The collections book


Cathe’s book came to me a little while ago, and I couldn’t wait to get started on it. The theme is collections, and I have many, although mostly objects found on my travels – gum nuts, seed pods, shells, skulls and so on. The big decision was what to include. Due to other pressing commitments, I wasn’t able to start straightaway, but that did give me more thinking time. Cathe and Gale had already done their part and their work was beautiful. It’s a little intimidating, that blank page, knowing that the work needs to measure up, and no-one wants to spoil someone else’s book!

In the end, instead of drawing some of the objects on my desk I decided to use my ephemeral collections – that is, objects I have collected but no longer have, as they have returned to the earth. So, a sprig of leaves found in Orange, NSW, a bunch of senna pods with their flowers that were found in Bladensburg National Park in Western Queensland, a grasshopper that ended up on the grille of our car after driving through a dense cloud of them in western New South Wales, near the Weddin Ranges (where the bushranger Ben Hall had a cave, but that’s another story), parrot feathers from Bourke. Then there was a cicada shell found in the Bald Rock National Park on the New South Wales-Queensland border, and a beautiful iridescent beetle from the Victorian High Country.

The reason I could use these images is that they are all from my travel sketchbooks, with notes of where each was found. Wherever I go I draw what I find around me, especially things that won’t last – flowers, leaves, insects. I take things with me too – the yabbie claws on the first shared page I still have, but they quickly lose the beautiful rich colours that they start with. Most of these are completely white now.

So you could say these are not conventional collections!


This is the cover of Cathe’s book – made with hand-made paper from Thailand and tied with a gros grain ribbon. Cathe has added some of her collectibles which gently swing around the book – feathers, seeds and shells. For more details about Cathe’s process with book, go here.


The first page was one we all add to – Cathe painted the jar and brushes, Gale added marbles and I have added a couple of galah feathers.


The first spread is also a joint effort – Cathe painted rocks and a feather, Gale contributed the skulls and I did the yabbie claws – the space left is for Karen, who will get the book next.


This is Cathe’s page – it is beautiful, she has a very light but sure touch with watercolour and a wonderful design sense, this page is very satisfying to look at. The winding hand written labels add to the charm of it.


Gale’s page has intriguing objects, every one requires a closer look, she has chosen objects with wonderful shape and form which show off her great drawing skills. The composition of this page is a delight. For more of her work go here.


This is the last page – Cathe has drawn a lovely old pair of shears, and we each add some little notes about the media we have used. Now Karen (for more of her work see here) will receive this book and I will receive Gale’s book from her to do my page.

We are getting near the end of this wonderful experiment, and I will miss it a great deal. But maybe there is something new we can do together … there will be discussions!

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

16 thoughts

  1. Anna, I love your contributions in my book and insight to your travel journals. Again I learn from you, this time how to contain fading finds. I struggled a little with finding my “theme” and went to my core “collections”. Seeing each artist’s collection is really joyful and how each item is lovingly crafted with a skillful eye and hand.

    Your work is incredible and I feel so honored to have it in my book. Along side Gale and Karen’s beautiful art, quite a collection.

    I’m sad the book tour is coming to a close too, but I agree, soon it will be time to plan the next collaboration. I was thinking about an accordian folded book that could flow from one page to the next…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cathe, I am so glad you are happy with this. The theme is something that I think suits us all, but equally gives us all something to think about. It took me a while to work out my particular take on it. One of the nerve-wracking parts of this is that there is no room for mistakes! There are a few things in my drawings in each of the books I would have changed or reworked but since I couldn’t I had to embrace them for better or worse! This all adds to the learning curve and a kind of discipline.

      Now a concertina book – that is a very good thought!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your collections Anna and I think this book has turned out to be the most cohesive of them all. It is lovely that you have used drawings from your travel sketchbook, it gives more meaning. Everyone’s drawings are so light in this book, the images just float on the page. Looking forward to seeing this book in person. Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Karen – this has been a lovely book to work on, I think you will enjoy it too! It has been interesting to see how each one has developed, I think we are all learning from one another, from one book to the next. It has been such a pleasure working with the three of you on these – I like Cathe’s suggestion of an ongoing concertina maybe for our next project!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope that you will have at least one book on hand for when we meet in Sydney, because the truth is, while the books look wonderful on my computer screen, what I see here doesn’t compare to the real objects. I know this after Karen showed me two of the books when she came to Fremantle recently.
    I appreciate how the written words are part of the art work, each word being thoughtfully placed and scripted within the composition. Also, as usual, it isn’t just the drawing of each object but also the beautiful placement on the page.


    1. I expect by the time I see you Julie I will have Gale’s water theme book – now that one is going to be a real challenge for me! I also have two from the first series for the time being. I loved the lettering too, so nice that Gale continued Cathe’s idea, so I happily added my notes too. There is a delicacy to this book which has come about as a result of the choice of theme I feel. Thank you!


  4. I’m at a loss for an better words than have already been written Anna 🙂
    Guess I’d just like to add how much I’ve enjoyed looking at these little paintings and script in detail. Enlarging them on my screen has enabled me to really appreciate the tiniest of marks and delicacy of colours … Wonderfully inspiring work by all . I’m off to Sussex for a few days I hope there’ll be a few treasures for me , not as exciting as *yabby claws though I’m sure !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure we will continue Elena, maybe in a different form, but I don’t think any of us want to end just yet – we have all been surprised and inspired by working together like this. Thank you so much for your comment.


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