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

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.

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When good things go bad or visa versa

Why is it that sometimes the things you think are going to turn out brilliant turn out shit and the things that you think are going to be shit turn out f’ing awesome (or at least better than shit)?  I’ve had so many drawings lately that I thought were going to turn out brilliant.  You know when you come up with an idea and you think I am a god damn genius (Gump), no one has EVER thought of this before, this illustration is going to be THE MOST awesome thing anyone has seen (well I’m never THAT confident but you get my drift).  And then you put pencil to paper and for some reason it just doesn’t work!

The flip side to all of this is those images that start out as a bit of a pile of shit and end up epic!.  Okay EPIC may be an exaggeration but a hell of a lot better than I thought it was going to be.

I have this job, collaboration, ‘thing’ going on which involves drawing a lot of Spring Racing fashion.  I like drawing fashion but I have to admit I am a bit out of practice, having focused largely on portraits of late.  I did the first drawing late last year of Crystal Kimber, winner on the 2017 Myer Fashions on the Field National Competition.  The National Competition brings together all the state finalists at Flemington race course on Kennedy Oaks Day and is Australia’s largest and most prestigious outdoor fashion event.

I have since attempted to illustrate three other winners and each one has been varying degrees of… blahg.


After three consecutive so-so drawings I was neither inspired nor looking forward to tackling another.  I don’t know why (call me a glutton for punishment) but I chose to do the one I was dreading the most! It was an outfit from 2007 so like back when tweed and satin were fashionable fabrics (ugh), wide, waist-cinching belts were trendy and greys and browns were the colour of choice, apparently.  I am in no way criticising the sartorial choices of the winner (Lorraine Cookson).  She was bang on trend in 2007 but after all the colour of the last couple of years this felt a bit drab.

Aside from the somewhat uninspiring outfit, the really challenging part wa sourcing useful reference photos.  For these racing illustrations I am trying to accurately draw the clothing and the model.  To do so I pull a bunch of photos from the internet and then just use bits and pieces to create my own image.

So back to 1977  sorry 2007 and the lovely Lorraine.  I guess because its like all of TEN YEARS ago all the reference images I managed to source were dodgy, a bit grainy, low quality and at the weirdest angles.


I didn’t feel confident creating my own image as there wasn’t enough detail in any of the photos.  In all honestly I didn’t have a clear picture in my head of what the outfit actually looked like.  I could tell it was a wrap skirt and a grey tweed jacket with a wide belt.  The hat was a fedora with some kind of flower and as far as the shoes, apart from being f’ing high (kudos to this woman for being able to walk on grass in those mothers) open toe, close toe, sling back I have no idea!

I ended up choosing this photo by Gaye Gerrad (Getty images) to be my sole reference photo.


So with much trepidation and absolutely no confident I sat down one rainy Sunday afternoon to start.  Since everything was kinda vague, vague details, vague edges, vague idea of what I was doing I thought; I know I will just start by blocking in rough, vague, shapes and vainly hope that the fog will lift and I will get some clarity about what I am looking at.  By the end of the day I had this.


and I was pretty well… chuffed!

It was by no means what I set out to do.  Normally I aim for very sharp, crisp, edges, clean lines and lots of detail, using a range of pencils from 4H through to 6B.  This was completed solely with an HB.  Generally I use a crosshatch stroke and/or a small circular motion.  For this particular drawing, I tried to maintain a 45 degree angle (although clearly my focus is not terribly good and you can see in the hat I was going 45 degrees the other way doh!)

In my second sitting I wanted to bring out the darker areas and smooth out the graduations of tone.  I really have no idea what I am doing here.  Part of me wanted to do the second layer at right angles (i.e. cross hatch) to get rid of the definite lines.  I was also tempted to focus on finishing an area completely before I moved on to the next as this is the way I normally work.  Remember the episode of Seinfield where George decides to do everything the opposite of what he normally does in the belief that it will bring him success since every decision he has ever made has been wrong.

 “if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”.

That’s kinda how I felt.  Resist the temptation to do what I would normally do and it will work out!

