Friday, 30 December 2011

Plein air painting

We packed up the kids, bathers and towels and headed down to the coast.  The day was overcast and not as hot as we imagined it would be but we all enjoyed the space and the beauty.

This is my first real go at plein air painting - where you take your paints outside and paint what is actually there.

I did okay with my Notan paintings.  These are quick paintings that identify the balance of warm and cool in your painting and are very small.

Choosing the first Notan, I did a tonal painting of it.
I found managing the paint more difficult as I was working with acrylics and they dried quickly, even with loads of retarder medium mixed in!   The colour piece was a challenge as the colours dried on the pallet and had to be remixed if I wanted to go back and dab at anything.  This really stops you from fussing way too much!  
I allowed different boats to come and go in the various pieces so that I can decide in the studio later what I want and where I want it to go.  It'll be interesting to see how I go with the oil final today.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Help! I need your ideas

I have run dry on ideas of what to paint so I've started asking the people around me for their ideas.

So far I have:

  • A jetty/water/boats
  • Fruit done with the pallet knife 

While I build these ideas into pictures I like to have new ideas floating around in my mind forming the next pictures...but there are none!  

We are not in this world alone, and each of us has the amazing capacity to help each other be more than we currently are.  

Will you "comment" your ideas here to help me build momentum?  

Saturday, 24 December 2011

An unexpected Christmas gift

Tonight at our local Carol's By Candlelight service I bumped into one of my year 12 English students from this year.  I congratulated him on his final result, which reflected his teachability, openness to new ideas and commitment to the task.  It was a nice moment that I had hoped to have at some point with this particular student.

Then he said something that was like a Christmas gift.

"English was my best result."

I find myself honoured and amazed to have played a role in this student's life.  At the beginning of the year I was worried about how he would manage the subject.  It just seemed beyond his reach.

And then he engaged.  He followed class discussions closely. He took new ideas on board. He responded to feedback.

I am so proud of this young man.   He has taught me that when students decide to open their minds they really can change their outcomes.  He has also reminded me that it is all worth it.

All it takes is one.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Playing with oil

Blown away - Mixed medium A4, canvas paper

My first practice piece for the summer holidays!  I haven't touched oils for some time so this was really a time of reintroducing myself to the possibilities. The mixed medium comes from the acrylic light yellow that I used to base coat the paper with.  Now to go an sign it - I forgot! 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A gift

Some friends do amazing things that inspire you.  

It is a privilege to be able to acknowledge it and say thanks.  
Blessings to you Nick and Elise as you marry on Friday.  
May the adventures continue beyond anything you can imagine.

Nick 18"x24" (approx), watercolour on coldpress paper

A gift to wish them well.
If you want to see it framed and hanging, you best ask for an invite around to their house!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A story I am working on: page 1 & 2

When God puts it on your heart to do something, 
you should just do it.

I wrote this story a couple of months ago and began illustrating it but then got discouraged.

Funny how much of an impact people's words can have on you.  When my friend suggested that my work was too illustrative and not painterly enough I really took it to heart.  So I redid the first four pages in a more painterly manner but they were all a disaster.  I did them again.  More disasters.

This morning it came to me:  This story needs an illustrative style.  It helps keep a lightness to the text, which does get a bit serious and sad.

Of course, I am out of the flow and need to find my rhythm again.  This is what is great about this site.  I have a place to commit myself to posting, and getting the book finished.  So I will post it in bits.  All of the illustrations are pen and wash, A4.


Page 1

Page 2

To be continued...

Monday, 28 November 2011

More practice with watercolour

Today, much to my surprise, some friends gave me a fabulous amount of watercolour paper.
Thank you Nick & Elise!!!!!  
I had the afternoon at home and decided that it would be a good time to use some of this wonderful paper.

There are still some touch-up's to do before it goes to the framer.  
The size is about 28"x15".  

I am in two minds about it.  As a photo on the site it looks flat and lifeless.  It is better in real life but I will be thinking about those final touches - maybe I need a bird or two. 

Having sat here looking at it, I think that I will paint it again but go with a different colour choice.  It also needs deeper tones in the mid ground trees.  Now that the composition is sorted, it really is a matter of colour and tone.  It lacks that something special.  Things to think about...

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Yellow Gerberas

Yesterday I bought some yellow gerberas (they are daisy like flowers) and have spent this morning drawing and painting them.  My head is a bit fuzzy (thanks to this yukky head cold) so I have tried to keep things simple.

Pencil drawing A3ish

Watercolour A3ish
This watercolour was a response to having studied the flowers.  I wanted to do something quick and free flowing.  I limited my pallet to cad' yellow, cad' orange, ultramarine and burnt umber.  I added the falling petal to create a moment of movement as the flowers are in various degrees of decay leaning over the edge of the path.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A ten year plan

I was reading an article 'The 10,000 Hour Rule' in the magazine Australian Artist (Dec 2011).  The author, G.W. Smith, talked about research that had been done on how people became masters at their craft, be that music, art, performance etc.  It was concluded that to really master your craft you must spend 10,000 hours at work on that craft.  That's ten years of three hours per day challenging yourself to improve!

I long to have this sort of time at my disposal but I simply don't.

What I do have is my own ten year plan.
It started last year, Year One, with one painting a day.  I managed 280 paintings for the year.  A few really good ones but mostly ordinary, practice type pieces.  This year, Year Two, has focused more on deliberate improvement of skill rather than bulk production.  I know I can make painting a priority if I want to, but I really wanted to be more mindful of learning new skills.  The result?   Less finished pieces and the creation of some truly awful paintings, but noticeable improvement.

