Category Archives: Just musing

It’s been awhile…

Here is why it’s been awhile between posts…

I’ve been

  • inundated with Christmas painting commissions,
  • am taking a pastel class
  • and a workshop for beginners,
  • am on the committee organising the annual Etsy Made Local Christmas market
  • as well as trying to make stock for the market itself
  • and trying my hand at eco printing – some new experiments going on

 

Life has been super busy and blogging has taken a back seat. So here are a few photos of what I’ve been up to… in no particular order. What have you been doing ?

 

 

Mini story cards.

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 … 

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The Birdwatcher’s Club

 

“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?   “

 

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Harry the Hairy Nosed Wombat

 

“Tassie Devil”

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. “

 

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Tassie Devil

I enjoyed this so much I think I might try some more…..

 

 

 

The dreaded demo

I had the first lesson of this terms pastel class today. I know I need to demonstrate techniques for my class and I’m happy to do it but it does put the pressure on to make a “good” painting! When it all goes wrong I can hear them thinking ” I’m paying her to teach me!!!!”

So it was a bit of a mistake to try a new approach today that I knew would take too long to finish. I planned to only do a small area well and leave the rest of the subject area pretty empty.

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Plans never go to plan! I started out with the idea of concentrating on the barn and rendering that to a finished stage but then my students had the audacity to follow through on my suggestion that they interrupt at any time and ask questions… I found myself moving into the trees and the sky in response and the end result looked like the unfinished scribblings of a two-year old let loose with the crayon packet! I meant to take a photo but somehow forgot so you’ll just have to imagine it but you can use the following to gauge it’s true horror. To be fait it was a lot more resolved than this but still very, very uninspiring which could be why my sub conscious forgot to take that photo.

Not content with one mess I grabbed another sheet of paper and scribbled a bit more .

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I could have done better with more time but I’m always conscious that the main reason they’re in the room is so they can paint and I like to keep a strict 30 minutes for my into waffle and demo so I packed up the waffle iron and got them painting …and they did some great work which I like to think was partly in response to the earlier 30 minutes of demo and discussion. ( and which I hope they think was in some way a result of my teaching points or it coud be a very empty class room next week!)

When I got home I needed to finish that barn! An hour later I put the finishing touches and then tackled the scribbled sheet with an imaginary reflection scene. It felt good to relax with no video running, no need to talk about what I was doing ( I may have babbled on a bit to myself , but myself is very laid back when listening to myself, so no pressure there) and no one to see the end result as it unfolded. It could all go in the bin if I hated it.

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Demonstrating to a live audience is full of pressure, a video is a bit better but if it all goes wrong there’s a lot of wasted time ( and to be honest I get a bit tired of talking while I paint – although the IT Geek would tell you I never get tired of talking!) and doing commissions is fraught with possible problems to be resolved. Painting just for me happens a lot less than it used to and I really, REALLY, enjoyed it.

I plan to do more!

Oops…

If you’ve never edited an hour plus video you probably don’t realise how long it takes……forever! By the time you cut out all the “lost for words” moments and the “totally wrong word” moments not to mention the ” absolute drivel” and ” sheer babbling” there’s a whole lot of virtual video tape littering the lounge room floor.

Then there’s all the dead time when you had to leave the room to go to another smaller room for a moment. Or when your other half walks in waving your mobile at you as it shrilling tinkles out it’s little tune. All that joins the rest of the dross in the cut bin. Then there’s a little bit of zooming in and recentering and a title and end card to make. You probably get my drift…it’s very time consuming.

My new Patreon page is up and running and a few people have found there way to it and actually signed up. So I have some paying supporters who I’ve promised to deliver video lessons to and I’ve done the painting demo, videoed the whole thing and then posted a photo of the painting with a promise to deliver the completed video lesson shortly. All good so far, until I find out 40 minutes into the edit that one of the clips is corrupted and I can’t recover it. Well, I don’t find out about the not being able to recover it until an hour later when I’ve exhausted all the online advice I can find ( and let’s be truthful here- all the online advice I could find and understand).

Now the thing with doing painting demo videos is that you can’t do a retake of a painting. If the video doesn’t work it’s pretty difficult to unpaint a finished painting. It can be done- with a tub of white paint- but I didn’t feel like doing the whole thing over so I gave it some thought.

