When I started drawing I was fascinated by line more than anything else. In the last few weeks I’ve been reminding myself of the importance of tone – lights and darks, and how the contrast of these can bring drama to a picture.

I took some photos of the gorgeous wet sclerophyll forest near where I live, and used these to create these first two ink drawings. I find that working from photos sometimes helps me to focus in on a small area, and choose a good composition. Rather than getting overwhelmed by all the tremendous detail and variety out in the real world!

The little picture below was drawn using an ink pen and coloured pencils. It’s is based on a photo from Bunyaville State Forest, in the north eastern suburbs of Brisbane. I love trying to capture the bright sunlight we have up here in Queensland. Keeping the picture small also helps me to focus on the tones and colours, and less on the details.

Then I had a dabble with some toned paper. The first drawing was done on location – another forested gully near where I live – and then the darker ink shades and the coloured pencil were added back in the studio, using a photo for reference.

Another new material I’ve been playing with is marker pens – now this takes me back to the textas of my childhood! These ‘Chameleon’ marker pens are a little special though – they allow you to adjust the intensity of the colour by using a diluting medium. I used them to create the newest cartoon in the #HelptheWildworld series (below). You can find the other cartoons in the series at the Wildworld Books website. These cartoons are free to reproduce for any non-commercial purposes that will benefit wildlife conservation. Each cartoon is accompanied by a free black-and-white colour-in version to download, print and colour.

And finally a reminder (for those of you in the south east Qld – northern NSW area) that the first get-together of the Woonoongoora Nature Journaling Group is happening this Saturday at 9 am at Binna Burra. See this page for more details.

Wherever you are in the world, enjoy your January and get out in nature when you can. You know it’s good for you!