The great little town of Bangalow, NSW

I’ve just returned from attending a stunning wedding in Byron Bay, NSW.  I stayed in the quaint little town of Bangalow.  The main street is lined with awesome shops that have unique items for sale, unlike the chain store items that you see everywhere.

Bangalow shops
The main street in Bangalow

Bangalow has carefully furnished and designed coffee shops.  I like cafes that take you to a different place, where the surroundings gently move you into the relax space and frame of mind, cafes that aren’t shouting commercialism, noise and customer high turnover as a priority.  Lunch at “Woods, Get Forked and Fly”, with a happy, all female staff that were singing along to the music while preparing food, was fun and yummy.

Bangalow Woods
a great little cafe right beside a great little gallery in Bangalow

We passed by the A & I Hall, with pressed tin lining the walls inside, and it just so happened that the community was putting on “Chicago”.  A couple young girls were rehearsing their dance moves on the front deck of the hall.  There was such a nice community buzz around.

Bangalow A&I Hall
Chicago was a sold out community event

When it rained, I tried my hand at urban sketching again.  I sketched the two buildings I could see out my window, the Anglican church and the little police station.



Bangalow Police station
Bangalow, NSW Police station 
sketch book
The sketch book with different coloured pages that I used in Bangalow.  Not ideal for watercolour but… it worked

I thoroughly enjoyed this little town and I feel like I haven’t finished exploring it.  Bangalow, I hope to see you again soon!


Reflecting upon Inktober 2017

With Inktober 2017 done and dusted, I would like to reflect upon what I believe were the benefits from this experience for me.  Last year, it was easily identifiable, the discovery of platypus drawing .  This year, the positives are not as discernible, but with a little reflection I have been able to tease some out:

  1. My drawing confidence has grown.  I find drawing things to look 3-D on a 2-D plane challenging, and I think I’ve improved with all this daily practice via the Inktober challenge platform.
  2. My enjoyment of drawing with just a black Artline pen has increased.
  3. Creating tones with a black Artline pen has improved (less is more) and this developed skill has carried over into my urban sketching.
  4. I think that there has also been a tiny bit of improvement with speed and looseness.

Here are all my Inktober 2017 drawings.  Which one is your favourite?

My favourite is the hare.  I like this one best for several reasons.  I drew it when I was seriously contemplating throwing in the towel.  I drew the hare’s head and thought, “I don’t want to do Inktober anymore”, but I pushed myself to finish it off, so I drew the body really quickly.  I’m pleased with how quickly I drew this picture, the less is more concept, the suggestions drawn for the body and hence the less detailed body directs your eye to focus on the hare’s head.

My favourite Inktober drawing

I wonder what Inktober 2018 will bring???

Thanks for visiting.

With paint

Added some paint to yesterday’s sketch of 119 Macquarie Street.

119 Macquarie St paint
119 Macquarie Street’s tower, Hobart, Tasmania

I’d like to sit in the same spot and try to draw this building again.  Hopefully I’ll have more stamina and get more of the building down on paper.

Thanks for visiting.

119 Macquarie Street, Hobart

This morning, my friend and I attempted to sketch 119 Macquarie Street.  We set up at Franklin Square.  There are so many awesome buildings to sketch from this vantage point.

I thought I would try a more sketchy style, which has somewhat developed during the Inktober Challenge, hoping that it would maybe help speed up my sketching rather than my usual line drawing approach.  It didn’t.  I so admire people that can get a lot down on paper in a short time, including close to accurate volumes and angles.  I can now see what went wrong on the right side of the drawing, but after the fact is a little late.  I suppose with lots and lots of practice I will get closer to achieving speed and accuracy.

119Macquarie Stsketch
 The bottom half of the paper shows that I had every intention of drawing the whole building, but after about an hour, sitting on a hard surface, my bottom was getting sore and I had enough.  We packed up and enjoyed a cup of coffee in a trendy cafe. 
119 Macquarie St
The whole 119 Macquarie Street building

This is my line drawing style/attempt of the Town Hall, also drawn sitting in Franklin Square.

