Monday, 5 June 2017

Abundance at the Lethbridge 10,000

I'm really happy that a painting of mine will be on show for the Lethbridge 10,000. It's my fifth successful entry to the annual show. This exhibition of small scale paintings, now in its eighth year, is on from 8th - 18th June at the Gallery, 136 Latrobe Terrace. The work of all the finalists is up on the website - here is a link: Lethbridge 10,000 Exhibition

Abundance, painted in watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper, is a bouquet of some of my favourite flowers. I've enjoyed working in watercolour, losing myself in the gentle colours and details of these blooms. 

Abundance - watercolour on Saunders Waterford  Framed 535 mm x 535 mm 

Friday, 2 June 2017

I love my job...

 I love my job - working as a full time artist and art teacher has been a dream for many years, and now is a reality. One of the special perks of being an artist is that I get do many different things so life is interesting and challenging. 

Deja Bru Cafe, a favourite local coffee shop, has been a staunch supporter. Soon after the Cafe opened I was commissioned to paint the large Parisian mural. 


Then I painted these collections of the delicious treats. 

Sitting in the sun with a coffee provided the opportunity to sketch the interior on more than one occasion. 

Recently I was asked to give a favourite inspirational sign a face lift. The hot Brisbane sun had bleached the text to a shadow of its former self. 

So here it is restored once more.

Now for the sad news - Jess has sold Deja Bru. I would like to thank her and her family for the tremendous support and friendship they have given me over the years. Jess is certainly one of the beautiful people...
My best wishes to the new owner, Peter. I wish him every success in the future.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Story of a Painting

This week two paintings went to new homes. The first, a triptych, Sinister Pools, is set in a beautiful part of the Southern Drakensberg just off the Underberg Road. When I re-read the post, I realised just how much I loved being near the mountains. During my last few years in South Africa, the mountains were the theme of several paintings. A deep connection to place, to country, remains.

When I arrived in Brisbane, I needed to acclimatise myself to Australia. I needed to find motifs that would speak to me in a personal way. I felt I had to move forward and discover the special places in my new country. In some ways, I was too emotional to keep painting South Africa. A clean break was necessary. Now I feel ready to revisit my history and paint the landscape of my birth once more.

I will be visiting my family in December and hopefully I will be able to include a visit to the mountains. 

Sinister Pools Triptych 3 x 910 mm x 610 mm

Here is the original post:

Sinister Pools - The story of a painting

High in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa near Garden Castle, the Umzimkulu River spills out of the mountains and starts its journey to the sea. The river twists and turns its way through fertile farmland. As one turns off the main road from the village of Underberg to drive into the mountains, the river is alongside the road. The water tumbling over rocky cascades thrills adrenalin junkies on canoes.
In between there are deep dark pools that are part of the lore of the local trout fishermen. The mist rises off the river in winter at dawn and I imagine the atmosphere is dark, cold and sinister, hence the name. 

The triptych is a gentler version of the scene. I was not up at dawn to photograph the river and I haven’t battled with elusive trout. The day I was there it was sunny and clear. In the distance, the mountains were a soft lilac contrasting with the sharp green of the fields. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Sktchy 30 - 30 sketches 30 days

There's satisfaction in meeting a challenge; in taking on something and seeing it through to the end. I have successfully completed Sktchy30 - 30 days, 30 sketches. Some days it's been a struggle to complete a sketch, with the post going up only at the end of the day. On two days I failed to post so the next day I did two to catch up. I've taken a few shortcuts, there have been the odd quick 10 minute sketch and on one occasion I used the quick sketch and did a little digital manipulation for the next day's post.

Rowan Atkinson as Maigret - brush pen on Tan Strahmore

I have explored the use of toned paper, a surface I've seldom used - and have begun to enjoy the results. I particularly like gouache and charcoal on this coloured paper.  
I've done more drawing with coloured pencils, and while I do love the meditative state that using this medium encourages, it's way too slow and time consuming for me. 

Now I confess that as the last days of April arrived, I'm rather relieved that the challenge is over. If you have trouble committing to daily drawing, then a challenge is good to get you going and keep you motivated. Generally I do something art related every day - drawing, painting, reading, or preparing for classes in the Studio, yet somehow having to meet a deadline each poses extra pressure. 

