Sunday 24 January 2016

in my studio

For some strange reason my studio is super tidy at the moment, so it's safe to share a few photos of my workspace...

I recently got a lot of my artwork out of the various cupboards it was stored in and hung it all on one wall. I think I'm going to go crazy keeping everything straight!

The painting end of the room. I have a lovely view and beautiful light for painting. When I'm painting, this part of the room gets a little crazy. Perhaps I'll share a photo of what that looks like soon.

My sorting/drying/display table with filing cabinets underneath to store small works on paper.

Acrylic paints, mediums and acrylic inks.

Some of my brushes. Some girls collect shoes, I collect brushes :-)
Top left are watercolour brushes. Most of these were my Grandfathers.
Rest of the brushes are for painting acrylics.
And my drawing/painting board is an ever-evolving work of art of it's own.

I also have a desk with computer, scanner, printer etc, but that photo was just too boring to share :-)

All of the artwork in the top photo, as well as other larger works and works on paper are for sale. You can view them here ...

Wednesday 13 January 2016

new abstract landscapes

After weeks of painting watercolour landscapes, I woke up on Monday and my abstract muse was back. Yippee!

I started by priming a number of canvas boards. I'm working on these because I love working on a hard surface that I can push and scrub on without worrying about damage. And because they're easy and safe to post anywhere in the world.

Priming canvas boards

I'm still working on abstracts that reflect the dry Central Otago landscape. There's so much beauty in the warm reds, oranges, golds and yellows that contrast so wonderfully with the blue's of the lakes and mountains and the big, big skies.

Getting my fingers dirty.

First one done -

"It Never Ends"

Mixed media painting on canvas board
Board size is 16 x 12in, 305 x 406mm
Initialled on the front. Signed and dated on the back.

"It Never Ends". Mixed media abstract painting.

And onto the next one. This one done on a much cloudier day. It felt like it was going to rain, but it hasn't yet.

Adding a touch of snow to the hills.

And completed -

"They say it's going to rain"

Mixed media painting on canvas board
Board size is 16 x 12in, 305 x 406mm
Initialled on the front. Signed and dated on the back.

"They Say It's Going To Rain". Mixed media abstract painting on canvas board.

Both paintings available on and can be shipped worldwide.

Saturday 9 January 2016

working from sketches

I live in a truly spectacular part of the world. Surrounded by big mountains, crystal clear lakes, lots of grassy farmland, beautiful rivers, forest, glaciers and lots and lots of wilderness. And yet, when I sketch outside I've always been drawn to buildings. Or people. And when I paint the landscapes around me, I usually paint abstracts.

At the beginning of summer I decided I wanted to change that. I wanted to push myself to capture these landscapes in a more realistic way. And in watercolours, not acrylics, because when I travel acrylics are not an option. So I've been taking my sketchbook outside a lot and learning to paint skies, mountains, and water.

Boxing Day 2015 - I didn't even get out of my sleeping bag before reaching for my sketchbook and paints.
Rob Roy Peak, Mt Aspiring National Park.

Sketching outside can be very challenging. The paint dries so fast ... the wind can pick up and blow grass and sand into your paints, your sketch, your eyes ... the clouds come over and your shadows get all lost ... your nice shady spot goes into the sun and you suddenly can't take the heat anymore ... or it's suddenly too cold and your paint won't dry. Somehow urban sketching seems way more tame than the great outdoors!

I love painting outside and I'm never going to change that. But the results I've been getting have been less than perfect. (Big understatement!) So I've been bringing my sketches into the studio and redoing them. I can then work calmly and slowly, fixing things that weren't quite right the first time. And I get to relive that moment in the hills all over again.

West Wanaka and The Peninsula.

In the above sketch I was pleased with the composition and colours of the sketch, but the thin paper in my sketchbook buckles very easily with very wet washes and so I wasn't pleased with how the paint lay on the page. I could fix that with better paper and controlled conditions in the studio.

Dublin Bay, Lake Wanaka

In the sketch of Dublin Bay above, my original sketch quickly became overworked as I tried to darken the hills in the background. I also lost the lovely evening light catching the left hand side of the trees. In the final sketch I added a bit of foreground beach to shape the bay.

Here are some of the finished pieces...

West Wanaka and The Peninsula

Dublin Bay, Lake Wanaka

Black Peak, Lake Wanaka

Clay Cliffs, Lake Hawea

These finished paintings are available for purchase on Etsy here ...

Monday 4 January 2016

2015 reflections

2015 Reflections

As I continue to grow as an artist, I find immense value in going back and reflecting on work I've completed in the past. I'm good at dating most of my works and it is heartening, especially when I'm struggling with a particular piece, to see how much progress I've made.

Above is a montage of one art experience from each month of last year. I had an incredible 2015, with so many wonderful and fulfilling experiences and not just with my art. But I forced myself to pick just one art related item for each month.

Left to right, top to bottom...

  1. January - I made my first art video with Gumnuts and Gum Leaves
  2. February - We had the driest summer in Central Otago, New Zealand, about 20 years and I painted many, many abstract landscapes trying to try to capture this. The photo above is of "When you come to the end of the day."
  3. March - I revisited an old and favourite theme of mine, "Feathers"
  4. April - Two group exhibitions - Wanaka Arts Society Easter Exhibition and Arrowtown Autumn Festival
  5. May - Autumn leaves everywhere inspired a number of collage works
  6. June - Back to our home away from home in France and urban sketching in pen and watercolour.
  7. July - Blob Monsters in Norway with my friend Heidi
  8. August - Hiding from the summer crowds in tiny little villages in Devoluy, France and lots and lots of urban sketching
  9. September - Venice! Three wonderful days on my own, getting lost and sketching.
  10. October - Climbing, swimming, exploring, painting in Sardegna
  11. November - Back to my home studio and painting in acrylics. Completing my largest painting ever, "Feathers 4"
  12. December - My first arts and crafts market in Wanaka, New Zealand

Looking back through the photos this afternoon it seems incredible how much has been packed into just 12 months.

So now it's 2016 and time to give thought to the future. Continuing to grow as an artist, learning new skills and finding my voice. More on that next time.

Happy New Year everyone!