Town Hall Elizabeth Street view
Town Hall

Which style do you think looks better?

Thanks and wishing you a lovely rest of the day.

… on your mark, get set, GO!

The Inktober Challenge – Day FOUR – October 4, 2017

Somebody has asked me to paint a frog.  They want to give it to someone, who is mad about frogs, for a Christmas present.  Painting the frog itself isn’t so much of a problem, even though I don’t think I have drawn or painted a frog in my adult life, it is the composition I struggle with a lot more than actually painting a little Amphibia.  I can’t just plonk a frog on paper and have nothing around it.  I have invested a lot of think time trying to come up with an idea on how to present this little fellow.

I thought of having a frog in a somewhat suspended lily pad, suspended by the stem of a waterlily and the flower, with subtle waves below.  The Inktober Challenge is a good platform to try out composition ideas, so I thought I would test out my idea.  I temporarily forgot my idea, when I made the decision to make the lily pad bigger, which didn’t leave enough room for the flower.  Oops!  Oh well, at least I won’t be confronted with, “what do I draw today for the Inktober Challenge?” tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to painting it with watercolours, wet into wet, and seeing the unexpected resulting colours and textures that will appear,  but firstly, I have to figure out how to present this little cutie on paper.

Day 4

Day THREE – October 3, 2017

I think this is the first turtle I have drawn in my adult life.  I want to incorporate some swimming turtles into a whale painting, so what a perfect opportunity to try drawing new creatures in my brand-new, different coloured paged, cool sketch book.


Day TWO – October 2, 2017

This is a quick sketch of my house.  With this picture I would like to add some shading and depth, if time allows.

my house

Day ONE – October 1, 2017

On Sunday, I met up with some good friends and we did some urban sketching, seeking protection from the wind by sitting in a bus shelter and enjoying the warmth of the sunshine.  I sketched the Town Hall from an Elizabeth Street viewpoint.  If I get a chance, I’d like to add some shading to create some more depth.  The slope of the street looks like we are possibly in San Francisco (lol) but I like this exaggeration because I think it adds some drama to the drawing.


As the days aren’t showing any signs of slowing down and a new one continues to roll on  in every 24 hours, there’s no stopping Inktober.  I’m trying to keep pace with it even though the imagery of being defeated by a treadmill tries to sneak into my consciousness.

treadmill fall

Are you doing the Inktober Challenge or struggle with composition too???

Thanks for reading. 🙂


Where are the Clowns???

For over 100 years, the crowded working-class cottages in Arthur Circus housed large families whose livelihoods were reliant on the waterfront.  Each cottage is now valued over $1,000,000. It is a postcode held in high esteem, close to the city, waterfront, and in such a quaint, well-kept, prestigious, historical suburb of Hobart, Tasmania.

Arthur Circus B
One of the quaint cottages surrounding the green space of Arthur Circus.

Arthur Circus is located in Battery Point.  Battery point derived its name from the presence of a battery of cannons placed around the shoreline to protect the Hobart coastline. The cottages surrounded the village green of Arthur Circus, where children used to gather in the 1930s to play marbles, were built for officers of the garrison.  When the cottages were originally built in the 1800s, they probably consisted of just two main rooms.  They are in stark contrast to some of the extravagant houses in the Battery Point neighbourhood, many that, including the Arthur Circus’ cottages, are heritage listed by the National Trust.

Battery Point House
A grand house located very close to Arthur Circus in Battery Point, Tasmania.

Arthur Circus is reportedly the only street named “Circus” in Australia.  Given the shape of the street, one would think it would have been named Arthur Circle.  But, in fact, “Circus” is an appropriate name for this special place because apparently “circus”, in Latin means “circle”, a round open space at a street junction.  Piccadilly Circus in London is a busy meeting place, and Arthur Circus seems to serve much the same purpose, especially with urban sketchers as many, many artists paint these cute cottages, and this is where our Urban Sketch Weekend commenced!

Arthur Cir
Let the sketching begin! Arthur Circus in Battery Point, Tasmania
Arthur C
Yours truly, sketching in Arthur Circus, before we sought refuge from the rain and wind.

