Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mischief - WIP#2 - Border Collie Pastel Painting

After a short break whilst finishing the Highland Cow painting, I'm back to work on the border collie pup.

Still have lots of work to do but at least there is now some colour in his coat. His snout's not right yet, and there will be blades of grass up over the front of his paws and nose, but they are finishing touches.

I must admit that I love working on black dog coats - there are so many other colours in the fur when the light is on the black. So far on this one the colours in the black are purple, teal, burnt sienna, mauve and a dark green. It really all depends on the light of the day when the photo of the dog was taken. This one was in bright sunlight. The photo of Amy the greyhound, one of my earlier paintings, was taken in shadow so the colours in her black coat were different.

Last night was the last art class until 1st term in the new year. I'm hoping to get this finished and a few other paintings at least started over January, but I'll see how time goes. K. and I will be busy fitting in lots of fun before she starts school next year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Highland Cow Pastel Painting - Complete

 I'll leave this sit and come back and have a look at it again after a while -  and I'm sure I'll make some minor adjustments - but otherwise I believe this is done.

16 Dec - so it wasn't as complete as I first thought. After some generous comments from other artists at Wet Canvas I have made some changes but, of course, after seeing the photo online, I can spot a couple of other things I'll need to adjust. I just need to get to that point where I can say - yes, this is done - and stop fiddling around!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Highland Cow Pastel Painting - WIP#3

I didn't get as much time to spend on this painting at class this week as my daughter had a little accident, and got a rather bad bump across her nose, so I was called home early (no one comforts quite like mum, apparently).

So here is what I achieved on the Highland Cow. This will definitely be finished during my last class for 2009 this coming Tuesday, if not before. I have to complete the horns and add a little more definition to the cow, probably using pastel pencils. Also the grass needs a touch more work.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Creativity Interview at Black Sheep Pen

A friend of long-standing invited me to answer some questions on creativity for his new blog, Black Sheep Pen. He also asks his interviewees to provide a self portrait, which was quite a challenge to complete. And as this is his Christmas blog entry, he has also re-published a short story of mine, another of my creative endeavours.

Please visit his blog, and bookmark it as I'm sure there will be some really great interviews to come.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Highland Cow Pastel Painting - WIP#2

Remembered the reference this week, so got to work on the Highland Cow painting.

It is actually beginning to look like a cow! Haven't really touched the foreground grasses yet and I'm not really happy with the distant mountains. There is a tree or two to add if I want and some minor touches on the cow.

More Christmas Decorations

I am making small Christmas decorations for K. to give to her friends at pre-school. I have made three so far but have cut out all the shapes ready to sew. I don't have any plans other than the shapes so I am deciding what to sew as I go. For K's best friends I am sewing their initial on the back and a picture on the front.

Very rustic!

K also made some decorations for the tree...



All her own work!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas Decorations

After celebrating the fact that my daughter is now free of her egg allergy (Yah!!!) I sat down to make some new Christmas decorations. I haven't made any in years, probably not since I was in school, but it is a lot of fun. I'm going to get K. to do some running stitch on a few more so she can be a part of this, and learn something new at the same time. But I had to make sure I could make them first :) .

  So here are the first four. Very rustic (or at least that's what I'm calling my unskilled embroidery). I'm not going to show you the back of them - lol. We are going to make them as gifts for some of her school friends and maybe the teachers.

I stitched my first ever french knot making these and a star stitch. Running stitch and blanket stitch I have done before. I'll have to play with some other stitches whilst doing these. My writing stitch is made by sticking the needle in and seeing what happens - looks like it, doesn't it?

But we like them and that's what counts isn't it?!

I was inspired by my SIL's Christmas Ornament swap (she's a quilter).  Visit her blog at Daisy Quilts.

Update 27/11: I made a bell today - and included a little cross-stitch. Will take a pic and post soon. These are fun - and quick!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mischief - WIP#1 - Border Collie Pastel Painting

I forgot to take my reference of the wild and woolly Highland Cow along to class tonight, so I had to start a new painting. It wasn't a hardship; this pup is very cute. I thought it was time I started a new dog painting.

The reference is from Wet Canvas' reference image library (many thanks to Canis Lupess!) and this pup's name is Monty.