This second layer was completed primarily with a 2B focused on darkening the shadow areas and a HB to even out the transitions. I stayed away from the skirt for the time being as I wanted to keep this light.  Since I was focused on working in layers it was really important keep the pencil application light.  I wanted to avoid getting to a point where the paper couldn’t take any more graphite before I had achieved the level of darkness that I wanted.

For my third sitting I focused on the lighter areas, being the skirt and the skin, using a 4H pencil.  Also at this time I added in the darkest of the darks where necessary with a 4B (the shadow her skirt casts on her legs, the back leg and the right side of her jacket.). I continued to work on smoothing out the gradiations.


I ended up with something really different to what I would normally do and I quite like it.  Truth be told it is one of those pictures that looks better in the flesh from a distance!  I know that sounds like a euphemism for saying its really shit.  Stand on one leg, close your left eye and then look at it and trust me then you’ll see how good it looks!😉


Photo reference 1/2

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!?



Myer Fashions on the Field National Winner 2017 – Crystal Kimber

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know I have been involved in racing fashion for the last two years as a judge at my local Fashions on the Field.  To be honest I don’t know an awful lot about “racing fashion” but I know what I like and it is always great fun to be part of these events.

There are so many fabulous artists attending racing events here in Australia and live sketching the fashions.  This is such an incredible skill and I’m a bit jealous truth be told.  I am dead hopeless trying to draw anything under pressure let alone in a few minutes or even half an hour.  I don’t think I’d be able to draw anything that looked even vaguely human in a few minutes!

So I’ve taken the luxury of time (its been over a month since the Melbourne Cup!) to sketch the national winner of the Myer Fashions the Field 2017: Crystal Kimber.  Crystal is a Fashions on the Field enthusiast and designer from Melbourne.  She also has a great website where you can follow her fashion adventures:  This particular outfit that won her the National title was originally her grandmother’s skirt which was refashioned into a stunning dress.

Collage_Fotor.jpgImage credit Getty images for the VRC

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The Perfectly Pink Princess Kirsten

John Galliano Spring 2018 Runway

Lets Get Real! Really!

I have been really trying to push my drawing skills to create more realistic portraits.  Learning to draw freckles, pimples, wrinkles, scars, facial hair and so on has been a challenge for me but one I have really enjoyed exploring.  Although I sometimes get asked to, I’ve always avoided drawing friends, family, work colleagues etc for fear of… well… failure I suppose (What if it looks nothing like subject! What if they hate it! What if I don’t /can’t finish it!).   As a consequence I pretty much exclusively draw fashion models.  While there has been a rise in models with more ‘interesting’ faces (sans facial hair surprisingly) at the end of the day they are still models and still fit within fairly confined and traditional standards of beauty, which can get a little boring!

As well as being an artist, I own and operate a hot yoga studio on the south coast of Australia.  It’s a fairly small community which keeps my yoga business pretty modest but on the plus side I get to know all my students really well.  We’ve kind of become a little community of odds and sods that like to get hot and sweaty together.


Kirsten has been one of my students from the very beginning.  Kirsten is one of those great people who always has a smile on her face no matter what is happening in her life.  I knew she was up for anything and would be more than willing to pose for me.  She was a perfect first choice as she had no expectations and was happy to be captured “warts and all”.  There’d be no pressure from Kirsten to produce anything and whatever I did produce she would still be smiling.

“Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don’t like them” –  Stacy London

Extraordinary is the New Ordinary

I wanted to combine my love of fashion with “ordinary” non-models  The idea to put everyday people in designer fashion is not a unique one of course, everybody’s doing it (Gucci, Chromat, J Crew, Eckhaus Latta, Rebecca Minkoff – oh but not Victoria’s Secret – clearly they did not listen to a word I said last week!)

I also wanted to create ‘alter egos’ for my subjects. Or, if not alter egos, extensions of their current personas (.. extra egos? extended egos?).  Kirsten is very much a pink and purple person.  I would never describe her as “princessy” but sometimes I think if she had an excuse to be a princess for a day she would embrace it wholeheartedly!

