Tag Archives: drawing

Catching up

Hello! I’ve been a bit absent! Thunder is finished and off to the printers! I’m looking forward to seeing an advance copy in early January. It’s taken a few weeks to just get myself into drawing again. That’s not something I anticipated. And there are a lot of other things that I need to catch up with now that I’ve finished that mammoth project… including Christmas!

I had a great day with Ann James and Justine Alltimes last Monday, designing a poster for Jackie French, our Australian Children’s Laureate. Her project Share a Story will revolve around the ideas on the poster/calendar which will be available for free download by Christmas.

Ann James is a well known and skilled Australian children’s illustrator. Justine Alltimes is one of the hardworking and capable Laureate Project Managers. When the three of us get together, the ideas ping about like pinballs. After Ann had drawn and painted some images, I was able to alter them digitally to make new, and hopefully intriguing combinations, that will work well together on the poster and spark the storytelling imaginations of children, teachers and parents. The challenge was to avoid the literal interpretations of words like Slurp a Story and instead to come up with images that were open-ended or suggestive. We want starting points for stories, not stories in themselves.

More on Share a Story when the poster is released.

Other work in progress includes an illustration of Phar Lap for the front cover of a colouring book for the Melbourne Museum to match the dinosaur one I did a couple of years ago. As always with work done for Museum Victoria, I learn heaps along the way as I research the topic! Glad to find out that Phar Lap was probably not deliberately or even accidentally poisoned. Not that it made much difference to the poor horse, but he most likely died of colic related to a rare disease of the intestinal tract.


The 52 Week Illustration Challenge forges on towards the finish, but will return next year. I wasn’t feeling like drawing for this either, for a couple of weeks. So I’ve missed Week 47 New York, but I may go back to that. Although drawing New York itself holds little attraction for me, the New Yorker and its famous cartoons hold enormous appeal for me. So I think I need to do a New Yorker style cartoon. But of what?…

Tim and Tig New Yorker

A page from ‘Tim and Tig’

Above is an illustration I did for Aussie Nibble – Tim & Tig many years ago. I illustrated Tim and Tig just after receiving a copy of the Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker; a fantastic book that had a powerful influence on my drawing! Many of the illos in Tim and Tig, I’d wish to do again and much better, but this one I still like.

Now that I think of it, I did do some quick doodles for Week 46 Circus. (Oh dear. What a rambling post.)

The Twisted Princess tidies her tresses

The Twisted Princess tidies her tresses

This doodle was on the bottom of a Thunder illustration. You may see a wee peek of the washy water top right, and it ran completely off the page. It started as a doodle and then I got mesmerised by the leotard pattern. Actually, this led my mind off in the direction of a series of paintings I’d like to do…

This brings me to last week’s theme. Week 48 Fox. In a shocking twist of fate, I found that the topic had long ago been changed from Chicken to Fox! Horrors!

I did some fox doodles while I was waiting for the kids to get out of drama class and below you can see them.

Deadly Maggie

Deadly Maggie

This was a fennec sketch in an old book. I added some digital colour experimentally (even though fennecs are creamy in colour). It’s not entirely successful but there are elements of it that I like, including the scratching into top layers of colour; a Thunder habit that may continue for some time. Perhaps lead into interesting new areas.

fox cub judywatsonart lores

A very innocent young blob fox.

By contrast, this little blob fox is not deadly. This was my protest on behalf of my chickens.

Contortionist fox

Contortionist fox

I liked the tail hatching on this one, and also the two tone retro feel, but it was certainly rushed. Not what you’d call finished work.

The Fox with the No.6 Tattoo

The Fox with the No.6 Tattoo

Lastly, this fellow. The fox with the No. 6 Tattoo. I liked his eyes and expression. He seems to have a canny and sophisticated air about him. I added some very flat colour panels in Photoshop trying to keep it sympathetic to his stylised and simple form and I like the result.




