Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Photos from Vegetarian Lifestyle Festival

On Saturday I dropped off my paintings to be exhibited at the Vegetarian Lifestyle and Food Festival and realised that I had forgotten my business cards. I was just going to flag it and then late Saturday night I figured that it was important that I did drive out to the Festival first thing in the morning to drop off the cards. Getting cards picked up and people then being directed to my website was what I wanted to achieve from this exposure at this festival. So I did drop them off and apparently quite a few cards were picked up so fingers crossed some interest comes from that.
So here are just a couple of photos. The other two vegetarian artists that were displaying their works are the very talented Sophia Elise and Michelle Whitehouse. The art was displayed on the stage area of the hall where people could also come up and sit and eat tasty vegetarian food. There was a really good turn out and it was really busy so I'm really pleased that I participated.
I've got no art to show from the past couple of days as I haven't done any. I have been busy doing development work for my Human Resources business and I have also joined a gym. The gym part means that I am feeling rather tired and sore and instead of painting tonight, I am very tempted to lie on the couch with a good book.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date - September

Here it is - my entry this month for Virtual Sketch Date. I can't wait to see all the other interpretations when they are loaded today. Please go and check them out too - links will be listed on the VSD blog.

This is coloured pencil on AS Colourfix paper. I mainly used Prismacolor pencils which I think may be becoming my favourite out of the coloured pencil brands. The size is 260mm x 230mm and this is now my fifth coloured pencil piece.

I do like working on the Colourfix paper but might try HP watercolour next time to see what the difference is. I went through one and a half white pencils on this as this paper does eat pencil.

I notice on the overseas blogs, that people keep referring to Stonehenge paper as being the best. I haven't come across this in NZ yet but I might do a ring around and see if any of the art shops can get it or already have it. I do have some Arches smooth paper so that will be worth a try. I use the Arches normally for the graphite portraits and it is lovely paper. I also want to play around with using solvent on coloured pencil so that will be interesting to experiment with.

Anyway it is a Saturday morning and I have two exceptionally grumpy toddlers as they both have colds so I'm glad I got this one done well in advance of the deadline as I get the feeling that today is going to be one of "those" days. I have got a large oil painting that I have started out in my studio but I don't think I will be getting a chance to work on that today!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mackenzie - graphite portrait WIP

I have actually finished the virtual sketch date drawing but as I can't post that until tomorrow, I thought that I would post what I have been working on this afternoon - a graphite portrait of my god-daughter Mackenzie. Her mother (my oldest best-est friend) sent me this photo several months ago and it felt good to start this today. Once again I sat on the stairway with a gate between me and the munchkins and I could see them playing while I drew. There is fantastic afternoon light that comes through so it is a really nice way to spend an afternoon (except when I have to play referee with the sibling rivalry which has kicked in recently).
Obviously there is still a far bit of work to go on this, but I thought that I would post a WIP so I can now text my friend (she lives in Australia) to say "go check out my blog NOW" so she can see that I have finally started!
Tomorrow I will post my virtual sketch date finished piece - we don't watch TV but if there is a show we like we will work through the DVD of it within a week or two. Several years ago my youngest brother got us into Stargate Atlantis so last night I managed about 4 hours straight drawing while listening/watching the most recent season. We finished it at about 11pm last night at the same time I finished my drawing so that felt good to get that done well before the deadline.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date - September WIP

This month I am entering the Virtual Sketch Date again. I still have a lot to do on this if it will be ready to post on Saturday. Basically the rules are that once a month an image is posted on the Saturday before the last week of the month and then you have a week to use that image to create your piece. You can crop and change as you want. I am using coloured pencils for this which does take a long time.
Here is the original image -This month the image has been kindly provided by Sharon.

This morning I am off to the museum with the toddlers so I am hoping to get some inspiration and some ideas for a direction to take with my painting. The weather isn't great today which is a pity as we were hoping to have a picnic lunch outside on the domain afterwards but I am sure we can find somewhere to have a nice lunch. Speaking of this, I better go start getting kids dressed and ready.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Studio cupboards!!!!

