Sketches of the human form

nude back views small 30.09.15

Off to Melbourne tomorrow for a quick trip so I will have more airport fun. In the meantime I’ve been sorting out my GOOD life drawings. I have about 300 that I still haven’t photographed – very often I’ll look through the photos and decide they weren’t worth photographing. But every sketch is a valuable exercise in observation. I do it twice a week if possible.  These sketches are on cartridge paper, or baking paper, which is really good for charcoal.

Maxine back view reclining contour small 30.09.15

I’m very fond of this one. It started as a ‘blind’ drawing in conte crayon – not looking at the paper – and then I drew again, this time looking at the paper 30% of the time.

Kelly foreshortened small 25.11.15.jpg

I’m also really fond of this one – it’s out of proportion but this model has the most wonderful long legs, so it’s appropriate.

kelly with flower 25.11.15.jpg

This is what she really looks like.  I liked the touch of the flower – her idea.


2 views of Matt 3.10.15

And this model is a delight to draw – he came up with some relaxed and imaginative poses, and he also has very nice legs (:  This was conte crayon on baking paper.

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Sketches based on Sketchaday sketches

Mt Begbie smaller

A week since we arrived home, and I have been doing daily sketches but not necessarily from life.

Today I took the pencil sketch that I did of Mt Begbie in Sketchaday21 and tried working it up in charcoal, using Strathmore Toned Gray paper which is recommended for charcoal and pastel. I was skeptical at first as it doesn’t have a tooth like pastel paper, but it’s apparently a revolutionary new material that grips the medium – and it seems to work. I’m not too happy with the composition –  I also think I need to work much larger. It’s a practice piece for a project that could take some time to complete, and has to remain under wraps for the moment.  But I guess this won’t give anything away -it’s one of the working sketches. Not drawn from life, I’m afraid. I never did get to see a bear in the flesh.


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#Sketchaday 26: Home sweet home, after a rather tedious journey – but you’re never bored when you carry a sketchbook!

The Modern final

The Modern, Mackenzie St, Revelstoke

The drawing above was half completed in pen on August 11, the day I left Revelstoke, and I added colour to it today, Sunday August 14, after arriving back in Adelaide yesterday morning. We set off for Kelowna on the afternoon of August 11, stopping a couple of times to give Leo a break. The second time we parked by the lake at Sycamous (pronounced ‘Sycamoose’), and it happened to be rather a picturesque spot. I just had time to scribble a pencil sketch and then added colour to it today:

Sycamous, smaller10.08.2016

The lake was huge, yet the power boats on it were creating vigorous wavelets that washed noisily onto the beach.  There’s something 18th century about this view: the tree seemed to be posing for the scene.

The following pictures illustrate the journey that began the following morning, and finished over 30 hours later at Adelaide airport.

Denny's, Kelowna 11.08.16

The waitresses in Canada are always asking us if everything is ok. This particular lady had a very friendly smile but she also looked very capable of ensuring we didn’t create trouble if the meal wasn’t to our satisfaction. Fortunately it was amazing – a typical Canadian breakfast, enough fat and protein to keep us going for the whole journey.

Waiting to board the flight from Kelowna 11.08.16

Mother and daughters, waiting to board

After boarding the plane at Kelowna we had to go to Calvary rather than straight to Vancouver. There we had to wait for three hours…

Waiting at Calgary 11.08.16

Chili’s Texas Grill, Calgary.

waiting for the flight Calvary to Vancouver 11.08.16

Waiting for the plane to take off, Calgary 11.08.16

Finally we got on the plane to Vancouver!

Waiting in the bar at Vancouver airport 11.08.16

Then we had to wait another four hours in Vancouver airport.  It gave me a chance to have a good look at the wonderful indigenous sculptures they have there, including the one in the background of this sketch, a huge bronze statue by Bill Reid, called ‘the spirit of Haida Gwaii’. The architecture of the airport made me think of trees, but I don’t know if it was deliberate.

Waiting to board the flight Vancouver to Sydney 11.08.16

Then we finally boarded the plane to Sydney… This time I didn’t bother trying to sketch people inside the plane: instead I managed to sleep part of the way and spent the rest of the time watching the Revenant and four episodes of Fargo, just to remind me of how cold it gets in North America.

Scenes from Sydney airport 13.08 16

..and 15 hours later, we gathered our luggage, transferred it to the Adelaide flight, and caught a bus to the domestic departures terminal… this small boy was one of at least a dozen young children who were on the Sydney flight, including several very noisy babies. We weren’t bothered in the slightest. I also noticed that it was hard to find people to draw who didn’t have their heads down, intensely studying mobile phones.