When I saw John Galliano’s Spring 2018 collection, with its pretty pink embellished dresses, disheveled hair, drunken eyeliner and slightly askew tiaras I knew I had found my quirky, not quite perfectly pink princess.



The best intentions

What seems like a BRILLIANT idea in my head doesn’t always translate so well to paper.    It takes a certain quality to pull off a tiara made essentially of pipe cleaners and not look like a crazy cat lady.  Unfortunately as soon as I stuck the tiara on my sketch of Kirsten she looked bat-shit-crazy not super-model-chic.


I certainly have a greater appreciation of what models actually do other than act as a coat hanger with a pretty face. I had plenty of photos of Kirsten posing in a very cool and pouty modelesque way but truth be told they just didn’t represent the Kirsten I know.  Kirsten has the most amazing smile that lights up her face.  Somehow I had to “keep the Kirsten” without turning her into a caricature.  (Then again it wouldn’t be a John Galliano show if the models didn’t look just a bit crackers).

I wanted to take a little bit of liberty and create kind of what Kirsten these ladies (and hopefully gents) would look like if they were actually made up to strut the catwalk rather than just being unexpectantly ambushed before their yoga class and railroaded in to having their photo taken makeup free in gym sweats!  I wanted to find a balance between retaining the true nature of their character while adding a bit of glamour!  So glossy lips, long thick lashes, hair extensions were required.  The Galliano collection has some fantastic slightly wonky winged eyeliner looks that I also wanted to include.  The difficulty was striking a balance between the reality and fantasy.

John+Galliano-eye-makeupPhoto credits: The Impression


I must say it is a tonne of fun to be drawing someone who is smiling back at you!  It’s such a fantastic change from having a slightly surly looking chick giving you stink eye all day long.  You can’t help smiling yourself when the person you are drawing has an ear to ear grin!


Blending Blues

Once upon a time I lived the life of a kept Western housewife in the Middle East (before my brain exploded / imploded? from boredom).  I know we’re going off on a tangent but stay with me, there is a point to this.   I passed my days doing yoga, getting my nails done and occasionally attended art class.  During these art classes I met a lady who admired my graphite work and told me it was/ I was good because I didn’t do any blending.  Apparently blending was strictly forbidden in her classes and considered the domain of cheaters, slackers, lazy shits who couldn’t be bothered taking the time to apply layer upon layer of crosshatching.  Prior to this I’d never really thought an awful lot about the merits, or not, of blending.  I simply chose not to do it because… well I sucked at it!  I figure if it works for you do it; if doesn’t don’t.

Of late I have been getting increasingly frustrated with trying to render large areas of skin.   My current method is to use graphite pencils layering them in a cross hatching fashion or in a circular motion.  Circular seems to give me a better finish. Still I noticed particularly with this piece I am not getting a smooth enough finish for my likings.  I’ve played on the fringes of blending with a couple of pieces but never really committed to it.


I was not really not happy with the way Kirsten’s neck was looking. What to do?  What to do? I consulted JD Hillberry – aka “the Godfather of Graphite”.  In his book JD recommends using a 3B and F graphite pencil for the large value areas and then smoothing the strokes with a tortillon.

I bit the bullet and did it.  Now I know why I don’t like blending!  I worked so had to get graduations of tone and I feel like blending, yes it smooths everything out, but I loose those graduations.  I also feel like you loose any sense of texture from the paper. And yes I understand that ‘smoothing’ by definition probably means removing texture!  My blending just ends up looking smudgy and very uniform in tone … blah.


Before and after.  Now these photos are awful, awful, awful! I know (the Instagram goddesses are cringing – at least chuck some filters on it sweetheart).  The top is original bottom and the bottom is blended (the area between her necklace and dress).  Interestingly I can’t tell much difference in these close up photos but to the naked eye you can definitely see a difference between the two areas.


From this long shot you can see a little better the blended area in comparison to the non blended.  You can see how much darker the blended area has gotten without me adding any more graphite.

