Sunday, December 16, 2007

Portrait of Dad

I decided for my step-mother's 70th birthday to attempt a portrait of my father, who passed away in 1996. I realised that I don't have many photos of my father so had to ask her if she had any photos. As I am also into genealogy she didn't think anything of this request. I showed her the work in progress on her birthday. After a few tears I got the feeling she was very happy with the gift.

I took this photo after completing about 5 hours work on the portrait. There is still some work to do but I am going to wait until I go back to class at the end of January to complete it so I have my instructors ready assistance and guidance handy.

The best thing is that it looks like my Dad. And that's what really counts.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

K. portrait - updated

Added some colour to the portrait and made some minor adjustments since I last posted this. It has since been framed and is hanging on the wall.

I'm pretty happy with this. I had some nice comments from the framer at The Art Scene in West Ryde. I realised when I was talking to her that I have only been using pastels for 5 months - I'm pleased with my progress, and I'm having too much fun with pastels to worry too much about how anyone else feels about my work, except for constructive comments that are always welcome.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Portrait of Katie, October 2007

This is my first attempt at a pastels portrait.

This took me about 6 hours (3 art classes) to complete.

Flower from my garden

Here is the first flower from my garden that I have drawn in pastels.

I took the photo, played with it in photoshop until I got the image I liked and then drew it. It was a lot of fun and a good learning experience. I was so excited when the first raindrop/dewdrop actually looked like a drop of water.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

First water colour pencil

So today I tried out my new watercolour pencils. I have never used them before. A very good friend of mine, who has moved overseas, has given me his old set of WC pencils as well as a box of Art Spectrum pastels and two other small boxes of pastels - a big thank you to you Bruce!!!

I enjoyed using them. Wish I hadn't tried to be clever with the background. May go over it with pastels and lift the whole thing. The reference photo was of a Ranunculus from my garden.

Here is the original photo:

I'll definitely give them another go but I'll need to learn a bit more about WC techniques with brushes as well, but Ill have fun trying in the meantime.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Scavenger Hunt #59

#1 a creamer, challenge #1 in red and black only, CP on cartridge paper, 20 mins. (Not really happy with this - need a better eraser for colour pencil as mine didn't work so well).

#2 washing machine, graphite on cartridge paper, 35 mins. Had to stand in the doorway to see the machine to sketch it, most uncomfortable!

Go to Wet Canvas to find out more about the Scavenger Hunts.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Keeping track of your art work

I read about a great way to keep track of your artworks at Jo Castillo's blog, who referred to Belinda Lindhardt's Art Journal. Looks like it could be a great way to keep track of your artworks.

Belinda Lindhardt - Art Journal: Keeping Track of Your Work

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Scavenger Hunt #58

Onto a new scavenger hunt from Wet Canvas.

#1 something with two languages on it. Graphite on A4 cartridge paper, 30 mins.

#2 something soft and a blanket with folds. Graphite, coloured pencil and charcoal on A4 cartridge paper, just over 1 hour.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Scavenger Hunt #57

I have discovered Wet Canvas, an online community of artists. And, in their Art from Life section, they have a scavenger Hunt, where a list of items (around 25 or so) is published every 9 days, and the artist is to make a sketch of each item, or group them together in a still life, but to only take maximum an hour for each sketch.

Below are my sketches for the scavenger hunt so far.

#1,2,3 - my pencil case, a stapler, scissors. Pencil on cartridge paper, 30 minutes.

#4 - a tin can, challenge to draw a pyramid. Pencil on cartridge paper, 45 minutes.

#5,6,7 - something to measure with, a powder used in cooking, a cake slice. Coloured pencil on cartridge paper, about 1 hour.

I can see room for improvement in each sketch, which is a great reason to keep doing this. It will help me to see what I need to do to improve my own work.

And now here is #8 - someone working, although I have stretched that a bit. It is a sketch of Katie doing her washing up. Pencil on cartridge paper, 25 mins. (It is pretty rough as I have not sketched many people before but thought I'd give it a go).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New art to share

Finally I have taken photos of the last two pictures I have drawn using pastels.

The first is 'The Old House, Kakapo Bay, New Zealand'.

The second is 'Mt Fuji'.

I really have to remember to turn that annoying date stamp off!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


So the latest drawing is a pot of geraniums. The photo is of the work after 2 two-hour classes. (Not the best photo - a bit dark). I'm not doing much more than just drawing at this stage. I will have to play with more techniques.

Pastels are great in that you can draw so much in such a short time. With pencil drawing, whilst I love it, it takes a long time to get as much down on paper compared to pastels. But then maybe I am a perfectionist when it comes to pencil drawing and with pastels I feel a lot freer, less need for that perfect placement of pencil on paper.

