Tuesday 27 December 2016

new abstract landscapes

I've been painting up a storm in my studio and have paint everywhere and on everything! Here are a few pieces that I have finished in the last couple of weeks.

"The Yellow House" - acrylics on unstretched canvas

"The Yellow House"
Acrylics on unstretched canvas
24.5 x 24.5cm

"The Crags" - acrylics on paper

"The Crags"
Acrylics on paper
28 x 19.5cm

"This one's for you" - acrylics on exhibition canvas

"This one's for you"
Acrylics on exhibition canvas
15 x 15 cm (4cm deep)
Not available. Collection of the artist.

"Summer fields, summer hills (1, 2 and 3)" - mixed media on wood

"Summer fields, summer hills" (1, 2 and 3)
Mixed media on wood (acrylics, collage, oil pastels and pencil)
18 x 13cm (1.5cm deep)

"Bridge" - mixed media on canvas

Mixed media on canvas (acrylics, collage, pencil)
40 x 30 cm (1.5cm deep)

"Migration" - mixed media on canvas

Mixed media on canvas (acrylics, collage, vintage image transfers, pencil)
33 x 24cm (1.5cm deep)

"Summer fields, summer hills 4" - mixed media on canvas

"Summer fields, summer hills 4"
Mixed media on exhibition canvas (acrylics, vintage image transfers, pencil)
75 x 50cm (4cm deep)

Details of above painting:

Detail of  "Summer fields, summer hills 4"

Detail of "Summer fields, summer hills 4"

Some photos of the beautiful, inspiring landscapes near my home are in my previous post.

Most of these paintings are currently available. Please enquire.
Commissions are also welcome.

If you are nearby Wanaka and would like to see these paintings in person, you can make a time to visit my studio. Just get in touch.

Sunday 18 December 2016

summertime : out and about

Flooded forest - lines, intersections

After many weeks of painting birds, and 7 whole months of just watercolours, I now have my acrylics out. That means lots of playing with paint, getting paint everywhere and on everything and abstracts. Abstract landscapes, in fact.

Where does the inspiration come from? As always, it comes from the world around me.

You could say that we've been getting out and about, or you could say I've been gathering inspiration. Lucky for me I can do both at the same time :-)

Flooded forest - lines and colour

Slacklining - lines and movement

Reflections and shadows

Beach, forest, clouds

Beach, islands, windswept sky, spot of red against green

Lake, mountains, sky, stripe of green

Big sky, poplars, lake

Movement, white, green

Often people look at my portfolio and have questions about what they see as my two styles - the illustrative watercolours and the abstracts. To me they're part of the same story ... a representation of the world around me.

Next post ... new abstract paintings I'm working on. Stay tuned!

Wednesday 7 December 2016

putting in the time : talent vs determination

Chaffinch - watercolour, collage and ink on paper

Here is a Chaffinch. He's the smartest dressed bird in my garden. He never goes out unless he is perfectly groomed :-)

And here's what I read about Chaffinches. They make lots of chip and cheep calls, followed by a long musical flourish that can last several seconds. They may repeat this song up to 3300 times a day!

Now that is dedication to your art! Who could fail to succeed in what they do if they put that much time into something? With that kind of repetition you're bound to achieve something awesome.

So that got me thinking about my art and how I (like most artists probably) often get complimented on my talent. But here's the thing ... it's really been dedication.

From 1999 to 2016. It's been a long journey.

The above picture is of 3 of my sketchbooks. The top left is my first sketch of a building done on location. It was done in 1999 and is of a cottage in Glencoe in Scotland. Pretty childlike, no? And very tentative too. But this was when I first decided I wanted to learn to draw on location and that I wanted to learn to paint watercolours. David bought me that little palette in the picture soon after this and I was so excited. That palette has been absolutely everywhere with me since.

Fast forward a bit. Running a business and a long stint of making pottery, I finally started putting the real time into urban sketching in 2007. We took break from our business that year and went to Europe for 3 months. The lighthouse sketch was done on our first morning, waking up in Mallorca. I sketched so much on that trip. I had no real plan, no real style, no particular choice of subject. I just tried everything. I sketched many, many, many pages.

Since then we've travelled a lot and I've filled heaps of sketchbooks. The right hand sketch is from this year (2016). Each year I seem to sketch more than ever. It is really this year that I have felt it all coming together. I finally feel I'm starting to understand watercolours, that I'm getting a strong, intentional drawing line and I'm brave enough to try pretty much any subject (although old buildings are my favourite). I sketch or paint most days. Even if it is only for 10 minutes.

So I'm not the fastest learner. It's been 17 years! And I'm still learning.

Some days it's a bit like the Chaffinch with just chips and chirps. But some days there's a musical flourish and it all comes together.

So whatever you're doing, if you really want it, just go all out. Put in the hours. Don't give up. It's often dedication that will win the day, not talent.

Some of my sketchbooks from the last few years.

You can listen to the Chaffinch here :-)

Tuesday 6 December 2016

little nz birds update

New Zealand bird books

Summer is here!

We've been having a lot of adventures outside (photos to come!), and in my studio my series of NZ Birds is ticking along quite nicely.

