Posted in Courses, Cross Hatching, Drawing, Drawings, Red Bubble

Portraiture – Wrinkles

I have been learning how to create wrinkles using cross hatching techniques. It’s through a Sktchy course called, Faces with France: Wrinkles.

I am absolutely loving this class. Here’s what I’ve done so far…

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This one was done with a Bic pen on cream acid free paper. I loved seeing it come together and took some progress shots to show you.

It’s a little scary putting ink down on paper cause you have to be happy with whatever marks are made and move on. For me, crosshatching in ink is a lot like using watercolour. If you make a mistake, you need to embrace it as a happy one.

Here are another couple of pieces I’ve done in 2B and 8B graphite pencil.

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This one was focusing on capturing wrinkles, light and shade and creating volume but not going into the whole face. This was my first attempt at capturing wrinkles.

Here’s the second one.

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I didn’t focus on the beard cause this class was all about the wrinkles. I’m so happy with this piece and in time I might spend more hours developing the hair or better still, I might have another go at drawing this guy with the beard in full.

Here’s some progress shots of the above piece coming together from initial sketch with one eye done through to developing the second eye.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this technique develops over time as I get more practice hours ‘under my belt’ and make it my own.

I’m also loving how I have finally been able to get the whole person on the page. I used to struggle with keeping the person inside the page and no matter what I did I couldn’t seem to draw within the boundaries. But lately something has clicked and now I can do it.  I think it’s got a lot to do with learning how to measure and use anchor points to place each part on the page. Anyway I am celebrating.

I’ve also been focusing on my Redbubble shop and added some of my art to the products available to buy. It’s a bit of a challenge for me as I am not (yet) a digital artist and not very familiar with out to erase the backgrounds and enhance my artwork, but I will get there. I’ve got plans to keep learning and playing.

Yesterday, I figured out how to turn this cute little blue teddy bear into art for my Redbubble shop. Check it out if you’re interested or go to my shop to see the other items.

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That’s it from me. Hope you are having a creative day no matter what you’re doing.

Posted in anxiety, characters, Courses, creativity, Cross Hatching, Drawing, Drawings, Editing, life drawing, Sketches, skillshare, visual diary, Water Colour, Water Colours

Ramping up my Art Practice

In the last month I’ve ramped up my daily art practice. Sketching and using water colour paints in my sketch books most of the time. I’ve also been to another life drawing class, attended my first water colour painting class and today, I have just finished a Sktchy course on cross hatching.

So if you’re interested… here is some of my work.

The cross hatched portrait below is my first one using black pens. It is the image the teacher used in the Sktchy course so you may see it around and depending on who drew it, it might be better rendered than I’ve done here. But having said that, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. I just need to practice the art of seeing and capturing shadows with fine cross hatching marks.

Below is my graphite pencil sketch of the guy we did in the Sktchy course. I put him in a frame as I needed to mark out lots of lines to get his features down on the page with accuracy.

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A lot of people like this pencil cross hatch and I’m super happy with it.

I went to a beginners water colour class and learned about blooms and glazes and all sorts of other techniques. I’m a bit heavy handed with the delicate medium but it’s fun to learn, make mistakes and see where they lead.

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Above is my finished water colour mushroom. I had a lot of fun creating this small art work on the paper we stretched. It was a great class run by Holly from Life Drawing Caloundra.

I’ve been doing a botanical workshop on Skillshare and that’s stretched me a lot. Here’s one of the pieces. It’s a vintage inspired flower with petals and stem.

 

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I think I like the stem and leaves the best. It’s all water colour and took a while for me to layer. I’m not the best realism artist but you got to start somewhere right?

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Above is my botanical alphabet project from the skillshare workshop. It turned out pretty good, but I’m not a big fan of fancy fonts. Maybe one day I will embrace them but it irritated me a bit because I kept making mistakes with the pen and had to keep starting over. For me that’s too painful to do and I doubt I’ll become a calligraphy lover… at least not someone who does calligraphy, but I’ll always have respect for anyone who does the art form!

Then it was off to life drawing class on the 29th May to celebrate their first year of regular classes. It was a great night with every spare spot taken up by artists trying to capture the gesture of the model. Above are two of my pieces. I gave drawing on black paper a go and it worked out pretty good. Quite a few people liked that drawing with the soft pastel.

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Then, totally inspired by Sketchbook Skool, it was time to sketch book my way through my life and capture everyday moments. This image as you can see is of my M&M slippers which I picked up in London in late August 2018. I love them and taking time to draw my feet on the coffee table was excellent fun. No need to feel precious about my lines and marks. It was just an impression of my life and an opportunity to practice drawing what I am seeing rather than what my brain thinks it can see.

