Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Daffodils - update (WIP#4)

Spent a little time on this today - K and her dad were having a swim so I sat at the picnic table under the shade of the umbrella and played with my pastels. (They ended up heading inside and left me to it!)

I worked mostly on creating a lighter background as I was unhappy with the darker one. Had some great comments from WetCanvas artists that also suggested the lighter background. Someone also suggested a more buttery yellow for the flowers and luckily (or unluckily as I would have enjoyed a trip to the art shop!) I had a soft Sennelier that is just about right.

(This is how the painting was before I changed the background)
New version after today's work
I'm also trying to bring some more darks into the foreground - still working on this but they are making the daffies stand out a little more. Need to darken the grasses around the base of the daffy leaves and I think that will be done.

So, now that the background is lighter, I can see that it still needs something else - have to think about what!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pelican bites the dust...

I have made the decision to stop working on the pelican. I uncovered him this morning to check for cracks and there is a major crack in his body, which hasn't happened before. Up until now, the cracks have just been in the wings, which were added later than they should have been, so dried at a different rate. I don't want to take the chance, after repairs, of firing this and it exploding in the kiln and damaging someone else's work.

So, unfortunately, it is to the scrap heap for him. I will have a chat to my tutor and see if there is anyway I can save part of it, but I think not.

I am going to move on and make something new, and will revisit the pelican again, especially now I have learnt more about the process of making pottery sculptures.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Daffodils - Pastel Painting - Complete

Last night at Art class for the year tonight, so I was happy to complete this painting.

So I will start the new year with a new painting - who knows what?!

Pottery - Pelican - WIP#6

Here are the pics I took after repairing another few cracks in the wings today. I really hope that I can get this to dry without too many more. Otherwise it may be I end up with a wingless pelican!

I have some more sgraffito to do to get the markings complete, but otherwise I believe he is done.

I am really surprised by how I am not disheartened by the fact that this is cracking all the time, that I may have to go back to the drawing board. I have so enjoyed the learning experience of making this pelican. I don't think I would have gotten as much out of this process if I had been successful in completing this on the first weekend.

I'm looking forward to moving onto to another sculpture and seeing what I make of it after the lessons learnt with the pelican.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pottery - Pelican - WIP#5

I have completed some more work on the pelican. This photo is from last Wednesday - I forgot to post it up. Oops!

I was doing sgraffito - hope I got that right! - and actually carving into the clay I had added only a few days before to get the wings and feathers to look like, well, wings and feathers.

I had to leave the bird for two weeks as my tutor was away and in that time the wings cracked a bit. But thankfully we have been able to repair them (drying at a different rate to the body was the problem) and I have continued working on the wings and the head and generally making this pelican look more like a pelican.

And, of course, I forgot to take a photo after working on the bird today for about three hours. I think I have pretty much finished with the markings I wanted to make. Now it just needs to dry (without any more cracking) and then I get to paint it!

Next thing I make will be smaller, but I have learnt so much through the process of making this rather large piece. I'll post an updated pic soon.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Christmas is coming... cooking for school friends

I decided this year that rather than just give candy canes to K's friends this year, I would do some cooking. So we decided upon gingerbread men for her friends. Rather than giving out her Christmas cards in the last week when some kids may not be there, we are going to take them on Monday. Some of her friends have already handed out their Christmas cards, so I don't think it is too early.

But before I began cooking the gingerbread men, I decided to attempt something new to give to K's teachers. Chocolate shortbread. I don't really like homemade shortbread. My mother used to bake shortbread, which she usually overcooked as my grandfather loved it browned (not singed! lol). It all came back to me, marking the rounds with a fork and pinching the edges. But plain shortbread doesn't really interest me, but this recipe I discovered in a magazine at the school canteen really caught my eye. You can add chopped up dark chocolate to the dough, which I did!

This is one of the rounds (12cm diameter). The recipe made six of them - just the right amount for K's teachers, less one which was for us as we had to try it before giving it away. If it had been horrible, I would have had to go back to the drawing board, or should I say, recipe book?!

Here is one of the rounds all packaged up ready for the teacher.

We tasted it this afternoon and it is delicious. Definitely needed a cup of tea with it as it was quite rich. And the chunks of chocolate just add great flavour to it. Yummy!!

After the shortbread cooked, and the oven still hot, I mixed up two batches of gingerbread men. I have to admit that I used the Green's packet mix, that comes with the gingerbread man cutter and smarties, because I really like the taste of Green's gingerbread.

And with a touch of icing in a tube, so I didn't have to try and pipe out the icing, we have Christmas gingerbread men ready for school! You can tell these are home-made by the expert application of the icing, can't you!!!! lol

K has iced four just for herself - she was too busy playing with Dad to help ice gingerbread men! I have to admit it was a little quicker just to get on with it.

So with this task out of the way, there's just Christmas to sort out. Deep breath...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Daffodils - WIP#2 - Pastel Painting

Continued working on the Daffodils tonight. Haven't done much work on the centre of the flowers yet and I'm still not sure about the background, but it's a start.

