Category: sketching

Bees – Field guide Friday

bee sketches by shantele iannaAustralia has over 1500 species of native bees. The honeybee is not native, it was introduced from Europe 193 years ago. Native bees have pretty cool names too, the teddy bear bee, the blue banded bee. Most of our native bees are solitary bees just doing their own thing and laying eggs on their own not in traditional hives.

The honeybee, which has been commercialised suffers stress just like humans do. From the food they eat, including chemicals, pesticides, extreme weather events and working too hard and getting burnt out. The current epidemic resulting in whole hives disappearing is called colony collapse disorder. Most scientists can’t agree on the cause but it seems to be a combination of factors. bee sketches 4 by shantele ianna

Bees are amazing creatures. They communicate in many different ways, one of which is a booty shake. Yep, they wiggle their butt’s, to let other bees know how far away pollen is from the hive. A more elaborate dance symbolises pollen that is further away. Pretty cool.
bee sketches 3 by shantele ianna

Did you know that bees are put in trucks now and moved to different areas sometimes over thousands of kilometres away to pollinate crops and make honey. And the workers bees, that collect all the pollen, are females. So many things I didn’t even think about when I open a jar of honey. In Australia, we are lucky that we are largely unaffected by colony collapse disorder. But our bees are still stressed.

And bee pollen, the latest superfood, I always picture the big yellow clumps of pollen on the bees hind legs and wonder if the pollen collectors put tiny little brushes and tiny little jars under the brushes to sweep it off their legs as they enter the hive?! No, probably not….bee sketches 2 by shantele ianna

So next time you got to swat or kill a bee, you could be hitting a poor, overworked, unappreciated, woman who has been unsuspectingly poisoned and forced to move to a new town, whereas, she just wants to be out in nature, live her life’s purpose and dance……..

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…….

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.

My sketching kit

It has been a while since I updated the blog post on what is in my sketching kit. I have added a few things since 2012 but am generally still using the same sketching kit by shantele ianna

I have tried out a few different journals over the past few years. The Milini, the Moleskine watercolour (whilst I love the paper quality I hate the landscape format), but have settled on the Stillman and Birn Alpha series sketchbook. When I am out sketching I prefer to the A5 portrait size with a hardbound spine rather than spiral bound, so that I can draw across both pages.

Here is a list of what I currently use:

  • Stillman and Birn A5 (Alpha series) sketchbook with white paper, I love these journals, the paper is 150gsm so it does buckle a little bit when I add watercolour but I love the quality, colour and size of these guys;
  • I have the Moleskine A4 size watercolour sketchbook, I bought this to try out the larger format and whilst I do like the paper, I rarely use it.
  • I also was given the tiny moleskine watercolour and never used it because it seemed to small. Then I thought about using it for a theme or series, and it got me motivated again. I currently am using it as a field guide for animals and plants I find on the farm and blog about it here.

blue tiger butterfly watercolor sketch by Shantele ianna

  • Winsor and Newton pocket sketch kit. I have replaced the pans with artist quality paints, and have been adding a squirt of Daniel smith cobalt teal blue, and Daniel Smith Quinacridone Rose to the left and right side of where the little brush goes. I love these two colours in my kit and use them a lot;
  • Two pentel water brushes that I love for their ease of use out in the field. I use a fine and a medium tip brush;
  • Two Pigma Micron pens in size 03 and 08. I am not a fan of these pens. I bought 5 pen pack of the range of nib sizes when I first started sketching because I had heard such good recommendations, but I find that the ends are too flimsy and always push in if you are not really gentle. They are great for putting a watercolour wash over the top of and never run, but I will not be getting more when these ones die;
  • Uni-ball Micro deluxe black waterproof pen. These are my favourite pens they are cheap and flow well and don’t run when covered with watercolour;
  • Uni-ball Signo white gel pen;
  • Uni-ball Signo fluoro pink gel pen;
  • Uni-ball Signo Gold gel pen;
  • A graphite pencil, eraser and sharpener.

So that’s it for now, I am always fighting the urge between making my kit simpler and buying more stuff. What about you? What are your favourite supplies?.

{Field Guide Friday} – Stick insect

Happy new year everyone!! I am starting off the new year with a feature/series I have been wanting to do on the blog for a while called field guide Friday…..

“Field guide Friday” is where I will share a different sketch of a plant or animal that I have drawn each Friday. 

First up stick insects. Stick insecStick insect watercolour sketch by Shantele iannats are fascinating creatures. So when I spotted one on the side gate I grabbed my nature journal and sat in front of it and drew it. This was one of the biggest and most colourful stick insects that I have ever seen. I drew it at life size (24.5cm’s) from head to tail (not includinig legs). It had hot pink forelegs and bright pinky/maroon spines all over it.

