Monthly Archives: March 2021

Neighbourhood Watch

“Neighbourhood Watch” Luminance pencils, 32 x 28 cm. March 2021

Biko, a fine feline friend of mine, watches the comings and goings in the neighbourhood from a table on a veranda in South Fremantle. As he observes others, so I observe him.

I’ve been using Neocolor II wax pastels to undercoat many recent drawings however “Neighbourhood Watch” is drawn with coloured pencils only. My method doesn’t change much whether my undercoat is with wax pastel or coloured pencil. First I block in the undercoat. There are already a couple of layers of undercoat on the wall in this image.

Luminance undercoat

When I am building up tones I decide early on that the deepest darks and the brightest whites will be on the cat’s fur so he will stand out from his surroundings. With this in mind I use my UNDERCOVER WHITE method on all the lighter (and white) areas of his fur. But I don’t use undercover white anywhere else in the drawing. It is the cat I want to glow, not his surroundings.

Surroundings mostly done. Cat still in undercoat stage.

Even though there appear to be dark areas under the table and in the bit of window behind the cat, they still are not quite as dark as what I save for parts of the fur. Though the window frame is kind of white, it is actually done in various greys because I don’t want it to compete with the fur.

So Biko sits on his throne looking out at the world. And when I have finished photographing him, I make sure I catch his eye so that he jumps down and comes to me for some stroking and scratching behind his ears.

Click HERE for my UNDERCOVER WHITE theory and method.

You Are Here

“You Are Here” Neocolor and Luminance, 25.5 x 20 cm. March 2021

Sometimes you see large helpful maps on streets, especially in touristy areas. There is usually an arrow on the map pointing to the spot corresponding to where you are standing. The arrow is accompanied by the words YOU ARE HERE.

I have recently come to the conclusion that I AM HERE. I am at home in Fremantle, Western Australia. The international borders are shut so here I stay. Over the past two years I have worked on 24 Italian drawings for the exhibition “An Italian Dream” – on next month.

I felt a sense of grief when I finished the Italian drawings. I loved mentally hanging out in Europe for months after I physically returned home. And I’ve been fearful that nothing will inspire me locally. It is easy to romanticize about somewhere else; not so easy to get excited about my own neighbourhood.

However I have taken the tentative first step; it is the small drawing “You Are Here“. I drew it last week using a photo I took eight years ago.

Here is the original 2013 drawing.

“Just Landed” drawn in 2013.

I wanted to draw it again to ease myself back into local colours and subjects. The resulting “You Are Here” is different from the 2013 “Just Landed” as technique continuously evolves.

I enjoyed working on “You Are Here” but when I finished it I had another crisis of self-confidence. What if there was nothing in Fremantle I wanted to draw NOW? I’d be lost in a void in my own neighbourhood. But let’s not get carried away with groundless fears.

Yesterday I found a brand new 2021 composition while outside with my camera. So I will begin. I will take things one drawing at a time. I hereby anchor myself in the here-and-now, observing this small port town with steadfast attention. Grounded in Fremantle.


And if YOU ARE HERE, I hope you’ll come to the exhibition…