Random things

(Let me just start by apologising profusely for last weeks train wreck of a blog post.  This is what happens when you ask your husband to proof read something .. he just takes over and writes mean shit about people!)

I’m taking a bit of a break after all that Fashions on the Field business so thought I would share some things I did earlier this year.  These were graphite and colour pencil illustrations based on a some images from Zara.  I had planned to do a whole series of them but other stuff keeps coming up!

Both are available as prints (terribly unimaginative titles I know but I’m no good at naming my art!)

Blue-jeans“Blue Socks” – Graphite and colour pencil illustration




“Red Shoes” – Graphite and colour pencil illustration

Fashions on the Field has been hijacked!!!

So you think YOU are sick of those Fashions on the Field drawings I am freakin’ bored witless!  It has taken every ounce of mental discipline to finish this last one.  To be fair, discipline, focus, being task oriented etc, are all traits that I seriously lack.  Anyway now it is finally finished and no one need read another blog post (at least from me) about fascinators, millinery, or whatever the fuck that shit they put on their head is called. (husband here: she doesn’t really mean that)

This last one nearly killed me. I have to admit I hated every second of it!  I feel a bit bad owning up to that. It feels a bit like artistic blasphemy.  Everything should be created with love, passion etc etc … In all honesty this one came from a place of frustration and desperation … JUST GET IT DONE.

Here she is; Courtney Moore the winner of the 2016 Myer Fashions on the Field event, completed in graphite, colour pencil and digital colouring.

2016 version 2.jpg

…and here are all the rest.  These 11 drawings are part of bigger plan / collaboration project.  Only time will tell what happens with that project.  If I never speak of them again you will know that it amounted to nothing and I wasted six months drawing smiling women in silly hats!  Never again! (husband here: she really does love the hats and the smiling women)

POSTER 2.jpg

So which one is my favourite?  Certainly Chloe Moo – 2013, was the crowd favourite, smashing my Instagram account.  I think I am most chuffed with Kristy Magillivary – 2008, the all black one, only because I could not fathom how to draw an all black outfit (nor how an all black outfit actually won) (husband here: she likes black! she wears loads of black I swear!).  I did a lot of it in Photoshop and it turned out exactly as I planned.

As my personal favourite, I am torn between Emily Hunter – 2015, and Angela Menz – 2011 (aka – vagina head).  (husband here again: it was me who said it looked like a vagina. It’s not her fault).  For both of these I ventured a lot further with colour pencil than I have previously and was pretty happy with the results. It has definitely inspired me to pursue colour pencils a bit more (oh and to buy $100 worth of new fancy Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils.)

For all my wanting to be a real/ professional artist at the beginning of the year this project was a stark reality check.  Maybe it’s not all  that it’s cracked up to be.  Maybe I don’t want to be a REAL artist after all  and I am truly okay with that.  I just want to draw what I want to draw,  how and when I want to draw it, with no external or internal pressure.

Creativity is something deep within me that I just have to get out (I’m sure my husband is going to read that and say …what like a giant 💩.. ewwww),  It doesn’t have to have a purpose or a meaning, it doesn’t have to “get likes”, it doesn’t even have to be that good at the end of the day I just have to do it.

(Husband here: she really is a nice person, sometimes she just lets shit come out that should remain in her head. I guess that’s why I love her. I apologise to anyone who has been offended)

Ha ha.. he hijacked my blog post and the fact that I spent $100 on colour pencils didn’t even raise an eyebrow!!

Pet Portrait; Jackson


This is Jackson.  He is super cute and my most recent pet portrait commission.  By some odd karmic coincidence this request arrived a few days after we had to put our own dog down.  Dusty has made an appearance a couple of times in this blog so you might be familiar with him.  We got Dusty whilst living in Abu Dhabi.  He and his eight siblings had been found abandoned in a flooded building site as tiny, very cute, pups.  After three years in the UAE he made the long trip (💰💰💰) back to Australia and enjoyed another three years with us here.  Dusty was the best-worst dog you could ever have.  Those who knew him will know what that means! 😢


Anyway I had loads of fun doing this commission of Jackson.  I haven’t drawn anything but people for such a long time I’d forgotten animals are a whole different kettle of fish (so to speak).  In some ways they are a little easier as you don’t need to worry about creating a smooth surface like you do with human skin but the flip side is you have to be super careful about inadvertent ‘blending’ (aka smudges).  All that work to create tiny little individual lines of  hair only to lose them by smudge them all together …ahhhgg!

wip 1

The number one thing I re-learned doing this piece was the importance of figuring out the direction of travel of the fur BEFORE you start each area you are working on.  You might start thinking the hair goes one direction only to discover it is actually a different direction and it is not always as instinctive as you think!.  It can end up looking a bit unnatural if the hair is going the wrong way or you change it part way through and create an odd looking transition.

