I have been selected to exhibit artwork in a group show for International Women’s Day 2014.


No Slide Title The venue is a magnificent historic building that was once the Royal Mint Building.

There will be several events happening on the day of opening (9th March) so it would be a wonderful time to see some of you there.

I believe the event will be on show until 24th March if you cant be at the opening.  There is an RSVP mostly for refreshments and please know that you are all welcome.

It may be my first outing on crutches – if we havent met yet well the crutches (knee replacement) will be a real givaway.

I’m pretty excited about this and as I learn more I will add to this post for your information.

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365 Challenge – Faces


Before I start this post I wish to thank my Granddaughter Madelaine for her beautiful drawing of her Mummy. It now is pride and place here on my blog.


Another challenge I have given myself. Draw a face each day. A lovely girlfriend of mine gave me this book…such…a looong time ago. It has been in the cupboard waiting, waiting, waiting. I think it thought that was it use, waiting for 365 days.

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I dusted her off and have finally given her a task. Help me make faces. I am not trying to do anything in particular otherwise it will never happen, just doodle along and see who pops out…well…hairy scary. The people living in my head are such strange beings.

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They tell their own story

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This is fun. I just love playing

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Day five, as it says, I was tired at the end of the day. She tried not to come out but I dragged her in a ragged fashion, tried to love her with hearts but we just didn’t get it together. I am sure she wishes she had stayed inside but I love her anyway and I am sorry I scribbled her into existence.



Introducing Miss Hattie Young (Dreamer) – Having to do with cast off’s from Calamity




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Oh Tom! Big boy Tom! Imprinted himself on the page heavily. Just as well he had strings or he would have fallen straight to the floor

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Imelda, poor little Imelda – squashed by Tom. She could even get away from him on page 8, his imprint is bursting through.

I am so enjoying these ‘pop-outs’. I did a sketch book July 2011. Back then I decided I would use the sketch book project as a way of practising drawing realistic faces, family, friends, myself etc. Didn’t turn out that way, dozens of strange and wonderful people appeared. Now, here in 2014 in this book, a face a day and the seriousness of completing life-like faces was on the agenda…no such luck although I am glad, these are my friends as well, they obviously live in me somewhere to just pop out at the end of my pencil, pen etc. So here they are, here to stay in this book. My excitement is now…who are the other 357…yikes. It is a wonder I can sleep but it does make sense why I am always hungry, there is a lot to feed (what a great excuse for the next cake or chocolate…yah!)

Every artist has thousands of bad drawings in them and the only way to get rid of them is to draw them out and enjoy them.

Happiness and peace to  all those welcoming Spring and for us who will be welcoming the beautiful calm Autumn. With Autumn coming, the knitting needles started rattling in their holder so I have started getting ready for winter. A warm furry beret for when I am outside sketching…

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The pattern is easy just but pretty with cables running to the crown. The wool is ‘Lincraft’ Splendour variegated. I am not pleased with it as it splits easily, but wool is expensive these days so it will do…but…couldn’t help myself went to my local wool shop (love its name…Woolybutt) to buy longer needles and bought this lovely wool made in New Zealand 70% wool 30% alpaca…yum, what will it be I wonder. Have to finish the beret first.

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 This is a rather long post I am sorry but I do get carried away sometimes.




Another sketching day under my wing

I went sketching again today. This time we went to the Fairfield Boat House.  It is on the banks of the Yarra River. The boathouse was established in 1908 by a John St.Clair as a picnic, camping and refreshment room area. It is beautiful, but warning, take your own picnic lunch as the food is expensive and not that interesting. When we were there they had a cover over the jam for the  Devonshire Teas…that’s fine but one would have hoped they’d let the wasps out from under the cover first. Having said that, the place has everything one would want to relax enjoy the view, take a kayak, or one of the boats along the Yarra and it is definitely eye candy for artists.

I should have taken more photos but it was coffee, chat then down to business. This is my third time out and I have learnt a lot. This time I just took a pencil and a sketch book that  I had made many years ago and have never used. It must have waited for this challenge. The paper in it is an Indian handmade paper with a bit of tooth and texture and fleck; it gave the pencil work a nice feel. It also takes water-soluble oil pastels well although I did not use them today. These are a couple of the photos I took, unfortunately I didn’t even take a shot of what I was sketching…doh!


Bird Houses and seed containers keeps the many birds happy. Kookaburra laughing, unidentified and hidden others were calling and singing adding to the beauty.

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The table in the foreground is the upper level. Huge shady umbrella’s keep the sun at bay and the falling leaves from the gums otherwise they would be dropping into your coffee. The next level is on the wide shady veranda you can see to the right.

