The Kimberley in July

For almost 20 years we have travelled through Australia, top to bottom, all around and through the middle. To the wild and remote places that most people never go. On every journey I take a sketchbook, waterproof pens and a travel watercolour set and I document our journey, in words and in drawings. The drawings are mostly of the objects I find, feathers, shells, leaves, bones, occasionally a bit of landscape. I take photos too, but it is the sketchbooks that really keep the memories fresh.

The drawings are also a resource for works that I create later. I redraw loosely from my original drawings, sometimes altering them a little to suit my new purposes, but the essence remains. My present project is using drawings from a 2009 trip that went up through the centre of Australia, through the Kimberley, down the Western Australia coast and home to New South Wales via the Nullarbor Plain between July and September.

I cut sheets of watercolour paper to postcard-sized rectangles 150 x 105 mm and started, choosing images that worked with the shape, and adding the handwritten notes that I put in my sketchbook. The intention is to make these into a book, possibly a concertina that will show the progression of images, but that will evolve later. I’m not sure how many drawing I will do either … so far I have completed 6 and one is in its pen and ink stage, before I add the colour. I have included it to show how they begin.


Author: anna warren portfolio

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

29 thoughts

  1. Anna, these are beautiful. I love that you capture nature in its authentic state. The butterfly that was caught in the car’s radiator….made me sad at first…until I realized you’d memorialized this beautiful creature with your talented artwork.

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    1. That’s a lovely way of putting it, ‘memorialized’. In some ways I find the broken butterflies more interesting to draw, I can’t imagine sitting down and drawing a perfect one! The car radiator is actually a great resource for my subject matter, there are so many other insects caught there. I do feel sad for them, even now, but appreciate their sacrifice!


  2. I always appreciate how you can see the wonder, and find inspiration in, what most of us (including me) take for granted. Your drawings have such confidence. You allow them free rein (they are never tight) and yet each page always has such a strong sense of design. You have that thing – FLARE.

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    1. Ah thank you Julie – that’s a very nice thing to say! Its funny, isn’t it, just what attracts the attention of an artist. For me, it is those odd little things that at first sight have no beauty to them, but to me there is something there … as I said in a reply above, I have no interest in drawing a butterfly in its perfect state, maybe because it IS already a work of art, and I can add nothing to its beauty, but I can (maybe) draw something out of the broken or crumpled things.

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  3. These are lovely Anna! My memories of Kununurra’s nature are quite different, as is to be expected, but I didn’t photograph enough. The pictures are firmly entrenched in my mind, like a good movie. Baobab trees and nuts, mango trees and mango hanging off them, Hidden Valley and its beauty, looking out past Kelly’s Knob into the distance, and the smell of the warm sea of the Devonian stone I sat on at Hidden Valley for my daily meditation in the early morning, the striated geology and colours therein, pretty colourful finches that visited me each day for their drink and snack, watching the daily mid-afternoon sound and light show (the rolling clouds and lightning) and so on.

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    1. We didn’t spend as long in Kununurra as I would have liked, it was a couple of days to collect supplies and fuel before we headed off along the Gibb River Road, but I loved the atmosphere of the town. When we were there it was NAIDOC week, so music everywhere. The Kimberley region is SO different from the southern parts of Australia, it could be another country. The birds and the colour of the rocks and dirt always stay with me. I don’t draw the ‘big’ picture generally although I do have a few landscape drawings, but won’t include them in this as they don’t fit what I’m trying to do here. I hanker to return there, but it probably won’t be for a while, so I have to be sustained by memories. Thanks Janina!


  4. Beautiful illustrations. I usually limit my travel sketching to architectural details and landscapes, but I love your idea of capturing bits of nature and the specificity of where you found them. Looking forward to what this project will eventually become.


    1. This is something I have been doing for quite a few years now, I have sketchbooks that are also diaries from all my big camping trips around Australia (I have a page of them if you would like to see more!). I document the travels with photos as well, but it is the sketches that really root me in where I was when I did them. Making other artworks based on the sketchbook drawings extends the life of the trips, bringing them back into my memory when I am no longer out there. Other parts of life have prevented any big travels for a while, so I am eager to get back out into the bush again.

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      1. I would love to see more! I only recently started sketching on my travels as a way to be more mindful. It’s helped me be more observant of my surroundings. I like this idea of “rooting” yourself in a place through your illustrations.

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        1. The act of sitting down and observing your surroundings in order to sketch seems to trigger the memory parts of the brain, I find I remember a lot of detail – the weather, the location, other sensations – from places where I have done drawings. To see more of the detail of a long camping trip in Australia go to the posts from the end of July through to November 2015, I called it ‘100 days Under Canvas’, and I think there are about 6 instalments, as well as just images from the sketchbooks on the Sketchbooks page (link at the top). I’m just about to do a post that continues the set of drawings detailed in this post.

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