Friday, June 23rd, urban sketchers from Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart met and began sketching in Arthur Circus.

jackman Mc
My rain affected drawing

The weather started off promising but soon the rains came so we were in and out of cafes, dodging the rain for most of the day.  Regardless, it was such fun and some great sketches were produced.

Inside the toasty warm Jackman & McRoss Cafe, Battery Point, sketched by the very talented Janice from Melbourne
Jane and I were sketched by the very talented Evelyn from Melbourne in Jackman & McRoss Cafe

The day consisted of fabulous food, conversations and sharing.

chocolate eclair
I ordered, drew and ate a chocolate eclair
jackman mccr
Some of the day’s sketches
In the evening we ate at Lighthouse Habour Cafe. This is my yummy meal, with my paints close by. One of the hazards of being an urban sketcher is that you firstly paint your food and then eat an un-hot meal. 🙂

In the evening, there was laughter and joy, as we challenged ourselves to 5-minute portrait sketches of each other.  It was timed, and exactly 5 minutes per sketch and not one second more!  This was a first for me and, I must say, I loved it!

My 5 minute sketch of Angela
My 5 minute sketch of Evelyn
My 5 minute sketch of Marta
Some of the 5 minute sketches produced.

We took home the mini-portraits of ourselves.  A nice souvenir of a fabulous and memorable day spent in picturesque Battery Point, Tasmania.

The Emo Perspective

An international, enthusiastic group of twelve, including myself, enrolled in Liz Steel’s urban sketching course.  On day two of the course, we visited Emo (pronounced A-mo) Villa, in the Vicenza area of northern Italy for the day’s urban sketching assignment.

Emo tour guide

While Monica, our lovely tour guide was giving us the history of the building, I did a quick sketch to capture and familiarise myself with this very long building with eleven archways on either side of the central main house.

Emo pen drawing
An extremely long, grand villa with 11 archways on both sides of main dwelling.

Frescoes adorn most of the inside walls. The “holy” frescoes hang on the north walls above the door in each room.  Many frescoes were painted to create the illusion of making the room look bigger than it actually is. For example, painting three dimensional columns, windows and having legs/feet hanging off balconies.

emo fresco grand
This scene is two-dimensional but painted so it looks like the columns are three-dimensional – but they’re not.

In one room, the walls are covered with “Grotesque” art. Grotesque comes from the word, “grotta”, meaning “cave”. Apparently, the ground collapsed in front of the Coliseum in Italy and the men that disappeared into the ground, discovered a large underground room full of this Grotesque style of art. It was a very common art form in the 15th and 16th centuries. I love this image on one of the Emo Villa walls, the shape and the sense of movement with the necks.

Emo Grotesque art

The walls in one room was full of frescoes depicting artists working on their various crafts.  It impressed me that all the artists were females.

emo frsco women

After our guided tour, we observed Liz drawing Emo Villa, which was designed by Andrea Palladio. Palladio is the only architect that an architectural style has been named after. Other architectural styles have been named after eras, not a person. Palladio means “Protector of the Arts”. Palladio respected Roman tradition and his buildings strictly adhered to symmetry.

emo demonstration

The sketching assignment’s focus was on perspective, drawing vanishing points but not worrying if they go off the page. I’m frustrated that I didn’t take a photo of the end of the building because I am quite certain there was a statue at the far left too. This would have further magnified the perspective and added an element of drama to the painting. I would think that some of the statue would have been above the roof line, which, once again, I think would add drama to the picture.

emo drawing1
Drawing on site using a Lami ink pen and water colour. Some of my lines depicting vanishing points are visible. Drawing perspectives is tricky business! :-/
emo drawing
Finished the painting of Emo Villa back at the hotel.
emo perspective
Photo of the Emo perspective I was trying to draw.

Thank you for reading this post.  I’d love to hear from you.  Have you tried to draw an Italian villa? Do you struggle drawing perspectives? Does your brain try to override your eye?

