Be still

•February 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Oil on canvas.

24″ X 20″ (61 X 51cm)

Enquire for original artwork / commissions.


#adrawingaday – reflections

•February 2, 2018 • 1 Comment

Hello blogger world! Does anyone read / follow blogs anymore in this insane insta-world of ours? I know it’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted to this blog, but here goes!

A month ago, I embarked on a Sketchbook Skool #adrawingaday / #adrawingaday challenge – this is the first time I’ve made it beyond day 2 and had the motivation to see it through to the end.

A drawing a day for January 2018….. DONE!

Here are my sketches from Instagram:

Instagram - #adrawingaday Jan 2018

Instagram – #adrawingaday by @ablanksheetifpaper (Jan 2018)

Am I going to continue the exercise in February? No!

What have I learnt / achieved / got out of the process?

  • Making time to draw each day has been a good habit to develop – this part I can buy into. But it does take a deliberate effort to make time each day, especially at the end of a long day in front of a computer. There were a few days when it took sheer will-power to make it happen and I have to acknowledge that some of the drawings were rushed and thrown together. Not the way I like to express my creativity – it felt a bit forced.
  • Following specific prompts is stressful. I really struggle to sketch / draw / paint something random if it has no meaning to me. I don’t enjoy drawing something just for the sake of drawing, even when I know that it’s all good practice. [I wrote an article on Medium to make this point!]
  • To me the process of creating must either express beauty or a convey a message that draws attention. #spoon and #trinket did nothing for me; but I enjoyed making the mental and emotional leap from #erase (rhino conservation) and #trip (a tribute to the daughters and mothers of Afghanistan); moving from something “random” to a heart-felt emotion and desire to express an important message.
  • On week days, being compelled to sketch something specific left little time for drawing / creating anything else, leaving longer-term, bigger, more meaningful projects neglected and abandoned until I had more time on the weekend
  • I tried to use the process to experiment with different media and styles – the detailed graphite drawings (#limbo and #erase) and vibrant loose watercolour (#mixed and #trip) sketches are my favourites media and processes.
  • I’ve confirmed to myself that I like to have time to add detail and don’t like being rushed to “finish” something. Even the simplest of sketches needs time to settle so that I can a step back and then add a few finishing touches.
  • I’ve also re-established that I’m a perfectionist and sometimes the subject / style / lack of time means the drawings cannot be perfect…. sigh! I would prefer to post only masterpieces……

So, a good learning experience, but not to be continued right now. I would like to stick with the habit of #createeveryday, but not necessarily finishing or posting a piece of art every day. I’d also like to choose a more meaningful range of subjects for a week at a time, e.g. drawing graphite portraits, or practising anatomy drawings, but allowing myself enough time to do each one properly.


•September 1, 2014 • 1 Comment

Paint My Photo (PMP) has been running a competition to support the Music Man Project, which provides a unique music service for people with a learning disability, difficulty or special educational need. Composer and musician, David Stanley, heads up the Music Man project and has composed 8 untitled pieces of music for the competition; the competition is for artists to listen to the individual pieces of music and create a painting that they feel reflects its mood.

I love this idea – it is the along the same lines as my Painted Quotes series – reading words or listening to music and then expressing the scene and/or emotion through a piece of art. I love reading, I love beautiful expressive music – there are so many lines from books that I would love to paint……. and this competition provided a wonderful opportunity to express the beauty of the music in a painting. As usual, I had great plans to paint more than one of the “musical poems”, but I ran out of time and narrowly crept in with only one painting on the last day of entry. However – nothing to stop me from challenging myself to create the other pieces in my own time and outside of the competition – just add it to my always increasing, “Things to paint” list!



All the musical poems that David Stanley composed are beautiful and expressive in their own right, but the one that appealed to me the most had a nostalgic air – a sense of time passing by; of things changing, nothing staying quite the same; with hints of sadness and longing. It captured my imagination and reminded me of Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca”. Who can forget the iconic first line

Last night I dreamed of Manderley….

and the description of the stately splendour of this great house, once so filled with life and gaiety, now abandoned and only visited in dreams.

A photo by Alison F of PMP provided the overgrown sense of wildness and impact of the effects of time that I was looking for to portray the sense of something lost, something remembered; a wistfulness and longing for earlier times of grandeur. Painted with watercolours and watercolour pencils.

Alight – an Experiment in Colour

•August 26, 2014 • 1 Comment


Watercolour of a swallowtail on a zinnia – a photo by Rodney Campbell on Paint My Photo.

Two seasons

•August 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Mountains in Winter

Mountains in Winter


Woodland in Spring

Woodland in Spring

These paintings formed one of my assignments for the Watercolor Diploma at London Art College.

Silent but still breathing…..and creating….

