I’ve been busy…..

I meant to post more often once I retired but I’ve been busy…. so here’s a collection featuring my “busy” for the last little while.

Mini pastel painting book

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Mini pastel painting book

I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a mini book filled with pastel paintings. The big problem is the smudge factor as the pastel is so delicate. I finally hit on the idea of placing a sheet of framing acrylic straight on the painting, securing with tape then glueing the painting to the inside covers of the book.

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Pastel painting book

 

 

Next I added a mat to hide the edges and joined the covers with a painted canvas hinge. I think it could be a goer- I’ll sit it on the shelf and see what I think in a few days time.

Now that took a lot of thinking and fiddling round and a fair chunk of my “busy”….

 

 

A few You Tube demos

I wanted to get a couple of YouTube demos done and put away for a rainy day. It’s good to have one sitting ready to upload if I have a dry idea week. So I did a couple of small paintings, edited the videos and now I have a spare. That took a medium size chunk of “busy”….

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McWay Falls

 

A trip up the coast

Hey this was work folks! I needed a few more photos of the East Coast of Tasmania. Seriously, I’ve only got a few thousand and that’s just not enough . We left early in the morning and I got some shiny sea shots on the way up which I was pretty happy with.

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Early morning sea
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Shining sea

 

Then some sunny ones at Honeymoon Bay ( a fantastic little beach in the Freycinet National Park). In between the photography I squeezed in a spot of snorkling so as not to waste the sun, warm water and prolific marine life.

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Honeymoon Bay
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on my lunch break

 

Then back home again with a few stops…

Friendly Beaches, Freycinet National Park
Friendly Beaches, Freycinet National Park
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Friendly Beaches
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Golden fields
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and those orange lichen rocks – totally untouched!

and that was a very full day of “busy”.

I unleashed the sewing machine

A trip to the home furnishing shop a few weeks ago saw me grab  few bolt end fabrics and they ended up in this trio of bags.

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And I made another mini watercolour painting book.

Just wanted to play with my new Schminke watercolour set which is lush!

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In between the busy I’ve swum and snorkled, baked and eaten, walked and talked, written and read so forgive me for my blogging slackness please.

What’s your “busy” been ?

Feedback and questions about your paintings.

If you want to ask for feedback or advice about your own painting, or you have a question about something I haven’t covered in my You Tube videos, or you have a suggestion for a topic you would like me to cover you’re in the right place!

Just leave me a comment with your question and/or a link to your painting and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Happy painting!

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!

 

 

 

Painting snow in pastels.

Setting up.

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Tablet with reference photo

I like to use my Samsung Galaxy tablet to view the reference photo on as I paint because it has great colour and I can zoom in and out for detail if I need to. I just hang it up next to my paper. Then I choose the boxes of pastels I’ll be using and set them out. I’m using my Unison Lights for the snow, a box of greens I’ve made up myself for the trees and some Sennelier Darks for any area that needs a punch of deep, dark colour. The Unison Landscape set is for extras I might need. I chose a purple/violet MiTientes TEX sanded paper and taped it to a foamcore board.

 

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My boxes of pastels all set out.

Blocking in.

Next I sketch in the main composition lines with a white charcoal pencil and block in the main shapes with my harder pastels then wash them down with a watercolour brush dipped in alcohol.

 

Add in other basic shapes.

Now I start working from background to middle to fore ground.

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Blocking in middle trees and warming foreground trees.
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Adding some detail to the middle trees.
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Laying in the bright snow
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Snow on foreground trees.

 

Finishing off with a snowfall.

I choose a few very light blues and a white. Holding the pastel above the painting which I’ve now laid flat I scrape lightly with the knife and a little shower of pastel dust falls onto the painting. I start with lighter blues and end with some bigger flakes of white for the closest snowflakes.

Now I take a piece of greaseproof paper and place on top of the painting. Pressing down gently I move my hand in a circular motion to press the pastel flakes into the paper.

 

Finished painting and reference.

I was concentrating on the snow and didn’t realise that I sloped the paddock the opposite direction until I looked at it later. Doesn’t really matter as this was just a demo for my YouTube channel.

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Why not use the reference photo and have a go at a snowy winter scene. It’s lot’s of fun. Send me a link to your painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scepticism reigns supreme

My mum gave me this clipping of a writeup her local paper did to promote a charity fundraiser work shop I’m running for Mum. At 81 she’s doing the full head shave to raise funds for the Leukeamia Foundation and although I’m not quite brave enough to crop the locks I’m doing what I can to support her.

Anyway I left the clipping on the table and The Writer duly admired it. Then out troops The IT geek who takes a peek and asks who it’s about. “Why, me” I coyly reply. With a look of scepticism he flicks it over and says “Oh , it’s just the local rag” Numder two son strolls by later. He being of a more generous nature at least trys to be impressed but doesn’t  quite carry it off as he can’t resist rolling the “renowned”off a few times with a big grin on his moush.

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I’m keeping it though. There might be some of you out there waiting for grandkids to take to the park, provide an excuse for eating icecream at the beach, and the odd grandbaby cuddle. All I’m hoping for is a fair degree of easily impressedness, cause there sure isn’t any in my own offspring!

To be fair I did get a bit of a giggle myself at the use of the word Renowned. At least they didn’t try to pin down were it actually is I’m enjoying the status of “renowned” but I can report it isn’t in my own house!

DIY Framing a pastel painting.

This is a step by step tutorial on how to frame your pastel painting using a ready made chain store frame.If you choose a well made wooden frame you can save big dollars and still have a tastefully framed painting.