Villa Cornaro Palladiana, Vicenza, Italy

Cornora 2
The front entrance of Villa Cornaro Palladiana

Our urban sketching group visited Villa Cornaro Palladiana, owned by Carl and Sally Gable, who bought this summer “house” approximately 30 years ago. Carl graciously gave us a guided tour of his home.  Here’s a quick attempt at sketching our guide.

I did this sketch very quickly while listening to the fascinating history of this villa and following Mr. Gable around the different rooms. I am new to drawing people so this isn’t an accurate rendition but I do think it does capture the essence and some resemblance of Mr. Gable.

When Carl and Sally purchased the property, Carl said that they hadn’t even heard of the architect, Andrea Palladio, 1508-1580.  They have done a lot of research since and Carl delivered a captivating and informative tour.  Usually Palladio designed long and one level structures but because the owners that employed Palladio purchased a square shaped block of land, Palladio had to adapt his design to fit onto the piece of land.  To compromise on symmetry was absolutely non-negotiable for Palladio, so he designed his first ever two story building – the Villa Cornaro Palladiana.

The dramatic two storey designed villa – a first for Andrea Palladio..

Inside, there are grand frescoes and sculptures adorning walls.

frescos2 in Cornora
Sculpted oval frames adorned with cherubs surround sculptures on each wall.

The Villa Cornaro remained in the Cornaro family for 253 years, and then three different families took ownership of it until 1951.  It was then vacant for approximately a decade until a church purchased it and ran a kindergarten in the building.  The church thought that the cherubs’ lack of modesty was inappropriate for the four to five year old kindergarten students, so they had all cherubs’ penises removed!

All the villas we had visited so far, had painted pillars in the frescoes, which gave the impression that the room was bigger than it actually was. In the Villa Cornaro they had large sculptures of family members facing real, majestic pillars in the grand main room.

Cornora statues

In 1969, the Villa Cornaro was once again privately owned and restored over a period of 20 years and then in 1989, Carl and Sally Gable purchased the property.  They are the sixth family to occupy the villa in its 450 year history.  The Gables have published a book about their relationship with this majestic building.  The book is titled, Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House.

The front of the Villa Cornaro Palladiana with some of the urban sketchers looking dwarfed by the impressive two storey entrance.

After the tour, we went out back and were given 15 minutes to sketch the house.  I was quite pleased that I was able to draw it up in 15 minutes, as speed drawing is not my forte.  I’m fairly new to urban sketching – about 9 months new, definitely wearing L Plates, so I was happy that I remembered the vertical vanishing point.  My brain seems to more easily remember and work out horizontal vanishing points and completely forget about the vertical ones or allows the brain to override the eye, and win that battle and the brain ends up being incorrect! Lesson to self: trust the eye rather than the logic the brain uses to try to manipulate you to believing it (walls and sides of houses are straight says the brain). Has anyone else encountered this battle?  What is your strategy to avoid the trap of allowing the brain to win against your better judgment (eye)?

My drawing of part of the back view of the villa. I applied water colour to the drawing when we returned to our hotel.
A statue at the front of the villa

First and Second Day of Liz Steel’s Urban Sketching Course in Italy

My friend, Annette, and I are rather new to urban sketching.  We both did Liz Steel’s online course and when we saw that she was doing an urban sketching workshop in Italy, we quickly signed up before we changed our minds. 😁😁 The few months before we headed off to Italy, we tried to meet on a weekly basis and sketch in plein air to improve our skill levels.

I had every intention of posting our Italian urban sketching experience daily but Wifi in Italy is extremely slow.  I tried to post this post three times in Italy and each time it failed completely. It didn’t even save it.  Once, I even wrote the entry at 5 am, sitting on the toilet, in order to not disturb sleeping beauty, Annette.  😆😄 After the third attempt, I gave up, hence, the entries are being posted from Tassie.

We started the course under the shade of a  Vicenzan tree at the Ca’ de Memi with some chicken warming up exercises.

Liz Steel, our urban sketcher extraordinaire, and the chickens.

Firstly, we did some blind line drawings, line drawings and put down shapes with paint and then applied pen work.

One of the Chicken Exercises

After our chicken exercises we had dinner and did some more blind line drawings. This is the portrait that Liz Steel did of me.

