Category Archives: Travel

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








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!


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
Desert wildflowers
Death Valley 2
Death Valley
Amazing purple cacti

All packed and ready to paint!

I’ve never had the luxury of taking a separate roll on just for my art supplies and it’s amazing!!!! Here’s what I managed to fit in….















… and there’s still a little room left to bring home my new set of water miscible oil paints and Guerrilla pochade box.

Watch out for some holiday art in the next few weeks.

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.

Stained glass. Penne, France


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.




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.





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.



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.


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.


















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?

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 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.

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

Travel collections

Last night I came home from work to find the house filled with flowers from our garden. The Writer had been putting down the mulch all day and celebrated by filling almost every vase we have with casual bunches of blooms. It looked so lovely after a slog of a day!

When we travel The Writer and I are always on the look out for an artsy find to add to our travel collection. We both love vases of flowers scattered around the house and since there’s not a lot of wall space left we often choose a unique vase to bring home.


This is one of the first vases we bought. We’d just made the walk up to the stunningly situated abbey of ST Martin Du Canigou ( The Writer almost broke his face smiling when we finally got there as it had been on his list for a very long time!) On the way home we stopped to explore Villefranche-de-Conflent and found it full of art galleries and ceramic shops.We loved the colours which reflect our own house palette and the black lettering was so graceful we couldn’t help ourselves. I remember packing it in trepidation- lots of jumpers wrapped around it and hoping for the best. We still love this piece and use it often.


If not a vase then it’s likely to be a useable piece of kitchen art in the form of a bowl or platter.Every time I use these ceramics I’m transported back to sunny holidays. Even the simplest meal eaten off the red, yellow and black plates I bought in Bolseno at a tiny ceramic studio in a back street becomes a feast. The vivid red broken by the abstract yellow lines just sings to me. I loved these small plates so much that the next time we were in Tuscany we made a special detour to Bolseno to visit the studio and I saw some similar larger dinner plates – but there were only three. So… I asked could she make a fourth and we would come back again in a week to pick it up. Yes- she could! Over the course of 4 or 5 trips we gathered a collection of pasta bowls, small and large dinner plates, 2 serving bowls and a large platter and I absolutely love using them.


We couldn’t choose between the plate and the bowl with this lovely kaleidoscope pattern of coloured glazes . So we didn’t choose – we just bought them both and now we can’t remember who preferred which! We found them in a the Worthington Gallery in Springdale , Utah when we were visiting Zion National Park.



Not every piece is functional. I fell in love with this earthy , desert coloured pot with it’s leather bound wooden handle by K.Rasmussen simply because the colours were so evocative of the Utah desert landscape. It wasn’t cheap but I love it more each day and The Writer appreciates that I insisted on this one as he had his eye on another – he says the colours remind him of that great desert national parks holiday every day. I was so scared about getting this safely home I spent 2 hours in Santa Barbara shopping for a carry on bag big enough to hold the box it was packed in. Finally found a $15 dollar beach bag that fitted it perfectly!


Sometimes it’s a simple design that grabs my attention and this small, blue vase was a very inexspensive find in a small Spanish town neat the Pyrennes. The simple geometric pattern adds real interest and it’s one of The Writers favourites.


Ceramic treasures
Ceramic cat and vase- treasured memories

The Second Son bought this little ceramic cat home on a trip to Europe where he befriended every stray cat or kitten he could find. He lured them into our apartments with offerings of ham and bowls of milk, he spend hours playing with the landlords kittens and couldn’t resist feeding strays with titbits from the alfresco restaurant meals. A purrfect souvenir. We found the slab built vase in the artist village of Rousillon in Provence. The earthy colours are a reflection of the ochre cliffs in the area.



This grouping of holiday memories inclueds a trio of vases from  Tournus , France , a large pot from Springdale, Utah and a photo taken in St Guillem de Desert, france. I love the earthy colours!

So there you have it – a peek into our collection of holiday ceramics. What do you like to collect on your travels?