Posted by: Julie Duell | September 25, 2011




If you would like FREE ART LESSONS covering different mediums, techniques & subjects, you have come to the right place!   I hope you find them useful.  

With my compliments!      Julie Duell … Australian Artist


1. To find the FREE ART LESSONS  …  GO TO CATEGORIES SIDE COLUMN & CLICK ON  YOUR CHOICE  OF SUBJECT.  You may need to then click on the red heading to fully open each page.


You may also like to check out Julie’s free companion site to this one,  for teachers, parents and children.

Copyright:  All work created by Julie Duell is subject to copyright protection.  Whilst this site may be viewed without charge, permission to reproduce contents should be sought via

Disclaimer:  Please note that the information provided in this site is shared with the best intent from my own personal experience and not to be taken as undisputed fact.  It is up to us all to discover our own reality but I hope to help open up that journey for others.   Julie Duell

Stop-press!    For an overview of Julie Duell’s own artistic work, visit



Do you want to talk ethics with children and don’t quite know how to start?   New book ‘Fabulous Aussie Fables’ can help. It presents 29 short fables, ancient and new, told in modern language and illustrated with Australian animals.

Wise old Oracle Owl summarises each fable and then asks “What do you think?” – an ideal way to open up topics for discussion.   Here is a glimpse of the many illustrations:  

“Fabulous Aussie Fables” is available online in total, as a free e-book on



  “SOMETHIN’ FISHY”  Written and illustrated by Julie Duell – Tales of  lovable Aussie larrikin, John Duell, Naturalist (1935/1996).   Features many adventurous/humorous stories of the early days living on the Bouddi Peninsular of the NSW Central Coast.

“Somethin’ Fishy” is now available as a free eBook…


Please use this box for comments …

SAM_2791  OTHER SITES BY JULIE DUELL:   A free creative site for children, parents and teachers. Stories of an Aussie larrikin – adventurous & humorous.  A free eBook! – the life and times of Julie’s great-grandparents in Cooktown, Queensland in the 1800s.  “Grandpa’s Box!”  A good read about some of our Aussie pioneers in 1800s set in Hill End, Clarence River, Woolgoolga, Cooktown and Palmer River, Nth. Qld.  Fiction based on fact. for an overview of Julie’s many avenues of creative pursuits.

Posted by: Julie Duell | January 2, 2016

2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 82,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: Julie Duell | February 21, 2015


Aligned closely with visual pictures are the realms of short stories, treasured memories and poetry.   These can be married to art through background imagery or stronger illustration.  In the interest of sharing, here are a few of mine which might inspire you to try this if you haven’t already:

The Pittosporum tree






When I was just 3 years old back in 1944 I went for a walk with my parents beside a small creek in Sassafras Gully near Springwood in the Blue Mountains where we lived.  My mother sent me on ahead to search for fairies.  After skipping along for a while I came across the most beautiful sparkling white fairy standing under a fern frond!  I have just painted my memory of how she looked to me…

My first fairy

She was of course, a fairy doll my mother had planted there for me to find but I didn’t know that then.  Some time later I recall being devastated when my fairy’s lovely porcelain head broke.  Mum took it away and brought back my fairy with a Mountain Devil seedpod head instead!

I was so horrified, I remember saying to her “Mummy! I will never forgive you!”   Oh dear – well I WAS only 3 and have apologised many times since!

______________________________Julie Duell c.2015


Posted by: Julie Duell | December 30, 2014

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 74,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: Julie Duell | July 2, 2014


artist-with-fabulous-roos.jpg   Beginnings: Julie Duell (nee Henderson) is a 6th generation Australian going back to the First Fleet of English convicts to arrive in Sydney cove in 1788.  She also has a lineage from English free settlers plus a drop of American Shoshone Indian heritage for good measure!  Julie was born in Hurstville, Sydney, NSW on 9th July, 1941 and continued to reside in Sydney environs thereafter.  She was named after the month of her birth, July.