Cartoon Cornish

Comic Cornish Judy Watson Art lores

The Scribble Cornish of yesterday, became a fully drawn and painted Cartoon Cornish after dinner last night. I started out to do an inky depiction, with wet edges, to suggest the fuzz, as per all of my work this year really. Fast and loose… But strangely I found myself taking the unprecedented step of using a sharpened Prismacolour pencil to draw in some detail, as the Prismacolour Artstick was frustrating me by going off rather too wildly on its own tangents.

And although, this picture is not exactly as I would want it, I have to say, I quite enjoyed being careful… relatively careful… for a few moments :-)

Anyway, Mr Cornish salutes you.


Sewjourn weekend with the Refash Sistas

This is just a quick few lines upon my return from a lovely long weekend away with my arty crafty stitchy friends at Sewjourn.

I took a veritable mountain of materials with me, as did all the others. It’s hard to predict exactly what one will feel like working on, so it’s good to have options.

As it turned out, I didn’t use my sewing machine and my space remained largely strewn with wet painting materials. But I did do a quick collaboration with Juliet; a thing I have been wanting to do for about three years.

Her thread drawings, when in their first stages, consisting of black thread on linen, often have me positively itching to take ink and a paintbrush to them! Thankfully for Juliet, I am capable of some self restraint!

Given the time and space to finally give it a whirl, I drew a few quick birds on cotton (birds were my dominant theme for the weekend) and begged her to draw over one of them in thread for me, which she did. Here’s what happened.

soft pastel on cotton

soft pastel on cotton

Another soft pastel bird. We carried through with only one of the three that I drew, as Juliet had her own mountain of projects to work on.

Another soft pastel bird. We carried through with only one of the three that I drew, as Juliet had her own mountain of projects to work on.

Juliet selects a bird to work on

Juliet selects a bird to work on

Juliet stretches the fabric into an embroidery hoop.

Juliet stretches the fabric into an embroidery hoop

Juliet at the machine. An expert at work.

Juliet at the machine. An expert at work.

sewing bird6

Thread drawing process complete

Thread drawing process complete

It’s not surprising that Juliet’s thread drawings resonate with me, given my fascination with continuous line drawings. These are a stitched version of that very thing.

I threw on the black paint in a variety of ways. I varied the amount of water to see how it would react to the fabric, how the spreading would look and whether I could also get a dry brush effect. Unfortunately this photo is a little blurry.

I threw on the black paint in a variety of ways. I varied the amount of water to see how it would react to the fabric, how the spreading would look and whether I could get a dry brush effect. Unfortunately this photo is a little blurry.

I loved the way Juliet had treated the eye. It didn't want any paint at all.

I loved the way Juliet had treated the eye. It didn’t want any paint at all.

Initially I intended it to be a black and white creation. But I felt the urge to add some colour to the bird. I think this worked well.

Initially I intended it to be a black and white creation. But I felt the urge to add some colour to the bird. I think this worked well.

More on my other Sewjourn projects later.

The Bird Lover (take 2)

Here’s the same subject in a very different style. I couldn’t decide on the two skirt patterns you you can make up your own minds :-)

Bella will even be able to tell me what the fabrics are called. Is my girl a soft autumn Bella? I started off going for warm autumn and then my colour palette morphed…. (obsessively drawn to soft autumn it seems)

The fashion derives from circa 1840 and the applications of partial derivatives in differential and integral calculus.

Happy Friday!

bird lover blue pattern skirt judywatsonart lores

The more demure, blue skirt print.

bird lover light floral skirt judywatsonart loresThe lighter floral print skirt echoing the snowy overlays elsewhere in the scene.


Last-day-of-the-holidays Doodles (experiments with blobs part 9)

Here are some final blob doodles to mark the end of the school holidays and back to work tomorrow (not to mention the piles of washing). I painted some more spiky blobs this time thinking that they might do well for some more birds, just for fun. The curvy spikes have served well in most cases as wings and beaks.

baby carnivore bird judywatsonart lores

The colours did not work very beautifully on this one. But here is a little Carnivore Bird Thing finding his legs… or his dinner.

baby carnivore thing judywatsonart lores

This is another Little Carnivore. I like his colours much better.

little duck thing judywatsonart lores

Little Duck Thing with Big Feet. (This blob is really very small.)

