Thursday, 20 December 2012

Seasons Greetings

Well at last I have realised that Christmas planning and preparation need to take over from my brushes and so I send you Seasons Greetings for a wonderful celebration and a safe and happy time.
I thank you for taking the time to follow my art journey this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my paintings, writing my blog posts and receiving your lovely feedback. I look forward to even more exciting challenges in 2013

Monday, 17 December 2012


I keep thinking that as Christmas Day draws near and there is all that getting ready - you know house cleaning, cooking, getting in the spirit that I really ought to be putting my brushes down and focus. I am not ready yet as I awake each morning so full of ideas for subjects and ways I would like to experiment and create so I guess I will push on this week until I have a real deadline and then maybe I will stop painting.
As I have mentioned before I really prefer to work from real life and next best to is use my own photos as then I have a good connection with my subject but sometimes I am really inspired by photos of others. There is a site called Paint My Photo and it is here that talented photographers share their photos for artists to paint.  I have been a member ever since I took up painting again and I frequently visit the site not just for reference photos but to also enjoy seeing artwork produced from them. 
Today I share two paintings completed two different ways using one inspirational photograph I recently spotted on PMP - thanks Carla for your great Green Tree Frog shot

"Being Green"  is the first painting I did. If this had been my reference photo I would have known what plant he was sitting on but as I didn't I followed the photo and at the end felt as if I had been a bit stifled and tight in my result.

"Seeing Green" is my second attempt and I approached it in a more carefree manner and made him sit on a branch. I also incorporated a salt texture for the background foilage that had pleased me when I experimented trying several different salts and various pigments.

I have had some very mixed results this past year using table salt so this week I tried rock salt, salt flakes and lastly and for me the conclusive winner "Murray River Gourmet Salt Flakes". They are a pinky colour and besides the fact that I live on the river Murray what I love most is they say by using this salt you are also improving the environment and assisting with Australia's serious inland salinity problem. No matter that they cost heaps more than regular salt if they work I will pay! 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Year of The Poppy

The Poppy - Lest We Forget a significant remembrance flower
and for me this year a constant reminder of happiness in my life

Poppies 1994

I have always been fond of Poppies and when I first dabbled in watercolour back in 1994 attending a once a week evening class, I only had about 3 or 4 paintings that seemed worthy of buying a frame. I gave painting away due to the stresses of my working career and this first Poppy painting is hanging on our family room walls with its 1994 date next to my signature and is a constant reminder of my art beginnings.

When I began painting again in earnest back in 2011 it was a Poppy and Daisy painting I did in about July that really inspired me to go down the path of loose florals and I entered it in a local art show and it was sold which gave me the confidence to carry on with this style of work.
I have also been thrilled to have my "Wild About Poppies" painting featured in a literary book Blades of Wind which was launched last month and this painting too has subsequently found a new home.
We are  brand new to grand parenting this year (3 babies in 9 months) and my husband Ian is so proud to be a new Poppy!
I may not complete much more this side of Christmas but I was really keen to finish with another Poppy piece to round off our Poppy year

Poppy Love
Painting size 36cm x 33cm

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

We'll Be Back

As I mentioned many times we live in such a paradise of a place and our life is filled with natures beauty all around but sometimes I must admit I do forget this and complain about some silly little aspect such as noisy "Corellas". When we moved into our river front home nearly four years ago we had quite a few feral pine like trees along the edge of the river and a gigantic one outside our side bedroom window. The council when wishing to upgrade the bike track along the rivers edge removed a little while back all the ugly specimens on their verge but our huge tree remained. This we do not mind as it gives us some shade on the hot mornings and the tree is in very good condition but it certainly produces enticing cones for the Corellas to feast on. When the cones are green and juicy in come dozens and dozens of these lovely white birds but boy do they know how to make a racket and why do they have to have their breakfast so early!
I used a background that I had painted more than a week ago and put aside not knowing then what I would use it for. I was once again lucky to have some areas where the white of the paper remained. The idea for painting the Corellas popped out of my head and happily landed on the paper!

