An arty day with my sister.

I spent a messy, arty day with on of my sister’s this week. She’s a neat freak ( self confessed so she won’t mind me saying this) and yet she gladly covered her kitchen bench with garbage bags and let her ditzy, messy, paint dribbling  sibling- spatter, drip and splodge the day away. Doesn’t that just typify the special bond that sister’s have?

The messy kitchen.
Painting day at my sisters.

I spent a good part of the day creating diversions while I surreptitiously mopped up great swodges and dollops of red and orange paint off her shining black tiles. I was as happy as a pig in…well… a pig in paint. Claudette restrained her natural desire to tidy as we went , although she did have a little outbreak at lunch time and did a quick round up of the stray cups and a bit of a turn up on the plastic on my side of the table where I’d let a river of paint pool, thereby averting an imminent waterfall. I wasn’t entirely oblivious to the almost cascade, just a bit too interested in what was happening on the canvas to pay it the amount of attention it properly deserved! It has to be said that Claudette’s side of the table was far less arty than mine ( code for – on my side there was a lot more paint smeared over the plastic, the floor, my jumper and everything within a 3 foot radius of my hands whilst her side had a few demure drips in a well contained 6 inch radius).

Not all our artistic endeavours were keepers but my sister sure is!

 

 

 

Huon River Painting Demo

I love the Huon River in all it’s moods. Here it is on an overcast day , full of atmosphere and quiet beauty. The grasses and bushes on the river bank add another layer of interest and texture against the backdrop of misty mountains and gentle reflections.Here’s the reference photo to go along with my YouTube video .( If you want to paint along feel free to use this photo.)aa

 

Here’s the video.

…and here’s the pastel set I used ( along with a few Conte sticks for sharper details on the boat.)

Unison landscape set

The wonder of stained glass windows.

One thing I really enjoyed this holiday was all the wonderful stained glass throughout Europe. There was a healthy mix of medieval and contemporary to explore. We came across it in majestic cathedrals,  in out of the way monastries and in tiny local churches. Ancient or modern, it lifted my soul to see the glorious , glowing colours and spend a little time reflecting on higher things than the next ice cream!

Here’s a little sample of some of my favourites:

We were walking through the small village of Penne and came across  the village church. We ducked inside to have a look ( it just seems disrespectful not to) and were rewarded with some stunning modern stained glass windows that really lit up the otherwise dark space. Even more impressive were the refracted light patterns that blazed across the widow sills and spilled onto the tiled floor.

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Stained glass. Penne, France

 

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Refracted light on tiles

 

There were many examples of biblical story depictions. They were a window ( excuse the pun) into medieval times when congregations were taught through the parables and stories found in the church windows. If I find them so remarkable today, standing out from all the competing visual stimuli, how astonishing must they have been to the ordinary villager who lived a life with little ornamentation.

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There were also windows that were more an art form than a worshipful window, complete with signature. I’m not sure who the artist is but I found their work in several churches in France. I like the looseness and fluidity of these windows and the invitation to interpret them as the viewer wishes.

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Sometimes the whole church seemed to be filled with the refracted light from the lofty stained glass windows, light bouncing off columns , across floors and onto empty chairs.

 

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My favourite refracted light pattern is this star shaped dazzler I came across in the entrance to the former pilgrimage church of Pilgrimage church of St. John Nepomuk (Zelana Hora) in the Cezch Republic. The church is famous for it’s star shaped design and is  full of star symbols. The girl on duty kindly moved a rope barrier so I could take this shot. We were lucky enough to have this Unesco listed church to ourselves and it was a great experience.

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Hope you enjoyed my round up of stained glass windows from this years trip. Of course there were many famous windows we didn’t visit this time, but it was interesting to see so many different styles and how widespread modern windows are. It’s encouraging to see this ecclesiastical art form continuing to evolve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing leads to another…

You know how it is …. you go to the hardware store for a tube of putty for a project you want to finish today , you end up buying a new workbench for the studio and spend the rest of the day reorganising the whole room. At least that’s what I did with my day! What did you do with yours?

