Category Archives: coloured pencil impressionism

Ready to Fly

“Ready to Fly” Neocolor II and coloured pencils, 31 x 38 cm. January 2023

I am a bit obsessed with our Rainbow Container Sculpture in East Fremantle. How the colours do change depending on time of day and atmospherics. My newest drawing “Ready to Fly” shows the sculpture on a fiercely clear autumn day. Early morning sun and fresh air result in THE SHOCK OF THE BRIGHT.

How does a seagull in the foreground compete with such forceful colours behind? It flaps its wings and manages to grab our attention with an upward thrust. Off you go.

In my two previous rainbow sculpture drawings “All is Calm” and “Colour My World” there is smoke in the air due to prescribed fire hazard-reduction burns. The colours of the sculpture are considerably muted by hazy atmospherics.

“All is Calm” drawn in October 2022.

The sculpture in reality is absolutely hard-edge; made from shipping containers. But I don’t want to draw hard-edged containers which is why I employ an accommodating bird to focus on. (How often I wait in vain for one to show up!)

“Colour My World” November 2022.

Now that I have drawn the sculpture so many times (four pictures but one didn’t survive) I feel positively drawn to it . When I see it in the distance, usually from a car, I feel a connection thanks to all the hours I have spent observing and rendering it in various lights. As to the birds, they sooth my soul.

All is Calm

“All is Calm” Neocolor II and coloured pencils. 28.5 x 37.5 cm. October 2022

The sun sinks, casting its last rays on East Fremantle’s “Rainbow” sea container sculpture. In the foreground a crested tern, already in shadow, rests on a pole at North Fremantle foreshore. At the first touch of an autumn dusk all is calm, all is bright.

All is Calm” is a drawing featuring the rainbow sculpture – a much loved piece of public art in my neighbourhood. I took the source photograph for this drawing during the month of April 2022.

Below are some of the photos I’ve taken over the past year of the rainbow sculpture.


“Transcendence” coloured pencil drawing, 28 x 41 cm. September 2022

A few weeks ago I published a post on a drawing called “Celestial Forest“. I loved working on the drawing so much that when I finished it I knew I had to make a considerably larger version for my April 2023 exhibition.

“Celestial Forest” had been composed from the left side of a photo I had taken at Donnelly River in June. For “Transcendence” I worked from the whole photo.

“Transcendence” reminds me of Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionist painting “Blue Poles”. However in my abstract realist drawing the verticals are (thankfully) not poles, but living trees.

As I stood in that patch of forest I was so moved by the sunlight filtering through the trees that it felt like a divine experience… as if I were inside a prayer. The interplay of light, wet leaves and branches became a kind of moving leadlight.

What was a word to describe this? It was Matthew who came up with my title. “Transcendence”, he said, and I knew that he was right.

The original drawing, “Celestial Forest” 26 x 26 cm. July 2022

I did not want to compare “Transcendence” with “Celestial Forest” so I waited until the latter had gone to its new home before putting final touches on the former.

Celestial Forest

“Celestial Forest” coloured pencils 26 x 26 cm.

“Celestial Forest” looks like swatches of colour up close (including if you are sitting in front of your computer screen). From a small distance it morphs into a forest with descending sun behind. (Try walking away from your screen and you’ll see what I mean.)

How did this drawing come to be? I was in the forest at Donnelly River Village in the late afternoon photographing a pair of scarlet robins. I couldn’t help but notice the light effects as the sun dropped in the western sky. It had been raining earlier. Wet leaves glistened in the light breeze. It was – spiritual.

“Hmm”, I thought, “How can I capture this?” I deliberately put my lens out-of-focus and pointed my camera straight at the sun. Then I turned attention back to the scarlet robins. When I got home I knew I had to make a drawing from the forest-y abstraction I’d captured.

“Celestial Forest” is similar to my impressionist Parisian drawings. In the Paris drawings the relationships are between street lights, neon and architecture. In “Celestial Forest” the interplay is between sun and wet trees.

“Melting Memory” (2021) impressionistic Paris – on the same wavelength as “Celestial Forest”

I drew four drawings for The 2022 Donnelly Verandah Residencies exhibition which opens on Friday 19 August at EARLYWORK, Cnr Wardie St & South Tce, South Fremantle.

