Thursday, 15 December 2016

Snow gum forest

The New England region of New South Wales, Australia, is high country at 1,000 metres above sea level. Here you can find forests of eucalypt trees such as snow gums. Near Bendemeer is a huge area of eucalypts whose iridescent trunks reflect gold of the early evening light. Their shapes are gnarled - no two trees the same shape. They grow wild and to their own, individual form.

The image below is a painting in gouache, where I depicted these forests in their beautiful depths.

Eucalypt Forest by Alisa Perks, gouache painting
Eucalypt Forest by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Painting a cathedral

Dear Readers

I hope you are well.

The image below shows a painting of a cathedral in Armidale, New South Wales (Australia), which I completed a couple of years ago. The fancy brickwork of this building was really challenging to depict, and took all my concentration! It was fun to do, though....
Cathedral in Armidale, NSW by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Rainbow Cake

I'd like to try and make a rainbow cake. They look so beautiful! It might have purple icing, like the one I've illustrated below. That would complete the spectrum.  This picture is actually a snipped-out detail of an illustration I painted for a storybook character I invented earlier this year, who is a bit of a gourmand and adventurer.

Rainbow Cake by Alisa Perks, gouache on paper
Rainbow Cake by Alisa Perks, gouache on paper.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

To Canberra

A road trip to Canberra was the inspiration for this image below, which I painted in gouache on paper. It documents winding mountain roads, meals and accommodation, the car, things we saw on the way. I wanted it to look like computer icons, as if you could press one to get more information.

It's fun to try and get the gouache to portray other substances and surfaces, like computer screens or even sometimes, biscuits! But more about that another time...

To Canberra by Alisa Perks, gouache on paper.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Motel Carpark

Dear Readers

Here's more evidence of my fascination with motels. This is a motel we've stayed at numerous times, although we don't need to now, because we moved to the town where this motel is. 
Motel 1 by Alisa Perks, gouache painting on paper
Motel 1 by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.
The owner of this painting said, "This painting tells me all I need to know about motel carparks".

Thursday, 1 September 2016

That reminds me...

I must clean the bathroom!

Bathroom by Alisa Perks. Gouache painting
Bathroom by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.
This was our bathroom in a house we rented in Lismore. How glamorous.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Woollen cakes in Queensland

Our recent travels in the "South Western Area of South East Queensland Western Country" (I think that's what it's called?), were incredibly interesting.

At Jondaryan Woolshed, the biggest working woolshed in the world, I found a glass cabinet full of knitted wool cakes and sandwiches. What a delight! They are so beautifully made.

Here are some of them:
Woollen cakes at Jondaryan Woolshed. Photo by Alisa Perks
Yummy woollen cakes and sandwiches at Jondaryan Woolshed, Jondaryan, Queensland
And we searched for the ghost town at Koorongara, south of Milmerran, but couldn't find it. It remains a mystery to us.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Shortlisted and lamingtons

Dear Readers

I have just been shortlisted for the inaugural New England Illustration Prize. This competition is held by the New England Writers' Centre, in Armidale NSW. As well as encouraging and supporting writers, the Writers' Centre have begun to encourage illustrators with their practice. 

The shortlisted and prize-winning illustrations are on show at Gallery 126, Jessie Street Armidale until 18 July 2016.

Entrants to the competition were asked to create an illustration inspired by a poem by Sophie Masson.

The Writers' Centre intend to hold this competition every year, so that's very exciting for illustrators!

A lot of my paintings seem to contain buildings or food (shades of Talking Heads?). I created the image below while thinking of Lamington National Park, in Queensland. It was a finalist in the Country Energy Landscape Painting Prize in 2014.
Lamington National Park by Alisa Perks, gouache on paper
Lamington National Park by Alisa Perks, gouache on paper.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Road trip

South East Queensland is the place we will explore in our next road trip: Toowoomba, Dalby, Chinchilla, Pittsworth, St George and more. There will be so much to see and we have no idea where we will head each day, as we don't know what we'll find. It's impossible for us to map out a trip completely when we don't know the area, so we will play it by ear.

