Hotel Holiday

 Posted by on August 9, 2014  Drawings, Family, Lefties, Travel
Aug 092014

My Brother Jo and his family recently invited Julia and I to join them, and my Dad and his wife Wendy, for a holiday in Mexico. We’ve had a rocky time of things the past few years, and this was a wonderful opportunity to relax. Despite feeling ill the entire time, I did some sketching, and broke in a beautiful new sketchbook that Julia got me for Christmas a few years ago.


A few days before we were due to fly to Mexico, I came down with an asthmatic chest cold, and it was touch and go whether we would fly at all. The morning of our departure, I felt a little better and so off we went.. only to arrive in a Puerto Vallarta that was astonishingly hot and humid. Wow. I felt immediately drained by the brutal heat and felt sicker almost as soon as we checked in to our hotel. The next morning, a doctor came to visit me in my hotel room, diagnosed me with Bronchitis, and pumped me full of antibiotics. This certainly helped, but didn’t heal me 100%. In fact, a few days ago I was put on another round of antibiotics here in the USA.


Unfortunately, being sick, my sightseeing was confined to the hotel itself, but I was very happy to spend time with my family, who I do not often see.  While the others would go off on tours, I would draw in the hotel or try to sleep off my chest-bug, and it was lovely to see my family each evening for dinner. On about the 3rd day, there was an absolutely spectacular lightening storm and the torrential rain on that and a few subsequent afternoons thankfully cooled the temperature a great deal, making the trip much more pleasant. Just as I started to feel a bit more human, Julia got the bad news that her division is to be closed and she will soon be out of a job. I’m not sure why it is so, but all of our attempts at holidays in the past few years have been fraught with illness and bad luck, and I’m afraid of what this Holiday Curse will escalate to next.


I had visited Puerto Vallarta once before, in 1989, and I remember a quaint little seaside town of cobblestone streets, but sadly this time around I only got to see the grounds of the hotel, and the nearby beach, because of my illness. The nexus of the hotel was a huge network of swimming pools, some with a bar right inside the pool itself,  blasting Euro-beat rave music around the clock. We favoured the much quiter family pool, which was a new concept for me; I’m used to the kids area being rowdy, but at this hotel it was the grownups who were the boisterous ones. (Must’ve been the Magaritas).


When we finally found a spot to sit poolside (where chairs are jealously guarded) we met one of the pool regulars; the POOL IGUANA. I’ve exaggerated his size here, making him look as big as a crocodile, but although he was not that big, he was surprisingly large; at least as big as a medium sized dog. It was quite a surprise when we finally nabbed a poolside spot to have this guy dive into the pool, and make a beeline for us through the water, crawl out of the pool and panhandle us for snacks. (For the record, he liked guacamole and salsa but declined our offer of “Fruit Loops”).


The Iguanas were not the only colouful wildlife. There were many racous screeching birds, most notably the PEACOCKS. I did not think to sketch them, but they kept up an almost constant squawking, day and night, reaching a frenzied pitch during the thunderstorms, when I think they lost their tiny feathered minds. They had the run of the place, and their favourite trick was to walk up and snatch the BUTTER off your breadroll right under your nose. BRAWK! After that first night, we always chose a table inside the restaurant.


On one of her visits to town, Julia found a pretty little figurine. When she bought it, she found out that it was the MOTHER MARY figure of this Nativity SET. We didn’t have room for this many dolls, either in our luggage or our flat, so we gave the set (minus Mother Mary) to my Dad and Wendy (they planned to have one of the other female figurines stand in for Mary). I decided to sketch the nativity group before they were bundled up for their journey to Australia.


Christmas 2012, Julia got me these two beautiful leather-bound and monogrammed sketchbooks, but I didn’t feel capable of doing them justice until recently, as I lost my drawing ability the day after I was given the sketchbooks, when my right hand became paralysed. Although my drawing skill is still not where I would like it to be, after filling a big sketchook with left-handed doodles and drawings from life, I now feel ready to crack open these handmade beauties and do some drawing in them. The pages are about half the dimension of my previous sketchbook, and therefore the drawings in these will probably be more gestural, and hopefully looser, more stylised and ‘cartoony’ than the painstaking drawing I’ve been doing lately.