They are…

“Celestial Forest” coloured pencils 26 x 26 cm. Sold.
“Forest and Bird” Neocolor II and coloured pencils. 26 x 26 cm. Sold.
“Wow Factor” coloured pencils, 18.5 x 18.5 cm. Sold.
“Verandah Resident” 16.5 x 16.5 cm.

What will my five fellow artists exhibit? I am excited to find out – in one week’s time.

If you are a local do come in and have a look. Opening 6-8 p.m Friday 19th August and then every day 10-4 to Sunday 28 August in SOUTH FREMANTLE.

POSTSCRIPT: 28 August 2022. The exhibition closed at 4 p.m. It was such a joy to participate in this group show. I met many people who visited the gallery; some old friends and some for the first time. Several drawings and prints have gone to new homes. I am tired out but so happy.

On the Lookout

“On the Lookout” coloured pencil drawing, 19.5 x 19.5 cm. August 2022

At Karnup Nature Reserve (a small patch of bush 40 minutes’ drive south of Perth) a western yellow robin commandeers a fallen log as a lookout.

What I like about this scene is that it reminds me of 19th century woodblock prints of Mt Fuji; the log and robin somehow suggest the shape of that much-admired volcano. (Japanese images are never far from my mind.)

Karnup Nature Reserve is where I came across my first pair of scarlet robins on the same day I found the western yellow robin. I wish these robins (western yellow and scarlet) luck as there is so much land clearing for housing estates in this area that one wonders for how much longer these birds will survive there. As the trees are mowed down, the patches of native bush become smaller and smaller.

“If a Japanese Lantern were a Bird” is a drawing of the male scarlet robin I found at Karnup.

Just like robins, I am constantly on the lookout. Yesterday I had a day out watching birds at Bibra Lake (a few minutes’ drive from my place). While I have your attention, here are photos I took of a splendid fairy wren family having a winter swim (or maybe a bath) followed by a warming cuddle and mutual preen to finish off.

First we meet Father…(who doesn’t get wet) but prefers to sing.

These two (mother and son?) use a fallen reed as their perch-cum-diving platform.

Let the fun begin…(and no, I’ve never seen fairy wrens take to water before)

When they’ve had enough it is time to rejoin Father who waited for them in the reeds.

Being on the lookout in nature is the best antidote to the world’s woes EVER.

Wow Factor

“Wow Factor” drawing 18.5 x 18.5 cm. July 2022

WOW! My eyes are happy when I see a scarlet robin.

A striking design of black, white and eye-popping red, the scarlet robin stands out. It is like a perching, flitting, flying and pouncing miniature Japanese lantern or Christmas tree bauble. (See the post If a Japanese Lantern were a Bird)

And I must say, Scarlet Robin, what big EYES you have…

During my Donnelly Verandah Residency in June I spent much of my time seeking out and photographing scarlet robins. I saw them in pairs, never right beside one another but not too far apart either. Each pair quietly worked its territory. I barely heard a sound from them.

Each robin stood stock-still as it concentrated on spotting food (insects, arthropods and spiders). Silent surveillance was followed by mid-air swoop (for flying snack) or pounce-to-ground (for walking/crawling/slithering snack.)

Rather than zooming in for detailed close-ups, I want to show the visual impact a scarlet robin makes within its tertiary-toned forest environment. This bird is enthralling to meet, watch, photograph and draw.

Female scarlet robin on a sign outside the general store. (Viewed from behind she blends in.)
Illuminated by morning sunlight a male (partner to the female above) glows on a branch.
A dash of scarlet in the brambles.
Bare branches in winter make him easy to spot.
I clock up many hours tiptoeing around with my camera.
This female is curious about my presence – and not a bit afraid.
Nobody is playing tennis on a wet day so the net is requisitioned as an insect-spotting vantage point.
Look ahead – one small bird performing his ablutions.
“Watch the birdie.”
Photoshoot finished. The birdie has flown.

Wow Factor” will be one of the artworks in “The 2022 Donnelly Verandah Residencies” art exhibition opening on 19th August at EARLYWORK in South Fremantle. Exhibition runs until 28 August.