That’s when I came up with the idea to paint another version on a very small square  right up to the spot where the video file cut out on me. I filmed the missing bit of the painting and then patched that into the existing video, zoomed it up and another 2 hours later….yes there was another problem!….I finally finished the edit and sent it off to renderland.

I have earned my sleep tonight… and am very glad I’ve only committed to two full videos each month!

PS I did enjoy both paintings. If this Patreon thing works out maybe I can hire a video editor!!!

Taking a risk.

There’s nothing like putting yourself out there to make life feel a little risky. I’ve just set myself up on Patreon and made a little intro video to launch my new venture to my public – and I feel a bit wobbly.

What if noone is interested? How will that make me feel? Probably a bit deflated and despondent , maybe it will curtail my enthusiasm for putting so much time and effort into my You Tube channel. The truth is I needed to do it because I would like to improve my video recording and editing but to do that I need better equipment and some up skilling and to do that I need some income which I don’t get from You Tube. So If I don’t put myself out there my videos won’t improve – and if none of my 4360 You Tube subscribers are interested then I guess it means they’re happy with my current production values!

What have I got to lose? Only a little self confidence and a bit of an ego bruising.

So here goes…..

Could try harder…

In my first retirement year I went a little ballistic and took on some big projects. I tried lots of new ideas and by the end of the year needed a quiet Christmas.

Twenty years ago I was into a lot of crafts and feeling that I could do many things well but nothing seriously great. It was about then I started focusing on painting and that became my passion. I stopped dabbling and concentrated my dwindling spare time and my creative budget on progressing in this one field.

Though I continue to learn and try new mediums my years of focus have given me  a certain confidence in my art skills that’s let to a successful You Tube channel and local art tutoring.

So why does my retirement report card read ” could try harder”?

Well, it’s funny how life is cyclical. Twenty years on and I’m again reminding myself I don’t have to try every new craft or technique that catches my interest. My artistic confidence and extra time have led me down that dangerous, but so enticing , dabbling path again .

I firmly told myself to get a grip and let go of all those projects…and there I was five minutes ago chatting to my sister and the whole conversation was sprinkled with new ideas for more projects. I think she might have referred to me as a dynamo or some other tightly wound object.

So- I must try harder!  To de-project, to do more of a few things, to resist the urge to splurge on those silk dyes . I must focus in and simplify my creative pathways.

Today I took the first step. I went down the paddock and picked eucalyptus leaves from three different trees, I placed them in separate tubs and covered them with water. Now I will patiently wait 4 weeks before I use these leaves in my first carefully documented eco printing experiment.

This is something I planned to do when I retired and I jumped in feet first , producing a few interesting fabrics and then a few more very uninteresting prints. Other ideas and projects got in the way and I never persued that idea. I have a habit of wanting instant results, I paint quickly, I read a book in one sitting , if I can’t sew a dress in one night it’s not worth making.

I will try harder – to start at the beginning , to work through the middle and complete my eco printing goal . I have a plan, and it’s a long term plan. I know this is something that I can’t master easily, that needs documenting as I go, that will be very rewarding if I invest the time it needs. So here’s to a year of trying harder!

 

 

Off to the seaside!

All packed up and ready to head off in the morning for a few days at Swansea- a lovely little seaside town on Tasmania’s east coast.

I can’t believe how much I’ve packed! Every time I travel I promise myself next time will be different- I’ll only take the essentials, I’ll pack light, every second item will be flung out of the suitcase- and then I find myself thinking ” there’s still a bit of room in here, it’d be a shame not to take another dress/top/tube of paint/kitchen sink”.

There’s a carry on size bag for my clothes, shoes and toiletries, a cooler bag of groceries, a plastic crate of painting gear, a backpack with electronics and a box of small canvases and art books!!!! Oh – I forgot the beach bag full of bathers,towel and snorkles.

I plan to do a lot so of course I need a lot. Here’s my to do list in no particular order

  •  walking on the beach
  • swimming
  • snorkling
  • painting
  • prep some art lessons
  • eating healthy meals
  • more walking
  • a few more paintings
  • a big bowl of icecream
  • a pastel sketch or two
  • consume some of mum’s Mrs Smith’s biscuits
  • back for more icecream
  • maybe a bar of chocolate
  • walk outside
  • back for a quick snack

…I think that about covers it. Maybe all I need to take is a big bowl and a spoon?

Taking a break from reality.