•August 5, 2014 • 7 Comments

In the many months since my last blog post before hibernation, my creative journey has continued, albeit a little sporadically and with a few detours and off-road ventures. Sometimes it’s been a question of trying to take on too much all at once, or of finding that life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of my intentions. Over this time of blog-silence I’ve come to a clearer understanding – for now – of where I want my art to go and so I have begun to put a few things in place to help me get there.

I am nearing the end of my Watercolour Diploma with the London Art College: 5 assignments down, 2 to go. I started in January 2013, but have needed the full 2 years to complete the assignments. My main problem is that I tend to “get stuck” on a specific painting and then spend a lot of time redoing over and over again it until it pleases me. This means that there are often big gaps between posting of assignments and it has made the course drag on far too long. In previous posts I’ve mentioned that I want to give some feedback about the course, but once again I am going to leave that for a future date!

A0. Fruitfulness - small

Fruitfulness – based on one of ESP’s photos on Paint My Photo

My preferred painting style remains loose or expressive watercolours, but I’ve realised that I need to improve my drawing skills so that I can do a better job of capturing the essence of a subject in order to portray it more loosely. Seems like a bit of a contradiction, but it makes sense to me! I have become tired of hearing the voice in my head “I can’t draw this….” or “I can’t paint that” – I need to get over that already! So I am taking a deliberate detour into drawing, with an emphasis on detailed drawing and of the goal of slowing down. I might not be able to create so many pieces of art, but I hope that there will be progress in the overall quality and consistency of my art. I discovered and wandered into the Drawing Academy and have found it to be a rich and detailed resource for acquiring better drawing skills. I am slowing working my way through the lessons and am really enjoying the change of media as well as the change of pace.


Megan’s eyes – from Alex Lee Johnson’s photo on PMP

We all need a little inspiration along the way, and no one inspires quite like Danny Gregory – so I signed up for Sketchbook Skool – and having been challenged and spurred on by the various instructors in Semester 1, promptly enrolled for Semester 2 and am very excited to be finding a way to give my art more a more central and meaningful place in my everyday life. I usually spend too much time waiting for “the right moment” to draw, to paint, to create. Sketchbook Skool has inspired me to continuously be on the lookout for drawing “moments” and ideas.


Drawing the Ironing

Over the next few weeks I’ll add some of the paintings I’ve done during the silent months and start blogging about the next phase of my art journey. I think it is going to be exciting and I am looking forward to whatever is just around the next corner!

Time to come out of hibernation….

•August 4, 2014 • 1 Comment

This blog has been in hibernation for far too long and the author feels that it is time to come back to life and to welcome the Spring (or Summer)!

A blank sheet of paper awaits….

Getting the mood right

•October 9, 2013 • 2 Comments

From a painting point of view, the last few  months have been very slow. The continuous grind of work pressures plus travelling back to SA to get our China visas renewed took the usual toll on my painting time and motivation.

I have been working on my latest assignment for London College of Art – all about creating atmosphere and mood – and it took a LONG time to achieve the right mood. Not helped by jet-lag and my general grumpiness and moodiness from work stresses, I might add. But somewhere along the way, I got into the mood of it all and I am very pleased with the results.

So here are my two moody paintings:

Simply Venice

Simply Venice

[From my own photo taken from a vaporetto on the way to Murano during my first visit to Venice in June this year]

Snowy Day Blues

Snowy Day Blues

From a lovely photo of Sint-Romboutstoren, Mechelen by ESP on PaintMyPhoto

Flying High

•August 18, 2013 • 2 Comments
Flying High

Flying High

A much looser version of a kingfisher based on a photo on PMP by ChrissyM – it was so much easier to paint more loosely with the bird in flight.

Colours; Prussian Blue, Pthalo Blue and Translucent Orange (and I think I sneaked in some Mayan Blue…)

Halcyon days

•August 13, 2013 • 5 Comments
Kingfisher (ref: Gary Jones on PMP)

Kingfisher (ref: Gary Jones on PMP)

I knew about halcyon days, but only recently found out that the term also refers to kingfishers.

1. calm; peaceful; tranquil: halcyon weather.
2. rich; wealthy; prosperous: halcyon times of peace
3. happy; joyful; carefree: halcyon days of youth.
4. of or pertaining to the halcyon or kingfisher.
5. mythical bird, usually identified with the kingfisher, said to breed about the time of the winter solstice in a nest floating on the sea, and to have the power of charming winds and waves into calmness.
6. any of various kingfishers, especially of the genus Halcyon.

I love these little birds – I am sure it has a lot to do with their gorgeous colouring; that lovely contrast between bright orange and blue. I was hoping for a “looser” version, but couldn’t quite there, so he’s a little more “stiff” than I would like him to be.

I have struggled to get back into the painting zone after some time away and I seem to have lost the ability to “see” and interpret an image in a looser way. I have found that I tend to tighten up when I lose confidence. So while this little guy is not quite what I want him to be, at least he has given me the opportunity to get back on the road to “finding my stroke” again.