Noisy Feasting
Unframed size 28.5cm x 38cm

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Negative Painting

No not negative as in being negative but painting negative means bringing out a subject by painting what is around it instead of painting the subject itself.

Beyond the Clearing
Painting size 10"x 8"

I have practised this with two pieces. The first I have entered as my monthly challenge piece for Virtual Paintout which the location for November is New Brunswick in Canada. I did a fair bit of wandering around and found some parts not dissimilar to my part of the world here. There was a lot of tree lined highways and roads and I settled on using trees to improve my negative painting skills. It is not as easy as it looks and you really have to get your mind in focus to get a reasonable result.
This is not a painting as such but a study piece and I feel I learnt lots today.

The second piece is a large size 15"x 22.5" and was a good exericse in negative painting. I used a painting I started last week where I splashed around colour and applied some clingfilm and then never got back to it. Today I looked at the result and was going to toss it in the bin  as I was not entirely happy with it but then I thought well you need the practise try something. I had these three funny purple blue sections where I applied the clingfilm and I thought why not turtles! I have deliberately used limited colours and relied on negatively painting around the shapes and created the fish the same way. I think it is a bit funky and a fun piece

Turtle Blues
Painting size 15" x 22.5"
I would also like to thank all my followers who take the time to look at my art and read my blog articles and to those who leave feedback comments they are so welcomed.

I have this week done little other painting but have spent quite some hours setting up a website and you can find the link to it on the pages tab at the top of this page or here

Monday, 19 November 2012

Good Distractions

A busy past week fitting in painting whilst doing preparations for big family weekend for my husbands birthday. Our new grandchildren (and the mums and dads) came for their very first sleepover. Much fun was had by all, the babies behaved beautifully and Sunday finished off with the "Summer Magic"exhibition opening at ART@GOOLWA and my family were able to have a sneak peek just before the crowds arrived.
Summer Magic Exhibition

Just Chatting
Unframed size 28.5cm x 38cm

Reefscape 1
Unframed size 28.5cm x 38cm
These are two paintings I did manage to complete last week.
The first with the Galahs was an experiment where I painted a background using clingfilm for texture by dropping in colour behind it and then leaving it to dry.The next day working with what had appeared from this process you choose a subject that would work. I had three clear white paper spaces left luckily in good positions where the heads could go so I was able to paint my birds. I wanted to try and be loose in my approach but as time went on I did get a bit fussy but overall I am happy with the feel of this one. I prepared another background in different colours and am in the process of using this for a floral piece. I like this approach because it makes you think outside the square and work with what you have and get creative which is really what this fabulous pastime's all about!

The butterfly fish enabled me to have fun and be very colourful and what better subjects for colour can you find than the fish and flora that we have in our wonderful Australian reefs.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Percentage Game

I use “percentage” to measure all means of my day. 
When I wake with a clear head I say hooray this will be a 100% day today When I wake with one of my dreaded headaches and that nausea that accompanies it  I sigh and say yuk 70% today. I still paint even when I am in a 70% zone and whilst being creative I do not even think about my aching head.
It occurred to me today that I have now included my painting in my percentage assessments and it goes like this:
Inspiration to paint 100%
Choose a subject 100%
Goal to enjoy process 100%
Goal of expected satisfaction 80%

You may wonder why I do not aim for total satisfaction – simply to even end up with 80% would make me over the moon, I would have huge satisfaction with this rating as I know I would have learnt lots and be able to see where I could have done something differently and will keep that in mind next time.  I will never aim for 100% as I am not painting a photo realistic piece of art but aim to capture the essence of my subject with my colour choice in an expressive way bringing it to life as I make my marks on the paper. If I succeed in this then I am satisfied… for now!

When I set up to start this painting I aimed for my 80%. After about 30mins I was still heading for the 80%, 1 hour later maybe 75% and by the time I finished if I am honest I would say 70%. This doesn't mean I am not happy in fact I am pleased as a while back my percentage of satisfaction would have been 50%!