parent trouserbird judywatsonart lores

With all those babies, it’s only fitting to have a Mumsy kind of bird. This is a Mummy Trouserbird. She is waiting for her babies to catch up, but they are not very quick on their feet.

pyjama bird judywatsonart lores

This is a Daddy Pyjamabird. He’s getting up for a midnight snack. (note: At night a Trouserbird is called Pyjamabird.)

parachute trouserbird judywatsonart lores

This is a Trouserbird wearing a parachute.

preposterous thing judywatsonart lores

This is a Preposterous Thing. what can I say? He is lucky to be anything, considering that not long ago, he was merely a blob.

walrussy thing judywatsonart loresThis is a walrussy thing. He may be depressed due to the fact that his tusk is coming out of the wrong place and causes him discomfort.




A few days ago I got around to joining Pinterest and have started to organise some of my work into boards. It is really quite a useful thing to be able to view a set of work at a glance. I’ve put some Thunderstorm Dancing fragments and working sketches on there too. Nice to bring it together and see what changes have occurred over 2 years!

Here I am if you want to visit me.

pinterest Thunder sample

My altered Book art is there too. But there’s a lot in my cupboard! Only some of it is on Pinterest. I’ll update it over time.

Judywatson Altered Book Art Pinterest sample

Putting Thunder Cats into Perspective

cat sketches for veranda spread lores redHere’s a little peep into the book illustration process for Thunderstorm Dancing as roughs are edited on the fly while final art is being produced. For this spread, the Cat Called Thunder, needed to be inserted into the veranda scene, and I played around with various poses and movements until I found one that had the right character and jaunty expression.

…I realise Cornish Rex cats are not really characterised by jauntiness in the face of a thunderstorm. But this particular one is a Picture-Book-Cornish-Rex. And they are a specialised breed.

The problem was that the little fellow I liked is in full profile, and the illustration required him to be viewed partly from above. This can be a tricky adjustment to make (especially with drawings of people). But I usually give it a whirl by dotting in some rough suggestions of where the skeleton and joints might be, and take it from there. It puts the character into a three dimensional space in my mind.

My improvised sketch to alter the viewer's angle of Thunder and my guesses at the location of the joints. I was wrong about the shoulder as I found out later.

My improvised sketch to alter the viewer’s angle of the Cat Called Thunder and my guesses at the location of the joints. I was wrong about the shoulder as I found out later.

Here’s what I came up with to shift the view point. And I was happy enough with that to move on to inking stage, and to add in any further detail during inking.

A cat skeleton showing the position of the shoulder joint at the front of the cat, rather than up around the area we would call the 'withers' in a horse.

A cat skeleton showing the position of the shoulder joint at the front of the cat, rather than up around the area we would call the ‘withers’ in a horse.

Looking at the skeleton above you will see that my shoulder joints were in the wrong spot, but as it happens it didn’t really affect the drawing. My made-up shoulders took a shortcut from the top of the scapula through to the elbow joint, skipping the humerus. (Very efficient, methinks;-)

The Cat Called Thunder struts across the decking as the storm approaches.

The Cat Called Thunder trots across the decking as the storm approaches.

Here’s the Cat Called Thunder redrawn in ink and in position against the un-inked veranda. I think he’s sufficiently jaunty for the most demanding of viewers, despite his overbite which would make orthodontists blanch.

Brian the greyhound with an overbite

Brian, the greyhound with an overbite

Here’s Brian with a similar jaw. I think the overbite gives these two a bit of an ‘oops’ expression.


Wednesday night. My night of indulgence. Kids in drama lesson. Me drawing for an hour. I remembered to take some water containers this week.

No I didn’t. I got them out. Then left them behind. But I did get a plastic cup from the cafeteria which I could have done last week if I hadn’t had a secret desire to eat ink.

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge theme… OCTOPUS. I was feeling reasonably comfortable with this, since I’d done an octopus/ squid that I liked back in SIMPLICITY week. (below)

inky octo

Nice and simple. Oh well. I couldn’t put him in because he wasn’t done freshly for the Challenge theme. So I drew a few more.

