Christmas flowers

I thought I had better sketch my Christmas flowers before they were past their best. They are Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) and Red Flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia). The flowering gum is allready dropping it’s stamens at an alarming, though beautiful, rate.

Relaxing and sketching on Boxing Day.

Before the lunchtime devastation!


Rome is your friend!

The latest ‘blockbuster’ exhibition at the National Museum of Australia is ‘Rome’, something of a novelty for those of us who live far away from the marching legions. The exhibition is from the collection of the British Museum.

Head of Faustina

Luckily for us the British Museum has packed up plenty of booty and sent it down under. The sculptures are the most impressive elements of the show. I was particularly intrigued by the decorative detail on the armour of Hadrian.

A view of the central section of the exhibition.

I had lots of fun trying to capture those details with my pencil. The watercolour background was added in while we were having lunch in the cafe.

My sketch of the statue of Hadrian.

A more poignant statue was a commemorative work of a woman holding a bust of her, presumably dead husband. A nice touch was a small figure at her left shoulder, which is carved like the end of a sofa (see the photo below), which concealed a vase for placing flowers.

Funary monument of a woman holding a bust.

I was interested to see that many of the pieces in the exhibition were excavated in the British Isles, which was a bit different from what I had expected. Many visitors were particularly taken by the coin hoardes and the legionary’s helmet.

Carved end of a sofa.

The fun will continue until 3 February 2019. Until then signs on our local roadways are reminding us that ‘all roads lead to Rome’.


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.

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.