“Peekaboo” coloured pencil drawing , 19 x 18 cm. Drawn in May 2022

I feel like I’m playing a game of hide and seek with small birds when I am out attempting to photograph them. As I am a mere plodding biped the birds fly rings around me literally and figuratively. They flit in and out of foliage; now I see them, now I don’t; then they rapidly depart the scene.

In February when I photographed this particular female Splendid Fairy Wren I was thrilled because she paused from her insect-hunting busy-ness to see what I was up to. She hopped out of the undergrowth and came close to me, peering intently into the camera lens. Her curious look said, “What IS that clicking sound?” (Answer: “Birdie, it is my shutter-release button.”)

This is the photo I drew “Peekaboo” from.

We are at Booyeembara Park in White Gum Valley affectionately known by locals as Boo Park. The 16 hectare area used to be a quarry and tip but thankfully was rescued, resuscitated and rezoned as parkland. There is a stream, lake and lots of trees and bush. Due to years of care and extensive replanting of native flora many birds call Boo Park home.

Booyeembara is a local Aboriginal word which means of the limestone hills.

Below are some of my bird photos from Booyeembara Park; several of them (including the Swamphen) were taken this morning.

Male Splendid Fairy Wren in all his glory.
White Cheeked Honeyeater enjoying nectar.
Grey Fantail pausing for a split second.
Southern Boobook calmly (perhaps with a touch of disdain) regarding this photographer.
Mistletoebird well concealed by thick green leaves.
Exciting bird news: Today I captured images of a female White Winged Fairy Wren. Nobody has seen this species in these parts. But the identification has been confirmed by bird experts from my photos. This is astonishing.
The White Winged Fairy Wren reveals herself.
Male Rufous Whistler checks me out from his safe spot.
Purple Swamphen on its way to the pond…
…and a few minutes later (YIKES!) on its way FROM the pond!!! (One less frog in Boo Park!)
Silvereye contemplating a drink…
… and partaking.

To all you birds – “Peekaboo I see you!

Good Day Sunshine

“Good Day Sunshine” Neocolor and pencils, 28.5 x 41 cm, April 2022

While resting in bright morning sunshine, a silver gull observes life from its post at East Fremantle jetty.

The title comes to me on the final day of drawing. I expect John Lennon is reminding me of his and Paul’s catchy 1966 song. Once in my head the song plays on continuous loop – perhaps it will do the same in yours. (Google if you can’t remember how it goes.)

I particularly like the way the beak’s shadow descends down the breast terminating on the white post. That shadow speaks to the other verticals within the composition. I also like the placement of the car in relation to the bird. Did I wait for it to drive into position or was it simply chance? (I like to think it was intentional on my part!)

There is something about a restful gull in the sun – and I am reminded of a similarly peaceful scene from hazy Venice. Different hemispheres, seasons, atmospherics – and I can lose (find) myself in both.

“Quiet Time” 2020

A Late Night Conversation

For several days I have been “in training”. “Each night I stayed up as late as I could and each morning attempted to sleep in. My goal was to adjust my body-clock so that I wouldn’t only be awake until midnight on Wednesday 6th April but also lucid, lively and with a reasonable vocabulary at my disposal.

I had been invited by Ann Kullberg to be her guest on a webcast LIVE from America. West Australian time is 15 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific time. Ouch – hence my “in training” sessions!

Everything worked out perfectly. I had a great time in conversation with Ann and midnight came around as rapidly as it surely had for Cinderalla on another night long ago.

While people tuned in from various parts of America to see the webcast live, in my region you were all in bed fast asleep. Now that you are up and about – here it is.

While some of my artworks are seen on the webcast you can see hundreds of them on my website – from the 1970s to now.

Our Place

“Our Place” Neocolor II and Luminance. 26 x 30.6 cm. March 2022

I walk into this scene on a blustery winter’s day in August 2020. A strong westerly air-stream prevails and the watery sun is setting.

A few people with strong constitutions brave the wind gusts (and probable approaching rain). Some hold fishing rods, others simply recline – staring into space.

Fremantle Inner Harbour – familiar, casual, a bleak kind of beauty. We know it intimately. Our place.

And…my place.