Thursday, July 31, 2008

Twilight Serenity seascape - almost finished

I managed to get some good hours painting last night and have almost finished this. The black rocks are still very wet this morning so were reflective when I took the photo so I tried to adjust the contrast in Photoshop Elements but the rest is now not quite right. I'll hopefully finish this tonight with the final tidying up and then post a better photo of the final version with all the details.
And this is where I have got to with my portrait of my wee girl. Still a long way to go. I thought that I had put it in a safe place far away from little prying (and colouring) fingers until last night when I saw my cat Lucy sitting on it. And she had been cleaning herself and scratching on it so she has actually scratched off some of the tooth on the pastel card as you can see from the white mark above. I will need to work out how I fix it as I am not sure if coloured pencil will adhere to the white card under the grittiness. I might have to get out some acrylics and colour match. I was planning on leaving the background as it was anyway so I'll have to figure something out.

I was not impressed with my cat and she didn't care one iota.

And apparently my lovely toddler Carter drew all over the walls at daycare on Tuesday too... I feel just slightly embarrassed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Coloured pencil portrait

I really like coloured pencils. It wasn't that long ago (3 months perhaps?) that I didn't really even like drawing. I much preferred painting and I had to force myself to do drawing exercises.

I think the shift came when I stopped using charcoal for looser drawings and then used graphite for quite detailed drawings. All of a sudden I liked the outcomes I was getting and every drawing was better than the previous one.
So now I have discovered colour pencils, which not that long ago I probably thought of as something kids play with, rather than a serious artistic medium. How wrong was I and part of this discovery process is seeing some of the amazing artists that use coloured pencils on the net. And they are fun, time-consuming but fun. I have only tried two brands of pencils so far and I like them both. Derwent coloursoft and Lyra Rembrandt are the pencils and I've found that pastel card is really good for using these on. I like the tooth on the pastel card or colourfix paper and you can do layers and layers.
This wip above is yet another portrait of my darling daughter Tayla. She will be one in September and this is based on a photo I took of her a week ago. It is on Sennelier Pastel Card 240x320mm.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date

Here is my attempt for the Virtual Sketch Date. I rushed it at the end in order to get it finished today while the babies were asleep and then decided to crop and cropped too much so I'm not that happy with it. It is coloured pencil on pastelboard (which really does eat coloured pencils).
I do like coloured pencils though and it is a medium that I can use when the babies are up. My son loves my coloured pencils too and was having great fun with my artist quality ones yesterday. So I went to the bookshop and got some kids colour pencils but he still prefers mine. We also now have coloured pencil drawings on 4 doors at the moment that replace the crayon drawings that were cleaned off the other day. He is very happy to help clean his artworks from the doors, I just need to keep on re-iterating "only on the paper". Any hints from anyone that has gone through this before? I know that as a small child I covered a whole wall with my artwork when we were visiting my father's cousin and apparently it was a brand new painted wall too. So perhaps genetics tell....

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I am still very very very tired even though I actually got enough sleep last night and was only up once for my baby girl. She's been really crook for almost a week now and during that time has cut 4 teeth. So while being sick and flu-ey and chest infection-ey, the poor wee mite has also had the pain of teeth coming through which means she's cut 6 teeth in the last 3 weeks which is a lot. This has also meant that she hasn't been sleeping well at all, hence her mother has been sleeping even less.
I however did manage to start the sky on this seascape commission which you can see above on my easel with Connor enjoying the sun below. The sky still needs some work, but once that is done, the rest seems to come together easily so I am hoping I can do more tonight and get this finished quickly.
I have also found a new blog this morning called Virtual Sketch Date and once a month there is a photo posted and you have a week to do your version of it. I'm hoping to get this finished before Saturday which is the cut off so fingers crossed for that and I'll post my version then. Check it out here for this months image and how it all works.
Also please check out Reach Out on trademe. My husband and I put a bid in on the weekend however I don't think we will be lucky enough to get it for what we bid, and it is worth so much more. I also feel that it does belong in a public setting, whether in a foyer somewhere or something similar, but it would be nice if it ends up in the right place for many people to enjoy. DH and I have talked about if we were lucky enough to be the winners, that perhaps we would donate it to the right sort of place.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Reach Out - now on trade me

The auction started last night on trade me (New Zealand's version of ebay for those outside of NZ) and already there have been over 4500 views of it and bidding has started. Click here to go to the auction and check it out.

