Category Archives: nature

The last summer day trip.

Saturday was a blue sky day and heralded the last weekend of summer. We’re into rain and colder weather this week so the pool cover will be going on and the ugg boots coming out. Yes – I do have that most ugly of Australian footwear but they are just so toasty warm I gave in and gratefully accepted some Mother’s Day ugg slippers a few years ago.My feet have never stopped thanking me. Anyway , I digress as I often do.What I started out writing about was the blue sky day and here I am blathering on about toasty feet, winter rain and ugg boots!

So, back to the blue sky day. As  previously mentioned the sky was a startling blue, not a cloud in sight, just a vast canvas of cerulean blue. It was too beautiful and inviting to resist so the Writer made curried egg sandwiches ( his current obsession) I grabbed the snorkles and we both picked up our cameras as we headed out the door. The plan was a day trip down the Tasman Peninsula with a spot of swimming if the water was still warm enough.Down south the water temp starts dropping pretty quickly at the end of summer so I wasn’t about to commit until I’d dipped my toes in the water.

Toe dipping went fine and we swam at Safety Cove amongst schools of salmon and dancing gardens of seaweed with the sun casting golden ribbons of light over the sandy seabed. It was joyous! Later we dipped in again at the Tesselated Pavements. In between we drove around the Peninsula stopping so often for photos of the coast that it may have been quicker to walk! A splendiferous end to summer.

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Tesselated Pavenment and Pirates Bay
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Tesselated Pavement reflections
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Emerald Water
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Safety Cove
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Great roost for a seagull
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Whitecaps and fields of gold
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Ripple reflections

Day Trip

On Monday I headed down to Cygnet to drop off some paintings at an exhibition. It was a glorious sunny morning and The Writer was headed in the opposite direction to Port Arthur to take the Tasman Island cruise. I would have joined him but for the need to drop off the paintings and the fact that I’m such a bad sailor there was no way I was ever going to get on that boat! The waters down there can be pretty rough and the boat is a very bouncy ride – all adding up  to a green and nausious experience for me which I preferred to avoid.

So, back to the Cygnet trip which was by road and much less bilious all round!

I packed the car with my painting kit, trusty Red Velvet (my camera) the paintings to be delivered and some lunch. This took a bit of time. Painting kit makes it sound like a small box you might fit your first aid items in-try imagining a 1940’s film star heading off on the Orient Express for a 6 week grand tour of Europe and you might get a glimpse of the magnitude of the packing job. I had acrylic paints, brushes, canvases, my field box of pastels, rags, charcoal, pencils, alcohol ( not the drinking kind- I’m driving!) paper, sketchbook, easel and a kitchen sink just in case I might need to wash up after the painting! Then I decided it wasn’t quite enough so I threw in the tripod in case I wanted to YouTube the painting.

Red Velvet got quite a work out on the way down. As soon as I hit the Huon River I was stopping every few minutes- the reflections were fantastic and the blackberries lining the road were ripe and luscious- so between the snapping there was a fair bit of berry browsing!

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The big bend at Huonville
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The wetlands magic.
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Boat on the Huon river.

 

I often have trouble committing to a painting spot when I head off plein aire. I want the perfect subject , the perfect place for the easel, not too much traffic to disturb me and a bit of shade nearby. So I kept on driving and was very tempted by the reflections here…

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Golden grass reflections. Huon River.

but all the time I was thinking of Drip Beach so I kept heading south past more perfect reflections…

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Reflecting on the Huon River.

…and then I arrived. I love this small beach because it has such interesting shadows from the gum trees behind the beach. I’ve painted these shadows before and I thought I might try a different format this time…

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Drip Beach shadows.
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Sparkle on the water.
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Green water, red rocks.

 

I parked the car in the shade, hauled out the easel and set up. It was a lovely spot and I enjoyed being out in nature painting for a change. There were a few locals out walking their dogs and we exchanged greetings as they trooped on by. They stopped to check my progress on the way back and wanted to know if I was famous- not really- but they wanted my name anyway!

A couple of happy hours passed and here’s the result…

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Shadows on the water. Drip Beach.

I’ve promised myself I’ll get out and about more this year and this was a good start!

 

 

 

Three mediums and three paintings.