First this.

red octopus lores

I liked working with all the reds and wishy washing them over each other. That was nice. But I shouldn’t have tried to do the eye ‘realistically’. It’s most unattractive. (Unless you’re an octopus. Then, I’m sure it’s wildly sexy.) I bumped up the colour on this one before posting on Facebook. So he looks like this now.

red octopus levels lores


I preferred my second go. It was very quickly drawn in the old Calculus book, with a bit of wash added after the Prismacolour artstick.

altered book octopus loresHe’s got a little more life to him. And I like his eye which looks quite focused and intelligent.

The next one (groan) was painted after I got home and I thought I’d do a semi-blob treatment starting with grey ink. But he was awfully drab and then I added soft pastels to liven him up. It partly worked. But I was too lazy to hunt out the full collection of pastels and the colour around the eye is yucky! (Very typical of me to stay put on the high chair and use only the colours that are within reach at the drawing table. A shocking vice which may have had something to do with my ink eating last week…) Also the eye is awful again.

octo cleaned up lores

Finally I did another using the semi-blob treatment using coloured instead of grey ink. And I changed the eye treatment. I came up with a cute little red octopus on his first date. He is sitting on all his tentacles so as not to accidentally embarrass himself. I like him, but I really don’t like the girlfriend I whizzed up for him. Maybe it was a kind of jealousy. I wanted him for myself…

But I should be kind. Good luck little red octopus. I hope she’s the one for you.

octopus first date lores


Some Fishes

I recently looked up the correct usage of fish vs. fishes. I was pleased to see that fishes is the correct term when referring to different varieties. There’s something nice about the word fishes and it goes nicely with swishes and wishes.

If you happened to be a fisherman and you caught 25 fish they would all have to be  of the same species.

These fishes are not of the same species. Some might say they were not drawn by the same artist.

Sometimes I worry that I should have a single, recognisable style; that all my work should be instantly recognisable, like a trademark. You can always recognise a Quentin Blake, a Mondrian, a Mitch Vane, (to take a more local example).

Other times, I say to myself… whatever comes out, comes out. Art is a lot about the process of discovery, the process of play, imagination, exploration, invention. And when I wander into new territory, with an insatiable curiosity for (and delight in) new artistic approaches, I am glad to be a wandering artist… I learn new things all the time and that is a great thing to find in life.


Detailed, or static styles are not, and never will be my strong point. I’m too impatient (and ambivalent) to invest much time in details, so my ‘detailed’ work never stands up by comparison with the work of those who specialise in that area. But every now and then I come back to it, and play around and there’s something satisfying in the process, even if the result lacks both the liveliness of my quicker work and the detail that would seem to be required. Often the honesty of the piece redeems it.

In this case, the vintage Collins Dictionary (with pages disintegrating and falling out) seemed to ask for a static approach. I think the single artwork above is unremarkable. But if I were to fill the book in a similar manner with various artworks, the book itself may become a thing to treasure one day. The fish will be swallowed by the larger beast.


Here is a return to my much quicker approach. The prismacolour artstick strikes again. It may be partly inspired by political weariness… the idea of the dangling lure… leading to what?…

But mainly it was a very rapid experiment in the power of transforming a sketch with PhotoShop colour. I’ll be using this technique in my next book, so why not?


Finally, a very quick sketch with watercolour. The first watercolour experiment I did (not shown here) was deader than a doorknob. This was a 10 minute exercise in proving to myself that I could do the same fish with a bit of life. Not sure what he is up to. I think he may have the same kind of determined expression I adopted when drawing him…

Blackboard drawing

blackboard doodler

blackboard doodler –  indian ink, watercolour, soft pastel

This was another sketch done the same night as the washy girls. She’s not entirely successful, but was an enjoyable experiment, and I’m finding it fun to just draw or paint whatever I please on occasion as a brief interlude between cooking dinner, organising holiday activities for the kids, catching up with overdue accounting and Illustrating Thunderstorm Dancing. I had food in the frying pan as I was painting this so I couldn’t afford to be too pernickety :-)

Dip brush, run to kitchen, stir food, run to drawing board, stir paint, drink paint water. Oops!