OK… so here I am with a brand new blog and I’m on to my second post already! So while I was thinking what to tell you about next, my good friend and fellow artist Pip Montier asked me if I would like to participate in a worldwide Blog Hop.  The only answer to that was… YES! How exciting!  So the idea is that one person introduces several others (and their work) on their blog and answers a couple of questions about the work they are currently creating… sounds like fun… so here we go…. 🙂 As I already noted, my friend Pip invited me and so I in turn would like to introduce you to her.


I met Pip a few years back through our uni study group and found her to be such a lovely and supportive friend… and not to mention talented!  I particularly love her use of colour and the way she often hones in on the smaller details in life. You can find her work here… and if you follow the links on her page you can find loads more talented artists from around the world.  So be sure to stop by and sign up for her blog and newsletter. And my fellow bloggers this week are…

Tracie Gallagher

Trace G   Tracie is another friend I met from my uni days and talented artist.  If there is one word to describe Tracie it’s ‘PASSIONATE’ about her work and life!  The work she produces never fails to ellicite a response from the viewer.  You can find Tracie here.


Michelle Reynolds

Shells in the Bush

  I haven’t met Michelle but found her work through the Blog Hop links on Pip’s page… which is the whole point of the Blog Hop!  Michelle is an acrylic and mixed media artist and you can find her work here.  

OK… so now it’s my turn…..


What am I working on?

I’m always working on several different things at once and right now I’ve been doing lots of daily sketches, working on some ink and watercolour drawings (they’re always fun) and I’ve been busy applying gesso to canvas ready for some paintings that I’m anxious to get on with! But the big work right now is a charcoal nude which will be the second in what I hope will be an ongoing series.  So I thought I might show you that and share a little of the process I go through when I do these.

Here’s the first one of the series….

Untitled Nude Charcoal drawing

I’m happy to say it sold before I could even get it off the easel and is now available as a limited edition print.


How do I create what I do?

Well… for these drawings… slowly! I have always loved life drawing and the immediacy it brings to the work.  However, these began life in a much different way. As you probably know, I’m also a photographer, and I guess it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you I really love nude photography also! It was while I was editing some images from a photoshoot that I got the hankering to draw some nudes again (I hadn’t done any for quite awhile).  But since I didn’t have a model on hand at the time, I thought I would use some of the images from the shoot.  There were a couple of shots which really spoke to me and somehow a photo just wasn’t enough.  So that was it… out came the paper and charcoal! Initially I did some quick sketches but soon felt that since the model wasn’t suffering fatigue… and I am naturally drawn to detail… why not take the opportunity to do a more considered and detailed work? Now… the thing is that to do that I had to carefully consider my image.  Photo’s straight from the camera do not give you as much information as your eye is capable of seeing… also, I wanted this to still have the qualities of a drawing… not a photo!  So I still needed to edit the image and make some decisions. Luckily I shoot in RAW which gives me the opportunity to access more information than if I had shot in jpg.  Once I was reasonably happy I printed the file out but also kept it open in photoshop on my computer. The reason I do this is that I find the reflective computer screen to be a pain sometimes but I do like to have access to the image while I work.  I often find that if I need more info than the photo provides as the drawing is developing, then I can zoom in or in the case of these low light images, I can lighten the image to see exactly how the anatomy is positioned.  I know some wouldn’t bother with this since you are after all, drawing shapes and tones… but I’m a stickler for anatomy I’m afraid and I can’t help myself… it has to be right… or as right as I can get it!  The other thing is that I am not simply copying a photo… I’m using it for reference but using the drawing skills I have developed over years to create a work of art in it’s own right. Now… at this point I’m realising that the amount of detail I had planned to go into is going to amount to a very long post… which may bore the pants off some of you!  So, I think I’ll try to condense it and I will create another post a bit later that will go into more detail…. it’s another case of ‘I can’t help myself’  I love to share and teach!! So… first I spend a lot of time getting the initial drawing right.  After that it’s the process of blocking in and this is when I get it fixed in my head how the tones will work.  It’s worth noting that although I’m only blocking in I keep my hand light and throughout the process the tones are built by lightly layering the charcoal to the desired depth. I should mention that I’m using Nitram HB, B and H charcoal sticks for this process… but when I need a deep black I turn to compressed charcoal… I find the trick is blending the tones well enough so as not to make the difference between the more grey of the Nitram and the black of the compressed too noticable. I am also using a fan brush to lightly pat the charcoal layers into the paper to prevent too much of the paper’s grain becoming distracting.  It’s all about being focused on what it is you want the work to achieve and I learn’t a long time ago that if you try to have everything in a drawing… it suffers… so while paper grain would be perfect in another drawing.. it will be a distracting element in this one! From here it’s a long process of gradually building tones, checking and rechecking the drawing to make sure it retains it’s initial integrity but not being afraid to make adjustments when needed. As I mentioned earlier, this second drawing is still only about half way through.  Below I’ve posted some images of the process thus far (apologies for the bad iphone pics), but hopefully you can get an idea of the process.  I’ll continue to blog about this piece until it’s finished so stay tuned… 🙂   nude-2b

Blocking in the tonal range…

it’s a lot like marking out a map at this stage…

just feeling the form and marking it’s position relative to other forms.



