Landscape Warming

“Landscape Warming”

44 x 60 cms – Luminance & Museum Acquarelle pencils on Canson Mi Teintes paper.

Own reference.

Lately I have returned to one of my favourite art themes, ‘Climate Change’, the result of a renewed interest in the subject of late. I’m amazed at the lack of understanding of the changes currently happening in the Australian climate by our politicians who spin a great deal of rhetoric, but seem intent to do very little especially when it comes to the perceived possibility of losing votes at the next election. Our climate is warming and we can do far more to control it than is being done.

The wine industry in Tasmania for example, has seen a steady influx of growers from the mainland who have come set up their businesses because the mainland climate has become too hot and too unreliable in some wine growing areas. This will no doubt benefit the local wine industry that is already enjoying great success locally, nationally and internationally. But then again, how much wine can one grow given the size of Tasmania and its share in the general wine market?

There’s another side to this issue that has begun to emerge in Tasmania; irrigation. On the ‘surface’ (excuse the pun) it all seems quite innocent, even enterprising to suggest that pumping water from a reliable source to a ‘arid’ area has merit. In theory this is quite a sound proposition. What concerns me is that the ‘reliable’ source is the Great Lake in Tasmania, a large volume of water that for many years has struggled to maintain any reasonable depth due to the demands placed upon it for Hydro Power generation. The ‘arid’ area is the Midlands region, more often than not, a tough, straw-coloured series of plains that is home to sheep and some cattle as well as cropping. This is a tough area to farm, where rainfall is scarce.

The aim is to grow a broader variety of crops on a commercial scale now that abundant supplies of water are available. Sounds great, but what of the water table? Is there a danger that the soil will become too saline and therefore become useless? How reliable will the supply of water be given that Tasmania’s rainfall patterns have changed over the years?

Tasmania is predominantly a ‘Hydro State’ when it comes to power generation. As has already been realized, when the lake levels are down, there is less power produced. Will this situation be repeated?

“Landscape Warming” is an aerial view of a section of landscape in Tasmania’s Midlands region. The ground is warming, bleached hay bales lay in one field, burnt hay bales in another, while salt (representing the rising saline level) can be seen in another. A smaller field is covered in rocks while nearby trees deal with the increasing salinity in the soil. This landscape is struggling. There’s no sign of vineyards here, but I suspect that it won’t be too long before this happens accompanied by a range of ‘new and exciting’ crops. In the meantime, new markings appear on the ground indicating a different direction in agriculture. Will the land cope?

Is the desire to produce ‘new’ crops because of the promise of irrigation and a warming climate visionary, or are we playing Russian roulette with the environment?


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Can ‘Silence’ be Drawn?

“Silence at the Table”

70 x 50 cms: Prismacolor Pencils on Canson pastel board, own reference

A lonely mug catches the morning light in a deserted room in a disused shearers’ quarters in Tasmania. The dusty room belies its hectic past. Silence is now its tenant. The door is a storybook cover, the furniture lays idle, but the memories remain.

I love visiting old homesteads, buildings and farming properties. I’m fascinated not only by what there is to see, but to dwell on their history. The older and more dilapidated, the better. Cracks in walls and ceilings, shafts of light, dust, cobwebs and general decay all make for wonderful drawing subjects, but what of the general atmosphere of these places?

The first thing that comes to mind is the ‘silence’ that so often is found. Piles of dusty objects left lying about as if someone had simply got up and left, never to return. Now that’s my kind of subject matter!

‘Cheshunt’ is a working farm in Tasmania’s Meander Valley with a long history. The property is no longer as large as it once was, but it’s still a going concern. What has interested me for the past 15 years are several buildings that are in need of urgent restoration. One can feel the ‘history’, smell the dust and take in the silence that is truly evident when one enters each of the buildings, especially the former shearers’ quarters where subjects for the 3 drawings featured today came from.

“Silent Light”

70 x 50 cms: Prismacolor pencils on Canson pastel board, own reference.

“In the Light of Silence”

60 x 80 cms: Prismacolor pencils on canon pastel board, own reference.

“Deserted – The stillness of Silence”

50 x 70 cms: Prismacolor pencils on Canson pastel board , own references

Not everyone who went to war came home.A symbolic still-life of a deserted shearers’ quarters that lies silent and decaying.