…. and no, the project didn’t get finished, but the workbench is a peach!

Latest painting

Back from holidays and just recovering from the old jet lag which has really hit me this year. Still … I managed to find a few good hours to finish the painting I started 6 weeks ago. It’s always difficult painting an iconic location – the silhouette is so well known that it’s immediately obvious if you get it wrong! So here’s my attempt at the wonderful Cradle Mountain and sunset reflections in Dove Lake, which nestles at it’s foot.

Cradle mountain sunset
Cradle Mountain sunset

Pre flight checklist..

I’ve just been doing my pre flight checklist.
The bags have been packed, weighed, repacked and reweighed and are now sitting on the doorstep ready to go.
There’s a few meals in the freezer for the IT Geek for those nights when the days have been too busy.
I’ve visited Mum and had a good long dose of her loveliness.
I’ve planned The Writers funeral in the wee hours of the morning ( should I bring his body home or just scatter his ashes in France where he so loves to be?)
The sheets are washed and in the dryer ready to make up a fresh new bed for the first night home.
The list of phone numbers is safely installed on the phone and the in laws have been rung for a goodbye.(managed not to seek their opinion on where The Writer should be scattered)
I’ve made and scheduled 6 videos for release on You Tube every Monday we’re away so as not to disappoint my die hard fans.
The “Closed for holidays” sign is in my Etsy shop window.
Only one last thing to check……
The cat was definitely out of the bag before I locked it wasn’t she?

The Light Box – progress report

I made some progress today in meeting my self inflicted deadline to complete the sewing machine drawer project…. I wasn’t entirely happy with the art cover I made earlier so I spent some of yesterday doing some acrylic pours onto plexiglass sheets.

 

Even though they were promising in design when I placed them over the light box the acrylic paint was too thick to let enough light through- although where it was thin some very lovely “light holes” appeared – so there’s an idea bubbling away for a design where I intentionally screen out some areas to get a light pattern- think starry, starry night or bioluminescing water.

Anyway back to the project…I tried an ink pour next and it looked sort of OK .

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Playing with ink pours onto plexiglass sheets.

 

So , out with the drawer which I had previously kitted out with LED light strips attached to a transformer, and on with the plexiglass sheet.

 

The sheet isn’t fixed in place at this stage but I thought it could be OK even though at this stage it looks a little dull. Anyway – on with the lights!!!

 

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WOW! Love it when the light comes on!

It was an instant hit of lovely, warm, bright colour. There are parts of the panel at the top I would like to change but the pouring process is 1 part control, 99 parts out-of-control, and I could do another 100 and not be totally happy. This time I’m going to override my inner perfectionist and let my ‘it’s good enough” out of the box for a play.

I still have work to do because even though I measured twice before I cut it’s still a whisker too tight to recess into the drawer. I’m considering my options carefully to try and avoid shaving the bottom edge of the plexiglass which will be a very painful process-if anyone has any good ideas I’d love to hear! Meanwhile I’ll be straining the brain for a fix or going back for another cut and pour.

A change is as good as a holiday…

I decided to test the old adage that a change is as good as a holiday so I changed my blog theme and I’ll tell you  when I get back from my upcoming Europe holiday if it was as good as 6 weeks of culture, food, art, landscapes, coastlines and general hedonistic holiday revelry.

Sorry to keep you on tenterhooks for the next few weeks but it’s anyones guess how this little experiment will turn out.

The sewing machine drawer project…

I’m brimming over with ideas at the moment and have a lot of projects on the go and a pretty messy studio. It’s not unusual for me to get caught up in a new idea and jump straight in feet first adapting the method to use whatever I have lying around the studio, the kitchen, the workshop or the paddocks! Mostly things work out OK, I’ve got very adept at adapting over the years.