I intend to keep practicing and learning new techniques. I hope that as I grow as an artist, I will also be able to create better skillshare courses of my own. I’d like to pass on things I’ve learned but only after I’ve practiced enough and made the techniques my own. I’m not very comfortable in front of the camera yet and it has taken me a long time to learn how to video my art as well as to think about the classes I could teach and how to teach creative writing from my own perspective. I face a lot of internal fears every time I come to create a skillshare course, but I’m moving through my fears and into creativity. I even made a course to help other deal with their fears around creativity based on the tools I use to manage anxiety.

They say one of the best ways to learn is to teach and I’m on that road now too.

On the creative writing front.. I’ve been chipping away at my edited manuscript and had to change a few characters which has lead to a chain reaction of changing what they do and don’t do. I’m about a third of the way through my manuscript and I’m so grateful I’m doing lots of art because it stops me from having anxiety brain.

When I write, I feel a lot of angst to get things right. But when I do art, most of the time the angst just vanishes. I can spend hours and hours doing drawings and not even realise time has sped past. I love writing, but it is a different experience for me. It’s a complex and sometimes analytical experience which somehow triggers off the inner critic in me more than art ever has.

I guess this is all part of a learning curve for me. I’d like to publish my story and I’ll keep at it, and I’ll keep drawing every day because the practice is so good for my mental and emotional well-being.

Until next time, happy creating!

Posted in Abstract, Courses, creativity, Sketches, skillshare

Intricate Line Drawing Class

It’s been a big artistic week for me. I’ve spent hours creating a new Skillshare course called, ‘Create Intricate Line Drawings’, and I’m super excited that I’ve managed to pull this off.

I’ve had to learn how to create effective time lapse videos, create video content that flows and makes sense, draw and draw and draw, get comfortable doing voice overs and figure out how to edit on iMovie too.

Below is a sneak peek at my course thumbnail and I’ve created a super simple, super short time lapse video to show you a snippet of the content.


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Below are three of the intricate line drawings I created as part of my Skillshare course demonstration.

I really do hope people enjoy the class. I’m happy with it. It took days to create the content and now I am utterly exhausted.

Tomorrow, I’m back to travelling on the train to go to my day job. That means it’s time to return to my story, The Living Death of Toddy James. I’ve finally finished the second edit and now I am going through plugging plot holes and polishing it to the best of my ability.

Another step closer to getting my manuscript back to the editor for the next round of creative publication preparation work.

I’ll update you on my next art project in the near future. I’m currently studying portraiture and hope to show you some of my work soon.

In the meantime, happy creating and thanks for dropping by.

Posted in Courses, Creative Writing, creativity, fiction, Fiction Writing Courses

Exploring Short Fiction

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Lauren Daniels and Geneve Flynn – Brisbane Writers Workshop, Seriously Short Fiction

Short story writing is a true art as far as I am concerned. It’s economical, punchy and a great way to polish up fiction writing skills. But … I haven’t been writing short fiction much. From time to time I have taken dreams (and nightmares) I’ve had and written them into short stories, but they always felt half formed. I didn’t know what wasn’t working with them.

So, I’ve stuck with writing long novels – Tuppence Weatherstorm and The Living Death of Toddy James, because I understand long fiction. That’s kind of silly since both short and long fiction have similar building blocks and writing elements. However, when I have attempted to write short fiction, my stories have blown out into massive ideas and I have struggled to contain them.

Both of my current novel manuscripts are in various stages of editing and rewriting and it’s a long journey writing a novel. I like to compare writing a novel to running a marathon. It is a long-term game and I need to pace myself. I have learned that if I sprint, I burn out too soon and hit the wall.

Yet, in between writing and rewriting scenes, deepening characters and depositing theme into my stories, I like to explore other types of writing and see where it takes me. And now it’s time to deep dive into the art and craft of writing short fiction.

When I attended the Brisbane Writers Workshop on writing Seriously Short Fiction with Lauren Daniels and Geneve Flynn. Here’s a few of the things I learned:

  • How to use a literary device called motifs. Motifs can be an object, such as a pack of cards that shows up several times throughout the story and subconsciously signal a deeper meaning to the reader. Honestly, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around what motifs are. I don’t think I can explain it well enough here.. sorry.
  • How to structure a short story – they still have an inciting incident, rising action, a climax and a resolution.
  • The essential plot requirements – conflict, conflict, conflict drives the action of the story forward.
  • Character elements – best to limit the number of characters or the story will no longer be short fiction.
  • The preferred length for short fiction for my target audience – approximately 2,000 to 10,000 words for short fiction.
  • Have fun and protect your creativity.

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Seriously Short Fiction had so much excellent content which has enriched my understanding of writing and sparked my imagination too. It was the kind of course that niggles at your imagination and helps you develop the understanding needed to go away and playfully create on your own.

We did a free writing exercise and I was sitting there penning my thoughts on the paper and giggling like a crazy person because I was having so much fun with the character that danced into my imagination. We wrote for five minutes and the time pressure gave everyone permission to put aside their fears of ‘not being able to write’ and allowed each person to get on with the act of writing without listening to internal judgement.