Liz Steel’s blind sketch of me. I love it!

The next day we had breakfast together and then ….

Breakfast at Ca’ de Memi, Vicenza

a quick sketch of a teapot, cup and Lauren, from San Francisco, U.S….

…and then the group clambered onto a bus with all our urban sketching gear and made our way to Ca’ Marcello Villa.

The grand Ca’ Marcello Villa
A partial view of the front garden at Ca’ Marcello Villa

Marcello Villa was a sustainable working farm on a grand scale. The wings housed the workers. There’s a building at the back that housed over a thousand pairs of pigeons which was the farm’s main meat source.

One of the workers’ wings at Ca’ Marcello Villa.

Everything in the villa was opulent.  I tried to sketch, listen, write down a few notes and follow the tour guide while he was speaking and showing us the many rooms of the main house.

My notes and quick sketches. I loved the swan head/neck bed posts and the extra deep chair seats to accommodate all the material of the full ballroom dresses that the ladies wore a few centuries ago.

The ballroom on the second level had a flexible floor.  I was on the opposite side of the extremely large ballroom, when the tour guide demonstrated the spring in the floor, and I felt the movement under my feet.  It conjured the imagery of men in their finest twirling and lifting women in their full, long dresses off their feet with the greatest of ease.

We went through the villa’s original 16th century doors to bedrooms with bass relief pictures, depicting scenes from daily life, adorning walls.  The plaster is 100 millimetres thick and sculptors would work back into the plaster, carving the images.  They only have first name records of these sculptors because they weren’t considered artists.  Unbelievable because their work is exquisite.  Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photographs inside the villa.

After the tour and lunch, we got down to business.  Firstly, Liz gave us a demonstration and then we had 15 minutes to do our first initial sketch.  It felt somewhat daunting to do our first sketch with a group and time limit, but draw we did.  This is all I managed to get down on paper in 15 minutes.

15 minute sketch of the Ca’ Marcello Villa

Then we had 40 minutes to have another go.

My sketch done with dipping a reed in ink and then applying watercolour.

After lunch, we went to the back of the villa.

Back view of the main house of the Ca’ Marcello Villa

Liz did another demonstration for us and then we chose a garden scene to paint.

Liz demonstrating
Strange creature in the gardens of Villa Marcello.

After the garden scene painting, we climbed onto the bus and headed back to Ca’ del Memi for a quick dropping off of supplies and then we walked to the Villa Cornaro, in Vicenza, where we were met by the owner, who graciously let us into his home… where more history was heard and drawings were drawn…


Ideal working conditions – not

Today was our second day in Venice, Italy, and words or photographs cannot do it justice.  It is just stunning here.

Annette and I hit the cobblestones early this morning, with our art gear and set ourselves up in front of the Scuola Grande Di San Rocco.  This building is massive, intricate and complex.  The man sitting at the front, helps in showing how big this building is.

Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice, Italy
Side view of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.  The photo shows how much the eaves on top of the columns protrude from the building.
Some of the incredible detail of this building, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

One of the things that makes urban sketching so challenging is the working conditions are usually less than ideal. You are outdoors, contending with heat or wind and insects, you’re not sitting comfortably if you’re sitting, often you’re standing, you’re balancing a sketch pad, trying to draw straightish lines without having your arm on a surface and usually you have a short period of time to capture the scene on paper. But it is these difficulties which help to create loose and lively artwork.  The charm of an urban sketch is its wonkiness, looseness and liveliness.

Sketched in plein air with blue watercolour pencil.
At the hotel, I used an Artline 0.1 pen to add outlines and then applied watercolour. From the photo I couldn’t see what colours the square, circle and rectangular shapes were, nor could I remember. So, back I went wandering through the streets of Venice (such a hardship! -not!!!) and took note of the colours and also noticed the pattern in front of the door that I had not seen earlier.
The left hand side of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.

Tomorrow we’re jumping on a train to Vicenza, Italy to attend the Meet ‘n Greet start of Liz Steel’s Urban Sketching workshop. Woo-hoo!