Friday, December 27, 2013


The most fascinating part of working with pencil is using the most basic of art tools, that is pencil and paper and from there, your job as an artist is to make a fine art drawing from these most fundamental items. My preferred choice of pencils are Staedtler Mars Lumograph in the grades of 2B and 3B. Occasionally  I will use a B and my outline is done in an HB but in general the whole drawing is done with just the two grades. These pencils are consistent in their performance and seldom have the tiny gritty bits that are so annoying and scratch into your paper. The paper I use is Arches watercolour paper in a hot-pressed, 300 gsm weight. It has a slight tooth but is still lovely and smooth and I find I can achieve all the effects I need with this quality product. Due to the time investment that goes into pencil work, I feel it essential to use the highest quality products to achieve the best results. I use two erasers, mainly a kneadable for the majority of the time, either a Faber Castel or Cretacolor brand and for heavier erasing I use a vinyl eraser made by Caran d'ache, it does the job well without damaging the paper. Because of the amount of drawing I do, I could not live without my mechanical sharpener as it puts a super sharp point on the pencils and gently shaves the wood casing, not destroying the lead or wood. Last but not least is a soft brush for removing debris that falls off the pencil and eraser rubbings. I use a watercolour brush for this and wash it on a regular basis to remove the graphite from the bristles. 
This cheetah is nearly finished and I have used the above listed art tools for this drawing. What are your favourite art tools?

Monday, December 9, 2013


"Drawn to horses" was the title of the last two-day workshop that I conducted here in my studio. We did some studies on eyes, ears, noses and manes then put it all together and drew the whole horse. I enjoy passing on techniques and knowledge I have accumulated over the years and seeing the results with keen students putting it all in to practice. Although drawing is basically an outline that is shaded in, it's the choices and experience that go together to make it a fine art piece. Some choices are: drawing your passion, choosing a good composition, choosing quality art supplies, choosing to be disciplined, etc and of course experience is your time spent drawing, learning and honing your talent. As usual, it was a great weekend and wonderful to meet some lovely new ladies that love to draw horses! Stay posted for the date of the next one!


I chose to pull this drawing out of the frame and re-work it which has made it a much stronger piece - a good choice:)

Monday, December 2, 2013


We have come to the end of our challenge that, at times, up to six other artists contributed work to. It has been a truly great experience and has kept us all intrigued and connected with each other. Firstly, may I say 'Congratulations' to each and every one of you for your weekly efforts. A special mention to Anne, who never missed a week, well done! The challenge was put in place to encourage us all to complete one artwork every week and keep a focus, as distractions can easily mount up and overcrowd our creative process. Here then, are the final 'Z' pieces… and thank you all so much for your diligence and let's see if we can come up with a new challenge for next year!

        From Anne, her final piece "zzz kitty", pen and pencil on paper.

Final sketch from Nik "Zombie", pencil.

Sue's last piece for the challenge is "zzzzzz", pencil on paper.

'Z' … and we are finished!!

We have come to the end of our ABC challenge, so this week sees us with the letter 'Z' as our inspiration. I have had a very sad week with family circumstances, so found it very therapeutic to sit in the studio today and paint my gorgeous dog 'Zuri' as my final piece for the challenge. I adopted Zuri at the age of two from the Greyhound Adoption Program and have enjoyed every moment of our companionship, he is a truly wonderful dog and is a very gentle and affectionate soul. After photographing the painting and looking at it as a thumbnail, I really didn't like the light bluish/grey part of the background and have since blended it so that it is not so noticeable but here it is in the original format.

                               "Zuri"  8" x 14" oil on gessoed board

Monday, November 18, 2013

Two more 'Y' pieces

So hard to believe where the time is going and we are virtually at the end of the challenge with the letter 'y' this week. The first piece in is a quick sketch from Nik done in pen on paper and is titled 'Yeti',  a great idea for the week and a very scary looking beastie! Next in is a lovely soft drawing done in watercolour pencils called "Yellow centres" from Anne. It is nicely composed and  well drawn. Thank you both for sending in your work and look forward to seeing your pieces for next week which will be the grand finale!


We're nearly at the end of our challenge and yes it's the second last letter of the alphabet 'Y' that is our inspiration for the week and I'm posting a day early as I won't be at the computer for a couple of nights. I could think of many subjects but chose this well known little bird that co-exists with many of the plains game that inhabit the African savannah. It is a "Yellow billed oxpecker" and it's doing it's job of gathering ticks and other insects off a zebra.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

One more 'X'

Robby has sent in a great painting in oil for the letter 'X'. It is called "X-country" an X-treme sport for the brave and dedicated. She has done an excellent job of this picture, it's full of movement and excitement, thanks for sending it in.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'X' from the artists

It is great to see that we were not daunted by the tricky letter of 'X' this week and I have had two very good submissions which I am delighted with. The first one in is a quick sketch in colour pencil from Nik which is the lovely native grass tree called the "Xanthorrhoea". Well done Nik for thinking of this one and sending in a lovely, well-composed drawing. The second piece in is also a drawing in colour pencil from Anne titled "Xmas kitty". A very inventive and colourful piece and in the spirit of the festive season that will soon be upon us. Thank you again for sending in your work and as we draw closer to the end of the challenge with only two weeks (and letters) to go, I look forward to seeing what subjects arrive next week.

