Behold my beautiful colour swatch! If you look closely you will see that this is two colour swatches, with some slightly different colours in each.

I can’t say that I am very good at making ‘proper’ swatches. Indeed I think this is the first time I have done this since going to art school.

l was spurred on to paint this chart while watching one of Teoh Yi Chie (aka Parka) Parka blog’s videos where he demonstrated that one of the uses of a colour swatch was to work out if two ‘similar’ colours were worth keeping in your palatte.

Given my inability to stop adding new colours to my palette I thought a bit of testing might be in order.

In this case Cobalt Light Turquoise (3rd from the top right) and Cobalt Turquoise Green (4th from the bottom left), looked similar in the tube but gave different results when mixing. In contrast Burnt Umber (2nd from the left on the top row) and Quinacridone Burnt Orange (2nd down on the left hand side), mixed almost identical colours, the burnt umber being less intense.

Painting this took ages, really. Keeping the colours in the correct order nearly drove me crazy, however I found the result was worth it. The downside is having finished the book I painted it in I now have to resort to checking a photo in my smart phone gallery if I want to refer to it.

If I remember correctly Parka shows, in the video, a number of swatches he has created over his years of reviewing all sorts of art materials. If you aren’t familiar with his reviews and video channel I can highly recommend them. You can find his website here, including all the relevant links.


More cafe sketching

More sketching today. I was pretty pleased with my first sketch of a young woman with red hair rocking a 1960’s vibe.

Red-headed woman.

For those of you who were asking about my sketching kit, you can see it in this second photo.

Cafe sketches and sketch kit.

At the cafe today

What used to be Cafe Wednesday has, with a slight drifting of routines, now become Cafe Friday. At present I am carrying a small booklet made from an A3 page of Fabriano watercolour paper, which I stitch together and fold into an old bank bookholder (those were the days!). In the holder I also carry some home made paint dot cards and the obligatory coffee loyalty card.

I made two sketches today to fill up this current booklet, which also includes several pages from my recent trip to Taiwan (more of that later).

A Strawberry Lamington at the Palace Museum in Taipei.

Sketching and drinking coffee at Fu Coffee in Taipei.

Drinking iced coffee and scoffing marscapone and raisin icecream at The Fourth Credit Corporation in Taichung (a very hip repurposed bank building).


In September I had a two week run at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space in Manuka, showing work that had developed from my residency in Tokyo two years ago. In between visitors (good numbers of people walking in from the street), I managed several sketches from behind the desk.

The view from the desk, including the gallery on the right and the view out the door on the left.

A more detailed view of what I could see out the doors of the gallery.

The spring blossom across the road attracted many passing photographs.

Garden of Australian ‘screams’

Here’s the next installment of un-posted drafts.

We visited the National Museum of Australia to sketch over the weekend (quite a few months of weekends back!). The building is certainly quirky and in many ways fails to fully deliver the concepts which lead it’s design. (I note that there has been a recent announcement that the rivetting stretch of concrete outside the museum will be removed and turned into a garden of Australian plants. Three cheers for common sense).

The Garden of Australian Dreams is a symbolic landscape of largely sculptural forms within a body of water, a little grass and a few trees. Encircled by the Museum, it provides an opportunity for visitors to stop and relax as they contemplate this symbolic representation of ‘place’ and ‘home’.

The garden reflects our nation in ways that I am not completely sure were intended, but seem quite accurate in an ironic sense. All the ‘relaxing’ bits of the garden are around the edge, rather like our population which is concentrated on Australia’s coastal fringe.

The centre of the garden represents central Australia and the expanse of painted concrete is certainly a blisteringly hot location on any summer day. I also find it scarily reminiscent of the asphalted playgrounds of my childhood. Although what the wooden paling backyard fence is doing there eludes me. And the screaming? I hadn’t realised before now that this area is where all the children are taken to run off all their excess energy.

Perspective Practice

This is the first in a short series that comes from tidying up my blog. I have found several draft posts that never made the light of day. So here they come.

Following on from the class with Stephanie Bowers, an architectural illustrator and urban sketcher, on getting a handle on perspective, I thought I’d better get some practice in. These are some of the sketches I’ve done over the past few days.


Thank heavens for narrow alleys

While they are not necessarily the most exciting of locations, our local shopping precinct has enough lanes and intersections to make finding a subject easy.


The bus stop provided convenient seating, as well as subject matter

Stephanie also taught us watercolour techniques, to add to our perspective drawings. I love the opportunity to pick up tips from other artists, such as a good way of getting an even darker grey by mixing Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, with the tiniest touch of Alizarin Crimson. Stephanie also demonstrated using square brushes, something I haven’t done before with watercolour.