30cm x56cm
before matting & framing

Hollyhocks composed from 1 stem of real life - 
Ian and I lunched on Friday at a gorgeous French cafe in Willunga
 "La Terre"  Cafe & Jardinage -not only superb food but also a wonderful show of hollyhocks and cheeky me asked as I was ordering our meal whether I could take a stem home to paint. Oui!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Black or White

Pick Me
56cm x 77cm

I painted Iris a couple of months back when I first started painting bigger sizes and this is "Pick Me".

Photo from Mariannes Garden

Just recently my sister's sister in law (wow that is a mouthful) Marianne shared some lovely Iris photos taken in her garden. Though I have not seen her garden in Melbourne for some years I have it on good authority that it is beautiful and full of stunning plants as she is a very keen gardener. 
Her photo of a very dark Iris so impressed me I asked her what they were called and when she told me "Witches Sabbath" I thought what a fabulous title for a painting and set about creating  a painting of these dark but colourful blooms.

Witches Sabbath
56cm x 37cm
before matting and framing
Now to the reason for my black or white title to my post - I am trying to decide whether to take a leap from my normal matting and framing which my signature style is always simple white frame and soft white double matt and dare to frame this in black as the dark title beckons to be shrouded in black. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Black or White?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Blades Of Wind

Sounds like a great title for a painting but this time it is the name of a new literary collection of short works by Sand Writers a group here in the Fleurieu.
They sought artwork to accompany their stories and poems and I am thrilled to have been asked to allow two of my paintings to be published in the book to illustrate two of the writing pieces. They have included "Jostling for a Spot" and Wild about Poppies. The book launch is on at the end of the month and I can't wait to see the finished work.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Crucial Ingredient

Some weeks I surprise myself with having several happy painting results and other weeks the pickings seem slim. There is however always the crucial ingredient no matter what the result and that ingredient is FUN. One of my other (used to be most important) pastimes was cooking and ingredients for recipes needed to be measured - not too much and not too little but when it comes to art I am at last realising that the ingredient of FUN must not be carefully measured but applied in huge liberal amounts. This then guarantees that I will come back for more regardless of the result of my last experiment with my brushes. I have not had the hours to paint this past week as I would wish but have had some lovely family time, friend time and preparation for new exhibitions but when I have had my brush in hand I have had some real fun experimenting with different combinations of colour, inks and Yupo paper. Hopefully I will be able to build on these experiments and come up with some good results to share.

I have always had a love of Wisteria with their pendulous blooms and often remember one we had in a garden of an old villa we owned some years back, little did I know then that I would take up art and have the opportunity to bring back the memories forever in paint.
The "paint it now" inspiration came about after having a lovely lunch last Wednesday with friends. We talked about Wisteria and later that evening I was emailed a photo Maria had from her holiday in Europe last year with a beautiful Wisteria climbing over the building they happen to be outside. I added to the painting experience yesterday by setting myself up outside in my garden to paint under the Pergola which when lost in the moment of creativity I imagined it was Wisteria above my head and not our lovely Glory Vine 
Wisteria Vine
39cm x 50cm

Monday, 22 October 2012

TheThree P's

Pears, Penguins and Promotion
An unusual trio, but as I mentioned in my last blog post I did have plans in my head for what I would paint but my Tree Peony bunch would not survive whilst I painted my choices but the lovely bunch is long gone and the paintings completed so here are two of the subjects I had planned last week.

Home Grown
SOLD11"x 14"
before matting and framing

The Pears are also my contribution to Virtual Paintout this month. The location is Croatia and I took some time on google street view locating some inspiration and I did in fact do a sea and boat scene but in the end I was a bit disappointed with it so I walked around some more and found in a place called Kuce in Zagreb County some nice homes and gardens and this one with some pear trees. Here is my map view if you would like to see for yourself. 
I chose a really loose style for my pears and the background colours of indigo and quinacridone gold when I left them alone merged and gave me some interesting fusion of colour and texture indicating the foliage deep in the tree allowing the viewer to imagine the individual leaves within.