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On the ground level is the open air seating and access to the boats and kayaks and of course you are right on the Yarra and yes, our Yarra is always sepia coloured and proud of it itself. For those that don’t know it is often (derogatively) called the upside-down river. I love every inch of our Yarra. I am lucky enough to live across the road from the Yarra Flats (Yarra Flats Park features 85 hectares of pastoral and heritage landscapes, natural bushland, wetlands, abundant birdlife and a number of informal picnic areas.

so part of the Yarra is with me all the time.

For the aborigines of the Wurundjeri tribe (part of the Kulin nation that had occupied the lands around Port Phillip Bay for at least 30,000 years) the Yarra River was a life-source that had been etched into the landscape by the ancestral creator spirit Bunjil – the wedge tailed eagle. They called the river Birrarrung – “Place of Mists and Shadows” and it was the dreaming path they followed and camped beside through the calendar of countless seasons.


The Sketch… After three sessions of being out I have managed not to panic but to relax and start with the scene closest to me. I started with a pole and promised myself to go slowly, not try to finish everything and I soon found I was happy and in the zone concentrating on a small part…

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I have come to terms that when I am outside sketching for practice and being with supportive like-minded friends, perspective and angles and correctness is to be practised but not made ‘precious’. I so enjoyed the sunshine (albeit a bit too warm again…33c). The setting was all I could wish for as were my new-found friends. I am looking forward to the next session which will be at St.Kilda beach.

Your painting/sketch can look really silly, but when you take it away from the subject matter, it becomes something entirely different. When it’s not competing with the landscape, it can work. (Clyde Aspevig)


Memories of Cambodia

Clearing out a cupboard the other day I came across my diary from the first time I was in Cambodia with my daughter and grandchildren in 2008. I have written about this before in my blog but this is an excerpt from the diary, just a moment in time to share.

A beautiful day:

Went with Vuthy, Picdorpatdy(Vuthy’s wife), Sielafhy and Ohchearlyca ( their beautiful children) to Vuthy’s family home in Takeo Province. What an amazing, wonderful, special day in my life.

Vuthy lost his father, uncle and other relatives during the Pol Pot regime. Vuthy was captured with his Father but managed to escape, he was just a boy. He was separated from his Mother and Sister but by a miracle they found each other again. As a child Vuthy walked from Phnom Penh toTakeo  …81kilometers (approx 50miles). that is a whole other story about the Killing Fields.

On the way we stopped at bought beautiful fresh fruits to add to our lunch.

Vuthy’s Mum, Sister and wife cooked a delicious lunch of chicken. Their own chicken which was very skinny but unlike here in Australia, nothing is wasted and me being a guest I was given the special parts;  so I tasted, for the first time, the heart, lungs and two tiny eggs (kidneys?) of the chicken…oh yes and the liver as well. All was very tasty, the chicken was cooked with beautiful fresh herbs. It was served with perfectly steamed rice and fresh vegetables, all done on a one burner gas stove.  I enjoyed it all. I was a guest and not allowed to help but we chatted away as they worked. My Khmer and their English was not existent but laughter and hand waving covers all languages.

Vuthy’s nephew scaled the tall coconut tree and felled a coconut. Vuthy cracked it open with a machete and we drank  the fresh cool milk and ate the tender flesh.

The fruit tasting was a delight,  Durian, smells terrible but taste good. Love rambutan, small hairy, spiny and taste a bit like a pear. Jackfruit and dragon fruit and can’t remember the others.

After lunch was rest time and I was presented with a brand new hammock they had purchased for my visit. Lying there in my hammock looking around, listening to the family’s Khmer chatter – feeling the soft breeze coming across me fanned by the coconut palms (and I might add actually having a little nap). I was in absolute heaven.

There are so many more stories of beautiful Cambodia and its people but for now a few memory photos of this special time.

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Vuthy’s Mum and Grandson and me. No, I am not that tall, Mum is very tiny and beautiful.

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Vuthy with our coconut

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Rest time for everyone

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Spoilt and in heaven. The family watched with interest to see me get into the hammock, they were not disappointed…oops…wobble…wobble…nearly out and finally in and oh so comfy.

Plein Air Challenge

Take a limitation and turn it into an opportunity.

Take an opportunity and turn it into an adventure.

I have avoided Plein Air artistic ventures all my life; cannot do it, someone might come and watch me possibly messing up. It would be too uncomfortable in the heat, cold, windy etc. etc.  and so many other reasons…until now. At this age the grey matter must be oiled with fresh challenges to keep it rolling, so I joined a Melbourne Meetup’s group ‘Sketch Melbourne en Plein Air’ and off I went. I have mostly gone on my own to things and this was no different. Didn’t know anyone and a big challenge ahead of me so I was nervous on all levels.