So that’s it – the end of our holiday. Now it’s back to work, so we can afford to take another trip! Any feedback about these sketches would be very welcome. I’m thinking of making this blog into a book, if I can include some of the final outcomes to these sketches. I also have a children’s book or two in mind…



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#Sketchaday25: Goodbye to Revelstoke for now…

ABC back cover GH v2

The last day in Revelstoke was devoted to packing and last minute business, but we did get a short walk in in the morning and were astonished to see an eagle standing in the middle of the river – it must have been perched on a barely submerged log. As we watched it fly off the log towards the mountains we were sadly reminded that we too would be winging our way home from Canada very soon… well as I write this we are still in Vancouver airport 36 hours later, having driven to Kelowna last night, taken the plane to Calgary this morning and then doubled back to Vancouver – our travel arrangements never seem to be straightforward, even though this time it was all according to the original plan!

The above design is the back cover for Leo’s Outdoor Adventure ABC colour in book, conceived by his parents, drawn by me and coloured in by friends and relatives – my other half did the back cover, and this is the front cover, coloured in by me:

ABC front cover JW

The coloured in version will be a strictly limited edition for friends and family, but I am thinking of doing a series of similar colour in ABCs for public consumption. If you think this is a good idea, please send me a reply on this blog and I’ll be pleased to receive ideas for themes!  I’ll be posting some more samples of this book in the near future.

So au revoir for now, our flight is boarding shortly and I hope the next post will be this weekend – from Australia!

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#Sketchaday 24: a kayak expedition(sketch in the pipeline) and more local scenery

Last night in Revelstoke tonight, so we had to have one last expedition – a kayak tour in the lake above the dam. This time we met just a few hundred metres from the dam and headed upstream, but never got as far as the place where we picnicked. Instead we paddled to a waterfall called Silvertips Falls. I had wanted to do a sketch out on the water but my instructor warned there’d be no time for that – as it was I had to concentrate pretty hard on staying inside my kayak and not losing my paddle, so my photos weren’t all that great. But I’ve promised to send Terry a picture based on what we saw, so I will muster my memory banks and see what I can come up with. He sent us some beautiful ones that he took – mostly of us making silly faces, but they will help with the memories.

V's vegetable garden

I had a good look at V’s vegetable garden after lunch – we’ve already sampled the biggest zucchini, and there are some red tomatoes behind that big zucchini leaf that should be ready to harvest tomorrow. Compared with our meagre efforts at gardening in Adelaide, these are mega triffids. Just goes to show what a humid summer with lots of rain – and some talented tlc – can do.

One final walk round town, as I had to go and draw the Modern – the cafe we visited earlier in the holiday. The photo I took made the building look much fatter and less upright than my drawing.

the Modern pt 1

I began drawing in pencil – just as well, as I noticed a fatal flaw at this stage so I had to get out my eraser. Can you spot what I had to adjust in this second drawing, now enhanced with pen and ink?

The Modern pt 2

The final version will have to be done after I get home – tomorrow will be spent packing and helping with Leo, as he’s coming with us to Kelowna.


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Sketchaday 23: a Chinese kind of morning and a traditional Canadian evening treat

Chinese mountains (the gap between Boulder and Frisbee) Monday bluev 8.0816

I woke at 5.30 to a misty moisty morning after overnight rain. I knew I’d see a completely different world to yesterday’s at the same time of day.  The mountains were barely visible at first between the clouds, but they began to appear and disappear as the day warmed up slowly. I walked down by the river after crossing the Big Eddy road bridge, and noticed that the river was flowing very gently – they open the dam gates early in the morning so that the flow increases, and I knew I only had a small window of time to complete my walk before the path began to flood. I got some lovely shots down by the water’s edge and again as I was crossing the other road bridge. Halfway across, with traffic roaring between me and my view, I drew this ethereal scene in pencil.  Just for fun I turned it into a blue image in Photoshop, as it makes me think of porcelain china.

After my walk I noticed this maple tree outside the kitchen window. It’s in front of a pine tree, with alder trees on the left and Mt Revelstoke rearing up behind. I’ll turn this into a colour version at some stage as the variety of greens in each type of tree is astonishing. I wish I could stay for the fall and watch this maple turn brilliant red and orange.

maple, alders, firs and Mt Macpherson 8.08.16

We went souvenir shopping in the afternoon, then  hurried back as we had a dinner date up at the resort at the Rockford Wok – Monday night is Wings night, a magnificent Canadian tradition. Chicken wings in a variety of flavours, all you can eat at 35c a wing.

We had a bit of a wait for our meal, so Leo and I amused ourselves – he discovered the joys of playing with a table napkin, and I managed to draw him with his eyes open – as well as two guests at the next table, probably mother – rings on every finger – and son, busy with his phone.

