Thursday, 30 August 2012

Wonderful Tulips

Watercolour 20 x 15cm
I'm working on a series of studies of tulips, from the tight little bud through to the open flower. The florist was explaining that the stems continue to grow and need to be trimmed as the flower opens. The stem also shapes itself depending on the vase it is placed in. When I brought this bud home and left it lying on the table it opened right up in a matter of moments, then when I realised (!!) and put it in water, it gradually shut quite tight again. To straighten the stems, the tulips can be rolled in wet paper and placed in the fridge for a while.
Panic-stricken sketching...
This is the first sketch I made when the tulip went into the vase, 24 hours later the bud is even tighter than it appears in the watercolour.

How can you not fall in love with the elegant drape of these leaves? 

Monday, 27 August 2012

A Seed is a Promise

A Seed is a Promise by Claire Merrill
Pebbles and Pods by Goldie Taub Chernoff
What with collecting and looking at a lot of pods and seeds lately, these two books from my childhood have been on my mind. Does anyone else remember them? Thanks to the internet I even found images of the covers from back then (about the early seventies?). I'm not sure exactly why these two left such a lasting impression, but I do think they helped ignite an interest in little natural things. It makes me think about the influence we have as parents in ensuring the natural world is seen as important and valuable by the next technology-cacooned generation.

Eastern Yellow Robin

Yesterday afternoon we triumphantly ripped our old rotary hoist out of the ground, and as we stood enjoying our now unobscured view of the bush, so many little birds came down to share the moment. Most of them came to use the birdbath, and all at once too - what's that all about? Eastern Yellow Robins, Superb Blue Wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters, White Cheeked Honeyeaters, Lewins Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills, and Firetail Finches.  The finches were mostly just steeling chicken feed, but the others were taking turns for super-quick ruffles in the water. 
The yellow robins are my favourite, they're so opportunistic - when they see the soil has been disturbed they move in and case the joint for worm prospects. The blue wrens were just coming right up to our feet, bobbing around grazing where we'd filled the hole left by the clothesline footing, so close I could've scooped one up like a little pompom in my cupped hands. The males are so, so pretty with their iridescent blue and black.
Watercolour 15 x 21

Sunday, 26 August 2012


Watercolour 15 x 21cm
Lily collecting shells at Plantation Point
I found a sweet little bag of shells in the side pocket of my car from when Lily and Jackie visited in July, and I thought they'd make a nice little picture. And here's a stitched up panorama of the beach that day which was hellishly windy on the north side, sunny & sheltered around the point. 


Watercolour 15 x 21xm 
Decorative stones and a half-skeletal leaf I found in the garden this weekend.

Friday, 24 August 2012

King Parrot

Watercolour 15 x 21cm
Andy called me out the front the other evening to see one of these guys perched on a dead branch in our spotted gums. So velvety regal on that stark, gnarled branch, the picture is clear in my mind still.

Today we had a kookaburra land on our back deck and laugh really loudly in the back door, which is not usual. But then our beanbag-slumbering mutt leapt up and chased it off.

Pods and leaves and things

Not sure where we're eating dinner tonight

Another Leptospermum

Process pictures

Finished Watercolour 15 x 21 cm
There's probably a really nice common name for this plant but I don't know what it is. Andy says it's another Leptospermum. How gorgeous are these seed pods? The flowers are quite pretty too. But it is all on such a small scale!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tulip Commission

Watercolour on A4 Arches 185mg smooth
Slightly off-topic from my obsession with natives, but very appropriate for spring - which we're getting a little taste of now. This one is for a friend from primary school for her Blue Mountains home, and will be part of a set of three.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Market Presentation

A4 with 4" x 6" window

With coloured insert
Presentation kits are ordered - so this is how the little birds should look ready for sale in their acid-free laser-cut window mounts with 3mm backing & cellophane bags. Having a fixed frame size means being conscious about keeping the image area within 4 x 6 inches. Some very small pieces might need a little coloured insert - but I'll stick to 6 x 8 paper from now on.


Rufous Fantail 14 x 20cm

Detail of his little face
We have so many different types of little birds here, Andy's given me a list to work from. I think he said he's listed about 70 species he's spotted near our house alone. They're not all cute and little like this one though.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Spiky Pod

How scary-looking is this seed pod? It's got 2 spiky fangs and is really chunky protection for the daintiest little winged seed. I wonder why this plant goes to such lengths to protect it's seeds?

Apparently it's a Hakea Sericea. I have 2 other types of pods here we've collected from the local area which are also kinds of Hakea, but quite different-looking, so it might be nice to group them for a botanical type painting. 

The ants seem to like it, there were a lot of them wandering around my table while I was drawing.

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Stealing Seed
These guys are always stealing the chicken feed now. They will even fly in through the bottom door and up inside the henhouse to the second level. Which is quite a long path to escape by - in a panic - when someone walks toward them. Cheeky things!

More Leaves

Five Gumleaves Watercolour 23 x 30cm
After a big weekend eating Italian in Haberfield and exploring the art stores of Newtown it was nice to get home and paint some more leaves. This is Medium weight Aquademic which I don't like painting on nearly as much as the Arches paper, although the finished look is actually pretty nice. The size is just a little bigger than my scanner glass so is buckling a little at the edges.

Eastern Spinebill

Spinebills Feeding 14 x 21cm
At a fabulous native plant nursery on a springy day, while Andy was shopping for plants for the front garden, I lurked about taking photos of all the flowers. We were there for ages in the sunshine chatting with the lovely man when two spinebills came right near us squabbling over nectar. 

They move very fast and their wings make little flapping sounds, I guess they're pretty clever fliers able to get themselves into all sorts of positions to feed. 

If anyone is interested the nursery is called Wirin Wirra and it's hidden in the bush in Tomerong.


I'm still trying to work out the best way to present these little waterolours. Like Mickey suggested, I may need to get some mounts cut for them... though to suit which frame size I'm not sure. So these images are just photoshop mock-ups.

Friday, 17 August 2012


Watercolour 10 x 14 cm

Some scraggly native shrub growing in our front garden that you probably wouldn't look twice at, has the most lovely, delicate seed pods. Would they be considered a gum nut? I just love the way the pod looks when it's shut exactly like a Trivial Pursuit playing piece. These are just a couple of pages from my sketch book that explain it a bit. They're probably only about 7mm or so across, so you have to look really close to get all the detail, or wear those $7.99 glasses from the chemist.


Silvereye cloud 14 x 20cm
One of a series of watercolours featuring local bird species. I'm doing quite a lot of these, possibly to sell at markets or on Etsy. This one is done on Arches 185gsm Watercolour paper which absorbs the paint pigment beautifully.

From the Forest Floor

Three Gum Leaves 10 x 14cm
Andy and I went for a walk in the bush on the other side of the creek from our place and brought back a bag full of bits and pieces including some quite spiky things. So lucky I didn't have to carry the bag. I loved the colours of these leaves together, and I know they are chewed and damaged but they just look so gorgeous - I'm not even sure why.