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 .
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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!
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!
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!
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…”
Can you see the horn?
Just a glimpse of the steinbock.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
I really loathe the expression “point and click”. The word I really object to is point. It’s such a sneery term implying that as the owner of a digital camera with a very good auto function I will simply point my camera at any scene and click away with no more thought than if I were flicking a light switch.
The Writer often extolls the virtues of his digital SLR- talking all that photographer speak of f stops and iso . I remind him that I’m not a photographer, I’m an artist. Red Velvet, my lovely red camera, is simply another artistic tool in my studio and whenever I use her I am most concerned with composition . I NEVER “point” and click.
Sunset Hokitika New Zealand
I could go all technical if I had the inclination , after all I run an MRI unit where I’m constantly concerned about signal to noise, contrast to noise, resolution and image quality. I know how to manipulate factors to improve image quality and provide high quality diagnostic images of the human body. Of course I could learn to manipulate my camera’s many manual features if I wanted to- but the truth is I don’t really want to. There’s been a lot of R&D gone into fine tuning her auto functions and I can tell you they work just fine without ant intervention from me. I’m never going to be one of those people who carry round a notebook and jot down the ISO for this shot and now what does it look like with a different ISO? Just don’t care! Surprisingly I’ve done some of my best work from less than perfectly focussed or lit photo references!
What I do care about is using my artistic sensibility to frame in an inspiring way. To see an imperfect scene and crop before I shoot. Of course I’ll keep cropping afterwards because cropping is my friend. …but why would I want to just point when I can frame?
Tuscan evening sky
Taking photos for me is another form of sketching. I’m making little thumbnails of a scene, I take one in portrait, one in landscape, then I move the horizon low …what about if I make it all about the sky and move that horizon really low? I’m already working on the painting that might not materialise on canvas or paper for several years. I’m storing up visual memories that will lay dormant until some time in the future when I search through my archives for inspiration and bang! there are all my thumbnails , the composition options already thought out and one will leap out at me and I’ll be excited because all those memories of being there, on the spot, will come flooding back. If I had just pointed I wouldn’t have the scene so firmly etched in my memory.
Tuscan clouds and wheat fields
That doesn’t mean to say I don’t use a sketch book as well- but sometimes a camera is more convenient. When I’m travelling with The Writer we often hike through amazing scenery and he hikes a lot faster than me! If I were to stop and sketch every sketch worthy scene I would never make the ridge , the top of the mountain or the end of the track. So I take along Red Velvet and frame and click away with just the occasional sketch when we stop for a break. Later that night I’ll make some more sketches after dinner to fix the subject even more firmly in my memory banks.
Monumental rock peaks in the Italian Dolomites
So that’s why I hate that phrase. I don’t judge you if you like to mess about with your ISO and F stops so don’t judge me just because I love the auto functions on my digital camera!
If you’ve seen many of my paintings you might think I only use brights. It’s true I’m a bit of a colourist and my hand naturally gravitates to those jewel bright sticks in my pastel box but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the muted pleasures of soft greys. Tonight I pulled out my box of Great American Artist greys to use in a small painting of a Tuscan evening sky and I didn’t miss those brights at all.
I’ve had this photo on my idea board for a while . It’s a quick snap I took a few years ago on a trip to Italy. We were driving home one night and the sky was just beautiful – full of soft pinks and mauves with a typical Tuscan farmhouse and cyprus trees silhouetted against it. Well – I took more than one snap that night but this is the one I’ve been thinking about lately. I’d planned to paint it fairly large but as I walked past my painting area a scrap piece of purple paper that looked just right caught my eye so I decided to go small and paint right then!
The photo doesn’t show much colour in the foreground so I wanted to up the colour there for a little more interest. The sky was the main inspiration so I planned to render that area fairly faithfully . The tree on the right didn’t seem to serve any purpose in the composition so I got rid of it. I decided on more contrast between the fields and the foreground bushes to add a bit more depth to the picture…and that was my planning process before I started painting.
This is a fantastic set of greyed pinks, blues, purples, browns and greens. They’re so useful for evening skies, soft shadows and understated subjects. These weren’t a cheap buy but I don’t regret a cent – they’re a must have in my collection. This is the set I used for tonight’s painting with the addition of a few darks. It’s surprising how few pastels you actually need to paint a subject like this.
I’m reasonably happy with this little 20 minute painting. It has a bit of verve, I haven’t overworked it, there are some lovely soft colours in the sky that give the glow I was looking for. True ,the house roof could do with a bit of quieting down and a few of the trees are looking a bit stunted , but overall I’m pleased with the results of my box of muted greys.
This bridge in a quieter area of Venice is achingly beautiful in it’s simplicity . The mellow red brickwork edged sharply in white stone , the geometrical angles contrasting boldly with the curving steps and Arabesque windows of the ancient palace facade and the stark shadow of the handrail delineating each step all add up to a visual feast.
There is mystery in the dark shadows under the arch, passion in the splash of red paint that echos the exuberance of the flowers, happenstance in the greenery clinging to the brickwork and balance in each curve and edge. This is the Venice I love.