because I’m smitten

vintage camera
The camera, again, this time in watercolours and colored pencil, because I’m smitten (and can’t actually USE it till I get my fat little fingers on some film).

Botany, Baby

It’s impossible to sketch in Guyana, and leave out the greenery. One is surrounded by riverine forests, and on our walks around the surrounding islands we come across interesting plants all the time, so my sketchbook is starting to look a bit like a botanist’s records of the New World.

This flower belongs to the same tree that Kris brought his weird jungle fruit home from. I painted the fruits on postcards, blogged about them here. Found this specimen growing in Gabriel’s Creek.
I also painted a Cecropia leaf. Cecropias are apparently yummy, as we have found both howler monkeys and sloths in their branches. The Amerindians use the leaves medicinally.

These pretty flowers smell like jasmine, though it is a small tree and not a shrub at all. A single pink petal encloses the others in the bud…the other petals are white. Grows on Baganara Island, hanging over the water, on the resort grounds.
flowering branch

Note: Most of my blog content these days is from two or three weeks back, because of how difficult it is to get onto the internet; so while my posts may be about terrible, rainy days and so forth, the rain had actually eased by the time I could post about the experience, and we are enjoying a mix of rainy nights and sunny days, at the moment. Since then I have been to Georgetown, even! But I am still working on my posts for that part, and most likely won’t post about them until we get to our next destination. Incidentally, we are hoping to leave Essequibo River on Friday, the 19th, and Guyana itself by the 25th or so. We are headed for Granada, it may take another 10 days or so, so my next posts will start to show up in the first or second week of July.

Announcing a new blog

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Watercolors & gouache sketchbook

Inspired to the point of nail biting by Jennifer Orkin Lewis’s painting a day, and hoping to get into the habit of doing a small painting regularly (once a week is all I’ve managed)…before I set off on my big adventure ‘out there’, I picked up where I left off in this palm-sized honey of a handbound watercolor book, and tried to do a little something on free days. Even if it was just a color chart, or a copy of some bizarre character by Bosch.

Watercolours and gouache.

15 Sept 2014

Oct 6 2014

Oct 6 2014

Oct 5 2014

16 Sept 2014

Some very simple sketchbooks

The art shop where I work was recently sent a big stack of paper in mill packs. According to the manager of the main warehouse in Perth, the paper was not selling quickly enough and so the line has been discontinued. “Find a way to get rid of it,” we were instructed.

Always curious about paper, I opened some of the mill packs up, and was amazed to find a really beautiful text-weight paper from some mill in Japan. It has a delicate laid texture, and comes in 15 hues —from a dark blue-black to a pale cream color—with yellows, greens, greys, blues, reds, and tints of apricot in between. It reminded me a lot of the old Fabriano Artist Diary that used to be made in Italy by the nearly-300 year-old paper mill Fedrigoni. Those Artist Diaries used to feature 10 to 12 different colors of paper…not just the pale and muted hues of sand, fawn, and so forth, but also bright reds, greens, and a sunflower yellow that never failed to cheer me. Fabriano still makes its Artist Diaries, but the colors these days are restricted to pastels and shades of grey or brown.

I asked my boss if I could buy the paper from the business, a little bit at a time, to make some very simple, strong, rustic-looking journals with strong, unadorned calf leather covers, for use as field and travel sketchbooks. She loved the idea, and I used my lunch hour that same day to fold and cut just enough sheets of this gorgeous paper to make two books.

I figure I have enough calf nubuck from my last trip to Asia to make 20 of these A5-sized journals…and probably some smaller scraps of the same leather to make little A6 ones, too.

For as long as the leather and paper last, I’m accepting orders at my ETSY shop for these. The colors have been listed as options…you can get a book in just one color of paper, or a mix of all the hues available, as the books in the photos are. And if you want to select just two, three, or however many colors? Just arbitrarily pick the “Mixed” option, but send me a message to let me know which colors you want included. Some of the colors are in very short supply, others come in full mill packs (or two!) so it really is first in, best dressed.

For my own journal, I think I’m doing on that is just sunflower yellow and Prussian blue… ooh, yummy!

link to my ETSY Shop RIGHT HERE. Thanks!

The Cheap & Nasty Sketchbook Makeover, on

The Cheap & Nasty Sketchbook Makeover

Last weekend I put together a guest DIY post over on Sarita’s blog,  i love gifting that you might want to go over and look at; it comes out some time today.

In it, I’ve taken one of those generic cheap & nasty sketchbooks (must be hardbound, though; I got mine from Jackson’s Drawing Supplies for AU$12.00) and added a little bit of reinforcing to the binding (so that it is a little bit stronger than the factory-made version, which used something for the mull that really resembled thick loo paper). I replaced the plain white endpapers with caramel-colored Canson Mi-Teintes, and then performed a series of quick techniques with acrylic paints to make the cover colorful, quirky, and very unique.
finished spread

It’s not a bad project for young people, and those of you who don’t want to get into the fiddly process of actually learning to bind books from scratch. Make a dozen for the holidays and give them to people who like to doodle, or compose poetry, or collect quotes, or to your friend who has a very bad case of list-making syndrome. It’s not an heirloom-grade book, the paper will probably disintegrate in 20 years, but not everything we need blank pages for will end up in the Victoria & Albert Museum. This book is for those other things.

This song came on when I was about to start painting the covers of the book, and I just let it take over. A little bit of 80s nostalgia, anyone?