Friday, November 28, 2008

Charcoal pencil portrait - my lovely husband

I was going through photos the other night when I was trying to find a decent photos of both kids together for the annual calendar that daycare organises, which is a pretty hard task - I have lots of great individual shots but very few with both of them. I came across a photo of my lovely husband holding our daughter and I thought, I want to draw that picture of him. So yesterday I did and the result is above. This is charcoal pencil on A4 Arches Smooth and I am heaps happier with this one compared to the last one I did.

I managed to do this when the kids were up and about and set my son up with his own drawing board, some paper and a pencil and a copy of this photo of Daddy so that he could draw Daddy too. I would post his two year version however last night his one year old sister tore it to bits when she wasn't too happy with her brother after she decided WWF-style wrestling isn't that much fun after a while (and as I write this now they are practicing wrestling moves on each other on the lounge floor).

My husband asked me when he saw this, if he really does have that many wrinkles. Well he was looking into the sun at the time with his head turned and he is a builder who works outside. And then for his hobby and his passion he is out on the boat with wakeboarding so he does look like he spends quite a bit of time outside but I love each and every wrinkle and I think they give him character. And I do really like drawing his face, it is a change from the smoothness of baby and toddler faces. So I am pretty happy with this one although can anyone give me a hint on how to sharpen charcoal pencils? I've tried different types of sharpeners and the lead seems to break so easily and I can't get a sharp point. If anyone reading this does know, please leave me a comment, I will be very grateful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My yesterday morning

Yesterday morning I dropped my lovely munchkins at daycare and decided to take a moment to myself before I headed home with the work waiting, bills to be paid and housework to be completed (although do you ever complete housework with two toddlers in the house?). I had my camera in the car and when I turned the corner from daycare I saw this house.

I drive past this house at least four times a week on a tiny little road called Risk Road and I have never noticed it before yesterday morning when I was obviously looking for the first time. It is this tiny villa with peeling paint, overgrown gardens and I wouldn't like to guess if it is inhabited or not (or if it is inhabitable). Especially when you consider it is smack bamm in the middle of Remuera which most New Zealander's know to be one of "those" suburbs, by which I mean, established old money type suburb. And here tucked in this tiny little road which has such a great name - Risk Road - which leads to many imaginative wanderings in itself - is this little house that is so beautiful in its weathering and the life it has lived that I just had to take some photos.

After being all inspired from Risk Road, I decided to turn the other way and instead of going home, I went to Cornwall Park which truly is a jewel in Auckland city. Beautiful spring/summer morning, the sun was shining, the dew was slowly dissipating and I just sat there and looked. Here are some of the things I looked it. Did you ever notice how beautiful the bark is on a tree?

And how beautiful the shadow/light dance is on a gravel walkway between swaying trees?

And then when I decided that real life had better intrude again (and I was getting hungry as I normally have breakfast after the kids are in daycare) I drove off to see a friend walking in the park. I rolled down my window, she asked me to walk with them so I did.

And after a good walk, enjoying the sun, enjoying the wind and the beauty of the surroundings, I then found some cows by where I parked my car and enjoyed watching them.
So that was my yesterday morning. It was a morning that I could have been working, doing housework or painting, however I think my unintentional break from life was just what I needed and I think I will be doing that again!

NZ Art Guild - Christmas Tree

Each year the Bruce Mason Center has a selection of Christmas Trees that are decorated by various organisations. This year the NZ Art Guild have been asked to participate and decorate a tree. I have been the collection point for art decorations being sent to me from artists all over New Zealand and the decoration itself happens this Friday. The theme was art and Kiwiana. So I did some little canvases, one of which has pohutakawa flowers which are coming out at the moment all over the place and are considered New Zealand's native Christmas Tree. The other one has iridescent baubles on the tree and a rhinestone at the top which you can't really see in the photo.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the completed tree. Unfortunately I can't help out with the decoration itself as I would like as it is happening Friday afternoon which is one day that I have no childcare options and is right smack bang in the middle of sleep time. So the thought of juggling two toddlers that want to be sleeping while trying to keep their hands away from the beautifully decorated trees doesn't sound like too much fun.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Figure drawing 2 - coloured pencil on canvas

Here is my second coloured pencil figure drawing on boxed canvas. I started this about a month ago but didn't get into it until yesterday when I did another 'sit in the sun on the stairs while the kids play in the lounge' thing. It is 200 x 200 x 40mm. I haven't varnished it yet but the other one varnished fine so these should be fine to hang straight on the wall. The reference photo that this was based on was from wetcanvas again with the same model Sophie as the previous figure drawing I did. Wetcanvas is a fabulous resource for images that you are allowed to use for your art.

