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Sketchbook currently

Hi blog its been a while…sketches shantele ianna 2

I also realised that its been awhile since I have been drawing regularly. I started this sketchbook in April 2014, that’s 18 months, 18 months of not drawing or sketching regularly. It time to show up at the page again and start making sketching a regular practice. 18 months is a long break from doing something I love… so here are my latest scribbles.sketches shantele ianna 4 sketches shantele ianna

Some food, some blind contours, some gardening and some nature journaling…sketches shantele ianna 3

I’m on a mission to finish this guy by the end of the year, there are about 25 pages left in it, not overly ambitious but better than an average of a drawing a month… and stay tuned for some more field guide Friday posts…

I hope you are spending your days, or stealing minutes, to practice something that brings you joy…….

Giant devils Fig weed {field guide Friday}

This is a series on my blog this year where I will be sharing a sketch from my nature journal every Friday in an effort to keep myself drawing (at least weekly) and to hopefully inspire someone else while I’m at it. Hope you enjoy it! Giant devils fig by shantele ianna

The Giant devils fig is a noxious weed on the north coast. It originates from central America and is spreading rapidly throughout the region. We are also noticing that it is widespread along the sides of roads in the area. It is easily recognised from the deeply lobed leaves which are covered in spines along the leaf veins and the stems which have large thick spines.

Giant devils fig fruit by shantele ianna

The weeds flower in autumn and spring, and have green fruit which turn yellow when mature. The seeds are spread by birds and bats. We have also noticed that the cows have been eating the leaves. When a large plant is mowed with the slasher, the remaining parts will grow new roots and turn into new plants. This makes the removal very difficult unless sprays are used. They really need to be removed as soon as they are spotted and before flowering because they can rapidly spread and choke the waterways and compete with native species.

Rescue chickens {Field guide Friday}

This is a series on my blog this year where I will be sharing a sketch from my nature journal every Friday in an effort to keep myself drawing (at least weekly) and to hopefully inspire someone else while I’m at it. Hope you enjoy it!

rescue chicken sketch by Shantele ianna

About 6 months ago now I found out that there were some chicken’s available on a farm for free. We went out there with the intention to take 15 or so, between me and my husband’s family. When I got there and saw that the chickens had had their beaks de-tipped (this happens before the small chicks come to the farm and is usually done because the birds are kept in huge numbers and can peck and attack one another).  There were also hundreds of birds that were going to loose their lives. I ended up taking 50, we have 15 and we have re-homed the rest to friends and family.

The farmer explained that after the chickens reach 12 months of age their eggs get bigger and the shells get thinner and the restaurants don’t want them. So every 12 months the whole flock is replaced. The 12 months and older chickens are killed and new younger ones are bought in to replace them.

I had heard of factory farms before, where chickens are kept cooped up in cages inside barns and never see light of day, but I had no idea that this is how some free range hens are kept. These chickens got let out to roam the farm every day, are fed well, kept locked up at night, but are only allowed to live for 12 months and are kept with huge numbers of other birds.  Generally the farmer doesn’t want to operate in this manner either, but the market dictates it.

I don’t know if this is common practice for free range egg farms, but it got me thinking about food labelling and that it can sometimes not tell the whole story behind a product. I grew up with backyard chickens, and have been lucky enough to either know someone who can give me eggs, and now, have our own. Growing up on a farm I saw chickens behave like chickens, I have rarely been exposed to chickens having their beaks cut, but have been exposed to animals dying of disease and predators and natural causes. While rescue chickens take a bit more care I am happy to have these girls as a part of our farm.

I realise that keeping any “pet” chickens is not exactly natural for the birds, which would historically be living in trees and only laying eggs to reproduce. But if you are going to eat eggs (which I do), I am happy knowing how my chickens live their lives.

Toadstools and mushroom sketches {Field guide Friday}

This is a series on my blog this year where I will be sharing a sketch from my nature journal every Friday in an effort to keep myself drawing (at least weekly) and to hopefully inspire someone else while I’m at it. Hope you enjoy it!


I remember when I was a kid, going foraging for mushrooms after heavy rain with my dad. We both love mushrooms and would sometimes end up with bags full of them….We always stuck to the safe field mushroom, and never got adventurous sampling other different varieties.