Today I finally got my new (old) cupboards cleaned, set up and filled in my studio. And I feel pretty damm excited about it. This is an old metal filing cabinet type of cupboard that had originally belonged to my father-in-law before he passed away 2 years ago. He was an engineer that invented things so I can only imagine the myriad of bits and pieces that it would have housed for him.
For the past 2 years it was left in the garage of one of our rentals and would have been used for mechanic type stuff by car-mad tenants. As they recently moved out, I spotted this for the first time and decided that it would be perfect for me.
So this morning my lovely husband removed the bottom 3 shelfs to make space for blank canvases and I set it all up while re-organising my studio. As I've said before, I decided that my car would live outside so that I could take over half the garage as "my" room that I previously painted in, has thousands of books, a big antique oak desk and it was just getting squashed.
As you can see, I have enough small canvases to last for the next few years - you don't realise how much you have until you start organising. I don't have enough large canvases but I am going to explore getting my husband to make these out of board and see how that goes.
Here is a close up of the top shelfs. It is so nice to have things put away and really good to have the toxic type stuff way up high in a lockable cabinet. While my kids are too young to be allowed near my studio at present, we won't be able to keep them gated in a section of the house forever and I need to ensure that everything is way out of inquisitive hands.
So I feel good that I have a nice tidy organised studio - just need some spare time to get into it now!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Charcoal portrait study

This is my third post today! I am a happy little blogger today aren't I.

I just wanted to quickly post this before I forget. It is a charcoal study I'm doing for some paintings around faces or figures. My husband thought she looked scary so I'm okay with that. I was going for something fairly direct and after he said that I thought I might put dark charcoal around all of her head to really just focus on the face. So I just see where this gets too in terms of a painting, but I am enjoying playing around with some different ideas at present.
I have also spent a productive hour or so while babies are sleeping, re-priming some canvases that I had started and wasn't happy with. I was getting frustrated with the amount of part-finished canvases I had in my studio so it feels really good to get some order and actually create finished new works from those canvases. I had some small textured acrylic pieces 6" x 6" so last night I pva'ed textured papers over them and then today have give several coats of gesso so they should be ready now to play around with.
I actually really want to start working BIG again but I have used up most of my big canvases so I am thinking about trying board and getting my lovely practical useful husband to make me up some big boxed boards. If I don't have to pay the labour costs, then it should work out significantly cheaper than if I was to buy artist quality canvases in those large large sizes.

NZ Vegetarian Society - Food and Lifestyle Festival

Just a quick note to say that I and several other vegetarian artists have been asked to display artwork at the Vegetarian Food and Lifestyle Festival on Sunday 28 September here in Auckland. Here is the link for more details.

I will be getting 4 pieces ready for this and hope to have a couple of new pieces completed in time.

I also need to work on a blurb about why I am a vegetarian and my art today as the NZ Vegetarian magazine is doing an article about us vegetarian artists and the NZ Art Guild. So that's all exciting and fun and I will head over to Mt Eden on the day of the Festival to have a good look around myself.

I've been a vegetarian for about 6 or 7 years now. The initial reason I became a vegetarian was that I had really high cholesterol. As I was in my mid-twenties, not over-weight and fairly active at the time, I needed to make a change to see if I could reduce it naturally. My doctor gave me a year otherwise I would be on medication for the rest of my life which I wasn't keen on. It made a difference immediately and I noticed a big increase in my health following that as well. Obviously my body just doesn't like to process meat and animal products and I found I didn't miss meat at all. Now with a greater awareness of global concerns around food production and the like, I also believe that one day our society will reach a point where it can't sustain the level of meat eaten as that restricts land and resources that can be used far more effectively for other food sources. I think that will happen in my lifetime too (my husband will suffer as he is a big carnivore).

Anyway, must go as munchkins are both in bed for their nap (although not asleep quite yet) so I will see to the cat (who is wearing a collar still after surgery and hates it with a passion) and then I will take the opportunity to go paint as I have many ideas whirling inside my mind at present and I want to express them on canvas.

Do schools today kill creativity? (Ken Robinson, TEDTalks)

This is brilliant, highly thought-provoking and inspiring. If you have 20 minutes of listening time, please listen to this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

As the Storm engulfs - oil on canvas

Here is the final version of the skyscape I have been working on for the past few weeks. It is called "As the Storm engulfs us" and is oil on canvas 910mm x 610mm.

This is the painting that originally frustrated me as I didn't get one big work period to do the sky so it was done over a lot of half hour sessions. By the last few sessions, I actually began to like working on it over a period of time as I felt that I really was able to build up and almost sculpt the clouds. You can't see that so much in the photo but is much more obvious in real life. It also meant that I used a lot more layers than normal as I found I had to keep on painting over areas so that I could get the effects that I wanted.

This is a fairly dark skyscape as my husband pointed out and I think the reason it turned out that way is due to what has been happening in our lives recently. There are changes in my family which have made me sad and my stepson's mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer so all that stuff has been top of mind recently.