I've had a bit of a block for the past few weeks and it has felt like I have had so many unfinished works and just wasn't getting any traction. Finishing this yesterday afternoon and then almost finishing the dragonfly piece last night has made me feel really good and all inspired again. Now I just need to figure out what to do to finish that seascape I posted a week or so ago.

It is also Virtual Sketch Date week again and I would like to participate but as it has to be completed by Saturday, I am not sure if I will get a chance given we have family coming to stay today that I am really looking forward to catching up with. Hopefully lots of photos from their travels from Europe as well to give me itchy feet (until I think about the realities of plane trips with a one year old and two year old which puts me off in a hurry).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fairy Princess Photos

Something different for a change. Still not at completion stages with any art but today we had a family walk around the doggie park (fantastic reserve that allows dogs to go off-leash with watering holes for them to swim in and a long pathway right around where they get to meet lots of other dogs) so I took some photos when we stopped for a picnic lunch. So here are just a couple of pics of my one year old fairy princess. I had lots of fun playing in Photoshop Elements with these.

I have also been 'tagged' so will attend to that very soon once I figure out what 6 things about me, you don't know!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A bit stuck with this seascape

This is one of the paintings that I am currently working on. It is fairly large, 900 x 750 x 40mm and is oil on canvas. My issue is that it doesn't look complete but I don't know what I need to do to finish it. It has been sitting in this state on my easel since Saturday and I don't have a solution. Any ideas?

Finally made some decent progress with the dragonfly piece too since I switched to oils for the dragonfly itself so once that is further along I will post that too. Hope you all are well, I have actually been doing quite a bit of art, just have heaps of things in progress and nothing finished.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hope - Yes we can

Here I am, in Auckland, New Zealand, being completely caught up in the American Elections. I felt so emotionally invested in Barack Obama and I truly believe that he is one of those special people who will go down in history for making a difference. He has a gift - people believe in him and seeing the spirit of hope and joy in America yesterday (well from the Obama supporters anyway) and the landslide victory, was just very very special.

I had the TV on mute during the day to see the results coming through (was working on some HR stuff so couldn't take the time to listen but I could look up at the screen and see results every so often) and when I had to go out driving, I listened to it in my car. When I heard him speak his victory speech, I cried. It really bought home to me just how important this election is, both for the past and for the future.

I have a degree in History and have studied American History and for an African American person to win this election is incredible and I hope it brings hope and belief to the many many children who have thought that they can't achieve certain things due to the colour of their skin. And I think it says something great about the amount of American people who voted for him because he was the best person and that it wasn't about the colour of his skin.

Here in New Zealand (and probably the rest of the western world), we have been so put off by the Bush administration and couldn't believe how such an imbecile could be in charge and make such damaging decisions that were affecting the rest of the world. The leader of this country has such an impact on how the rest of the world views America and I see how interested and invested people here in NZ have been about this election and how excited and hopeful we are about Obama being President. Even though McCain probably would have been better for NZ in terms of the Fair Trade Agreement, I think we all thought that Obama was better for the world.

So I feel hope, hope that this person is one that will continue to change history and make a positive impact on the world. Just seeing the synergy of the people who believe in him and are wanting change is incredible in itself and I believe there will be change and hope.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Charcoal Pencil Portrait no.2

I thought that I would try another portrait using charcoal pencils so this time I drew my lovely husband. My husband doesn't like having a presence on the internet and I respect that which is why I never post photos of him or refer to him via his name on here or on facebook and as I paint and work under my maiden name of Muirhead and have a different married name, he manages to keep his privacy. He was however fine with me posting this drawing of him so here it is and here he is - the love of my life, my biggest supporter and my inspiration.

I am happier with this attempt than Tayla's portrait but it is still not quite where I want it to be. I did struggle a bit with the photo I based this one off, as the back of our son's head was actually cutting off one side of his ear, cheek and neck so I left that to last and last night when he got home from work I had to get him to pose for me with his head on that angle so I could try and get where his neck should be.

This is on A4 Arches smooth paper again. I am almost out of that pad so I might try another brand next time to see the difference.

I also have two paintings on the go that I plan on working on more today - the dragonfly one is slowly coming along and I also am inspired to start another large seascape today too. I find I get into the flow more when I paint landscapes and seascapes versus more detailed subjects. I enjoy the zone when you are just blending colours and are able to get large areas of colour done in one hit. So I think the dragonfly one will be done in bits and pieces and I will do some landscapes/seascapes in between for refreshments. Also all our walls are quite bare at the moment after taking a few of them down to go to Cafe Apollo so I really need to get some large ones done soon.