Sunday, June 19, 2016

I had really wanted to have something handmade for relatives this year for Christmas.  We have a very large extended family and it costs quite a lot to buy presents for everyone so we discussed having a handmade or cheapie-gift exchange.  It was really, really fun watching the families opening these gifts (which were wrapped in old pillowcases).  The first three are watercolours and the portrait is pastel.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Gifts for (and from) Rhonda Jean

 Watercolour; Hanno's Hettie
 Rhonda's lovely gifts to me
A quick pastel portrait of Rhonda's little grandson for the swap theme "something blue"

I belong to a forum which was begun by the famous author/homemaker/home life blogger Rhonda Jean Hetzel.  Last year we did a swap and I was fortunate enough to be paired with Rhonda herself. I think the theme of the swap was "something blue or purple..."?  Not sure.  Anyway, Rhonda had seen some of my artwork and she so sweetly and humbly requested that if it *wasn't too much trouble* could I *please* do maybe a picture of a chicken, or a cat?

Well...I managed to be very ill right around then (yet again) but I didn't want to leave poor Rhonda without a gift, so I did a very quick pastel portrait of her little grandson, as he was wearing this adorable blue Captain America outfit, which matched the theme! and mailed it off to her.  But I filed the "cat or chicken" thought back in my mind for a later date as I really wanted to give her what she had asked for.

In return, I had received from her a beautiful linen apron -- made from linen she had used in the photos in her new book -- (A gorgeous book, may I add) -- and a quilted table runner with 8 cloth napkins, all lovingly and skillfully made by herself.

A few months later, I had recovered enough to get the paints out again.  It had been a long time since I had painted anything by that stage, but she had a striking photo of their old white cat, who had recently unfortunately died, and as I was sure they might want something to remember her by, and the photo was so striking to me, I took it on as a challenge.  I really wanted to get that white light and reflected lighting just *so*.  I felt that I succeeded.  Hanno's Hettie is my favourite painting so far.  Maybe because I just got exactly what I was looking for. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Adventures in Pastel Painting

 Pastel #2; Katy on Tasha Tudor Day
Pastel #1; Study in Red
 Pastel #3; Grip
Pastel #4; Clay

It's been ages since I blogged.  I honestly can't remember what all happened in what order last year.  We had a lot of really not very nice things happen whilst I was attempting to make art and we are still trying to recover time lost half-way through this year. 

Nevertheless.  I hope to catch you up-to-date within the next week or two. 

So mid-last-year, I was invited to attend a workshop/art session on Wednesday nights at a local art gallery.  I wasn't feeling very inspired at the time due to the factors written above, so rather than bringing my watercolours, I brought along a very nice set of pastels I had bought years ago and had always been too afraid to actually use. 

My dear friend Jeanette Giroud, a skilled artist, helped me with my first attempt.  That was the little sketch of the red-headed boy with the red chicken Study in Red.  Obviously I had no idea what I was doing but I found the pastels extremely easy and intuitive to use and almost even relaxing.  Not being one of those people who finds art-making in the least bit soothing, this was quite a novelty to me, and the following week I did the little portrait of Katy, which I was very pleased with.  Then there was an art exhibition at Ellis House shortly after that, for which I did the larger painting, Grip, and also the painting Clay, which never made it to the exhibition at all due to it having sold before the exhibition started.

I have done one other pastel painting since then but I will save that for a future post. 

I will try to be better about posting!  It is hard to make art a priority, and I even tried to give it up altogether this year because my schedule is so tight with working, volunteering, and studying.  But I found I wasn't happy at all giving it up, and so I've decided to do the complete opposite and prioritize it instead.   I never know what to do with myself. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Workshop in May

The great man himself, Joseph Zbukvic -- one of my most favourite watercolour artists.
Zbukvic's demo painting, still wet
Zbukvic's second demo painting
Zbukvic's demos at front for inspection and copying

In May 2015, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a watercolour workshop, courtesy of the Watercolour Society of WA, taught by the great watercolour artist Joseph Zbukvic.  I was also unfortunate enough to have been very, very ill with something that was directly turning into a nasty infection known here as quinsy.  However, the night before the workshop, I dragged myself to the doc, who told me it was mono/glandular fever (it most definitely wasn't) and I should stay home from the workshop (I didn't) and who took a lot of blood tests, the results of which I received while in an ambulance a day or so later.  I promise I didn't breathe on anyone -- but they couldn't have caught it anyway :)
I am so glad I went to this workshop.  Wow, a huge learning curve -- I had only been painting earnestly for about 3 months at this point so I was very very new.  I think I had done only 3 or 4 paintings at the time.  I was pretty chuffed when the great Mr. Z complimented my work and said I did not appear to be a beginner and that at least I knew how to make a wash. 