Julie’s parents were both musical, artistic and encouraging of creativity – so within the environment of a solitary childhood in the bush, she flourished. Over many prolific artistic years, Julie has painted under the names Julie Ferguson and J. Ferguson-Duell before simply signing her works Julie Duell. As a child, she studied art at St.George Technical College, Kogarah along with taking private lessons in singing.

Adult years saw Julie resume her art studies, once again at St.George Technical College and then numerous short courses on the Central Coast, where – along with raising a family – she has been a prolific practising artist and art teacher since moving there in 1967 from Gymea/Cronulla regions. Inspiration:  Nature, children, a fascination for human form, body language, illustration and portraiture.  Also a deep passion for Australiana through the fairy realm.

Mediums of expression:  Painting & drawing in charcoal, oils, pastels, inks, watercolour and acrylics – with many works executed in mixed media. Julie’s book creations feature fairies in the form of Sprites, representing the spirit of the unique Australian bushland and are rich with full colour illustrations, rhymes and an adventure story.  Julie has also manifested the Sprites in clay and resin models, animated stories, art jewellery pendants and plays for children. Among a number of awards over the years, Julie’s first book “Bush Sprites of Australia” (a hand-made limited edition made over 1600 hours) attracted special recognition in the form of an award from the Riso Educational Foundation of Japan in 1985, along with 3rd prize in an International Postcard Competition that year. Riso delegates travelled to Australia for this special presentation.  Julie later self-published a further version of “Bush Sprites of Australia”, along with  “Forest Sprites of Australia” and  “Joy & the Bush Sprites”, all of which are available direct from Julie.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Promo sheet copy Keen to share her love of the bush with children, Julie then wrote 2 environmental plays, making all the costumes and props in her home studio.  Aided by partner Tony, Julie presented “Friends of the Bush” in 5  Central Coast schools with Kindergarten to Year 3 children in 2006/7. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA  KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Friends of the Bush - play 010KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA In  2006  Julie wrote and illustrated “Somethin’ Fishy” – a tribute to her late husband, John Duell, an avid Naturalist.  The book was launched at MacMasters Beach where she and John lived for 20 years together and all proceeds were donated to Waterfall Springs Wildlife Sanctuary at Kulnura to help save endangered wallabies. Image2 copy In 2008 Julie won 1st prize in the non indigenous section of the Reconciliation Week Aboriginal Artists Art Exhibition & Competition with her painting “Dreamscape 1”. images In 2010, she won 1st prize in the Rotary of Umina Portrait Prize for her portrait of partner, Tony La Spina (ex High School & TAFE art/ceramics teacher from Coffs Harbour.) KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA   In 2014  Julie won 1st – Open Section Award in the Margaret Smith Memorial Art Prize at the Gosford Regional Show for her painting “Flamenco”: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Teaching:    Over 40+ years, Julie has taught art on the Central Coast. Firstly at adult evening college for Dept. of Education, numerous plrivate classes at her MacMasters Beach Seagal Studio and workshops for local Art Societies.   She instigated the Central Coast Art Society’s Childrens classes in the 1980s and designed the CCAS logo. Around 2005 Julie combined with her partner, Tony La Spina in art teaching plursuits for Kincumber Community College and Art Society workshops. Now retired, but busier than ever, Julie enjoys taking occasional workshops and teaching online through her websites.

Websites:  Since 2002 Julie has enjoyed much world-wide interaction through her websites: which offers a large range of free art lessons and a personal gallery of artwork.  is a creative site she has designed for children, parents and teachers.  This site often enjoys first rating in the Art category listings on “Kids Websites”.  Along with art tuition Julie has created a number of interactive games and animated educational stories on this site, including ones featuring her many Sprite characters.  The stories are graded for non readers/first readers/more advanced.   showcases a beautiful range of pendants for sale, featuring Julie’s artwork.  The 3 Sprite books are well represented on  Single card image

Singing has been a constant for Julie, especially since 1997 when she has enjoyed vocal solos and group singing/acting.  Here are a couple of short video clips …

Posted by: Julie Duell | December 10, 2013


I am delighted to present below the results of a children’s animation project conducted with Grade 3/4, Vernon Elementary School, Vernon, B.C. Canada 2013.   Stemming from the initiative of teacher Candice Young, 23 children created action drawings to send to me to animate.   