Weird Wikipedia fact? thing: where the hair changes direction is called a hair whorl.  It’s claimed there is a correlation between the location, number, or type of whorls and behaviour or temperament in horses and other species.  Apparently the Bedouins believe different whorls mean different things.  A whorl between the horse’s ears is a sign of swiftness and a whorl on the chest means prosperity!  But beware the horse with a whorl above its eyes, it’s master is going to die of a head injury… (that is a fairly specific way to die so it must be true!)

But I digress…. Sometimes it can be quite hard to tell the direction of the hair from a photograph. Just a quick tip; I find it helpful to actually draw directional arrows on my reference drawing before I actually start.

wip 3

wip 5


jackson framed


I don’t know much about Jackson but I like to think that maybe he and Dusty are having a great time playing together wherever it is that dogs go after they leave this world.

img_1481RIP little man xx


If you are interested in a pet portrait of your bestie please check out my Etsy store. AUD $60 (an absolute bargin!) for an A3 portrait plus postage.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?  Not quite!  I managed to knock over two more Myer Fashions on the Field illustrations this week with just one more left to do.. phew!

First off, this week is the 2011 winner, Angela Menz.  Angela is a milliner and designer who created this winning outfit and headpiece for $400!!  And no my sweet but ignorant husband, she is not wearing a giant vagina on her head … it’s “fashun” darling… FASHUN!  Angela is also responsible for On Track Trend which you can also follow on Instagram if you like keeping up with all things racing fashion.

If you read last week’s post you will know I chickened out of doing a complete colour pencil portrait and ended up with a bit of half and half (graphite and colour mix).  This time I went for it and did my first ever colour pencil portrait.  I am actually pretty happy with how it turned out!


version 2

Second up is 2010 winner Jaydee Menegon who won wearing an $18 dress …bargain!


Photo Credit 1/2

Emily Hunter – Fashion on the Field Winner 2015

final version 4.jpgwrok in progress

I finally feel like I am getting close to the finish line with these Myer Fashions on the Field National winners. Six down, five to go!

This time it is the 2015 winner, Emily Hunter.  Hands down the best fascinator, millinery, head-piece, whatever you call it on ground ever!.  Okay maybe that is a big call but it is a very pretty head piece.

I went for a slightly different style with this drawing, pulling back on the detail in her face to focus my attention on the headwear.  I had initially thought to complete the whole drawing in colour pencil but I chickened out!  I don’t yet feel confident enough with my colour pencil skills to do a complete portrait.  Anyway I quite like the finished mix of the graphite and colour pencil!




Photo Credit: 1/2


Chloe Moo – Myer Fashions on the Field Winner 2013

Graphite, watercolour and digital colour fashion illustration of Chloe Moo winner of the 2013 Myer Fashions on the Field

Graphite, watercolour and digital colour fashion illustration of Chloe Moo winner of the 2013 Myer Fashions on the Field

This is one of my favourite looks of all the Myer Fashions on the Field National winners.  Chloe Moo’s dress was designed by her mother using fabric screen printed by Merrepen Arts at a community south of Darwin in the Northern Territory.  Nineteen year old Chloe matched the red, black and white dress with Valentino Shoes and a matching fascinator by Monsoon Millinery.

This piece was created using graphite pencils, watercolour and digital colouring.

Follow the links to see my illustrations of the 2017 and 2007 winners.



Photo Credit: fabulous-femme.com 



New York fashion Week; colour pencil illustration

This is part 2 of my most recent colour pencil adventures.  You can read part 1 here.    To quickly recap the most important lessons / tips I learnt at last weekend’s colour pencil class;

  1. Use a sharp pencil held upright (i.e. perpendicular to the page) in small circular strokes.
  2. Smooth paper is essential to creating a smooth finish.
  3. Three methods of blending;
    1. layering colour pencils
    2. solvents
    3. colourless pencil blender
  4. Use a burnishing pencil to “polish’ the paper to create a shiny surface.
  5. Hold the tip of the pencil against the object you are drawing to achieve the best colour match for your base layers.
  6. Create shadows using a complementary colour and analogue colours for a smooth transition.