You can also buy limited edition prints of Reach Out as well as prints of the individual pieces. Click here for that.

On a personal note, my weekend of painting didn't happen. My husband is in lots of pain and is hobbling around with crutches and my wee girl has been really sick and up all night every night for the last 3 nights. So I am a very tired mummy and my husband feels terrible because he can't help, but as he can't even lift them at the moment, it has to be me. However she has started on antibiotics today and I think she is starting to feel better which is great because this week I have so much painting to do. I'm just really hoping that my son doesn't catch this from her as it is a nasty nasty bug! (and I hope I don't too)!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Queen Lucy in Red - Completed

I managed to finish this painting yesterday as part of my experiment to see if I can paint while the kiddies are up and playing. I'm happy with the painting, although the photo is not good as today is very glarey and as some of the paint is still wet it has picked this up. Oil on canvas 12" x 12".

In terms of painting during the day while my children are around, I am in two minds. I found the actual painting process to be very fragmented as I couldn't let myself drift off in that trance-like state where you just paint and lose track of time and space. Instead I was constantly checking that they were both okay and happy and I guess I was scared of going into that state so I was vigilantly guarding against it. I do think that the mummy gene would over-ride that anyway and I probably didn't have to be so vigilant. What I mean is that once you have children, you always have your ear out to what is going on. The only time I have a fantastic deep sleep is when I can have a sleep during the day in the weekend when my husband is looking after them. That is the only time I truly let myself go. It is the same with painting. When I paint at night, they are asleep and the monitor is on and my husband is home and would hear if anything went on. I also like spending quality time with my babies during the day and playing with them.

On the other hand though, I did manage to get quite a number of hours of painting done even if it was broken into 10 minutes at a time. I guess the outcome is that it isn't as pleasant an experience but it's nice to see that painting her this morning and it wouldn't be here if I hadn't painted during the day.

Another reason why I painted yesterday was that my husband had his knee surgery and it helped me keep my mind off it because even though he has been through this before, I still worry. The surgery went well, but they had to do a more intensive procedure than planned once they got inside and so instead of just being restricted for a couple of days, he is on crutches for 6 weeks and has been told not to go into work. As we have employees and are building several houses at the moment, we are working out how that will work. He has plenty of work he can do from home in terms of drawing plans for the next houses we build and finding the next project, but we have to ensure everything keeps on track. At least we build for ourselves as we keep and then rent out, so we don't have to worry about clients or getting it finished for selling.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Queen Lucy in Red - WIP

I managed to do another couple of hours on this painting of Lucy last night so I thought that I would post my progress. I really enjoy painting satin and ribbons. Hopefully I might get some time today to even try and finish it.

I have really enjoyed just painting something for me and not stressing about getting stuff done for exhibitions etc. I have 5 paintings that I need to get completed in the next few weeks for this commission and also I have some going into the restaurant at the Albany Garden Center, but this has refreshed me and is a break so I'll be keen to kick back into some seascapes again after this.

This is oil on canvas 12" x 12". Lucy my cat, (who will appear in the white space) will be 15 years old this November. I have had her since I was 17 and she has been with me my entire adult life which included all the flats etc I lived in when I was younger and a big shift from Christchurch to Auckland. Lucy is getting more demanding as she gets older (and those that know her would say that she has always been demanding). I think the thing is that we have this bond and she would prefer it if there were no other animals or people that lived with us, that it was just me and her and that I stayed home to be with her. She is exceptionally patient with the munchkins though, which I didn't really expect and in fact when Carter was going through a rough phase, I really wanted her to fight back so that he learnt that he couldn't treat her like that. Incidentally it took a scratch from a cat at daycare to get him to respect cats.

Lucy is my girl and I hate the fact that she is getting older. She still looks great and doesn't have that old aged look that some cats get and is pretty healthy and active. I am so not going to cope when it is her time to go though, I absolutely dread that day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Painting in the kitchen?