Year Three (2012) will involve a focus on purposefully understanding art making and looking to learn from local people.  After that is unknown, however at the end of Year Ten I will have had enough practice to justify professional instruction (you know, the sort you get in France or Italy!).

A ten year plan like this might seem like an idealistic way to approach art making but, for me, it takes the pressure off having to be perfect every time I make marks on a page.  It also helps me to stay focused when I am tired and over it all.

My philosophy?  
A little bit everyday makes a big difference in the end.

In the meantime,  I picked up my commissioned piece from the framer today.  He was able to do it quickly as he had another job which used the same materials, so I am thankful that things worked that way.  And I am very pleased with the results.  I think it will really suit the purpose for which it has been created.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

I had to pray this one in!  It is a commissioned piece and time for framing is running out.  Thankfully three weeks should be enough.

Eagle over Feathertop 28"x16" Watercolour

Sometimes pinning a piece down can be really difficult.  Acrylic, oil or watercolour?  I'm not particularly brilliant at one over the others, and I like all three.  I had imagined this in watercolour but then I had a friend critique a similar watercolour I had done.  It knocked my confidence even though it improved my skill.

Eagle over Feathertop refers to the Australian Wedgetail Eagle that is flying over my favourite mountain in Victoria, Mt Feathertop.  It has been commissioned as a gift for someone who also loves this part of the world.  

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Finally finished it!

I began this painting months ago, building up from small sketches and making decisions about composition, colour and tone. I started the large painting and then went cold on it.  What if it didn't work the way I wanted? Worry, worry, worry.  And then life got busy so I had more excuses not to finish it. 

God put it on my heart, finally it was time.  So I put on some music and let the painting flow.  The result?  A piece that was far better than I had planned and that, for me, captures the moment when our relationship with God is restored. 

Restoration (3'x5' approx.)

Monday, 7 November 2011

A little bit of something special

I named the painting below "Transitions" and took it to school to share with my Year 12 English class in our last class together.  We talked about how this final year of school was a time of transition in their lives, and about how our English class had journeyed through that year together, sharing something special.

Then I took the painting and laid it on the guillotine.

And gave a little bit of something special to each one, keeping one for myself.

Here is my piece.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Having fun with watercolour

It has been a lovely day stretching paper and myself!    The following pictures are on  cold press watercolour paper, size - about A3

I painted this and was disappointed with my first effort.  Then I remembered seeing a piece that had been masked into stripes and decided to give it a go.  I painted a blue wash and added darker toned details to create contrast with the initial picture.  I am really pleased with the results!

Again, aiming to experiment, I played with suggestion and a contrasting colour scheme. 
 Oh, and had fun flicking paint around!

This is what I learned today:  

Don't be afraid to be wrong. 
No one engages with perfection 
but everyone understands mistakes.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

A new direction

A friend introduced me to Zentangle and I went a little crazy with it!

I bought a set of Inktense pencils and just had to play!

 Learning to journal through art naturally includes reflection on spiritual things. 
 I found an old, "failed" watercolour I had painted and tangled over the top of it. 
 I really like the result!

Inspired by a tangle blog I saw where the focus was strong black and white and making everything look shiny, I decided to mount a watercolour.  My family commented that they thought it looked like an Indigenous inspired turtle.  I enjoy the ambiguity of it.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A thought...

"But I (God) lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey me commands."  Ex 20:6  
How much do parents love their children?  When things are as they should be, the answer is "more than anything".  When I watch my children sleep, comfort them in times of need or simply enjoy their company my heart fills with love for them.  We are made in God's image, a reflection of God.  How much more does His heart fill with love for us, especially when we choose to be one of His children.

God, please help us to understand that you lavish good things on us, that all good things are from You. Amen.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

I've been to the theatre and having admired the pieces in the foyer am feeling all inspired again.  It's a pity that I have an essay to write and a serious amount of marking to do!  However, that doesn't mean I can't share a couple of pieces I really like that I painted a couple of months ago.

I am toying with this habit of touching in highlights with red paint.  It just seems to make the picture snap.  Snap, by the way, is my latest arty word that I try and fit into every conversation I have with students about art.  It just makes the conversation snap!

A4 Oil on canvas paper SOLD

So this one was painted for my hubby.  It's oil on paper (about an inch smaller than A4 - I should really measure it but I can't be bothered right now!).  

And then I thought I would dabble with a pretty lady but no red highlights.
A4 Oil on canvas paper SOLD

Friday, 29 July 2011

This piece was inspired by a method I read about where light and dark were initially laid in with warm and cool colours.  Then the picture was built up from there with the finishing detail being completed with the pallet knife.  

I base coated the paper with acrylic paint and then used the pallet knife to place the rose. It was exciting and fun to see paint move and mix in ways I hadn't experienced before.
I normally paint with acrylic but have discovered how much I love oil.  We seem to suit each other! 

Inspired by Tibor Nagy

Shell is my mild-mannered name when I am an ordinary couch potato.  I magically transform into Beaminator as I juggle kids, hubby, teaching and creating art. I have transferred my fb addiction to this new forum of blogging - another excellent procrastination tool!  So while I wait to take Twin 1 to youth group (having already taken Twin 2 to a birthday party) I should be marking student's work.  Instead I am playing here, wondering whether this really is a good idea.  

But still, what a great place to exhibit and view shared artwork!