Category Archives: Flowers from the Garden

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas ‘Fire and Ice’

I have been working on this drawing for awhile now.  Adding different backgrounds to my flower portraits has been an idea in my head for some time, but I have had trouble trying to figure out how to do it.  I have tried before with smudgy type backgrounds (technical term there), but I have never liked it.

The idea for this background came to me when I was photographing some sweet peas last year and was looking at the great pattern of the stems and tendrils and thought they would make a good background, especially if I did them in grey scale.  This also gave me the chance to use my water soluble graphite sticks.  I always love the chance to play with new art supplies and it may even justify their purchase!

Although I am fairly happy with the result, I am not completely sure that this is the answer.  The sweet peas are cut out and are just sitting on top of the background, so nothing is set yet.  When I am not sure of a picture I have a few techniques I try to get another perspective on the work.

  1. Put the whole thing away and look at it again in a few weeks.  Not having seen it for awhile gives me fresh eyes to look at the work again to see if I really do like it or not.
  2. The opposite of this is to stick it on the wall where I can look at it for awhile to figure out what is not working.
  3. Taking a photo of the work is my third way of figuring out what is the problem, making it black and white can help, especially if you do not have enough contrast, as this is hard to tell sometime with coloured work.

If you have a different technique please share it with me as I always need help.

Last weekend I went back to one of my favourite nurseries, Lambley Nursery just out of Ballarat, as they had a garden tour and you could visit their sweet peas that they grow for their flower seeds, over 100 varieties.  The sweet pea I drew is from their garden last year and is called Fire and Ice.  I took a few photos, (over 70, but who is counting) and have included a few of my favourites for your viewing pleasure.

Might be a second Sweet Pea picture….


Rose – Pierre De Ronsard (WIP)

Pierre de Ronsard WIP (2)This is my latest work in progress and my favourite rose in the garden at the moment.  It is a big call to name my favourite rose, but Pierre wins.  Old fashioned roses are my favourite, the abundance of petals and the heavenly scent are major points in their favour.  I love the way the colours move from cream with a hint of green on the outside, to cream with a flush of pink on the edges in the middle, to a beautiful subtle pink in the centre.  The combination of cream and pink with the hint of apple green is stunning in this rose.

This particular climber has been in my garden for over eight years and is well established and producing magnificent blooms.  I find that my roses produce better blooms the older they get.  This is especially true for the old fashioned roses who tend to ball (go brown at the bud stage and never open) when young.

I have drawn this rose in my usual style with a under wash of sennelier ink then coloured pencil over the top.  It has been a great deal of fun to get back into this work again after a bit of a break and I have really enjoyed working with the beautiful colours of this rose and the challenge of making shadows in the cream rose work.  There is nothing like drawing a flower to make you really understand and appreciate it.


It has been ages since I last posted and the past 12 months have been very difficult.  My Mum passed away this time last year and after caring for her for so long and other major life crisis following on, I haven’t had the energy to keep the blog going.  My final blow was being made redundant a couple of months ago, just when you think it couldn’t get worse it does.  But it was a blessing in disguise and it has given me time to re-evaluate and make some new choices on what I would like my life to be like.  One of the clearest decisions was to take the opportunity to follow my art more seriously.  So for the last month I have been preparing my website and deciding on some business strategies and am looking forward to telling you all about them in the next post.



More from Bali

Balinese Door  Water colour and Ink Bali 2015 Journal

Balinese Door Water colour and Ink Bali 2015 Journal

Although I am now back from Bali, I still have some more drawings that I want to do in my journal.  I had a great time there, relaxing and so beautiful.  I really like the Balinese they are very welcoming and have a great sense of humour.

Breakfast over looking the rice fields  Ubud Bali

Breakfast over looking the rice fields Ubud Bali

One of the things that I enjoyed in our stay in Ubud was having breakfast in the outdoor restaurant overlooking the rice fields and watching flocks of little birds feasting on the just ripening grain.  It took us ages to find out what they were as there were two different colourings of the same bird.  So here is a drawing of a cinnamon munia, but there were also ones that were dark chestnut and cream.

Cinnamon Munias  Water colour and ink  Bali 2015 journal

Cinnamon Munias Water colour and ink Bali 2015 journal

The gardens at the resort were beautiful and these following two drawings were at the resort.  There were loads of heleconias, one of my favourite group of flowers as they are so architectural.  I have seen some of them in florists, but this is the first time I had seen them growing, truly bizarre shapes.