Thank you to Sktchy for the inspiring prompts each day and thank you to the Sktchy community of artists for your support and encouragement.
To see my profile and all the portraits on Sktchy please click on this link: 
Carol Lee Beckx on Sktchy

Graphite - Alpha softcover

Charcoal and white pastel on Tan Strathmore 
Sleeping baby - charcoal and white pastel on Tan Strathmore 

Black & white Ink 

Maria - Brown ballpoint pen 

Three Friends in a triple portrait - a catch up for a day missed. Ink on Zeta paper 

Isobel and her cats - A quick ink drawing - I loved the triple profile poses of these three...

And a little digital manipulation to the previous day's sketch. 

The beautiful Delia - Coloured pencils on Tan toned Strathmore.
Tara - Watercolour and gouache on Alpha paper

Beautiful Alena - Watercolour and gouache for the lace on Alpha paper

Daniel as Spider-Man watercolour and ink on Zeta paper - Sktchy Pick

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Sktchy30 - The halfway mark, meeting the challenge

There are plenty of challenges around. A recent one was #oneweek100 people; there's the 365 day drawing challenge; Celebrate ink in Inktober, etc. Frequently, I have started a challenge with enthusiasm and optimism only to abandon it halfway through. Sometimes it was due to the choice of prompts which were uninspiring (to me) sometimes other matters took priority.

When the Sktchy app came up with #Sktchy30 I thought that it was something I could achieve more easily than most of the other challenges. Each day a prompt from Sktchy arrives in my inbox. As an example, describe the rituals that get you creating; incorporating play into your work; the use of  colour; describe your workplace/studio environment.
Since the email arrives in Australia in the afternoon(early morning in the US) most of the day has passed before the prompt arrives. I prefer to start drawing early or even the day before which make using the prompt difficult. So I decided from the beginning to create my own challenge:
  • to see if I could use a different medium or try a different technique each day.
  • If time was an issue on a particular day then the sketch would be quick 5/10 minutes
  • If I had more time on another day, and had already completed a sketch, I would start something more ambitious to complete another day.

If I'm working later in the day and I can incorporate the prompt that is a bonus. So far the prompts have been more motivational than a specific theme or subject and my plan is working. I also remembered a toned sketchbook that I had hardly used. Experimenting with various mediums on this surface has been an interesting exercise. I think I might even grow fond of the paper! 
Here are some of the work created during the last two weeks. 

Watercolour on Alpha paper

Gouache on Alpha paper

Quick contour drawing - ink and wash

Digital drawing - Procreate

Colour added - Procreate

Gouache on Strathmore toned paper 

Experimenting with masking fluid and watercolour 

Mark Rothko - screenshot from a video about the artist

Portrait of Evelyn Nesbit - gouache on toned paper

Gouache on toned paper

Digital drawing - Procreate

Ballpoint pen, white ink and gouache

Friday, 7 April 2017

Man's Best Friend

It's said that a dog is man's best friend, and that is true for a recent commission. I was asked to paint a special double portrait as a birthday gift, featuring a young man and his best friend Tommie.

I used a couple of different photographs for this ink and watercolour sketch. I was able to combine the best photo of each of my subjects for the final composition. 

I love creating paintings to commemorate a special friendship. 

Brendan and Tommie - ink and watercolour 8" x 8" 

Framed and wrapped, ready for delivery - and yes, I always forgot to take a photo before the cellophane goes on...

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Sharing Memories

The wonderful thing about painting is that it allows you to recreate a memorable experience. During the Christmas holidays we were up at Noosa. We were about to board the boat to return to the holiday apartment. 

For the briefest moments, the evening sky was breathtaking. I managed to capture the light on a very short video. Seconds later the sky was dark, and night had fallen.

This painting, which has been selected for The Rotary Art Spectacular online Exhibition 2017, allows me relive those special moments. I can now share my experience with you. 

Evening Light - Noosa oil on canvas 760mm x 1220mm 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Coolum Panorama

I love the sea. Walking along the beach is one of the things I miss about living in Durban. Although I didn't live right on the beach, I was a lot closer. Now if I want to see the sea it involves a two hour drive and a lot of heavy traffic as well.

