Thursday 30 December 2021

make more art : podcast interview with etchr lab


I did my first ever podcast with the lovely Jhesy from Etchr Lab. In this interview I talk my head off about..

  • my artistic journey
  • my first creative endeavours
  • why determination pays off more than having talent
  • advice on painting plein air
  • why getting a mentor and a supportive group of arty buddies is important
  • and much more.

Tuesday 21 December 2021

art retreat france


It's happening! 
Join me this coming May for 10 days of sketching in southern France.

We'll be staying at Perigord Retreats and exploring their beautiful countryside.

Everything is taken care of ... excursions to beautiful places to paint, cultural experiences, studio time, transport, accommodation and, of course, food and wine!

Sketching in Europe is an enduring passion of mine and I can't wait to share it with you.

12 to 21 May 2022
Small group, only 12 folks.
Your non-arty partner is welcome too.

There's lots of details and the link to book your slot here.

Monday 22 November 2021

a love affair with old buildings


Sketching Colegiata de San Pere de Ponts, Pyrenees, Catalunya

When I first started travel sketching in Europe back in 2007, I filled a book full of snippets, memories, stories and pasted in notes that documented all sorts of things from our 3 month trip through France and Spain. I painted landscapes, olive trees and flowers. There were sketches of the bikini I bought and the cup of green tea I had in a cafe in Barcelona. I included detailed illustrated maps and receipts and ticket stubs from places we visited. But even then, what fascinated me most were the old buildings.

South African born and now a New Zealander, very old buildings are not part of my history. To see and touch stonework made my masons hundreds of years ago is still a novelty to me and doesn't lose it's charm no matter how many I sketch. 

When we returned to Europe in 2008, my sketchbook included all those varied subjects that tell the story of a trip, but there were two big changes. The glued in tickets and receipts were gone. And there were definitely more buildings. And each subsequent year even more buildings. In fact for a few years I got asked often by friends - "Why do you paint buildings so much when you love the mountains? Where are your mountains?" Where indeed were my mountains? Well, they came out from my pen and brush in force a few years later (that's a whole other story!), but the love affair with old buildings in still going strong.

Here are a few of my favourite buildings from the last couple of months. 

The old (almost) abandoned town of Escuain, Pyrenees, Spain

Capturing the last bit of autumn, near Lleida, Catalunya

Trees and ivy taking over a ruined house near Lleida, Catalunya

Castell d'Alos de Balaguer, Catalunya getting some TLC from some workers

Precariously perched! Mare de Deu de Pedra, Ager.

High on the top of the Montsant range, Catalunya

Colegiata de San Pere de Ponts, Catalunya

Old ruin, Siurana, Catalunya

Real artistry in progress! Our friend Paul is restoring this beautiful old house in Cantabria, Spain

Back in New Zealand now and those buildings are million miles away. It's time to change gear to gorgeous, untouched landscapes. Or is it? I'm sure I can find a tumbled old barn somewhere ;-)

Wednesday 27 October 2021

upcoming online class from mallorca


This weekend I'll be teaching a live, online workshop from Mallorca. We've been here a couple of weeks now and it's so beautiful. The sea is crystal clear, the villages are quaint and tiny, and there's so much to paint - lighthouses, boats, really old olive groves, old buildings and mountains.

I'm going to chose a scene that's captures something of the magic we're enjoying - a seascape with an old building. Why not join me and paint along?

Sunday 31 October, 3pm Central European Time

Can't make it live? Then you can purchase a recording instead.

Spots are limited for both the live class and the recording to ensure a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

Update : bookings closed. Join my mailing list if you'd like info about my next class.

Here are some sketches from the last week in Mallorca...

You can't live much closer to the sea than this! Cala Tuent, Mallorca

Rocky coastlines, Mallorca

Inside the Ermita de la Trinitat, Mallorca

Calo de s'Estaca, Mallorca

I hope to paint with you on Sunday!

Hasta luego.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

i do like to be beside the seaside

Painting an old boat - online painting class via Zoom

After a couple of months in the mountains, it was time for some sea time on the north coast of Spain. We love the coast here - it's rocky and wild and there's the backdrop of the big mountains of Picos de Europa. This year we struck it lucky with the weather, with hardly any rainy days. Pretty much unheard of in these parts.

It's wonderful to paint seascapes after months of being inland. We don't live close to the sea in New Zealand either, so beach time, surf time, old boats and tidal estuaries are a wonderful treat.

In the month we were in Asturias and Cantabria I also did two outside classes, both on glorious sunny afternoons. The first class was a lovely old boat and it's reflection. The second a seascape of a beautiful cove with big, rocky islands.

Below are some of the scenes from our month ...

Days of huge seas, days of millpond. The rocky coastline in Asturias is wild and untamed.

Online painting class in the stunning Playa de Cue.