I'm not going to go into the meanings of the poem itself which is the text down the bottom except to say that it is about my marriage (and when I read it to my husband he said "that's deep"):

We are a plural
Made singularly
Entwined we keep tightening
These bindings we choose
Outside batters and storms
And bits tear from us
But we keep entwining
And tightening by choice

And before I go, please note that you can now subscribe to new posts by email. It's that box on the top right hand side, just put in your email address and then each time I post something new you get it via email in your inbox. I use Google Reader to keep up with the blogs I read but I know a lot of people don't use readers and prefer email updates so I have finally got my act together with this.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Black Lab Portrait - my Connor

I managed to finish this today while sitting on the stairs with the sunlight coming through the window while my lovely husband minded the toddlers. I'm really happy as to how this turned out so I will take this to a frame shop and get a mat cut for this. I need to try out different coloured mats given that it is on blue Colourfix paper. So I'm pretty pleased given this is my fourth coloured pencil piece and my first coloured pencil animal portrait.

I used a mixture of Lyra Rembrandt, Derwent Coloursoft and Prismacolor pencils. I do like Prismacolors but I still think the coloursofts are the best for good black coverage with the softer lead.

Even though I didn't have toddlers trying to get in my way this afternoon while drawing, I did have to deal with my cat Lucy. She is currently wearing a plastic collar around her head to stop her tearing out stitches and it is driving her batty. She is very grumpy and can't get comfortable so wants to share this with me. Right now she is trying to climb on my arm while I type and this afternoon she was trying to rub the collar off on my arm when I was trying to draw. As this has to stay for for at least another week and a half, I hope she starts to get used to it as it in't pleasant being woken up in the middle of the night with a plastic collar digging into my face.

But I must go because I would like to try and finish this skyscape tonight, so hopefully if I do get it finished, I will post a photo of the final version tomorrow.

Crisis of direction and some links to keep you going

I am having a bit of a crisis of direction.

So far this year, I have been focused on getting paintings done for exhibitions or art shows. I tend to work really well with deadlines and it flicks me into achievement mode and I get very productive. The issue for me is that I start to feel like I am pumping out stuff that I find fairly easy to work on and I also get hung up on the whole "will it sell", "will people like it" mode. And to be honest, I don't want to be in that mode at this early point of my art career as I am still working out what I want to do with my art and I think the focus on selling would limit me and restrict me from experimenting (this is a personal standpoint - others may have a different view).

So right now I have no new exhibitions coming up, the main art shows are over until the middle of next year and I feel a sense of freedom in that I now have time to play and learn, but also a sense of confusion over what direction I take.

I had an interesting discussion with my tutor last week and I told him that I reach a point where things are working really well on a piece, it is looking good so then I get fearful of experimenting as I know that if I play safe, it will turn out a nice piece. However I think this is stopping me from growing and I feel like I need to make some changes and stop playing safe. It's a scary step though when you have invested hours into an artwork (especially coloured pencil artwork) and know that if you experiment and it doesn't work, then you have ruined a potentially good piece and those hours spent creating it. I think a big part of my hang up with this, is that my time is very very precious. In a week, I am a Mummy to a one year old and two year old (except for when they are in part-time daycare), I look after the business side and employee side of things for my husband's construction business and do all the tenancy stuff for our property investment business. I also am about to start cranking up my own HR work again and increasing that - I am taking a new direction with that which I am really excited about but need to do a lot of development work over the next few months to be ready to kick that off, and I am studying art which requires 15 hours a week minimum. So life is fairly busy and I love it. But I think it makes me just a tad too precious about feeling like I have wasted time.

So, I think I need to get over the whole "wasted time" thing. I need to really recognise that even if it doesn't work as a finished artwork, then the process is still the most important factor. I do work well with challenges (which is why I like deadlines) so I need to shift my thinking and instead of having time-frames as my challenges, to make experimenting and "playing" my focus.

Anyway, that's where I am at. I am almost finished Connor's portrait and the cloud painting is almost done - I'm just hung up on experimenting with it and I will go for it, it's just working out how to do it as I am really happy with where it is at right now as a skyscape and I am about to change that with what I plan to do. I won't say anything more until I post the final version.

And also as promised, here are some links to other fantastic art blogs that I keep an eye on and get inspiration from. The incredible Making a Mark by Katherine Tyrrell which is pretty much the most information art blog that I have come across and I highly recommend.

Edward B. Gordon does wonderful work and posts a new painting every day. I love the dark/light contrast he achieves regardless of the subject matter. Karin Jurick is another artist who is a master that the dark/light contrast and I especially love her art gallery pieces (with figures standing in front of famous artworks) - just stunning. She has also started a new blog Different Strokes from Different Folks in which she posts a reference photo each week and then her painted version and then invites others to do their interpretation. Last week was the first one and she had an incredible response. I'm going to try and participate - if not this week, then next.

I also love Tracy Helgeson's work and even if she isn't painting, she still updates her blog with the going's on in her life which is always interesting reading. And her studio is incredible - I had to show my husband the photos and have instructed him that in "THE" house, I want something similar.

