it was back. I love that feeling being lost in a drawing, starting small getting past that uncomfortable niggling feeling and then being swap away in the marks.  I still use drawing within my painting and don’t think I could ever use just paint, the brush handle is too distant from my finger tips.

Lloyd Rees Sketchbooks in the Art Gallery of NSW Collection - photo from Australian Drawings AGNSW

Lloyd Rees Sketchbooks in the Art Gallery of NSW Collection – photo from Australian Drawings AGNSW

Kevin Connor: Pyrmont and the City 1993 the first Dobell Prize Winner

Kevin Connor: Pyrmont and the City 1993 the first Dobell Prize Winner

The last exhibition for the Dobell was like saying goodbye to some old favourites and familiar names associated with drawing. The prize will be replaced with a drawing biennale which sounds exciting but a long time between drinks.

Sling-Shot Granny and Escaped Cockatoos

Black Red-Tailed Cockatoo

The baby bird sketchbook continues. I am slowly filling up this tiny book and the story of the daring escape of 2 red-tailed black cockatoos from Taronga Zoo in Sydney was just to tempting.

I hope they are safe and maybe if you check out my drawing of the cockatoo about to take flight you might recognize them and help them out.

My sketches are taken from a conglomeration of different old books that I have. Some are from memory and some are taken from recent travels to the Lewin exhibition where I fell in love once again with botanical drawings and paintings.

Collage and drawings


The colours of foliage were a particular influence from Lewin in these little works.









I can never resist an old bird book and these are 2 of my favourites. I can remember being in primary school and being a member of the John Gould League of Birdlovers.

My pre-occupation of birds perhaps comes from my somewhat scary grandmother who used to wield a slingshot and take out any fruit-eating birds in a single shot. Her protection of the quince trees was all-consuming.  Despite her loathing of fruit pinching feathered friends she did have a pet sea-gull that she named Biddy and could imitate the beautiful song of a Magpie. I was never sure if she was luring them for the wrong reasons as she also liked to partake of “wild” duck that she would hunt at the local lagoon.

Perhaps it’s this early generational bird decimation that has provoked my fascination for birds and my need to capture their vulnerability.

Meanwhile if you see those pair of red-tailed black cockatoos keep them safe from any sling-shot happy grannies.

How Much is that Doggie Quiz

So far in the How Much is that Doggie Quiz -Australia has it. No other countries have participated, funny considering I know how much the San Frannites love their poochies. (See my blog about the dog children of San Francisco).

So far we have one top dog with 100%. Well done! You know who you are and I don’t, so congrats and if you want to own up to your score feel free to let me know in the comments. I won’t judge.

If you feel you want to test your knowledge on arty dogs click here to take my quiz.

You can also try the other art quizzes. They are still all open and can find them in my Art Quiz Category. I post the answers later on or if you can’t wait just let me know.

The Dog Children of San Francisco

Brett Whiteley did the great dog pisses of Paris.  I realised sitting atop an open bus full of tourists that I was not seeing what they were.  Their cameras were poised at city highlights, landmarks but the fascination for me was in the amount of dogs, dedicated dog spaces and the accessorising of doggies.  I expected to return from the US full of inspiration and gusto to keep painting.  Instead I did these quick small watercolour studies.  I don’t know if they’re anything more than that -whether I will turn them inot paintings, maybe larger drawings with gouache or maybe just a recollection of that city at that point in time.  They don’t need to have a Golden Gate behind them, or a wharf full of seals in the distance.  I love doggies maybe that’s it.