Here is a car travelling through the night on the New England Highway in New South Wales:
Highway by Alisa Perks Gouache painting
Highway by Alisa Perks. Gouache painting.

Saturday, 4 June 2016


Dear Readers

I'm working on a project that is kind of secret at the moment. The unveiling time has not yet arrived, but below is a detail/hint of it. It involves fun and big hats.

I hope you are all well.

Train ride detail, gouache painting by Alisa Perks
Train Ride detail, gouache painting on paper by Alisa Perks 2016.

Saturday, 21 May 2016


Eucalyptus trees grow in unpredictable forms. The snow gum grows in twisted, tortured shapes. In the New England region of New South Wales, where I live, the high country eucalypts (gum trees) such as snow gums have a haunting beauty. They often have sheeny, silver trunks and branches and silvery grey-blue leaves. 

When I lived on the coast, I didn't recognise the beauty of eucalypts. There, they often grow very close together so they don't get to show off their shape like a specimen tree. I now see their beauty and their subtle grandeur.

I painted the image below inspired by rows of eucalypts bordering high-altitude paddocks; their colour becoming softer with greater distance.

Trees by Alisa Perks, gouache painting on paper
Trees by Alisa Perks, gouache painting on paper.

Saturday, 16 April 2016


Hello Readers

Some of my art is for the purpose of illustrating books or CD covers, and some of it gets projected behind plays on stage, which is very exciting.

The illustration below shows the cover design I did for a CD of the musical, "Everest, the Musical". This piece of musical theatre, by Robert Thompson, is a fabulous comedy containing "romance, danger, ice and snow". A deadly combination indeed. In this cover design, Marmaduke, the hero, finally locates Mount Everest after much journeying and trudging alongside his faithful companion, Godfrey.

Marmaduke Finds Everest, by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper
Image: Marmaduke Finds Everest by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.
PS Right now, I am working on a book with pictures and not much writing, and I'll show you more about it when the time comes. Mysterious.......

Friday, 8 April 2016

New look for Ultimo, Sydney

Recently, I visited Ultimo, an inner city suburb of Sydney, NSW. Ultimo is situated just next to Sydney's CBD and near Chinatown and used to be a fairly industrialised area. It wasn't the kind of place you'd take a leisurely stroll.

It's also the site of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), which seems to have developed an excitingly futuristic approach to the new architecture being created in this precinct.

Now people, including many UTS students and staff, can walk around newly created pedestrian ways where once would have been goods rail lines and factories. There are hole-in-the-wall cafes, sculptures and public spaces where people can relax and socialise.

UTS commissioned the architect, Frank Gehry, to design one of its buildings, the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, which houses its Faculty of Business. This building is an amazing brick structure that looks like it's been crumpled up like a milk carton. It reminds me of Antoni Gaudi's free-form, curvy architecture and I think it's fascinating!

Here is a photo I took of it on my phone, also showing the old goods railway bridge in the foreground.
Dr Chau Chak Wing Building by Frank Gehry, UTS Ultimo
Image: Dr Chau Chak Wing Building designed by Frank Gehry, UTS Sydney.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Harrington Waters

I put in an order to Vistaprint recently for a t-shirt with one of my paintings on it. They do such a great job of printing. The colour quality is amazing and I can't wait to receive my new shirt. (This is not an paid endorsement. This is unsolicited praise!)

The painting I've put on the t-shirt is called "Harrington Waters". Harrington Waters is a housing estate on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales. The land was claimed out of the living mangroves and now has large houses perched on it, each guarded by a standard large dog. The estate is near the original village of Harrington, which is charming and which provides some of the best fish and chips I've ever had. Just north of Harrington is Crowdy Head, whose Santorini-style lighthouse features in some of my artwork.

Here is my painting of Harrington Waters, soon to be star of t-shirt:
Image: Harrington Waters by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper,

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Seminar for "creatives"

Hi Readers

Today I went along to a seminar for "creatives", to a talk about helping artists to be in business. It was very entertaining and I came away feeling more free and inspired than even before! There were lamingtons, too.

