A Little Bit of Spruce


For the first time in many Sundays, no commitments. It’s snowing again and unusually I’m very happy to be inside in the warmth with a cup of herbal tea at hand – and an embarrassing amount of coloured pencils. I’m not sure if I just drew a spruce, pine or fir branch, I’m think it’s a spruce!

Autumn Goodness


It feels good to fly a little free and figure out the colours needed for a drawing, like this one of an autumn leaf, rather than copy faithfully from a book. The latter is a great way to learn and I’ll refer to those same books for suggestions when I get stumped, but the training wheels had to come off at some point (as they did with the plum).

The clocks have recently gone back and I never quite know how to feel about this, waking up is a little easier with more light, rather than burrowing back down into the duvet whilst the darkness lingers. But then it gets darker in the evening so much sooner, which is not really appealing to me. Perhaps though the autumn/winter seasons are some of the potentially most creative times? The energy is more withdrawn, less exuberantly outward, which can feel like a kind of loss at first, but if you can channel that saved energy it might actually be replenishing. With less time to be outside there’s more time to rest, to draw, cook, read, learn more about photography, to write…. (I’m just talking about what I enjoy, insert your own particular interests and hobbies).

Speaking of comfort food (we were weren’t we?!), I tried making a pumpkin pie, which I haven’t done for a few years. I used the same pastry recipe as I did for a fruit pie – once again omitting added salt as I used salted butter – and my own recipe for the pumpkin filling, which is as follows:

1 14oz (or 400mls) can of organic pumpkin

I cup of soy milk

2 eggs

1/4 – 1/2 cup of maple syrup

1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix all together, pour into a nine inch pie dish lined with the pastry, cook at approx 350f for about 45-50mins or until the pumpkin is set. Voila! Delish with added whipped cream.


“It was one of those days you sometimes get latish in the autumn when the sun beams, the birds toot, and there is a bracing tang in the air that sends the blood beetling briskly through the veins.” P.G.Wodehouse.

Enjoy the rest of the autumn!


The weather has made it so enticing to be outside at any opportunity that I realize I’ve neglected drawing, in fact to such a degree that I feel I’ve forgotten how to draw at all. So once again it was back to the beginning. Attempting to create a three-dimensional tulip was so disappointing (and frankly terrible) that I scrapped it and reverted to Ann Swann’s Botanical Portraits to try to figure out how to create shading on a more delicate flower, in this case an iris. I’d tried to shade with a graphite pencil, which wasn’t working for flower petals……but use a few Faber Castell warm greys and a better tone comes through the colours layered on top…..ever onward!





Leafy Greens

Once again I reverted to the inimitable Ann Swan and her lovely book Botanical Portraits, this time to work on drawing and shading an ivy leaf that she describes in fair detail from beginning to end. It’s just an excuse to bust out the greens in the coloured pencil range, but long term it is to hopefully improve my drawing and to one day produce something that approximates the choice of subject, whether it be flowers, trees, fruit etc. and that exhibits my own style, whatever that may be.


Starting out……



Adding in a little more colour and shading…..



Finished picture



Back To The Drawing Board…..

Practice, well, doesn’t make perfect. But it’s time to get back to drawing as summer starts to wind down (how is that possible, the eternal refrain of every year, although this year it does seem to be a endless summer as the dry spell shows no sign of abating and forest fires continue to rage).

Once again, learning the use of colour as I copy from Botanical Portraits by Ann Swan.


And on a quiet week-end an attempt to draw a pepper. I sketched in the highlighted areas and unfortunately the pencil marks showed through, but that in itself is a great learning experience.




Colour Blindness

Rather than copy illustrations from a book, albeit a great way to learn some basic techniques, I’m going to commit to drawing from life, except for when going back to revise and learn some fundamentals. It’s challenging and frustrating, a picture of a tomato went in the garbage, couldn’t stand to look at the fiendish thing anymore. A drawing of a shallot is safe, for now. It’s more an approximation, the colours are insanely annoying to figure out. I have so many pencils now and yet they don’t seem to be the right ones, or I’m not using them and layering them correctly. Anyhoo, here it is for better or worse:

Cherry Trio

A quick post of the finished cherries I was working on from Ann Swan’s Botanical Portraits…….

Just briefly cleaned up the background but didn’t get rid of the smudge marks! Using Faber Castell Polychromos pencils and Prismacolors, all beautiful pencils that layer on with a deep richness. 


When Is A Lemon A Lemon?

I think I drew a lemon. What I mean is, it’s a ‘lemon’ in the flawed sense of the word. This is the first drawing from life, as opposed to copying from another illustration. Having to guess the colours used (not all yellows are created equal!) and then take the plunge. The citron I used has a very smooth rind, not like, for instance Amalfi lemons. So perhaps next time……meanwhile I have some learning to do, and practice.

 It’s certainly nothing like this lemon in a garden in France!