I have been looking at some other blogs and web sites that have pastels drawing/paintings. There are some great artists out there. Looking at those blogs lets me see what is possible. I'm going to have fun with those possibilities.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Whilst Katie was having quiet time on Wednesday, I couldn't resist drawing this peach, or at least trying to with pastels. So here is drawing #2.


This is my first pastel drawing. My teacher said it was done but I'm not so sure. But it is my first attempt at using the pastels and it was fun to do. Now onto something else...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Garden photos

We recently has some Murrayas (Orange Jessamine) removed from our garden as they were giving me the most horrendous sinus when they bloomed and we replaced them with some Australian natives. The new plants include a Waratah (it has two buds on it so I can't wait to see the flowers), Lilli Pillis, a pink bottle brush and a NSW Chrsitmas bush. We also added a couple of proteas and a NZ Christmas tree.

I took a couple of photos today of the flowers.

This is the NZ Christmas tree.

This is the bud on the protea.

I really have to look into turning that date stamp off on my camera.

Another drawing completed

Last night at art class I completed two drawings - one pencil and one pastel. I haven't had a chance to take a photo of the pastel one yet, but will do so and post soon.

I am really happy with this one. It is already in a frame so getting a photo without reflection was hard so I had to take this on an angle.

The picture is one of Katie when she was 4 months old. I loved the photo and decided I wanted a pencil drawing of it. This will have a special place on the wall.

13 Feb 08 - I have had the picture properly framed and before it went into the frame I took a better photo of this drawing:

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pastels are fun

I am really enjoying drawing with pastels. I haven't worked with colours like this before, blending and adding and blending again. Tis much fun.

My last class for two week tonight and not sure if I will be able to get to the pastels again in that time as we will be pretty busy. I'll wait and see.

There is only one other person in my art class. Bob in a retired former newspaper compositor. He's a really lovely man from Scotland originally. We don't talk a lot while we are working but we've had some good chats during breaks. He has given me a set of oil pastels that he didn't want (it was a gift to him and he hates them!) so that I can try them as I am enjoying the pastels. Really nice of him. And we were chatting tonight about 'The Broons' and 'Oor Wullie', two comics from Scotland that I grew up on and he of course knows well too. (I used to read them in New Zealand when we went to visit family over there. My great-aunt was Scottish and she always had the latest issues on hand to read and re-read).

Bob has just moved from working with acrylics to oils and is adjusting to the differences in use between the two. It is interesting to see how it all comes together. I am still not sure if I want to move into painting or not. At this stage, drawing is fine with me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Drawing with Pastels

Tonight at class I decided to try my first drawing with pastels. I was going to use coloured pencils, and I started a drawing but it didn't really inspire me. It was a still life set up by the teacher but it wasn't quite what I liked. So I came up with an idea for a drawing using pastels and the teacher was able to assist me with some flowers to draw.

I arrived home tonight and in the yellow light at home it is actually starting to look like the actual thing I am drawing. So feeling reasonably pleased so far. I will post the picture when it is complete - not ready to share yet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Some success at the Art Show

Well, it wasn't my drawing. I also entered a photograph, in fact, a photo that I posted on this blog a while ago of Katie and Peter's cousin walking in Centennial Park. My photo received a Highly Commended award, so I am feeling pretty good about that. I almost didn't enter it. Go to the old blog entry to have a look at the picture.

I am not unhappy about the drawing, as it is my first one and so I am happy to have it framed and ready to go up on the wall. Just have to find a place for it now.

I'm onto drawing a new picture at art class, another still life but with different textures. And I am going to try using coloured pencils this time, so should be interesting. I may try aquarelles or pastels next, not sure which.

Interior Design Workshop - Spotted Magpie Design

On Friday last week, I was invited to spend the day at a friend's newly opened Interior Design store in Paddington called Spotted Magpie Design. She has decided to run workshops as a part of the shop to introduce people to the ideas behind interior design and, if they need it, some people may ask for assistance in their own homes. I think it is a great sales tool.

I spent three hours with 8 other women creating a 'mood board' for one room in my house. I have never done anything like it before. It is all about how you want to feel when you are in that room and what colours, textures, sounds, aromas or scents and tastes influence you in that room.

Finally, I was able to decide on doing a board for our bedroom. Every room in our house needs redoing as we painted the whole house one colour (light butter cream) when we renovated to save costs. Now that I am at home everyday, I am feeling the need for some colour.

The whole experience was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed spending time with other women of all ages, and also spending timee with my friend (not as much as I would have liked).

Now I just have to convince Peter that the mauve and green colour scheme will look good. I think walls mauve with green highlights in the room, with a darker purple curtain. (I love the picture of the green glass candle holder - it really influenced my choice of green, not a colour I normally like).

