Somerville outdoor cinema, UWA

Spent a pleasant morning out painting with the Plein Air Painters Perth at the lovely Somerville Auditorium. This is a gorgeous outdoor theatre set in the University of Western Australia (UWA) grounds. This area of the university is also known as the “cathedral of pines” because of the huge Norfolk pine trees that were planted by William Somerville to create an open air venue sometime after 1927.

The Somerville is home to Perth’s International Film Festival with nightly showings after sunset in the summer months, the public gather to eat picnics on the grass surrounded by the massive trees before settling down in deckchairs at sunset to watch the film.




On my bike ride into the city there was a yacht race on the Swan river just outside of Elizabeth Quay….the city makes a great back-drop for the race.



More coconuts! Mauritius

Another coconut palm sketch….I find coconut trees fascinating for some reason … maybe hoping to see the magical moment when one coconut lets go of the mother tree and gravity takes over sending it down with a thud. (I am careful not to sit under another coconut when sketching!)


Lots of water to time today….had a crack at stand-up paddle boarding (successful) windsurfing (less successful) and sailing a ‘laser’ dingy (mostly successful – only capsized once).


To the Pilbara and back again….

This is a little “mud” – map of our travels around part of Western Australia.

The red lettering on the right side really is written with mud –  red dirt – from a puddle on our campsite – genuine Pilbara red ochre!

The below sketches are from various bays in the Ningaloo Marine Park – Turquoise Bay and Oyster Stacks which we snorkeled in, saw lots of fish (fishing is banned throughout most of the park), turtles, clams….lots of coral and shells.

20160717 Map20160717 Turquoise Beach 20160717 Shell 20160717 Photo 5 shell sketch

Have you ever seen a starfish this blue? I had to include the photo to prove its amazing cobalt blue colour……we all thought it was a toy plastic starfish at first….but no it was real and alive and we saw several more when out snorkelling!

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The below pictures are looking up to the top of Circular Pool in Karijini gorge, there is a white gum tree clinging on to the very top edge of the red rocks. This painting is an example of why sketching on location produces a much better record of a place than a photo….the contrast of light was too great for my camera (Canon G16) to handle (and I suspect most cameras) even after adjusting the aperture, neutral density filter, ISO, Speed etc. Most of my photos are very under or over exposed because of the extreme contrasts. But sketching on site you can observe the real colours and your eyes compensate for the bright sunny sky and the dark shadows from the tall cliffs….sketching from a photo just wouldn’t be the same.

20160717 Gum Tree cliff20160717 Tree photo

Perth City Farm

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Perth City Farm this morning. This is a community garden next to the main Midland to Perth train line (formerly scrap metal yard and battery recycling plant). The farm was started in 1994 so it’s quite well established now. A smallish garden area was packed with very green and well watered plants (there were bananas and passion fruit growing next to my sketching spot). Organic and Biodynamic fruit, veg, dairy, eggs (free range chickens on site) and honey is sold here every Saturday morning together with other health foods, clothing and body care products. There is a lovely cafe here too.

Two versions of the same sketch drawn on location but photo edited after. The weird and wonderful object in the sketch is a bell made from all sorts of pieces of metal welded together, somewhat rusty in places. The right hand picture is the original as I coloured it with watercolour paints, but the moment that I put the green paint on for the trees…. I wished I had stopped and kept it much simpler. So I’ve made some changes in Photoshop (Elements 8) to remove the green and push it to a more neutral grey background.


Kings Park Boab

20150921 Kings Park BoabThis is “Gija Jumulu” the majestic Boab tree in Kings Park Perth. Grown on the land of the Gija people in the Kimberly region of WA it was moved 3,200 Km to Perth in 2008 to make way for improvements to the Great Northern Highway.

Estimated to be over 750 years old, it weighs 36 tonnes, is 14 metres high, spans 8 metres wide and the trunk is 2.5 metres in diameter……it’s quite some tree.

The trunk is currently wrapped in a blanket of the colours of the aboriginal flag (other trees also have been dressed up “funky trunks” as part of the celebrations for 50 years of Kings Park Botanical Gardens). There is plastic sheeting around the base of the tree to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged in the Perth winter as it is a dry country species.

Lamy Safari with De Atramentis Archive Ink black, watercolours, burnt sienna, colbalt blue, windsor red, windsor lemon, neutral grey, Pentel waterbrushes, 225gsm homemade sketchbook.

Herdsman Lake Paper Gum

20150918 Herdsman Paper GumTwo sketches of the same scene…. the first more colourful done on location at Herdsman Lake next to the wildlife centre. It was sketched from inside the car as I’d forgotten my sun hat. The foreground tree (paperbark gum complete with peeling bark) was the main attraction, everything else an afterthought….but I felt the tree was overworked. So I had another go next day working from memory and the earlier sketch (helps that it’s on the same page). This time the tree is much fresher and I decided not to give any colour to the background (paynes grey)….it half works but the background tree was perhaps drawn with too much detail so now distracts away from the colour tree. Ah well…..another lesson learnt.

Lamy Safari, De Atramentis Archive Ink black, Watercolours burnt sienna, raw sienna, cobalt blue, winsor yellow, paynes grey, Pentel waterbrushes

Neil McDougall Park, Como – Flora

20150914 Neil McDougall Park Flowers These are “Cosmo” flowers growing in part of the community veggie garden at Neil McDougall park. They are native to Mexico but have been planted widely across Australia as they are so pretty and easy to grow.



20150914 Neil McDougall Park Silver Beet




This is silver beet growing in a large polystyrene container with the words “Sea Harvest – produce of Seychelles” printed on the side….maybe that’s why the plants are growing so green and healthy.

Lamy Safari, EF nib, De Atramentis Archive Ink, various watercolours with waterbrushes.

20150914 Neil McDougall Park Gum Tree


Finally, a simple pen sketch of a very old and impressively knobbly gum tree with peeling bark hanging off its branches.




Sailor Fude Fountain Pen, De -Atramentis Archive Ink Black