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The pre historic artist.

It’s difficult to put into words how and why some art moves me so. I’ve often seen reproductions of pre historic cave paintings and found them interesting. Interesting is such a bland kind of word and accurately describes my reactions to these reproductions. I admired the semi accuracy of the bison and horses, I idly wondered what pigments they used and assumed they painted what they saw in their daily life.

It wasn’t till I visited my first cave with pre historic paintings that I experienced a visceral reaction to the dimly lit animal outlines painted as they were reverently introduced and illuminated by the guide. It surprised me and excited me. It caused me to speculate on the how and why of these ancient works of art. It sparked my imagination in a way I hadn’t expected.

This first cave I visited was Pech Merle and the visit was so memorable  because of the art but also because the guide was the grandson of one of the two boys who rediscovered the cave in 1922 . It was obvious by his reverence for the paintings and his patient attention to seeing that every visitor got a good view of each  that he felt a special connection to the place and the artwork

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Since then I’ve visited several caves and each time I find myself inexplicably moved by the simple renditions of animals. I wonder what drove ancient man or woman to make torches , grind and mix pigments and then walk deep into a dark cave, using valuable time and resources to carefully create an outline of an animal. To seek out and use rocky contours to suggest the flank or shoulder. To re emerge from the darkness and leave their artistic expressions without an audience.

Cave art in Europe was not done as decoration for living quarters. They didn’t just think ” that wall could do with something to brighten it up” and mix up some water and ochre pigment from the floor and get the kids to do a bit of finger painting. There has been no evidence of occupancy of these caves. So was it for some kind of ritual, part of their spiritual life? Some cave art depicts animals not found in that region at the time the painting was done. This prompts the thought that art knowledge must have been passed down from one artist to another – to accurately depict an animal never seen would be a very difficult task. Was the artist an important member of the clan? Was the art part of initiation ceremonies? My list of questions goes on and on.

I paint for many reasons. In response to a particular light effect, because I want to capture a feeling, to express gratitude for this wonderful earth, to calm my racing mind, to create someting of meaning, to bring joy to self and others. My most burning question is what motivated the pre historic artist. Do we share the same artistic DNA? As I visit each new cave I find it easier to believe that the people who created these paintings were artists foremost , no matter what the role of the art in the social, ritual and spiritual life of their clan. The paintings reflect a delicacy, thoughtfulness and immediacy that I associate with art rather than design.

I imagine one artist teaching another to draw with sticks in the sand, to mix pigments and to make their first treck into a cave . They must have practised many times before their first cave painting as there is an economy of stroke that is only accomplished through repeated practice. Was the artist born or chosen? Was it the role of women or men or was it open to both?

I know the stories of Van Gogh, Da Vinci, of Rembrant and Vemeer and it adds context to their paintings. I long to know the stories of these pre historic artists and in their absence I make my own stories. One day maybe I’ll flesh out my stories and fill a book……

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Drip – A Short Paragraph Story

This is a shout out for Claudette over at Ceenoa. A little disclaimer here – she’s my sister but family allegiance has no bearing here. You don’t see me directing you to my brother’s blog do you? well that would be difficult as he doesn’t actually have one- but if he did I probably wouldn’t send you there unless he wrote something as zenfully, satisfyingly readable as this short paragraph story from Claudette. Go ahead and make your day….

Ceenoa

There’s a leak, a trickle of drips. I try to calculate the time between each, wondering idly if there is rhythm to their falling. But it is erratic; sometimes a staccato of drips, then a plop of drops, or a slow slithery splat. Suddenly the curtain of approaching rain reaches my house, drumming on the iron roof it sounds like I imagine gravel in a blender does. Just as quickly the spring squall passes, and I focus again on the leak. My child has a cold, I find them a clean hanky.

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Terry Ludwig pastels.

I’ve been coveting a set of Terry Ludwig pastels for a very long time. The trouble is they are quite expensive and you just can’t buy them in Tasmania. So by the time I’ve added postage from the US the “quite expensive” has soared to stratospheric heights of extravagance.

When I retired The Writer kept urging me to spend a little something on myself as a reward for sticking it out so long. I drooled over the full set of Terry Ludwig hand made pastels for some time even going so far as to ADD TO CART to see what the postage was. The message re postage implied I would need to take out a second mortgage to have the 550 set of delicious, buttery, hand rolled pastels delivered to my door. I sighed and deleted from my cart.