You'll notice I'm still on the little local birds. Birds I know well and see often. Everyone has been nagging for bigger, more 'famous' birds. Patience! They're coming :-)

Sketch for New Zealand fantail

Painting a New Zealand fantail

New Zealand fantail - watercolour, collage and ink on paper

New Zealand waxeye - watercolour, collage, and ink on paper

Drawing of New Zealand Tui

New Zealand Tui - watercolour, collage and ink on paper

Adding the collage wings to a New Zealand robin

New Zealand Robin - watercolour, collage and ink on paper


In my Etsy shop you can find the Bellbird, Fantail, Robin and Waxeye.
The Tui is sold.

You can also find all the birds as prints and on merchandise in my Redbubble store

NZ Birds on merchandise.

Thank you!

Thank you very much to everyone who has bought an original painting, or a tshirt or notebook or bag. Your support is appreciated hugely. And it is motivating me to keep going.

Commissions are welcome!

Tweet Tweet :-)

Friday 25 November 2016

it's a spring thing

Back home in beautiful Central Otago, we've been having the most lush Spring I can ever remember.

No art this time, just photos :-)

Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

West Wanaka & The Peninsula, New Zealand

Lupins, Lake Hawea

Lupin, Lake Hawea


Calafornian Poppies, Clutha River

Wild Rose, Clutha River

Wye Creek, Queenstown

Wye Creek, Queensown

Meanwhile, in the studio, I'm continuing with my New Zealand bird series. Follow on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date on those.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

a little bird told me

Way back in April, before we left for Europe, I had an art date with my friend Anna and we painted birds from a beautiful old calendar.

Anna went realistic and painted the majestic Fish Eagle, I painted tiny birds in a far more comic style.

Cape Batis

Cape Robin Chat 

While we were travelling in Europe, I could not get these out of my mind. I made a some notes over the months we were away, jotting down ideas for a series of these. I knew this series would be all New Zealand birds.

As soon as I got back to my studio I got out some lovely, smooth watercolour paper, visited the library for books on NZ birds and put out bread and fruit on a bird feeder in my garden. There's plenty of inspiration in my backyard :-)

I started the series with the humble House Sparrow, a happy soul never far away. Sparrows seem so wonderfully content wherever they are.

House Sparrow

Next was the California Quail, because we have these in our garden this year. We've only seen males so far, so I'm hoping that means mommies on eggs somewhere. We have a rather untamed, bushy garden - so plenty of spots for nesting.

Quails are so wonderful, with their lovely colouring and patterning. And the funny little top knot and their way of running away at full tilt because flying is such a last resort.

I start with a series of pencil sketches to try and capture the essence of the bird.

California Quail

Then a friend in Nelson asked for a Sacred Kingfisher. Perfect! Those colours are just magic. Who doesn't love a kingfisher?

Sacred Kingfisher

I followed this with the iconic New Zealand Bellbird. We have so many in our garden and they're our alarm clock and constant companion. Their incredible, beautiful call is so loud and clear, it's hard to imagine how such a small body can make it. When they start singing in the morning (they seem to rise about half an hour later than the dawn chorus) all the other birds stop. It's like they also just want to listen to the master.

New Zealand Bellbird

Then, another Kingfisher request. I wanted this one in flight and I can tell you it took me forever to get the wings just right.

Checking the wings for a good fit before cutting them out of collage papers

Sacred Kingfisher in flight

I have a long list of ideas and I can picture much bigger, more detailed birds. At the moment, though, I'm happy to be recording what's close to home.

Guess which one is next?

You can find the 2 South African birds at the top in my Etsy shop.
Of the New Zealand birds, only the Bellbird is still available. Please enquire.
Commissions are welcome.

Follow #nzbirdsbyscatterlings on Instagram

Tweet! Tweet!

Friday 14 October 2016

life's too short to suntan

Asturias, Spain

If you had said to us a month ago that we were beach people we would have scoffed. "You mean, like, lying in the sun, reading a book, on your tiny patch of sand, with a hundred other people. No way!"

Big swell at Playa Amio,  Cantabria, Spain

Then we discovered some of the incredible beaches in Asturias and Cantabria, Spain, and we found we are, in fact, beach people. Especially because there weren't many other people ;-)

Just a few things to pack for the day :-)

We found that, for us, being at the beach is about acting like a couple of hyper-active 8 year olds. There's so much to do!

Like catching the first wave of the day at dawn. Then catching more after breakfast, then again mid morning, then again and again for 'just one more!'

Yes it was hard core at just 13 degrees. And no we don't have wetsuits. It was worth it!

Then there's yoga for me and building extreme stone sculptures for David

Yoga on the beach for me, and stone sculpture building for David.

And drawing big patterns in the sand.

David making sand art

Sketching beach, after beach, after beach.

Asturias, Spain

Same rock, different tide - endless fascination.

Playa Fuente, Cantabria, Spain

Next year we're talking of getting a surf board too!

Hours of frisbee throwing and hours of slacklining.

Slacklining on the beach.

And finding awesome spots to sleep and wake up

Van life :-)

Exploring rock pools

Little black crab. So cute!

Rockpool treasures.

And going snorkelling.

Going snorkelling on the island off Playa Amio, Pechon, Spain

We even sometimes dragged ourselves just a little bit away to go climbing. But not too far!

Multipitch climbing above the sea, Spain

Climb, swim, climb, swim :-)

Yes, there were 'grown ups' on the beach and people 'acting their age'. Some of them probably thought we should just chill out, but we thought they should do something crazy!

No need for persuasion :-)

Oh, and we got plenty tanned too ;-)

Now, 500km inland and a tiny fraction closer to home, this feels so yesterday! But it's not adios to Asturias, it's hasta luego for sure.