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

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/

New Year: New Goals -Time to get some perspective!

Last year I achieved some pretty serious personal goals and a couple of artistic ones.  I started my blog, embarked on a couple of collaborations ,which will hopefully come to fruition later this year, and generally committed a lot more time to my art.

This year (apart from cracking the elusive 1000 followers on Instagram).  I want to do more collaborations and commissions.  I suppose it is a bit about moving my art from “hobby” status in to something more like a “job”.

Secretly I have always had this unfulfilled desire to be a commercial artist.  To have people contact me with fabulous projects that just cater perfectly to my style of illustrating.  Calls from Gucci or Alexander McQueen to head to Europe and illustrate their latest runway collection from my front row seat next to one of those Kardashian people.  Or perhaps Vogue magazine want me to illustrate the top five breakout models of the 21st Century.  Hey, Beyoncé wants a family portrait?  Sure just let me check my calendar (or should that be get your people to contact me people Bey).

I know, I live in a fantasy world.  I suspect the reality of commercial illustration is a hell of a lot different to a fully paid trip to Milan, where I bash out a couple of illustrations, have cocktails with Karl and Anna and then head home, first class of course.  No doubt it’s a hard slog, some crappy, boring, ordinary jobs and not a lot of money!

I have, in the past, been requested to do a couple of small projects and I find the reality of having to draw something that somebody else wants you to draw a little frustrating!  I wanna draw what I wanna draw not what you want me to draw! (No, I don’t want to draw your baby!… unless of course it’s dressed in Dolce and Gabbana … then maybe I’ll think about it.  Oh Blue Ivy, Rumi and Sir can wear whatever they want Bey)  Truth be told I would probably be a pretty sucky commercial artist but I can still dream from time to time!

So I figured if Gucci ain’t coming to me I’m going to Gucci.  Well kind of…  I’m making my own “dream” projects.

“Yeah I’ll be king when dogs get wings
Can I help it if I still dream time to time”

– It’s Good to Be King – Tom Petty

The Beauty Pitch

I have been a bit keen to try my hand at some makeup illustrations.   You know a bit like MAC makeup have but something slightly more sophisticated or “arty” than just a one-dimensional template.

I think lots of creatives get inspired by other creatives but it is important to give credit where credit is due!.  For this project I am totally inspired by the work of New Zealand artist, Kimberley McCone, (top left and Sandra Suy (bottom left   (I think the images on the right are also Sandra Suy’s but they are not referenced on Pinterest).

So I pitched my concept to my lovely beautician, Emmi, who owns and runs Maya Organic Beauty Therapy.  She was totally onboard, although I sensed a bit of trepidation at the thought of posing makeup free.  Fortunately one of her staff, Matilda, happily volunteered (or had her arm twisted… I’m not entirely sure what went down!).  When I received Matilda’s makeup free selfie I was absolutely gobsmacked at what a natural beauty this girl is!  And I feel a bit sheepish adding makeup to her already gorgeous face!

Catching the light

I have to confess that this is my second attempt at drawing Matilda.  The first one I messed up and managed to make Matilda look a bit… strange!  It seems so obvious now where I went wrong but at the time I couldn’t figure out what the problem was and persevered with it far longer than I should have.  Clearly her left eye is like a centimeter higher than her right and a bit smaller, giving her a very “wonky” eyed look!


Once I’d accepted that I would have start all over again I was determined to fix those eyes up.  I felt like it was more than just the height difference that had messed me up.

Matilda had taken a selfie with her mobile phone for me to use as a reference photograph and I had a feeling that maybe this was the source of my problems.  I did a bit of research to try to figure out what was going wrong and hopefully rectify things.

First off ‘the closer a camera is to your face, the larger your nose looks, the smaller your ears look and the more slope is applied to your forehead’  Secondly, if the camera is close to your face (i.e. arms length) and you look directly down the lens you may end up looking cross-eyed!

Finally, catch lights are the reflection of the light source on the surface of the eyes.  Catch lights can be different shapes, sizes and brightness depending on the light source itself.  There can be one in each eye or multiples, but they should be the same in each eye.  The most natural look is a round catch light.

The conventional position of catch lights is at 10 or 2 o’clock.  Allegedly the earliest portrait painters found that the most pleasing balance resulted when either of those positions was used.  Catch lights below 9 or 3 o’clock can look unnatural.  No catch lights at all will make the portrait a bit dead eyed.

Since the eyes had caused me so much trouble the first time round I went for the most conventional and allegedly aesthetically pleasing look; one round catch light in each eye at 2 o’clock.



Second times a charm … almost

Second time around went a bit better but I ended up doing a lot more shading and detail to the entire face than I had initially planned.   My original idea had been to keep it quite simple and just detail the eyes, mouth and perhaps a little bit of the nose but once I start I can’t stop.

I didn’t really know what to do with the hair.  I didn’t want to spend too much time on it as it as it isn’t the focus of this drawing (I’ll hit my hairdresser up when I want to do a hair portrait which will be like never).


I did this picture of Dutch model Daphne Groeneveld ages ago.  She had platinum blonde, almost white hair, styled in elaborate braids and dreadlocks.  On that occasion rather than try to draw the blonde hair, I focused on emphasising the low lights or shadows in the hair.  It gave it a more stylised effect rather than a realistic one but it was quite effective.  As Matilda has very blonde hair I thought I would try the same idea.

final-blog1.jpgIt’s all about Perspective

I am still not entirely cool with her eyes.  As my husband pointed out – ‘it’s all about perspective”.  If you compare the full face portrait with the close up, the cross-eyed look only really becomes apparent from a distance (i.e. in the full face portrait).  I guess I have learnt a valuable lesson about using selfies as a reference photograph and I will take a bit more care in the future.

Part 1 is complete and now to add the “makeup”.  My Photoshop skills are a bit limited (and my makeup application skills even more so!) so this will be a new challenge… stay tuned!


The Tools

Arches Drawing Paper 185gsm smooth A3

Tombow mono drawing pencils 

Staedtler Mars Lumograph black 6B 

My top 5 illustration of 2017

This is a bit of a self-indulgent blog post to celebrate the end of the year.  My best bits… according to… me!

I was aiming for a top ten but to be honest I could really only manage five drawings that I was sufficiently pleased with to call my top illustrations for the year.

So here they are in no particular order (okay “Stella” is my fav, but after that …)

Stella - gouache and graphite pencil illustration
“Stella” 2017
Alisha Nesvat for Mani - graphite and pencil illustration
“Alisha Nesvat for Mani” – 2017
fashion illustration of Lindsey Wixson in Chanel
“Lindsey Wixson for Chanel Fall/Winter 2013” – 2017
Fashion illustration - Eudon Choi Spring 2018
“Eudon Choi Sprint 2018” – 2017
Graphite and pencil illustration
Untitled – 2017



I am adding in one more illustration as a special mention.  This illustration of Alisha Nesvat in Rodarte Spring 2018 is a bit of a love/hate one for me.  I really like the concept, the composition, the negative space, the hands.  BUT …execution let me down with the flowers and the gold background.  If I had of got those elements right this would be my favourite illustration of the year.  Oh well I like to think either way I always learn something out of the process.

Fashion illustration Rodarte Sprint 2018
“Rodarte Spring 2018” – 2017


Merry Christmas everyone.  See you next year

Alison xxx

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!