Roll forward 3 months and once again I sat up late into the night poring over the various sets on offer. I agonised about the price but I’d just done a couple of commissions and the bank account was looking OK so I decided to choose a small set and treat myself – I don’t think I posted the Easter baskets painting here previously.

Easter Baskets

I really felt I was due a reward after all those people and baskets . The client sent a black and white photo and asked me to paint it in an Easter pastels colour scheme. I did a lot of googling to work out just what might have gone into Russian Easter baskets and can now give you a full run down from lamb shaped butter sculptures to the plaited Easter breads with baked eggs embedded in the plaits.

Anyway , suffice it to say a feeling of entitlement prevailed. I debated the relative merits of the general landscape set versus the basic values set and then settled on the violet collection before succumbing to the gentle call of the Richard McKinley landscape set.

21937-5609-2ww-mI love bright colours and have a lot of them so this set wasn’t my first or natural choice but I kept coming back to it because this set is full of all those muted and soft colours of nature that can be hard to find. It’s going to fill a few gaps in my collection from the grey greens right through to the light hues of soft pinks and creamy yellows. I just love Richard McKinleys art and think I can learn a lot by using his chosen colours to add a little restraint to my vibrant palette. Here’s my first painting using just this box.

Desert colours

Already I love these pastels. It’s incredibly hard to find just the right colour for sage brush and here it was – right out of the box!

I’ll keep you posted on my new love affair with 60 square, yet soft and subtle,  pastels.

 

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!

 

Derwent Artbars – trying out my birthday present.

I had a birthday this week and amongst my presents was a very generous gift voucher to my favourite art shop from the youngest son. He had a look and couldn’t decide what I would like best so left me to choose. I love a gift voucher to this shop as it means I can buy something I’d like to try but wouldn’t normally spend my money on.I’d been eyeing off these Derwent Artbars for some time but never could justify their hefty price tag so it seemed fated when I saw they were just $1 more than the voucher.

They’re a lovely set of watersoluable wax bars set out in brights, lights, earth tones and darks. I love the triangular shape which gives lots of edges for mark making. I had a play this weekend and here are the results…

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First I just played with the artbars, drawing loops in bands of colour and then laying in a water wash. Then I turned the paper 180 degrees and layed in more loops over the wash while it was still a little wet. I loved the way the bars slipped over the wet surface yet left quite discrete marks. This was a great way to try the colours and the result is a little geometric rainbow.

wildflower painting
Wildflower painting

Next I tried a little impressionism. Inspired by a photo taken in Tuscany of a field of wildflowers in sunlight and shadow I made some basic swathes of colour for the sunlight and shadow, dropped in some water to blend the colours a little. While it was still wet I jabbed away with the artbars making marks for flowers and later dropped in a little watercolour. Finally I finished up with some soft pastel highlights. I quite like this little field of flowers.

I definitely enjoyed these artbars and will have to try incorporating them into some of my mixed media paintings. I also enjoyed making small square paintings and might work on an artbar squares series as a way of developing ideas on how to best use them. Art is exploration after all!

 

 

 

What tomorrow brought.

After a very frustrating morning dealing with a courier over a UK delivery gone wrong I threw myself into finishing yesterdays painting …. and here it is.

koh-lao-liang

I ‘m pleased with the distant boat  as it gives some perspective and I like the hint of white against all that blue and green.

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But I’m not sure if the foreground water needs something else.

koh-lao-liang-cliffs .. and the trees were a bit of a trial!

koh-lao-liang-treesLove to hear what you think of it.

My memory popped out for a walk…not sure it’s coming back!

You know how it is ..you pop out for a few minutes to pick up some milk, next thing you know 3 hours have passed ! I was at a friends 50th birthday BBQ today and my memory took the opportunity to slip out for a wander and just forgot to come back! I was chatting away happily to people I knew  ( their names ,not just their faces, for a change) when a new arrival started doing the introduction rounds. When he got to me he said ” Oh I know Lindy already”. Well I was smart enough to infer that we must have met because he knew my name but not smart enough to stop myself blurting out ” where did we meet?” Turns out I work with him ! Apparantly he’s new , and in my defence he wasn’t in uniform, but another friend kindly ( and loudly) pointed out he’d helped us with a difficult transfer only 2 days before!

If only my memory was more reliable. I just can’t trust it any more with even the most basic tasks. The Writer knows this so sent me a text to remind me to pick up the milk on the way home because I forgot the note to remind me to pick up the milk!