I don't know why I'm drawn so strongly to trying a different style in my paintings at the moment. Maybe it's something to do with the couple of months break, and not wanting to get bogged down in detail. Maybe it is a different mindset after some life changing stuff that happened in those few months. I don't know. But I'm going to go with it and see what happens.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Daffodils - WIP#1 - Pastel Painting

I decided to work on something quick again today. I am concentrating on not doing as much detail so I don't get bogged down in getting it right/perfect. So I chose some daffodils. I took the picture a few months ago when they were in bloom - or was it last year?

I just focused on getting colour on the page. Still have to work out what I'll put in the background - I don't want to put in my fibro shed! so I'll work something out. The morning just breezed by and the two hours were over too quickly.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pottery - Pelican - WIP#4

I put the wings and tail feather pieces on today, and they are the last full pieces of clay to go on. From now on it is just getting the details right.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pottery - Pelican

I went to pottery this morning to continue working on the pelican... and it is finally really beginning to look like one!

Getting the beak on was a challenge, but my tutor was really helpful. Next will be to finish the eyes and then add the wings.

I'm having a lot of fun with this.

Sunrise Painting - Finished

I made the final touches to this painting last night, and I'm very happy with it.

It is very different from anything I have done before, but I really enjoyed the process. I'm going to have to do a few more like this.

It is 12"x16" on Canson Mi-Teintes TEX paper, which I haven't used before. It was really easy to work with and feels quite different from the Art Spectrum Colourfix that I usually use.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pottery Workshop with Susan Jorgensen

I spent a wonderful, yet very tiring weekend, at a workshop with Susan Jorgensen at the Blacktown Arts & Crafts Group.

I have had very little training in pottery so far but I am fascinated to find out if I can convert my skills with drawing and pastels to 3D. The workshop was full on, very physical (more so than painting) and there was so much to learn.

Did I decide to start on something simple?  No, of course not. Did I decide to work on something small?  No, of course not.

But if I hadn't made those decisions I don't think I'd have learnt as much as I did. A smaller piece wouldn't have involved all the techniques I was shown, and it would have been a pity to miss out on that.

I am working on a pelican. Using the techniques taught by Susan, I think next time I will pick something with a more upright shape... but that's another story!

This is the body of the pelican (it is sitting, not standing btw) and is about 2 feet long! I can see all the flaws and imperfections, but I made a hollow shape that stands on its own in 1 day! That is an achievement for me for sure.

By the end of the second day I had the neck and head in place. I learnt how to add a new section of clay to a leatherhard section, how to join two pieces of leatherhard clay, I learnt how to make a pinch pot (after many attempts!), I learnt not to be afraid of the clay and what has to be removed to make the piece better. I had a piece that was beginning to look like a pelican (you can see the photo I was working from in the background).

I am going back on Wednesday morning to get the beak on, and hopefully to start on the wings and add some texture. I will also place it on a stand to lift the tail up at more of an angle.

No matter how successful this piece is or isn't, I'm not going to be as tentative about working the clay after taking this workshop.

So stay tuned for further pottery instalments alongside the art.  This is going to be fun!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New Painting - back to work!

After a break of quite some time, I am back to painting again. Health issues reared their annoying head, but are hopefully out of the way now.

I had been working on a painting of a Kelpie, but didn't feel like working on it tonight, so started a piece that I have been looking at for a while.

I have worked much looser than I usually do, which I think I needed (the dog needs quite a bit of detail work to finish it) and it was fun to come close to finishing a painting in 2 hours.

This is from a photo from the WetCanvas Image library and I loved the colours in the sunrise.

The trees still need quite a bit of work (in fact paring down would be good too!). I resisted the impulse to start blending, which is something I tend to do, and go with a less structured, directional application of the pastel.

I am using the Mi-Tex pastel surface which I haven't used before. It feels quite good to use. And it is about 12"x16" in size.

Even if I don't try and sell it or enter it in competition, the experience of just losing myself for the two hours in the painting was a good one.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Colourful Fridays with Robyn @ Daisy Quilts - Colours of Halloween

As we don't really celebrate Halloween here in Australia, I don't really associate anything more than orange and black with Halloween. So instead of hunting for Halloween colours and things, I am posting a few pics from our Halloween last year, where we joined an American friend who loves to celebrate Halloween. We went trick or treating around her neighbourhood with about 17 kids and had a great time.

And the highlight of the evening for the kids (other than lots of lollies!) was making the pumpkin jack-o-lantern, especially helping to remove the pumpkin guts!

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate it!

To see what others find in their hunt for colours of Halloween, visit Daisy Quilts to find links to the other colourful participants!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Colourful Fridays with Robyn @ Daisy Quilts - Orange

Another Friday, another colour, and I have to admit this is one of my least favourite colours. However, there seems to be a lot of it around.

And then there's more...

And then there is...
...the mock orange, which isn't orange at all. Does it qualify?

For more wonderful orangeness, please visit Daisy Quilts, to see what the other participants are finding in their closets and gardens.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I was reading an interesting post on Bumble Beans Inc.'s blog about inspiration. Victoria is a quilter based in New York City - but it doesn't matter who you are or where you live when it comes to what makes you create.

