Sunday, 21 December 2014

Seasons Greetings

Wishing all my dear blogging friends and lovely followers by email a wonderful Christmas holiday time. Let us hope that 2015 can deliver just that, hope to so many in the world doing far too tough.
I look forward to sharing my paintings with you again in 2015 and don't forget if you are interested in seeing a variety of experimental washes pop over and sign up to follow the new blog by 7 artists from around the world (including me) at Wash a Week Challenge that starts on January 1st.

Till the new year take care xx

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Painting from Life

My models:
Shop bought bunch of 4 Sunflowers, 
Little Gem potted Magnolias outside my Studio

Sun Tough
Watercolour 57cm x 38cm
Arches 300gsm Rough Paper
Little Gems
Watercolour 57cm x 38cm
Arches 300gsm Rough Paper

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Watercolour 28.5cm x 38cm
I must be getting tired as the years end draws in as unusually for me I was at a bit of a loss on Saturday afternoon for inspiration to paint. I had put my open sign out so I needed to be in my studio working. I flipped through some magazines and found a great full page size photo of Mick Lanagan a volunteer in the Bush with the Royal Flying Doctors Service. I needed to push myself with a challenge and not being a portrait painter I decided to try to capture him in watercolour and without laying down a drawing first. I started with his eyes and soon three hours had flown past with not much interruption from visitors and voila! I had Mick on paper and was quite surprised that I had his likeness to about 95%.
Thank you to the photographer Leon Mead who gave his blessing for me to share my experience here.

I so love the freedom of painting without any initial drawing and it is by far my most preferred method so to practise it with any subject is really helping my observation skills.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Meet Jumbo

Finding painting time is getting increasingly harder as Christmas draws nearer and time is needed for preparations and extra socialising. Found time yesterday to paint Jumbo which is a Christmas gift for my friend Annette. Its not a surprise as she provided me with the adoption certificate with his photo, so safe to share it. I did smile for the whole time I painted his dear little face.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A Big New Challenge - Join In

Well as the year end is drawing in and I reflect on all that I have achieved in my art journey this year I wondered what 2015 might have in store.
I am happy to announce that "one big new challenge" is starting on January 1st when I join 6 other "washing girls" each from a different country to present a new blog "Wash a Week Challenge". I invite fellow watercolourists  and those wishing to know more about painting in watercolour to check it out and consider joining in. We will be sharing our experiments and learnt lessons each week for one year. Olivia Quintin (France) will be adding a monthly challenge for everyone to participate in if they wish. It should be a lot of fun and will become a thorough resource for watercolour.

The 7 Washing Girls are:
Olivia Quintin - France
Christy Lemp - USA
Isabella Kramer - Germany
Jane Minter - Italy
Lorraine Brown - Australia
Lori Bentley - South Africa
Vandy Massey - England

This week I set up (with the help of my wonderful husband Ian) two exhibitions which run during December and January. With these commitments out of the way I have the freedom now to just play and learn something new and this latest challenge was just that. Human eyes, porcelain skin, added intrigue, hot press paper and NO pencil drawing first. Not perfect but good lessons learnt. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Shades of White

Shades of White
Arches Rough 300gsm
38cm x 28.5cm

I finished this Polar bear just before we left for a few days away and it greeted me on my return this morning sitting patiently on my painting table. Today we have had a so very, very hot day and coming home to see this cool chap waiting for me to share with you made me smile. He was a good challenge in painting a white subject in a white setting,

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Watching for Mum

Watching for Mum
Arches 300gsm Rough
38cm x 28.5cm
We have been watching several pairs of Black Swans swim past with their little tribe in tow and the beautiful cygnets getting bigger and every now and then one swims just a little bit further away from their parents. Thanks to Mick Blackman for a great close up photo to use for my reference. Am going to include this in my little exhibition starting Monday at Cafe Lime here in Goolwa.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Keeping it Simple

Simplifying in mind I chose this little Pied Cormorant. We have so many Cormorants of all types land on our jetty, they dive for fish and then hang out for ages with their wings outstretched drying off.

Wind Blown
on Arches 300gsm Rough Paper
38cm x 28.5cm

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Softly, Softly

Softly Softly
Arches 300gsm Rough
38cm x 28.5cm

Softly, Softly she goes, that's me! No pressure, no expectations, no drawing first, 
add the water and let the pigment do its magic!

