Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sad to wake to the news this morning of the death of actor Richard Griffiths.  He leaves a great body of stage, film and television work behind as a testament to his talent.

The 1990s series Pie in the Sky was a particular favourite of mine. Here Griffiths (as policeman and restaurateur Henry Crabbe) worked alongside Maggie Steed (Margaret Crabbe) and Malcolm Sinclair (Assistant Chief Constable Freddy Fisher).

I was fortunate to see the three actors play together in Alan Bennett‘s The History Boys when the National Theatre stage production toured Australia in 2006 not to mention the entire ensemble cast.

Vale Richard Griffiths.

Pie in the Sky - radio times

photo –

On a day when more adventurous projects didn’t quite come up to scratch, I decided I would play with some paint anyway and create a few gift tags.  On the way, I have learned (again) that less is more, taking it too seriously is not the best strategy and masking fluid is sometimes not your best friend.  And – having watercolours flow off a brush onto paper can be a beautiful thing.



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Last night was apparently a marvellous night for a full moon dance.  It rose within my line of sight from the kitchen and I couldn’t resist going out to capture some of the cloud movement around the light.

As a teetered on a garden seat to get the best shot, our resident night herons were sounding their departure ‘quoks’ to each other. Decision communicated, they disappeared quickly across the moon sky towards the bay.  In the dark, night herons are particularly camera shy.


I noticed the tendrils on the passionfruit vine this morning.  You can tell it was early in the morning as everything was still a bit blurry!

Notice how the new tendrils reach out, yet still have the need to hang on to something.


A year ago we were in Vancouver taking a crisp cold afternoon walk through the Lost Lagoon Wetland in Stanley Park.  A Great Blue Heron posed with a dignified (or perhaps cautious) stillness as I took a photograph.

A few weeks ago, I made this sketch from that photo. This morning, I was playing with FX Pro and decided that the heron looked quite fine in this Stencil Poster Blue effect.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society has information about these magnificently plumed birds and their nesting and migratory rituals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreat blue heron sketchBlue heron - Stanley Park - stencil poster blue

One of the joys of the internet is the number of people who put their work out there for us all to appreciate.  I first became aware of a particular network of sketchers via the book, The Art of Urban Sketching, which led me to the Urban Sketchers blog.

artofurbansketchingcover copy

One hundred invited artists contribute their sketches from over 30 countries in the world, drawing on location from direct observation. They are deliberately place-based drawings and depict works telling the story of where the artists live and travel.  You can also donate to the site to keep its work going.

The styles, techniques and media used are different for each of the artists. Since following the blog, I have a few favourites which I’ll post about in weeks to come. Wil Freeborn features in the latest book from the Urban Sketchers stable, An Illustrated Journey.

Wil Freeborn - Illustrated Journey



For people like me playing at sketching and wanting to get better at it, the work of Urban Sketchers contributor Wil Freeborn’s is aspirational.  This is his blog.

An Illustrated Journey is on my purchase list – another great illustrator meets place book.

Artisans in Edinburgh - Urban SketchersManna House Bakery - Wil Freeborn

The release of a National Cultural Policy – Creative Australia has much going for it.  I like what I’m reading and hearing – particularly this statement. The link takes you through to more information about the policy and its intent.

Creative Australia imageCreative Australia is informed by the belief that a creative nation is a productive nation in the fullest sense of the word – empathic, respectful, imaginative, industrious, adaptive, open and successful.

I fear that there is no time for this to get traction in the space between now and the September election.

I hope that it and the principles the policy espouses get to see the light of day.

Here are a couple of attempts with my new marker pens and water colours from photographs I’ve taken.  I’m learning that slowing down and letting go yield more satisfying results.

There is no rush.

garland of chillies – Pike Place Market, Seattle



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black-winged stilts – Moreton Bay


A month ago, I wrote here about noticing and paying attention, and of wanting to sharpen my observation skills. One of the ways I will achieve this fine objective is to put pen (or the like) to paper.

You might call it messing about.  I prefer to think of it as a playful foray into the world of pencils, pens, charcoal, water colour pencils, field kits, water based marker pens, art journals, stippled paper, matt paper, fine tip, broad brush (pause).

Stationers and art suppliers salivate when I step into their store or online space.  It’s a conspicuous joy, akin to the pleasure I also get from discovering hidden items in the house, purchased on other sorties over the years.

Critiques of technique will be listened to with an open mind.  Except that’s not what this is about.

It’s about finding ways to illustrate an experience and hold on to the feeling.  It’s about waking up the creative spirit that’s in all of us if we have the courage to play.  It’s about being brave enough to display it to the world and being happy enough that it represents what was happening for you when you sketched it.

There is more travel in my future. The camera and journal (lest their jealous ears might be listening) will always be constant companions, only from now on they’ll be sharing the space in the day pack with some other weapons of mass creation.


Street lamp – Gastown, Vancouver BC


Sleeping passenger
Spirit of Tasmania ferry March 2013












PS  14 March 2013

Look what the postman brought today.  First play with these water-based markers – brush nib at one end, plastic at other.  You can blend the colours pretty well – with or without the water brush.



I’m adding a new category called ‘this’ to post images and music – as in this makes me feel good.

I have chosen Amanda Palmer to lead off in her own inimitable style.