I got such a positive reaction to my recent pastel painting of Adventure Bay that I did another for my Mum’s “World’s Greatest Shave ” fundraiser auction. There’s already been anabsentee  overseas bid for it so I hope it does well for the Leukaemia Foundation on the night. This photo is on the dark side- need to hone up my photography skills a bit .

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Adventure Bay – pastel on sanded paper

A friend saw the first pastel on Instagram and asked if I could paint a small canvas for her as it brought back lot’s of childhood memories of holidays spent at Adventure Bay.So I went ahead and painted this one today. I think it’s my favourite because of the lively colours in the shadows on the sand.

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Adventure Bay – acrylic on canvas
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Adventure Bay – acrylic on canvas

Then I decided to break out my new Schminke watercolours and try a large (for me) painting. I really only use watercolours for pen and wash sketches these days so this was a bit of an adventure. I did find I’d forgotten a lot of the techniques but was happy I’d remembered any to be frank! I like the reflections, the clouds are OK ,the shadows are too pink and the foilage is overworked.

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Adventure Bay- watercolours

It was interesting trying the same painting in pastels, acrylics and watercolours and made we want to brush up my watercolour technique and try a few more. We’ll see how that goes!

 

A day trip to Bruny Island

I’ve been wanting a day trip to Bruny Island all January but The Writer was hanging out for the perfect day. He was after all those blue sky and sparkling sea shots. I was all for just going and working with the weather! So last Saturday I got up early , packed lunch and said “Let’s go”- and off we went.

I have to say I was quite happy with a few clouds- I’ve got lots of sunny shots from previous trips . My first solo art exhibition was inspired by a day trip to Bruny on an astonishingly beautiful summers day and I was looking for a different, more moody side of the island. The early morning light was subdued and the water took on a silver sparkle.

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A touch of peach

 

I love this into the sun shot at the Neck and have already painted a small pastel using it as reference.

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A silver day silhouette

I added a little more colour and used a square format. I’m a bit of a fan of the square for small paintings.

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Pastel painting “Silver Day”

The clouds came and went creating some interesting skies and reflections.

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Silver sands- Bruny Island

…and the water kept on sparkling.

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The Wave – Bruny Island

The tidal flats had just enough shallow water to make for great reflections of the amazing clouds…

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Tidal flats reflections

And finally the sun took over the day and we had a swim and a snorkle in the fairly chilly water at Coal Pt with it’s weathered rocks that have been wind blasted creating a myriad circular pockets in the rock.

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Coal Pt. weathered rocks.

Then off to Adventure Bay for a few shots in the bright sunlight to satisfy The Writer.

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Adventure Bay – lagoon reflections.

The lovely tracery of shadows on the sand inspired another painting…

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All in all, another stunning day on this small island off an island.

 

My new daily schedule…

Three weeks into retirement and I’ve settled into it nicely thank you very much! My days have naturally evolved a schedule of their own which I’m feeling pretty pleased with. I was beginning to panic a little before the big R date what with all the plans and projects I had in the pipeline. Some time during the last 3 weeks I gave the pipe a bit of a flush and have been a whole lot more relaxed since then ( no metaphors intented there!)

So how do I fill my days? I get up when I please which is usually fairly early – but how nice it is to occaissonaly sleep in without any pangs of guilt at all that wasted time. I shower, breakfast and do a spot of spiritual contemplation to start the day. Next comes a quick check on Etsy and followup on any commission queries. Now The Writer gets some time and we usually head off for a morning walk along the beachside walking track at Blackman’s Bay. The water views are changeable but always beautiful . There’s a bit of an incline both ends of the walk – after 3 weeks l can already  climb the cliff path faster.

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Home for a morning paint, or a sewing session and then lunch by the pool at noon. I do some more work in the studio till 2’ish and then it’s a swim and a read in the deck chair. This is when I catch up on my art books- just choosing one at random and dipping into it can trigger off some new ideas.

At 3pm  I head inside and back to the studio for another session. The Writer and I share the cooking so if he’s on chef duty I’ll work through till dinner. The evening is family time , playing a board game, reading, watching a movie or catching up on computer based stuff.

