Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas afternoon: down by the river

We put our folding chairs in a dense patch of tree shade and looked out across the river.
There was hot water in a thermos for tea or coffee, spectacular home made nut and cacao and coconut confections, leftover homemade ravioli, a bag of chips and some cherry tomatoes. In other bags we had sketching supplies.

At first one of those delicious afternoon-shady-spot-hot-day-well-fed lethargies settled around us and I thought a nap might be a better choice than dragging out the sketching gear. But, pleasant as it was to sit there in a dreamy daze, the itch to make marks was strong.

I am between sketchbooks at the moment, still waiting for my new one to arrive. I had a small watercolour pad with me and decided to play with watercolours. No pen today.

At first I used the watercolours as I usually do - just as a way to add colour, mixing the colours I want and slopping them down.

Then I tried working very wet, letting the colours run around and visit each other:

Finally, in the third sketch, I put down washes, let them dry and layered other colours over them:

All in all, a lovely Christmas afternoon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chancing it Again: micro travel #2

Sunshine, a pleasant breeze, blue skies - a perfect day for micro-travelling.The plan for today involved dice (again) and cards ( white cards the size of business cards). I could have used bits of paper, but fanning out a hand of cards has a je ne sais quoi that wrinkly bits of paper absolutely lack.
So what do you do with the cards apart from fanning them out in a je ne sais quoi kind of way?
Take a look.

Each card has, written on it, precise instructions of something to observe, notice, and draw. Here is the whole spread:

With dice, cards, sketchbook, the usual drawing kit and my $2 K-Mart folding stool, I left my car in South Fremantle and walked to the nearest bus stop to wait for the CAT bus. This is a free bus that does a loop around Fremantle. There's a bus every 10 minutes. While I waited I rolled a die. Five dots looked up at me. According to my plan...

that meant I had to get off the bus after five stops then pick a card at random and follow the instructions.

What I hadn't counted on was zoning out on the bus and losing track of how many stops we passed. I think I may have gone one stop too many. Never mind. Micro travel is not an exacting discipline, but a cheerful embrace of the unexpected as well as the ordinary.

There were a lot of Spanish and Italian passengers on the bus. When they got off they left clouds of Ciao's and Hasta la vistas and Muchas Graciases in their wake, the way some people leave a fragrance or little bubbles of happiness. At my stop, once I had added my own farewells and thanks to the atmosphere, I stepped onto a sun drenched pavement and took out my pack of cards. Fanning them out ( with that certain je ne sais quoi ) I selected one and turned it over. It said:

Notice Foliage

There was a big Plane tree just around the corner casting deep shade onto the footpath. I unfolded my stool, parked it against an old limestone wall and looked across the street at a group of small trees. Different coloured foliage, different shaped leaves, different textures. Two of the trees had red flowers. Behind them another large Plane tree and in the distance a Norfolk Island Pine. As I drew, a group of children inched their way towards me. When I looked down at my sketchbook they took tiny steps closer. When I looked up, they stopped. They didn't speak to me at all until I asked where they were from. Then in a chorus they all said 'KL'. They watched me silently until a parent hustled them away. I drew and coloured the foliage 

and by the time I'd finished I was ready for a coffee. 

Blink Cafe is a tiny hole in the wall. I sat on a wooden cube at a table on the pavement  sipping a long black out of a glass. Justin, the barista, brought me a flourless sweet thing on a really pretty plate.  As I drew it a young woman glided in wearing an academic gown. She'd escaped from her graduation ceremony with her brother and wanted him to take photos of her in the cafe, since that's where she'd spent so much of her time as a student. 

Back to the bus stop, back on the bus, a quick stop at the station for the loo and a roll of the die that told me to get off after six stops. La la la... bus ride through Freo.  The card I picked said:

Draw your fellow humans.

but when we reached the sixth stop there were no humans to be found. Just blank walled buildings and blue blue sky. Not even a bit of foliage!! So I cheated and went one more stop to a place where there are cafes and shops and plethoras of people. There, at Ootong and Lincoln, I occupied a large table, ate a salad of sweet potato, green beans and a whole glorious gallimaufry of  salady things and drew some of the humans around me. 