Landing Gear Down
Arches 300gsm Rough
57cm x 38cm

Monday, 17 November 2014

Moving the Goal Post

I have all my paintings sorted and stored ready for two December exhibitions - a total of 17 works and 3 ready for a January show. With this now behind me I am ready to set some new goals and challenges for myself. I have looked back over my three year art journey and can see every now and then the subtle change and hopefully improvement in my paintings. Where to now - I need to think about this for 2015. After the Jean Haines workshop in Adelaide a fortnight ago I keep recalling one thing she said: SIMPLIFY. For me it doesn't mean having to paint in a very loose way where a lot of imagination is required to fill in the blanks but it does mean finding a balance between too much and not enough.  I am thinking "semi-figurative". I like the idea of having a reconisable subject and combining it with elements of semi abstract shape making and texture. Sounds like it will be a challenge worth working towards. I shall look back in another years time and see what I have achieved.
Over the weekend I had my studio open,only a couple of visitors came but  I just painted away just for ME and with "'simplify" in mind each of these three paintings provided their own challenge. None were meant to be "serious" pieces as my reasons below explains.

Pelican Brief
Just that - how to simplify and paint this large, awkward bird that I see everyday but haven't
quite captured to my liking 

Seeking a Safe Haven
Using an inspiring front cover image from the Australian Geographic by photographer Douglas Seifert, I wanted to use some abstract shapes and marks to render my subject in a simple way

They know the Way
I surprised myself on Sunday morning with this one. I had this image from Pixabay on my computer from back in my Aesop fable series when I was looking for a shepherd to use for collage. I thought lets try this without a pencil in sight and went straight in with water and pigment. Possibly could have been a bit more simplified but I know for sure I couldn't have done this a few months back

Thanks everyone for your kind comments on my last post, sorry this one seems almost as long
I have a busy social week ahead as my husband is having a special "big number" birthday so not much painting now until the end of the week but I wish all my artists friends a fabulous painting time!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Jean Haines Workshop

Firstly apologies as this blog post will be a bit longer than usual as I have so much to share from the past week.
A week ago I had a wonderful two day workshop with English watercolourist Jean Haines. It was hosted by the Adelaide Art Society in their historic North Adelaide premises formerly a grain store.
Firstly it was a workshop like no other that I have ever attended. Jean did not do step by step demos which was very refreshing as I don't find it inspiring to have a room full of artists all painting the same thing bit by bit.
Jeans approach was purely to show her way of painting, demonstrate how she starts warming up by doing 3 little washes to use as backgrounds for a subject later or to try out colour combinations and of course to inspire us with her infectious passion for the medium. Jean showed how she painted Roses, Eyes, a Koala, an Emu, a Cat, she touched on landscapes too. For those of you not familiar with her style she "NEVER" draws with a pencil. In fact she did not have one on her table at all . She paints directly onto the paper shaping her subject bit by bit with water and pigment, keeping it very loose and only adding a few tiny details at the end.
After she had painted we were left to our own inspiration to paint whatever we chose from our own reference images and she took the time to walk around and speak to artists individually as they painted and give any help required.
I did not seek any assistance as I was very relaxed and painted with absolute fun and freedom. I enjoyed using "rough" paper again as I have been working on Cold Press for more than 12 months.
For me she was very kind in liking what I was painting and I was thrilled when she chose to include my work every time to show the group at the end of each session. I always know at workshops I will come away with new knowledge that will help me along my journey and Jean did say that Indigo (which is my current favourite colour) dries dull so she adds a touch of ultra marine blue and now I am back home in my studio I will have a closer look at this.
Jeans demo of Roses, one on a warm up wash 

Jeans demos and reference story board

Jean helping artists individually
That lovely clean piece of paper is where I am positioned, right in the front row.

Jean Haines Day 2 at the Adelaide Art Society

My exercises over the 2 days
Eyes, loose bee, a duck on a warm up wash and a couple of warm up washes

Lovely in Pink
Arches Rough 300gsm 28.5cm x 38cm
With one of the real roses from her vase in my left hand for inspiration and shapes
I created this finished piece which Jean really liked.

