Category Archives: nature

This weeks eco printing

Silk scarf printed with gum leaves

I’ve spent a few days doing some eco printing this week. Mostly scarves and upcycled cotton tees. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve discovered some new ways to mordant to get different results so it’s been educational as well.

Here’s a few of my results

Silk scarf with gum leaves
Primrose leaf eco print on calico
Maple leaf on organic cotton tee
Rose leaves on silk scarf
Maple leaves on calico
Hakea leaves round neck and silver dollar gum leaves on cotton tee.
This time the silver dollar leaves printed green!

more eucalyptus leaves on silk

It was a fun week!!!

Now I have to soak some more leaves because I used them all up!

TEXTURE WITH GELS

I’ve been trying out a few new gels and pastes lately in my acrylic paintings and having some fun. Here’s a 30 x 30 cm canvas I just finished using some clear tar gel and molding paste to help create that tangle of flowers and weeds in the foreground. Will be trying a few more ways of using the gel I’m sure.

Desert blooms Acrylic on Canvas $200

How the muse works …(sometimes)

On Saturday I realised that I was supposed to hand in a painting to the Art Society of Tasmania’s March member exhibition the VERY NEXT DAY. The theme is “From my Studio” and I’d been putting off deciding on my entry because I don’t really have much of a view from my little studio room. Both windows look out onto the side path which has a large concrete retaining wall a few feet away. I painted it with a mural years ago but it’s a bit faded now so the view is not so inspiring.I’d been wrestling with the idea of not taking the theme literally but instead thinking of it as a prompt.

“From my studio” I :

  • imagine dreamworlds of abstract patterns and shapes
  • reach into my memory and paint from images past
  • travel to far countries via my photo records
  • dip into my sketchbooks and reinvent a scene

but somehow this time I did want to represent something literally seen from my studio. It’s been niggling away at me and I just couldn’t make up my mind so on Saturday when I was tidying up my photos on my laptop I came across some great sky photos – they were taken outside my studio and I can see that sky through my window! 

Smoke filled sky from outside my studio window

It wasn’t enough on it’s own even though I liked the pattern of the trees against the sky so I gave it some more thought as I sanded back an old frame I’d just bought home from the recycling centre. I decided to use the frame dimensions as the painting dimensions and to do it in pastel. So there I had the bones of an idea, the format, the medium and size worked out and now I needed to flesh it out a bit more.

The format was a bit unusual ( 2:1 ) and it presented a few challenges. First I needed to crop my sky photo to fit whilst keeping the feel that had attracted me in the first place.

Cropped to fit the 2:1 format

  I felt the foreground would need something of real interest in it to make the painting work  and that a few diagonals would help to lead the viewer up into that wonderful sky. It must be interesting , be able to connect the strip of grass in the foreground with the trees in the middle and distance , fit in a narrow space and importantly , it must thematically connect as an idea with the sky- not a lot to ask right! One of my students had used a reference photo of mine with an old fence post during Friday’s pastel class and I’ve used that post before so I pulled out the photo and used it to block in a post on the bottom left which would stop the down hill run out of the corner as the eye followed the diagonal line of the sloping paddock ( we live on a fairly steep 5 acres). 

I did a little value study to see if the shapes would work and decided to add in a little extra grass in the foreground.

Value thumbnail

Having kept the viewer in the painting I really wanted to reward them for staying with me! There are a lot of birds around our place and they’re a constant joy so a bird seemed a good idea. I have a collection of reference photos I’ve taken  but none of them seemed right. The Black Cockatoos were big enough, I had photos of them in flight but they seemed too dark . The parrots were too small and too bright. Then I hit on the idea of a wedge tailed eagle , wings outstretched , landing on the post. I did a trial sketch of the eagle, thought it looked right and started on the painting. 

Wedge Tail Eagle sketch

My first go at the eagle wasn’t a success! It looked the right size in my sketch but when I blocked it in with charcoal I could see it was too small. There was no real connection between the grass and the trees..so out it came! 

This eagle is too small!

 In my final version I removed some of the trees behind the eagle so I could highlight it against the golds of the sky, the tail connects to the grass, the head to the sky and the wings lead up into the trees and onto the sky. I feel I’ve set up a good dynamic ,flow and counterpoint using the diagonals of the post, paddock, legs, wings and treelines. The old post stops the viewer from leaving via the bottom left corner. Although the eagle is fairly dark against the trees there is enough light and contrast from the white feathers and the golden glow of the back feathers so that he is easily seen. Looking at it now I can see that perhaps I’ve split it too neatly in half with the light and dark values but that’s a lesson learned for next time!

The Eagle’s landing

And that’s how I was able to come up with a concept to fit the brief, paint it, frame it and deliver on time. From the initial idea to the finished framed painting took me 6 hours and I’d been procrastinating for weeks! Sometimes it happens when it happens!

A day out

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.

Remarkable Cave at low tide.

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 Acrylic on canvas

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!

Some travel art….

Here’s a few paintings and sketches I’ve done this trip…. I’ve enjoyed every one!

Mountains
Vanoise Region, France.

This is a small palette knife painting in acrylics. I like the touch of colour amongst the green here.

Plein Air Gorge de Restonica
Gorge di Restonika – Sardinia

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!

Clouds
Autumn in Val D’Orchia – Italy

Love those Tuscan clouds and spent a happy evening chasing them with my acrylics.

Sardinia Pastel
Sunshine in Sardinia

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!

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Swiss chalet- Boden

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.

Some small plein air paintings

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.clouds pastel tuscany

 

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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…..

 

 

 

Mountainscapes

I shared the desert with you, now we’ve been in the Rockies for 2 weeks so here are a few photos from our travels. (the internet has been a bit dodgy hence my limited posts).

 

Snowy Mountains
The Snowy Mountains- our first venture into the snow.

Frozen lake
It wasn’t that cold though- us Aussies are tough!

Dream Lake
Dream Lake in the Rockies NP – a great short hike with a beautiful view.

The Tetons
Bison and the Tetons – from our cabin window!

Maroon Bells
Maroon Bells – perfect reflections.

Icefields Highway
A grey day on the Icefields Highway – loved all the spring willows.

Painting at Mt Robson
A quick painting of MT Robson 

On the way to Hinton
Beautiful view from the Jasper- Hinton highway.

North Cascades
Love the colour of the water- Cascades NP

It’s been a great trip through the Rockies – I’ve got lots of material for future paintings!

Desertscapes

How can I not love the colours and patterns of the desertscapes of America? Here’s a smattering of photos from our first few days. All exotic to a woman from a green and verdant island.

Desert evening
Desert sunset

Fire Wave
Fire Wave- Valley of Fire

Rock patterns White Pocket
Rock patterns. White Pocket

Valley of Fire
More rock patterns. Valley of Fire

Wildflowers
Desert wildflowers

Death Valley 2
Death Valley

cactus
Amazing purple cacti