Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coloured Pencils - views so far

Right at this minute I am counting down the minutes until 12noon when babies go down to bed and I can paint. While I am counting down I thought that I would do a quick post with my findings on coloured pencils so far.

I initially started with a tin of Derwent Coloursoft 24's. I do like these, they are soft and chalky and I find them really good for getting intense blocks of colour. They blend nicely for skin tones and I can see how you could use a dry brush to get some other nice effects with them. So pretty happy overall with them and I think they will continue to have a place in my pencil collection.

I then tried Lyra Rembrandt Polycolour as my local art shop had a tin of 36 on special for a really good price a wee while ago. I really really like the range of colours in this tin especially in the reds and browns. I understand these are oil-based so wax bloom won't be an issue. These have a harder lead than the coloursoft and don't blend as smoothly but I find them superior when drawing details and lines as you feel you have much more control at dabbing coloured marks. So for eyes, eye lashes and anything that needs that detail, I think these are brilliant.

I also picked up a couple of Faber-Castel Polychromos but haven't used these enough to really see what they are like. I might have to put that on my christmas list.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm back and update on Tayla's portrait

I'm back from the depths of flu-ness and now it's just my babies that are still recovering. What a nasty nasty bug, it took 6 days of feeling crappy before I actually felt like doing anything, e.g. cooking dinner, making art etc. I did end up giving it to my entire family and so the babies have missed out on daycare today and yesterday and are very grumpy little people that are snotty and coughy and miserable.

However they are both also asleep right now and today has been one of those days that I was counting down the seconds until sleep time at 12noon.

I thought that I would give an update on the coloured pencil portrait I am doing of Tayla (I wish she was this happy today). Still got a way to go but I am getting there. I'm at that stage where I just want it to be finished now so I have to be very self-disciplined about not rushing the end. As I have said in previous posts, I am a starter by nature so I have to be very focused about finishing artwork. I used an entire pencil on the blue background last night and ran out so I am hoping my DH is heading past the art shop this afternoon and can pick another one up for me.

This pastel card eats pencils. It is also not as sturdy as I would like so I don't think I will use this for coloured pencil again and instead go back to the Art Spectrum colourfix paper. This Sennelier Pastel Card is great for pastels but seems a bit fragile for the amount of handling you do with coloured pencil and there are parts where the grittiness has come off and it is smooth card underneath with no tooth at all which the pencil won't stick to at all. I've had to use a fixative and then dab some pastel primer on and then colour over in parts including the scratches that my cat Lucy did.

I've got a couple of paintings in the studio part way through too at the moment but will get a bit further on before posting them. It's so nice to want to do art again after feeling so bad last week. I just want my babies to feel better now too as we have cabin fever big big time and need to get out of the house and do stuff.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cough, Sniff, Shiver, Ache, Ache, Ache

Yep, sick again and have been since last Friday. Over the weekend I had a suspected grumbling appendix (which blood tests seemed to confirm as far as they can confirm without opening you up) and since earlier this week I have a nasty nasty flu so I am currently feeling very sorry for myself. My DH has come down with it today and my toddler is coughing, although otherwise he seems perfectly happy so fingers crossed he doesn't have it. I really don't want my babies to get this.

So I have no energy or desire to create and have been lying on the couch while the kiddies play.

Roll on summer, warmth, sun and no more bugs!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reach Out - Image used for Mental Health Awareness Week

Here is the official poster for Mental Health Awareness Week which happens this October. If the image looks familiar, it is because the NZ Art Guild donated the use of the image of the collaborative artwork 'Reach Out' to the Mental Health Foundation for this week.

There are posters, postcards and magnetic words available and you can click here to go to the website to order these.

I know that I have said before just how proud I have been to have been involved with this project, from the conception, through to the auction when it sold but I have to say it again because I am so proud. It is an awesome image and how cool that a national organisation is using this as their main image for the nation-wide campaign in October.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hanging Day

Today Sophia Elise and I hung another round of art at the Albany Garden Centre and the Pizza de Casa restaurant. I have my pieces in the restaurant for the next 8 weeks and I was also pleasantly suprised to find out that a piece I had left in the garden centre last time had sold last Friday. On that top picture you can see my final road piece called 'Hope'. I forgot to take a proper photo of it as it was the last one finished and this morning was madness getting ready, so this one will have to do.

Here are two other pieces on the walls in the restaurant. It was a grey rainy cold day in Auckland today so we were having to juggle fine patches to get art to and from cars.

I'm really glad these are now hung. I want to take a step back now and concentrate on my skills development and not worry about exhibitions for a while. I also want to try new stuff without being hung up on the outcome. I also want a couple of days with no painting at all as I have painted every spare moment for the last week or so getting these ready and I want a break.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


'Freedom' - oil on canvas 400mm x 600mm x 40mm.

I guess the title for this one is fairly self-explanatory. This particular road comes from my imagination and the mountains are reminiscent of the Southern Alps in the South Island of New Zealand. Being a Canterbury girl (even though I've lived in Auckland for nearly a decade), I grew up with the wide open flatness of the Canterbury plains with the alps in the distance. Even though to be true to Canterbury, the fields wouldn't be green, instead a rusty gold. The only really green fields in the Canterbury plains are those that have those massive water systems. I think that is for the dairy farms, from my limited understanding, sheep farms don't need the amount of green grass that cows do.
Anyway this is finally the second in my road series that I started months ago and the last one still has one addition to occur tonight so that it is ready for tomorrow. I love Liquin!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Getting ready for wednesday...