I wish to thank Candice for this interaction, which was so enjoyable by all.  I also wish to thank you, the children, who put so much care and imagination into your drawings.  I hope you will be inspired in the future to learn more about the wonderful creative world of illustration, cartooning & animation.

I am showing each animation in slow and faster speeds, so that you can see each change in movement and how they become smoother as they are sped up.   All of these animations are set on a “loop” which means they repeat the action over and over. Names and ages of the children are shown before each picture:

Aisha, 8



Alyssa 8 



Emma M 8



Candice 8



Lucjan 8



Stephanie 9



Andre 8



Coda 8



Colby 8



Drew 8



Jordan 8



Josh 8



Kairi 8



Kennedy 8



Kieran 8



Vandam 11 



Paris 8



Lucjan 8



Marek 8



Rory 9



Emma H  8



Steven 8



Trista 8



Wonderful work everyone!  Congratulations! Here is my animation for you!  Julie



Posted by: Julie Duell | July 29, 2013


The following YouTubes are distributed throughout the categories where they support other information – however in case you prefer to learn solely from visual demonstrations in action, I have grouped them here together for you. Happy viewing!  Julie

This one is for kids, but grownups can have fun with it too!

This is one for the children – to help them learn basic colour mixing:

Posted by: Julie Duell | November 24, 2009


I would be very happy if anyone involved in Home Schooling could make use of the tuition on this website.  Please get in touch if I can help further. 

Through this website I have been privileged to come into contact with many people and groups throughout the world.  Here for your interest, is one such group, extending our insight into various approaches to art teaching…  Julie


We are a group of home school students meeting for drawing and painting classes in Littleton, Colorado. We meet three times each month and our classes are two hours long. We take a break after one hour and have a snack. Our class is broken into two groups based on age. We have a teacher for each group. We begin each class with a prayer and devotion that is tied to the lesson we are teaching that day. For example, when we learned about perspective we talked about what a world view is and what a Christian world view looks like compared to other world views.

The younger students are learning about elements of design such as line, shape, color, texture, and value. They have been using activities from a book called “How to Teach Art to Children”, published by Evan-Moor. A few of the activities they have worked on include wonderful line quilts and pin wheels using primary colors that look like secondary colors when they spin. They created interesting textures by painting with forks, combs, and splayed paint brushes. They also placed construction paper over raised, uneven surfaces, and colored with markers across the top side of the paper.

The older students are studying still life composition and learning about notans (balancing light and dark areas), and balancing shape and color. For one of our lessons we made a Golden Rectangle on tracing paper and drew diagonal lines from corner to corner. We put a dot in the middle of each line between the corners of our rectangle and the intersecting lines so we had four dots in all (the eyes of the Golden Rectangle). We used these to place over photos of famous still life paintings to see how the objects lined up within the rectangle’s eyes. We also learned how to draw Fibonacci spirals which was a lot of fun. We looked at pictures of nautilus shells, sunflowers and pine cones to see how this ratio occurs in nature. Last month we studied linear and atmospheric perspective in drawing and painting. We used watercolor glazing technique to paint a picture of the Smoky Mountains. A mountain range that borders Tennessee and North Carolina in the southeastern U. S.

Here are some pictures of our busy students:

Teacher, Laraine kindly shared an visual exercise which can be viewed on the Post on Perspective.

2010 update:  Laraine’s co-teacher, Beth Cooper, sent these wonderful photos of the group with paintings of sunflowers after studying Van Gogh. This was a project from a book “Dynamic Art Projects for Children” by Denise M. Logan.  The project involved using chalk pastels on black Canson paper over a line drawing in Elmers gel glue.



Here are Adam and Lela working on their project…










and below, Peter (studying colour mixing) and Mari applying chalk pastels…









I have to agree with Beth – yes I think you did end up with some masterpieces!  Congratulations to all!

