As an illustrator most of my time is spent drawing relatively cute and pretty pictures aimed to appease conservative publishers and appeal to a young market. Thus, my private sketchbook is a haven to unfetter my brain on paper... (If you are looking for my usual work in children's literature, check out my regular blog at

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dr Sketchy's Brisbane - July 2011

Before long ago I'd never heard of Dr Sketchy's. I only stumbled across it by accident on Facebook, but it sounded like an intriguing idea — On the first Tuesday of every month, artists - professional and amateur - get together and sketch models of different sorts, mostly of the Burlesque variety. Before now I hadn't done any serious life-drawing since I was doing animation at TAFE, that was back in the mid to late 90s, so needless to say my skills in that area were rusty at best.

I won't even bother uploading any of my sketches from the first week I went to Dr Sketchy's, they were really bad! Which is a shame because the model was a nice 50s pinup-style beauty. Unfortunately, I'm  no Gil Elvgren so my sketches didn't do her any justice.

The second time I went was early this month. After my first poor effort I wasn't expecting much, but I surprised myself. I didn't think these were too bad...

(2-5 mins)

(10 mins)
(10 mins)
(15 mins)

These were done with a black pen on paper. Clearly I'm intimidated by realistic faces, particularly women's. I didn't even attempt these. There's a fine technique to drawing a pretty face, and I'm out of practice. If I was drawing grostesque crones I'd have no trouble!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Teeth & Gums Part II

As I mentioned in my first post I like drawing teeth and gums, evidently. But at the same time I find them unsettling, and even terrifying. I have recurring nightmares about my teeth falling out, and chewing on them, sometimes choking on them. The thought of losing a tooth in real life disturbs me deeply, so I'm a fanatical brusher and flosser (and picker).

Bedtime Doodles

I often like to sketch while watching TV, or before putting the light out at night, or generally whilst waiting for the wife to get her war-paint on. It keeps me in practice with my technique. And drawing this way helps with my confidence to draw directly and spontaneously without roughing out first...


Making use of time

I take a sketch book most places I go, and if there's a chance I'll be sitting around for an indefinite period of time I'll doodle completely at random...

A prime example of waiting experiences are doctor's clinics, etc. The following sketch I did whilst spending three hours in a waiting room once...

Then when I get home I scan the image and add a bit of colour. Sometimes worthwhile ideas are born from doing this, other times I've just got a pretty (or ugly) picture to show for my time, which otherwise would've felt wasted.


Experimenting with Gouache

This is done in mostly gouache, and a small bit of acrylic. I haven't used gouache extensively before, but having read a lot of artists/cartoonists I admire (eg.Voutch and Arthur Szyk) frequently use gouache, I thought I'd give it a try. I've always been fearful of gouache, for one, I was told once that cockroaches love to eat it and subsequently destroy artwork, and secondly it's also a fairly fragile medium, because as soon as it comes in contact with water the gouache reactivates and bleeds. This suggests to me that it's archival quality is poor, but I'm probably wrong because Szyk's work dates back a while and it's surviving. So, I'd like to throw a question out to anyone who's experienced in gouache: What would you recommend as a sealant/fixative or varnish that works effectively with gouache?

Despite these minor drawbacks, it seems the pros outweigh the cons, as I found gouache a pleasure to use and I'm very pleased with the results. It's the next best thing to painting in oils, but minus the fumes, which is great. It's other downside is it dries quickly, but I coped.

I'm pretty sure I'll use gouache for whatever book I illustrate next...


Here's an oil painting from late 2007:

This wasn't for anything in particular. Sometimes I get the urge to just do a spontaneous picture. I enjoy working like this, without a roadmap, because I start the picture with no preconceived idea as to what it might look like at the end — Typically I start with the eyes and it grows from there.

I wish I had time to do more like this, maybe get some prints made...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teeth & Gums Part I

When I'm stuck for ideas, instinctively I start drawing teeth. It used to be I started with an eye, but these days it's teeth and gums...

Here's some more...