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: 



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




Crikey, I’ve lost my mojo!

"Emmi" - Colour and graphite pencil drawing (detail)

I often use this blog to give a bit of the back story to each of my drawings; where my inspiration comes from and how the illustrations came to be.  I’d love to have a great back story to this piece but .. well… there actually isn’t one   I started this drawing late last year when I had four or five unfinished drawing “failures” hanging about.  Failures is probably too harsher word but illustrations that just hadn’t come together and consequently I’d lost any desire to finish them.  I felt like I had completely lost my mojo.

After taking a bit of a break I decided that the best way to rebuild my confidence was by drawing something that I am comfortable with and that I know I do quite well.  Take the easy road!  A graphite pencil portrait of a pretty girl!

I normally do my works on A3 (297 x 420mm) Arches paper but for this one I needed more space so I busted out the rarely used A2 (420 x 594mm) paper.  I find A2 a bit too large and awkward to manage.  And when you have an A3 scanner it can be a complete bitch to scan A2 and match up the two halves seamlessly.

I started with the graphite pencil face and then the hands using my usual Tombow mono pencils.  Initially I wasn’t planning on doing anything other than the face and hands but since it was going along quite well and my confidence was up I decided to add some colour.  I have no idea why I chose to draw them in colour pencil I think it was just an intuitive thing at the time.   It didn’t even cross my mind that my last effort with colour pencil had been a little painful.


(Now I am going to crap on about colour pencil for a while, so you can just skip to the end to see the final image if this is all a bit boring.)

I started with an underdrawing using complementary colours; green pencil for the red flowers, red pencil for the green leaves and purple pencil for the yellow flowers and buds.  With my last colour pencil drawing I had difficulty getting sharp, crisp, edges.  Once again the colour pencil queen, Carrie L Lewis, has come to my rescue with her conveniently titled “How to Draw Crisp Edges with Colored Pencils”.  Read her blog for a more comprehensive explanation but in short; mark the outline before you start shading and ‘draw a light outline with every colour you use on that area’.  Why didn’t I think of that!

I used my Prismacolor Premier pencils to outline the red flowers in Kelp Green and then shaded in the darker/shadow areas in the same green.  I outlined again in Crimson Red being careful to travel as exactly as possible along the initial green line.  I repeated the Crimson Red outline with each layer of colour I applied.  You’d think this would be a pretty straight forward and simple process but truthfully I got better at it the more I did and my last flowers look a hell of a lot better than the first couple.  It takes a bit of a steady hand to trace accurately over the line below each time.  The more accurately you can do it the more crisp the edge will be.  Again I added more shadow in Crimson Red and Scarlet Lake for the centre.

To be honest, I really only used three colours on the flowers.  I’m seriously starting to believe that the LESS colours you use the better.  Creating ‘red’ with only three colours (one of which is not even red!) is more effective that using six different colours.  Maybe that’s just me!  Maybe a more experienced artist uses a lot of different colours I don’t know! (Maybe the colour pencil companies are a scamming us with their box sets of 72 different colour pencils and in reality you only need 2 reds, 2 blues, 2 greens, 2 yellows, 2 browns and black and white?… conspiracy?)


Flower-no2-v4.jpg(The top photo is one of the first flowers I did and the bottom photo the last one.  I think I got better!)

For the leaves and the yellow petals I followed the same process of tracing over the outline carefully with each colour I used.  It really did help me get a crisper, sharper, outline.  As with the red petals I continued to use a fairly limited palette starting with a complementary colour.


In my last colour pencil piece I liked the stage where some white paper was still showing through.   I prefer this over pushing it to the limit with as many layers as possible and removing all signs of the white paper.   This piece does lends itself well to that ‘style’ as I imagine it is a white blouse with the flowers and leaves embroidered on top so naturally there may be some white fabric peaking through.


Initially I had planned to add hair.  I struggle with hair a lot so I decided to leave it until the very end.  Now I kind of like her ‘hairless’.  I don’t know. What do you think?  Am I just being lazy!?



George’s American Virgin

Graphite and digital art illustration

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll be aware that this year I am embarking on creating my own… how shall we call them…dream? imaginary? projects and clients.  Last week I finished my step by step smokey eye beauty illustration featuring the lovely Matilda from Maya Organic Beauty Therapy.  This week it’s… beer labels!.  Yes, beer labels.  A bit of jump I know from makeup to beer but I am nothing if not adaptable.

There is a bit of beery back story to this one.  My husband has been an avid home brewer since before we were married.  As he likes to remind me I knowingly and willingly married in to this lifestyle.  And I don’t even like beer… at all (which I remind him that he knowing and willingly married in to).

He recently introduced his friend, George, into this weird world of yeast, hops, conditioning, carbonation, gravity. mouth feel and fermentation (I have no idea what these terms mean, I have merely heard them enough to absorbed them in to my vocabulary).

In honour of George’s first brew they asked for a specially designed beer label.

The guys came up with the name “Maiden Voyage”.  Because it was George’s first brew: “Maiden” and because the ‘Brewery’ is a 1921 train carriage that sits in our backyard (long story – not relevant to this long story).


The brief was annoyingly suprisingly specific: a hot chick wearing a train drivers cap with an American flag (in reference to this beer being an American Pale Ale).  And she had to have big boobs… naturally.

