anne4bags AnneLawsonArt My art work

A quick reminder about my feather giveaway

Just a quick reminder about my giveaway. If you leave a comment on the original post, which you can access here, you can be in the running to win a feather drawing of mine. This is what you could win.

Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson

A very big thank you to those of you who have commented. So many positives. I have loved reading them all, and am delighted to know that those of you who already have an art work of mine would like another!

anne4bags AnneLawsonArt My art work

Feather drawing giveaway

It’s definitely time for a giveaway! Let me explain why….

There are things happening in my art world that has spurred me on to change the name of my Etsy shop. I am not ready yet to tell you what is happening, but I am excited. But I can tell you about the name change, and then let you know how you can have a chance to win my feather drawing.

When I left teaching I thought I would spend my time making art embellished handbags. So I set up my Etsy shop to sell the bags, and called myself anne4bags. I really wanted just plain annebags but there was a shop called that. While I was creating with material and beads and embroidery I was still going to botanic art classes, following my interest there. As time passed the shop morphed into my art work rather than bags, but the name stayed the same.

I have been pondering the change for a while, thinking about sold art works that were linked to the old name. I realised that it had to happen, that there are more reasons to change than to not. The biggest reason is that the name anne4bags does not reflect anything about the work that I currently do.

So, after doing a small amount research I decided to go simple. Let me introduce you to


[Etsy won’t let me put in spaces between the words and Facebook demands the spaces! Strange old world.]

It’s time to give the shop a little makeover, working on the photos, tweaking some older descriptions and checking out the tags. Other than that there is the same high quality, original art work available at very reasonable prices. Click here if you would like to have a look.

To celebrate the name change I have decided to have a feather drawing giveaway. This is the feather you will win

Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson

These feathers, created in ink, are very popular, and I enjoy drawing them. The rhythm of the parallel lines is quite soothing. This one is on Arches watercolour paper. This is a good quality, acid free paper. It is an A5 size, 15 x 21 cm or 5.8 x 8.2 inches and the drawing sits horizontally.

To have a chance of winning is very simple……leave a comment below, about anything you like. Just make sure that you leave it on this post by Sunday 15th November. I will write the names of the commenters on slips of paper and ask the Fella to draw one out. I am quite happy to send it anywhere in the world, so don’t be shy. 🙂

anne4bags Botanic Art My art work

Melaleuca tapestry

You know that I love to paint, but I am not sure if you know that I love fibres and textiles too. In fact I started my creative life after retirement form teaching making bags, often embellished with embroidery, beads and ribbons. That’s why my Etsy store is anne4bags, even though I no longer sell the bags.

I still get the urge to create with yarns. My latest series are tapestry pictures of the melaleucas from Flinders Island. Series is stretching it, because I have only finished one! However, the second has begun and I would like to do a third.

While one the Island I found some beautiful yarn from Fibreworks. When I returned home I ordered some more because it was just perfect for what I had in mind. It is Australian merino wool, smooth and even. The colours are hand dyed and are rich and slightly variegated. The slight variegation gives me the subtle changes that I was looking for. For the finished one I did use some other wools but I found the colours changed too abruptly. It made it harder to control the tone.

I have had wonderful service from Gill at Fireworks. If you want yarn for your next project, drop in; I highly recommend a visit to the site! How can you resist yarn like this? 🙂


anne4bags My art work

It’s tea time!

I am so pleased that my Little Sketchbooks have been embraced by you. I have sent off some and they are winging their way around the globe. They have been sent to Wales and North Carolina, Northern Queensland and Melbourne, Washington and central Victoria. I am delighted to give people an opportunity to be creative, and follow their passions. It brings a smile to my face.

On a different art note……You may remember a page I showed you from my current sketchbook, a page of some teapots from my collection. If you don’t remember here it is again.

