I found this sitting in my Draft bin and realised I’d never posted it – so here’s a little story form Dec 2017.
Early December amongst the manic finishing of Christmas commissions I got a very professional and pleasant email from someone purporting to work for Etsy in Australia. She asked if I would agree to loan a small painting for a photo shoot at Australian House and Garden magazine. I just needed to send it the next day to reach Sydney in time for the shoot.
My first reaction was that it was a scam. Someone was trying for some free Christmas presents! The email looked legit but I knew that Etsy had closed it’s staff office in Australia earlier that year so my suspicions were fueled. The IT Geek checked it out and assured me it was definitely a scam.
Donning my figurative deerstalker I started my own little investigation. First I asked around on the Etsy teams if anyone knew of a Sarah who worked for Etsy. Straight away someone replied that there used to be a Sarah who worked in PR – maybe it was her? Next I googled the company name on her email and that seemed to be a legit PR firm. I google earthed the address she’d asked me to post it to and that was a photo studio complex. Lastly I phoned up reception at the PR company and asked them to put me through to Sarah , and they did.
With all the evidence in I decided to send off the little painting, the IT Geek was still sceptical.
Two weeks later it arrived back, well packed and a thank you note included.There was no mention of when or if it would appear in the magazine and I assumed they didn’t use it.
Then a couple of days ago I got tagged in an Instagram post and there it was, my little seascape sitting on a bedside table in a beautifully styled bedroom. And 1 day later the painting was sold!
Maybe I wouldn’t have sent it if it was a more valuable painting but I’m glad I was willing to take a small gamble, do a bit of due diligence and cough up for the post. Now to go and check out that legacy I just need to send my passport to collect…..
I made some progress today in meeting my self inflicted deadline to complete the sewing machine drawer project…. I wasn’t entirely happy with the art cover I made earlier so I spent some of yesterday doing some acrylic pours onto plexiglass sheets.
Even though they were promising in design when I placed them over the light box the acrylic paint was too thick to let enough light through- although where it was thin some very lovely “light holes” appeared – so there’s an idea bubbling away for a design where I intentionally screen out some areas to get a light pattern- think starry, starry night or bioluminescing water.
Anyway back to the project…I tried an ink pour next and it looked sort of OK .
So , out with the drawer which I had previously kitted out with LED light strips attached to a transformer, and on with the plexiglass sheet.
Drawer with LED lights installed
This could be OK.
The sheet isn’t fixed in place at this stage but I thought it could be OK even though at this stage it looks a little dull. Anyway – on with the lights!!!
It was an instant hit of lovely, warm, bright colour. There are parts of the panel at the top I would like to change but the pouring process is 1 part control, 99 parts out-of-control, and I could do another 100 and not be totally happy. This time I’m going to override my inner perfectionist and let my ‘it’s good enough” out of the box for a play.
I still have work to do because even though I measured twice before I cut it’s still a whisker too tight to recess into the drawer. I’m considering my options carefully to try and avoid shaving the bottom edge of the plexiglass which will be a very painful process-if anyone has any good ideas I’d love to hear! Meanwhile I’ll be straining the brain for a fix or going back for another cut and pour.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
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
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.
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”….
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.
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.
Then back home again with a few stops…
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.
And I made another mini watercolour painting book.
Just wanted to play with my new Schminke watercolour set which is lush!
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.
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.
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!
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…
but all the time I was thinking of Drip Beach so I kept heading south past more perfect reflections…
…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…
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…
I’ve promised myself I’ll get out and about more this year and this was a good start!
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.
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.
Block in major shapes
Use alcohol to wash down
Add in other basic shapes.
Now I start working from background to middle to fore ground.
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.
Choose a range of light blues
Scrape pastel with knife to release a snowfall!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 2– Check 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.
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.
Step 4– Attach 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 .
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.
Now place the mat over the painting to make sure only the painting is showing in the mat opening
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.
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.
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.
Step 6– Placing 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)
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.
Holding the painting on the backing board carefully place it face down on the mat
You might need to use the knife again to ease it past the tacks.
Use the flat of the knife to push a top and bottom edge tack flat onto the backing board.
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.
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.
Cut each end using the craft knife and gentle pressure.
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.
Continue until all sides are covered.
I need to cover the small corner gaps now so I just cut a square of tape and place in each corner.
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.
Repeat on the other side using a ruler to make sure they are at the same level.
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!
Now stretch the wire across the painting to check the length is right. You should have a bit extra each side.
Run it through one D ring and pull it through a second time. Pull tight and tie off .
The excess is now wrapped tightly around the wire.
Repeat on the other side making sure to keep the wire tight.
Now just wrap the ends of the wire in a small square of the framing tape to keep all sharp ends covered.