Miss Deadly Red is an English model who I first came across on Instagram @missdeadlyred.  As soon as I heard busty beer wench – she came to mind (I hope she’s not insulted by that).  The original image is based around a photograph from Miss Deadly Red’s Instagram account.  Mind you, agreement to the final image was struck only after SEVERAL drafts and there’s not much resemblance to Miss Deadly Red in the finished product.


I ended up not going as “busty” as the boys would like.  But I did get a lot of the other elements they wanted in; the American flag in the background, the train-drivers cap; and she’s even sporting a vintage American Express Railway Company badge with her name “Georgie” and “01” (in reference to this being the first batch of Maiden Voyage).






As this will ultimately be a beer label and really no bigger than 10cm x 10cm, the colours need to be quite strong and crisp.  I’ve gained a bit more confidence working with Photoshop after my last project so decided to try my hand a digital colouring again.  And here she is…FINAL-V2

I was under severe time pressure to get this finished before all the beer was drunk! and I only just made it!  If I had a bit more time there’s a couple of things I would fix.  My main problem is I feel like the top half of the picture dominates because the background and the cap are such strong colours.  I did end up deepening the colours on the denim overalls and the badge but I still think the bottom half is a little ‘soft’ in comparison to the top and gets a bit lost.

Also the skin colour is a bit off.  I am pretty woeful at matching or picking colours.  If I pick what I think is a good skin colour it is likely to end up being a weird green-grey shade.  I did discover that you can look up hex codes online for all sorts of things: skin. eye colour, denim!. I used  It is a really helpful a shortcut.


Overall the brewers were pretty happy with “Georgie” and I now have a list of about ten upcoming brews in need of labels!

Cheers 🍺🍺🍻🍻

Photo credit 1/

Beauty illustration – Perfecting the smokey eye

Graphite Pencil and digital art illustration of Matilda

Last week I completed my graphite illustration of Matilda.  You can read about it here.  This week it’s time to put my Photoshop skills to the test and see if I can perfect that old classic – the smokey eye.


It’s pretty rare for me personally to go to the trouble of putting ANY makeup on these days, let alone taking half an hour to master a smokey eye look.  Now days it’s no makeup or my Homer Simpson makeup gun is set to whore.  Seriously I am that clueless about makeup!


Fortunately, Emmi and the girls at Maya Organic Beauty Therapy know what they are doing and wrote me a step by step guide smokey eye tutorial.  With my guide in hand it was time to tackle Photoshop.

Into the Wormhole

Now I am only slightly more adept at Photoshop than I am at makeup application.  I have had Adobe Photoshop and a Wacom tablet and pen for about seven years but everything I’ve learnt has been through trial and error.  My skills are pretty basic but, to be honest, I have no desire to become a digital artist anyway.

I do occasionally watch a YouTube Photoshop tutorial but I either get bamboozled by the tech speak or, having the attention span of a gnat, tune out after about five minutes.  I have recently discovered Draw with Jazza who keeps it simple and to around 20 minutes per tutorial (I am yet to get past the 10 minute mark but that’s my issue not his! – New Years Resolution = learn to focus).

Photoshop is a wormhole.   I step in at 9am and then few moments later I am disturbed by a dull headache from being hunched over staring at a computer screen (without my glasses on), only to discover that it’s now 4pm!.  I sit back and look at what I’ve achieved and then….


….and here we are back where I started at 9am but for the addition of some blue eyes.


The ability to remove all trace of what you’ve done is kind of what’s good and bad about Photoshop.  It is brilliant that if you mess something up, it’s not quite right or for whatever reason you don’t like it… voila…  you can just hit delete and in seconds remove all trace that it was ever there.  You can’t really do that with traditional art works.  Yeah you can erase it or paint over it but you can only do this so many times.  At some point you have to call time, there has to be an end, a finish point.  The paper won’t take any more erasing or any more layering of pencil.  Any more paint and things will just turn muddy brown.  There is a point where it is as good as its going to get and you have to stop.   With Photoshop…


And so panned out my first three days of trying to ‘makeup ‘ Matilda.  I’d work all day long only to get to 4pm to discover that I didn’t like it any more and in a moment of frustration delete everything.

Finally I gave myself an ultimatum.  This was it.  Last day.  Wherever I get to today that is it.  Let go of my perfectionist tendencies and call it finished.

web-final.jpgStep by Step

When I was a child I always wanted to be a graphic artist (and a vet, and a pilot, and an architect, and… you get the picture) but my parents “encouraged” me to study sciences, go university and get a “real” job.  I ended up as a police officer?!?.  I am not quite sure that was what my parents had planned!

Anyway I digress… I wanted to be a graphic artist.  I love designing layouts.  I can’t explain it but something fascinates me about layouts. I am a layout nerd.  Hence I came up with several different, increasingly complex versions for my final step by step tutorial.  And when I say complex I mean complex, there were arrows, connecting lines, different fonts, close-ups, colours, shapes …

In the end the most simple version seemed to be the most effective.





Graphite Pencil and digital art illustration of MatildaI also have to say in retrospect, while it was not my intention, this has ended up a very similar layout to Kimberley McCone’s beauty illustration I mentioned in last week’s blog post.  I guess it must have stuck in my head.  So I herby gratefully and respectfully acknowledge the inspiration Kimberley’s works has given me and the amazing-ness of her talent!

This project was really just for my practice anyway and I have no intention of using it in any commercial sense.  (But hey if any makeup artists out there do want a collaboration, you know where to find me!)

Photo Credits 1/