I Give You The Sketch – The Last 31 Days

Hello December! 

Good morning Summer! 

Who knew that when I decided hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS of days ago that I wanted to draw every day in 2016, that I’d actually do it? Not me, that’s for sure. 

Yesterday was day 335 of my #IGYTsketch adventure, and with 31 sketches left to create, I’m pleased as punch (why not Judy?) that I’ve continued to put pen or brush to paper for 11 months straight. Well, almost… I have missed days, and played catch up – which is silly, because actually there are no creativity police out there! 

The point is, I’ve kept going, not because I have to, but because creating has become part of my life. It makes me happy, relaxes and challenges me and puts me in touch with something bigger than myself. Art opens me up. 

I have had great ideas that I couldn’t quite pull off, and drawn more leaves than you could poke a stick at in a deciduous wood. I’ve drawn by the beach, at work, at home, in bed, in cafes, anywhere I’ve found myself. 

It’s all very Jack Dawson a la Titanic – I have air in my lungs, a pencil, a scrap of paper and now I’m here with you fine folks! 

Let’s take a little screenshot trip down memory lane, shall we? I posted all my sketches on Instagram, using the natty hashie #IGYTsketch, which I modified to include the month. 







To kick the year off, I sketched along with one of my now favourite artists and illustrators, Lisa Congdon. 

Lisa taught a month long class online through CreativeBug, and it was a great way to find my feet with the daily habit of creating. Love, love, loved watching her videos and seeing how my brain and hand translated what she drew. 

I think the absolute BEST thing about drawing 335 pictures (so far) and posting them online this year has been the way that’s connected me with other artists. I have met so many sensationally talented, lovely people through creating, it’s really helped me feel like part of something bigger, even though I’ve spent most of this year at home by myself. 

I bang on about people’s generosity and kindness a lot on this blog – I know – but it’s because that’s my experience of life online and off. Whether I’m writing or sharing art, people are overwhelmingly kind and encouraging. That’s RAD. 

Thank you so much people of the interweb. I have needed you this year and you’ve been here for me. 

I hope I’ve returned the kindnesses I’ve received, in some small way. 

Let’s continue our screenshot tour through the past five months, shall we? 






When I look through these snapshots of each month, I remember lots of the days I drew these things – flowers and abstracts, huts and shells and things from the IKEA catalogue, and SO many leaves, and I feel so damn grateful that I signed up for that little online creativity course Inspiration Information, I think back in July 2014. 

I had NO IDEA where that one decision could lead me. No idea whatsoever. I believed wholeheartedly that I could not draw when I started that course. I was wrong! 

Hmmm, seems to me that I need that reminder right now, and maybe you do too. 

We don’t know what’s ahead of us. No matter how much we plan or make New Year’s resolutions or how secure we feel in the world, we just don’t know what’s next. And the limits we put on ourselves, sometimes they’re total bullshit. 

That one decision, to sign up to a course that I think cost me $50, has altered my life. I was going to write, altered my creative life, but I don’t think it’s right to rope it off, to put one aspect of who I am over there, sectioned off from the other parts of me. 

With 31 days left of 2016, I plan to keep giving you the sketch. I hope you’ll see something that makes you smile or triggers a memory or brightens your day. 

I have made myself happy on crap days by picking up a pen and sketch book. I’ve looked up more than I ever have and seen more than I ever knew was around me, and within me this year, thanks to drawing and painting. 

Not bad for a girl who spent 40+ years thinking she wasn’t artistic. 

I wonder what you’re wrong about as far as your talents and capabilities. I know this, you’ll never know until you have a crack. 

Got air in your lungs? Got a pencil and a scrap of paper? 

You know what to do next.  

As Jack said, make it count. 

Much love to you, 

Annette xx 


Here’s my favourite sketch of the year, little me, drawn from one of my first memories. 



Guest Post by Rachel Cox: Grace Lessons

I’m thrilled to share the first ever guest post on I Give You The Verbs with you today, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to kick it off than my good friend Rachel of The Chronic-ills of Rach.

I met Rachel through Blog With Pip and we struck up an instant friendship.

Rachel writes from a room with a gorgeous view in Auckland, New Zealand. She is a generous friend, a  great conversationalist, a teacher by trade, a burgeoning supermodel, and a loving mum and wife. Rachel has a neurological condition called Dysautonomia, and her blog helps me understand the impact an invisible illness can have on a person’s life. Rach is, of course, more than all the labels we apply upon introducing a friend, and you can get to know her in all her multifaceted glory on her blog, The Chronic-ills of Rach. I urge you to check out her skilful, soulful blogging style.