Materials list:

  •  a ready made frame with a mat ( the opening to be slightly smaller than your painting) Check the corner joints are well formed with no gaps.
  • some mat board or foamcore offcuts
  • a sharp craft knife
  • a pair of scissors
  • acid free framing tape ( can be purchased from an art supply store)
  • a kitchen table knife
  • a lint free cloth
  • 2 small screws
  • 2 D rings
  • hanging wire the width of your frame plus 10 cms.
  • a screwdriver

You can buy picture hanging kits from the dollar store which include the screws, rings and wire.

 

 

Step 1 – Remove the backing board using the kitchen knife to prise up the metal tacks flat against the frame.Take out the paper and mat. Make sure you place the mat on a clean surface!I like to use the paper insert from the frame as it’s just the right size.

 

Step 2Check the frame for any damage. Especially check that the corner joints are smooth with no gaps. Check the glass to make sure there are no scratches.

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Step 3 – Make a spacer frame. Cut four strips from your scrap board long enough and wide enough to make a frame that will sit approx  2cm in from the mat opening and 2cm in from the mat edge. You will make the scrap “frame”on the side of the mat that will be facing the painting.The spacer frame will allow any falling pastel dust to fall behind the mat keeping the front of the mat and the glass clean.

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Step 4Attach the spacer frame with the framing tape making sure the tape doesn’t show in the mat opening. You don’t need to tape over all the strips – just enough to hold them securely in position. You could also use double sided tape for this .

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Step 5- Centering your painting on the backing board. Take the pastel painting and sit it on the middle of your backing board. Here I’m using a piece of foamcore cut to the same size as the MDF backing board I removed from the frame. You cam use the MDF board but if you do it’s a good idea to seal it first with a coat of varnish or gesso to prevent any acid in the MDF from causing discoloration of your painting in years to come.

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Now place the mat over the painting to make sure only the painting is showing in the mat opening

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Take a ruler and measure from the top of the mat to the horizon line on both sides to check you have the horizon level.

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Once you’re satisfied with the painting placement remove the mat and tape the top of the painting to the backing board with a small piece of the framing tape. This stops it moving when you place the long strip of tape on.f15

 

Now cut a piece of tape long enough to cover the full length of the painting at the top and attach to the backing board.f16

Step 6Placing the painting in the frame. This is the fiddly bit. As you’re doing this stage you need to constantly be checking for any stray pastel dust on the mat and the glass before you go onto the next step. This is very important!

 

Clean the glass with a lint free cloth ( I use glass cleaning cloth)f19

Lay the mat on the glass making sure the spacer side away from the glass and the metal tacks are all showing. You can use the knife edge to lever the mat in  gently to get it to slip below the tacks.f20

Holding the painting on the backing board carefully place it face down on the mat

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You might need to use the knife again to ease it past the tacks.

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Use the flat of the knife to push a top and bottom edge tack flat onto the backing board.

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Turn over and check carefully for any dust or stray specks on the glass or mat board. If you see any remove the painting , clean the glass and/or mat and replace. You can use a kneadable eraser to clean any pastel dust off the mat. Only when you are completely sure you have no unwanted dust should you move onto the next step.

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Step 7- Taping the frame to keep moisture out. Turn the painting glass down . Take the framing tape and stretch it along the top edge of the frame just in from the edge.f26

Cut each end using the craft knife and gentle pressure.

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If your frame back is flush with the backing board then start in the middle and carefully press the tape downand gently press as you move your hands out to each edge. Don’t worry if you get a few wrinkles- no-one will see it when it’s hanging on the wall! If the frame is above the level of the backing board as mine is just cut  into the corners as below and then starting in the middle press the tape down into angle formed by the frame wall and the backing board. f28

Continue until all sides are covered.f29

I need to cover the small corner gaps now so I just cut a square of tape and place in each corner.f30

Step 8. Attach the hanging hardware. You will need 2 small screws, 2 D rings and some hanging wire. Notice that the D ring has a flat side and a curved side.f33

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Place with the curved side down approx 8cm from the top of the frame and screw in place.

Repeat on the other side using a ruler to make sure they are at the same level.

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You shouldn’t need to pre drill holes but if you do make sure to do it before you put the painting in as the vibrations will loosen the pastel dust and cause you grief!f37

Now stretch the wire across the painting to check the length is right. You should have a bit extra each side.f38

Run it through one D ring and pull it through a second time. Pull tight and tie off .f39

The excess is now wrapped tightly around the wire.f40

Repeat on the other side making sure to keep the wire tight.f41

Now just wrap the ends of the wire in a small square of the framing tape to keep all sharp ends covered.

Step 9. Hang on wall and admire!f43

 

 

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.

 

A little inspiration

I dropped into a local home furnishing fabric shop this week and rifled through their bolt end bins for some inspiration. I’m not into formulaic handmade bags and although I often make a series of bags with the same basic form I like to mix it up with different fabrics, patterns and accents. So a bin of odds and ends of fabric is a great kick starter for ideas.

Surprisingly it was a $3 sample swatch of faux leather that got my creative ideas flowing.

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I loved the colours and the fabric had a lovely suppleness to it that meant it would sew well but the swatches where only a couple of inches so what could I do with them??

I was sorting through my handmade stamps later that day when I hit on the idea of combining the two as an accent patch on some of my little black bags.

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So here’s the result

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You can check them out in my Etsy shop  for more pics.

 

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!

 

Life is art and art is life!

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