Video Editing Trials

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front the last 2 weeks as all my energy has been diverted to video editing. When I first decided to try out a You Tube channel I had no experience with video editing so I downloaded a trial version of Premier Pro which I then taught myself using the great tutorials on You Tube. It took a while but I got the hang of it All I wanted was a bit of basic cutting and joining and then a title and an end  with maybe a voice over now and then. So all was well – I had a month free trial, there were lots of tutorials and I powered through the videos and before I knew it I had uploaded 10 videos and had my own blossoming channel.

You can already see where I’m heading- yes – the 30 day trial ran out and I was so delighted with the ease of use I decided to buy it. Of course I can’t buy it but instead have to take a $20 a month subscription. Since I’m only doing basic editing I don’t need all the fancy stuff and couldn’t care less about all the promised upgrades I don’t want to pay $20 a month. What to do?

Next I decided to try the ancient version of Roxio Videowave  The Writer uses. It was terrible – really laggy and awful so no sooner was it installed than it was uninstalled!

My third attempt was to source a free video editor – Hitfilms Express. I downloaded it and discovered that there wasn’t nearly as good a range of tutorials out there but it did have some similarities with the Premiere Pro so I persisted- for a while…. It just was so hard to work anything out I finally had a brainwave. I’d just download the poor cousin of PP, Premiere Elements, for another 30 day trial and churn out another 10 videos which would keep me going for another month or two with You Tube uploads. I could then look around for the perfect software with my little buffer of edited videos.

Thought I’d cracked it until I started the first edit and saw the watermark banner right across the middle of the video! Apparantly it can only be removed when you buy the software. Anyway I kept on to see if I liked the software- it’s OK and at $130’ish a lot better buy than the subscription- but it’s a bit clunkier and misses some of the zoom features I liked in PP.

As usual I procrastinated so while I was at work The Writer decided to buy the newest version of Roxio so I may give that a go if I can load it on my laptop as well as his PC.  In the meantime I’ve gone back to Hitfilms and edited a video managing to work out the zoom, speed and titles . When I went to record the voice over I realised there is no function for that so had to find an audio editor. I downloaded  Audacity, recorded the voice over , imported into  the Hitfilms video and it all worked!

So after all that time I have one 5 minute video instead of 10!  I learned a lot and can now use the Hitfilms so maybe I won’t buy anything and just keep bumbling along. The good news is that while I’ve been messing around my You Tube channel has been gaining subscribers so I now have the amazing total of 218 – not quite viral yet but I can see it happening any day now!

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.

Steinbock. Gran Paradiso
Steinbock – heading off over the rocks.
Steinbock lunching. Italy
Head down – munching lunch. Steinbock.
Steinbock. Gran Paradiso.
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?

See it, make it, share it- my raison d’etre

I read a book on mud brick houses, go out and do a weekend workshop and plan on building my own ….one day. Actually it will have to wait until The Writer heads off to the next life as any mention of building has him muttering about the “divorce house”. I can’t help it – I just see something I love that hits my creative g spot and I want to try it for myself. Once I’ve tried it I want to share how easy, satisfying, frustrating, energising, fun, rewarding or just plain crazy it was to tackle the project.

Most of the stuff I create comes from a deeply internalised belief that if I think hard enough about how to do something, read up on it, seek the wisdom of those who do it well and then just jump in and try something good will result. That’s not to say it will be good the first attempt but every artistic endeavor adds to my store of knowledge and the next attempt is incrementally better.

I mull things over, I dream of new projects, I buy supplies and lay them up for when the mulling bears fruit. I want to try EVERYTHING! I know I should probably settle for a few things and do them really well but I’m fascinated by others artistic and creative outpourings and I start down a new path before I know it.

Right now it’s bookbinding. I’ve never done it before or been to a class but I saw a simple concertina sketchbook in my art store and decided I could make one. So I did – and then some more adding little windows, then a travel book with a fold over cover and I just interrupted my first attempt at a leather covered book to write this! In between I’ve been googling images and reading blogs and tutorials and have ammasssed a good understanding of some basic techniques. It’s never been so easy to get good information for new ideas.

So this blog started because I’ve been amazed at,  and grateful for, what’s out there on the interweb – I wanted to add my slim store of knowledge and experience. I’m interested in what inspires others to blog , this simple mantra inspires me.  See it, Make it, Share it!