I gave Rachel the keys to I Give You The Verbs, and asked her to write whatever she wanted to, and I’m delighted and touched by her words.

I’m sure you will be too. Let us know what you think in the comments. 


I was a student teacher, embarking on my first ever classroom placement. For three weeks I’d be at a little school not far from my home, nestled among the gumtrees in a genteel corner of Sydney.

The class was Year One and from the moment I sat in the story chair and felt all their gazes turn to me, I knew I had found a career I could love. I stared back into each of their faces; hopeful, open, curious faces. I was about to introduce myself and settle into a story when I saw her, over to the side, mousey hair falling over her scowl. A tiny thing, unlike all the others. Troubled. I made a mental note to find out more about her at morning tea time.

Her name was Grace.

Her teacher kept it simple. She explained that Grace had endured traumas in her young life that made her decide not to talk anymore. It is a powerful psychological response to trauma that is rooted in a deep seated need to protect oneself. It’s called elective mutism.

As Grace went most afternoons to be with an art therapist over in the atelier, I only saw her in the mornings. In just the short time I had with her, I learnt a lot about communicating with non-verbal students – lessons I have used often over my years of teaching.

I enjoyed being with her and I recognised that it wasn’t ideal for her to have a student teacher disrupting her routine. Trust is not easy to come by when your little life has already held too much for you to bear. But her little face on that first day had pulled me in. I didn’t want to stress her with my presence, but I did want her to feel my heart for her.

Every chance I got, I drew pictures with Grace. Pictures to make her smile. Pictures only half finished, that she would finish for me. Funny faces and pretty flowers, progressive pictures, built up, turn by turn, by both of us. A squiggle from me and once, a little giggle from her. It was our quiet and tentative connection. I didn’t know how else to connect, but I knew she loved going to art therapy. So that is what we did.

On my last day we had a shared farewell lunch. All the sausage rolls and chocolate crackles had been demolished. The plastic cups were stacked by the sink. We had some music playing and the kids were dancing and singing as they helped clear up the classroom. I was standing off to the side talking to the teacher when I felt it. A little flutter at my elbow. It was Grace. Eyes down, she held up her little hand. There was a piece of paper in it.

‘Is this for me?’ I asked.

A barely perceptible nod. ‘Thank you so much ‘, I breathed as I accepted the folded paper from her hand.

It seemed an extraordinary gift from a little girl who didn’t like to connect. As I opened it, she ran away.


Inside the folds of paper was a tiny picture of a little bird. The bird had a speech bubble stretching out from its mouth, and inside it, Grace had carefully written, thank you. I looked for her, but she was studiously avoiding any eye contact. She sat curled up, knees to her chest, plucking at the threads on the carpet. Then the bell went and all the children ran off home, to the rest of their lives. Before I left for the rest of mine, I drew her a little picture reply. tucking it into her desk for her to find the next day.

I caught up with her teacher years later. She told me that Grace had become verbal before that year was out, due to the wonderful work of her art therapist. I was so pleased to know that little bird had found her voice again. And not at all surprised that the key to finding it was through art.


Art has a kind of magic to it. You need to indulge yourself in the artistic process to truly understand what I mean. If you have, you’ll be nodding. If you haven’t, I warmly suggest you give it a go. No matter what your circumstances, art will meet you at your own level of experience and draw you into something beyond yourself. Something beautiful.

I have adored watching Annette’s passion for painting and creating grow on this blog. Have you? The joy of her work speaks volumes to me. It is a beautiful expression of her enthusiasm for life, the colour and warmth of her nature and her capacity for embracing the now. I can’t wait to see each new piece hanging up for display. To feel the enthusiasm in her words as she describes her perfect day. Have you noticed how often that includes paint?

My mother was a painter. She used to say to me that everyone could be an artist if they wanted to be. Anyone. It’s just about practise and technique.

When I was a small girl we’d go adventuring into the foothills around Christchurch in her tiny Morris Minor. I loved the smell of the linseed oil and paints in her paintbox. The rituals of setting up the easel, squirting out those magnificent colours, named as though they themselves were kings and queens of the spectrum – burnt umber, vermillion, cerise, chartreuse. And then, the hours of seeing her art become something on the canvas board, my own sketchbook and crayons frequently abandoned so I could just gaze at the palette knife in her confident slender fingers. Scraping and moving the colours into blended images of clouds and rocks, trees and sky.