After the workshop we travelled a few hundred kilometres down the coast to a town called Robe. It was to be a rest and relaxation time but within 24 hours I had my workshop gear out of the boot and ready for painting. I did some "en plein air" and whilst I enjoyed trying I did not produce anything worth showing. My lovely sable brushes blew off into the sand so I gave up and went back to the shelter of our caravan and painted this cockerel starting with the eye and working outwards from there.
Wearing Red
Arches Rough 300gsm 38cm x 28.5cm

Monday, 3 November 2014

So Excited

Watercolour on 425gsm Saunders Waterford CP Paper
28.5cm x 38cm
A week back we had some exciting lightening happening in South Australia and I was inspired to create this painting of the river at Goolwa on show in the early evening.

I am very excited as this week I am attending a two day workshop by English watercolourist Jean Haines. We are very fortunate that she has put Adelaide on her travel itinerary as normally we miss out. It means a three night stay in the city for me as I am about 90kms from Adelaide and after the workshop we are continuing on for a mini break in the coastal town of Robe.
Jean was one of the artists who I so admired when I took up watercolours with a passion back in 2011 but her style is very unique to her and it is not my wish to adopt this very loose approach even though I once would have said yes please. I am well travelled down my own road now so me taking workshops from any renowned artist is simply to have some fun, pick up useful tips to add to my own bag of tricks and move on.  The workshop material list says Arches Rough paper so this will be my own challenge as I have not used anything but Cold Press for more than a year.

My next blog update will be in about two weeks when I will tell you how I got on.

Monday, 27 October 2014

My Place

My Place
 on Saunders Waterford 425gsm Bright White
28.5cm x 38cm

The Egret is a common sight where I live here on the rivers edge. They are such an elegant bird.
During open studio yesterday I started this serene watercolour and stayed past closing time as I was so keen to finish it.
Thought you might also like to see "My Place" too flying my new purple "Fleurieu Art Trail" flag in the front garden.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bump in the Night

Painted for a facebook them event this Saturday -"things that go bump in the night".
My immediate reaction when I read this was "Possums". I am lucky that where we have lived for the past 6 years we have not had any on or in our roof but previous homes especially in leafy tree areas we had our share. They sleep all day and then come out to play at night!
I once saw one the size of a cat get into a hole the size of an egg!
We go Bump! in the night
425gsm Saunders Waterford Paper 28.5cm x 38cm

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Creating a Work from a Photo

Bountiful Blossom
425gsm Saunders Waterford Bright White Paper
28.5cm x 38cm
On Wednesday morning I painted my Christmas Card painting (kept secret to print for family and friends first)  A friend who joined me for painting that day brought along some of photos. I loved a photo she had taken sometime ago of blossom. Neither of us knew from what tree but I think it may be Cherry. I started a second painting that day and have taken another two days to finish it. I referred to the photo to get a bit of a likeness but used my imagination to fill the paper with shapes and colour until satisfied . This is my favourite way of working and a reference can be used many times over as no two works could ever be the same.

Photo reference

Monday, 13 October 2014

Spoilt for Choice

I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful South Australian town where the Murray river passes my door and flows into the sea. My current muse of experimenting more with "Scapes" means that I am spoilt for choice as I have the river, sea, hills and vines on my doorstep. I have not painted flat or graduated washes for I don't know how long but painting clear skies has made me revisit this watercolour application.
Observe the Rules
Watercolour 38cm x 2cm
4WD access to the Beach where vehicles can drive the few kilometres down to the Murray mouth where the river flows into the sea

Early Risers
Watercolour 38cm x 28,5cm
Clear start to the day over the Murray River

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


Scapes - any type land, river or sea is something I want to spend some time experimenting with. I am getting much closer to getting my idea of what I want down on paper and now I have upcoming exhibition commitments ready I have time to play.
Goolwa Wakes
425gsm Saunders Waterford CP Paper
57cm x 29cm

Taste of the Flinders
425 gsm Saunders Waterford CP Paper
57cm x 38cm

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Mother and Son

Mother and Son
Watercolour 38cm x 38cm

Thanks to Billy Dodson - Savanna Images for his inspiring photo, just what I needed to add to my collection of Mother and Baby paintings. Enjoyed creating the out of focus distance with cool colour and texture, gesso was used to create the dust.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Young Australian