This week I put these tips to the test on my New York Fashion Week illustration.  I took at tonne of work-in-progress photos this time to document the process.  I am a little bit reluctant to share them as colour pencil is seriously best viewed at a bit of a distance.  It looks terribly grainy up close especially with unforgiving overhead lighting.

You can read all about the process of putting these tips in to action below or, just cut to the end for a look at the final image.

Continue reading

Colouring in with Nanna (or 10 Colour Pencil Tips)

Last weekend I did my first art class in years; a two-day colour pencil botanical illustration workshop. Why botanics?  Well botanical illustration is not really my thing.  I love nature and I love creating fine details in my artwork but, to be honest, I am just not that in to drawing flowers.

BUT I love to add colour to my graphite illustrations and I have battled with gouache, watercolour, ink, digital colouring and colour pencil.  Of all these mediums colour pencil seems to make the most sense to me and feel fairly instinctive to use.  However, I have discovered, it’s not that simple.  Colour pencils are quite different to graphite and have their own idiosyncracies.  What I really wanted out of this workshop was some colour pencil know how.

I have previously done a couple of colour pencil drawings and in the process come up with a few problems or questions;

  • How much colour or how many layers do I add / when have I laid down enough colour?
  • Is it “acceptable” to leave white paper showing?
  • What is burnishing?
  • What is blending?
  • Aren’t they the same thing?
  • What’s the deal with using solvents?  Are they necessary?

With these questions at the forefront of my mind I entered my first coloured pencil / botanical class ever.  The first thing I noticed was that I seemed to be a good twenty years  younger than my class mates.  Botanicals are popular with the Nannas it would seem!  Despite my desk mates penchant for dad jokes (or nan jokes) and clipping their nails during class (I kid you not!) they were a delightful bunch of incredibly skilled women.

Equally as impressive as their drawing and academic skills was ….the amount of tea they could drink in a day.  Nah…  actually the array of shit they had amassed in their crafting careers.  We had enough pencils, paper, erasers, magnifying glasses, sharpeners, paints, brushes to set up our own black market art supply business.  There was even a light box produced at one point!  My husband needs to meet these ladies. My stash is NOTHING compared to these magpies…. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

natures art lab collage

Let’s cut to the chase.  What did I learn.

  1. A. a sharp pencil is an absolute must and you can use sandpaper to maintain a point (this is, however, a skill in itself and one that I did not manage to master. Alas all my pencils are now about an inch long from constant sharpening).  Without a sharp point you can not get in to all the little undulations the tooth of the paper creates.  On that same note we were encouraged to use an upright pencil (i.e. as perpendicular to the paper as possible) and gently lay down colour using small circular strokes.  Again this is the best method to get colour in to all the nooks and crannies of the paper’s surface.  A circular motion also helps avoid any obvious overlapping of pencil strokes.
    1. B. I hate the sound of electric pencil sharpeners about as much as someone publicly clipping their nails and if I hear it one more time I will not hesitate to ram it up the behind of the offending Nanna.
  2. Smooth paper is also must, pretty much for the same reason as above. Less tooth = smoother finished product.  At this particular workshop I was using Winsor and Newton Smooth Surface Cartridge Pad but I will go back to Arches Watercolour Smooth paper as I think it has a smoother finish.
  3. Blending – this is what it’s all about!  We discussed three methods of blending.  One being simply using pencils and layering them blending one colour in to another.  The trick is to work light to dark with a sharp point and the lightest of light pressure.  At this point I was able to answer my question about white paper showing through and it’s not wrong.  If it suits the look of the project/ subject matter then it’s okay.  We also used a colourless pencil blender with a medium pressure and a solvent (turpentine) to blend colours.  Solvents work basically to break down or melt the binders in wax and oil based pencils thus reducing the look of pencil strokes and smoothing the surface.
  4. Burnishing – Why would you? Burnishing (i.e. blending to a shiny almost reflective surface using a burnishing pencil) was pretty quickly dismissed as a technique for botanics but I can see some applications in other areas.  It might be a good tool to create a pair of shiny leather shoes perhaps?
  5. She who has the most and/or the most expensive coloured pencils does not necessarily win.  If you lack the skills a $5 pencil is going to look shit regardless.  Skills first – expensive tools later (I can’t believe I just said that! – this is coming from the queen of when-it’s-not-working-buy-more-stuff and, who the day before the class, spent $$$ buying half a dozen Faber-Castell Polychromos colour pencils so that I would have THE BEST pencils for my class.  I discover the next day my teacher had all kinds of random pencils.  I suspect she even had some “student grade” (horror of horrors) amongst her stash.)
  6. The best way to colour match is to hold the tip of the pencil against the object you are drawing / colour you are hoping to achieve.  This is clearly a no brainer but it had never occurred to me.  I spend ages making little square test patches of colour and then forgetting which combination of colours in which order I had just used.  You’re all probably reading this going ‘duh’ how did she not know to do that.
  7. Create shadows using a complementary colour.  I’ve been doing this for a while anyway so not really a revelation. The idea being that a complementary colour makes a more effective  and aesthetically pleasing shadow than just using black.  It was also suggested to use a deep analogue colour to create an effective tonal change  from the highlight to the shadow colour.  (Analogue colours being colours next to each other on the colour wheel for the uninitiated – I had to look it up too)
  8. Keep your kneadable eraser wrapped in the plastic wrap it comes in only exposing a little bit at a time as you knead need it.  Another REVELATION for me.  This stops you easer turning in to a dirty-doggy-human-hair infested glob.
  9. Get your shit organised!  Put the pencils you are not using at this current point in time out-of-the-way or you’re going to get all muddle up between what’s in and what’s not.
  10. Blog posts should have 10 tips… um be nice to old people and drawing plants is kinda boring.