One Fine Day
22" x 8"
before matting and framing
The Penguins I have been wanting to find a subject that I could use to experiment on a different size work and I saw an advert in a travel brochure for Antarctica and thought yes -  Emperor Penguins will give me that chance to do some distance perspective with this wide format. I much prefer to have some connection with my subjects but with this one this will never happen ( could never see Ian and myself rugging up for a holiday to Antarctica!!) so to me blending traditional art with the technology of the internet where there is no shortage of research material makes the impossible subjects possible!

and the last of The Three P'S
The Promotion
Off the Slate Gallery will be hanging a whole new exhibition in one weeks time. The new exhibition called Through the Looking Glass will feature glass artist Muriel Birkill and all painting artists will have new works hung. I am presently making my final choices of works for delivery next Sunday and the new exhibition opens on Wednesday October 31st. Find out more on their website which will feature Muriel when the new exhibition details are loaded in the next few days.

Also coming up soon Art@Goolwa will be presenting Summer Magic a new exhibition with an official opening on Sunday 18 November at 2pm. I have just another two weeks to finalise my choices for this one too so a busy time ahead

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Nature sets the Pace

My painting plans this week have been dictated to and not by me and I have not completed what I had in mind but was compelled to keep up with nature starting with buying a bunch of Peonies that were advertised on a florist sign in Adelaide last Friday. 
In fact when I went in to make the purchase they had sold out but said there was one more bunch coming in on Saturday. I arranged for them to be collected for me as I would not be back in town until Sunday. To my surprise they were not the variety I had always planned on painting, you know those lovely tight knit pink type that might last for some time.When I got home I googled Peonies to find these are a variety of Tree Peony. They are a very open bloom, paper thin, and over the next few days so very very quickly started to wither and fall apart.  My bunch was not a inexpensive purchase so my challenge was to capture them before it was too late. 

My painting process:

This is a photo of the bunch taken today so you can see from my paintings how I just use the blooms as a reference but compose and paint in a free and intuitive fashion and see where it takes me. In fact only the second one had the merest pencil lines as a guide for the more closed blooms but I prefer to not be restricted by drawing so that I can be free and expressive and not think I have to stay inside the lines. This obviously can end up in a disappointing result but more often gives me the unique expressive impression that I am after and I guess you can call it experimental. I cannot believe that as a person that has lived her entire adult life in control as a neat and exacting person has now come to prefer- not neat, not exact, not in control
let the water and pigment do the controlling- so much more fun! 

I hope you enjoy these three experiments and you choose a favorite

Monday, 8 October 2012

Fun with Feathers

Have been having so much fun with these little bird paintings all done on Yupo. I am really liking this slippery surface which allows me to experiment and if I don't like an area I can easily wash it back and add something different. I am learning to be more patient and let bits dry before adding more because if you go in when it is too wet everything just blobs in a puddle. This little fairy penguin was spotted last year on the rocks near the bluff at Victor Harbor.
I might be tempted to do some more little budgie paintings as they are so cute and whilst working on them it brought back memories of my own child hood budgie "Poppet"

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Three Challenges

I don't always share my paintings on my blog for various reasons - simply I do too many, I also have lots of failures, some I like but not sure if they are good enough etc. The journey I am on is such a roller coaster ride of highs and lows from elation, disappointment and everything in between. When I wake in the morning I am already thinking about painting. I fuss around a bit before I start as beginning always makes me anxious. Looking at that white piece of paper and wondering already what my endeavors will bring. Once I get going I am fully immersed and the experience is wonderful and I push on with the intention of course that my end result will be pleasing. When it is - oh boy do I feel good, when it isn't - well I just have to get a handle on how this makes me feel because with watercolour as my chosen medium I am going to have many paintings where they have a mind of their own and in more control than I am!
I am sharing these three challenges - 

Happy Memories
The first is the October challenge from my facebook friends Create38 and it was "Bridges". I have not painted much from our Italy travel last year so thought it was about time I did and this is so out of my comfort zone that it really was a challenge for me. I am pleased with my result given my lack of experience in this subject area

Kens Roses

The next two challenges I made for myself - My neighbour Ken has the most amazing display of peach coloured roses and though I have painted them a few times I have never been happy with my result. I try and paint loose where I can and with roses I find this does not come easily to me so I thought why not try them on YUPO as my expectations of the result is not known or expected as it is with watercolour paper so perhaps I can just have fun and see where the flow takes me. The results are even more unique on this surface and certainly unrepeatable!