IMG_5048 IMG_5054

I am pretty sure that the mushrooms in the sketches are inedible ones. I have been trying to identify them but they are really hard to ID. I have a field guide but am still clueless. I know that the big one is a toadstool, but I didn’t realise how many different toadstool varieties there are. I will just have to stick to drawing them for now. And look into a mushroom foraging workshop in the future….

Sketchbook adventures

sketchbook 3 by shantele ianna

sketchbook 1 by shantele iannaCurrently my sketchbook is getting filled up with random drawings. The garden is still producing eggplant and we scored some figs from a friend so that went in. Any good eggplant recipes? Please share in the comments, I am drowning in eggplant.sketchbook 4 by shantele ianna

Fish are always my favourite subject. I am working on a book of drawings of the local area and want to include local wildlife…. I am also dreaming of going scuba diving again at Julian Rocks, a study trip of course….sketchbook 2  by shantele iannaAnd I am working on a special project for a friend.. Slowly it is Tiger moth watercolor sketch by shantele iannacoming together, I will share all here once it is finished.  I am also happy that my little moleskine is filling up with sketches. It sat empty for a couple of years and now that I have a theme for it I am filling it up. Check out more here.

Tiger moth {field guide Friday}

This is a series on my blog this year where I will be sharing a sketch from my nature journal every Friday in an effort to keep myself drawing (at least weekly) and to hopefully inspire someone else while I’m at it. Hope you enjoy it! Tiger moth watercolor sketch by shantele ianna

Tiger Moths are common throughout coastal northern New South Wales. They have distinctive orange and black bands on their bodies and orange spots on their wings. They are pretty small at about 4cm and are normally seen flying around during the day.

This is the second moth I have drawn for field guide Friday and it got me thinking what is the difference between a moth and a butterfly. Well there are some general rules (and exceptions to the rules of course) that separate the two groups.Tiger moth watercolor sketch 3 by shantele ianna

Tiger moth watercolor sketch 2 by shantele ianna

  • Moths generally have feathery antennae, whereas butterfly antennae have a club on the end and are thinner;
  • Moths are generally duller coloured than butterflies;
  • Moths wings are linked together whereas butterflies are not;
  • Moths hold their wings flat when resting but butterflies hold their wings upright (making it very hard for photos);
  • Moths have larger forelegs;
  • Moth pupae spin a cocoon whereas butterfly pupae is not in a cocoon; and
  • Moths fly at night whereas butterflies are seen flying during the day.

The tiger moth seems to be an exception to a lot of those rules, being bright coloured, thinnish antennae and seen during the day.

New blog categories and archives

archvies by category 4I have recently been doing some housekeeping on the website and trying to make it more organised. There is not a huge amount of content yet but I was surprised when I went back through that there was a decent amount to be archived. I have added archives on the top menu bar with images and have divided the posts up into the different categories that I have written about so far. These images and categories make it both easier for me and the reader to find old posts and content. archvies by category 1

There has been a travels category for a while now, located in the top menu bar (now located in the sidebar). This is a round up of all the posts I have written about our adventures and holidays with info, tips and photos from the places we have been. There are posts from our trips to USA, Mexico and Europe and I plan on adding posts from out honeymoon in Borneo and Thailand soon.

archvies by category 2I have also had some buttons in the side bar that link to; sketching tools and posts related to urban sketching and nature journaling. This is where the travels category is now located.

archvies by category 3And finally I have a page dedicated to all the posts from field guide Friday (my latest project). Ideally this page will be added to as my posts go up and as the project continues.

archvies by category 5

So far I have categories for urban sketching, nature journaling, paper projects, travels, shop and our wedding. I will change or add categories as I write about new things (farm life in the future) but for now it feels a lot more organised. I hope this makes it easier for you to find stuff and enjoy reading the blog a bit more.  Thanks so much for reading and for your support!!