The floor is slowly being reclaimed by the earth, the door won’t close any more. A cardigan waits for its owner to return. The mug on the table is thirsty.On the door is written a century-old diary of daily activities. For some reason the entries have stopped. In the hallway, the floor is but a memory, the front door now resides in a pile atop a dry, rusty fuel drum. No need for tractors any more. No-one there to gather hay that doesn’t grow.No laughter of children. No sounds of running water. Gone are the days of weary shearers and farm hands, of chatter around the dinner table and of heavy night-time snoring. The sun rises every day, everywhere.


Can you feel the silence?

Can you sense the history?


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I’m currently staying at Dubbo in NSW (Australia) for 17 days. I have been unwell for most of the first 8, the result of a bout of asthma and a resulting cold. I suspect that I won’t be fit for tourist duties for another few days. What does one do in these situations? I have reading material and a 📺 along with my visual diary and a tin of 120 Pablo pencils. The latter is my saviour!

I had recently completed a drawing while flying to Perth, Western Australia, and I decided that the pleasure of colouring would help me, and it did! This is simply an imaginative drawing without any deep, significant meaning. It doesn’t really follow any planned composition. It just happened. 

The value of Art as therapy is well known and in this case it has certainly worked for me. Sometimes we forget that the creative process has a number of benefits besides the artwork (product) itself. 

Whether it’s on a plane, boat or a train, studio, lounge room or even a shed, creating art can sometimes be the best medicine!


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“To come away from an art store without buying anything is shameful”.

Have you ever been guilty? Once I spent 2 hours in the framing section of an art store and forgot to buy something before I left! How can you not visit an art store without making a purchase? This is very applicable when it comes to buying coloured pencils. I love, adore, admire and almost worship those colourful sticks of pigment wrapped in wood. Their range of colours is phenomenal, as is the way they are presented. They vary in set size, quality and price, but at the end of the day, they are all coloured pencils. Being a professional artist I favour the most lightfast pencils for obvious reasons. Over the past 30 years I have worked with 32 brands with each one offering their own qualities. I am an ambassador for Caran d’Ache in Australia as well as a tester for Derwent pencils. For the past 12 months I have been ‘road-testing’ the Procolour range from Derwent, through their development stage and now as they are being released world-wide. I am currently in the process of writing a review to coincide with the release of Procolour in Australia within the next 2 months.

I’ve been conducting Caran d’Ache workshops, the next being held in Hobart on Oct 14-15. This particular workshop is special in that it not for a drawing or painting group, but for the members of ‘Stitching and Beyond’, a group that work with various fabrics, yarns etc. We are going to use Luminance and Museum Acquarelle pencils on both paper and fabric as well as Neocolors, soluble and non-soluble. I’m really looking forward to this workshop!

I’m always interested in new coloured pencils even though I have over 3,000 in my collection. I know there are collectors of coloured pencils who have many more than I have, one has nearly 28,000! Pencils are lovely to look at, but even better to use and that’s what they were designed for.

After working with coloured pencils for over three decades I have (finally) worked out what pencils suit my way of working (the previous 4 words are very important when it comes to choosing the ‘right’ pencils). Everyone is different and you need choose wisely. Some pencils have thick barrels, some are very light, some very smooth, not all are round. I need strong pencils as I often push them hard on the pastel board that I most often use. I don’t need a super-fine point, but a pencil that won’t easily break. I want a broad colour range as I prefer laying the colours down side-by-side rather than mixing them. I rarely use a blender and never use solvents. I want my coloured pencil artwork to look like pencils not paint. Because I use mainly coloured supports (surfaces), I find that not all the brands work as well as I would like. Certain colours often do, but not full sets.

My favourite (and most used) coloured pencils are (in order): Luminance, Prismacolor, Museum Acquarelle, Pablo, Polychromos, Coloursoft, Derwent Artists and Lyra. I haven’t finished testing Procolour at this stage.

One can never have too many coloured pencils!



