Tag Archives: monochrome

‘. . . and quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, the magpies said . . . ‘ Denis Glover.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

Tap, tap.  Tap, tap, tap.

I know what it is before I even look up.  There’s a big fat magpie baby peering through the office door . . .

Tap, tap, tap.

He steps back and looks up expectantly.  After a moment, unsure, he looks over his shoulder (past his sibling who is hopping from one foot to the other and chortling excitedly) to mum and dad, awaiting further instructions . . .

. . . quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle . . .

He turns back to the door.  Tap, tap, tap.

Okay, okay, I give in.  Time to raid the college biscuit barrel for a tasty treat for my little magpie family.

They seem particularly fond of the custard creams . . .



Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Doodling is the brooding of the hand.’ Saul Steinberg.

 Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I have only recently taken up doodling again.  Or at least I should say, I have only recently ‘consciously’ taken up doodling again . . .

I used to doodle a lot, especially when I was working at the University where I seemed always to be taking Minutes for the (terminally dreary and seemingly endless) departmental meetings.  I never let anyone see my notes for those Minutes before they were all neatly typed up and distributed—partly because they were covered in elaborate doodles and scribbles—and partly because I tended to add my own thoughts on the conversations to my draft pages (some of which may well have got me sacked if anyone else had read them . . . )

Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time I think I used doodling as a way of keeping myself ‘present’ in those meetings.  I found if I just sat and listened my mind would invariably wander off (no doubt looking for my ‘happy place’) and I wouldn’t hear a thing that was being said (or I would become so bored I would find it a real struggle to not run screaming from the room) but oddly enough, if I drew on my pages as I listened I was more able to attend to the talk, remember who said what, and note down all the salient points.

It seems I knew what I was doing.  I recently read that research has now determined that people who doodle during meetings or through phone conversations can recall up to 29 percent more information afterwards than those who simply take notes.  It is also believed that the seemingly distracted scribbling also aids creativity, helps us to mull over problems and promotes ‘thinking outside the box’.  Who knew?

Although I don’t need to doodle my way through meetings to keep my sanity any more, I have started using doodling to ‘kick start’ me when I am in a sketching slump.  When I am tired or tetchy or in one of those I-really-want-to-draw-something-but-I-can’t-decide-what-to-draw kind of funks, I  just pick up a pen and a sketchbook and start scribbling.   And it works.  It gets my creative juices flowing, there’s no pressure to create a ‘final piece’, and it’s fun.

Nor am I alone in my enjoyment of this simple pastime.  Check out this Doodlers Anonymous website to see some seriously fabulous and artistic doodles.  

Or better still, spend some time doodling yourself and upload one of your own . . .


Posted by on April 4, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘From black and white to a sepia tone, some dreams come with a tint or in monochrome.’ Shing02.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

My take on recreating an old sepia photo . . . well, except for the stamping part, that wasn’t on the photo, that was just for fun . . . and the biro I used was black, not brown . . . (I have enough arty paraphernalia in my home to start my own shop and while searching through it I discovered I have every colour biro made by man—except brown.  Sigh.)

So, if I am totally honest, I didn’t really recreate anything truly sepia at all, but it was fun anyway. . .


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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘You can observe a lot by just watching.’ Yogi Berra.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I have been really slack with my sketching over the last couple of weeks.  I know.  I seem to be saying that a lot lately, don’t I?  But it’s a constant struggle and I am still not really sure why.

gloomyI did great for a while, sketching (almost) every day.  Even if it wasn’t much of a sketch, at least I was picking up the pen and doodling a bit.  But lately days and days go by without even an attempt.  Sometimes I pick up my sketchbook and flick through it, thinking it will inspire me . . . and sometimes it does, but often it doesn’t.  Oh, I have all sorts of excuses (I’m too tired after work . . . I don’t have enough time today . . . I really need to finish sorting that other thing out first . . .  and that old chestnut—I can’t find anything interesting to draw) but I know they are only excuses.  I have heard (made) them all before.  I am in the drawing doldrums.  Again . . .

But I am trying to see it for what it is and trying not to get down on myself about it.  I reckon I just have to get into a bit of a rhythm again and I will be fine.  And, you know, it’s not all bad. One thing I have come to realise is that since I took up sketching again earlier this year (even if somewhat sporadically) I have definitely become more observant.

blindfoldIt’s not like I wandered about looking down at my feet all the time, because I didn’t.  I still noticed my surroundings—the houses, the water, the river, the birds—but now I find myself really seeing things in a different light—the way the branches of a certain tree hang over right down into the water along by the riverwalk . . . the ‘sticky things’ growing up through the mangroves . . . the ricketty old verandah on the house on the corner.  (Has that always been there?  How have I never noticed that before?)  It’s surprising to me—and, to be honest, a little bit freaky.  It makes me feel like I have been walking around in a bit of a fog for years . . .

So really, all I have to do now is work out a way to transfer those new-found observations onto the pages of my sketchbook . . . on a regular basis . . .  and I’ll be set!  Right?

How hard can that be?


This is a sketch of one of Maudie’s favourite toys.
I had never really looked at it properly before but when I did I found it was a really interesting mix of materials and textures
—along with, shall we say, some rather ‘exotic’ smells . . .


Posted by on November 1, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second.’ Mattie Stepanek.

coloursStories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I love colour—which, I admit, is a bit of a strange thing for me to say considering I am always more comfortable wearing black—but even so—I really do love colour.  I am drawn to it in all it’s many forms, from the subtlest and palest of washes to colours so vivid they make your eyes water.  And, for the most part, I have a pretty good eye.  I know which colours will work with others, and which won’t.

But knowing isn’t always enough.  It doesn’t always translate onto the sketchpad or canvas.  There are so many techniques to be learned (and practised) especially when it comes to mixing colours, and I still have so much to learn.  (So far, when it comes to mixing watercolours at least, the colour ‘mud’ I have down pat . . .)

biroThankfully, mixing colours was not an issue for me this week.  This week’s SBS tutor was Andrea Joseph, well known for her fabulous ball-point pen sketches, and our homework was to produce a ‘one-colour sketch’ of one of our favourite things.  This was a bit of a step back for me, but not in a bad way.  I am very comfortable working in black and white.  I just settled myself on my couch with my sketchbook and my Classic Fine Bic ballpoint pen and drew.  I didn’t have to have pencils, or sharpeners, or erasers, or watercolours, or brushes . . .  just a biro.  I had forgotten how meditative and relaxing it could be (at least until I got cramp in my hand and had to stop for a while . . . )

But something has also shifted within me after all these classes I have been taking.  I am getting a little more adventurous.  Although I was happy enough with the black and white sketch when I had finished, I just felt I needed to add a tiny spot of colour somewhere.  So I did.  My sketchbook . . . my rules . . .


Mabel is one of my favourite black and white things.  The other is her sister Maude
(although Maudie is like a flea in a bottle and can’t stay still for a moment, even when she is sleeping,
which makes her much harder to draw.)


Posted by on September 6, 2016 in Uncategorized


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