How quickly the time passed, but how utterly delightful to explore in this way. Here's the complete page from today's micro-travels:

If you are in the area and feel like joining me next week, let me know. If you are far away you might like to try something like this in your own neck of the woods. Keep me posted, I'd love to hear about your adventures!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Marking Time: 3 Calendars

Around this time each year I gather together drawings or photos and make them into calendars on Redbubble to give out as Christmas gifts.

This year, I have made three calendars. Here are the links to Redbubble and the cover images to give you an idea of what's inside!!

1. A collection of drawings made in cafes, mostly featuring cups of tea or coffee, sometimes with cake.

2. Drawings of landscapes, ocean views and scenes along the rivers in Perth.
It's called Land, River, Sea

3. Assorted sketches - some cafe drawings, some land and riverscapes, some random objects.
It's simply called Sketchbook Drawings

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Take a Chance: The Art of Micro Travel

I had my sketchbook under my arm and my pen and watercolours in my bag. There was a folding stool slung over one shoulder and, smallest but most important, in a pocket of my bag there rested the two items that would determine my fate for the morning: a die and a key card.
The die is a normal die but the key card is not like a normal hotel-style key card. It is a piece of card with the key on it. It looks like this:

I drove to South Fremantle, parked my car and got out on South Street. This was my chosen theatre of travel. South Street from King William Street to just past Jenkins St. Only a couple of blocks.

At the corner of South and King William I held my sketchbook flat and rolled the die. 6.
Reading my key, I saw that a 6 means I have to draw what's at the back of me. So I put down the stool facing the way I'd come. And drew a couple of containers of plants that were in my line of sight - a Jade plant (I think) and something with pink flowers.

When that was done, I walked on. The Roasting Warehouse is on the next corner and I felt that a second breakfast would be a good idea. The Roasting Warehouse has terrific tables - large enough to spread out drawing stuff and not get in anyone's way. I rolled the die - 2. Draw what you see when you look down. Aha! That was my plate of poached eggs on toast and a juice of various red and orange vegetables. So I drew them.

Stop number three was at the end of that block. I rolled a 4: Look right and draw what you see. I oriented my stool to face the right hand side of the street where a clump of sunflowers half hid a parked bicycle.

At the fourth stop I rolled a 2 again: look down. This time when I lowered my eyes I saw dead leaves and Bougainvillea bracts littering the footpath.

At the fifth and final stop I rolled another 4: Look right. To my right this time there were three conjoined shops. What struck me about them was their doors - same style but different colours.

By then I'd filled a double page spread and the heavy humid air had erupted into thunder and lightning. Time to call it a day.

Adding elements of chance to a sketch walk, randomising the experience, is a way of forcing myself to look at things I might otherwise ignore. It adds excitement and transforms an outing into a real adventure. No fancy gear needed - no expense - no responsibility to make choices about what to draw.

I highly recommend taking a chance with micro travel. I'd love to see where it takes you and what you create along the way!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Of Bulls and Bluebirds

The vision:
Sitting on a grassy verge breathing in fresh country air scented with eucalyptus and wildflowers, sketching.
Then driving on to the next inspiring scene or object and repeating the above, possibly substituting a convenient rock or ant free log for the grassy verge.
Returning home with a sketchbook full of drawings telling the story of the day.

The plan:
To drive to Dwellingup, sketching as described in the vision.

The unexpected:
Flies in enormous sticky clouds.

The way it all turned out:
I began in true documentary mode, writing down things that we said, things that I thought.
'Roe Highway exit 11kms. Really?'
'A burnt out car - Wow!'
'Dwellingup used to be such a sweet little place.'
'The sky is like a blue bowl upended over the world with little bits of beaten egg-whites still stuck to the insides.'

We drew. We stopped on the side of the road and drew what was in front of us. I drew a paddock leading up to a hill full of trees and the deeply fissured bark of a Jarrah tree. A butterfly landed beside me - I drew it too. Cicadas whirred, dogs barked somewhere in the distance and trucks rolled on down the highway. There were flies, but not in vast numbers. The day was young.
Ingrid sat further down along a side road sketching a windmill. That led to a discussion - should they be called wind mills when there is no mill attached. Should it not be a wind-water-pump, since pumping water is what it does?

We kept notes of the more quirky and interesting place names: Cardup, Dwellingup, Nanjedal, Uungula, Medulla Creek, Coogly Road.