And finally, given that I am enjoying playing with coloured pencils at present and loving drawing Connort our black lab, I am in awe over the incredible work that Laura from Animal Art Adventures does - her animal portraits are just incredible.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Update on Connor's portrait

I managed to get quite a bit more done on Connor's portrait on Friday night so I have pretty much finished his head with just a little bit of touch upsrequired and then the body. I'm pretty happy with it so far. Once it is finished I will put it in a frame to go on my husband's desk. I have the frame already as I took the photo that this is based on out of that frame for reference. My husband really likes the progress so far so he is more than happy that I wrecked his original photo (which now has grid lines all over it). Next post I will hopefully post the final version.

The other creative thing that I ended up doing this weekend was icing birthday cakes. My daughter is one on Monday and my son is two on Friday so we had the birthday party yesterday which was lovely. I want to do the tradition of making a themed birthday cake each year and I have a couple of cake books with different decorations. My son chose the cat cake as he loves pointing out cats (or meows as he calls them) and I figured the the moon cake would then match going with the nursery rhyme 'Hey Diddle Diddle'. So I had the cat and the moon and would just need the cow to complete it but as there are only the two kids we only did two cakes and that was enough. Why don't the final outcomes ever come out as pretty and perfect as the pictures in the book? Anyway below you can see my daughter with both cakes in front of her. My son had moved away at this point but you get the picture.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

WIP - Black Lab Portrait

Today I started a coloured pencil portrait of our dog Connor. I've been wanting to paint or draw this particular photo for a long time and as the wip of Tayla is down in Wellington with my tutor at the moment, I thought that I would draw Connor to keep me busy in the meantime. Drawing black fur is an interesting exercise and you have to be so observant to see the different tones. It's surprising how little is actually pure black. I'm doing this on ColourFix paper which I prefer as it is more robust and can handle the handling.

The weather is so beautiful today that I ended up sitting outside in the sun drawing while the munchkins were asleep. Spring has truly arrived and I am so grateful. I am not a winter person when winter is rainy and cloudy. I can handle winter if there is sun, but this particular winter in Auckland has been so wet. Yesterday I took the munchkins on an hour and a half walk (which included a stop at the library and pet shop) and it felt so good to be outside. My son Carter found a cocker spaniel puppy at the pet shop that he wanted to take home saying "Mine Mine Mine". At home he has Connor, our black lab, but I think he likes the smallness of the puppies as Connor weighs at least 3 times as much as Carter and while he is good for climbing on he isn't the right size for tug of wars etc. Carter used to love playing with Stray when he used to visit.

I am still working on this skyscape but still a long way to go. I prefer to work wet-on-wet with big skies like this, just doing highlights when it is dry. However I haven't managed a large enough gap of time to do that so have been doing bits and pieces so I'm having to work differently which I'm not enjoying so much and you lose the opportunity for the real blending when parts have dried already. I think I will end up doing lots of glazing to get the effect I want. Ignore the bottom, I haven't done anything with that and the only reason it is blue because I painted over an unfinished painting and that was the sky.

I probably won't have another crack at this one until Sunday as we have a birthday party for both munchkins this Saturday. Tayla is one next Monday and Carter is two next Friday so it is a joint party. My Mum is coming up for the entire week so hopefully I can get some extra painting time next week as I feel I really need to catch up.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mannequin Drawing

Several months back I picked up a plastic mannequin cheap off Trade Me. I've had it sitting in my studio ever since with the idea that one day I will paint it. So over the weekend I gesso'ed it as a start and it looks pretty good all white, much nicer than the plastic skin tone.

Today I needed to get some more drawings done to send off to my tutor so I sat the mannequin in the sun in the lounge and proceeded to do several drawings of which this is one of them. It is on A3 sized paper and is conte crayon. I haven't managed to attend another life drawing class for a couple of years now so while I need to do that soon, this mannequin might keep me busy for a wee while. I wouldn't mind painting a picture of it before I actually paint it.

I am also part way through several paintings of which this skyscape is one. it is still in the very messy stages and I haven't even blocked in all the canvas but you can get the picture. Hopefully I will have some energy tonight once the munchkins are off to bed.

On a positive note, spring has arrived officially and I am damn pleased. I am completely and over winter in Auckland this year as it has rained and rained and rained and then to top it off, it rained just a bit more. It was lovely to have sun shining and blue sky and to see blossoms on the trees as you drive around. Bring it on. I'm not a winter girl at the best of times but I grew up with the Canterbury winters which are dry and cold with frosts in the morning and then crisp cold sunny days. I would much prefer that to the warmer and wetter winter we get in Auckland.