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#Sketchaday 22: up, down and almost over the mountain

Mt Begbie 6am v2 7.08.16

I managed to get up at 5.45am this morning and returned to the same scene that I drew yesterday, this time attempting a watercolour. After an hour I felt I had done enough as the light was changing too quickly. I enhanced the colours and tones a little after I got home, using yesterday’s sketch as an aide memoire.

After breakfast we went back to the resort at Mt Macpherson and took the gondola up to the Lodge. We hiked up the mountain for some even more spectacular views, and tried to follow a path that seemed to take us around the edge of the mountain to see what we could see. But the pine trees just got thicker and the mosquitoes got fiercer, so we abandoned the project and set off downhill, following a track that weaves in and out of the woods and passes close to the Pipe which we did last week. We had no qualms about meeting any bears as the screams that were emanating from the Pipe would have frightened off all the bears in the district.

The downhill hike took less time than we thought it would, even with stops to photograph views. I found a shady spot at last and commenced a watercolour, only to be threatened once more with inclement weather. But my unfinished sketch somehow embodies the menace of the impending storm. Perhaps I have been learning lessons from Petar Tale.

Mt Macpherson from Mt Mackenzie 7.08.16

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#Sketchaday 21: a perfect dawn and a study in attempted patricide

Mt Begbie and Mt Macpherson 6.08.16

After the damp, misty mornings of the last few days I woke up at 5.30 to a still, quiet morning with the sun just touching the tips of the mountains.  I walked out to the little rocky promontory that is just behind the apartment block opposite Ian and V’s house. There was Mt Begbie again, this time blushing in the early sunshine, while its lower slopes were still shrouded in shadows. Its neighbour Mt Macpherson is scarred with avalanche trails. In the foreground the Columbia was rushing along faster than one of Revelstoke’s freight trains.  The alder trees that line its banks were flooded with gold, while the two low hills behind them glowed bright emerald. Without the distraction of shifting clouds, the only major change that took place as I drew this was the disappearing shadow behind the foreground hill as the sun climbed above Mt Revelstoke.


Father advising son on how to renovate

The renovations were almost completed today, with the laying of the floor in the basement room. I spent the day around the house, attempted to make a walnut and blueberry cake and prepared lunch for the fervent workers.  In the afternoon I met Richard Farrell, the mokuhanga artist whose work I discovered in the last post. I was delighted to hear that he now has quite a following locally, and he is embarking on a series of botanical studies. It’s heartening to see an artist of his calibre beginning to be recognised. It seems it is possible to live in Revelstoke and do almost anything.

This is a very blurry photo, but it’s a lovely example of his special technique: the bark effect on the left and the little pool at the bottom were made by printing the natural grain of the wood.

Richard Farrell botanica

In the evening we kind of celebrated the finishing of the floor with takeaway pizza and a game of Catan.  I tried to follow what was going on but soon gave up and started drawing the players.  That’s my husband Graham on the left and my son Ian on the right: the man with the rather large head (yes, it really is that size) is called Jesse and he works on a ferry boat. You can’t see James, the other player, he’s behind Graham. Jesse won, claiming that he had to prevent Ian’s attempted patricide.  Given that Graham had never played the game before, he was a likely candidate for slaughter, but he battled on bravely and performed admirably.

Catan players 6.08.16


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#Sketchaday 20a: another kindred soul and a master craftsman

Rochard Farrell 1

I had a big surprise tonight. I had met Jack, the man whose workshop I painted on my  first day in Revelstoke, at his souvenir shop in town. He told me that he started his silkscreen business in partnership with a fellow called Richard Farrell, who did woodblock prints. My ears pricked up: anything to do with printmaking has me hooked. Well it turns out this guy is a master Mokuhanga printmaker. This is a technique I have been trying to learn, and for most people it takes a lifetime to become even moderately proficient. I was knocked out by the quality of Richard’s work. Here are just a few of the pictures that I was kindly allowed to photograph at Jack’s house.

Rochard Farrell 2

Rochard Farrell 3

Rochard Farrell 4

Aren’t they beautiful! They are made using multiple layers, in the style of the Japanese woodblock prints.

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#Sketchaday 20: taking a break from the renovations

Leo asleep3 5.08.16

The renovations built up to a frenzy today as we sanded, painted and then finally started laying a new floor in the basement spare room.  Work had to stop over lunch while Leo took a snooze in his father’s arms. Then after lunch I had other duties: we needed a front and back cover for the ABC colouring book that I was commissioned to make prior to Leo’s arrival. I was further inspired, now that I have a much better idea of the geography of Revelstoke, to make the back cover reasonably topographically accurate. Family and friends have all participated in colouring in every page: now it’s my turn to colour in the front cover – Ian’s dad can do the back one when he’s finished helping to lay the floor.

This is how the cover will look – the back cover is on the left. We also have to do a French version, as everything in Canada is bilingual.

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