I really like the way this spreads across the page. It was a conscious composition.(Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
I really like the way this spreads across the page. It was a conscious composition.(Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)

Well, I received some very favourable comments about it. You are such a supportive group of friends, and I truly thank you for that. The delightful Alys from Gardening Nirvana made this comment

I fell in love with your teapot study. I’ve always loved teapots. Any chance of making those up into some art cards?

and that got me thinking. Not cards, but small studies on A5 paper. I have had great fun with the washes, and as watercolour is a continual learning experience, have learnt so much about water on paper and in brushes. I am also learning about leaving some of the paper unpainted, so that the white comes through as a highlight. The trick is to remember to leave it. I wouldn’t be the first watercolour painter to paint over the white area that had been reserved as a highlight. 🙂

The first studies are of a little teapot I bought in Hong Kong many years ago. I loved the contrast between the smooth body and the knobbly bamboo-like handle. The knob on the lid reminds me of a little grub! It is the one on the right hand of the sketch. In real life it is a dark grey terracotta, so you can see that I have taken many liberties with the colour, both in the following paintings as well as in the sketchbook.

(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
Rosy pink teapot (Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)

The next ones are modelled on the blue and white pot in the middle of the sketchbook page. I may add some of the pattern in a future one. But, then again, maybe not! It was a present from my sister, as she knew that I love Asian inspired teapots. The different facets have given me interesting areas to play with.

(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
Aubergine and gold tea pot (Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
Aubergine and gold tea pot (Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

If you click on any of the photos you will be taken to my Etsy store. Then you can look at the description and price. If you are interested in buying, you can go through the shop, or contact me directly:

anne4bags Botanic Art My art work

It not all about the sketchbook

You would be forgiven for thinking that all I have been doing lately has been swanning about with my sketchbook. But no, I have been busy with other art works, including these gum leaves and nuts that I painted for a friend. She wanted them as a present for her mum. I love the curves and folds of dried gum leaves. The colours too are more interesting than green ones.

I have painted gum leaves before, but not with gum nuts. It was nice to have the extra challenge. The leaves below are for sale in my Etsy shop.

Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015


Click on the image to follow the link to my shop. Or contact me directly.

By the way, don’t forget my offer to make you a little sketchbook of your own. A couple have already winged their way to different parts of the world. 🙂

anne4bags My art work

Creating for someone else

As well as painting larger scale botanic art works, like the Cullen pallidum that was recently shown in the exhibition, I love to create smaller drawings and paintings. These are usually of things I am fascinated by, objects from the natural world. I have told you about my shells, some painted in watercolour, some in soluble graphite.

Usually I potter around with my materials, letting my creativity flow as much as possible. If I am happy, I will put them up for sale in my Etsy shop.

Sometimes though I am asked to create something specific and I love working on these commissions. I enjoy the challenge of creating an art work that meets the image in someone else’s mind. There may be a specific photo they would like me to use. They may like something already in the shop but with different colours. For the latest commission my client had the frames so my images had to be a precise size.

I am usually quite relaxed about commissions, because I always make it clear that there is no obligation to buy. My image may not match up with the one in the client’s mind. That’s fine. I can pop it into the shop, and it may appeal to someone else. However, it hasn’t happened often, because I try to keep them abreast of what I am doing, sending images of what I am creating. Also I like to give them options, and this gives me a chance to play with different effects. Like these bats.

I had never drawn bats before, but I was happy to try. I love gently working with graphite and that was my first choice. Then I thought about having a go with ink stippling — little ink dots that build up to create the tone. The customer couldn’t choose and bought both! I was especially delighted as he was a bat researcher 🙂

Another customer asked me to create a drawing of a black cockatoo feather. Isn’t this just the most stunning feather?

Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013


And another wanted a feather for a tattoo. I would love to know if she ever used it.

Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013
Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013

As I mentioned, occasionally the person doesn’t buy. I was asked to create some watercolour oyster shells, like the ones already in my shop , but bigger and with less purple. I don’t know why she didn’t buy them, but I am quite happy to have them in my shop. Someone else may just desire an oyster shell painting with a little less purple!

anne4bags My art work

More limpet shells, less frustration

You patiently listened to me moan about my frustration in painting limpet shells. I did go away, with a couple of simpler shells and some clean sheets of paper. This is what I came up with


They are A4 size, so much larger than the actual limpet shell. Also, the limpet models are not quite as flamboyantly coloured as these paintings. But I love that exaggeration of colour and texture. I am not an abstract artist ~ in fact botanic and abstract art may be at the opposite ends of the spectrum ~ but somehow these enlarged shells are becoming more abstract as they get larger. Maybe I will take a section of shell and just paint that… for thought.

