“Tamar Valley Sky”, 27 x 35 cms

Luminance coloured pencils on Canson pastel board, own reference.

I have 28 brands of coloured pencils in my collection of around 3,ooo, but my favourite by far, is Luminance. Why? Lightfastness is very important, and this is where Luminance outshines every other brand, as they have the highest lightfast rating of any coloured pencil on the market. But that’s not the only reason I like them. The colours flow beautifully on to the pastel board that I use; they are easy to sharpen to a point; layer well; blend well; are easy to hold, and the core is strong enough not to break if a pencil is accidently dropped. The colours are rich and even, something I particularly like.

Luminance are the nicest, most responsive pencils that I have ever used since I began working in coloured pencils 30 years ago.

A couple of weeks ago, Sydney-based artist Karen Hull (herself an ambassador) nominated me and yesterday I received confirmation that I am now officially a Caran D’Ache promoter, which will see me conduct product workshops not only in Queensland, but Tasmania and anywhere else if they can be arranged.

My first  workshop will be with Luminance coloured pencils  this coming Monday (26th) at Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands, west of Cairns where I live. Participants will be treated to a range of products, demonstrations and they will have the opportunity to ‘play’ with luminance pencils and even produce a drawing. I’m looking forward not only to the workshop, but the chance to promote what is a wonderful product.

One of the techniques that I will be demonstrating will be ‘how to draw realistic skies’ (without shading horizontally). All will be revealed on the day!

It may surprise some people, but I rarely draw on a white support, preferring colour, often quite dark. I love the ‘mood’ that coloured supports can bring to a drawing, much more than white. That’s my preference, but not the preference of many established cp artists. Viva la difference!


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Bottom: “The Secret Stream”

Both 40 x 60 cms, coloured pencil on pastel board. Own references.

This coming weekend, my wife and I are heading to Alice Springs in Central Australia for a week’s holiday. We have been before and we’re keen to return to what is a very ‘different’ part of Australia. The landscape there is so opposite to Tasmania’s (where we formerly lived) and indeed to the one where we’re living now (Far North Queensland).

I remember the impact that the ‘Red Centre’ had on my work when I returned to Tasmania, and I have included 2  of my coloured pencil drawings  as examples of how the landscape there influenced not only my art, but my way of thinking.

Does the environment you live in influence your art? Even if landscape isn’t your main subject, your immediate environment will influence your artwork. The landscape, the people, the climate, the sounds and the smells around us do in some way, influence what we create. The ‘crisp, clean, sharp’ smells of a Tasmanian forest, the smell of rotting vegetation in a warm, damp tropical rainforest, the heat, glare and stunning colours of Central Australia, the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s Circular Quay, the sight and sound of  waves as they hit the beaches at Port Macquarie, the isolation one feels on a lonely beach etc etc. Even if you shut yourself away in your studio every day, something from the outside world will in some way, find itself resonating in one of your artworks.

To say that the environment of Central Australia has had an impact on me is a gross understatement. It’s all about colour and changing light, of eroded landscapes and countless thousands of years of history. It’s also about respect for the traditional owners who understand this harsh environment. The memory of artist Albert Namatjira’s life and work still preside in a world that’s fighting to keep its ancestral roots in a world of commercial reality and unfortunate necessity.

This landscape is well-suited to coloured pencil drawing, and I’m looking forward to seeing what impact this trip has on my art ‘thinking’ as well has my future art subjects.


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RipplinLight 1.3“Rippling Light, Daintree Rainforest”

40 x 60 cms    Own Reference

Luminance & Prismacolor pencils on Canson Pastel Board

Landscape drawing and painting is challenging and involves the understanding, appreciation and mastery of a number elements and skills in order to produce successful and meaningful work. The study of light is a prime example. It takes years to gain the knowledge and confidence to draw or paint light correctly, both through acute observation and (later) in imaginative work.

I first began serious studies of light at Art School. The subjects were boring (cubes, spheres etc), but I learnt so much about direct and indirect light and the resulting shadows. I took this knowledge with me and 4 years later I began exhibiting landscapes with a strong emphasis on light and shadow.

Over the next 40 years I developed my art (especially drawing) with the Tasmanian landscape as its main subject. Not all my work has been realist-based. As I have gained experience (and age) my subjects have often been treated in a semi-abstract manner, even abstract on occasions.

The quality and colour of light varies considerably in Australia and there is much to inspire artists. The ‘pink’ light at the northern end of Lake St. Clair, the ‘yellow’ glow in the late afternoon at Sisters Beach in NorthWest Tasmania, the strong, sharp light of Tasmania’s Midlands and the ‘white’ light of the Ringarooma Valley in NorthEast Tasmania, have been very important in my work during my time in Tasmania.

Now I reside in Cairns, Far North Queensland, and I have been introduced to light of a different nature. Tropical rainforests are often dark, muggy and wet. The light streams in through gaps in the forest canopy and collides with all it meets. The impact at times is amazing, especially when objects are lit up to the point that they become transparent. Out in the ‘open’ the light is strong, sharp and direct. Some of the resulting shadows I have witnessed have certainly grabbed my attention!

This is a new world for me, an exciting time, but also challenging. This totally new environment is so opposite to what I’ve been used to and it will require time on my part to explore, look, document and catalogue what I see. I have made a solid start with 4 drawings in the past 3 weeks.

The featured drawing is of the impact of sunlight on some leaves in a creek bed in the Daintree. It’s almost finished and will be one of a series that looks at the impact of light on semi-submerged and submerged objects in water.


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IMG_337210 weeks after leaving Tasmania and driving 4,000 klms to Cairns, we have settled in an apartment. I have finally got my ‘pop-up studio’ fitted-out with suitable furniture and equipment. I have a borrowed easel, thanks to the Cairns Art Society, and a donated drawing table courtesy of local artist and architect, Mike Ferris. My set-up is working well and I’m currently on my third drawing (more about my work in future posts).

What an experience it has been moving from the ‘deep south’ to the ‘far north’ of Australia! I’ve started to settle in to a routine and adjust to the tempo of my new location. It’s ‘all good’, especially the weather, which has been just wonderful.

Making such a move at my age (65) may appear ‘brave’ to some, ‘silly’ by others and ‘mad’ by the rest, especially when I was enjoying so much commercial success with my art back in Tasmania and all but one of our family members reside there. So why did we move?

There are a number of factors in our move from the ‘cold’ to the ‘warm’; the weather itself was a factor, as well as a new job for my wife, Val. I also wanted the challenge to take my art in a new direction as I was experiencing too many ‘Groundhog Days’ back in Tasmania. Life isn’t about financial success, it’s about happiness, and that’s something you can’t buy.

Those who have experienced what I’m going through at present will understand what such a move entails. I’m surprised at how well I’ve adjusted, but I suspect that has a lot to do with my many previous visits to Cairns, especially the 7 month stay we had 5 years ago.

Where will my artistic endeavours take me? I’m not sure what will come from this move, but I’ve already taught a 5 day coloured pencil workshop and I have 2 booked for August, one of those being mixed media.

I’m pleased with my coloured pencil drawings that I have produced in the past week, and I’ve also commenced a large digital drawing that I aim to have printed as a single edition on a sheet of acrylic.

Due to the warmth, my pencils are performing superbly, especially my Luminance, Prismacolor and Polychromos pencils. I’m still using Canson pastel board as my support, simply because I haven’t found anything better.

I’m looking forward to returning to the scenes of my favourite subjects such as the Daintree, Cape Tribulation, the Flecker Gardens, the Mission Beach area, the Atherton Tablelands and Chillagoe.


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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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