I would like to thank.... Kindness Odds and Ends

All this from the gorgeous Kate

A little while ago I had the privilege of meeting up with two blogging friends, EllaDee and Kate. We spent a delightful hour or two at the Botanic Gardens. It was like old friends meeting up, because, although we had never met, we are old friends through our blogs.

Imagine my further delight when I came home one afternoon to a parcel from Kate. In it were little treasures that I have to share.


If you follow Kate’s blog (and if you don’t, maybe you should!) you will know that she is an amazing quilter. The mat she sent to me is too nice to use! But I will, and I will think of her when I do.

The quilted mat

She hand stitched me a book mark, with my initials and even a feather. Knowing that I am obsessed with feathers is not difficult, but how did she know that I collected bookmarks? This one will have pride of place. And I am looking forward to drawing that feather she sent.

A special book mark and a wonderful feather

There were more treasures to come.

A little while ago I had a flurry of making sketchbooks, which I sent off to bloggers who wanted one. Kate’s has come back to me. I was blown away when I saw what she had added to it. I will let the photos speak.

The original sketchbook





…..and lastly some extra, beautiful feathers. I am very humbled, Kate, thank you.




Planting one more seed.

As you know I love sketchbooks and I love gardening. You can imagine how this delightful little book made me smile. It made my Mum smile. I hope it makes you smile too.

My art work Travels

Hello from Flinders Island

Before I left I had many pleasant daydreams about my time as Artist in Residence on Flinders Island. How often do daydreams come true? Well, in my case they have!

(Apologies for any glitches in my posts from Flinders Island. The Internet connection is reasonable, at best, and I am not used to creating on the WordPress app.)

We flew on a little plane, with about 12 other passengers. It took an hour from Essendon Airport, and, because we weren’t flying at jet level heights, I could see the land and sea we we flying over. Seeing Flinders Island come into view was very exciting!

We were picked up from the airport by Helen and came to Mountain Seas Resort via the supermarket at the little town of Whitemark. At Mountain Seas we have everything we could possibly need, from a car that is available for us to use to a kitchen and sitting area. All of this nestled at the foot of Mt Strzelecki and its national park and a couple of kms away from glorious beaches. This is the view from our balcony.


So, the setting is spectacular and the accommodation is easy, enjoyable and relaxing. What about me, the Artist? Well there is so much to engage me, to make me pick up a pencil and draw. I am loving the big things, like the exposed rock on the mountains above me. I am fascinated by the shape of the melaleuca trees and the patterns and rhythms those shapes make. While there are not many plants in flower at the moment, there are some delicate little ones and other plants have interesting seed pods. I am interested in identifying and drawing them.

What artist doesn’t daydream about having the time to create? Today I sat in beautiful sunshine to do three different sketches of melaleuca on the property. Then I went into my ‘studio’, a table in the conservatory. It is about 20 steps from the kitchen and I can easily come and go, and enjoy the company of blue wrens and wallabies. When the evening chill comes down I move into the kitchen/sitting area to do inside things. It has only been three days, but I feel so privileged and fortunate to be here.

This is one of my melaleuca sketches — created in one of my homemade sketchbooks. Melaleuca plants, for those who aren’t familiar with them, are quite twisted, with a canopy structure that looks like broccoli. I realised that the best way to draw them was by using negative spaces. So instead of trying to draw the trunks and branches I drew the spaces around them. That may sound as if I was drawing in the same way, but really it meant that I was able to build up the space between the main trunks and give an illusion of depth. I think this little sketch has a rather Art Deco feel to it.


My art work

My new, handmade sketchbook, and some other sketchbooks too.

I love books. I love their smell, their promise of adventure into a new world, and how they feel, weighted in my hand. I especially love notebooks and especially, especially sketchbooks. They have thick white pages that beg to be marked.

I am currently sketching in a Strathmore Art Journal, 400 series. It has 48 pages of watercolour paper. I love holding it. I love the sound of the pens across its paper. It takes watercolour washes well, as it should. I am still coming to terms with the rectangular format. It makes me plan my pages. Otherwise they end up looking a little higgledy piggledy, and I don’t like that. And it fits nicely into my bag.

An earlier sketchbook was one of those visual art diaries. It travelled overseas with me. I doodled in it, practised Celtic braids and Art Nouveau patterns in it, stuck wrapping paper in it and doodled from there and recorded small events while we travelled in Alice the Caravan. Higgledy piggledy was fine and encouraged. But the paper was only cartridge, and went funny when I tried to use watercolour on it. I loved the freedom of that sketchbook. Somehow my current one, the Strathmore, doesn’t allow doodling.