The most wonderful thing about this evolved routine is it’s not really a schedule! If my niece needs a hand I can head off to help her, if I want to visit my Mum there’s no reason not to , if my sister drops by we can swim and chat for an hour without me thinking of all the things I should be doing and if I want to spend an hour leafing through a cook book that’s just what I do. There’s time for some gardening, a visit to my local art shop or a trip to the recycle centre. Of course somewhere in between all this good stuff I do a bit of housework and the odd spot of grocery shopping but that’s just a great counterpoint to emphasise the absolute joy of my daily pleasures.

The best part is that I’ve reclaimed art as a leisurely pursuit instead of something to be squeezed and squashed in between my working life and my family time!

 

A walk in the garden

I finally did it!  I retired from my life as an MRI radiographer last Friday. It was sad to leave my work family who I’ve shared my professional life with for many years but more than that it was a joyous release from the stress and demands of a busy imaging department. I don’t go in for parties much so we settled for a happy, relaxed breakfast for 28 on the waterfront  just a few blocks from the hospital where I’ve worked for the last 20 years. It was a lovely farewell and then I wandered round Salamanca Market and the waterfront with no sense of guilt for frittering away my precious time!

The most common questions I’ve been asked about retiring is ” what are you going to do now?” along with the absurd “will you be coming back part time?”

I’ve got a gazillion plans and projects – so many that I got myself a monthly planner for the art room! I’ve been a tad overwhelmed by how much I have got planned so I’ve given myself permission to just have a 2 week holiday before I jump into any big  projects. Then there are all the small pleasures I didn’t seem to have time for when I worked, like an evening walk around the garden…….

….all those patterns and colours are sure to find their way into one of my future art projects!

 

Sunsets

Sunsets with their riot of colour  can be a tricky subject. It’s that fine line between glorious sunset shades of red, yellow, orange, pinks and purples and a garish clash of over the topness.

I’m hoping I managed not to cross that line with this prarie sunset.

Prarie sunset.
Prarie sunset.

Eco printing.

After a weekend visit to the Tasmanian Craft Fair I was inspired to try my hand at eco dying. The Writer bought me a beautiful autumn eco printed wool scarf in Italy this year which I love – the colours are soft oranges and muted browns on a cream ground. I treated myself to a locally made silk scarf with a smokey grey and burnt orange print of eucalyptus leaves at the fair and headed home with a plan to try it myself. (Craft fairs will do that to me – I have a list of three new crafts to try from this fair!)

So I did a lot of googling and found some great articles on how to eco print and had a stab at it. My first attempt gave me some gorgeous colours despite my slapdash approach! I would have pre mordanted the cloth with alum if I’d had any but really I couldn’t wait to try it so I just spread lots of eucalyptus leaves and rusty slabs from the old corrugated  roof I ripped off the Potter’s shed onto a length of calico, placed another piece over it and rolled it all tightly around a metal pipe. Then I wrapped it with string and placed in on a rack above simmering water. I covered the whole thing with foil to seal in the steam and left it to do it’s magic for a couple of hours.

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Eco printed “Rust and Eucalyptus”

I love the rusty colours and those smokey greys. I was a bit too liberal with the rusty metal additions and lost the eucalyptus pattern but didn’t mind as I like the abstract design that emerged.

The next day I went out and bought some alum from my local art supply shop. It was pretty pricey but will last for ages and as I’ve got the bug I’ll be getting my monies worth out of it. So, armed with the alum  I pre mordanted my second batch of fabric by soaking in a 10% alum solution overnight ( 10% of the weight of the dry fabric mixed with enough water to cover the fabric). Mordanting helps the dye from the leaves attach to the fabric. Then I repeated the process of layering the wet fabric with leaves ( I used maple leaves from the garden this time), rolling and tying. Then into the steamer for 2 hours. This batch was more successful at capturing the leaf shapes and I managed to get some subtle greens as well.

 

I’m a quick project girl and I love the fact this requires so little time and yields such interesting and unpredictable results. I can see me doing a lot more eco printing and dyeing in the future. Can I see me keeping a detailed note book of each experiment as every googled article suggests? Nope! I know I should but I also know I won’t – best just to acknowledge my lack of crafting rigour and get on with the dyeing and enjoy the anticipation every time I snip the string, unravel the cloth and release the print.

Eco dyeing has been a comfort to me this week, making something beautiful feels like a small antidote to the madness that has been the US elections.