This is how it looks after 1.5 hour's work. 12"x9" on Colourfix. Still a lot of work to do.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Life drawing class with Colina Grant

I have just spent the weekend with Colina Grant (and ten other artists!) learning how to do life drawing. Quite a few of us were newbies to life drawing, but that didn't matter as we had a great teacher and model.

Saturday was spent sketching. We started out on butchers paper with one-minute sketches, and then moved on to two-minute, five-minute, ten-minute and then finally twenty minutes. We started sketching with just charcoal, but by the time we were spending ten minutes we started using some greys and whites to add tone to the sketches. And we moved on to using better paper, including Colourfix, and some more flesh tones if we had them. Our model was really great. She was an artist herself and knew what poses would give us all good sketches. I am sorry we didn't get more time with the model.

One of the two minute sketches

More two minute sketches

A five minute sketch

A ten minute sketch

Twenty minutes - with pastel

Twenty minutes - with pastel

Sunday we worked from the sketches (no model). We started, on Colourfix, using ink to map in the darks and shapes. Then using pastel we fleshed out the sketches. This was interesting, but my tendency, which I had to fight, was to block in the flesh colours and cover the body with skin. But that wasn't the intention of the activity, so I had to hold back and play in a different way. I was starting to get a feel for this near the end of the day.

Dabbling with ink on Colourfix paper

I didn't get to this one with pastel - I can save that for another day

Adding some colour

Even though I had worked this sketch with pastels on the Saturday, it was
interesting to use the inks and then colour over them

I'm really happy with this sketch. I liked it before I started adding colour
and then I decided to use different colours for the shadows and skin
which I really liked. I'm just sorry I didn't get more time in the original
sketch to draw her hands and ankle more clearly.

I will have to try and talk BACG into running a life drawing/sketching class or group. I think my drawing would benefit greatly from this. (You were right, Bruce!) It was interesting to see how the sketches turned out for other members of the class - the different views of the model turned out some really beautiful sketches.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Highland Cow Pastel Painting

A friend (thanks Michelle!) has let me use a reference of a Scottish Highland Cow that she took in front of a distillery on a trip to Scotland. I am making some changes including removing the distillery, but it should be fun to do. I've decided to work small (6"x7") but if I like it I may paint a larger one later on.

This is like a first draft - a lot of colour but no definition.  It was fun to get a lot done in a short time

I can't wait to work on the cow. I'll probably have to use pastel pencil to get any sort of detail, but that's no problem. This should be fun!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Christmas Card Mini Box - from Daisy Quilts

My sister-in-law, who blogs at Daisy Quilts, has created this great tutorial to make mini boxes from Christmas cards - such a brilliant idea. Great for small presents/gifts. I'm going to make them for K. to give to her friends at pre-school for Xmas, with lots of her help of course!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Life drawing class - 21/22 November - with Colina Grant

I have been very lucky. I got the last place on a weekend course with Colina Grant in Life Drawing at the Sydney Art School in Baulkham Hills. It is the weekend before my birthday, so an early birthday present! I attended a one day workshop in pastels with her earlier in the year, and the outcome from that was the 'Lake Phewa, Nepal' painting than won a Highly Commended at the Lane Cove Art Awards in August.

Helen, who runs the art school, kindly let me know by email (as I was a previous pastel workshop participant) because she thought I'd be interested - and I was. I haven't been to any life drawing classes but my best friend Bruce, an experienced artist, has often told me that I should find one as they help to free up your drawing. I haven't spent a weekend painting before so that will be fun, and I'll hopefully meet some interesting local artists as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Self Portrait - WIP#5 - almost complete

Only a few minor touches to finish this off now. I need to get rid of 'halo' lines around the image, finish the hair and that's about it. The background is a bit washed out in this photo - it is much stronger in real life, but it also needs a little darkening near the face. Just a touch, mind you.

I am certainly much happier now that it is near complete and I can see a good likeness. It's not the most flattering view - I'm sure I could have had better angles to work from - but you go with what you have. It's me and it's got red in it, so that's good.

And I got to use one of my Sennelier sticks - the red - which was so creamy to use. Can't wait to use more of them.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cats now...kittens no more

Just thought I'd post a couple of new photos of the cats. Our two 'little' ones are now as big, if not bigger than their mum.

