These are the things that excite me : well chosen words, vibrant colours that sing of summer , the compelling rhythm of nature's patterns, blank pages pregnant with possibilities. These are the things that I love: my family, creating, painting, writing, laughing, being.
I’m recommitting to getting in some plein air painting on a regular basis this year so headed out with my painting buddies for a session at a local beach area this week. Here we are having lunch in the shade after a hot few hours painting away and trying to get my acrylics on the canvas before they dried!
I love the name of this group. POGO is short for painters of the great outdoors but I always get a mental image of a group of artists bouncing around on pogo sticks with their easel and paints flapping around them as the go.
That wasn’t quite us but we did have a lot of fun and I will be making a real effort to schedule in every 3rd Monday of the month for a painting battery recharge in the fresh air.
We had a wonderful day trip down the Tasman peninsula this week for a spot of photography and some snorkeling.
Our first stop was at Remarkable Cave at low tide . This is a double entrance sea cave with spectacular views out to sea through one of the entrances.
Next stop the Tessalated Pavement which has such interesting rock formations.
I managed to scare myself here by snorkeling right over the top of a huge stingray which had just been disturbed from his hiding place in the sand by my husband who was swimming ahead. I saw what I thought was a strange piece of drift wood a few inches under me and almost reached out to touch it as it looked so smooth… then I saw it was the stinging tail of a ray and I back pedddled very fast. A few weeks ago at a local beach a man died from the sting of a stingray and I did not want a repeat !
I really wanted to remember this day so got straight into the paints when we were home again. Here’s my effort to capture the clear water and sunny day.
If painting on site isn’t an option then painting from a very fresh memory is the next best thing. I’d taken a lot of photos, swam off these rocks and lunched looking over the view so when it came to the painting I really only needed these memories to get me started and didn’t have to refer to the photos at all.
Immersing yourself in your subject is a great way to get that emotional content we should always be aiming for, and swimming is a great way to immerse yourself if your subject is water!
As the sun rises on a new year ( just used that so I could tie it in with my feature photo!!)I looked back at some of my arty adventures during 2018.
I joined a artist coop early in the year and have had a lot of fun sitting in the Quoll Gallery. It’s always nice to meet the people who buy my paintings and they love to meet the artist! I’ve also met a lot of other artists who , like me, love to check out galleries wherever I travel.
My Patreon page was a bit of a risk because I knew it would eat up my time. It’s been artistically rewarding as I’ve met wonderful people from all walks of life with a love of art in common. I have a small bunch of subscribers which has allowed me to interact with them more and really get to know them and their artistic aspirations and I’ve enjoyed the exchanges we have. Because it’s small I can spent time critiquing their paintings for them and answering their questions which I think would be impossible with a really large group. As I prepare the lessons and exercises it’s made me reflect more about my own art practices and I think it ‘s improved me as a teacher and an artist. Each month I concentrate on a theme and here’s one of the painting demos and lessons I did last month for our “Using Darks Effectively” theme.
I travelled to the USA, Canada, Italy, France and Switzerland and had a blast. Got a lot of painting done, hiked, swam, snorkeled, ate, photographed and soaked up the scenery. Don’t ask me what was my favourite place because I just can’t narrow it down! Here’s a few paintings I did while travelling.
Also a video of me getting into a bit of palette knife painting in the Vanoise region of France while Trevor did a hike.
Then there was the Etsy Christmas Market that I was on the organising committee for. It went fantastically but sure took up a lot of time.! Here’s a photo of one of the happy stall holders taken by Raven Jay Photography.
I’ve also been teaching a pastel class at one of our local art groups, Colour Circle. It’s been great seeing the students try new techniques , experiment, move out of their comfort zone and improve their skills. This year I’ll be adding a mixed media class which promises to be great fun!
Here’s a few paintings and sketches I’ve done this trip…. I’ve enjoyed every one!
This is a small palette knife painting in acrylics. I like the touch of colour amongst the green here.
Lot’s of wonderful rocks I tried to capture with the palette knife again. Spent a few hours on this one and didn’t even notice The Writer had returned from his walk even though the smell of his stinky cheese snack should have alerted me!
Love those Tuscan clouds and spent a happy evening chasing them with my acrylics.