Many thanks for sharing your projects with us and happy “arting” Littleton group!   Julie

For further information, visit their website

Posted by: Julie Duell | June 22, 2009



Part cyl. figure 4

OK now don’t be daunted! I know most people think that figure drawing is about the hardest to do – along with portraiture.   Why not give this method a go?

This is a basic introduction to figure drawing – one where you don’t need to go into the study of every bone and muscle unless you wish to.  This is a method using CYLINDER FIGURES.  Lets begin with a chart showing an average adult model .   Proportions are different for children and the head is much bigger in relation to the body, changing as they grow. 

Everywhere we bend (elbows, wrists, shoulders, waist, hips, knees, ankles) you draw a circle or oval (depending on the angle of the figure you are looking  at). In between these circles or ovals, cylinders connect them – along with masses for the head, chest and abdomen.  

Of course there are all sorts of variations from person to person, but generally (as shown in Leonardo Da Vinci’s illustration above)  an armspan equals the height in an adult – also that half way from top to bottom is the pelvis (not the waist as is commonly thought).  Being aware of the quarters is a great help in figure drawing – (top of head to chest, chest to hip, hip to knee, knee to heel.)

Here is a break-down of the cylinder figure to make it clearer:

Cylinder figure break down



Wooden models from Art shops serve limited purpose, mainly because most do not bend sufficiently to emulate natural poses or positions like walking.

 Here are some examples of drawing cylinder figures with a black marker OVER THE TOP of figures in the sports pages of the newspaper.  

How to start?  Just draw a circle or oval at every joint plus at the waist over the top of your newspaper sports figure.  Some joints may be hidden – if so, just leave them out.   Now join up those circles and ovals to form cylinders in between. 

Part cylinder figure 1

Part cyl. figure 2






In these action shots you will notice there is a lot of what we call ‘foreshortening’ where parts of the body will be coming towards you.  After doing a number of these exercises you will develop a feel for this. Here is what I mean by foreshortening…

  In this example the circle for one knee is INSIDE the oval for the hip joint! The most important part of all drawing is LOOKING and trusting what you see.    In fact, I believe twice as much time should be spent observing the subject as looking at the paper while you are drawing. That way, more of what you can see of your subject will be transferred to your paper and less of what you know about it.

Part cyl. figure 3 





Once you are confidently drawing cylinder figures, you may choose to sketch them softly and then clothe your figures…


Of course the proportions of our body parts change as we grow…here is a chart giving average proportions from baby to adult. There are huge variations so please treat this as an approximate guide only…


Below is my favourite method for drawing people – I start with a faint cylinder figure foundation, then I move to clothing, mapping the light and shade as it falls on the figure. I use this method as a basis for painting as well as drawing.

When you clothe your cylinder figures you will need to look closely to see where the creases occur wherever the figure bends and the way the fabric drapes itself.  Just watch and experiment with quick sketches and it will become second nature to observe these things.

A BIT ABOUT BALANCE:   Note that the weight of the chest is usually over the foot taking the weight – just as we lean forward when walking, or running, transferring the weight onto the leading foot.


Also be sure if you are drawing a hat, that it fits over the head and doesn’t appear to perch up on top looking too small.

So that you get a better idea of  how the mass of the torso, carried weight etc. is distributed, we will switch to skeletal images to better illustrate this…

Centred load carrying

Weight bearing centre

Skeletal profile - hammer






Putting on shoe skeletal 1 Putting on shoe skeletal 2




From a good understanding of cylinder figure drawing, you can progress to learning bone & muscle shapes etc. later or simply clothing your cylinder figures may be enough.

Along with the tips on how to LOOK and draw what you see (in the post “DRAW, YOU  CAN!”) & a little practise every day, you will be drawing figures fluently before too long – and most importantly, have fun doing it.


Although this is covered much more in depth in the posts about PORTRAITS, lets just look here at how the head joins the rest of the cylinder figure.


The head can be thought of as a sphere plus a jaw, joining onto the cylinder of the neck. Note the angle of the neck – not straight up and down like a flower on a stalk! In a child, the jaw is less developed. 