As with most things there are pros and cons to taking on painting commissions. Mostly I enjoy the challenge of painting to achieve an agreed result and it’s certainly helped me improve my realism as I’ve taken on new subjects  such as aviation art.  The downside is not having enough time to explore and loosen up with a bit of experimentation.  So now the end of year rush is over I’ve decided to take a break from reality and try a few different approaches and see where they take me.

On my first play date with loosening up I splashed around with acrylic inks on watercolour paper and then added in soft pastels for texture.

Mixed media painting of rocks.
Painted rocks. Acrylic ink and pastel on watercolour paper.

 

This was a lot of fun and you can see me going for it here:

And now I’m adding the pastels:

 

Of course I haven’t left realism too far behind… there’s clearly sea, sky, headland and rocks. What I have done is  forget about the actual colours of the rocks and let loose with the inks adding lots of juicy, vibrant colours. Then I used my soft pastels to reshape some areas , add in a bit of texture and try and bring the whole together into a cohesive painting.

It was energising to paint for the love of painting, to not worry about getting an exact rendition of a scene, to only please myself. At first the jury was out on whether it was a success as a painting but the verdict came in a few days later and I added it to my new larger painting outlet on BlueThumb Art.

Christmas joys.

My Christmas was filled with small joys and family traditions.

Our youngest son came home to sleep on Christmas Eve. Our eldest son, who isn’t a big talker, yakked away to him for ages in the jargon of computer gamers and young tech heads, a language their Dad and I are not fluent in! It was a simple joy to listen to their chatter.

We played games and ate too much. The Writer doesn’t really enjoy board games but got into the spirit of it and , as always seems to happen, by the end of the night the three men were united in rubbishing the lone woman of the household. I was glad to have them all there – the rubbishing was a small joy as well as a tradition.

Board games are well and good , but Christmas Eve is not complete without Charades- there was much wild gesticulating, laughter and groans, as we worked our way through such classics as Startrek, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askahban and A Stitch in Time Saves Nine. The boys were totally ignorant in the proverbs department so we had the joy of being able to educate them a little about what an actual needle and thread are and what you use them for – a concept that delighted them with it’s antiquated ideals of thrift and frugality.

After the games The Writer lit the candles and dimmed the lights and with Christmas music filling the house we chatted for awhile before we all drifted off to bed.

Christmas morning started with eggs and bacon followed by waffles and raspberries. Both are traditions in our house but we each usually limit ourselves to either the sweet or savoury- this year we all had both. The Writer has been on a fat free diet recently and so I’ve been joining him – we both enjoyed the Christmas breakout.

The morning disappeared in a flurry of gift opening. We all had put a lot of thought into our gifts and everyone was happy to see they had given a gift that was appreciated. I was grateful  that my art earnings had made it possible to donate to my favourite charities the same amount I had spent on our family. As much as I appreciated my gifts I felt true joy to know that there would be people that would have their sight restored , food on their table and help when they needed it.

The rest of the day was full of food, games, laughter and music.

It was a small Christmas, only the four of us, but that first Christmas started with a family of three in a humble shelter. There was wonder,love and hope, I’m sure there was concern andworry about how life would work out for their small family. It’s not always easy being a family but there is joy to be found in the small things, , the unexpected hug from the non hugging son, the quiet chat that reminds you of the protective feelings one son has for his less socially adept brother, the sacrifice The Writer makes in asking for one more game just so we can prolong the day as we draw closer together over shared memories and traditions.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not I hope you have your own quiet joys and traditions that give your life depth and meaning. That you feel loved and needed, that you can help others in some way and that you feel connected to our shared human family .

My first retirement year.

It’s been a busy year for me since retirement. I’ve been dabbling in any number of artsy projects, taken a 6 week holiday in Europe, had a solo exhibition, been on the organising committee for the very first Etsy Made Local Christmas market in Hobart and done 38 custom paintings!

Here’s a smattering of those paintings….

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Texas Mountain Laurel
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Holidays by the lake
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Gold coast summer
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The flood rescue
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A romp in the snow

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Derwaentwater Cottage
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Our House
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Mountain Mist
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The Barn
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A Family Outing
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Holiday memories
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Walking the Dogs
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The Life Guards Chair
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Church in the Snow
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The Cabin in the Forest
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A Favourite Forest Drive
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Boating memories
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Our House