I persevered and finished off the rest of it with a H pencil and blended with the tortillon.  I was so unhappy with the finished result – it looks too dark and really rough.  I went over it  lightly with a 2H and 5H just to try to bring a bit to text back.  I think this looks pretty rubbish actually.  If anyone has any suggestions how to fix it let me hear ’em.


I’m still a bit nervous of how this is going to turn out.  I want to add colour and glitter to the tiara and dress I but I fear the more “external embellishment” I add I risk the end result looking quite “crafty”.  Nothing screams crazy nutter lady like a hot glue gun and a bedazzler. Maybe simple is better. Then again maybe the bigger the glitter bomb I throw at it the better I can distract the eye from the shitty graphite work!  (As the saying goes – you can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter!)

Well I will keep you posted!  Maybe I can salvage something from this!

Girl Crush – Time For a New Victoria Secret Angel?


Dear Victoria Secret,

First off I do love your knickers.   Lets just get that out of the way.  And your runway show is a spectacular of the highest order: the music acts, the glitter, the sequins, the feathers, the crazy wings, the hair extensions … all of it!

But lately, I must confess, I have been feeling a little … well… uncomfortable about it all.  Something’s off.  Somethings missing……

4Photo credit: Elle

Things are feeling dull, repetitive, same-same-but- …. well same. I’m bored! Despite the fascinating little controversies your show manages to toss-up every year (the Native American outfit in 2012 .. whoops, the angel-wing-bitch-slap in 2014, a model with an afro 😱 in 2015,  PETA protests in 2002, no show in 2004, Gisele eating a pizza 2015! ‘unretouched’ photos in 2016 (is un-re-touched even a word… not according to my spell check.  Aren’t they just original photos?… or aren’t they just photos? … ahh my head) and then there’s Gigi with the Buddha cookie racism thing).  Ahh, so many epic moments.  I know you are trying to keep the excitement alive but ….

slapPhoto credit: Elle

…it’s just not enough.  I need more.

I think it’s time you kicked things up a notch; moved forward in to the 21st Century with the rest of us.  Recognised that we, your customers, want something more, something we can relate to.

You really do seem capable of grasping this diversity thing (black models, asian models … maybe even ageing models – I mean Adriana Lima must be like one hundred ‘model’ years old by now!) but there’s a bit more to diversity than nationality, colour or being over 30 years old.

[dih-vur-si-tee, dahy-] 

1. the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness:

diversity of opinion.
2. variety; multiformity.

3. the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.:

diversity in the workplace.
4. a point of difference.

But one step at a time.  I’m not expecting to see transsexual, biracial, octogenarians  strutting their stuff down your runway any time soon (but I do live in hope).  Baby steps.

38FA328C00000578-0-image-a-51_1475300640616Photo Credit: Stefaniamodel

This is Stefanie Ferrario.  She is not a “plus sized” model (#droptheplus).  She is an Australian size 12, fit and smoking hot.  She has just the attributes your casting director John Pfeiffer looks for in his angels, “beautiful, strong, healthy and engaging”!  Plus she’s intelligent and articulate (which might also be good attributes to start adding to your casting list).

You know and I know that it’s only a matter of time before you spice things up and get with the times.  I know you can do it.  I’m not asking you to create a new range of   lingerie.  I get that takes time, money, and requires a whole other level of engineering.  I get that you can’t just turn an A cup bra design in to a G cup.  Yes bigger cups required different design techniques I get it. But last time I checked you sold up to an XL (Australian 16) in your stores yet we don’t see those ladies not the runway … just saying … seems kinda obvious.

In closing, I am sure it’s going to happen one day soon.  You are going to fully embrace this thing called reality (sorry diversity).  You’re not just going to embrace it, you’re going to smash it out of the park!  But in the meantime I thought I would give you a little inspiration to set you on your way.  Good luck xxx


But damn if she didn’t go and dye her hair pink!  OMG Victoria Secrets new PINK Spokesmodel ….