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Last week I was notified that my blog had been included in ‘the top 25 colored pencil blogs on the planet’. This was a total surprise, but one that I was both pleased and honoured to receive. Thank you Feedspot! pencil blogs/

I began blogging in 2008 and this is blog post 1,223. I enjoy writing and sharing and a blog seemed the best way to go back then and it still does today. I read that most blogs only last around 3 months and I understand why. Posting articles on a regular basis is at times a demanding task and one that requires dedication. I don’t always post regularly, but I aim for at least one per month.

I’d love to receive more comments and share more ideas. Hopefully this award may bring more readers!

I have just returned from a 10-day holiday in Western Australia, and in a couple of days time I’m off to Dubbo (NSW, Australia) for 2 1/2 weeks. During that time I’ll be working on some new ideas that I will share on this blog in due course.




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Ancient Landscape

It’s been over 14 months since my wife and I left Tasmania to live in Far North Queensland, then in Port Macquarie since February. As you can imagine, moving to a completely different environment will inevitably have an impact on one’s artwork and art ‘thinking’ for that matter. I’m no exception and my work has headed in different directions to the stage where I’m keen to explore very different ideas than I’ve been accustomed to.

There is no doubt that the environment both physical and social does have an impact on an artist’s work. Making such a move after being so long in the same environment can be exciting, strange, even weird, but it’s one’s attitude that is most important. Being prepared to open one’s mind to new possibilities is vital for ‘growth’ and ‘progress’. It’s easy to repeat what we know over and over again; we know the result, we know that it works, let’s just do it!

Landscape Signata

Art is more than ‘doing’ stuff, it’s a process that beckons you to enjoy, experiment, research, challenge, even question what you’re trying to say in order to submit to the process and the product with the hope that both give you satisfaction. Sales are a bonus, but not the seal of approval one yearns for. A red dot does wonder to one’s ego, but should it be the justification for making the creative journey in the first place?

I am often credited having a great deal of patience, but honestly, I get bored very easily, that’s why I have several artworks on the go at one time. I’m ‘stoic’, probably due to my parents’ positive influence. I get the job done, I don’t give up easily, I persist.

Salamanca Hillside

My new surroundings have made me think about other ways to express myself. I’m very keen to return to (large) painting, but I need abigger studio space. Painting will have to wait. Lately,I have found a new direction in the form of mixed media art. By combining my passions for coloured pencil drawing and digital art, I have produced a number of artworks on full sheets of cold pressed 300 gsm watercolour paper. I’m very pleased with these and I hope they appeal to a broad audience. I’m currently creating a folio of these works using local landscapes and images from Tasmania as subject matter.

I’m loving the process and the product, maybe that’s all that matters!


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What the Jigsaw

“Climate Change Puzzle”

55 x 77 cms

Luminance & Museum Acquarelle coloured pencils on Canson pastel board.

Own reference.

I’ve been keen on jigsaws for as long as I can remember and I’ve wanted to create my own for some time. The idea of breaking up an image into small pieces and trying to put it back together intrigues me. There’s always a ‘right way’ to put such puzzles back together. But what if there wasn’t simply a ‘right’ way?

One of the advantages of working with abstraction is that it can be often viewed in different ways, as long as the composition has a focal point and is balanced. Realism-based puzzles on the other hand, have to be seen in one particular way to make sense.

Last week I decided to print copies of my 5 latest drawing that are part of my current theme of ‘Climate Change’. I cut each photo into squares and created some ‘jigsaw puzzles’ using randomly placed pieces. My research resulted in some exciting images, one of which is featured in today’s post. I have included a series of photos showing the drawing’s development.

If I were to cut out each of the 35, 11 cm squares in this drawing I could no doubt re-arrange them and thereby create a very different composition. Now there’s a challenge!

Each of the squares would make a good stand-alone painting, and that’s what I intend to do over the coming weeks using acrylics on (50cm square) canvas.

Is there any potential for commercially ‘enhancing’ this idea? Well, yes, but I’m not sure what the exact form will be. More work is required.

What I’m doing is actually ‘re-cycling’ some of my art and taking it into a very different realm of expression. That’s not a bad thing; in fact, it’s quite exciting in that it has opened up new possibilities.

I’ve started drawing up a second jigsaw, this time with a very 3D look. This one is quite complex with a high degree of difficulty and I’ll have to take my time. The key to this one will be that the puzzle is incomplete.

Time to get back to my easel!


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