..when I hang four pieces at the Pizza De Casa Restaurant which is in the grounds of the Albany Garden Centre. This first one is large, 1220mm x 610mm x 40mm which will go in the main wall of the restaurant. It is called Reflected Serenity to keep the whole serenity connection with the other two similar ones.
This one is smaller 750mm x 375mm x 40mm and I just can't get the colours to photograph right, it looks completely different in real life. This is one that I reworked as I started it ages ago, thought I had finished it and then got very dis-satisfied with it. So I sanded it down and smoothed out parts and re-painted them. This is called Piha Reflections and is from a photo I took out at Piha (famous NZ surf beach) last summer.

The other two are waiting for the final finishing tonight. I've been using Liquin with my oils paints but because it is so damn cold here at the moment, they are not drying quite as quickly as they normally do. But if I finish those last details tonight then they should be ready for Wednesday.

Today was a good Monday, firstly both babies were well enough to go to daycare - YAY! Secondly when I listening to the radio in the car this morning I heard about a competition to win a spot in a day-long workshop with Sarah Laurie who is a life coach and who currently writes a monthly article in one of my favourite magazines Next. I had to email to say why I wanted to go along and I got chosen! My reason for wanting to attend was about how I balance my life with being Mummy, accounts lady for DH's business, artist and Human Resources Consultant, especially given that I really want to start taking my HR business to that next level but balancing time with my children and husband and my art. So it is a full-day workshop later this month with a fancy lunch included and a gift pack from Clarins so I am really really looking forward to that and thank you Easymix ZM!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A sad yesterday

This is Stray. He was a puppy about 10 weeks old that belonged to one of our employees. Stray was abandoned when he was about a week old and was going to be put down because he was so little. Our employee adopted him and fed him around the clock and Stray lived and thrived.

Yesterday we puppy-sat him during the day while his owner was at a funeral and this is one of the many photos we took of him. He was such a lovely puppy, loved playing with our dog Connor and the munchkins. He was sitting and lying down on command and was such a good intelligent little dog.

Last night after he was back with his owner, he was outside to go to the toilet and saw a leaf or something blowing and chased it onto the road and was hit by a car. He died shortly after.

I just feel so sad because he was such a good little dog and had so much potential. I also really feel for his owner, our employee who is a young guy who spent so much of himself looking after this wee dog and training him. Stray had a short life but it was a good one. And yesterday, he had a brilliant day when he was here and played all day long. I feel sad.
And here is a quick update of Tayla's portrait. The hair still needs more work and ignore the funny spot on the left hand side - that was where Lucy scratched it. I tried spraying fixative and working over it but that didn't work, so I painted some Art Spectrum pastel primer over the fixed area and that seems to have worked. I just need to draw over that area to cover it.

I also have 4 paintings in the final stages of completion to be ready for Wednesday when they will be hung in a restaurant in Albany. I plan to finish them all over the next few days and I will post updates when each one is ready. I'm still sick but the kids were a lot better today.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Working through it and feline dementia

Last night I drugged myself up on lemsip and went into my studio to paint. Here is a better photo of Twilight Serenity (oil on linen 810 x 630mm) but I still may do some final tidying up before I sign it. I have blocked in the entire canvas for a large seascape as well and I just need to add rocks and tidy up and I am currently completely over sunset seascapes for the next wee while.

I have been reading some blogs of some incredible daily painters recently and have been getting really inspired by their small still-life daily paintings. So I set up a variety of props and fruit and veges the other night and took heaps of photos to start playing with. Last night I started this one of a wine glass with cherries on satin. Please note that this is in a very rough stage at the moment and needs heaps of refinement, I just can't wait to get back into it today and see if I can pull off painting glass. I've never tried glass before so we will see.

Also some news about my cat Lucy, who you may have seen in a painting I did of her recently. She is almost 15 and has been acting somewhat strange for a few months, crying during the night and wanting to be fed constantly and demanding of me. I thought that it was from me having babies and that she needed reassurance that she was still number one in my world. However I bought a newspaper the other day and read an article on feline dementia. And guess what two of the symptoms are? Howling at night and forgetting that they have been fed and demanding food all the time. Suddenly things made sense. Also they reckon half of all cats over the age of 15 have dementia to some degree. Lucy had also done some weird things recently like jumping on the bench (she knows she isn't allowed and never does that) and getting confused if my husband is sitting where I normally sit on the couch. So I am giving her lots of love and affection and it is now easier to deal with her demanding as I understand she is confused and not attention-seeking. My poor wee girl, I don't like her getting old.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Be back soon..

...I have my almost one year old and almost two year old both with a nasty flu as well as bad ear infections in both ears so I haven't been doing much painting or drawing to post. I've caught the bug now too so the three of us are coughing and spluttering and the two munchkins have high temps and very snotty noses so its all fun and games at the moment and sick babies are grumpy babies and right now are fighting over the duplo. Oldest child doesn't like it that baby sister is now standing up and almost walking and is asserting his dominant status. So I will be back, and I have all these ideas for paintings and all these reference photos so can't wait to get back into it.