Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Pa at the Archie again!

Greetings for the silly season! You may have noticed a lack of blog updates for a while... I've had a little break after somewhat over doing things (think pet portraits and moving house) and ending up in a bit of a heap for a couple of months. My doc thought I might have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and referred me to a specialist for a second opinion. The specialist diagnosed CFS and Fibromyalgia so to my great relief I now know why I've struggled with my health for so many years. It has been wonderful to take a real break and learn to pace myself for a more sustainable level of daily activity. I started painting again for a couple of hours a day and managed to complete this commission portrait of my grandfather just in time for my uncle to give it to my aunt for Christmas. I really enjoyed painting Pa again... I've painted him from this same photo twice before (see first 2 attempts below). I took this pic when Pa and I went to see the Archibald exhibition in 2006... he was standing in the sun among the columns at the entrance of the NSW art gallery. The slower painting pace meant I was more relaxed and not in so much pain, the end result being my best portrait yet!

Seemed like I might need some tips with learning how to pace so I called in professional nappers... kittens! For the past few weeks I've been fostering a litter of 6 kitties for a pet rescue organisation called Claws 'n' Paws. They are now 10 weeks old, adorable and hugely entertaining, even if the house turns into a circus when they're in full swing... but they're quite devoted to napping so we have plenty of down time. I'm adopting one of the girls who I've called Daisy... she's an affectionate and loving little creature and I'm so happy to have my own kitty again!

I've taken up crochet and have been making these little mice to give to the kitties when go to their new forever homes...

Wishing you a happy eat-fest with family and friends this Christmas and praying that the New Year has wonderful things in store for you... I hope to keep painting, just at a lesser pace, so do stay tuned...

“The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Spring jug

A little 10x10" still life that inspired me in it's simplicity...

I had a really special birthday yesterday full of conversations and connections with friends and family... Today it seems I haven't any words left in me!! So here's a short quote and I'll be posting again soon...

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming. Pablo Neruda

Monday, 30 September 2013

Glengala Day competition winner!

On Saturday I held a Pet Portraits stall at the annual open day of Glengara retirement village where I've been staying with my mum for the past few months. It was terrific timing since I still have works I painted for my Pet Portraits challenge that have not yet been sent to their new homes as well as being able to borrow back paintings from neighbours in the village - some of which were beautifully framed!

My mission was to meet fellow pet lovers, show my paintings and give out my new flyers. I also offered new email subscribers the chance to go in a draw to win 50% off an 8x8" pet portrait. I'm very happy to announce the winner of my very first give-away... congratulations Cathy Rose!! Thank you to all my other new subscribers, it was a pleasure to meet each one of you and I hope you enjoy receiving these updates of my latest news and paintings.

Recently I've looked after my aunt's dog Buddy a couple of times while she's away and it turns out he's a very obliging artist's muse and model. This is a little scene of my mum's living room which I've painted before (see here) but I thought it had a certain extra charm with the addition of said muse draped over the chair. This one is 12x12" and I chose a different Margaret Olley painting for the wall (I just love her work!). I'm still not sure I've nailed the colours, I might go back to it when I'm full of colour-fixing inspiration.

The arts... are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. For heaven's sake, sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Kurt Vonnegut, (A Man Without a Country)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Ruby the Chihuahua

This is a commissioned painting of Ruby who I met and photographed last weekend. She's a friendly non-yappy sort of chihauhua and I enjoyed her company thoroughly. Of all the photos I took only one turned out really well because of her propensity to squint, but the good one was just perfect.

Professional help was available from my aunt's dog Buddy for this one. He took up prime position on my bed and was flowing with great tips and pointers. In fact he worked so hard he wore himself out!

Here's a time lapse video of the painting in progress:

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Pablo Picasso

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bedroom Irises

In trying to spice up my paintings a bit I challenged myself to paint this entire 12x12" still life with a 1 inch brush. My brushes have been getting smaller and smaller over the years and although I was tempted a hundred times to resort to the control of a smaller brush, I'm glad a I stuck it out because it forced me to paint more freely. I also let loose on it with the palette knife at the end. It's a start! I went and bought a few more big brushes so I can experiment further with it.

Coming soon is my next Pet Portrait commission of a cute chihuahua called Ruby... stay tuned!

“You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is… unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far.”
Alice Nee

Friday, 20 September 2013

Pet Portrait commission - Kiri

Today I finished my first commissioned Pet Portrait! This is a darling corgi called Kiri wearing a schoolbag. Tina and John's son used to dress her in it which was "an indignity she tolerated". I like to think she's about to go parachuting and with the blue background she could almost be flying free.

Here is a video of the painting in progress:

If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Lovely day in Patonga

I've not been sure what to sink my teeth into next so today I tried painting a landscape from a photo I took a couple of weeks ago, to see what might come of it. There is a lot to learn about making a successful landscape and I suspect it's mostly concerned with getting the values right and simplifying. In other words, deciding what to leave out and what can be painted in one generalised stroke instead of 3 or four more detailed ones. I started off too stiff and detailed and after lunch I went back over the whole painting without looking at the photo and just let loose with bigger brush strokes. I've decided that for an inexperienced painter like me, landscapes are probably better painted from life as there is too much colour information lost by the camera and as yet I'm not sure how to make it up. So I either need to get out there amongst the elements or paint little garden scenes. Or go back to my first love (still lifes)!!!

I will admit I'm rather fond of being inside as opposed to out in nature. For the purposes of painting that is. What a luxury to have a roof over one's head to protect from the heat/cold/wind/insects/sand ETC. And not having anyone looking over your shoulder. And did I mention the presence of certain desirable facilities such as the kettle, the stereo and the loo? Hmmm... I believe I'll have to summon an ocean of will-power to make myself leave the house to paint!!

On monday I drove up to Newcastle with a good friend of mine and we each put 2 works into the Newcastle Emerging Artists Prize which opens on saturday this week. 'You've gotta be in it to win it' as they say and if nothing else it's another experience under the belt.

Yesterday I whipped up a Pet Portraits flyer (which turned into a double-sided postcard) to let it be known at my local vets and pet-groomers that I'm here and ready to paint pets. I also needed to get the flyer off to the printer immediately so it will be ready for "Glengala" (saturday 28th), the open day of the village where my mum lives (and where I'm currently staying for another 3 weeks). I'm going to have a stall for my pet portraits as there's an abundance of pets amongst the village people and I think there'll be plenty of potential customers coming along for the day as well.

It's all go around here... More soon!

For beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, and creeds follow one another like the withered leaves of autumn; but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons and a possession for all eternity.
Oscar Wilde

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