Now for a few examples of figures in artwork in which I have used various methods of rendering. In each case I would have begun with a very light cylinder figure in willow charcoal, which can be dusted back to be a barely visible guide when adding more detailed drawing.

Firstly here is “Heather” in charcoal and “Rebecca” in pastels…

Heather study















You can see how the love of line, light & texture can entrance the artist in you. These were all drawn very quickly in a Life Drawing group.  Next is “Jacqueline” in Pastels

Jacqueline 2 copy













One of Tony’s and my favourite occupations is to do lightning gestural  impressions on the spot, usually back or side views so as not to intrude on the privacy of the subjects. The object is not to obtain any likeness but rather to capture the action or body language.  Often it requires taking a mental snapshot and then putting it down, as the person has inevitably moved on!  It’s a great way to train your photographic memory if you like a challenge!



Fun at Avoca Beach 1 copy

Fish catch details full res

Sometimes the quick sketches become reference for paintings like this one above of my late husband, John, cleaning fish at MacMasters Beach.  It always attracted young onlookers, so made a nice study.


This brings us to the problem of sizing and placing more than one figure in a drawing or painting.   There is a guide which deals with standing people all the same height on level ground (which almost never happens!)  Not greatly helpful, but neverthless here it is:

 The thing I find helpful is to “think myself into the composition”.  For example, if it is a street scene – I imagine a doorway where I want a figure to be & put a mark where the feet would be.  That is the most critical thing.

 Next I  put another mark where the head would be in relation to the doorway.  OK so now I have a top and bottom mark, so I can put a half way mark for the hips and go for it. 

 TIP: Make the head smaller than you think you will need at first and increase it later if needed once you have sketched in the rest of the figure.

In this next French scene I challenged myself to include seated and standing figures in many different attitudes and sizes. It was very difficult. The only way to really learn is to jump in the deep end and try.  Sometimes I sketch a figure on a separate piece of paper and place it on the painting to see where it fits most comfortably size-wise.

French street scene

Nundle artists







In the painting above “Artists at Nundle”, I worked from quick sketches on the spot to create the oil painting back home in the Studio.  Sizing the figures fell into 3 areas – foreground, middle distance and far distance – the far away figures needing to be the ‘right’ size in relation to the house.

In the next study, this group of Artists set up right in front of my Studio at MacMasters Beach and so became the ideal subject!  Being absorbed in their work meant they didn’t move very much and gave me time to paint them!


Finally, if you don’t feel like studying all those muscle and clothing shapes etc. why not have fun with your cylinder figure itself?   This next painting was based on just that, with some of the figures moulded in Fimo (which you bake in an ordinary oven) for three dimensional relief:

Mannequins -  mixed media copy






Or perhaps you could have fun outlining group shapes. The shapes of the spaces (which we call negative shapes) are helpful in drawing too.

Group outlines & negative shapes






However you enjoy figure drawing, I hope this post has helped you in some way.

Cheers,  Julie

Posted by: Julie Duell | February 26, 2009





In an earlier post I covered  ‘Exploring an image with options’  and this Post is an extension to that – with some fresh images rendered in a number of ways, some physically and some using Photoshop Elements program.

It is so exciting to share the artistic journey and look at some of the options open to us in expressing a subject.

I will start with some original paintings I did some time ago of the Australian bush, then altering them to show different approaches.

Here’s the first, painted in oils from a quick reference photo on a campout with my late husband John along Mooney Creek on the Central Coast.  It had been raining and the bark was wet, accentuating its colour and the creek was like a mirror – so beautiful.  One could ideally imagine sitting there near the creek bank painting in situ – but not so, as there were numerous leeches ready to suck our blood!  Just a quick admiring “oohh” and “aahh”, a snapped photo – and we had to keep moving!  At home in the comfort of my studio however, the scene fresh in my mind, I was able to depict a bit of the magic…


Now lets look at a couple of other alternatives for portraying this scene…other directions I could have taken to depict it.

