Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another charcoal/carbon portrait

I am taking a very quick moment this morning while the kids are eating breakfast to post this drawing before we go off visiting. The beautiful subjects are my husband's nieces and as I gave it to their Mum last night I thought I can post it now. When I looked at the photos this morning they were terrible and as I have given it away I can't take a better one now so this will just have to do. Once again it is charcoal pencil and carbon pencil on Arches A4 HP paper.

Yesterday I had fun spending my Christmas voucher from my Dad at The French Art Shop here in Auckland. I looooove that shop, it is such a treasure trove for art stuff and it was so much fun deciding how I would spend my voucher. I got a really good cretacolour charcoal set, some derwent tinted charcoal pencils, some Bristol paper (which seems exceptionally smooth so I am interested to try some charcoal drawings on that for very smooth blending), a beautiful squirrel hair paint brush and some Viridian oil paint. Viridian is the oil paint I go through most, with the exception of titanium white because I mix it with alizeron crimson for my blacks and greys. I love the greys you get with those two colours but you need much more viridian than alizeron and as it is a series 4 paint, it was nice to use a voucher to pay for it.

I hope to get out the paintbrushes this afternoon when the kids are sleeping as I haven't painted in weeks. I need to do more work on Carter's portrait which has been sitting there untouched for a long time and I am so keen for some more seascapes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Greetings

I have been quiet on the blogging and emailing front over these last days as I have had family staying and have been enjoying the holiday feeling over this Christmas period. I hope that everyone reading this has had a lovely time with family and friends and is feeling refreshed and inspired to greet 2009.

Yesterday my husband and I took advantage of having a babysitter (aka my Mum) staying and took off for a few hours. Heading over to the eastern side of Auckland we found Musick Point which has a large building that was the centre of radio communications for a number of years, especially during WWII. That is all closed down now, but behind the building is a number of very steep steps that you can climb down and it is just fantastic. Neither my husband nor myself have been here before and we stayed for a while, taking photos and enjoying the coastal beauty so close to home.

Here you can see Rangitoto Island at the back and Browns Island (we think) at the front.

The rock formations were amazing and there were hidden surprises like this cave.
It was so great just to take off in the car, not knowing where we were going to go and just exploring parts of our city. I took several hundred photos and am inspired to paint some more seascapes based on them. It was an overcast day and I am really keen to return when it is blue sky to see how that changes the light and colours. Even though we were only gone for a few hours, it felt like such an escape and a mini holiday even though we didn't go away.
I hope all of you manage a small or big escape over this holiday season too. Best wishes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Charcoal Pencil Portrait - Tayla

On Saturday I decided that I wasn't happy with the last portrait that I drew of Tayla and that it didn't match the one I had done of Carter. I looked through my photos but couldn't find one that worked for me so I decided that my daughter should do another photo session for me.

Well, 140 photos later, I had a couple that I really liked and the one that this drawing is based on was my favourite. So last night I sat on the couch and drew while half watching a DVD and I was so so pleased with the outcome. This is now definitely my favourite so far and I can just see how much I am improving with every portrait.

And here are the two framed portraits together. I really love them and half wish they weren't Christmas presents so that I could hang them on our walls.
For this latest one I tried using carbon pencils alongside the charcoal pencils for the eyes and some of the fine detail of her hair. I like the sharp point and fine detail you can get but still prefer the intense velvety darks you get with charcoal. I can see me using them in the future in conjunction with charcoal but not to do an entire drawing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Is it genetic, the need to put marks on paper, canvas, (walls, doors) etc? I wonder when I look at my two toddlers who frequently draw. And I have had crayons snuck into the cot so when nap-time is over I see a beautiful purple mural all over the wall. At any time, you will find chalk, crayons, pencils and felt pens all over the house and they love it when I set the easel up with paint.

I am making progress on the portrait with the glazing but the photos look terrible so I will wait until I am a little further on before I post progress so I thought my beautiful children drawing would provide the photos today. I am also working on some christmas drawings which I won't post yet as the person may read this blog so I better get my a into g to finish them on time!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grisaille underpainting - Carter's portrail in oil

Last night my husband was out visiting clients and I finally felt well enough to paint so while the kids slept I hid away in my studio with the dog and cat. YAY!

As I mentioned previously, I really want to explore portraiture in the next year and have been reading up on it. So last night I thought I would do a grisaille underpainting for a portrait of Carter. As my husband had my laptop with me (which felt like a limb was cut off) which has all my photos, I couldn't print off a photo so had to work with what I had which was the same photo that I drew as a charcoal portrait last week. And that worked well. Because I was used to the photo and where the tonal changes were, I found that a really good base point before painting the underpainting and think I will probably do that again for the next portrait.

I spent a couple of hours on this, and concentrated on the face mainly. The hair and t-shirt are not terribly detailed but I didn't think they needed to be in this. I really want to get the luminosity of a child's skin coming through when I start the glazing which is why I spent a long time on his face. I did this all in burnt umber and am really happy with it. Now I am really scared of stuffing up the next stages so I am going to do more research today on how to approach the glazing for the skin tones before I start that tonight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Charcoal Pencil Portrait - Tayla

This is my lovely one year old daughter Tayla in charcoal pencil on A4 Arches HP paper.

Today is the first day I have picked up a pencil or anything remotely resembling a drawing instrument since I last posted. The reason being is that I have Strep Throat again, which means I have been sick for 6 days now and only now beginning to show signs of recovery after I went to the Doctor yesterday and got some antibiotics. Looks like I am one of the 15% of the population that carry the bacteria around with them all the time which is why I am getting it once a year at present. Lucky me. My poor munchkins are also not well, each with ear infections in their right ears.