We met at the cafe for coffee/tea  at a chosen place which was a very old convent that  has become a centre for arts, culture and learning with, a childrens farm and a million places for inspiration to sketch paint, photograph or just relax and enjoy the surroundings. After introductions we were off to our own places of interest. I hid in a tiny rotunda structure in a back corner of the convent, hopefully away from the throng of people enjoying a sunny day.

I took along watercolour pencils and mixed media bits and bobs.  I looked at the piece of watercolour paper I had chosen  with some pieces of text from an old Thesaurus glued to it and whilst it was quite small it looked enormous so I immediately tore it at an angle and felt much better…not a lot of space to cover.

Using watercolour pencils and a fantastic refillable brush. I had bought for this purpose and it was brilliant. The cylinder for the water is not that big and I had visions of refilling it quite a few times but it lasted the length of the piece…mind you…my piece after it’s ripping wasn’t very big 🙂

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Getting into ‘the zone’ was difficult, I found there was too much information for me to settle down. My eyes were flitting all over the place. Finally I chose to just sketch one of the columns to just at least start; I couldn’t plan a scene. I enjoyed that so did another column. A couple of children milled around me asking questions so I was pleased to take a breather and have a chat then another person came and wanted to sketch the little rotunda I was sitting in so I happily scooted off under a tree near the church. What do I do now? I thought, two columns and that’s it? can’t go back for lunch and share two columns…maybe I could sneak home and they won’t remember I was ever there? Come on I said to myself get a grip! So I started on a random window (typical me…random is my name). In my stash of bits and bobs I knew I had a piece of carpet I had printed out on calico so put that in as a window. That was the end of my ‘Plein Air’ sketching as such. What was left of the  hour was ‘doodling, balancing out colour and shapes;  bit of this and that. I just got carried away in my delicious little world of make believe.

Got back to the group where we shared our work…mmm…amazing sketches by people, some did three or four. Realistic most of them, wonderful array of talent. I tentatively flashed mine then ran home…commonly phrased…chickened out!

Looking at my piece in the safety of home gave me exciting ideas. Also had ideas about not ever, ever going back to a sketching group but something in me stirred. Because of going I had a fresh idea. I did enjoy aspects of it, even more so in the moments I forgot my nerves and feelings of inadequacy. That afternoon and the next day I played with my little piece. Looked up the history of the convent which was sad and felt I needed to write a piece of poetry about it. Found some paper to go in as a background and into the journal I played and played.

I am happy with the piece, I am happy I faced the challenge.

Abbotsford Convent sketching day meetup

I didn’t want to give in so I went again on Tuesday. This time to Williamstown which is a seaside suburb with boats, cafes, beach area, parkland and people. It was such a great day. Met more wonderful sketchers. We enjoyed lunch an lively chatter.

I bombed out completely. Took on far too much…a boat in dry dock with structure and paraphernalia everywhere. The perspective is totally wrong. The boat is sitting IN THE CONCRETE…Oh lordy! A mess but I am stronger in my mind than ever. I had a great day and the people will easily become nice friends and I have already learnt not to tackle anything big at this early stage, not to feel I need to do realistic and have faith in myself when outside. Small steps and maybe, just maybe I will accomplish plein air sketching in my own style.

I considered not posting the disaster but that is not what this post is all about. This post is about challenges, failures that are never really failures. You can always learn something. I didn’t bother finishing this of course as I could see it was just not going to be anything other than a learning curve…a positive one.

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You never know till you give it a go.

Sunset, smoke and noise and sadness

We still have very smokey skies after the fires as we haven’t had rain to wash it away. Our skies are eerie at sunset:

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The next night it was a little clearer. The cockatoos spread out on trees near and in the parklands. They had a lot to say to each other. I wondered whether they were saying “Come over to our tree and we will party” or maybe “You lot stay where you are, you are not welcome here…or…simply a lot of chatter about the days events, the fires, the smoke and how lucky they are they were not near it…or…maybe some were and have flown down to safety and they were telling the others all about their lucky escape. Whatever it was it was extremely loud and they were all talking at once. I tried to video it but it is a long way from me and these are the best photos I could get with my little digital camera. This tree was the nearest and I only captured five cockatoos, at one stage there were about twenty.

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Now, on a sad note…a young boy Luke Batty just 11 years old was brutally murdered by his Father yesterday in Tyabb…R.I.P little man. His Father was shot by the police as he was still brandishing the knife and he died in hospital. Luke’s Mum has been very brave in talking about family violence…so sad.

Sorry to finish on such a sad note but  Luke and his Mum deserved better.