“Grand and Outstanding Exhibits”

I recently entered the Cardinia Grand Art Exhibition. This was the first time a show has had a dedicated scratchboard section in Australia I believe. Obviously I had to send some work over and I came away with the following award. I thought it may be for a specific piece, namely the Himba Maiden which has won awards before but on re-reading the award, the plural seems to indicate that I had been recognised across all my entries which is a very nice feeling indeed. The pieces I sent are shown underneath the award.

2014 Cardinia Scratchboard Show, Himba Beauty

Himba Maiden

2014 Cardinia Scratchboard Show, Himba Maiden 2011


Himba 2010

Chimp Eye

Chimp eye 2012

Demure Joy

Demure Joy 2010

A few new things to share

Life has been very interesting for me recently to say the least. Firstly I have a show on at the moment called “The Art of Conservation”. It is a collaboration between myself and Kerryn Hocking who is a wonderful pastel artist. I have 18 pieces up for sale, all but two of them are scratchboards (my two pastels and a large scratchboard below have already sold)  and she has 16 lovely pastels – all wildlife and much of the money raised will go to the Adelaide Zoo’s conservation programs. The gallery is located at the entrance to the zoo and is called the Santos Conservation Centre. Exhibition open until the end of March, 9.30 am – 4.45 pm


The Art Of Conservation DL 01

I will also be writing an entire magazine (normally I write magazine articles but this will be the whole lot). More information to follow as it develops.

Finally, for the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of hosting one of the world’s greatest scratchboard artists in my home, the awesome Rod Leisure aka RodMan. This guy lives and breathes art and has done some plein air pieces as well as studio and demo work while he has been here. Below is a selection of his work while he’s been here. None of these pieces have more than about three hours on them so he works fast. He might take them home to Colorado and tighten them up but to be quite honest, he’s all about the fun he has doing it in the first place. It’s all about the process, even more than the result. I often impress this upon people – if you don’t enjoy the process why are you doing it. This man has lots of fun creating art.

Firstly, this is RodMan at our ‘famous’ Adelaide Balls.

20140215_170321 (Copy)

And now on site working on some working fishing industry boats at North Arm


This is the piece that came out of that visit


He spent a few days at Victor Harbor and painted the tram which takes tourists over to Granite Island


A couple of trips to the Railway Museum in Port Adelaide saw these two pieces done on site



Now, let’s have some serious fun. The afore-mentioned Kerryn Hocking organised two demonstrations (which RodMan did for free) and these pieces came from those demos



If things could get any better, well, they did. My 18 year old son who is a good artist in his own right did a collaboration piece with RodMan and they came up with this Mad Scientist. It’s still to be finished but I’m sure you get the idea.


Finally, RodMan came to my exhibition opening and saw some of my orangutan pieces there so we decided to do a collaboration image as well and came up with this fun piece – again it’s only two and a half hours work drawn freehand on clayboard with ink added with an airbrush and a couple of small bristle brushes, removed with a fibreglass brush and a blade and fun had by all. I’m pretty certain my style has come through quite well.


My first cover!

Occasionally I write articles for different Australian art magazines. A couple of years ago I wrote one for “Artist’s Back to Basics” magazine. The quality of the printing was excellent. Woodlands Publishing seems to be an organisation that does things properly. Anyway, they mustn’t have had enough material for their sister magazine’s current issue and they reprinted this article in Issue 11 of “Artist’s Drawing and Inspiration”. I had no idea but it became pretty obvious when I was wandering through my local supermarket and saw my art all over the cover. This is my first full cover on any magazine! I’d included in the article a section on the formation of The International Society of Scratchboard Artists which talked about how we were organising our first annual show in Glen Ellen, California in 2012. Of course, that’s old news now since that was a roaring success and we’ve since had our second annual show in Vancouver and are setting up our third annual show in Cary, North Carolina for 2014. However, it’s still great to see my work printed again and good to see that they do such an excellent printing job in all their associated magazines. Anyway, here is the cover. It’s not my normal wildlife or portrait art but a commission of gorgeous dogs.