We recently set up a table in the playroom, but as it was under the window, realised that it would be a losing battle not to provide somewhere for the cats to lie down - otherwise they would be all over whatever we use on the table. So here they are in their new favourite spot, especially if the window is open.

And now that the cats are not being locked in the laundry at night, Honey has taken over one of the lounge chairs as her own. This chair is one my parents bought before I was born, so it has lasted quite well, and now it has a new use :) !

We have two of these chairs, so Button and Rainy alternate, or else one lies on top and the other underneath, and they bat at each other over the edge. Button is a big sook now (since he was desexed) and the other night followed me everywhere I went, curling up on my lap whenever I sat down.

Finally, here is Rainy, our slinky cat, in his very favourite spot.

Self Portrait - WIP#4

Spent the morning at the Art & Craft rooms (Blacktown Arts & Craft Group) with Dawn and Maureen. Whilst they worked on their silk paintings, I kept slogging away at my self portrait. I had hoped to finish it today but we had a shorter morning as Dawn had to leave for an appointment.

From the nose up it is pretty good but there is something really wrong with the chin and/or mouth. But it is a bit better today than last time, thank goodness. Don't you just love the straw coloured hair :) !!!  That will be fixed.

One good thing to come out of working on this portrait is that I now know for sure that I am a detail oriented painter. That is my natural inclination. I'm happy to go with that for now.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Self Portrait - WIP#3

I think everyone has issues about how they see themselves, no matter how good looking they are (or not), or think they are (or not). So when I was asked to create a self-portrait for a friend's blog, it was quite confronting.

A lot of artists have created self-portraits, using them as a tool to learn better how to paint portraits using themselves as the model. I have done a pencil sketch in the past, but that was not for general consumption.

So, here it is, still a work in progress, but at a stage I am willing to share. It is funny but because it was my own face, I felt very strange about posting the early WIPs of the painting. Something about feeling incomplete I think.

 (A3 size, on AS Colourfix, lots of different soft pastels)

There are still issues of shading that I have to deal with and I haven't really touched the hair other than to get the shape in, the glasses are not quite right... I could keep on going. Do you think I might be a tad self-critical???? The perfectionist in me is worse on this self portrait than on any other painting I have worked on!

My friend told me to make it fun, even just a line drawing. But, no, not me... I am very detail oriented so it is going to be a full blown portrait.

Now just to get those values right!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Tonight, for the very first time, I went trick or treating. K. has been asking about Halloween for a while now so I asked an American friend of mine if she was doing anything for Halloween. She asked us to join her and her friends for trick or treating and a Halloween party.

K. had so much fun, and so did we. There were about 15 kids in our group going from house to house (any houses in the area put out a pumpkin or other halloween paraphernalia to let the kids know that they were taking part in trick or treating) between the ages of two to six. It was lovely to hear them calling trick or treat as they approached a friendly door. (K. was dressed up as Snow White and was very pleased when someone commented how beautiful she looked as we passed them on the street).

One house in particular went all out with decorations on the roof, the garage door and the family were dressed up and handing out sweets and stickers in the front yard. The kids loved it.

And then at the Halloween Party my friend carved a pumpkin, getting the kids involved helping her to remove the 'pumpkin guts!' What a fun night. I'll celebrate Halloween again next year for sure!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To do Fine Arts Diploma or not, that is the question...

I have sent in my application to do a Fine Arts Diploma at TAFE today. It is 2 years full time (4 days a week), which is more than I really want to commit to, what with K. starting Kindergarten this year. I spoke to the head teacher at the campus who said that the course can be tailored to suit what I am willing to commit to, but that is going to increase the cost quite a lot. So, I really have to think hard about what I am going to do.

We had an interview at the school we want K. to go to next year and have been told that they are going to recommend to the principal that they take her. They have before and after care on site at this school, so that is a big positive. The TAFE course runs between 9am and 4pm, so if I go to TAFE I am going to need to have her in care at some stage. But, and this is a big but, this year I'd really like to be there for K. as she starts school. For the first 6 weeks she'll finish at 2.30pm - I don't want to leave her at school until 4.30pm.

My mum lives half an hour away, so I don't feel right asking her to come over and look after K. for an hour or so each day - she is 74 after all, and I don't have anyone in the area that can take her for that time.

