New Work

Pastel and charcoal still life drawing

I am trying to draw every day. It’s the only way I’m going to ‘see’ if any improvement has miraculously appeared.

Yesterday, I was so involved in a drawing that I was 30 minutes late to pick up Loxley from nido. This was one of those occasions where not being able to speak spanish very well comes in handy. They’ll avoid me like the plague – ‘Oh know, she’s going to try and speak spanish again, let’s look busy’.

What would I say anyway? ‘Sorry, I was drawing a nude?’ Or even better, ‘I completely lost track of time studying the light on a jug’. If they don’t already, they would think I am some crazy Australian women who likes nude bodies.

Then I remembered, in this country, being late is just ‘normal’. I have never received an offered explanation from a local who has been late here in Lima. I have had to ask for an explanation every time. So when I wasn’t even given the opportunity to explain my tardiness I felt relieved because I’m hopeless at making up plausible excuses and besides, I didn’t know how to say ‘nude’ in spanish.


I know it won’t be hard to pick the faults but this is from memory. I mean, who on earth am I going to get to pose for me in the nude? Now I really would be the crazy expat women… and, I don’t want to travel into the middle of Lima central for art classes so I’m on my own here… and I don’t want to copy from a book anymore because I need to interpret the form myself rather than using somebody else’s interpretation.

nude drawing in charcoal


So be gentle mum.

Then again, you always are. Also, ignore her lower legs, they look like death warmed up. Poor thing.




Exported 2

I thought I would add the recent attempts at pastel drawing including my first landscape. None are finished simply because I don’t have the foggiest idea how to ‘finish’ them. This is why I need you to move to Peru Mum. I’m sure sedatives are available for the plane trip, yes I think as many as it would take would be available . So what do you say? Come and tell me what to do. Wow, I never thought I would say that …


Here is my first landscape. Which do you think? Including the left yellow building or excluding it altogether?

Exported 3-2


Here is the excluded version ..

Exported 3


No I haven’t tried oils yet. I’m procrastinating and it is taking up a lot of my time.

Funny or am I just warped?

I find this funny but it could be because my humour is warped. You decide.

For those who aren’t a Degas fan, a bit of background: Degas drew a lot of women bathing, getting in and out of the bath, drying their hair, drying their arms and you get the idea. I am not sure exactly how many drawings he did but there are books containing just his nudes.

Anyway, this pastel I copied from one of his many bathing pastel drawings except I obviously left out the nude bather, hence the title “She’s gone to lunch”. Please someone tell me that you also find that funny.

Degas copy without nude bather

She’s gone to lunch

What about a series? “Still at tea” and “She got bored” and “She’s visiting mother”????

Outrageous or conceptual?

I do some pretty weird stuff as part of my art course. I’m new to this whole conceptual art thing. In fact, I even had a dummy spit about having to research ready-mades, as if Duchamp’s porcelain urinal didn’t say it all. My tutor was very patient with me and offered a gracious response to my rant over ‘wasting time on what Duchamp undoubtable had a chuckle over – the gullibility of the human race’. Apologies to anyone who has transferred past the ignorant stage about such things but I’m not there yet (yes I am prepared for a little backlash).

As such, I’m doing weird weird stuff. You may have read on my last post that I’d better get back to varnishing my childhood diary. I wasn’t kidding. Furniture varnish on a book and yep, totally my idea – as to the idea itself, not sure, just know it was mine.

Yep, drew my nostril too, which received rave reviews on the discussion board. Apparently I’m pretty good at drawing nostrils. Yipee. I’ll include the drawing at the end, don’t want to digress from my train of thought right now …..

As for covering a room in calico – well I have scrapped that ‘concept’ and decided I want to dance to ‘Uprising’ by Muse in the middle of a photographic exhibition instead. How good is that song?

What makes art so different to psychology, which I spent the good part of my adult life studying, is that my personal opinion is valid. I don’t have to substantiate it by referring to past-dissected studies, although I do love doing that. Anyway, I can have an opinion and who is there to say I am wrong????

What has taken me so long to get into this world? Mixing with too many predominantly practically focused minds?

All I can say on this sunny sunny day, is, if I had exposed myself to this world earlier, I would have been doing all this weird weird stuff a long time ago. This means that by now, I would possibly be doing something much more interesting than varnishing my diary and instead, producing something that is considered outrageous, sorry, conceptual art. Who wouldn’t want to do that I ask?

One day.

Here is my nostril that was part of a drawing course requirement. It’s actually my nose all scrunched up into an attractive sea of bends and folds.

pastel drawing of scrunched up face

My nostril

Do you love that song by Muse. You know, the ‘Uprising’ one? Just try and not move to it. Just try. Impossible I tell you. Impossible.

