Tag Archives: sketching

Brain Doodles (for want of a better name)

After my last post, I went away for the weekend. I had a great time, and made lots of things that may or may not be finished at a later date. Mostly I had a lot of fun with papier mâché and wire. I’ll put pictures up here when I have a chance to photograph them.

Then I came home to a house full of sickies and then I got sick and then I jiggered my back. So here I am at last back in the saddle (chair) and getting up every few minutes to make sure I don’t jigger it again. But it’s all looking good. I’ve picked up the pencil again. And the rain has been falling, and the birds are swooping around outside like mad and some of them tapping on the windows and jousting with their reflections, because it’s spring. And those reflections might steal their girlfriends.

Getting back in the (drawing or painting) saddle for me is always a bit tricky, (and I know it is for a lot of other people as well). I have to make it as fun and easy as possible, because if I try to do something excellent, it will all end in disappointment. But in truth, I’ve been drawing and looking at drawings for so many years, that the warm-up period doesn’t take long any more. There’s generally a little swirl, a dark, bold line, a smudgy bit or a light feathery touch that I really like in each drawing, even if the overall image is not a total success. And I love art enough that those little lines or smudges are enough to make my day.

Last night I picked up a pencil and started doing brain doodles. Doodles of animals from inside my head; animals who bear not a whole lot of anatomical resemblance to live animals.

In another variation on doodling in old books (fun and not scary) or making art from blobs (marvellously fun and not the least scary) I used second-hand computer paper from Scott’s work with those cute little rectangular grab-holes along the edges. Some of them had messages or notes scribbled on them already. How completely friendly and un-scary can you get?

And then I started with drawing chickens, went on to horses, then dogs and finally a couple of arty-farty-non-picture-bookish Leonards.

brain doodle chicken

brain doodle horse

brain doodle horses

brain doodle dark horse single

brain doodle horse single pale moving

I'm putting this one in sideways because I like the message about back for lunch!

This brain doodle horse is appearing on his side because I like the back-for-lunch message!

brain doodle dog with soft mouth

This brain doodle dog is not meant to be unhappy or cringing. It was more about the shapes and curves. It started with its head up, and then I wanted the bowed head because it’s a curling up figure. And the dog reminds me of our old Hungarian Vizsla with the soft mouth, that would curl in a spongy smile when she was pleased to see us.

brain doodle dog sleeping

This brain doodle dog has a large head. Or a small body. It doesn’t matter.

brain doodle Leonard with word tail

A brain doodle Leonard with plant species notes under his tail feathers.

brain doodle Leonard swishy movement

A brain doodle Leonard with swishy bits.

Happy doodling, all.

Holiday doodles at Sorrento

Caps for Sale judywatsonart lores

This little guy was in the Sorrento shopping strip last week. Waiting for his Dad, he was inspecting the hats on the hat stand on the pavement. I was sitting in the car waiting for my husband and boys to return and was able to sketch him. He didn’t stay there for more than half a minute, but luckily the hats did.


Strong faced woman judywatsonart lores


This Strong-faced Woman was seated overlooking the sea in the park at Sorrento. My kids were running around on the playground and I was sitting on a picnic table in the rain, drawing. It was boiling hot and kids were playing in the park in their bathers, dripping wet, shiny. This woman barely moved a muscle, even when the rain got so heavy that I had to stop because the page was getting very wet.


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.

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…

Wet waiting again

I’m waiting for the boys at their last swimming lesson for the term.

As usual, a freeze ray would come in handy. but in the absence of one of those (perhaps for my birthday?) here are: a goggled boy about to jump in the deep end, a Chinese dad with his gleeful baby in the pool and two kids with very different body types.





Sporting Man’s Club

Saturday night after the horse races, in the upstairs restaurant with a view of the bay. A soft warm breeze. Potted palm fronds gently moving. The mood of the crowd was jubilant. Voices and glasses were raised. High heels tottered.

I did two sketches as I waited for my meal. The first, a woman in an eye-catching hat; the second a woman having a quiet meal with a friend. She kept (more or less) still for longer than anyone I have drawn in ages!!

'Milly After the Races'

‘Milly After the Races’

Table 26

Table 26

The Geebung Polo Club


I picked up this book of ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s verse in the op shop the other day. It is past its prime as a book, in that the pages are all coming adrift, perhaps expressing their wish to break away and start a new life on their own. In this I intend to help them.

Having lived around the corner from the pub of this name many years ago, I started by reading this drily catastrophic verse about an epic Polo battle. It is really very playful, and much shorter than I had imagined. After one reading, the pages came out of the book in my hands.

I took the hint and obliged…

Part A. They were long and wiry natives from the rugged mountain side, and the horse was never saddled that the Geebungs couldn't ride;

Part A.
They were long and wiry natives from the rugged mountain side,
And the horse was never saddled that the Geebungs couldn’t ride;


Part B: Now my readers can imagine how the contest ebbed and flowed, When the Geebung boys got going it was time to clear the road; And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone A spectator's leg was broken - just from merely looking on.

Part B:
Now my readers can imagine how the contest ebbed and flowed,
When the Geebung boys got going it was time to clear the road;
And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone
A spectator’s leg was broken – just from merely looking on.

Admittedly, both parts of the poem were originally to appear on the same page. But due to a serendipitous error, wherein I found I had glued the first half of the poem on the right hand side of the page instead of the left… well, we now have two works of art. He he.

I’ve just begun to list artworks on Etsy. You can find my shop here. (Although there’s not much in it yet!)

Swimming with ink

I love books. I love altered books. I love black ink.

It was only a matter of time…

Watching my boys' swimming lessons last week

Watching my boys’ swimming lessons last week

I drew in an old book with a pen

I drew in an old book with a pen

And later I added my beloved ink

And later I added my beloved ink

I think I could enjoy doing a lot of this. And I haven’t yet included another secret love of mine… collage…