It's funny - where I grew up we knew all our neighbours, and in fact, one close neighbour looked after me every day before and after school so my mum could go to work. I've been living here for 13 years and only know one neighbour really well (another one died a few years ago). When I was working full time, I never saw any neighbours as we left early in the morning and got home late at night. And once K. came along I was busy with her, and most of my neighbours were out at work. It's a really nice neighbourhood, but I hardly ever see kids around when we go for walks, nor any people gardening or pottering around. Does everyone go to work everyday nowadays? (Out of the 10 mums in my mothers group, I was the only one who didn't go back to work).

Anyway, I digress. Diploma. Will I do it? I really don't know. I want to but I only get this one chance to be there for K. when she starts school. I can do the diploma next year once she is settled in. I'll decide once I know if I get in. If I don't get in, all this angst is moot, isn't it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Australian Museum, Sydney

Another school holiday outing to the Museum, which I haven't been to since I was in high school (most probably on a school excursion). K. was most excited to see the dinosaur bones, and I must admit I was too.

The Australian Museum is really kid oriented. K. had a great time finding all the things you can touch and play with around the museum. She's a little too old for the kiddie play area, but that doesn't stop her wanted to explore it. And the search and discover area where you can touch bones and fossils and dead animals was a favourite. But the most favourite were the computer screens in the dinosaur area (where you can create and colour your own dinosaur) and the insect world exploration in the discovery area. There were queues for the computer screens in every area. And she was fascinated by the skeletons and bones.

I must admit that the best bones display I've ever seen was at te Papa in Wellington where they have an X-ray room full of all kinds of bones, but the Museum is so well set up for kids to explore.

K. brought along one of her many puppy dogs and he enjoyed the visit too!

Here are some images from the day...

K. had the most fun with these skulls. She had them lined up as mummy, daddy, and children, and had us moving their jaws (wired to move) and talking to her as the skulls. It was hilarious and lots of fun. She has no qualms about handling skulls and bones!

Taronga Zoo Visit

On Monday K. and I visited Taronga Zoo for the day - well, for about 5 hours or so, which was long enough!

We actually saw a platypus this time - haven't seen one in ages, and the red panda was wandering about for once, instead of curled up asleep. We missed the seal show, but as it was school holidays it was so crowded, so we'll go and see that another day when there is not such a crowd.

Here are some images from the day...

K. fell in love with this bird

I loved the colour of this duck's feathers

The gorillas were busy eating. One of the females
took a wide path around this silverback

One of the things I love most about Taronga
is the views of the city from many different places around the park.

Red Panda

A zoo keeper was walking past as I was talking to K. about this bear. He said it was 102 years old in bear years. No wonder it looks so tired!

We missed seeing the new baby elephant except from afar.

The giraffe is such a beautiful animal. This one
was heading as quickly as it could towards food.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Advent Calendar

K. and I started and finished a craft project I have been meaning to do for a year or so - an advent calendar. I have looked for one for her (other than the cheap chocolate ones you find in the supermarkets) for ages, so when I saw the instructions for this in 'Handmade' magazine I was very happy. I have always liked scrapbooking, so this was going to be a piece of cake!

Took a while to find all the bits and pieces we would need (especially the numbers - do you think I could find big numbers anywhere!), but it was worth the wait. (Many thanks to Scraploot for having a great sale on their Xmas papers just at the right time and to Karen for telling me about it).

K. is very excited about what we are going to put in each pocket. What she doesn't know is that she doesn't get to decide that!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Another creative form - a Newsletter

Something completely different on the creative front this week.

My local Arts & Crafts Group has been without a newsletter for quite a few years now. I am a member and make use of their art space, so I asked why we didn't have one. The answer: no one had volunteered. So I did.

Tonight I finished Edition 1. And tomorrow it will go out to the members. I'm quite excited. I haven't created something like this before. Sure, flyers and brochures, etc, for my pre-motherhood career, but not something quite as much fun as this.

Th Group is made up of three different areas - needlecraft, art and pottery - and they are quite separate groups, who don't know much about each other. Hopefully the newsletter will fill some of those gaps.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Greyhound Pastel Painting on Velour - Finished

Amy is finished. She is such a beautiful animal, I hope her gentleness shows through in this painting.

I am still not sure about the velour but I am going to do some more paintings on it. It certainly gives the paintings a softer look than the sanded papers. I just have to keep using the velour and find the techniques that work for me on this surface.