Hello and welcome!

Thank you for visiting my blog and perhaps you’re here after actually viewing my sketchbook as part of the Sketchbook Project World Tour 2012

My sketchbook’s catalogue number is 158A.1-6.

@Stefras, for whom I created page 5 – Heart, suggested that I create a guestbook.  I obviously thought it was a great idea ‘coz here’s the page. Thanks Shawn. 🙂

I would love it if you could please leave a message especially to say where you’re from and perhaps your favourite page/idea/technique in my sketchbook.





Mail Art


I’ve done it; completed all pages, created QR codes, decorated the cover with Zentangles and even created videos to document my sketchbook.  All that’s left to do is actually post to the Brooklyn Art Gallery so my book can actually join the world tour. woohoo.

After all the effort I put into the book, it didn’t feel right to use a plain white envelope.  So, I decorated it for a bit of mail art to house my artwork en route to the art gallery where it will be ar(t)chived (after touring, that is). 🙂


This was real quick to do with lots of rubber stamps and dye inks.  I masked the address area to keep it white and readable – I do not want my book to get lost! 

Yes, I’m sad to see it go but I’m happy, too.  I did it.  I tried new things.  I re-discovered old skills.  I documented the process.  I even have a new art signature a la Picasso.  I’ve exceeded my plan, in many ways; some unexpected and serendipitous.  It all adds up to an epic win!  

So am I a less frustrated artist?

I think so.  I might even be a better artist than when I started.  Hey, I’ve even got work bound for an art gallery.  That’s pretty amazing for me…. still, a work in progress, albeit less frustrated. 😉

Cheers everyone and should you be lucky enough to have the world tour visit your city (check schedule), please hunt mine out and drop me a line here.  Ironically, the tour doesn’t even visit mine – Sydney – so I may consider going to Melbourne.  Even then, I won’t get to see my buddy Janelle’s sketchbook because the Melbourne tour will only consist of entries from Australia.  

And if you can’t make it to the world tour exhibition, at least you can view my work in this blog or in YouTube.

17 – Bye



I had a few ideas on what to do with the backcover.  Here’s what I came up with in the end – a way to prepare myself to let this artefact go. 


medium: ink, gesso

time: 15 minutes

It is symbolic in the sense that the wall I’ve built around my artistic self is starting to come undone.  This journey to become less of a frustrated artist is a journey, not a destination, and a fine journey to be on, I must add.  

But, this phase is done so it’s time to say goodbye.  

Doing this backcover sketch didn’t take long but has definitely made a dent in my sentimental self wanting to hold on and keep this for posterity.  In fact, I’m ready to let this go and I’m ready to keep going.  I hope that makes sense.

Before I can ship this off, I still have to create the QR code for each entry and glue to the opposite page, respectively, as part of the original plan.  There is a story behind each sketch and it would be good if the ‘audience’ is able to tap into the stories rather than second-guess – as we sometimes do with artists. I do wonder if we get it right or do we attribute more meaning than we ought; worse, wrong meaning or intent; notwithstanding that art is open to interpretation, sometimes.


16 – Time is not your cage



This is it, the last page of my sketchbook – although I do have something planned for the inside of the back cover.  

It’s been quite a journey for me.  It’s been challenging for sure, but if there’s one thing I have definitely learned, it is that “Time is not my cage”.


medium: Distress Inks, permanent marker, gel ink

time: 40 minutes

This sketchbook is evidence that I can spare 10 minutes, more even, to do something I really like and that which makes me happy. I can make the time to do so.

So what is my cage?

It is not lack of inspiration.  Sometimes that’s not so easy to find but it can be found.

It is not lack of skills.  I’m not saying I’m skilled but I know that learning and doing help me improve.

It is not lack of materials.  I’ve got a room bursting with different materials and media.

My cage is me!

I have allowed myself to become a frustrated artist. Needlessly.  This sketchbook journey has forced me to do something….to break free from the cage.  

The challenge now is to not fly back in, but rather soar and further explore my creative self.

P.S. The other picture is of my reject.  I started off with coloured pencils but I wasn’t happy with the end result.  I decided to ditch it and start again…in line with this quote (anonymous?)

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes

Art is knowing which ones to keep.