Part of the influence for coming to this scheme was that the tutor asked us to think about our favourite place to be and to picture it and then think of the smells, sounds, textures, etc associated with that place.

For me, it was a bay in the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand that was where some of my family lived, and we spent many holidays there when I was growing up. The bay was surrounded by pine-covered hills, there were only three houses, all family, and there was a small sandy beach, with a fresh water creek that ran down the hill to the shore, beautiful river rocks scattered all over the sand where the creek water ran out to sea. So the colours of the bay were a big influence for this.

Even some of the oriental fabrics I found would work and I would love to include some sort of Japanese fabric into the room. As I studied the language and culture for eight years it would be great to have some of the designs I love in the room.

As our room is a real sanctuary for us, from the day, the outside world and even from noisy kid, these were the colours that jumped out at me.

I really hope I can go to another workshop at Spotted Magpie, I had so much fun at this one.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Well, the drawing has been framed and handed in at the art show. Judging takes place on Thursday night and e can find out on Friday if we have had any success.

I saw some of the other paintings/drawings when I dropped my drawing off. There is some really great work. It will be interesting to go and have a look on Friday or Saturday night. As there is a whole fair going on at the same time we will probably go on Saturday about 4pm and take Katie on a pony ride and to see the side shows, etc and if she lasts might even stay for the fire splats! (see last blog entry).

I've almost finished the drawing I am doing of Katie. Once complete I'll post a photo of it here. Drawing a face is hard, especially a baby face with no wrinkles.

Last week I picked up a new eraser as suggested by Bruce. It is like putty and can be molded into any shape you need. Thank you so much B for the suggestion, it has already been useful. It is very handy having a friend who paints/draws/etc who can pass on helpful tips.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

First drawing complete

So, it is finished. And having put it in to be framed, and looking back at the photo I can already see something that I want to fix. Darn it.

Anyway, here is the finished product.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Drawing Class # 4

So, back to class with my new drawing.

Worked on the background to get the drapery right and some shading of the leaves and flowers. I must admit to finding it difficult to get my head around how to make draped material look like draped material, but I'm going to give it a go.

Instructor believes I will finish the piece next week. We'll see.

Today, I started another drawing. I have a photo of Katie that I have always loved from when she was 4 months old. I am drawing that. It will be a challenge but I would love to have a drawing of her on the wall. I'll see how I go with that.

The two hours flew by. Can't wait for next week.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Drawings - old and new

I have decided to post the incomplete drawings here, if only to then see and compare in a little while, the finished product.

The above is the one that now has crayon on it. I know they are only small marks but there is no way to get crayon out. I tried everything (I drew in crayon on another sheet of paper) and so has my drawing teacher. I had just got my head around the leaves and getting them to actually begin to look like leaves and I was feeling pretty chuffed.

This is the new drawing. A little harder to see as I haven't done much shading yet. But I am hoping it will turn out well.

We draw, and then we draw again

Well, three weeks into my drawing class and I was feeling reasonably happy with my drawing.

And then Katie struck.

I was showing my drawing to my mother the day after my last blog entry. I lay the paper on the couch as that was where the best light was shining. We had our backs to Katie who was over the other side of the room playing with her toys. I was telling Mum what I had been doing and what the teacher had been saying to me about the drawing when between us rushed Katie, her arm outstretched with an orange crayon in her hand. She managed to sweep two crayon marks onto the page before I caught her and pulled her away.

Katie was immediately put in the naughty corner (thanks Super Nanny!) in tears and I wasn't too far away from them either.

We worked through it, and Katie was sorry. In fact, later that afternoon she said "I'm sorry Mummy for hurting your drawing."

I have never felt so devastated. It was a weird experience. I was torn between comforting Katie and seeking comfort for me. I had spent 3 weeks, 6 hours in total, on that drawing. That was 6 hours of time that I was doing something just for me. And it felt like it was all gone in an instant. I know that is an overreaction. It is a drawing that I can do again and replace. I can move on, and have. In a couple of hours this week I have caught up on about 4 hours of that original work on a new piece. But it won't be my first drawing.

So, a new drawing is underway and I am due at my next class tomorrow night. So here's hoping I can get this done in time to enter it in the Art show.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Drawing Class

Had a good night at drawing class tonight. Feeling much happier with how the picture is looking.

The teacher has suggested that I finish the piece and enter it in the local art show.
I will have to have it finished by 5 March if I am going to do so. I think I will give it a go.