 

After the snow…

Last week I was working on a commission for a client of Lone Mountain and here it is after I added in the foreground trees covered in snow. I echoed the purple /blue shadows on the mountain in the foreground and really piled on the snow on those tree branches. It was very satisfying laying on thick swodges of snowy blues and whites to build up  believable snow laden trees.

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Lone mountain painting.
Lone Mountain. After the snow. Acrylic painting.

After the snow settled I started in on an entirely different scene of the impressive cliffs of Moher in Ireland. What a contrast to all that snow! Now it was green, green grass and those stark  cliffs plunging into the ocean. The client wanted me to focus on the light on the foreground grasses and that bright sky against the distant grasses, and I’m happy with the end result because she’s happy!

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Cliffs of Moher . Acrylic painting.

Steinbock stalking in the Gran Paradiso…

I was driving along in the glorious, summer sunshine when a glimpse of light bouncing off something caused me to suddenly swerve onto the verge of the road and come to a spine jolting halt. The Writer craned his whip lashed neck in all directions looking for whatever it was that had caused this aberration in my usually impeccable ability to get us from A to B without running off the road.I waved my hand in the general direction of a pile of boulders excitedly yelling “horns- I’m sure I saw horns”.

We were  heading up the Valsavarenche, one of three valleys that make up the Gran Paradiso National Park in Northern Italy, and we were steinbock hunting!

Grabbing the cameras we stealthily sidled out of the car – I’m no sure why ,since any animal in the vicinity had surely heard the gravel flying as I skidded to a stop. Anyway , sidle we did, pointing and whispering as we tried to catch a glimpse of anything moving on the rocks above us. It wasn’t long before  The Writer began to mutter in a rather scathing manner something along the lines of  ” wishful thinking…”

Just as the muttering started to gain momentum I shouted “over there!” and pointed ( in what I hoped was a “I told you so” sort of way) at a lone steinbock leaping over the rocks just metres away. His long, curled horns quickly vanished from sight as we started clicking away. I back tracked down the road following the line of the rocks and as I rounded the corner so did the steinbock. He politely posed , nibbling first on a patch of grass , then on the low branches of a pine tree, twisting and turning his handsome head as if to show off his sweeping, serrated horns.

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Steinbock – heading off over the rocks.
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Head down – munching lunch. Steinbock.
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Just a little lunch. Steinbock.

The Writer was still hanging round the car hoping for a return of the steinbock so I headed back and nudged him in the general direction of the photo worthy horns. We spent a happy 20 minutes tracking  and shooting stills and video and came across a couple of other young bucks frolicking over the rocks and alpine meadows.

Feeling very blessed to have had such luck we happily mooched on back to the car and decided we still had time for a quick walk  in this beautiful valley.

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Waterfall. Valsavarenche
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Gran Paradiso. Valsavarenche
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Valsavarenche. Rain coming.

 

There were a few cars in the carpark and as we hoofed it up the track we met a couple heading back with cameras and tripods slung across their shoulders. The Writer, deciding they were kindred spirits, regaled them with tales of our successful steinbocks potting advising them to head on back down the road where, if they were lucky, they might find a one with enormous horns posing on the rocks. They thanked us politely but not with what you would call effusiveness. I did think I caught “30 something” in amongst their rapid fire Italian and assumed they where asking how far to the big horns. “No,no – it’s only 5 minutes from the carpark ” I assured them.

We felt a little silly a few minutes later as we rounded the corner to find a herd of 30 something big horned steinbock grazing in the meadows!! They obligingly munched away as we clicked away. They waited while The Writer set up his tripod, they arranged themselves in picturesque groupings, draped themselves on the nearby rocks and generally behaved as any well educated model might. They knew the moves, they could hold the pose and they were politely disinterested in the photographers.

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Steinbock herd
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Posing Steinbock

On the way home, we passed the rocky slope where we’d seen our first steinbock earlier in the day. In unison we turned to each other and said “ours was better!”

Looking back at our photos from the comfort of our living room several weeks later we’re still in agreement. It was a thrill to catch a glimpse of horns , see them disappear and then track silently until we came across a proud and majestic wild animal , alone on the rocks. The herd seemed altogether a more domesticated group!

What do you think?