I look forward to filling them both up.

May 022014
SPACE..The Final Frontier..

Here are some left-handed drawings from recent TV sketch nights drawing Star Trek. The bright colours and simple shapes, not to mention the broad characters and melodramatic action of James T. Kirk and his iconic, space-faring crew, can be quite fun to draw. I remember the very first time I ever saw Star Trek; it was 1974, I was 10 [ more..]

Apr 182014
One Flew Off to CUCKOO’S NEST

July 15, 1986, I left Australia for what I thought would be a 6 month or one year trip at most, but it ended up being an overseas jaunt that lasted the rest of my life. I’d worked in Sydney animation studios since 1982, saving money for a trip to Japan. By mid 1986, I’d got my passport, bought a [ more..]

Early Lefties

 Posted by on March 31, 2014  Drawings, Lefties
Mar 312014
Early Lefties

For posterity, here are some of the very first location sketches drawn with my left hand. I’d already done a lot of lefty drawing at home, (including some illustrations for my childhood stories on this blog) but had not ventured outside to draw from life until last September, when both Julia and I went drawing for a couple of consecutive [ more..]

Yerba Buena

 Posted by on February 28, 2014  Artists, Drawings, Friends, Lefties
Feb 282014
Yerba Buena

Last weekend was a good one for drawing; both doing it ourselves and appreciating drawings done by others. Firstly, on Saturday, Julia and I went to Yerba Buena Gardens to draw: I ‘ve sketched here before (a study of the church you see here) but this time I tried an overview. The angle I chose was from the terrace, where there [ more..]

Feb 192014
TV Sketching: The Dowager Countess

Apart from our recent location sketching, Julia and I have also been sketching from TV shows, and a recent fave is Downton Abbey, starring the wonderful Maggie Smith. In my opinion, she steals every almost episode as the dowager Countess, Lady Grantham. She inflects every line with subtle flaring of nostril, tilt of head or withering of stare, that imbue [ more..]

Presidio Sketch Weekend

 Posted by on January 31, 2014  Drawings, Lefties
Jan 312014
Presidio Sketch Weekend

Here are several sketches done from life, each drawn very slowly in my new left-handed technique, while visiting a very sunny Presidio last weekend with Julia. Lately I have been trying to draw with my left hand, and I have been doing silly, cartoonish illustrations for the childhood recollections I have been writing. I quite like the effect that the [ more..]

BIZARRO Sketch Night

 Posted by on January 16, 2014  Lefties, Updates
Jan 162014
BIZARRO Sketch Night

A week ago today, my friend Ben Walker held one of his fun sketch events at 111 Minna Gallery. This time it was BIZARRO SKETCH NIGHT, where all the participants drew 100% with their non-dominant hands. Drawing with my bad hand is something I’ve been getting trying to get used to of late, with mixed success.. So it was great [ more..]

Jan 072014
A Boxing Day Far, Far, Away..

It’s difficult to preserve memory when your older-self’s revised view constantly overwrites the original impression. How do you file a loving memory of someone you no-longer like? Or childhood memories of wonder, but of things now uncool? Do you owe it to your earlier-self to keep that first impression alive? One such moment, is a memory of awe and fascination [ more..]

Chook Hunter

 Posted by on October 26, 2013  Baker's Dozen, Family, Lefties
Oct 262013
Chook Hunter

My paternal grandfather lives on as a cheery, little hardworking gnome of a man in my memory, yet my favourite photo of him, snapped by a street photographer well before my own Dad was even born, shows an impossibly roguish little bugger in his prime, an antipodean George Raft wearing his hat cocked at a rakish angle with his hands [ more..]