I’m torn between writing up the free writing exercise here to share it with you and keeping it to myself. I want to share and I want to nurture and play with the story idea that danced to life on the day. I keep writing ‘danced’ because the thing my character stone were dancing shoes.

It was giggle worthy stuff. At least to me. And I think if the writer enjoys what they are writing, then the reader will enjoy it to.

Posted in Courses, Travel, Travel Writing

Travel Writing with Brisbane Writers Workshop

Travel Writing Tips

Last Sunday (17th March 2019), I attended The Art of Travel Writing with Brisbane Writers Workshop, run by the always amazing author, editor and director, Lauren Daniels.

It was my first travel writing workshop as I usually focus on fiction writing, but this time I wanted to branch out and learn how to put some of my travel experiences into stories and blogs. I wanted to learn how to write in a way that captures the imagination and inspires others to get out there and see the world too.

The workshop was small in numbers but big on inspiration and travel excitement.

I have to put a disclaimer right up front about my travel and writing. I confess I am not much of a traveller and so I am limited in my topic options, but am I?

I did go to the UK last year for the first time (if you read my blog regularly then you already know this) and I had so many amazing experiences which I still need to write about.

So, what did I learn and what can I share with you?

Here’s a limited list of travel writing tips inspired the travel writing workshop with Lauren Daniels, Brisbane Writers Workshop:

  • Go travelling and take notes – lots of notes. Take a note book, a voice recorder, shoot video and take photos. This will help bring back memories of the experiences you had while on your trip.
  • You’re not limited in your travel writing. Remember, you can write about your own home town and share your world with others who may want to visit your area.
  • Journalling is an important daily writing practice for anyone who wants to develop their writing voice. It is a place to go where you can be safe and say whatever you want without anyone casting judgement. Writing in a journal is about creating a practice (or habit) that gets your brain switched on and ready to dig deep for writing. It is also a fabulous opportunity for you to work on developing your writing voice which is important for all types of writing, from non-fiction to fiction.
  • Write about your experiences – the fantastic times, the hideous dark, and daring times because people love reading about how you handle the unexpected as well as the sweet.
  • Use imagery in your writing. I’ve written blogs here that haven’t delved into imagery as much as I could have. It’s a way of showing your reader where you are and giving them a taste of the place you are visiting without them actually being there. I’m going to keep working on putting vivid imagery and sense in to my travel stories.
  • Strive to be accurate in writing about places you visit. Remember there are a lot of people who love travelling and many will be familiar with the environment. It pays to double check facts and get nuances of your destination right.
  • You can structure your travel writing stories in different ways such as starting in the middle of an action scene where you set the tone of the stories to come. This travel piece can be from half way through your trip. Then you go back to the beginning of your trip and write from there up to this scene, then go beyond it. It’s one of a number of ways to structure your travel writing stories.

There were mountains of tips, tricks and ideas shared by Lauren Daniels and the participants. I was swept away with the travel ideas and itineraries of those who are planning round the world adventures myself.

We did writing exercises too. I had so much fun with one which was centred around the idea of: “I remember…” then start writing.

The prompt I chose was “Once, I got lost…”

I wrote this piece in long hand in my study journal and I wanted to share it here.


Once, in Oxford, I got lost.

Lunchtime had come around and my writing class had dispersed like ravens into the sky. The traffic hummed with cars, taxis and double-decker sight-seeing buses. Even in the overcast grey of the day, tourists sat on the top deck clicking with their camera phones.

A little lonely, I wandered down a side street admiring the old homes. I notices a security camera over a front door and thought nothing of it. But I should have thought more.

A right turn and down the lane a tiny church sat hunched over itself, surrounded by crooked grave stones with weather worn epitaphs.

It looked safe enough.

Tall trees loomed over the graves and I wandered down the winding path, snapping photos for my memory files.

The air around me stilled. Birds that had chirped stilled. Something unseen touched me, made me turn around.

Two men. Worn clothes. Shaggy beards.

They blocked the path and the entrance to the street.

I glanced right.

Where did the path go?

Was I trapped?

My heart tripped.

The men grew silent and drew closer.

No time to think. I clutched my phone, turned and rant to the back of the church, praying for a way out.

Relief flooded me. An open gate. My heart thundered in my ears. Fear pumped through my legs, giving me the super speed for my body to beat a path to the safety of the street.

I glanced back, heaving heavy breaths. They followed.

I swung right and ran for the main road.

I should have noted the security camera. I’d learned to value the signs.


When I wrote that piece, my heart tripped just as fast in my chest as it had the day that I’d been alone in that cemetery. It was my first trip to Oxford and I’d been having a great time, but I wanted some alone time. That day, I chose to wander on my own and even if they two men meant no harm, the experience still gave me a fright.

