I AM AN ISLAND SELF PORTRAIT“I am an Island: Self-Portrait” 2012

40 x 60 cms, Prismacolor pencils on pastel board.

Private collection, Launceston.

Before the end of the month, my wife, Val and I, will be leaving Tasmania to live in Cairns. We have visited Cairns many times and this is our third attempt at making the transition from a temperate to a tropical climate. This time we have set a minimum stay of 3 years, permanency if we like it.

Some may think it strange that at our stage of life we should want to make such a major move from one end of Australia to another. I think it’s more to do with the challenge and the opportunity we have before us.

We are leaving our family members behind and moving to ‘stay’, not ‘visit’ an area where we have few friends. Val has work and I have the opportunity to conduct art workshops and draw/paint in an environment that is vastly different to Tasmania.

Our longest stay in Cairns was 7 months and I was inspired to produce 26 drawings during that time. I have conducted several workshops there that has seen me meet so many wonderful and keen people.

I’m going with an open mind as to what type of art I do and how many workshops I’ll run. I hope to do some art judging as well.

It’s one thing to be a ‘tourist’, but being a ‘resident’ of a place that we both love will no doubt bring with it challenges, but I hope also many rewards.


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Reflections Flecker Gardens 1“Reflections, Flecker Gardens”

40 x 60 cms, coloured pencil on pastel board


In 211, my wife, Val and I, spent 12 months on the Australian mainland, the vast majority in Cairns, Far North Queensland. It was indeed a wonderful experience, so much so, that we considered moving there to live.

In 2014 we visited Cairns and bought a house at Palm Cove, but I changed my mind at the last minute and we headed back ‘home’.

Twelve months ago we sold our home in Launceston and bought another in a nearby suburb, but we were restless and after a few things falling into place we have decided to move to Cairns for 3 years. If we like it, we’ll stay. If we don’t, we’ll move somewhere else.

Regarding my artistic endeavours, I have decided to only take my vast collection of coloured pencils and associated paraphernalia. Boy, do I have a lot of coloured pencils! I have a class booked for this coming Saturday at St. Mary’s in Tasmania’s North East, one in Cairns in June, 2 workshops in Victoria in September, and one in Tasmania in November. All of these will involve coloured pencils in some way. I’m also aiming to establish regular classes in Cairns and on the Atherton Tablelands.

To say this is a big move at my time of life is certainly an understatement, but we are both up for the challenge.

I’ve joined the Cairns Art Society and hope to have some studio space close to the CBD. I already have work for sale at Port Douglas and I’d like to have an exhibition at some stage in the district.

I have already started a series of drawings from the Cairns area as I mentally (and creatively) prepare for the move.

Coloured pencils love heat and from my experience they perform a lot better than in cooler climates. I’m looking forward to spreading the gospel of coloured pencils in the Australian tropics!



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BOOK COVER copyThe ‘invasion’ of adult colouring books around the world has caused a sensation to say the least. Sales figures have surpassed all expectations and the ‘craze’ is not over with yet.

Millions of people have been introduced to (or reunited with) coloured pencils. This experience for most has highly beneficial. People who have little or no interest in art of any kind, have sought solace from a packet of pencils and a colouring book, and it works!

But what impact has this had on ‘seasoned’ coloured pencil artists? Their responses have been varied. Some see this ‘trend’ as simply kids’ stuff, not art, but craft. Others have welcomed the recognition of cp as a genuine art medium (we know it is, but many in the art world don’t or refuse to). Some artists see these books as an extension of cp art, but are they really ART books?

Last year I spent some time studying the adult colouring book market to see what was being published and what was being bought. It is claimed that these books aid in stress relief, and in some cases I believe this is so. What really irritated me was the large amount of black on many of the pages, so loud and so aggressive! Adding colour to these pages saw little, if any, reduction in the dominance of black. Most of the designs required very little thinking and challenge, and their composition was often sub-standard. These designs were aggressive, not calming in any way! Then there was the paper, often thin and cheap, printed on both sides. Why? To save money, of course! Why would you want to colour both sides of such thin paper? And when you have finished your book, what next? Buy another one of course! Buy a 100 more, then more…

But what if you so pleased with your efforts that you wanted to frame your work? There are some excellent books on the market, but they are few and far between.

Last year I decided to produce a colouring book that was a REACTION to the ‘cheapness’ that was flooding the market. I wanted to produce a book that ‘sat’ halfway between craft and art; a book whose pages laid flat and were easily removed. I wanted to create a book printed on ‘proper’ art paper (190 gsm acid free, recycled) that made people ‘think’ and make each page ‘their own’., and be proud enough to want to frame some of their work.   So I did.

My book has been on the market for nearly 6 months and the feedback I’ve received (and good sales) have encouraged me to commence a second book and hold workshops where the participants publish their own book and experience working with quality pencils on quality paper.

This ‘trend’ is not a threat to cp art, in fact it’s helping to raise the profile of coloured pencils and that must be a good thing! Mind you, there have been shortages of supplies of coloured pencils in many parts of the world. I wonder why?

I you wish to order a copy of my book, please email me at:

I also have a page on Facebook: You Add Colour


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LIGHT AND SHADOWThe best way to understand the principles of light and shadow is to observe the impact of light on objects in real life. I often arrange objects outside my studio and watch (and record) the changing impact of the sun over a 6 – 8 hour period. Many photos and drawings later, I have a good record of what occurred light and shadow-wise during the day.

Today’s collection of photos was taken within 60 seconds to give you an overview of what I had arranged, a variation on ‘Stonehenge’. Which photo do you prefer?