2013 Issue 11 Artists Drawing and Inspiration compressed


I’ve just completed this scratchboard of a zebra which is from one of my own photos of a zebra, not in Africa but at Werribee Open Plains Zoo in Victoria, Australia. I’m showing the finished piece first and then some of the work in progress to show that my work goes through many ugly stages before I finish it. It’s a real process of layering with scratchboard and definitely blows out of the water the theory that with scratchboard, you need to get it right first time. Heck, it takes me many many layers before I’ve got it remotely right.

Zebra 06a

So here are the stages starting from simply scrubbing off black ink with the fibreglass brush and steel wool

Zebra 01a

Now I simply add diluted India Ink over the whole piece (with an airbrush but a normal brush is fine too). I’ve gone a little darker in the shadow areas to make it easier later.

Zebra 02a

Now I get out my fibreglass brush again to start working on the light and fur.

Zebra 04a

And finally, having ‘pushed and pulled’ a few times (added and removed ink to get that layering – depth – effect) I add the grass in a very simple and almost impressionistic style. This is achieved by spraying India Ink a little darker in the shadow created by the zebra, and fading it out as we get further up the board, and then using the fibreglass brush to remove the ink, trying to represent grass as I go.

Zebra 06a

A few new pieces of art

I mentioned in my last blog that I went to Frankfurt Zoo on the way from West Africa to Adelaide, Australia, where I live. I was hanging out for some wildlife and although you can’t really call zoo animals ‘wildlife’, it was great to see what can be done with a small space in the middle of a huge city when people who care set their minds to it.

Unfortunately my camera display had been broken by a clumsy x-ray operator in Frankfurt airport going from one section to another, so at the zoo I had to simply click away and hope something was happening, since I couldn’t see the results on the screen (or apply any special settings) so it was a nice surprise when I got home and saw some awesome photos to work from. The following two pieces are a ‘variegated spider monkey’ and a ‘bonobo’ and there will be more to come from this visit. I need to get ready for an exhibition at the Adelaide Zoo with another artist, the amazing Kerryn Hocking, so I’ll be doing as many wildlife pieces as I can before tackling some portraits from Benin with the rich cultural history that can be found there.

Variegated Spider Monkey 2013

Bonobo 2013



Old Man of Borneo

I’ve finally completed a new piece. It’s a scratchboard that’s been a long time in the making with a busy life at the moment and a lot of detail in this. This should really be titled “Old Man of San Diego” because it’s from seeing one of the orangutans at San Diego Zoo in California when I was there last July. “Old Man of San Diego” just doesn’t have that ring to it since this is a male Bornean orangutan, the ones with the wide cheek flaps which show dominance to other males. In all the photographs I took of this awesome male, his eyes are not visible, too much in shadow, so I used some artistic licence to create a sad portrait. It’s one of those conundrums – we need to see primates like orangutans in zoos to highlight their plight in the wild, massive reduction in numbers due to hunting, the pet trade and loss of habitat through land exploitation, and one day maybe zoos will be the only place we will be able to see them, but of course we also don’t want to see them in zoos simply because they don’t belong there. It should also be noted that orangutans have particularly sad faces but that bears no relation to their mood. It is simply due to their facial muscles and as artists we tend to humanise animals too much, something I am guilty of but I do it for a reason – to make people stop and think.

12″ x 16″

Old Man of Borneo compressed


I have a lovely niece living in England called Georgia. I got to know her a bit on my recent trip there in July and decided to do a portrait of her. She’s a bright and bubbly character and a lot of fun and I’ve tried to convey that in my art. I know she received the portrait in time for her birthday the other day so I can now show it on here without spoiling her surprise.

I also have a couple of artist friends who have gone on to become tattoo artists. Well, I also have, though maybe not in the way you might think. This portrait is almost 100% completed with a tattoo needle. I used a seven stack, which is seven needles soldered together in a row and this creates a nice even texture, perfect for representing skin on the scratchboards I use. I’m including a couple of close-ups to show this texture. The hair was done with my trusty fibreglass brush.

If you click the images they will show up larger. The actual portrait is quite small, 8″ x 10″