The second stop was at a place in Serpentine, called Stockman's Rest, a cafe/ restaurant run by a Dutch couple called Mr and Mrs Stokman. The menu had lots of Dutch specialties, including rollmops, which I have not eaten for many many years.
I drew my glass of tea perched on a white paper doily. Ingrid drew one of the clay things that you build fires in. A chimera stove. There was a tractor museum in Serpentine and we thought of going in and drawing tractors but, although all the signs said it was open, there was a hefty chain across the door which said otherwise.

Ingrid was keen to draw cows, but for a long time there were none to be seen. Then at last we spotted a herd in a paddock fairly close to the road. We piled out of the car all eager to sketch them, but seriously, you would not believe the flies! Impossible to stand there with no free hands to wave them away. They were little bush flies that aimed straight for the moist surfaces of eyes and mouths and nostrils.  So goodbye cows
At last we arrived in Dwellingup and found our way to the Bluebird Cafe, a most delightful spot with big tables for spreading out sketching gear and interesting things to look at. There was good tea too.

Ingrid drew the signposts on the road outside and I focused on a curly little shelf that had an odd array of things on it - tomato sauce, a shopping bag, a roll of kitchen paper.

On the way home there were bulls in a paddock. Of course we stopped. It was a bit cooler and breezier and the files weren't so bad (though still very noticeable). The bulls cavorted and danced, swung their heads and their hips, swooshing long strands of spit as they did so. Happy bulls! Sweet, frolicking bulls. Bulls with mellow bellows. We drew them with our sketchbooks propped on fence posts. Mine don't look like bulls very much, their faces are more doggy that bully! But such a delight to be in their company and to spend that time getting to know them.

So, that was our drawing expedition to Dwellingup.
Next vision:
A game of chance with pen and watercolours (and possibly other gear). Stay tuned!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Road Trip

One of my absolutely blissiest things  is setting off on a solo road trip and on Friday I did it. I hired a car so I wouldn't be anxious about bits falling off mine. I packed drawing stuff, audio books and all the usual sleeping, eating, sartorial and abluttionary supplies. I drove north, allowing seven hours for a five hour drive - not as much as I'd like but there was a hiccup at the hire car place and I got away late. The plan: drive, stopping whenever I saw things I'd like to sketch. Sketch, get in the car and keep driving. You'd think it would be easy, but it wasn't.

It seemed that whenever the scenery looked great, there would be a car right on my tail and that, combined with the highway's narrow and often steeply graded shoulders makes it tricky to stop where you want.

Still, there were plenty of opportunities. I made my first sketch from the lookout at Guilderton where the Moore River almost reaches the Indian Ocean. Only a narrow sand bar separates them.

I stopped again for coffee at a cafe in Jurien Bay. It seemed silly, somehow, to draw my coffee when I could do that anywhere, so I sketched the people as they huddled in groups, sat at tables or waited for take aways.

Further along, I stopped to draw a field of wheat:

And a little further, one of the many white sand dunes dotted with green vegetation:

On the drive home I discovered a narrow sandy road that took me to the edge of some low, sandstone cliffs with a fantastic view of rocks and ocean. I sketched it in pen and did the colouring from memory at home. On the same page there is a little drawing of the view from  the jetty at Jurien Bay.

I'd love to get a group of friends together some time and do a road trip sketch crawl, each of us documenting the journey in our own way. A few days...a week....longer.....

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Same River Twice

I live just a hop skip and a jump from the Canning River. It flows on under the Canning Bridge, meets the Swan River and the two of them, having become inseparable, continue as one all the way to Fremantle and the Indian Ocean.

It is a fine thing to sit by a river, watching it flow; to be firmly planted on one shore, daydreaming about the other. The river flows. Time passes. Thoughts sparkle and play in the dancing light, then, as if inexorably drawn by the currents, flow, drift, float on by.

The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, saw the world as ever-changing, always in a state of flux. It was he who said you can't step into the same river twice - or, more correctly:

'Everything changes and nothing remains cannot step twice into the same stream.'

Each time I sit beside it - in a riverside cafe, on the end of a jetty, on a grassy or rocky bank - the river is new.  It is a different river, always changing, never still. Strange, then, that here,  making the coloured marks that paint a picture on my page, a kind of stillness settles and in it, there is an echo, a memory, a reflection of eternity.