The drawing is a still life of a stainless steel kettle and a vase with fuchsias in it. Not something I would have chosen to draw but as it was set up by the teacher it is what I am doing. I promise to post it here once I am happy with it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Billy Crystal - 700 Sundays

Peter and I, and a friend, went to see 700 Sundays yesterday. Billy Crystal is brilliant. 
He was on stage for almost 3 hours, with only a short interval, and kept the audience
completely engrossed for the whole time. He tells stories about his family, the loss of his father at a young age and of his childhood enriched by jazz music and the musicians who made that music, including being taken to the pictures for the first time by Billie Holliday.

If anyone has the chance to see this show whilst he is in Australia, take it. It wasn't the cheapest show I have been to but it was so worth the money.

Afterwards, we came out of the show talking about families and our own families in particular. In telling us about his family, we could see our own eccentric relatives, favourite uncles, beloved aunts, loving parents and it didn't matter that his family was in New York, USA, and ours in suburban Sydney. We all have/had characters in our families that enriched our lives, told us stories, had odd character traits or tics that made us cringe or stare and nearly always there was a joker. Billy encapsulated them all in the moving story of his life. 

And he made us laugh too. Of course: isn't that a given?

We also had yum cha for lunch at the Marigold (cnr Hay and George Sts) before going to the theatre. Brilliant. Will go there again.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Drawing again

I have started a drawing class again. Every Tuesday night there is a class run by the local Arts and Crafts group. The woman teaching is lovely, and very helpful.

I was the only person there tonight as Dawn believes no one realised that classes were back on again. Usually there are 4-5 people. Some people draw, some do watercolour and some oils or acrylics, so I am going to gain exposure to a lot of mediums and will be able to try them anytime.

Dawn believes I have some talent (yah!) and is really encouraging and helpful. Helpful is the best part. Her guidance tonight was great. I am drawing a still life that she set up and she is guiding me towards completing it in pencil. I'll post it here when it is complete.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Catching up

I did find time to sit down with my story for the competition (due in at end of January) and have now decided that it is much too staid, not at all like my usual style of writing. So I am going to have to ditch it and start again. I was happy to get the story finished but now... I hate writing sometimes. I just want it to work and I can't get the story to work. I get readers to give me feedback but I still can't make it happen. There are amazing ups and downs with writing.
I look back at a previous entry about writing this story and I was feeling quite upbeat about it.
And now here is the down.

Something has changed since I had Katie. I seem to have lost my writing voice, that nasty little twist to the story that I liked so well. I mustn't be feeling the need to get the nasty out onto paper at the moment. Maybe all that talk about baby brain is true?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New story finished

At least, as finished as it can be until I re-edit again!

1970 words for a 2000 limit. Funny how knowing there was a limit
I was able to keep within it without really trying, in fact staying pretty close to it.

The story is called Believe in Me and I will be submitting it to the Conflux Short Story competition which has a theme of heroes. It is called that until I come up with something better, maybe.

What is it about writer's never being happy with anything, even after it is submitted? Are we always looking for that perfect line? That perfect ending?

Anyway, feeling pretty good about finishing the story.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Writing Again

I have managed to write an ending to the short story I want to submit to the competition with the Heroes theme. I just need to tweek it now and then will send it in. Deadline is end of January. I think I am happy with it, now just need to run it by my favourite readers. The max word count is 2000 and it comes in at 2111 before the final edit. 

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Centennial Park Adventure

K. and I went to visit Peter's cousin Leonie for the day on Friday.

She has been house sitting for a friend in Woollahra and suggested we go for a walk to Centennial Park. K. loves being outside and loves parks so it was a good idea.

K. walked the three blocks up Ocean Street to the Woollahra gates entrance and we entered the park. We walked past the area where they have the Open Air Cinema set up and then down the hill towards the kiosk and kids play area. K. chased pigeons, said hello to a German Shepherd and in the shade of a large tree we stopped and sat on a bench for morning tea. She bent and inspected some tracks left by horses hooves and then ran across the green open space to the kids swings. There were quite a few other kids there when we got there, so we decided to buy some food and drinks and sit in the shade for lunch. By the time we had finished eating, the swing was clear so K. could have her swing.

After swinging, we headed up the hill through the paper bark trees and Moreton Bay fig trees to the Paddington gates.

K. was getting pretty tired by now and we walked fairly slowly. I ended up carrying her part of the way to speed things up a bit. We walked down Queen Street back to Ocean Street (via a Gelato cup stop) and back to the flat, where K. had some quiet time in Leonie's bed before we left to drive home and miss the traffic.

We were out for about 3 hours and K. just kept going. She's like the Duracell Bunny that never stops. I think she would have fallen flat on her face asleep than stop and admit to being tired.

This Moreton Bay Fig tree was on the way up the hill to the Paddington Gates. These are the most amazing trees.