Melbourne Museum Drawing Studio

I recently learnt about the Drawing Studio at Melbourne Museum. A few times a years the Museum invites people to register to attend the Drawing Studio and you can request a specimen from the Museum’s collection to draw. I had no idea what to choose, so asked for a kangaroo or wallaby. I had no idea of the depths of the collection and what I could potentially draw.

There were twelve people in the room and two specimens on each desk. Most people stayed all day, drawing from the same specimen. In the afternoon, some us moved around drawing some of the other specimens. A Melbourne Museum staff member was in the room all day and if we wanted the specimens moved on the table to a different angle they donned their gloves and shifted these fragile object. Wet materials were not permitted, so I was not able to use my waterbrush in the room or my Lamy ink pen. It altered the way I worked and I had to plan my approach little differently, as I usually use my waterbrush quite frequently as I built layer or colour and detail. I got around this by adding lots of marks and colour with watercolour pencil on the page and then leaving the room and adding water to the page with my waterbrush just outside the door.

Parma Wallaby

I remembered to take photos along the way !

I took my usual sketchkit – watercolour pencils , waterbrush, Lamy Safari pen and 13 x 19 cm Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. At the last moment I add a A4 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook and so glad I did as I used this all day.

I spent most of the day on my Parma Wallaby, added laying and detail. In the afternoon I took a few short break by quickly sketching some of the other specimens (below) . I feel that these quick sketches have more ‘life’ then the slower studies sketch. On my next visit I may plan my day a little differently.


I had a wonderful day. I cannot begin to explain how special it was to have this opportunity. Thank you to Melbourne Museum and to Gemma for making me aware of this. So much of my daily drawing is quick sketching in my l 13 x 19 cm sketchbook. Even when I am working on a more detailed commission over weeks, I am still only working on it at night time for short bursts of time and usually doing other things as well. Currently. I am working on a series of five commission that have quite a bit of detail. But the pace and requirements for the finished result are completely different.

It was unusual and free-ing to know that I had the whole day to spend drawing one object. It was slightly overwhelming too, as I did not know how to plan my time. Next time I will have a better idea of what to expect, I also will think more about what specimens I want to draw and will order a skeleton as well.


Melbourne Museum Drawing Studio