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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60 x 40 cms

Luminance coloured pencils on Canson pastel board

Own reference.

Hyland’s Flat, south of Conara in Tasmania’s Midlands is an area of tough, unrelenting landscape.Weather-beaten, its hardy terrain marked by bleached sheep trails, remains defiant to what ever Nature delivers.Only 8 Cypress Pines planted there have shown continued resistance to the elements. On rare occasions a quilt of colour after rain, but more often than not, parched, the land continues to test all who earn their living from it. The people who farm this area are seemingly unaffected by the landscape and its challenges.

This was my entry in this year’s Bay of Fires Art Prize in Tasmania. It didn’t win, but I was honoured to be selected for the second time with a coloured pencil entry in such a prestigious art award that champions such a broad range of art mediums.

Hyland’s Flat is one of my ‘special’ places in Tasmania for art inspiration. I have visited it several times and I have a comprehensive photo collection of the area. It’s often dry and barren, but it has a certain charm. It’s a ‘tough’ place for farming that is reflected in the drawing’s title. It may appear abstract, but the intention to portray its nature is real. It’s a place of extremes, yet farming began here over 150 years ago and is ongoing.

I identify with this area in regards to my art career, as I will explain in detail when I finish the book I am writing. I wonder if you can guess its title?


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“A Convenient Denial”

80 x 60 cms

Luminance & Musem Acquarelle coloured pencils on Canson pastel board.

Own reference.

Last week I spent 4 days at Coffs Harbour on the mid-North Coast of NSW. This was my third visit in as many months and each time I had come away with many new ideas for artworks. This time was no exception. I went with a ‘clear mind’, to see what new things I could discover even when re-visiting familiar areas.

I was in the middle of a productive theme based upon the scribbly gum moth and its association with the Scribbly Gum, an Australian Eucalypt. I’d already completed a number of coloured pencil drawings and mixed media pieces that were refreshingly different to my previous artworks. Should I look for more of the same? When I arrived at the Coffs Harbour Botanic Gardens, I decided to wander with ‘fresh eyes’ and see if I could spot something different than what I had seen (and documented) on my previous visits. I did.

One of the firsts things I noticed was the reflections in the water as it tumbled over the side of a large fountain. It was mesmerizing. I set my camera to ‘sports mode’ and proceeded to take a series of photos of the images that could be seen in the tumbling water. That led to another idea of floating objects and reflections in some of the watercourses and ponds in the gardens. I had a ball.

I came away with a wonderful array of images; grist for the mill!

When I got back to my studio, I was ready and well-armed to tackle a new series of drawings, but before that I needed to complete a couple of earlier works that I had short-listed for my exhibition next February in Tasmania. One of them was the drawing featured in this post. “An Convenient Denial”, is a commentary about our government’s failure to take positive action on climate change. I hold strong opinions on this subject. As a landscape artist, I have seen first-hand what is happening to the Australian landscape and it beggars belief that despite constant warnings from scientists for years, there seems to be little action to address what is happening.

I believe that the Labor Party lost the last Federal election due to their introduction of a carbon tax. Guess what? It won’t be long before it’s re-introduced, probably named and packaged differently.

Art is an excellent vehicle for ‘illustrating’ one’s feelings.

And what has today’s featured drawing got to do with global warming?

The climate in cool temperate Tasmania has been undergoing change for at least a decade. It’s getting warmer and in some parts raining less. Irrigation has been a boon for some farming areas, but is there enough water to meet the new demands?

This drawing is of a chaotic Tasmanian landscape being ‘fed’ to produce new and exciting crops in areas where such agricultural practices where once unheard of. Colours that were once alien are now the norm, as are the resulting shapes and land patterns.

Is this move visionary or the beginning of a journey that will see parts of Tasmania’s landscape self-destruct as the salt table rises? Time will tell.

Details from “A Convenient Denial”.

While I was completing this drawing, another idea came to me, then another and another. It seems that the ‘new’ ideas that I had brought back from Coffs Harbour would have to wait.

I need to ‘go with the flow’, that’s what the creative process is all about.


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“Floating, Flecker Gardens”

40 x 60 cms

Luminance pencils on Canson Pastel Board

Everyone at some time or another wants answers to questions. They can range from “What is the meaning of life?” to, “What is the key to happiness?”, even “Who will win the premiership this year?”, and “What’s for dinner?”. We are all curious about a lot of things and asking questions is a good way to address one’s curiosity. The problem then arises as to whether we are happy with the answers we receive.