My finished demo painting from an online painting class on the north coast of Spain

I'm not the only artist in the family. David builds these beautiful beach sculptures and I sketch them

My demo painting of an old boat on Ria Tina Menor for an online class.

It was really hard to tear ourselves away from this place. We just needed to catch one more wave. And then one more. And then...

Tuesday 21 September 2021

upcoming online seascape painting class


This Sunday I'll be painting live from the north coast of Spain and you can join me and paint along!

The coast here is wild and untamed and exceptionally beautiful. I can't wait to share it with you. Can't make it live? Then you can purchase a recording instead.

Class numbers and recording numbers are limited to 10 each to ensure a relaxed and intimate class.

Update : bookings closed. Join my mailing list if you'd like to know about the next online class.

Friday 27 August 2021

salut france!


Teaching an online, on location painting class via Zoom

We're back in the land of good wines, croissants, lavender, and immaculate villages full of flowers. And beautiful, rugged hills where the alpine flowers are still in full bloom. So awesome to be back in our favourite haunts with some of our favourite people.

If that is not enough, I've had the absolute joy of painting with a lovely group of folks from around the world. Via Zoom of course. 2 sketching dates in the Devoluy mountains south of Grenoble. In the first we painted a lovely, rustic house with a mountain backdrop and in the second a very imposing church. It's been amazing to me that I can stand outside and sketch, while others can follow along, no matter where they are. I can share the place, sounds and visits from locals too. Modern technology rocks!

If you'd like to join my next online class, please add yourself to my mailing list. Folks on the list get the booking details first.

Here are a few snaps from the last couple of weeks...

Rampant grape and blackberry vines covering an old house in Treminis L'Eglise.

Flower pots everywhere - the French do every bridge, window and corner in style

The day was grey and gloomy until I spotted that huge bush of yellow flowers :-)

Taking the high roads. Devoluy Mountains, France

Sketch of some cone flowers. The bush was taller than me!

Camping below silver birches, Les Ecrins, France

A bientot!

Thursday 12 August 2021

life on the road


Our trusty home on wheels for up to 6 months a year.

Did you know that for about 6 months a year this is our home? We've been traveling in Europe this way every year since 2012. Except for last year, of course, because of ... well, you know.

We love our little home on wheels and I certainly don't sketch her often enough. So here she is, comfortably parked in the shade in one of our favourite summer haunts.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

live online class coming up

It's happening! This Sunday I'll be teaching an online class, live and on location from Ainsa in the Spanish Pyrenees. 

I'll be painting step-by-step and you can paint along. There's plenty of time for questions and after the lesson I'll be able to give individual feedback.

Spots are limited to 10 folks for a relaxed and intimate class.


Tuesday 20 July 2021

hola espana y hola verano!


In the medieval town of Ainsa

It's a topsy turvy world right now and for lots of folk it seems crazy that we'd want to travel halfway across the world. But, wow! It's so good to be back in Spain, enjoying the start of summer, catching up with dear friends, exploring the hills and diving into sketching my absolute favourite subjects. Couldn't be happier :-)

Here are some of my sketches from the last few weeks...

Ermita de la Espelunga, Pena Montenesa, Pyrenees

Chicory - growing everywhere at the moment. Such a tough little flower.

Aransa, Pyrenees, Cataluna

Pineta Valley, Pyrenees

Wild alpine irises and a little alpine hut, Pyrenees, Spain

Serveto, sketcher's paradise, Pyrenees, Spain

Little alpine farm shed, Pyrenees, Spain

Small scabious with five-spot burnet (a day time moth)

As always, you can follow my travels on Facebook and Instagram. Links in the sidebar on the right.

Hasta luego!

Thursday 10 June 2021

out and about : autumn into winter


Penrith Bay, Lake Wanaka

Autumn changing into winter - such a lovely time of year to capture on paper. Of course, the shorter days which are always pretty damp and can sometimes actually be freezing make for challenging conditions for sketching!  A big flask of hot tea and lots of clothes certainly help. Having lots of patience, too, is necessary, as the paint washes take lots of time to dry and you certainly learn pretty fast that you can't rush things or the whole sketch will be one blurry mess of colour.

But when I find a sheltered, sunny spot and the hills have fresh snow and the trees either their golden coats or the beautiful bare bones, then I can't think of a better time to be outside with my sketchbook and paints.

Here are just a few snaps from my excursions in my local hood from April through to June.

Along the Clutha River looking towards Mt Maude, Albert Town

Glendhu Station, Wanaka

Looking towards Corner Peak, Lake Hawea

On the shores of Lake Hawea

Looking across to Paddock Bay from Emerald Bay, Lake Wanaka

Winter sketching bliss :-)

My patient sketching buddy. Sketch of the St Bathans Range with fresh snow.