Anyway, I am happier with these limpet shells and have put them for sale in my Etsy shop. These links will take you to the orange one and the blue one. There is more detail there about price, paper, shipping etc. However, if you would like to buy something (and my drawings make great Christmas gifts) you can contact me through this blog or email me on

anne4bags My art work

Why are limpet shells so frustrating?

You know that I have been enjoying painting shells lately. You watched me draw oyster shells and I have raved on about other paintings I have done. So I found some limpet shells on the beach at Apollo Bay and was fascinated by their texture. Their tops are worn smooth and pearlescent while their sides are ridged and lined and multi-coloured.


I played around with watercolour pencils and created some smaller studies. They worked well, and went into my Etsy shop. If I am not happy with one of my works, I won’t put it up for sale.

I wanted to play with painting larger, A4 works, and I thought that I knew how to create one with watercolour pencils. I found out that I didn’t know after all!


There is always a time in a painting where I feel that it is just not working; that time when I feel like throwing a little tantie on the floor, kicking and screaming. In most cases I work through and find that things suddenly come together, and the painting is how I thought it would be. This was not one of those cases. So I left it and started to work on a watercolour version. Can you guess what the result of that one was?


Yep, another one that I wasn’t happy with. 😉

Now I am pondering why. I think there are three issues, but I would love to know what you think. (And in answer to my question in the title — in all fairness, the limpet shell is blameless. The frustration is all my own!)

  1. In both cases I lost the highlights. I loved the smaller ones because they were fresh and light. It is the white of the paper that gives watercolour life. Enlarging the shell encouraged me to add more pencil or paint to the ridges, covering the paper with colour. Can you see the second browny ridge from the left in the photo above? That’s the part of the painting that I like, because the white of the paper shows through. That’s how the rest should be.
  2. The follow on from that is if there are fewer highlights, there are fewer deep darks too. I was working in the mid-tone range too much. Nothing was jumping out, zinging.
  3. I went onto the detail too early. My artisitc default position is to go straight to the detail. I am always reminding myself to go from broad to fine, but I guess I just wasn’t listening. 😉 Then I tried to fix things by adding in details.

What do you think? I would love constructive feedback in the comments.

As for the next….well, I can do this, and I want to succeed. So my next painting is going to be a different limpet shell, one with less colour variation, probably in watercolour. I will let you know how I go!

[Remember, if you like something in my Etsy shop, you can buy it directly through me. Just let me know via this blog or]



anne4bags My art work Texture

How to draw with a water-soluble pencil

A little while ago someone gave me a water-soluble pencil which then lingered in my pencil case. Until recently my work was more precise than this pencil would allow. I needed pencils that would give fine lines and not shift with water.

Now, having finished my big painting, I am ready to create more fluid works, and the pencil is just perfect! [Yet another example of why you never throw anything out!] I have been playing with it, creating oyster shell drawings, and I want to share with you some of my thoughts. The best way for me is to show you “How to draw an oyster shell”.

Firstly, a little about the pencil and other tools.

It is a Derwent Graphitone 2B light. The B indicates that it is the range of pencils that  give a dense bold line. 2 is at one end of the scale, 8 is at the other creating the densest black lines and shadows. The other range of pencils is the H range. They are hard and excellent for fine lines and delicate tones.

The pencil is a stick of pure graphite held together with some sort of water-soluble binder. There is no wood around the graphite, although some brands to have wood. Instead the paper/plastic wrapper has sections that peel off as you need to sharpen further down the pencil. Neat! I am able to sharpen the Graphitone pencil to a reasonable point. I am saving the sharpenings because I want to play with them sometime, perhaps mixing them with water.