Why all the adapting? It’s all down to my absolute impatience to start creating once I get an idea. Also my absolute impatience to complete a project once started. In my peak sewing days I was heard to say “if I can’t make it in a night it’s not worth making”. This inevitably led to some pretty late nights. Anyways, I start before I completely work out the details and somewhere in the middle I realise I don’t have the tail feathers of a rare Peruvian parrot which is absolutely essential to finish. Not to be thwarted in my headlong assault on the current creative make I head outside and find a couple of sparrow feathers , slightly mangled after the owner’s altercation with our cat ( no acrimonious letters please – the sparrow won), and surprisingly they work just fine.

So it’s been a slight departure from norm that I’m currently working on a new idea that is crawling along…definitely not a one night wonder. I had an idea for using the drawers from my grandmothers old Singer sewing machine to make light boxes. The top of the machine cabinet is wrecked but I didn’t want to throw it out because of the Nan connection so I got my creative side working overtime to come up with a repurposed use for it. The idea of a light box with some sort of art component was the winner and since I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it  I did a spot of googling and started making a list.

There’s actually a lot of bits and bobs that made it onto the list, none of which I had – a thorough search of the house and environs failed to turn up any subs so I headed to Ebay and ordered an express delivery of patience! I’m glad I ordered the XXL bag because the rest of the parts on the list have been slowly trickling in over the last month or so. The day the last bob arrived I had to fly out for a week visit to my father-in-law so the drawers remained unfinished, sitting on a bench overflowing with little packets of LED light strips and solderless connectors, plugs and transformers scattered around and sheets of cut and uncut plexiglass cluttering up the place.

I’ve been home 3 days and there’s been some progress. The box is all wired up, the lights work fine, the panels cut to size with a few spares, the wooden fixing strips are cut to size and it’s all set for the art panel to be attached. The problem is I keep changing my mind about the artwork. I’ve tried ink painting , acrylic pouring and photo transfer on the  plexiglass panels and just can’t decide what to go with. I think the problem is the art panel is going to be permanently sealed in place so once it’s done I can’t go “oops -should have gone with the other one!”

Bottom line is I fly out to Europe in 10 days and it’s going to be finished or I’m not getting on that plane…

Terry Ludwig pastels.

I’ve been coveting a set of Terry Ludwig pastels for a very long time. The trouble is they are quite expensive and you just can’t buy them in Tasmania. So by the time I’ve added postage from the US the “quite expensive” has soared to stratospheric heights of extravagance.

When I retired The Writer kept urging me to spend a little something on myself as a reward for sticking it out so long. I drooled over the full set of Terry Ludwig hand made pastels for some time even going so far as to ADD TO CART to see what the postage was. The message re postage implied I would need to take out a second mortgage to have the 550 set of delicious, buttery, hand rolled pastels delivered to my door. I sighed and deleted from my cart.

Roll forward 3 months and once again I sat up late into the night poring over the various sets on offer. I agonised about the price but I’d just done a couple of commissions and the bank account was looking OK so I decided to choose a small set and treat myself – I don’t think I posted the Easter baskets painting here previously.

Easter Baskets

I really felt I was due a reward after all those people and baskets . The client sent a black and white photo and asked me to paint it in an Easter pastels colour scheme. I did a lot of googling to work out just what might have gone into Russian Easter baskets and can now give you a full run down from lamb shaped butter sculptures to the plaited Easter breads with baked eggs embedded in the plaits.

Anyway , suffice it to say a feeling of entitlement prevailed. I debated the relative merits of the general landscape set versus the basic values set and then settled on the violet collection before succumbing to the gentle call of the Richard McKinley landscape set.

21937-5609-2ww-mI love bright colours and have a lot of them so this set wasn’t my first or natural choice but I kept coming back to it because this set is full of all those muted and soft colours of nature that can be hard to find. It’s going to fill a few gaps in my collection from the grey greens right through to the light hues of soft pinks and creamy yellows. I just love Richard McKinleys art and think I can learn a lot by using his chosen colours to add a little restraint to my vibrant palette. Here’s my first painting using just this box.

Desert colours

Already I love these pastels. It’s incredibly hard to find just the right colour for sage brush and here it was – right out of the box!

I’ll keep you posted on my new love affair with 60 square, yet soft and subtle,  pastels.

 

Life is art and art is life!

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