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!