Emperor Gum Moth watercolor sketch by shantele ianna 1
Emperor Gum Moth
dolphin fish watercolor sketch print head close up
Dolphin Fish
bull ant watercolour sketch by shantele ianna
Bull ant
robber fly watercolor sketch 3 by Shantele ianna
Robber Fly
lionfish watercolor print by Shantele IANNA v
Lion Fish
Watercolor sketch by Shantele Ianna
Redhead Cottonbush
Stick insect
Blue tiger butterfly
field guide to the farm gumnuts by shantele ianna
Common farm weeds
beetle sketch by Shantele Ianna
Monolepta Beetle
birds at Evans Head by Shantele Ianna 2
Sketching birds
Sonora desert museum















Altered book travel journal
Blurb square book review
USA and mexico mini book cover
travel journal mini book
summer mini book by shantele ianna
Summer mini book







sketching Lismore museum
Sketching @ Qld Museum
Dolmite mountains italy
Sketching Naples
Rome at last
Sketching Manarola
Venice sketches
sketch_basilica del pilar Zaragoza spain by Shantele ianna
Zaragoza, Spain
Sketching Granada
Barcelona sketches
USK symposium
Carry on packing list
Pima Air and Space museum
Playa del Carmen
Merida, Mexico
Anthropology museum Mexico



















Relaxing in Cinque Terre
Venice, Italy
Albir, Spain
Adventures in Tuscany
Villajoyosa Festival Spain
Exploring the Dolomite Mountains
Hiking Cinque Terre
A heartfelt journey to Budoia, Italy


Saguaro NP, Arizona
Arionza Meteor Crater
Petrified Forest NP, Arizona
Grand Canyon, USA
Xumal ruins Mexico
Celestun, Mexico
Oaxaca Mexico
Teotihuacan, Mexico City
Mexico city post
Mexico City






















engagement photo shoot shantele ianna 5
Engagement photo shoot
DIY rustic wedding chalkboard 6
DIY wedding chalkboard
Mr & Mrs Meagher_wedding signage 2
DIY wedding signs
Mr & Mrs Meagher_333
Our wedding reception
Mr & Mrs Meagher_ 1
Our wedding ceremony


Emperor Gum Moth {Field guide Friday}

This is a series on my blog this year where I will be sharing a sketch from my nature journal every Friday in an effort to keep myself drawing (at least weekly) and to hopefully inspire someone else while I’m at it. Hope you enjoy it!

Emperor Gum Moth watercolor sketch by shantele ianna 1I am always happy to find Emperor Gum Moth’s hanging around the garden, they are beautiful creatures. The Emperor Gum Moth is a large moths with a 120-150mm wing span and is easy to identify from the four colourful “eyes” on their wings. This guy is probably a male because they are said to have hairier antennae than females.

Emperor Gum Moth watercolor sketch by shantele ianna 2Apparently they adults don’t feed, they only live for a couple of weeks after hatching from their cocoon and their only goal in life is to mate and lay eggs. They are also native to Australia, so keep your eyes peeled.

Happy weekend everyone and happy insect hunting….

{Field guide Friday} Dolphin Fish

This is a series on my blog this year where I will be sharing a sketch from my nature journal every Friday in an effort to keep myself drawing (at least weekly) and to hopefully inspire someone else while I’m at it. Hope you enjoy it!

IMG_0277ccThis weeks sketch is of Doreen the Dolphin Fish. Most people would recognise this one as from the header image on my website. Fish are my favourite subject to draw, and particularly ones with bright dazzling colours.

dolphin fish watercolor sketch  print head close upDolphin fish are a large species that are found in the deep open ocean preferring warmer subtropical waters. The origin of the name Dolphin fish is quite contentious with many speculation on its origins that I’m not going to go into here. They are also known as the Mahi Mahi (meaning very strong in Hawaiian) and Dorado (meaning gold in Spanish). Either way they are a stunning fish with golden yellow bodies and different shades of blues on their fins, lips or as spots.

dolphin fish watercolor sketch print tail close upThey are a very sought after recreational fish on fishing charters, but are not targeted commercially in Australia. They are relatively fast growing and reach sexual maturity with 4 months of age. Their conservation status seems to vary throughout different guides, but they are generally listed as not of concern. I have never eaten one, or caught one but would love to see one in real life.

Prints of the original watercolour drawing are available in my shop. Head over there if you would like more information.

dolphin fish watercolor sketch print body

Happy fishing and diving everyone.