'X' week

Well we have arrived at the mystery 'X' week and I have been waiting with anticipation as to what inventive subjects we would all come up with. I dug up a reference photo taken a few years ago from a trip I did to the U.S. I was travelling with a friend and we had pulled over to watch a young Red-tail hawk hunting close to the ground. He flew down and grabbed a small vole from a field and then landed with his prize on a nearby slope on some fallen timber. The natural shape of the two fallen logs has inspired my quick sketch for the week, titled "X marks the spot".

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

W for the artists

It has been a busy week for some of our artists and I have only 2 images in so far for 'W' so I will go ahead and post them. The first one is drawn by Nik and is an excellent drawing of a wizard rendered in charcoal, again one of her favoured subjects which comes across in the piece, well done Nik! Great composition and good value contrast. The second piece is from Anne and is a pencil drawing titled "Watching kitty". This is a nice little drawing and again a favourite subject that captures the gesture of the cat in a relaxed style. Thank you both for sending in your work. Next week is 'X' and I thought we could have a couple of options: one being, you might have an 'x' subject that you've found or maybe because that's a bit difficult, a subject of your choice. Let me know your thoughts if you would like something different.

'W' is for wolf

We are rapidly nearing the end of our ABC challenge with only the last three letters of the alphabet to go! How quickly it has passed by and what fun it has been! This week 'W' was our inspiration letter and it prompted me to finish a drawing that I had started a few months ago and appropriately it is of a 'wolf' and a double whammy as it's standing in 'water'. I enjoyed composing this piece and drawing the water which showed the reflection as well as the shadow of the wolf and has the mystery of something unseen in the water that has caught his attention.

            14 1/2" x 11 1/4" graphite on Arches watercolour paper

Thursday, October 31, 2013

'V' is for ...

Unfortunately this week has been too busy with deadlines for me to produce a new piece for 'V' week so I am just posting the 3 great artworks that came in and again we have an unusual variety of subjects and a nice selection of media. The first piece to come in is a colour pencil drawing from Nik of a vampire, very well done as he looks quite scary. A favourite subject for Nik I think! Anne has submitted a lovely soft watercolour titled "Vegetables". This is very nicely composed and the medium has been well handled. Last piece in is 'Vixen' from Sue in oil. Sue has captured the foxy expression and also a great idea for 'V'. Well done and look forward to seeing the art for next week.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Three more 'U' pieces

'Unicorn' was the first piece sent in this week by Nik, a well-done drawing of the  magical unicorn and a great subject for 'U'. Sue has sent in an exciting action painting in oil titled 'Unrideable' also a good choice for this week and well done in capturing all that dust and movement. Anne has sent in a soft watercolour called 'Umbrella'. This has been approached well and a lovely soft palette chosen. Thank you all again for this week's selection and I look forward to 'V' for next week! 


Our letter for inspiration this week is 'U'. My small study is 'Unpredictable', 6" x 8" in oil, which is a portrait of a Cape buffalo. My Dad had the misfortune to be charged and hit by a wounded buffalo whilst on safari and he is one of a very lucky few that have lived to tell the tale. He has always maintained that the buffalo is very unpredictable and great caution should be taken when in their presence. I felt this big old buff was summing me up as I studied him and I was grateful to be tucked away safely out of harms way, in a 4 wheel drive.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Well, we are on the homeward run now as we present our artworks for this week starting with the letter 'T' as our inspiration. The first artwork in is 'Tiger eyes', a very accurate and colourful drawing in colour pencil from Nik, a very captivating piece! Next is a very expressive sketch from Anne in pen and pencil called 'Tail' (of kitty). It is a wonderful exercise to do these sketches and capture the character and anatomy of the animal as Anne has done here. The third painting is 'Tess' from Sue. This piece is excellent in its simplicity of composition and painterly style. It has captured a quiet and less seen pose of a horse which is a nice change. Well done to you all again and thank you for taking up the challenge!

Monday, October 14, 2013


This week sees us use the letter 'T' for our weekly artwork and it just so happens that one of my dogs is named 'Tamu' and so he was the inspiration for my painting. Tamu came to me at a few months old in need of a forever home and so here he is, an intelligent and sweet natured dog that is a lot of fun to be around. He has a real zest for life and is very active but also has his quiet times as I have captured him here and I love him dearly. 

                             "Tamu"  6" x 8" oil on gessoed board

Sunday, October 13, 2013

One more for 'S' week

Another piece of art has come in for 'S' week, a Schnoodle! Rob has chosen the medium of charcoal to do this drawing, a good choice as it lends itself to the softness of the curly hair and also has been used well for it's range of values. A very expressive little drawing!