I have also discovered 2 of my watercolour paint brushes are excellent to use with it. The first is a rigger, a type of brush has long bristles that allow the paint to be dragged along in a smooth line. The other is a 6 mm square brush. I rarely use it for painting, but it was just perfect for this work. Its flat edge allowed me to either make a ragged line by using the flat top or drag the wash out from the line. Both brushes are sable and held the water for a good length of time.

So, to the drawing.

This was the shell I was using as my model.


Can you see why I am captivated by oyster shells? The shape, the lines, the colours, the laminations, the way the shadows disappear. And you don’t have to be really precise to draw them.

My first lines are made on dry watercolour paper. They outline the shell and give me visual markers for other things I need to take note of. At this stage it is only a line drawing, but I am already looking for where lines meet and reappear, where the darks and lights are. They are important because they build the 3D impression. even the smallest sliver of reflected light will add to the realism.


Then I begin to add in some of the darkest areas. I move around the painting, often leaving one part to work on another. I am only drawing in the broad, but my mind is taking in the detail as well, remembering places to come back to. All the time I am conscious about the marks I am making. They need to mean something, to add to the drawing and not just be meaningless scribbles. This photo also shows the pencil I am using.


Now is a time to assess, to sit back to see what has been going on.

It is ready for some water. Sometimes I moved the brush along the line, to work the graphite into the paper. Sometimes I have dragged the graphite out from the line because I want to get some shadow in there while keeping the white edge. Thats the edge of the layer above, where it is catching the light. Sometimes there is enough graphite still on the brush to make a wash away from the line, hinting at the curve of the shell. I am still moving around the drawing, not working too long in one area.


I also discovered that I can rub a wet brush onto the pencil and gather graphite that way. I use that as another form of wash. I keep going, making pencil lines then using either of the 2 brushes to move the graphite around. Making lines, breaking up the lines, adding graphite to deepen tone, adding water to move the graphite around. Playing!

You will notice that I hadn’t done anything to the end of the shell. It has a different texture, smoother with more tonal areas. That needed more water and less line work. The square brush was great for here too. I used it to dab more graphite into washes.


It seemed to be getting close to the finish. I added the shadows at the side. Here I noticed a few things. Firstly, the darkest part of the shadow was right under the shell, but it wasn’t a continuous line. The side of the shell, while in shadow, was not uniformly dark. The layers of the shell created layers of light and shadow. And there is reflected light in there too.

I wanted to keep that reflected light right at the bottom of the shell, but I wasn’t happy with that end. It was too square and just looked wrong. I couldn’t do anything much about the shape, as that was a fault of the original drawing. [Maybe if I had begun work on it earlier I could have changed it in some way….] However, I could break up the lines and add more complexity to the wash area.


So this is the finished work. I did add some finer lines with a 2H pencil. You can see them at the edge of some of the tonal work, hinting at a layer of shell.

What do I think? I am very happy with it. It was fun to do. While I love botanic drawing and painting I have enjoyed allowing myself to play. And of course it is through play that we learn. I know so much more about the water-soluble pencil. I know that I really liked using it, but I know that it has limitations.

As for oyster shells…..I know that I love them and will continue to be fascinated by them for a number of drawings to come! And then I will explore muscle shells 🙂

[The drawing is available for sale in my Etsy store. Click here to have a look. If you would like to buy it, or any of my other works, but don’t want to go through Etsy, contact me directly.]

anne4bags Botanic Art My art work

Oyster shells

Extra time and added impetus from my sketchbook have allowed me to be fascinated by oyster shells.

You can imagine how wonderful it was to follow those quirky lines of the shells. They were fluid, but didn’t need to be really precise. I have been thinking about how to use line to build up shape. I was also playing around with a water-soluble pencil. I could draw the lines and then use water to move the graphite around the paper.

I have also been playing with simple watercolour washes to create the shells. More of them later.

I was really happy with these little studies, and have put them up for sale as a set of three in my Etsy store. I am quite okay with selling them individually too. (If you are interested in buying, follow the link to check out the details. But remember that you can always contact me here if you don’t want to go through Etsy.)