Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Wrap of a Leaf

Over the last few years, I've been using watercolour for sketching, usually combined with ink. A small travel palette is ideal for adding colour on the spot. This painting marks a return to watercolour painting on a larger scale in the Studio.

The reference photograph for this painting was taken many years ago while on a family visit to Belgium. We walked a few kilometres from the home and our wandering led us through a forest. I was fascinated that this wonderful place was so close to suburbia. The image hasn't lost its appeal. While working on the painting, I was right back in the forest; experiencing again the earthy odours of autumn leaves and funghi.

The title, The Wrap of a Leaf is from a poem by Dylan Thomas. When I'm looking for a suitable title I will use a "random title selection method" I am amazed how frequently an apt title pops up. On this occasion, I searched my poetry books for the word 'leaf' and this line jumped out. 

I used graphite and coloured pencils in some areas with most of the painting in pure watercolour. Initially, I planned to include collage, adding different painted papers. However, as the work progressed I was content to keep to watercolour.

The surface is a full sheet of Stillman & Birn Zeta paper. I enjoy the unpredictable nature of the hot press surface which causes the paint to move and blend in ways different from the usual cold press watercolour paper. Painting this way encourages me to relinquish control. 

The Wrap of a Leaf  
Watercolour, graphite and coloured pencils on Zeta paper 
Framed size - 585mm x 730mm

I am delighted that this painting has been selected to be part of The Rotary Art Spectacular 2017 to be held in May. Two more paintings were selected for the Online exhibition. I'll talk about these in another post. 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


Mistakes are part of life. We all make them. Some are serious and have far-reaching consequences; some are more trivial and annoying than life-changing.

The important part about a mistake is not that you've made one, but what you do afterwards. It's how you fix the mistake that can make all the difference.

Watercolour Brush Case

When you're in the customer service industry, getting things right first time is important.
 If, however, everything that can go wrong goes wrong, how you correct the error is what separates ordinary customer service from excellent customer service.

I have been buying brushes from Rosemary & Co for about four years. Each parcel of their superlative brushes has arrived as ordered. The last shipment, however, seemed to be jinxed and it all went pear-shaped. Rosemary and her wonderful team have gone out of their way to fix the error and ensure we received the correct items and more at their cost. 
This is customer service at it very best and demonstrates genuine care for their customers. A big thank you to Rosemary and her staff.

Art Supply support group

There should be a support group for art supply tragics. I know that I have enough brushes to last a lifetime and still have a few to spare.  

My latest thing is brush cases.... 

I tried a cloth one I bought in London many years ago. It's lovely but unless there's something that goes beyond the brushes (like wooden chopsticks) they can easily get bent out of shape - forever. Then I tried the bamboo roll - I'm not too enamoured with that one, as it seemed the bristles got caught in the bamboo sticks and I battled to keep it closed.

When I saw this new case on Rosemary & Co's website I had to try it. There's also a  New Beginners set of brushes that fits into the case, with extra slots for more brushes. 

Some of my favourite brushes



The Beginners Brush Set


Monday, 20 February 2017


I have to admit that I'm a wimp when it comes to hot weather. I do my best to avoid being out and about in the intense heat of the Brisbane summer. This means that I do very little urban sketching from December through to March. 

Yesterday however, I joined a group at the Brookfield Show Grounds. When out sketching, a quick stop for coffee is always first on the agenda. The Cafe` has a lovely shaded area at the rear of the building with large ceiling fans. An extra bonus was the cool breeze. From where I was sitting, I had a good view of the Brookfield Hall built in 1871. The decision to stay there all morning to sketch was easy. 

My second sketch involved nothing more complicated than sitting on the other side of the table so I could draw a view of the Cafe. 

Brookfield Hall from the Brookfield General Store and Cafe

I used Noodlers Black ink in a Noodlers Konrad Flex pen for the drawing, then watercolours using a Rosemary & Co 1/2" Dagger brush. Stillman & Birn Alpha Softcover sketchbook 8" x 10"

Interior View Brookfield General Store and Cafe`

This sketch was done with a Hero 812 twelve Running horses bent nib calligraphy pen, down to the last few drops of Noodlers #41 Brown ink. Stillman & Birn Alpha Softcover sketchbook 8" x 10"

Every few minutes, when the ink flow stopped, I would have to unscrew the body, wind the convertor up to push the last drops of ink on to the pen's feed - laborious and frustrating! A water brush created the washes. In spite of my struggles with the ink, I like the looseness of the lines.

A delicious lunch, a few sketches and good company made for a very pleasant morning.