When I got home I was dead keen to put my new found colour pencil skills in to action on something non-plant based.

Hallelujah …what could be more unnatural than…  New York F-A-S-H-I-O-N – W-E-E-K

To be honest I was a little underwhelmed by New York this time round.  So here are a few of my best bits (and how adorable is that chicky in the middle. I have no idea who she is but she has the most engaging smile!)).New York fashion week collage.jpg

I am going to do a really bad blog thing now.  I am not much of a blog planner and have no content prepared beyond today but I reckon I can string this blog post out over two weeks!

All the work in progress and final images will appear next week.  But I don’t want to leave you hanging so here is a sneak peek of my colour pencil New York fashion week illustration.

work in progresswork in progress 9

And an extra bonus!  I know that ever since you read that bit about Dad jokes you’ve all been DIEING to hear one, so I thought I share one of the weekend’s best.

Nanna 1 “Oh rats” (aka oh shit, balls, crap, I have fucked something up – well that’s what I would have said)

Nanna 2 (Funny Nanna) “You’re in the wrong class”

Nanna 1 “What?”

Nanna 2 “We’re drawing flora not fauna!” (followed by a long and somewhat unnecessary explanation of how we were participating in a botanical illustration class therefore rats and their ilk had no place in our class and perhaps Nanna 1 should be looking for a fauna illustration class for her rats.

Please feel free to use that joke


Photo Credit: (clockwise from top left): 1.Tom Ford, 2. Jeremy Scott, 3. Bottega Veneta, 4. Victoria Beckham, 5. Mansur Gavrila, 6. Sies Marjan, 7. Prabal Gurung, 8. Tibi, 9.Collina Strada

Am I a “Real Artist” yet?

2018 is the year I become a real, proper, artist (whatever that means).

I think I have always attached the notion of being a real artist to being able to sell my art.  Thus far, in my art lifetime, I have sold one birthday card for a grand total of $3.50.

I’m not a real artist then…

Ah but now I have an actual “commission”.  A money-exchanging-hands-commission.  This one is for my good yogi friend Kirsten (aka the Pink Princess).  Kirsten’s beautiful daughter, SJ, has just graduated as a defence cadet and is about to celebrate her twenty-first birthday.  Kirsten asked me to draw a portrait of SJ with her grandfather as a surprise birthday gift.

Kirsten provided me a photograph of SJ and her grandfather with instructions to “pimp” pop (Kirsten’s words not mine).  Not RuPaul Drag Race pimping just removing anything that said hospital.  Kirsten wanted the lipstick kiss on pop’s forehead to stay (which thrilled me no end as I like a bit of colour in my graphite drawings).


Work in progress photos.



FINAL cropped

So now that money has exchanged hands, do I actually consider myself as a REAL artist?

I make art; therefore I am an artist.  I am a living breathing human; therefore I am real.  That must make me a real-artist.

Or much more eloquently from artist and designer, Victoria Rose Martin

“Am I a real artist? Real or not I am an artist and I make things because of a deep desire to do so. Nothing more. And people’s opinions, I was once told “opinions are like backsides, everybody has one.”  I don’t make things with the thought of pleasing the masses or selling them; instead I make art because my fingers and brain give me no option to do anything else.” – What Makes a Real Artist