15 – Coffee


Ever since I mentioned possibly copying Picasso (Prince and Picasso), I’ve been haunted by the idea.  I tried awhile ago and then again today but I just could not be happy with the result.  Picasso himself said:

What does it mean for a painter to paint in the manner o fso-and-So or to actually imitate someone else?  What’s wrong with that? On the contrary, it’s a good idea… and it’s at the very moment you make a botch of it that you’re yourself.”

I definitely tried and I made a botch of it!  In the end, I decided to draw something different, something I like, like a cup of coffee (a flat white, as we call it in Australia).  This is one of my favourite cups – made of glass with a removable curvy stianless steel handle. 


medium: ink

time: 2 minutes

Really quick, this one!  I was going to do it on a separate page, just in case.  I went for drawing directly on the page; it’s about time I let this go. Who knows how many times Picasso drew his doves to come up with the more famous ones?  I can imagine doing a series of these, matted and framed.

My favourite part here is, in fact, the signature a la Picasso’s.  I might use it from now on!

14 – Butterfly



Doing this entry was a nice walk down memory lane. Both my girls enjoyed Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar ; a book which could be read in 10 minutes….or more, as we did.  My eldest daughter and a couple of her friends even staged a puppet show for my youngest daughter’s 4th birthday party.  And they made all the puppets – well I made the caterpillar with articulated body segments…we wanted the caterpillar to crawl and crawl it did.

Doing this entry also reminded me about what I like, as well as dislike, about watercolours.  I love the blendability and semi-transparency as layers are built. I don’t like the accidental ‘bleeding’ and smudging (did you hear me go ‘aaargh’?).


medium : watercolour (pencils), permanent markers, glitter pen

time: 1 1/2 hours

A bit more deets

I wanted to create something more 3Dish but would still lie flat.  As I’ve never attempted pop-ups before, I thought that now was a good time to do so…in my journey to become a better artist. 🙂 Google was my friend.  I had to play a little with the assembly to see if I could pull it off as well as to determine how big the butterfly was going to be; I didn’t want him showing before the “page” was turned.

Both caterpillar and butterfly were sketched on watercolour paper.  Then layers upon layers of watercolour were painted on.  Detailing was done through watercolour pencils (dry), permanent markers and finally with a touch of glitter.  I cut the butterfly carefully (there is a reason crafters call this fussy-cutting, I why I avoid it and why I never tried paper tole); edges were inked for a more polished finish.  

At first the backgrounds for both caterpillar and butterfly were going to be white.  However, the yellow did set off the caterpillar as did the black for the butterfly, respectively.

I smiled lots throughout the process, right to the end.  I hope it brings you smiles, too.


13 – Portrait


In the last post, I considered perhaps tackling faces and hands next.  I haven’t done this for years, many years.  And, it’s about time.

Here it is:


medium: pencil (2B I think)

time: 1 hour

This is actually a copy of one of my favourite photos.  It is of my 2nd daughter when she was a few weeks old; she is now 10!  How small she used to be.  She had grey eyes then which turned brown from around 6 months – same story with my eldest.  She was also a bald-y (like me and my eldest daughter as babies).  

So there’s only one eye – is that cheating?

This is not just a portrait of my daughter, it is also a portrait of parenthood, i.e. how dependent our kids are to begin with and need hand-holding and guidance, as they explore the world around them.  I’m not sure I captured it in the sketch but there is a sense of wonder, awe and trust.

I could have done this directly on the sketchbook but didn’t for 2 reasons: (1) I didn’t think I could do it and (2) If I could do it, I probably would want to keep it. I did alright and was tempted to keep it.  Instead, I scanned it which is what I will keep.  


True to form, I kept a touch of ‘roughness’ in strokes (vs fine and well-blended).  I like it like that. 🙂

12 – Starry Night



medium: soft pastels

time: about an hour (or 2 rounds of OnePercentYellow’s The Radjhani Express)

In my Prince and Picasso post, one of the Picasso quotes was:

What does it mean for a painter to paint in the manner of So-and-So or to actually imitate someone else?  What’s wrong with that? On the contrary, it’s a good idea… and it’s at the very moment you make a botch of it that you’re yourself.

This, then, is a copy of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and me making “a botch of it”.  It’s an impressionistic copy of an impressionist. Ha!  

Why Van Gogh?