While I have been sick I have been reading lots of art magazines and books and am so so inspired to get stuck into painting again and have some big ideas for a total change in direction. I really want to focus on portraiture next year and the figure and in painting as well as drawing. I feel much more confident drawing a portrait than I do in painting it and my attempts are self-portrait are hiding away in my studio at the moment waiting to see if I can rescue it or whether I should sand it back and start again. So I am mulling at the moment inside my head thinking about how I structure my art and my artistic development next year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Charcoal Pencil Portrait no.4 - Carter

Here is my latest portrait done in charcoal pencil. This time of my son Carter. A4 on Arches HP again. This time I used a photo that I had played around with in photoshop to up the contrast and I quite like the effect (although I am still struggling with getting decent photos of completed drawings and the white paper is coming out gray and they look so much better in real life). I am really happy with this one though and feeling a lot more confident with charcoal pencils.

I was especially happy with the eyes on this one. I still do them first and love seeing a person appear on the page.
Also please check out a fantastic challenge that Chavah Kinloch, a fellow artist from the NZ Art Guild is hosting on her blog at the moment. It is called 'The Random Act of Kindness Challenge' and she is giving away one of her gorgeous paintings as a prize. Check out her post here for the details. It is such a great thing to do at any time, especially at this time of year. I do believe that 'giving' is a fundamental human requirement to live a fulfilling life and recent studies have determined that it is as integral as the basic necessities of life such as food, water, shelter etc. I'm a big fan of Maslow and his hierarchy of needs and recent research would suggest "giving" should be down at the bottom of this pyramid. So check it out and spread the love!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Doing the tagging thing...finally

Okay, I have been tagged twice now in the past few weeks, once by Chavah Kinloch and once by Ronda Turk (go now check out their blogs, they are both fabulous artists).

The rules:
1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Okay, so I have done the first two rules, now six random things about myself:

1. In my last year at High School, I played First Witch in a rock version of Macbeth. Imagine a mix of genuine Shakespeare interspersed with rock music and a purple Lycra catsuit and really really big hair (my hair was very long and it was teased out so much it would take at least 30 minutes the follow morning to get the knots out in preparation for it to all happen again that night at the next show).

2. I am a book addict and have in the vicinity of 5000 books. I read most genres and categorise my books alphabetically within genres. I have a real thing for sci-fi and fantasy books thanks to my friend Jo after turning down my nose at that genre for years. Now nothing beats a good fat fantasy series for complete escapism.

3. In my non-art, non-mummy life I am a Human Resources Consultant. I have my own business set up and do contract and consulting work and will be increasing that next year as I have been doing this part-time while my munchkins were little. It is coming up to a decade of being in HR but I do enjoy the people aspect and feel passionate about being able to make a difference.

4. I never did my big OE in my twenties as I was so focused on my career but I still really really have itchy feet. I can't wait to see Europe, the great art and the history. In saying that, the thought of dragging two toddlers on 24-hour plane trips to get to the other side of the world is just far too painful to contemplate so until they are a bit older, I will live vocariously through my friends travels and drool over their photos and stories.

5. I did a double major at university so have a degree in History and Feminist Studies and my passion was for women's history and revisionist history. One day I will go back and do all my post-grad. I loved being in academia and would really like a PhD one day. Dr Melissa..ummmmmm

6. Before I had my own babies, I was terrified of babies and if I ever had to hold one, I was frozen stiff ,so scared that I might damage it and always felt a sense of relief once I got to hand it back. Then I had my own and realised they are robust little things and I am now very comfortable with babies and toddlers. Nothing like cuddling a little baby to make me think, hmmm, maybe more,......one day..... but jury is still out on that one and after having two within a year of each other, I need a few more years break before we will make that decision!

Okay, now is the point where I have to tag six people. Because I slacked around with this, most of the people I was going to tag have already been tagged, so I am going to manipulate the rules (just for me) and list six blogs of which you should go visit and if those people from those blogs feel like playing along, they are more than welcome to feel tagged if they haven't been so already.

Check Spelling
1. Sophia Elise - manager of the NZ Art Guild, abstract artist and all around fabulous human being
2. Leanne Brischetto - photographer extraordinaire and if she lived in NZ I would so get her to take photos of my babies
3. Tanya Dann - Artist, art student, check out her blog to see the incredible variery of stuff she has been doing from sculpture to photography to really cool unique soft toys
4. Sandra Toornstra - life drawings that are vibrant and immediate, I really enjoy her work
5. Marimba Powley - check out her landscapes, they have such style to them and are stunning
6. Jen Longshaw - fantastic animal art and musings on country life

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Moonlight Dream Flights

Last week I thought that I had almost finished the dragonfly painting and then stuffed up the final touches. After it being such a battle all the way through I just didn't know what to do. I had prepared a very textured abstract background with iridescant turquoises and greens and then painted a very realistic dragonfly on top, having to switch to oils part way through just because I couldn't get the level of detail that I wanted with acrylic and the fast-drying was frustrating me.

So I thought about it and then this purple moonlit image appeared in my mind, not realistic, more stylised and I thought that I would give it a try. And it came together very easily and I sent the painting off today. It is acrylic 500 x 500 x 40mm and the photo doesn't really show it properly as I used iridescant paint in different parts so it is actually quite shimmery and the glazed areas don't look patchy in real life like they do in the photo. I also took a not-straight photo so the bottom left side is cropped.

This painting is for a young woman that I have never met, who has overcome some incredible things in her life and is now facing her biggest battle health-wise. She really loves dragonflies so this painting is for her and I just really hope that she likes it.