Art making was our meditation. Our silent connection. Our therapy and our reward.

Recently I thought it might be time to pick up a paintbrush again. My mum is no longer with us, but I know she would approve of this timeless way to find solace and meaning in the midst of swirling colours. I might even find her again, in the art of making. Or maybe, I’ll find a little bird. Some Grace.

Recently I read this article about the seven psychological functions of art. It’s a good read and a timely justification for giving art a go again.

What’s your therapy?

To read more of Rachel’s beautiful writings, follow her blog, her Facebook page or check her out on Instagram.

A meet-up at the NGV

Good morning fair blog readers. 

Yesterday I went on a little adventure and so, good blogger that I am. I shall now regale you with the tale. 

It was a freezing cold morning in Melbourne town, the temperature had dipped below zero, and yet, when my alarm went off, I gladly threw back the covers and readied myself for an outing. 

What force could draw me from my cosy, cosy bed, out into the frosty morning light? 

A meet-up! I was off to meet some of the people I’d done an online course with precisely one year ago. 

You won’t be shocked to hear that the course was facilitated by author, blogger, maker, doer and be-er (may not be an actual word) of all things crafty and ace, Pip Lincolne.  This course was called Inspiration Information and it was a month long adventure into unlocking your creativity. 

We created collages, we painted, we used pastels and pencils, we read books and watched documentaries and discovered old crochet projects. We created little studios on our dining room tables or in the living room. We talked about loads of creative people, from Patti Smith to Sister Mary Corita. 

It really was inspiring and informative, every single time I logged in to the course, I was encouraged to try something new, and to disregard my inner critic’s sly words about things being childlike or wrong or not very good. Creativity is good, in and of itself. That’s what sticks with me. 

We chose the NGV for our meeting place, which turned out to be absolutely perfect. Where better for a group of people who met exploring creativity, than the National Gallery of Victoria? 

Tables were snagged, hugs were exchanged and we spent a couple of hours getting to know each other, face to face. Deanna organised the day, and she, Carolyn, Emily, Karen and I had a ball. 

We talked about creativity, about books, about Pip (the general consensus being, we are PRO-PIP!), we talked about our families, kids, parents and parenting. 

We talked about literary speed dating (who knew that was a thing?) and making space for creative pursuits. 

We talked about drawing and dealing with cranky people, the tyranny of housework and being consumed by the mundane. I believe I uttered this decree: “Fuck skirting boards!”. 

We talked about how creativity is part of our everyday lives. 

The BEST part of the morning was how easy it was. We already knew each other from the online classroom and our Facebook group, but it was wonderful to translate that to chatting over coffees and chai teas. 

As we sat chatting, I looked around at the interesting, diversely experienced women I was with, and thought about how enriched I am by the time I spend tap-tap-tapping on Facebook or here on the blog. To sign up to an online course about creativity may seem strange, but I think the old adage is true – you get out what you put in. 

I am certain that each of us would say that Inspiration Information gave us amazing gifts. I wish I’d asked everyone that question now. Oh, why don’t I? Hey, if you read this girls, tell us what II meant to you in the comments please. 

Inspiration Information Gals – Deanna, Carolyn, Emily, moi, Karen. 

As we hugged and planned our next catch up, I decided to explore the gallery, as I hadn’t visited for a few years. 


If you’re in Victoria, or visiting, you must come. There’s so much inspiration and beauty, and diversity in the NGV collection. 

Here are some of the works that caught my eye. 

The Swamp (no. 2) by Brent Harris


Ste Sebastienne by Louise Bourgeois


I call this one Felt UFO

Queen Victoria

Light play

NGV lines and light

18th & 19th century paintings

I lingered for a while in this space, it really is something to sit in front of a wall if works painted hundreds of years ago. 

The victory of faith – st George Hare c 1890

Oh, these ladies are exquisite. 

Falls of Schaffhausen – J.W.M. Turner

This Turner stopped me in my tracks, I actually turned around and came back to it… so, so beautiful. The photo does it very little justice. So much happening in the colours and brush strokes.   

This was painted in 1845. Yesterday, 170 years later, it caught my eye as I passed it and drew me in.  

That’s nothing sort of incredible.  

The moral of the story here… create, you never know where it might lead you, or who will be drawn in by it 170 years from now. 

Oh, and make friends on the web, it’s great! 


Annette x