What happens when you start asking yourself questions, particularly if (like me) you’re an artist?

Sourcing ideas, planning, creation, presentation, exhibiting and feedback are some of the challenges an artist has to overcome. But an even greater challenge is asking yourself why you’re an artist in the first place. What does art mean to you? What do you want to achieve as an artist? What motivates you? What’s more important: fame, sales, personal satisfaction, realizing your potential or being unique? Can you have all of these?

Carving out a career in art has never been tougher, especially if you need an income. The pressure to produce ‘commercial’ work is enormous and I have the highest admiration for artists whose work is personal, unique and popular. That seems a rarity these days.

It’s been just over a year since my wife and I left Tasmania for Cairns. We spent 8 months there and for the past 4 months we have been living at Port Macquarie. During this time my art has slowly undergone changes. I have been forced to think long and hard about the direction of my work. The art I had produced in Tasmania soon felt ‘out of place’ in my new environment. I was well aware of my new surroundings being a landscape artist and it wasn’t long before I evolved a new approach while in the Tropics. My work became more intense in colour and semi-abstract. By the time we left Cairns I had produced a solid folio of work, but none had been exhibited.

I found Port Macquarie a vastly different physical environment and began ‘collecting’ ideas from the surrounding areas as far as Coffs Harbour to the north. It didn’t take me long to realize that my ‘tropical’ approach wouldn’t work in my new environment. What would I do? My art isn’t about making money, it’s first and foremost about self-satisfaction. Sales are a bonus and are to be treasured.

“Late Afternoon Light”

45 x 60 cms

Mixed Media on 300 gsm Arches W/C paper

A couple of visits to the Coffs Harbour Botanic Gardens re-kindled my love for ‘Scribbly Gums’, a eucalypt common in this area. I am now currently working on a series of drawings that combine my love of digital art with my passion for coloured pencils.

Details from “Late Afternoon Light”

Have I answered my question? Time will tell.


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“Salamanca Hillside”

45 x 65 cms

Digital image and Luminance coloured pencils on Arches watercolour paper.

Own reference.

I’ve had a strong interest in digital art for the past 20 years, my love of coloured pencils 31 years. They have always been ‘well apart’ when it has come to my artwork. I’m passionate about coloured pencils and until recently I’ve championed them as a single medium.

When I left Tasmania last year, I took with me my entire collection of coloured pencils, about 3,000 (32 brands) and for the first 8 months while my wife and I lived in Cairns they were all I needed. In February we moved south to Port Macquarie and I began to think more broadly about the type of art that I’d been doing and where it was headed.

Buying an iPhone 7Plus late last year was a ‘game changer’. I started taking more photos than usual and ‘played’ with them to see what I could create. I’m experienced in Photoshop and a few Apps and it wasn’t long before something new and exciting emerged. But that was only the beginning, I wasn’t satisfied so I kept experimenting until last month I begin to see possibilities for ‘mixed media’ work and the first result is at the top of this post, with another (below) as a ‘work-in-progress’.

At last I’ve found a way of combining my two favourite mediums. I also have a passion for gouache painting and I will include this in some future work. But why make such a shift after 31 years of coloured pencil art?

The answer is quite simple. I can’t keep doing the same thing year after year in the same way. I know there are artists who do, but I get bored with too much repetition. I have deliberately tried to vary my approach when using coloured pencils; different themes and different styles. It was time for another challenge.

This new direction is a major challenge in more ways than one and it’s required a great deal of research and it will continue to do so. Each of my pieces will be unique in that they will be single edition prints that have been hand-coloured and/or hand-painted. I’m using quality materials and a variety of subjects.

“Salamanca Hillside”, is my (historical) interpretation of what existed at the Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) waterfront now called ‘Salamanca’, home of the iconic ‘Salamanca Market’, a big tourist attraction every Saturday. There is a former quarry behind the market site where landfill was taken to establish the port of Hobart. What is unique is the ‘black Sun’ hovering overhead, actually a convict leg iron, a reminder of the state’s cruel history, not only concerning its early penal system, but the way the indigenous population was treated.

“Ancient Landscape” (48 x 60 cms) is a work in progress and was inspired by the landscape around Coffs Harbour, to the north of where I live.

It’s early days and time will tell where this new journey will take me.


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