Today I thought that I would trial painting while both munchkins were up and playing. I got all excited and printed out a photo I took of my cat Lucy as I've been looking forward to painting her and satin ribbons again so I thought I would combine the two. Set everything up with a table-top palette I had picked up secondhand and never used before and picked up a brush dreaming of going into a blissful state of creativity while my angelic children played at feet.
Well, life as a mummy doesn't quite work that way and given that it was late afternoon when I expected to magically combine the two, I should have known. Over the course of 1 hour, I think I managed 15 minutes worth of broken painting, so I might try once more to see if this will work, and if not, go back to the garage and only paint when they are asleep. I had to really think about what I took into the house with me as well as I don't want any solvents around my children and had to ensure that everything was kept well back from prying hands.

My lovely son Carter who is almost two also decided that he wanted to create when he saw Mummy painting, so out came his easel and he was restricted to crayons and coloured pencils.

I was planning on working on the seascape commission tonight but I did two coats of gesso on that linen canvas today and they don't feel entirely dry. I've really noticed a difference this winter with drying times and I think being in the garage extends it as when I painted in my room in the house things seemed to dry quicker. I don't want to stuff anything up with this piece so I will wait until tomorrow night and I am now about to go down to the lounge and continue with this little painting of Lucy while keeping my lovely husband company while he plays playstation. He's been working so hard lately I want him off his computer tonight and relaxing as tomorrow he has his third lot of knee surgery (he loves his wakeboarding and will be back out the back of the boat doing flips in summer once he's recovered from this latest lot of surgery).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Middling Muddlings!

I haven't posted because I haven't finished anything but I have been doing stuff, I'm just in the middle of everything. Hence I thought that I would blog about my middling muddling middles.

Here is my desk in my studio (I took over half of the garage and my poor car now needs to live outside now). I am playing around with lino prints as part of my extramural study. And at this stage I can say that they are very time-consuming in the cutting out, you do need to spend time planning before just jumping in, especially if you are using 3 colours like I will be, but the outcome is pretty cool. Not necessary my image outcome, I mean, just an original print is something special. I'm doing a female figure as you can probably see and I have cut 2 of the blocks and printed both colours so I can work out what I need to do with the mid-colour block which will put a lot more definition on the body.

Also on my messy desk, there is a glass coke bottle to be drawn, my box of pencil-related goodies, a drink bottle (never ever be without water for babies and toddlers) and behind is another of the middlings of another painting which will be one big close up wave once it has moved on from the blobs of colour stage.

This photo shows my painting area, I have a nice new linen canvas on my easel. This will be the first time I have tried linen and I am really looking forward to it. Why is that there? Well yesterday morning I got an exciting phone call from a man who had seen my painting at the Bruce Mason Centre which has a red sold ticket on it and he wants a similar one, same size. So yesterday I trotted off to Gordon Harris who are my normal trusty providers of the canvases I really like to find that they are completely out of stock of that size in all their stores and would have to order it in from the guy who makes them in the South Island. As I promised I would have this painting done within a fortnight, that was not an option. My issue with the size is that the canvases I buy are in metric and this one was 600x800mm which does not translate to any standard size with inches.

So this morning I trotted off, baby girl in tow, to Studio Art Supplies in Parnell as I heard that they make canvases to order. What a fabulous shop, staff that are practicing artists and so knowledgeable and helpful and I got a linen canvas then and there for the price of the cotton canvas. He was going to make me up a cotton one and then asked if I had tried linen. I said no, as my prices didn't really justify using linen at this stage, so he said he would give it to me at the cotton price which came to a pretty good discount. I was stoked and I will so be going back there again. Fantastic shop!

And last couple of photos, this is "my" room in which I also used to paint in. This is why my babies share a room because I need this space! Actually they love sharing so I don't feel guilty.
We do live in a fair sized house, 4 bedrooms plus study, but we need more space. I've worked out that in our next house which will be THE house, I pretty much need 3 rooms of my own, my studio, my library and my office. I am a book addict as well as you can probably tell and these are the 2 sides of my room and don't include the 15 odd boxes of books in the attic!