If you are after reality, an understand of light and shadow is vital if you want you artwork to be totally believable. ‘Guessing’ where shadows and light fall is not good enough if you want your work to be convincing. I owe a lot to my training at art school, especially in understanding the principles of drawing. Copying from books and photos is merely imitating what you see, but working from real-life examples will give you a far greater understanding and self-confidence, especially when on occasions you need to rely on your memory.

This type of study can also be conducted indoors with artificial lighting. Try this with 2 lights from opposite ends of a group of objects and see what the result is!

Working this way will also make you more conscious of the impact of light and shadow in your daily (and nightly) activities.



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Darwin fb“Darwin Landscape”

40 x 80 cms, Luminance pencils on pastel board


In the world of coloured pencil art, abstraction is rarely featured. The majority of Cp artists prefer realism, photo-realism, intense detail and acute rendition of photographs as the basis of their creative exploits. This is not a criticism on my part, simply an observation. Occasionally, some artists will ‘push the boat out’ and produce stunning, imaginative drawings that fire my imagination, but when it comes to abstraction, there is little interest. Why is this so?

Society is continually bombarded by the media world to such an extent that it has been ‘dumbed down’ and ‘imagination deprived’. It’s all too easy, no deep thinking required. We are programmed to respond in the way the visual media experts want us to. It’s getting harder to invent ‘new art’ to feed an audience that has become obese with realism. Where are the brave artists? Well, they’re out there if you look hard enough. They just need greater promotion and marketing.

I have been a Jackson Pollock fan for 50 years and have studied his work more than any other artist. You either love him or hate him, there’s no middle-road. In all fairness, one needs to understand his work before forming an opinion. Pollock never worked drunk or under the influence of drugs. His work was controlled, and this is the part of his genius that I admire. He was the father of Modern American Art and his work is still relevant today.

Abstract art is often despised because it doesn’t tell you what you are seeing as a realistic painting does. Once you have seen most realistic paintings, what else is there to see? A good painting will give you something new to see each time you visit it.

Abstraction is a challenge in that it asks you to define what you are looking at, so you base your interpretation on past experiences, shapes you identify, colours that draw your attention, even the mood you’re in. The good thing is that your interpretation can vary considerably from time to time.

I base my abstract work on the patterns that I see in a variety of subjects around Australia. In today’s featured drawing, I have designed a composition from a series of photos that I took on the foreshore at Darwin. I wanted to give the drawing a ‘landscape feel’, using the shapes and colours I saw on some of the rocks there.

How do you ‘see’ this drawing?




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HYLAND'S FLAT 2116Recently I entered two major Australian art prizes with coloured pencil drawings. In order to qualify one had to submit images of their work along with the usual written entry requirements that included an artist’s statement. A selection committee assesses the value of the work and selects an appropriate number which in turn are submitted for display and final judging. I failed to impress both committees with my entries. This isn’t the first time, but I can’t complain, having been selected on 3 occasions in two major Australian art prizes. Why bother?

I know that some of my friends who enter these awards get extremely upset when their work is rejected. Some take it very hard, others are more philosophical. Over the years I have reacted in both ways, but I have come to realise that it’s not a rejection; there simply was work considered better than yours entered. The more entries, the less chance one has. This can either kill your enthusiasm, or spur you on to try again, and again, and again.

I’m not a fan of art prizes that don’t see the finished, framed work at the selection stage. Seeing the real thing has to be a better way than printed or electronic images. I would also like to see that every entrant successful or not, receive a critique on their work. I know that this is a big ask, but I think it would greatly help artists, especially those whose work was rejected.

I entered two large drawings in this year’s Glover Art prize. One is titled “Hyland’s Flat 2116” – 92 x 132 cms, Coloured pencil on pastel board.

A century has passed since irrigation came to the Midlands region of Tasmania. For the previous 2 centuries farming was tough, the climate unforgiving and managing the land proved to be beyond the patience of many.

Hyland’s Flat, just south of Conara, has been farmed since the early 1800s. This near-barren wasteland scarred by sheep trails, where the only long-term survivors are a group of pine trees that have stood defiant since their planting in the first half of the twentieth century. This area of land has always been a challenging farming proposition.

The introduction of an irrigation scheme in 2015 brought a complete change in land management and in farming methods. Water, that most precious natural commodity was now available in abundance! This has resulted in all manner of crops being planted, many alien to the Conara region.

The years that followed saw continual cycles of success and failure as farmers sought to find crops that were economically viable in a climate that was noticeably warming. The land became a circus of trial and error, as crop after crop was planted in the quest for economic sustainability. The result? One can only speculate.

Should we seek to ‘tame’ the landscape, however barren and ‘unproductive’ it’s perceived to be, in search of an economic windfall?

What will the resulting impact of new crops and farming methods be on such a landscape?

The once straw-coloured land has now become a carnival of cameo colours, shapes and mark making. Is this resulting agricultural quilt simply farming folly, or the beginnings of a brave new Tasmanian landscape?


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BLOG DONATION“A quiet morning at Lillico Beach” (Tasmania)

30 x 30 cms, Luminance & Polychromos pencils on pastel board.

I have just completed a small drawing that I’m donating to the Christ Church Longford’s annual art fundraiser, that will be held over the first weekend of March. This event involves quite a few local artists, many of them being well established and commanding good prices for their artwork.

Selling one’s artwork is the greatest challenge that artists face (even greater than creating art in the first place). The market is fickle and it’s getting harder every year. If that’s the case, why donate some of your art?

Personally, I think it’s a good thing that you are prepared to support a cause and share your work with somebody without a fee. It makes one feel good to give. It’s good publicity not only for the cause you are supporting, but for your profile as an artist. It may also lead to sales of other work that you have produced. It can show that you are not simply ‘in it for the money’.

Although I am a full-time artist, I do it for the love of creating and sharing art. Every sale I have is a bonus, but not all bonuses are derived from sales.


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