Maybe it would make a nice diptych (2 complementary panels) using simplified areas of tone. To try this out I scanned the photo of the painting into a file, then opened it in Adobe Photoshop Elements programme on the computer and opened an image altering bar called “FILTER”.  I then used an artistic tool called “Cutout”. All of the tools used to create the images below can be found in the ‘Filter’ menu, apart from colour changes which I altered in “Quickfix”.   My version of Photoshop is 3.0 so current versions may be different.

Anyway, I press a few buttons  and hey presto! A dyptich…

b1  c

Once again, I made a copy of the original, cropped it and played with it, turning it into a pointellism approach…


Next time I cropped the image only slightly, then applied the Photoshop “Cross hatch” tool to it. These tools give you lots of option like the direction and length of the strokes. Its a great way to try out an idea to see how it looks before you actually choose to create your artwork that way.  We might as well put this technology to good artistic use!!! Of course I don’t feel I would have to follow these options exactly – just use them as guides to bounce off.


Next I try a Photoshop tool called “Ink Outlines” to see what that does to the original image…going to black, white & grey tones really tests a composition!  Here the play of light and shade is strong.


Yet another option would be to go semi-graphic with it, using a tool called “Poster edges”.  If you like black you may like this…


Right – now there are lots of different approaches and of course, there would be countless more!


Here is another painting of an afterburn in Bouddi National Park as I chose to portray it at the time. It was quite a large oil painting and I was taken by the red revealed under the burnt bark of the angopheras (or Sydney red gums).  It seemed as though the saplings had captured something of the fire itself!  I popped in a magpie to “go with” the black and white in the painting – can you find him?



My painting above was based on realism with a bit of exaggeration – but what if I decided to stylise it more…using say “Cutout” in the artistic tools.  Would it be more exciting? What do you think?


Yes, I like that very much. How would it look with more greens to contrast the reds?


Wow! I really like that dramatisation, do you? This is the advantage of Photoshop – you can try things out before putting paint to canvas!

I wonder how it would look if I were to crop it and apply “Watercolour” in the Artistic tools…


Gosh! That’s exciting too.  I could mount a whole exhibition based on versions of this one painting!!!

This next trial version is using a Photoshop artistic tool called “Colured Pencil”… Hmmm. what do you think? It’s different! Very subtle.


Now how about getting a general idea how this composition would look in black and white…


Ah! Now I think this style below has possibilities. It  is called “rough pastels” in the Photoshop artistic tools. I think I would like to print this out and use it as reference to do a pastel study. I’m very fond of directional shading.  This angle is usually comfortable for right handers to render – left handers may need to slant the pastel strokes the opposite way.



OK – now next, let’s look  at one of my rather plain unfinished landscapes and see if we can render it in some more exciting ways…



Below, I tried using perpendicular pastel strokes on a dark brown paper…


Then I decided to try things out on Photoshop again. The version below is using the “Watercolour” tool…


Hmmm. I like it, but I think it’s a bit busy. What if I simplified it a bit more to strengthen the drama? I can do this by adjusting the slider rule in the “Watercolour” tool…


Yes, I think that is much better, do you?  Sometimes “less is more” and makes for a stronger composition.

OK – now for a few more fun possibilities to try… what if I make the trees dance? This is using a tool called “Liquify”.


Then I go for a kind of jigsaw shape effect…using the “Cutout” tool…


Well! That’s different isn’t it?  Somehow the shapes seem to represent Northern Hemisphere disiduous trees though rather than Australian Eucalypts.

Now I think I will try altering the colouring of the original image I scanned in, to cool colours – moonlit perhaps?


That’s a new slant!  I wonder how that would look with ink outlines…


or rendered with ink in directionsl shading…


Gosh, one could go on and one, opening up to choices.  Here is one last one playing with little islands of shape in light outlines…


Finally, here is an interesting approach used by my partner, Tony, in painting a local bush scene…


Did you enjoy that?  I hope you found it as exciting as I did and when you next look at a subject, maybe pause a while and imagine how it would look in some of these renderings before you choose to depict it.   By looking at options like this, you come to know what you gravitate to and understand more deeply your own preferences and taste.

Anyway, happy creating – however you do it!

Don’t forget – the joy in painting is to do what you love and love what you do!

Cheers,   Julie

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