I wanted to focus on the sky so cropped the picture accordingly.  Still true to this sketchbook as diary-istic, this gives me a chance to incorporate, albeit indirectly, one of my “likes”, i.e. Doctor Who.  The episode “Vincent and the Doctor” is one of the family favourites and this painting was featured in it (or so my memory tells me).  I was tempted to paint on the TARDIS but resisted.  However, I did start with the TARDIS blue. 🙂

Another reason is that I wanted to include a copy of ‘a master’ in this sketchbook.  I’ve never copied Van Gogh, ever! So, why not now?

Soft Pastels

Soft pastels were perhaps my favourite medium when I used to do a lot more art.  It’s blendable and certainly suited my preference for broad strokes (as against fine lines and details).  

With pastels on a dark background, you have to start with light colours first, then go dark before finishing with highlights.  It’s the opposite way when working with other media: pens, pencils, watercolour.  I think this ‘turn the rules on its head’ that I found most appealing when first introduced to the medium.  That’s it: Be different!

I have a Faber Castell box of 60 which has been ignored for a good many years, until now.  I didn’t use many colours for this though, did I?  60 and could not even find the right blue!  So, I put in a dark purple instead and I love it.  Just look at my fingers! Messy, messy art fun!


What next

It’s not over yet but this has been a fantastic artistic journey and I’m on track with “becoming less of a frustrated artist”.  So far I’ve done: still life, nude, landscape, modern art, collage, masterpiece copy (sort of) and have used pencils, oil pastels, watercolours, ink and soft pastels.  This sketchbook is like a little portfolio. haha.

I’ve also kept true to the plan and happy to report that my zentangle cover is now finished. I will show photos on my final post, i.e. when I finish this project.

I’ve yet to tackle hands, feet, face and eyes….or portraits (aaargh).  Will I or won’t I?  Am I ready?

11 – Whimsical Doodles

This entry was inspired by a pin on Pinterest which looked so fun and modern.  

I’m quite smitten by modern art at the moment, especially after visiting the NSW Art Gallery.  Mind you, I still have high respect for classicism and realism but a foray into the whimsy and absurd is perhaps a journey most artists (or artist-wannabes like me) go through.  It is a way of looking and representing things differently.

I’m not really a doodler so this has been a bit of a challenge.  I tend towards symmetry so I had to suppress that a little (a lot) to come up with this entry.  It also took ages but in a way, time stood still; I was absorbed.


medium: watercolour, ink (black and white)

time: long 🙂

I used special glimmery watercolours: Twinkling H2Os from Luminarte, little pots of intense shimmery colours. I waited for that to dry and then doodled away.  I even included ’10 minutes’ in there.  Then, I also applied glaze over some ‘blocks’ to highlight and for extra texture (tactile and visual).

Pick up a pen and doodle away. It’s fun.

10 – Prince and Picasso


I went to the NSW Art Gallery Picasso Exhibition yesterday.  This was from his own private collection; apparently he said that “Picasso is the best collector of Picasso’s art”.   Going through the 10 rooms, I was struck by the following, among others:

  • recurring themes: self-portrait, women (nudes, portraits, pregnant), reading, guitars
  • Picasso was a prolific artist
  • he used a lot of different mediums
  • he explored many styles including classicism and cubism (I think he’s explored the full spectrum of realism through to abstraction)
  • he loved life

I’d like to share some quotes, too:

I paint the way some people write an autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages from my diary…”

What does it mean for a painter to paint in the manner o fso-and-So or to actually imitate someone else?  What’s wrong with that? On the contrary, it’s a good idea… and it’s at the very moment you make a botch of it that you’re yourself.”

When I was a child, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like a child.”

This sketchbook is like an autobiography for me too – a chronicle of relevant events and people as well as personal journey as a frustrated artist working at being less frustrated.  

For this entry, I wanted to copy Picasso – and may yet – but not this time.  This time, I copied Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author and artist of my favourite book: The Little Prince.


medium: watercolour, ink

time: 10 minutes

A really quick sketch this time!

This particular set of pictures point out how children see things differently.  I believe Picasso alludes to much the same, not just in seeing but in doing.  I’m not a big fan but I do have my favourite Picasso’s, i.e. the simple line sketches like the dove

So, if an accomplished artist can continue to evolve and find beauty in the simple, then I can have hope that I can become a better artist, bit by bit, stroke by stroke, minute by minute.

Oh, and if you haven’t read The Little Prince – please do so.  It’s a book worth reading and re-reading, over and over.  I grew up with this book.