Blowy in the Channel

I also experimented on Yupo to capture the view I had last Saturday morning whilst reading the paper in bed- yachts went sailing by on their way up the river and once again I have not found boats easy to do (such a shame as they are outside my front door) so having no expectations and forced to be loose on this slippery surface I am quite pleased with my finished piece. Painting outside ones comfort zone is the only way to grow and improve as an artist and finding ways to do this is the biggest challenge.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Art takes a Back Seat

I have had a very distracting time from my painting this past couple of weeks with some of it giving me stress that affected my desire and ability to paint. All is sorted now with the wonderful arrival of our first grandson which is so exciting and secondly the news that my Mum has recovered sufficiently from her illness in London and can now fly home to Australia, so once again my mind is filled with happiness and this certainly promotes better art results. 

Fragrant Magnolia
56cm x 37cm
before matting and framing

This is the only piece I have painted in this time and these fragrant Magnolia blooms I spotted at Mt. Barker whilst driving through to the hospital last week. We stopped on the way back and Ian took some photos for me to use for reference. I love Magnolia and have painted my own garden white blooms twice before and probably will many more times. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Days of Variety

Finding variety in art subjects and application certainly stretches the mind and ability and this week I have been determined to venture outside of my norm to push myself into trying something new. I have achieved this with these three works. 
Daisy Attraction

This painting was as close as I got to en plein air painting this week. These daisies grow profusely all along the edge of the river in front of our house and I also have a small patch in the back garden. I took one daiy inside with a piece of its leaf and composed this into a painting. When I started to paint I popped outside a few times to get the feel of the ground cover plant in the sunshine. I decided to add a butterfly to vary my usual floral work.

My second watercolour was composed by using a reference photo of a blue wren and by bringing in a couple of thin twigs off the gum tree on the verge. I pencil sketched the bird then painted the background first and washed it out down the sink a bit to give the faded distance look and then added the twigs and the wren. We are lucky enough to have daily visits from a little family of these sweet birds in our back garden.
Chubby Cheeky Fellow

Good as Gold
My last variety of work came in the form of this glowing sunflower. I spotted this photo on a site called Paint My Photo where photographers are happy to share their work for artists to use and Jess had only just uploaded this glorious photo. I knew immediately that this would suit watercolour on Yupo and I had been wanting for sometime to try and do an entire piece of only one floral bloom but lacked confidence on watercolour paper. As this was really experimental using Yupo for only the third time I had nothing to lose but let go and try. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Delight in Spring

How lovely it is today - a truly beautiful spring day here on the fleurieu. I have these past few days completed some of my September projects. 
My online watercolour friends set a challenge this month called "transition", you can use this to apply in any way you choose so for me I chose the transition from winter to spring. I painted the plum tree outside my back door which has now come into full bloom from our lovely spring weather but it caught my eye to paint when I first saw the start of the lovely white blossom appear heralding the end of winter.
Spring is Here
This next painting is my challenge to capture the sweet delicate orchid blooms on the beautiful plant I purchased a couple of weeks ago. It is one mass of tiny orchid blooms and I have had a couple of attempts to capture them as I wish and this one I feel I have achieved my goal. Painting white flowers is always a challenge as in watercolour we leave the white of the paper and then form the blooms using local colours from the background and stems
Sweet Orchid Blooms

Woodland in Zealand

I always try to participate in the Virtual Paintout monthly challenge. I enjoy walking the streets of the chosen location using google street view to seek an inspiration and then do a painting. This month the chosen place is the island of Zealand, Denmark. At first I thought it was New Zealand but when I realised it was somewhere I had never been to it was fun to travel down the streets and lanes as if I was really there. I had difficulty finding anything floral, at least anywhere I looked, so settled on a woodland area. This is my landscape using my map reference 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Temperature Change

When viewing art we are all attracted and intrigued by different elements. For me colours seem to be a crucial ingredient for whether I like a painting or not. This has been evident this past week as I jump from one temperature "hot" to another "cool" in my colour choices. 