She talks about how her grandmother's quilts inspired her. How others' work will influence your own, and how others may criticise your creations and that we must never let that detract from our inspiration. Thanks, Victoria, for inspiring me to think about what influences the way or what I create!

Sometimes that inspiration will come from the world around us, sometimes from a pattern or picture that we would love the recreate in our chosen art or craft.

For me, as an artist, it is eyes. It has been said they are the windows to the soul, but I don't think it is that which inspires me, though it would sound good, wouldn't it?

The face shows expressions, sadness, happiness, anger and more, but it is the eyes that show us the truth of a person. There is a spark, a life, that comes through the eyes. When my daughter was born, her eyes were wide open looking around at the world from the very first moment - she hasn't stopped taking it in since then. Her eyes spark when she laughs and smiles, or achieves something. If I can't get the eyes right on a painting of a person or an animal, I know the painting won't come together.I have painted landscapes and still lifes, cars and boats, but I am always drawn back to painting those eyes.

There are other inspirations in my creative life - I scrapbook, do family history, cross stitch and knit. I make funny faces out of food on my daughter's plate. I make up stories for her at night and write them down so I can read them to her again and again without forgetting the important parts.  My family inspires me, colours inspire me, music can start me writing a story on scraps of paper. A flower in the garden, a broken urn in a cemetery, a gum nut caught in a crack int he concrete. Inspiration comes from many places.

What inspires you to create?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Colourful Fridays with Robyn @ Daisy Quilts - Green!

I don't really have much green around my home - it is not a favourite colour of mine, so I have looked to the outside to find my greens...

I really love the greens in nature, but a painted corrugated roof is a lovely thing too!

If you want to see where some of the other participants found their greens, visit Daisy Quilts...

Friday, October 08, 2010

Manly Beach

Yesterday, as a final outing during the school holidays, we took K. to Manly Beach. It was pretty overcast when we left home, so we decided not to take swimmers, just to go and play or walk on the beach, and have lunch there.

It turned out to be nice and warm, even though cloudy, and the sun came out for a while when we were on the beach. K. had the best time and said it was the 'best day ever'.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Last of the Spring Bulbs

Well, my bulbs are nearing their end. And, to be honest, we had someone in to cut down some overgrown shrubs before summer gets here and the remainder were trampled just a tad. Here are some pics of the last few flowers...

The pink bottlebrush has come into bloom. I have really come to prefer it to the red one - and I love red!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Jewellery by KayTee's Kreations

At the Open Day at Blacktown Arts & Crafts Group last Sunday, I met the very creative Katrina Torrance of KayTee's Kreations.

Katrina goes to the pottery at BACG to learn ceramic art, but at home she makes fantastic jewellery and glass art. In fact her ceramic skills come in very handy for making the molds for her glass art.

I spent a very long time poring over the jewellery on display...

... and this was just some of it!...

before finally spotting this bracelet which I just had to have...

(Sorry about the fabric behind, but trying to find something on a very grey day
that would do justice  to the bracelet was really hard - at least it is a vintage cotton
that backs a quilt made by my great-aunt back in the 50s or 60s).

The bracelet was way too big for my skinny wrist, so Katrina offered to adjust it, and luckily it was two beads too big - just enough to make matching earrings!

Also on display were some of the glass pieces Katrina makes. I didn't buy any at the Open Day, but I did when I dropped by Katrina's to collect the modified bracelet and earrings.

I bought another two coasters, both of which are on my desk ready for a cup of tea for me and a guest! My daughter has laid claim to the daisy plate. I think I will be placing some orders for Christmas. Her use of colour and simple designs make her work a must to own.

If you like Katrina's work and would like to contact her, her email address is kay-tee (at) .

Colourful Fridays with Robyn @ Daisy Quilts - RED!

So the colour chosen for this week is Red. It just so happens that this is my favourite colour, so I was more than happy to contribute this week. The trouble was deciding how to thin down the number of pics, so that it didn't fill up my whole blog ! lol

I had a little helper, his name is Hotdog. A week before Christmas a few years ago my daughter told me she was going to ask Santa for a red soft toy puppy dog as a friend for her white one. Santa came through with Hotdog on Christmas morning. What a champion he was! Hotdog is showcasing my favourite red mug and cup and also my mini photo album that I carry around with me in my handbag.


Flowers in my garden - some of them from this year's crop, some from last year's. The bottlebrush is a pic I took this morning in the early grey light - they are just beginning to bloom.

Around the house...


Some photos with red, but different reds...

Another artists paintings that I love...

 These poppy paintings are by a Canadian artist, Laura Tetrault. She paints with acrylics mostly and does some beautiful evocative work. She is also an extremely generous artist sharing her work through her Big Thank You Project, which is how I came to have the first of the two paintings. I loved it so much, I visited her Etsy shop and bought the second one to go with it.
And because the season is almost upon us (and I've seen decorations in the stores...

A few little decorations I made last year to hang on the tree. Very rustic - and that's is being kind. I made some for my daughter's best friends at pre-school as well as a few for us. Embroidery is not my strong suit! lol

And so that ends my contribution to this RED day. It is so grey and overcast here today that all this red has brightened my day considerably. Hope you have a bright day too!