A point that the speaker, Monica Davidson, made to us was that it's OK to do artistic things to attempt to make a living. The arts are an increasingly popular occupation in many countries, and it deserves respect.

The high unemployment of the last 20 years had made me think that there's no such thing as a "safe" job any more; something to "fall back on". Who wants to fall back anyway, if you can possibly avoid it?

Surviving: I work one day a week as an admin assistant and that keeps the wolf from the door, as we live very cheaply at home. I make lots of the things we need for our home - food, household things, clothing. That saves us money. The less money you need, the less you need to work.

Today's seminar was run by Arts North West, who are active in encouraging arts practitioners from our region of New South Wales. Thanks to them and to Monica for today!

Green Irises by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper
Image: Green Irises detail, by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Yarrie Lake

Dear Readers

Yarrie Lake is a magical place near Narrabri and Wee Waa, in New South Wales. It was a chance discovery for us a few years ago. We had just visited the CSIRO Australia Telescope near there (see Blog Post #1) and saw an interesting blue dot on the map which needed investigating.

Yarrie Lake is like the beach but inland; a large, round lake fringed with casuarina trees, beaches and picnic shelters. The belief is that the lake is an old meteor crater.  All we could hear there was the sighing of the breeze through the casuarinas. 

The lake is not always there though. During drought it can disappear, but it comes back when the rain does. It's a beautiful swimming place. I painted the image below from my memories of Yarrie Lake:
Yarrie Lake by Alisa Perks, Gouache on paper
Image: Yarrie Lake by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Motels and hotels

We were staying at a small hotel in Sydney recently. Some of the guests seemed to have strange nocturnal habits. Lying in bed in the early hours of the morning, I was trying to figure out what on earth people could possibly be doing, by piecing together all the noises they were making. I worked out that a young couple staying there were in the habit of taking their pet goose for a drive every two hours throughout the night.

It was incredibly humid in Sydney, as is fairly typical of February. It's always interesting though. We checked out Kinokuniya Bookshop in the city. They have a huge range of art books and great air-conditioning. I bought a book full of Art Nouveau patterns.

Motels are on my mind again as an idea for creating images. I've just finished a repeat pattern painting of motels, inspired by kimono fabrics. The image below shows another of my motel paintings:
The Citysider, gouache painting by Alisa Perks
Image: The Citysider by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.
PS. Check out this link to the Australian Bookplate Design Awards for 2015. My two entries are shown among many other fine bookplates. There were hundreds of entries for this popular competition. One of my entries shown on the site appears in an earlier blog post, and the other features a gentleman wearing a panama hat and trying to read amid cement mixers and barking dogs.

Saturday, 6 February 2016


I recently had the pleasure of receiving a Special Recognition award for my entry in the Painting section of the "Cityscapes" art competition, at the online art gallery, Light Space & Time. You can click here to view all the entries which received recognition in this competition.

For the "Cityscapes" theme, I chose the image below; a painting of my impression of one of the main carparks in our city. I was learning to drive when I painted this image, and I was beset by the idea of being trapped among all the concrete kerbing that interlaces carparks.
Carpark by Alisa Perks
Image: "Carpark", by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.

Friday, 22 January 2016


I love to do paintings of motels. I’ve stayed in lots of motels. The look of them is fascinating, with the carpark and the long, low rows of rooms.
You know it’s a special motel when they give you those little packets of biscuits in your room. And if you’re really lucky, you get a couple of sachets of hot chocolate mix among the tea and coffee makings.
As long as it's a quiet room with a comfortable bed.
The motel below was interesting, because it had a kind of tunnel you drive through to get to the carpark and the rooms.
Motel 3 by Alisa Perks
Image: Motel 3 by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New buildings and concrete

Hello and I hope your 2016 is good so far!

They're doing a lot of building nearby, with lots of concrete. There's a new supermarket being built, for a "Smarter Shopping" experience. We've already got several supermarkets, so this must be the cluster theory in action.

Down the road are these townhouses (pictured), built a few years ago. You can probably see the driveway from space; it's very white and expansive:
Image: Three Townhouses by Alisa Perks. Gouache on paper.
PS Mr Biscuit was born yesterday (literally). But more about that later.