P.A.S. Online Juried Exhibition

I am honoured to have been juried in to the inaugural online members show of this fledgling society. The Pencil Art Society has only been going a few months and is being run by a dedicated team with a vision and passion for pencil art... how wonderful for us pencil artists and a huge thank you to all those involved. It is amazing to see some of the incredible work of pencil artists around the world and be able to communicate with them through the society. I look forward to being a part of this wonderful community of artists.
The following quote and information is from their Facebook page:

"We invite you to come see what some of the world’s best artists can accomplish with “mere” pencils in the 2013 PAS Online Juried Exhibition at "

This is my accepted entry:

                       "In hot pursuit" 18" x 28" graphite on hot pressed Arches watercolour paper

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Two pieces of artwork have come in this week for the letter 'S'. Firstly from Sue is a well-drawn and quickly rendered watercolour painting titled "Steeplechasing". This is a great effort for the week and though the artist would like to make some corrective changes, it is fantastic that a piece has been created. Thanks too for sending in your drawing of a "Sleeping cat" Anne. This is a simple drawing but it has really captured the essence of a sleeping feline, well done to you both and thank you for participating. We are getting towards the final leg of the challenge with 'T' next week and then only 6 more weeks to go!


The workshop conducted in my studio on the weekend was very successful, with four students tackling two different equine subjects in oil. The theme for the weekend was "painting a horse's personality". The images I had chosen were of a racehorse, fresh off the course after a brilliant win and the second day saw us capture a different personality in a quiet Clydesdale stallion ambling along in warm morning light. All students worked very hard and had excellent results. I thank them wholeheartedly for putting in the time and effort to attend and achieving so much. I also demonstrated some colour mixing and painting techniques and here is my demo piece which I am also using for this weeks ABC challenge 'Stallion' since the letter 'S' is our inspiration letter. 
Here also, are two great photos of the workshop in progress taken by Bea Anderson, thank you for sending in Bea.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Another 'R' piece

Another 'R' piece titled 'Riding' has arrived to add to our ABC challenge for the week. A quick pencil sketch of an event rider and their horse, this is the preliminary work to develop the image into a painting in the near future. Thanks for sending in Robby.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Just one for 'R'

Well, it's that time of year when everyone is very busy and so we have only one other submission for 'R' week from Anne. This is a pencil sketch of a Racehorse that Anne has drawn up and will bring along on the weekend to paint at my upcoming 2 day workshop "Painting a horse's personality". Thanks Anne and I look forward to seeing it as a finished painting!

'R' is for red panda

I have just delivered this coloured pencil drawing "Red alert", along with three other pieces, to the "Wildlife Now" exhibition which opens this Saturday at the Victorian Arts Society in Melbourne and is run by the Wildlife Art Society. If you are in the area, it is open for 10 days and will be a very enjoyable exhibition to view with lots of wonderful wildlife art on display.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

'Q' - My piece

Due to an illness in my family with a resulting visit interstate, I am a little late with my piece for this week so I'm not sure if 'Q' should be for 'quick' instead of Quarter Horse! A very basic sketch but I think I captured some typical characteristics of the breed. On to 'R' next week...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Three artists have submitted their pieces for this week with the letter of the week being 'Q'. First is a quick sketch from Sue of a 'quirky' animal and also one of her favourites which is a meerkat, must say I'm very fond of them too! She has really captured the soft fur and cute expression on this little fellow. Anne has sent in a 'quill' which is a great idea for the letter and a nicely composed pen and ink drawing. I like the complementary use of colours. From Rob this week is a drawing of a 'Quokka' from a photo she took some years ago, also a quirky little animal! Well done to you all!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Four artists submit 'P' artworks

This week sees the return of Rob after an absence of a few weeks, so good to have you back! Rob's piece this week is titled "Peek-a-boo", a lovely little pencil sketch with a lot of character and a great subject and interpretation of the letter. Sue has sent in a lively oil painting titled 'Polo' with two polo ponies in full action, very nicely done! I really like the brushstrokes on the horse's legs suggesting the movement. Thanks too to Nic for her coloured pencil drawing of a "Pair of pears" which look very ripe and juicy. Lastly from Anne this week is a portrait in oil of one of her horses 'Pelly', although unfinished it is showing some great potential. Thank you again for producing some wonderful artworks and being part of the ABC challenge! I look forward to seeing what we come up for next week being the letter 'Q" !!

'P' is for paint

'P' is for paint but that did not happen in my studio this week, in fact the whole week turned to mush! Sometimes external affairs dominate and have to be tended to and therefore I got no new work done for the ABC challenge, so I have grabbed a small study I did in May that is of a paint youngster that I can use for the letter of the week being 'P', it is a 6" x 8" oil on gessoed board.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

'O' from three artists

The week has zoomed around and it's time to post the artists pieces with our new letter of 'O'. Again this week it has been fun to see the variety of subjects and media that has arrived for me to post on the blog. The first piece in is a pencil drawing of an owl from Nic, very accurate and I feel quite drawn in by it's eyes. A change in media from Anne with a nicely done pen and wash piece called 'Orange cat'. I like the way the cat seems so relaxed. The third piece is in pastel from Sue, a very nicely rendered 'Overcast' sky with great appeal from the colour and texture. Again well done and thank you all for being part of the ABC challenge this week!