I am reminded of William Blake's poem, 'Auguries of Innocence':

'To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.'

Some river sketches, a small collection - same river, different river.
Same difference.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

After Dark

It was like the start of a movie.

Establishing shot: Night. An almost-empty car park, the river behind it; a huge pale ship docked not far away. On the other side, a small cafe placed incongruously half under a bridge. It is open, even at this hour. Through the door you can see bright light and the silhouette of a big man hunched over a small cup. Outside, three skinny kids grind, jump and flip their skate boards along the kerb.
Sound: Their occasional yells and laughter; a passing car; the distant honk of a ship,

Scene 1: A small, dark car pulls in to the car park. The driver's door opens and a short woman steps out. She carries a red bag slung across her body. Locking the car behind her she walks towards the river and stands, looking. Turns and walks towards the ship, stopping, looking, moving from one vantage point to the another. She is uncertain. She walks towards the street, looking inland at  three tiny houses that are lit up like shop fronts. Near them are two tall buildings that stand out from the indistinct scene around them. Seeming to have reached a decision, the woman goes back to her car, takes out a folding stool and a wide black book, parks the stool, unslings her bag, takes out a pen, opens the book and begins to draw.

I have long had an itch to draw at night. I love the way darkness transforms and simplifies, the way lights glow on water, the lit reflections of bridges and boats. I put it off mainly because of the inconvenience of sitting in the cold and the ridiculousness of trying to draw when it's too dark to see what I'm doing.
There, in that car park, under street lights, I first experienced the sheer delight of night drawing.

For a start, it is like being in a different country. Things look completely different. Added to that - there is so much I can't see (duh - obviously) - and this forces me to make a choice. Do I draw what is in front of my eyes - which sometimes makes no logical sense? Pieces of buildings don't fit together logically. I can't see where this bit joins that bit...
Or, for the sake of a drawing that looks like it knows what's what, do I make assumptions about the way things are. If I can't see it, there's a huge temptation to make it up. It's fascinating to go with the scarier option of drawing what does not make sense.

As so often happens when drawing in public, I had visitors. A couple of young guys stopped and said hi. One of them had a little white dog on his arm. We chatted for a while and then they went on and it was quiet again.

I worked with a big chunky sharpie. By the time I'd done all the lines it was getting cold and uncomfortable. I took a mental snapshot of the colours and packed up my things. At home I used gouache to paint the colours in. I wanted something solid, and gouache was it.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ocean Time

August days have been as warm as Spring. The grass in my yard is long enough to wave in the breeze, pink blossoms are bursting out of their buds and swan couples cruise the wetland lakes with lines of fuzzy toddlers between them.

I have been walking on the beach, breathing deeply of the salt negative-iony air. Walk, sit, sketch, walk back. A couple of days ago the pattern expanded: Walk, swim, sit and sketch while drying in the air because I forgot to bring a towel, walk back wearing a crust of sand.

I'd like to make it regular, this new thing, this walking on the beach. The swimming too. New beginnings, new enterprises, blossoming, burgeoning, bursting out of old moulds ( the shape kind, not the fungal) - it's a spring thing.

Looking north from Port Beach towards Cottesloe and Scarborough.

Looking south from the same place, to Rous Head where all the containers are stored for shipping.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Playing Fast and Loose

I have had no patience lately for intricate detailed work or careful renderings. Perhaps it is the influence of our recent anachronistic spring weather that has my blood rushing and my branches stretching to wave at the sky. Perhaps it is my love affair with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen which responds effortlessly to every nuance of rhythm and stress.

Whatever the reason, my recent drawings have been more gestural than usual. I look more at my subjects than at the paper. I dive in without preamble. I seem to be skipping the part of the process where thinking happens as I abandon myself to the feel of the thing.

It's true that I sat for a couple of hours in front of a Fremantle facade, exploring its details and architectural patterns, but I was restless throughout, half loving the lines of arches and columns, half rushing to be done with them.

Here are some recent sketches:

These first two were done at the Indianna Tea Rooms at Cottesloe. A group of us gathered there for a Sketchbook Skool inspired outing and drew our morning tea and each other. Some white oil pastel found its way into the bottom drawing - I was simply too impatient to think about leaving the white or highlights of the hair and carefully painting the greys or navigating the pattern on the left hand blouse. A quick scribble of pastel, instant wax resist!