Heliconias  watercolour pencil and ink Bali 2015 Journal

Heliconias watercolour pencil and ink Bali 2015 Journal

The first drawing in the post is of a doorway leading up to on of the villas at the resort, they had different doorways for some of the villas.  The carving and colours were just so beautiful I had to draw one.


Sketchy Breakfast

Banksia Flower Journal Page Water colour pencil and ink

Banksia Flower Journal Page Water colour pencil and ink

I am minding a friend’s house while she and her partner go touring around the Kimberly (Outback Northern Australia) in their 4WD.  An amazing trip through the wilds down the Gibb River Track from Kununurra to Derby.  So while being envious of their trip, I am enjoying some inner city living.  The house is in Northcote with plenty of great food and coffee, if you can get past the hipsters.  Lots to smile about here.

So to get into the lifestyle I have been going out for breakfast on the weekend and taking my sketch book with me.  Today as I was walking to the café, I passed this lovely Banksia tree and the lemon yellow flowers had caught the autumn sun.  So I stopped to snap a couple of pictures to draw.

Banksia in the autumn sun

Banksia in the autumn sun

I wanted to try a looser and quicker style, as I had slowed down again with all the cross hatching I had been doing.   I decided to start with the colour and map out the main areas then go over them with ink for some loose details, but first where is the coffee?

The banksia flower

The banksia flower

Adding in the leaves

Adding in the leaves, water colour pencils before the addition of the water.

It is fun to just lay the colour down and not get to fussed over the precise layout of the leaves and great to work quickly.

First ink outline

First ink outline

Once the paper had dried I added the first inky outline.  I was a bit nervous opening up my pencil case, as I had just flown to Sydney and back for a quick work trip and realised that my fountain pens were in the case.  I had only cabin luggage so they were pressurised, but I was bit nervous on how they had made the trip.  The Lamy safari with the EF nib had no leakage at all and worked just fine.  The Noodles Ahab did leak into the cap, but cleaned up ok and no spillage.  Felt lucky at that moment.


Slight break for breakfast. Yum, avocado, feta, bacon and poached eggs on sourdough

After contemplating the drawing through breakfast and discussing it with the wait staff, (also artists as well, most of Northcote is creative), I went back in with some more coloured pencil and then thickened up the outline in places to give more variety to the line.

Finishing off the drawing with my last coffee.

Finishing off the drawing with my last coffee.

Not my greatest drawing ever, but a fun and quick exercise that played with a few techniques.  Took me about an hour, food included and such a fun thing to do, hope you enjoyed coming to breakfast with me.



High Spring in my Garden


Love-in-the-must, intense pencils and ink journal page

I know that I have been posting away on my walks in the bush and all the lovely wildflowers in bloom, during this time my garden has been blooming its little heart out, and is demanding some of the attention!


After much attention (not all of it mine)and a nice wet winter, the flowers are doing really well this year. (Warning, skip down to the next paragraph if you are not into gardens). The roses are blooming with abandon, I have roses galore, souvenir de la malmaision, which has finally made it above the grapevine and is romping over the garage roof, Pierre de Ronsard on the side of my house which hasn’t balled for once and the beautiful Peace rose for my mother, it was in her wedding bouquet. The yellow gold bunny rose is climbing up my verandah posts with some lovely clematis. My bearded irises grew beautiful leaves but totally failed to bloom, but I have cornflowers, pinks, love in the mist, aquilegia and the lavender is about to start. Oh yes the Dutch irises are making up for the other irisis.


Pierre de Ronsard Climbing Rose


Souvenir de la Malmaision gone feral through the grape vine. Not sure that is appropriate behaviour for such a french aristocratic rose, but things go wild in the colonies!

I have planted a lot of gardens but usually move before the become established or the one time I didn’t we had a 10 year drought of the century, hardley conducive to great gardening. But this time I have it right.


Clematis, this makes me wish I would keep the plant tags, as I have forgotten it’s name.

So here is the art work to go with the flowers. I am trying to use more design in how I lay out my journal pages and still grappling with the writing.


spring flower journal page. Ink tense pencils and ink

Here are some birds of paradise that I did last week, also from my garden. I tried a couple of different versions of them, to mix it up.


Bird of paradise. Gouache and ink journal page


Bird of paradise. Watercolour pencils and ink journal page

Hope this brings a bit of spring into your northern hemisphere falls.  This was done on my iPad, which I don’t usually use, but I forgot to bring my power cord for the laptop, and so needs must, hope it is ok.