Sunflowers we saw in abundance when we traveled through the south of France on holiday, they were prematurely dry for the time of year because of an extended heatwave. 
Extreme opposite temperature in the daisy paintings, I have used the same cool choices of colours for both but experimented with portrait and landscape compositions. 

I have also been experimenting with YUPO a synthetic, water resistant paper that seems an odd surface to paint on for a watercolourist as we use so much water with our pigment - the result is more vibrant colours due to the water finally( after some hours) evaporating and the pigment remains sitting on top of the paper. This paper would suit some subjects more than others and I used it for an underwater scene

Daisy Faces
Hot and Rustic

Fresh as a Daisy
Watercolour on Yupo

Monday, 27 August 2012

Fleurieu Flora

I spend too much time thinking about all the wonderful subjects I love to paint and wish I could just get on with it but often my mind is so full of ideas I have to let them wonder around in my head until one inspiration overtakes and jumps out begging to be painted right now! 
Last week I  chose two subjects that reflect the wonderful scenery and life here on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Our gulf waters have lots of plant life and some of it is pretty enough to inspire a floral painter like me and I painted the brightly coloured sea fans found in the ocean. 
My second floral this past week has been jumping around in my head for some time.When I drive to Off the Slate Gallery in Willunga a couple of times a month and go down the really steep Willunga hill, there is a valley that has a creek surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of arum lily and I just adore the shape of these blooms. I hope you enjoy both these paintings and now I have shared them I must get back to my brushes for the next idea to jump out!

Life in the Gulf

Lily of Willunga Valley

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Latest Exhibitions

Off the Slate Gallery in Willunga is busy hanging its new exhibition which opens on Wednesday 22nd August. I have updated my In Galleries page here showing the paintings I will have hanging over the next few weeks. The entire gallery is refreshed with new pieces from every artist and I find it always exciting to see the gallery for the first time when the exhibit is complete. 

I am also exhibiting this coming Sunday August 26th at Sala on Sale Marquee on King William road Hyde Park. The exhibit opens at 10am thru to 4pm. I have selected some of my recent favorite pieces to show at this event.

Inspired by the lovely gardens found in Richmond Tasmania, using google street view I found many rose bushes to choose from and settled on using a climbing white rose found in a front garden in a pretty little street called St. Johns Circle. 
This will be framed in my usual choice of white with soft white double matting which will complement the colour palette of this work very nicely and I enjoy seeing the finished work on my studio wall.
The finished size framed will be 77cm x 56cm
Here is the map link if you would like to see where I stopped to do my "virtual painting" 
Richmond Roses

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Apple Isle

This months Virtual Paintout location where we use google street view to tour the world is none other than close to home - good old Tasmania. I have toured Tasmania twice and both times enjoyed the beautiful scenery, wonderful food and its wealth of history. 
As you all know by now my art, 99% of the time, is floral themed and what better subject to choose this time but Apples asTassie is widely referred to as the Apple Isle. 
Using Google street view I found in Sassafrass apple orchards for my painting - I then freely created a composition, again no pre drawing, just using paint directly in my organic style . The texture for the background and leaves came from using cling film and salt.
click on image to enlarge
Organic Grown

A Tassie Creek
This is another Tasmania street view painting - from a location on the Arthur Highway Sorell, this is done with watercolour but on a plastic type product called Yupo. It was very interesting to use for the first time as the paint does not soak in but dries on the top and until it does it slides all over the place, the colours remain very vibrant because they are sitting only on the surface!