For much of last year I worked in a Hand.Book (That’s the brand name.) I really enjoyed its square format. If I wanted to I could divide each page up further and do little drawings. Only occasionally did I work across both pages. It has heavier paper that took watercolour so well but ordinary pencil smudged easily. That was okay, as it made me use pen. Pen doesn’t allow rubbing out, so I had to be sure of the lines I put down. It developed my confidence in my hand/eye co-ordination.

I decided that this sketchbook needed a fancy cover, so I glued on a piece of freeform knitting a crocheting I had lying around. I also included a handkerchief ~ clean, of course! ~ that had a special meaning for me.

So that’s where I have been and where I am. I have other sketchbooks that I use in other ways, and I will tell you about them some other time. My next sketchbook will be different.

I have been quite envious of sketchers like Roz Stendhal who speak about making their own sketchbooks and journals. One of my Pinterest boards is a collection of bookbinding ideas and sites. Making my own sketchbook was up there on my list of projects. Then I had this brain wave. I could make a sketchbook using papers of drawings and paintings I had rejected  ~ and there were quite a few of them! The backs of them were usable, and the painting might only have been a little mushroom or a colour swatch. I was so carried away that I was up at 2 o’clock the other morning punching holes in the paper! This is the result ~ and I have plenty more paper to make more, maybe bigger ones!

Front cover of my first handmade sketchbook  (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
Front cover of my first handmade sketchbook
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)

I like the idea of some pages already having something on them. I can sketch and doodle around them or even over them without having to fret about stuffing up a precious new page of “good” paper.

It didn’t take much ~ odds and ends of paper and a few sheets of new paper from a sketch book, thread that I have miles of, a thick sewing needle and the needle from the sewing machine. This was sharp enough to pierce the paper to make the original holes.

Now the fun begins in using it. I have a plan for its first outing. Wait and see.

My art work


When I worked full-time there was little time to be creative. Even when there were free hours I was often mentally exhausted and craved passive reading or TV watching. I kept up some creative efforts by going to weekly classes. I always vowed that I would practise during the week, but most of the time I didn’t. When retirement came along I knew that I would love it. I was made for retirement!

While I stil fritter away time, I have so much more of it. One of the things I love to do is creative play. Botanic art is my foundation. It is an art form that is controlled and detailed, usually working on small areas. Now I have had time to explore in other ways, to play with watercolour paint, mixing colours, making washes, learning that often wonderful art comes from the unexpected, uncontrolled.

I have blogged about both forms of my art, the Cullen palladium that I painted for the exhibition and the limpet shells and oyster shells.

Today I wanted to tell you about another challenge of my artistic life, my sketching. When I first started drawing as an adult I drew regularly. It was a practise that really helped my artistic hand-eye co-ordination. For some reason — time? TV? — I stopped. Now I have taken it up again, but I don’t sketch as regularly as I would like.

I have always loved sketchbooks, their fluid drawings, their exploration of ideas, their colour and vibrancy. Don’t you love to look at sketchbooks of artists, professional or other wise? Turner’s sketchbook on display at a recent exhibition of his work was a treasure. I have a Pinterest board devoted to other people’s sketchbooks, my version of eye-candy!

A sketch book from his very extensive collection. He was a prolific artist, and seemed to have a sketch book ready to use at all times.
A sketch book from Turner’s very extensive collection. He was a prolific artist, and seemed to have a sketch book ready to use at all times.

For about a year I have been a semi-regular sketchbooker. I have had help from online courses. One was Sketchbook Skool, an initiative of two wonderful, but very different, sketchers — Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene. They have brought together a range of talented artists to tutor the courses. Some I had “met” online, some were new to me. All were inspiring and definitely worth the price of the course.

Liz Steel is another sketching artist who is a great inspiration. I am about half-way through  her course, Foundations and I am very impressed with her through preparation for each lesson. As the name implies her lessons are designed to give the basics, the foundations, for drawing confidently out of doors. So far we have explored edges and volume, contour drawings and blind drawing. She has encouraged us to understand my equipment better — I have even done a colour mixing chart in my book! For each lesson there are written materials, videos, PDFs and homework challenges. Liz generously gives more of her time to answer questions and offer advice.

One of my sketching challenges is to take my sketchbook out into the world. Actually, that should read “to take my sketchbook out while I am in the real world”! Sitting on the couch and drawing the things I see in front of me is easy. Sitting outside and drawing the things I see in front of me is much more difficult. My challenge is to get myself out of that comfort zone.

Liz’s homework has been a big help. Like all good homework the exercises are to help understand the concepts covered. One part of the homework is inside, but the other part is an outside task, such as drawing letterboxes or my front door. And you are going to help me meet that challenge too. I am going to post my outside sketches here, and I know that you will be positive and supportive, even of the wonky lines!

I will leave you with some outside sketches from the last few months. Remember there will be more to come!