I made sure I stayed with people from the course from then on. I’d returned to my class with my heart pounding in my ears and my breath still heaving. My hands shook and I had to write a scene for my novel. It took all my focus to compartmentalise the experience I’d just had and do the writing exercise instead.

Oxford was still fantastic, but I was more aware of my surrounding than I had been before that event. I guess these experiences are part of the adventure of travelling.

Until next time, all the best with your writing, art and creative expression.

Posted in Author/Book Review, Courses, Creative Writing, creativity, Editing

Through Fear and into Creativity

Since returning from the UK, I have been taking a little break from writing new stories and have been working on polishing up my manuscript, The Living Death of Toddy James.

I received some good feedback from the Ink & Insights 2018 Critique my Novel contest and decided it was time to submit my manuscript to an editor who can help me take it from the rough and step it closer to publication standard.

But as I have taken this step forward in my creative life, I have also had to battle internal fears. Fears that I am still not good enough to publish. It sounds silly given the spectrum of published works in the world since self-publishing became so accessible, but I still have an inner voice that speaks volumes about where it thinks I am at.

This inner voice drove me to pick up the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I listened to it on audio first, then went out a got myself a paperback copy so that I could refer to things that inspired me and provided me with ‘a-ha’ moments. big-magic-elizabeth-gilbert-book-review

This lead to me creating a skillshare course called: Through Fear to Creativity, where I explore some of the methods I have used get past the fears that have blocked me when it comes to creative writing and, at times, my artwork.

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I then made a short YouTube video where I speak directly about how Big Magic has helped me move through a perfectionism blockage and I hope, if you watch it, that my insights help you to.

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Then I thought I’d do a book review on Weekend Notes and I called it: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Book Review.

So, in a strange way I have been quite productive … dealing with fear and building courage to stand up and do what is in my heart to do.

But I have to be honest, writing a novel is a big project. It’s like a marathon level of focus, day after day. It took me over a year to write the first draft of The Living Death of Toddy James – most of it tapped into my Scrivener file during NaNoWriMo 2017. When I finished that draft, I was exhausted. I’d finally got the basic story out and I liked it.

Then anxiety crept in and I fiddled and fiddled with the manuscript filling in plot holes and other such things. Then I made excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly put the manuscript into an editor.

Then I went to the UK and found (to my surprise) that the level of my fiction writing was on par with the other students in the Fantasy Fiction course. I was stoked.

So, when I hit Australian soil again, I promised myself that I’d be brave and submit my story to an editor with a lot of years of experience and a good track record of helping authors actually bring their stories to publication.

I want my story to be the best fiction that I can make it. Not perfect. I can’t do perfect. I can’t please everyone. But I’d love to know that someone somewhere enjoyed reading what I wrote.

So I guess the next phase is about to begin. And to keep my mind from going totally crazy over what work is ahead of me with my manuscript, I’ve focused on creating book reviews, a YouTube video and a skillshare course.

Hopefully as time goes by I will finally figure out how to move my photos of the UK to some kind of show and tell thing-y, then I’ll be able to share more of what I experienced. But to tell the truth, I’ve kind of enjoyed allowing the travel dust to settle. Who knows when I’ll get around to sharing my UK photos and mini-musings.

In the meantime, Happy Creating!

Posted in characters, Courses, Creative Writing, Fiction Writing Courses, Travel

UK here I come

Tomorrow I fly out of Australia and will be on my way to the UK for a month.

I am super excited to be starting my holiday.

So it’s packing time and Miss Poppy decided it was time to check out the interior of my suitcase. Rocket tolerated some photos with me which I took with my new selfie stick. And Jack spent time inspecting my suitcase as I considered what I might take with me.

My companions are so sweet to look after me in this way.

I’ll miss them while I am away but I feel good that my best friend will be caring for them during that time.

My partner is set to jet off and meet me in the UK a couple of days after I go because I’m going to Oxford to do my writing course.

I’ve got a couple of new ebooks downloaded for the trip:

  1. Three Bedrooms One Corpse by Charlaine Harris
  2. Maim Your Characters: How injuries work in Fiction by Samantha Keel
  3. Play It Away by Charlie Hoehn

So that’s one fiction novel, one writing how-to, and one non-fiction book on how to overcome anxiety through incorporating play in your everyday life.

I’ve also got a few digital puzzles downloaded and I’m currently listening to Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.

It is going to be a big adventure for me. I have a fair bit of character development done on my fantasy story, although there is always more I could do. I’ve got some setting sorted. Conflicts sketched out and an idea of the plot. I wouldn’t say that I’ve got all the novel puzzle pieces in my head but it’ll come as I relax and enjoy this travel adventure.

I’m not sure if I will have an opportunity to post here during my travels but if I can, I will.

UK here I come!