So the reason I thought that I would post photos of my studio and my room too, is to show the middling muddling middles of everything. I am slowly getting things sorted and my studio is close to being organised. My books are in loose genre order and then alphabetical order but the stuff on the floor needs sorting and I need to bring the filing cabinet down here. I'll get there, just with babies and toddlers and work and art and life, I don't seem to have much time! Love it though!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Some interesting links

I do actually plan on getting some art done while the kiddies are asleep at 12noon today but currently everything is still in that "ugly" stage. So I thought that I would post some interesting links from some browsing over the last few days.

I really liked this, JK Rowling's speech to Harvard graduates about failure and imagination.

This site is great, have never come across it before and then suddenly it was mentioned in 2 blogs that I keep up with so in terms of figure references for art, Posemaniacs is a very cool site and I can see me using this in the future.

Some of the best blogs around that I read regularly are the very well-known Making a Mark which I would recommend to all artists, a Gurney Journey which is James Gurney's blog who created Dinotopia and just one more from the number of excellent blogs that appear each morning on Goggle reader for me (one of the benefits of living the other side of the world from many of these bloggers mean I have a nice read every morning while the munchkins eat their breaksfast) would be Jafabrit with her very unique art and interesting way of sharing it with the community.

I also plan on doing a massive back up on my computer today - I've been meaning to do this for months and Tina Mammoser (aka) The Cycling Artist mentioned about her mac crashing and how she only backed up recently after reading someone's blog. It's not just the business stuff, photos of art etc that I have on my computer, it is the thousands of photos of my babies that are irreplacable, so no more procrastinating, at my lunch break today (when both bosses/mini-dictators are sound asleep) I will draw, paint and back-up!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Some good news

Just a quickie to let you know some good news. Firstly "my red boots" won the 'People's Choice' award and tied for 'Most Creative Use of Theme' challenge in the NZ Art Guild and is on the front page here if you want to have a look.

And secondly, my piece in the current NZ Art Guild exhibition at the Bruce Mason Centre currently has sold! I'm really pleased with that.

I actually have several paintings on the go at the moment but they are all at that very ugly stage (the coloured blobs on canvas stage as my husband refers to it) so I'll keep going and post some progress soon when it makes more sense to others.

Monday, July 7, 2008

My red boots - a crack at colour pencil

Each fortnight the NZ Art Guild has a fortnightly theme challenge. The last one is "winter" and the challenge was that you had to use a medium that you haven't used before. I've had a 24 pack of Derwent coloursoft pencils that I bought a while ago, so I thought that I would give them a try. I did this on Art Spectrum black colourfix paper which I had actually bought for pastel work but seemed to work fine for coloured pencils.

The reason for the boots? One of the very few things I like about winter is the fact I get to wear boots and this year I bought these beautiful red boots that I love dearly and try to wear as much as possible. I wore them to the NZ Art Guild opening night last tuesday and kicked them off when I get home (am a slippers girl at home, and actually croc slippers at the moment horror of horrors). On wednesday morning I saw them lying there and thought, that will be my way of symbolising winter in this current challenge.

I enjoyed using the coloured pencils and I probably spent about 3-4 hours on this. I can see how if you spend a lot more time, how some artists come up with incredible realistic detailed work using coloured pencils. I left the background looser and tried for more detail and smoothness on the boots. It's okay for a first crack and I think I might play around with them some more. I don't think any medium will beat oils for me though, I love oils best.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Reach Out!

Here is the official image of Reach Out. I am so proud to be involved in this project and have thoroughly enjoyed the behind the scenes side of things as well. Big thanks to my lovely husband who looked after the practical side of things and built the frame/base etc.

It is huge, 1.27m x 1.52m. 88 artists have contributed and it is made up of 90 individual artworks. You can see individual photos of all the individual artworks here. The way it worked was that each artist was provided with a small wooden panel and given the theme of "on your mind" to paint to. They could interpret the theme in any way they wished. We then combined the images to make the one artwork. None of the contributing artists knew what the image was until we unveiled it on Tuesday night.

