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Monday, February 18, 2013

Family history project Alissa Duke

A few years ago I began a family history project to document some of the objects that some members of my family have, by drawing them from photographs or life. I was honoured  to have this project and drawings included in  Artists Journal Workshop .

I have not spent a lot of time on this project recently, as family history research takes time (and I work full time as a researcher during the day). Last weekend I spent time drawing an envelope that I have. This is an empty envelope addressed to my Great Uncle at an address that he lived at for a short time when first moving from England to Brisbane, Australia in 1928. Even though it is empty, the addressed envelope tells the small part of a larger story, following the addresses they lived in before buying their house in 1943.

I feel a connection to anything when I sit down or stand up to draw it for a short or long time , as I  study its detail and really look at it. So, drawing objects from my own family history has an extra layer of richness for

I had been doing some family history research (both documentary and oral) and hope to document some of these articles with the stories surrounding them and the person that owned them.Click to see my  Family History project drawings The drawings are all scattered through my Moleskine sketchbooks, and usually left as stand alone drawings at the moment. I am not sure that I would have drawn the objects the same if they were in a special book for family history. One day... I shall scan and put these all together into a book. The research is a lifelong project.

I draw with watercolour pencils in a Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook everyday ! Some pages I call sketching and others I call drawings - this is one is a drawing. I love the way the watercolour pencils can create texture as well as fine details. I enjoy trying to achieve the right colour (although my scans do not show this)


  1. I am fascinated by your post. I am also drawn (no pun intended) to family momemtos and wanting to record a memory of them. I've done some scattered throughout my own set of moleskines. Nice to find another sketcher to does some of the same. So glad you shared this awesome envelope!

  2. Lovely idea. And you have done a great job: so realistic.

  3. As you know, Alissa, I love your project and it's good to see new work! This envelope does indeed tell a story all its own. You're inspiring me.

  4. Exquisite paintings and sure to be a cherished project!

  5. What a treasure to have... and your drawing is a fitting tribute to it.

  6. what a wonderful way to gather together your family mementoes (assuming you get around to the part of gathering them into one book). A wonderful way to share with others in your family. A few years ago I scanned a series of old family letters and printed them in a 'Blurb' book for others in my family. I enjoyed the project throughly,

  7. Beautiful theme for a sketch Alissa. I have sketched an old envelope in the past from my Great Aunt to my Grandmother. I particularly loved rewriting in her hand style - its such a personal thing to try to emulate. I'm very interested to learn more of your family history project!

  8. what a wonderful project! sketching, drawing, I do it too, every day, in a moleskine!

  9. I love your inspiring project! I tried your link, but it didn't work. I want to see more of your project. :)

  10. What a treat this project is, Alissa! I'm with you... don't add the pressure of recreating these objects in a dedicated book. Let your talent be free and scan later :) Bravo!

  11. Thank you everyone for visiting and commenting. It is exciting to inspire other people and also to know that others are working on similar projects.

    Connie - I have changed the link and hopefully it should work now, Thanks for letting me know.


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