Above are the paintings that Mr Z. did, and below are my poor copies.  Poor as they may be, they are hanging on the wall as a reminder of that fairly awesome day.

My first copy from Zbukvic demo.

My second copy from Zbukvic demo.  Now you can see why HE makes the big bucks. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Jewels' Girls

In Progress at Ellis House, Bayswater

 Jewels' Girls with Kitten
12x16 (A3)

Do you remember years ago, when blogging was a pretty new thing, there was a gorgeous, absolutely stunning blog called Eyes of Wonder?  What an amazing blog (and an amazing mama blogger) that was.  I wouldn't be the only person to say that Eyes of Wonder changed the way I viewed large family life, homeschooling, homesteading, even chores and housework.  Jewels, the author, wrote beautifully and her photos were equally wonderful.

Over time, Jewels and I became internet friends ;) and recently she gave me permission to use some of her beautiful photos as inspiration for a series I'm planning to do on family.  Part of what makes her photos special is the handmade, vintage-styled clothing her children wore.  It made for gorgeous photos and I think it will make equally beautiful paintings.

As a thank-you, I made the very first painting especially for Jewels, and sent it off to her.  These are her two eldest girls.  She loved it. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Queens Of The Back Yard

Queens Of The Back Yard
12x16, A3 

April and May were interesting months for me.  The kind of "interesting" that the old Chinese proverb curses its foes with.  I had two trips to the ER, hospitalization, many many trips to the doctor, a surgery, narrowly avoided another surgery, and massive amounts of antibiotics, the effects of which I am still recovering from in the middle of June.

But when I could, I did manage to get some things done.  One of them being this little chicken painting which was commissioned by my online friend Wammy.  You can read about how that all came about on her blog, here.

This painting was very involved and complicated, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  And more importantly, Wammy is thrilled with it.  I sorted through hundreds of her photos to choose ones that portrayed the personalities and some interesting poses of Wammy's beloved chickens.  I tried to match lighting (not too much directional sun, cloudy day, snow or no snow, etc) and perspective.  Wammy wanted the chicken coops in the picture too, so I needed to completely adjust the perspective on those little buildings so that I could get everyone and everything in the painting.  Wammy could tell you that I left a lot of details out! but with so many busy ladies, it could be a very overwhelming view, so I had to not put quite EVERYTHING in there.

I worked this painting completely backwards.  Everyone would tell you, work from large to small.  Big areas first, small areas and details after.  This is very good advice.  However, I did not follow it.  The reason being that I did not think I could paint a chicken.  So after spending about a week on just the layout and drawing, I picked the chicken I thought would be easiest (little blue-black Esthelle) and gave it a shot.

I was SO surprised that my first chicken looked like a chicken.  I wanted to shout the news from the rooftops, that I PAINTED A CHICKEN AND IT LOOKED LIKE A CHICKEN.  I posted it to all my friends on Facebook (believe me, I think everyone was sick of me and my chickens by the time this painting was finished).  I chose another chicken, and painted her and to my surprise, the second one worked out too!  They all worked better than I could possibly imagine, except for ONE which gave me a heap of trouble.  But I'm not going to tell you which one. ;)

So after all this incredibly detailed work on the chickens, I found myself needing to work in the background.  That is when the trouble started.  I must have reworked that background 20 times, adjusting colour and shadows and darks and lights and busyness and detail...I must have been >< this close to packing it in ten times.  But I did not think I could do all those chickens again so I had to work it out.

You can decide if it worked or not.  Wammy loves it, and I consider the whole thing a huge learning experience, very hard work, and quite an accomplishment at the end of the day.