Above: This is ot brush pen but a fairly chunky sharpie. It doesn't have the melodious flow of the brush pen, but I also love the uncompromising, sturdy line of this pen.

This one (above) was wild indeed. I asked my students if they'd mind if I sketched them as they worked on their projects ( relief teaching, when not fraught with bedlam, can be boring for a supervising teacher). They assented, no doubt comforted by my assurance that they would be in no way recognisable. This is a more scribbly pen - possibly a Uniball. About 80% looking at the subjects, not the paper. NB some of these guys were sitting on couches reading - hence the laid back, half asleep look.

Fast lines coloured with a big brush.

Brush pen again.

How about you? Do you have these urges to dive in and let the lines run where they may?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Face in the Mirror

I do not like having my photo taken. The thought of being captured on video is right up there with the idea of taking a dive off a bridge with a bungee cord attached to my ankles. 

Drawing self portraits is different.

At first there is this face in the mirror. It is fatter than I'd like. I see the coarseness of my skin and the way folds of it sag in places. My chin is no longer as well defined as it used to be and my eyebrows have no sense of decorum at all.. 

Then I pick up my pen and take a closer look. I start with a nostril. Why a nostril? I don't know - it's a place to start. I look at the shape of the dark opening of the tunnel that runs up the inside of my nose. It isn't round. The darkness isn't all the same density. I draw the outside line of my nose around my nostrils, feeling the shape and texture in my mind and somehow relaying that feeling to the hand that holds the pen. I observe. I sense. I am present with every line. I am subject, verb and object. There are no more eyes, nose, wrinkles, ears. There is only shape and curve and light and dark, delicate lines, heavy lines. 

Then colour. I see green and blue where I thought there were only skin tones. Crimson and ochre. Warm and cool. 

When it is done and I look at the drawing I have made, it is not good or bad. It is a faithful record of my seeing in that time and place. Even if it doesn't look like me, it has something of myself in it. 

These five selfies were all drawn looking into the same mirror. I used different materials each time. In some I used one continuous line. In others I tried to capture light and shade.

Drawing these self portraits there was no room for judgement; only seeing. Looking in the mirror can be the same. Looking with judgement limits what we can see.  Seeing without judgement opens up a whole new world.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

North and South: Days in Lonnie and Hobes

I didn't have a lot of drawing time in Launceston. It was time to spend doing family things: going to see Alec's assembly, getting educated by Grace in the art of  playing with Barbies,  collaborating with the kids to make a book for Pop's birthday (The Adventures of Lily and Bert) and hanging out with the adults in the evenings. But there were a few hours when I'd returned from visiting Dad in George Town before my bus left for Hobart. I set off for a stroll, wound my way past the TAFE college and Launceston College, the buildings heavy with memories; down past the corner shop, now revamped and nothing like the place that sold pies and greasy chips that I remembered. I stopped at Richies Mill and sat in the late afternoon sun drinking tea as the shadows lengthened.

There was still plenty of time, so in spite of the growing cold and fading light, I walked over the bridge to the Cataract Gorge. So many years had passed since I walked along that path in the damp shade smelling of earth and leaves and age.
I stopped at a wooden seat and drew the rocks till my fingers were too numb with cold. Then walked back to the transit centre to catch my bus.

The weather in Hobart was comparatively mild, but not so mild that sitting outside drawing seemed like a great idea. I did brave the elements one morning to the extent of sitting on Jo's patio long enough to sketch the view across the valley to the hill on the other side of it - but mostly I drew interior things.

While Jo was at work I mostly read, drew, and wrote things down. Lennie, her elderly border collie, slept or occasionally shuffled, blind and arthritic, from one sleeping location to another. He's bigger than he looks here and very heavy. Jo has to help him up stairs and into the car. His back legs collapse under him sometimes and he just falls down. He is not as spiky as I drew him below:

I didn't stay inside at Jo's house all the time. I went to the movies at the State and had a tour of the building - the first time I'd seen the new additions - amazing architecture! I wandered around North Hobart, the city and the docks but only in short bursts interspersed with long periods of having coffee, browsing in bookshops and other warm pursuits. There was one terrific afternoon when I rocked up to a Japanese restaurant in North Hobart way past lunch time and had the place to myself, except for the staff, of course, and a boy who sat at a table near the kitchen and slept with his head propped up on his hands. He kindly woke up for long enough to re-fill my water brush for me.  Here is the sushi drawing from that day:

Now I'm back in Perth, back at work, back in the present. I've been working on self portraits - I'll post some soon.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Home Town

Tasmania was my home for thirty years. Going back, spending time with family, I felt as though I was going back in time as well as travelling across space. I kept expecting to bump into people I used to know, and in my mind they were no different from when I last saw them, over twenty years ago. I couldn't quite grasp that they must have aged too, that places have changed and things I remember may no longer be there.

Drawing my dad's shell collection. He has gathered shells from the beaches around Low Head and made little cardboard trays to keep them according to their classifications. I looked them up in his field guide to get the correct names.

The view from the Low Head lighthouse is spectacular - this is the expanse of ocean (Bass Strait) looking east. Why east? Because the wind was wild and westerly and sitting on the eastern side of the headland was sheltered. I sat on a lichen covered rock - the ground was much too boggy. A young man with a dog stopped to chat for a while.

A cuppa and a wooden bowl of nibbles - dried apricots and cashews - on the green tablecloth on Dad's dining table. This is in the tiny Moleskine sketchbook.

Looking west across the Tamar to the Asbestos Ranges. The light was so clear, the hills the deepest blue. Lapwings called to each other and the fog horn sounded, though there was no fog to be seen. I sat on the edge of the water on the black basalt rocks and saw no-one. I breathed the cold, clean air and remembered other times I had looked at this view.
As I sat by the water, in the cafe at the Pilot Station, in my Dad's home, I saw these places - so familiar once - with new eyes. It seems strange to me now that I never drew them before.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Drawing Makes Me Love Things More

For the next two Saturdays I'll be doing workshops for the City of Perth as part of their Winter Arts programme of activities. To prepare, I've been wandering around the CBD looking at suitable sketching spots and possible plan B's if the weather is too much of a challenge.

The city centre does not feel warm and friendly. The architecture does not inspire cosiness,  human warmth, humour or delight. Attempts at quirky and funky are overburdened with transparent tryharditude, poorly masking the real intent of persuading people in to spend money.  The city's dead, what can we do, oh lets make some urban arty alleyways and do what Melbourne does.

Whatever its mood and its failings, this is where we will for the next two Saturdays be and this is where I sat down to sketch yesterday afternoon.

I'd come from a sketching class at The Meeting Place, where I managed to compose a picture that was mostly asphalt and draw some oddly proportioned cars that looked like they were all parked on different slopes - not the fault of the terrain, please note, but of my failure to see the wheel and body placements properly -  I sat on a bench in Forrest Place and drew other people doing the same. As I studied the slope of someone's shoulders, the way they put their hands to their face, the hair that fell over their eye - as I drew their jaws and ears and hoodies and chins, the bleak, cold city became a much nicer place.

Drawing makes my eyes kinder, makes me love things more and makes me feel closer to the life around me. It makes me give the things I draw a quality of attention that changes the way we respond to each other and the atmosphere around us. That goes for rocks and trees as much as humans and other creatures.

It was good to remember that yesterday, that the world changes when I change.

nb: the building isn't in the city centre, its a remnant sketch from South Freo.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Littlest Sketchbook

 For some time now, I have prided myself on my sketchbook fidelity, a sort of serial monogamy where I finish one sketchbook before starting another. But my pride hath cometh before a fall. After only a few sketches in my new A4 landscape Moleskine watercolour book which followed on the heels of a humongous Stillman and Birn, I slipped a tiny tiny Moleskine sketchbook into my bag yesterday like a stolen sweet and, as I sat waiting for Melinda to arrive for our coffee catch-up, I got it out and shamelessly drew in it.

How secretive it felt, and how delightful to hold. How quickly the wee pages were full! When I'd watercoloured an entire double page spread there was still plenty of water left in my water brush for more. When the drawing was finished, the book slipped effortlessly, in fact a little smugly, into my handbag. What to do now? Should I frolic and gambol with my new little amour while my steady, reliable love pines alone on a shelf? Or give up the wild life in favour of traditional values, honour and commitment? It may be just a fling, a passing fancy. But it might be the start of something new.