May as well add some more drawings from my course. This one was done with powdered white pastel and charcoal which I applied using a wet paint brush. I had to do this standing with the paper on the floor. With such a great distance between me and the paper I had to use a stick with the paintbrush taped to the end. It was fun. It allowed for lots of awkward moments.

self portrait with powdered white charcoal

I can’t listen to you

I can’t
Listen to you
I don’t know what I’ll do
If I listen to you
What I would think
If I were, to listen to you
I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

Through music
You touch
Through words and prose
You praise
Through light and shadow
You show
But I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

You wink and nod
For me to listen to you
You edge closer
So I can hear you
You become humorous
So that I laugh at you
But I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

You lead me astray
When I listen to you
I end up alone in wonderland
After listening to you
I forget to eat and sleep
From listening to you
So I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

Unless you can promise to be
Normal yet original and
Always nice
Remind me to eat, sleep and
Wash my clothes
Promise to be understood by others and
Hopefully pay my bills
Then I must, I can
I will
Listen to you

Until then,
Ever so quietly
Ever so gently
Ever so beautifully
It’ll be our secret
That I,

Who am I talking to?

Right now my grumbling tummy think’s it’s him I won’t listen to. (Hmm, my tummy is a he, not a she??)

I’m including another drawing in pastel. A nude. No it is not this naked, armless lady with uneven butt-cheeks that I am not listening to(o)? either. Just thought I would add her because it is colourful and I can’t see her taking up a whole post and my mum would want to see her.

Nude in pastel and charcoal

Nude in pastel and charcoal

I drew this nude based on a charcoal drawing in a book titled ‘The Human Figure’ by John H. Vanderpoel.


I took a HUGE bite and chewed like crazy …..

Female Nude in pastel and charcoal

Female Nude in pastel and charcoal

No, I am not eating people.

I ventured past the pear, apple and jug and decided to draw a nude …… in pastels.

This is my first nude pastel and boy oh boy, have I learnt a lot in the process. Will this learning curve translate into the next nude drawing? We might have to wait 3 years to find out, as it may take that long to build up the courage again.

Cezanne, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec all used outlines, even in nudes so I was eager to give this a go.

Here is what I have learnt

–       I need more colours. I don’t have enough dark blues, greys and purples.

–       I need to choose a colour palette before I start otherwise it may end up too green, or too orange.

–       Remember to sign before taking a photo

–       Remember to check hands and feet before taking a photo. Her right hand looks like she has been split in half.

–       Do some sketches first to decide on a background colour.

–       Almost forgot to mention the most important of all ….. check myself in the mirror for charcoal and pastel smudges on nose, cheeks, forehead, ears even before picking son up from school.

–       Work off a coloured source.

I worked from a black and white charcoal drawing from one of my favourite books, ‘How to Draw the Human Figure’ by Victor Ambrus.

Needless to say, I am still pleased with the outcome. I am just itching to get in there with some darks though. Guess I will just have to go shopping. Bummer.

I could highlight more, what do you think? More highlights or more darks?

Relieved and shocked today

Well it feels good to finish another drawing.

Jug in pastel and charcoal

Jug in pastel and charcoal

Before you get any ideas that I am a somewhat refined person with drawing an elegant jug and all …. I am. Sometimes.

I’d like to share our little household event last night that made me want to pee my pants …

As a parent, I still have to remind myself that I am a parent. The problem is I just don’t feel remotely equipped with all the decisions, choices, explaining, repeating, cooking, did I say repeating, and all while ‘speaking nicely’. Well last night I found myself facing a new parenting twist, one which left me wondering how a mature, calm, wise, experienced and prudent mother would react.

You see, while I was engrossed in surfing the web while watching television, my husband and I noticed the sound of a running tap, not dripping, running. I ignored it and continued to multi-task my attention while Simon on the other hand decided to ‘check it out’. Before I knew it, my husband, who was by this stage only in his undies, was almost peeing himself in laughter, urging me to “come and see this”. Well the sight before me equally scared me, shocked me and strangely enough made me feel I may just want pee myself too. Now I was scared because I frantically imaged this to be only the beginning, then shocked because I had only ever heard stories, never witnessed it myself. And as me for laughing so hard, well I think most parents would too if they saw their 5-year-old clearly sleep walking to the toilet, only it wasn’t the toilet but the play mat in the middle of the family room. While urinating in the middle of our family room, this 5-year-old notices our presence, smiles all while scratching his head like we all do when we wake from a nice long slumber, except he wasn’t awake.

After he crawls back into bed and we have tamed our bellows, caught our breath and controlled our own bladders, we tuck him in and ask him, ‘did you go to the toilet’. He smiles, nods, snuggles himself under the covers then peacefully re-enters slumber land.

It takes children to remind us how to laugh like a child complete with the whole dancing from side to side in the “I’m not busting just this second anyway” style. I just love laughing that hard. Like I said, I do need to actively remind myself that I am a responsible, wise, dependable, unshakable parent, really I am … okay, perhaps one with a split personality …. oh and yeah, possibly a sympathetic bladder too.