Consequently, when I do get the opportunity, I make the most of my time there. Coolum Panorama continues the theme of sea paintings which had their origin in a visit to Coolum Beach a couple of years ago, Rocks, sea and sand 24th December 2014 and Watching - Coolum Beach.

Coolum Panorama - oil on canvas 610mm x 1200mm

This painting has been selected for the Online Exhibition for The Rotary Spectacular 2017. 
The full exhibition catalogue will be online from 15th May 2017. 

Rocks, sea and sand 24th December 2014 - oil on canvas 605mm x 605mm

Watching - Coolum Beach  oil on canvas 910mm x 610mm 
Rotary Art Spectacular 2015 SOLD

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. 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Hills Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase

On Thursday evening I was given the opportunity to host members of the Hills & Districts Chamber of Commerce. It was the first Business Showcase for 2017. The Studio was re-arranged; different paintings hung; and selected sketchbooks, cards and calendars displayed. 

My guests had a chance to see inside an artist's studio with bubbles and nibbles to accompany their browsing. I had the opportunity (with a captive audience 😊) to talk about my life and art; sharing a little about my life growing up in South Africa and the decision to move to Australia six years ago.

I discussed the  process of a painting from the initial inspiration through to the execution and completion. To a non-artist this process might seem mysterious so I showed how I use reference sketches and photographs to organise the design of the artwork.

Members of the Hills Chamber of Commerce come from a wide range of professional practices - providing comprehensive support to the local community. The Chamber meets for breakfast once a month. 

        Mission Statement
        The Hills and Districts Chamber of Commerce exists to support its members to 
        achieve profitable and sustainable businesses and effective not-for-profit organisations.

The members are wonderfully supportive and encouraging. If you live in the north of Brisbane and want to learn more about the Chamber, here's a link to the website. Alternatively, please contact me and perhaps come to a meeting. 

I'd like to thank the Hills Chamber for giving me this opportunity to Showcase my art practice. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A workshop to start the New Year

The long summer holidays in Australia are a great way to enjoy the wonderful climate so nothing much happens until after Australia Day. I decided to get things going a little earlier in 2017 by having a One Day workshop on Friday 20th January. 

There are a couple of free spaces available.

We'll be looking at a theme that's been around since Jacobo Barbaro painted Still Life with Partridge and Iron Glove in 1504. We'll have a brief look at historical examples and then how contemporary Still Life differs from its predecessors.

Still life Workshop

Hamilton Road Studio

9.00 am to 2.30 pm - Fee $75.00
A light Lunch will be provided. 
Coffee can be ordered from Deja Bru Cafe`
Please advise any dietary requirements in advance.

*Brief Historical background
*Setting up the objects
*Colour & Value

Three similar still life stations will be set up so you can draw and paint from life. 
Two artists to each station; work in either acrylic or oil. 

Please note that no materials will be provided. 
A list of suggested materials will be provided on registration.
Limited to 6 artists

If you would like to enrol please contact Carol –

Thursday, 5 January 2017


Holidays are great. It's good to slow down; to take time to relax with family and friends; to read a new book and to enjoy seasonal celebration meals. All too soon however life forces one back to reality. 

I love the start of a new year. I love to make plans. I love to think of all the things that will enrich the coming months. I love planning a new body of work.

But planning is good only when the ideas flow and the ideas are plentiful. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes the ideas just don't come and you battle to think of what you want to paint. 

Tuesday morning was such a time. I fiddled around with little success. I couldn't think of a coherent direction or theme. I started to feel down. Then I realized that just as a computer sometimes needs to be shut down and re-started, I would have to reboot my creativity.

I started to trawl through the many photographs taken during the past year.  Here and there I found a promising image, then another and another. Gradually I began to find a theme.


I began to make a collage of three photos - screenshots of a recent video - then I knew what I wanted to do. In fact, I now had ideas for three paintings just waiting to be created. 

The paintings are in my head for now. Hopefully in the weeks to come I can make my thoughts into reality. 

This is a snippet of one of the images that got me going...

How do you get your creativity going after a break? I'd love to hear your solutions.