I had never thought much about the life cycle or habits of a stick insect. But as with most insects these guys have some interesting lifestyle habits. Females don’t need the males to produce offspring, and when they do lay eggs they are often protected by ants in the ants nest for up to 3 years in some species.

Sketching at the Qld museum

Spanner crab and jelly fish by Shantele IannaLiving in a small regional town I often have to travel a fair way to get to urban sketching events. Brisbane is my nearest capital city and closest urban sketching group. So when the Brisbane urban sketchers organised a meet up at the qld museum I jumped at the chance to meet and sketch with the group.Muttaburrasaurus by Shantele Ianna

There is so much material to draw at the museum. There are lots of animal skeletons and a great display of marine animals and invertebrates. So next time you visit take your nature journal and do some sketching.Curlew by Shantele Ianna

Altered book travel journal

altered_book_travel_journal_1I always keep tickets, receipts, stamps, maps, postcards and other random stuff when I travel, but the items were accumulating faster than I was using them. So recently I got all the ephemera together from our two big holidays to South America in 2007, and to the Middle East and East Africa in 2009 and created a travel journal by altering an old book.altered_book_travel_journal_2I was always scared to alter a book and was afraid that I would wreck it. But I love reusing discarded items and the effect of the writing showing through the pages. Some of the original illustrations add a great element to the journal. altered_book_travel_journal_3 altered_book_travel_journal_4 altered_book_travel_journal_5I started by removing some pages so that the book would still be able to be closed when it was full. Then I painted random pages with acrylic paint and some with gesso and added all the items I had collected and some text.  altered_book_travel_journal_7 altered_book_travel_journal_6 altered_book_travel_journal_8 altered_book_travel_journal_9It definitely would have been better to have the book with me as I was travelling but it feels good to get another aspect recorded other than just photos. You can see that the book is not yet finished by some of the blank pages. I will post images of the journal when it is done. Please let me know if you have any tips!!

Pima Air and Space Museum

watercolor_sketch_Pima_air_space_museumI wasn’t that overly excited about visiting an aircraft graveyard at first, but I really enjoyed walking around the site. The Pima Air and Space Museum is located just out of Tucson and easy to reach by car from town. It is one of the largest aircraft museums in the world. There are over 250 military planes, air craft and helicopters, spread over 80 acres. There are tours run by war veterans and dossiers and It is well worth taking one to find out a bit more of the history behind the scenes.

I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the helicopters which come in so many different shapes and sizes and the teeny tiny Bumble Bee aircraft (sketch below). The Starr Bumble Bee aircraft was donated and built by Robert Starr to take on the record of the worlds smallest aircraft. Starr held the title for less than one year after taking over five years to design and build the tiny aircraft. watercolor_sketch_Pima_air_space_museum_Starr_bumble_bee_aircraft

I didn’t realise the amount of art that was displayed on planes, often referred to as “nose art” or aircraft graffiti, it was used as a way to display some individuality, and have reminders of home. watercolor_sketch_Pima_air_space_museum_astronaught_nose_art

watercolor_sketch_Pima_air_space_museum_propagandaIf you enjoy taking photos or sketching, the Pima air and space museum it a fantastic place to get lost for a few hours.

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

sketches_arizona_sonora_desert_museum_shantele_iannaThe Arizona Sonora desert museum is located just out of Tucson near the Saguaro National Park. It is a great space which is part zoo, botanical gardens, natural history museum, interpretive centres and a fantastic revolving art gallery with beautiful flora and fauna art.

The raptor show was one of the best that I have seen anywhere. There were about 5 different species of raptor birds that were flown across our heads too trainers on either side of us.

There is a really diverse range of animals to see at the museum, such as the Mexican wolf, black bear, prairie dogs, snakes, insects and a not to be missed hummingbird enclosure that you can walk amongst the birds as they fly around. At the time we visited (March 2012) there were babies in there too.

It is really a great museum to learn about the diverse life of the Sonoran Desert and to pull out your nature journal and sketch animals. I did some sketches of a few of the animals that we saw. The prairie dogs were my favourite and I could not believe that road runners look like they do in real life.sketch_road_runner_barn_owl_arizona_sonora_desert_museum




Museo Nacional de Antropologìa

We spent a morning at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, which contains such a huge collection of artifacts that you could spend days trying to see them all. I managed to do a few sketches while we were there. The below sketch on the right is the Aztec earth goddess Coatlicue – a fascinating statue with a serpent face, a skirt made of snakes, a necklace of human hands, hearts and skulls and claws on her feet. Anthropology_museum_Mexico_city_sketches