Done with my travel pastel set from the front lawn of our house in Sardinia. Lovely orange lantana offset the clear blue sea- the snorkeling was fantastic here!
Yes- those doors are a bit askew. It was windy as anything when I did this and the paper kept blowing over. Reminds me of all those green meadows, the early morning smell of cow country and the ceaseless and musical tinkle of cowbells.
It’s been a lot of fun but I’m back down to earth with a thump in a few days when I arrive home to a list of 6 commissions to get done! Will enjoy the last few days here in the glorious Aosta valley with trips to the Gran Paradiso National Park for some hiking.
A few small paintings – all done at Podere Pietrata near Radicofani in southern Tuscany. I just walked out the door and turned in a new direction every evening. They’re simple and not perfect – but they capture the feeling of the place – which is the whole point of plein air painting for me.
I often fill in the day when sitting at the gallery by painting small watercolour art books. People like to see the artist at work and I often sell something because they’ve enjoyed seeing me make it. This is one I did last week. It’s full of small local scenes which is one of the reasons I enjoy doing them so much.
Friday I got to art class early and started this one before my students arrived. I got the basics in and then finished it the next day at home. It took me right back to Arches National Park and I was there again amongst the blue green sage brush which is such a perfect foil for the riot of red, orange and ochres of the rocks and soil.
I fell in love with this plant and one of the most beautiful views from the many places we stayed was the sage brush plain outside our lovely cottage in Kanab. I would just stand and gaze across the blue green brush as the evening descended feeling joyful and serene. A nice state to end the day in. ( and Utah was pretty nice as well!)
Of course this is exactly what Arches National Park is so rightly famous for and I was mesmerised by the thin slivers of rock forming these arches . So graceful yet they were formed by years of abrasion and erosion. I wish I had been shaped so gracefully by my own years .
Every mile of desert landscape we travelled through was colourful, varied and wonderful. I was never bored by the passing landscape and so grateful for the experience and the opportunity to take some hikes that got me up close and personal with some of the landscape. I think you need to get out into nature and experience it in order to get real emotion into your paintings.
I hope that this painting somehow conveys to you those feelings I had as I wandered along the desert trails. The real joy I felt at the exuberance of colour, a sense of wonder that the solidity of those rocks could be changed and sculpted by wind and rain into such delicate structures, a feeling of connectedness to the landscape and a profound thankfulness that places like these have been protected and preserved for generations to enjoy.
If you want to see a real time video of me painting this it will be coming to my Patreon page as a full length video demo in September and will make it’s way to my You Tube channel in October.
July was a busy month for commissions with a really diverse lot of subjects. This is my classroom where I get set new challenges and learn a heap whilst making someone’s vision of a painting come to life.
This one is of a famous hiking trail in Japan. I loved the challenge of getting the mist to look look mist.
Here I got to grow a garden in a couple of days!
And how could I resist this cuddly twosome!
…and a chance to try out some of those quintessential American red barns in a lovely panorama format.
and lastly, a tugboat going about its work. Lots of detail here but that was offset by the loose sky and reflections.
Hope your month has been as varied and interesting!
I recently made some new linocuts and decided it would be fun to add a little story to them for the back of the cards I planned to use the prints on. Here’s what resulted.
“The Birdwatcher’s Club”
The cats met every Tuesday around lunchtime for a spot of sedate birdwatching. It was quietly thrilling as they took up position on the windowsill, never knowing what they might see through the dining room window that day. Perhaps it would be a baby Blue Fairy Wren so tiny and vulnerable as it took its first tentative flights, or maybe an endangered Swift Parrot attracted by all the ripe Irish Strawberries lying on the ground, or the first of the winter Robins with their bright crimson breast so easily spotted as they perched on the low wooden fence. The possibilities were so deliciously varied …
“Harry the Hairy Nosed Wombat”
“Harry was debating if he should get his hairy nose fixed. He felt sure it was hampering him in his quest for love. Maybe it was as simple as investing in a good razor? “
“Tassie was sure that now he had finally made it to the front cover of a greeting card he would be spotted by a talent agent and make the big time. Maybe a wildlife documentary or even a cartoon of his own. “
I enjoyed this so much I think I might try some more…..