Early stages – still finding the tones – and the digital print out.



A little further along…



I’d got to a stage where I needed the darkest darks and the lightest light

to be finalised.  If you don’t get that right then the other tones won’t

be right either.


Me… hard at work!  It takes a lot of patience but it can also

be quite meditative!  The trick is not to get too impatient for it

to be finished and off the easel.

It can be a good thing to have other work on the go to give yourself a break…

and to protect your shoulder from RSI injury!


And this is where I’m up to right now… at a rough guess

I think this represents at least 30hours work.

After the initial blocking in stage I try to keep the mark making

as even as possible.

Eventually I will go over ever inch of this and try to perfect the tonal transitions

and check for distracting marks that may have occurred as I was


Stay tuned for the finished work… 🙂

 How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure if my work is significantly different from others within this genre… but I think difference comes from each artist’s unique way of seeing and approach to both subject and materials.  I’m still perfecting my handling of charcoal… so I’ll need to continue this series just so I can keep practising!

How does my creating process work?

Now that’s a really good… but complicated question!  I’ve come to realise that it’s through my art that I best process my own journey through life.  Most creatives will tell you it starts with the way they view the world… every moment is filled with potential.  For the most part I think I’m usually drawn to a subject either by an emotional response and/or a particular combination of formal elements which together have the potential of making a great composition.  The type of art I make is generally celebratory of life and beauty… I think… but there is always the time when it’s more about a deep need to express a response to something not so nice… or in an effort to bring attention to something which I feel passionate about.  In the end… the process is really about how I am feeling about life and the world I guess!  As for which media I choose… I can’t really explain that.  It comes from years of just doing… the subject will tell me what it needs…. as is the case for the nude above.  She could have stayed a perfectly acceptable photographic image… but somehow she spoke to me and I felt she could be so much more if drawn.  Perhaps it’s the more intimate nature of drawing as opposed to making an image via a camera.  Don’t get me wrong though… the skilled photographer feels through the lens and uses photoshop or other means to bring their vision to life.

OK… now I could keep rabbiting on but I will leave it there for now.  Some of this could be expanded on in upcoming posts and this one is probably long enough as it is!

Now it’s my turn to introduce you to the next round of blog hoppers.  These artists will be posting next Monday… 17th November… depending which timezone they are in.

So now let me introduce you to….

Christine McArdle


Christine McArdle

 Christine is an Australian artist who’s work taps into that space deep within each of us… there’s a sense of connection.  Beautiful patterns, shapes and geometry combine with the most glorious colours in Christine’s work and the energy is palpable.  Make sure you visit Christine’s website which you can find here.  

 Rebekah Nemethy


Rebekah is a fabulous photographer from the United States.  I am new to Rebekah’s work but as I cruised around her website it occurred to me that she is equally capable of capturing your pets quirky nature as she is at utilising the world around her to create spectacular works of art.  Rebekah is also working on an ongoing project involving a new image and 100 words every week.  As part of this project the current series is called  “Life’s a Blur”.  Each photo shows some kind of movement mixed with a stationary subject. Rebekah says she’d like to think of each photo like a meditation: stillness in a sea of chaos. You can find Rebekah’s work here.

and last but certainly not least…

Amanda Skye Smyth


I’m excited to introduce Amanda  who is not only a talented visual artist but also a dear friend.  Amanda recently graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction from UNSW, majoring in Textiles, and it’s easy to see why.   The work Amanda produces is the result of her looking inward and drawing on her own experiences, as she focus’s on the female figure not just as an individual, but also as a vessel of motherhood and myth.  To me there is a quiet contemplative quality found in the work… and yet there is also an underlying strength… qualities of many women.  You can find Amanda’s work here.

So that’s it… the end of my second post!  I hope you’ll stop by the websites above and sign up for these artists blogs and newsletters…. and if you follow the links on each of the pages you never know what treasures you might find… Jen x

Update…  Due to unforeseen circumstances Christine McArdle will not be able to post this coming week.  She will be participating in the blog hop at a later date but in the meantime, you can still stop by her site and view her wonderful work.  Jen