Artists: 88 individual NZ Art Guild Artists painting 90 separate panels
Media: Wood (some artists have incorporated mixed media also)
Size: 1270 x 1520mm
Extras: Sold with hanging brackets, artist list & informational story
Designed by: Sophia Elise, Melissa Muirhead and Tanya Dann

To be listed on Trademe at 8pm Saturday 19th July - auction closes 8pm 29th July

20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ

And here is a photo after the unveiling. From left to right: Shaughan Woodcock (Chief Executive Assistant, Mental Health Foundation of NZ), Melissa Muirhead (NZ Art Guild Moderator), Sophia Elise (Manager, NZ Art Guild), Mayor Andrew Williams (Mayor of North Shore City)

There is also a limited edition print of 'Reach Out' available right now as well as the ability to order individual boxed prints of the individual pieces. For details on how to order these, please click here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NZ Art Guild Exhibition Opening

Here are some photos from the fantastic evening we had. There was a great turn out, a number of sales and an extremely positive response from the attendees when we unveiled the collaborative project (which I can now post a photo of as it has been so secret squirrel for the past month even though it was hanging on my wall during that time). This photo is of the downstairs area. You can see my sunset seascape hanging at the top further back

This is right before the great unveiling with me on the left and Sophia Elise on the right. I was a bit worried I was going to miss my cue about dropping the curtain but it was all good.

And this is right after the unveiling. There was about 10 seconds of silence and then everyone started reacting. Then for the next hour people kept on coming up to look at it in close detail. We got fantastic feedback from everyone there.

And here is a photo of 'Reach Out'. Later this month it will be auctioned on Trade Me. I will post the link at the time. 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand which is a fantastic organisation for the NZ Art Guild to support. Personally I think this piece would be fantastic in a foyer/entrance area of a corporate or community building as it is so large and has such an impact it would be such a focal point. I really hope the auction goes fabulously and lots of money is raised for the Mental Health Foundation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

NZ Art Guild Exhibition opens tonight!

Well, yesterday was hanging day for the annual NZ Art Guild exhibition at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland. We had lots of fun and a small team of us started in the morning by getting the collaborative artwork hung and then covered quickly in preparation for the grand unveiling tonight! We then prepared all the panels with artist's names, profiles, business card holders etc so at 1pm, the artists could come themselves and hang their pieces in the space allocated to them. Artists from outside Auckland were kindly adopted by Auckland artists which meant they couriered their artwork to their adoptee last week and the adoptee hung it for them yesterday along with their own piece(s).

We were having a bit of a quiet lunch break after a busy morning preparing, which came to a sudden halt at 1pm exactly when about 10 or more artists came to hang their pieces. Everyone had come by 3pm so within a couple of hours it became a fully hung exhibition. And can I say that it looks great. There is incredible diversity in the artwork, and there are pieces that will suit all budgets and preferences.

Tonight is the opening night so I am really looking forward to it. A nanny has been booked for the evening so my DH can come with me. He built the frame and base for the collaborative project and has been really involved so I think he is actually really looking forward to tonight as well.

I'll get some photos taken tonight and hopefully post these tomorrow. So exciting!

Oh, and here are the details again from the opening night invitation - open to all.

'Make it Memorable'
Opening night:
Tuesday 1st July 2008 at 6:30pm – free entry – all welcome
Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna Beach, Auckland
July 1st - 30th 2008
Monday to Friday 9 - 5 & Saturday 10 - 4
The NZ Art Guild would like to formally invite you to the opening of the 3rd Annual Members Exhibition "Make it Memorable", which is being held at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland on the 1st July at 6.30pm..
Not only are we showcasing a stunning array of original New Zealand art by 63 artists from around NZ, but we will also be unveiling this years Collaborative Project, "Reach Out"!
Reach Out is a large, awe inspiring artwork comprising of 90 individual paintings completed by 88 NZ Artists.. At the end of the exhibition this one-of-a-kind artwork will be auctioned off on TradeMe with 20% of the funds raised being donated to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ.
The NZ Art Guild is proud to be working with the Mental Health Foundation of NZ to enable individuals, whanau, organisations and communities to improve and sustain their mental health and to realise their full potential.
We would be delighted if you would join us in the opening celebrations of this fantastic exhibition.
For more information go to