Young Australian
Watercolour on 425 gsm Saunders Waterford CP
28.5cm x 38cm

Back in December I had a surprise visitor on our balcony, a juvenile Australian Hobby falcon. I was lucky enough to get some photos of him before he caught his breath and flew off.
In this watercolour I wanted to create a more abstract look so after developing his glaring stare I played with colour and texture to find a patterned feel to the rest of the painting.
I have been very lucky to have some time in my studio as we were spending a week getting out and about but after several gourmet lunches we both needed to stay home and have a rest and for me this gave me painting time which I am so grateful of as I have a lot of difficulty staying away from my brushes.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Letting Loose

Since my last blog post I have been on a roller coaster of emotional extremes due to a very serious health scare by my Mum. From nearly losing her a week ago she has made a remarkable recovery enough to have left hospital. Once she was on the mend I found I could paint again and decided to let loose and have fun with wet into wet creating texture and using vivid colours depicting early morning over Uluru (Ayers Rock) in central Australia. I used a tiny tube I found hiding in the bottom of my pigments, a colour I have not used before "Bright Red" from Winsor and Newton.
The Red Centre
Watercolour 57cm x 38cm

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Plenty of Tea

It seems I have not been in my studio as much this past week even though I have two new "Infusions" to show you. Each presented me with new challenges and I spent two days on each work but I learnt so much from them and it gives me confidence to know I can get the result I want if I persevere.

I have never had a cup of Chai tea but have a little sample sachet and composed this work from the idea of its ingredients list: Black tea,cloves,cardamom,cinnamon pieces, star anise, ginger pieces. Serve with Milk and Honey.

Just Peppermint from T2 is my favorite studio drink. I make many, many cups per day and probably get to drink about three and the others are stone cold by the time I remember to stop painting and pick up the cup.
With Milk and Honey

Just Peppermint

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Spring Infusions

Well Spring is officially here and what great timing for my new series Infusions. I say to myself that when I have finished three works on a theme I can say it is a series and I am now up to number 4. Spring is so helpful  for this new body of work as it will contain many florals and fruit and seeing new growth at every turn has my mind in a whirl. I am also inspired even by the names given to the many tea infusions and sometimes this is the only trigger  I need to start to a new painting.
Rosehip Infusion
Infusions in Watercolour
Unframed size 28.5cm x 38cm

Sencha Quince
Infusions in Watercolour
Unframed size 28.5cm x 38cm

Saturday, 30 August 2014

With a little help from my Friends

I told my friends (some artists and some not) about my latest interest for a series called "Infusions" and how wonderful that they think of me and call by and leave me baskets of cups and saucers, infusers, and even tea bags. Combine this with beautiful photos given to me to use by an overseas buyer of one of my watercolour florals I feel so supported.

Here is my watercolour inspired by the heady scent of a Raspberry Hibiscus Tea bag, thank you Annette xx.
Raspberry Hibiscus Tisane
Watercolour 38cm x 28.5cm
Saunders Waterford 425gsm Bright  CP White Paper

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

14 Aesop Fables

I have just finished number 14 in my Small but BIG series. I am keen to move on to my next inspiration "Infusions" and will come back every now and then and do another fable in between other works.
Here is number 13 and 14 and a collage showing all 14 together. Number 14 - The Sheep and the Dog includes some of the sheep paintings from my Pure Aussie Wool series for the Collage to help tell the story and of course a Red Kelpie for an Australian sheep dog.
The Sheep and the Dog

The Fox and the Leopard

Small but BIG
Aesop Fables 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Quality Paper - its worth it!

Infusions 1
38cm x 28.5cm
I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for and today this was very evident as I struggled with the very last steps in this watercolour.  I did not have a "real still life set up" which would certainly have helped as I battled with the cup and saucer. The Tea tin is also a bit skewy but I can live with that. I was really pleased with the Apple blossom and as it took the best part of 5 hours painting, I just really wanted the rest of the elements to workout. I ended up so overworking what was going to be a white lightly decorated tea cup and saucer  it ended up being washed off completely down the sink twice. Thank goodness for the 425gsm Saunders Waterford paper as other than it getting a bit furry from all my scrubbing it held up to the rough treatment very well, and by painting the cup dark and the saucer in gold fluid acrylic all was not lost. Lesson here- more drawing practice required.
As I have reached number 12 in my Aesop fables series I have been thinking I need a watercolour series without collage to keep some variety and today I started with an idea in mind and this first painting is an indication of where I am going next. "Infusions" will be a series using tea and its many infusions giving me the opportunity to combine still life as in cups and saucers, tea caddies, etc but also my love of floral and fruit. Well that's the plan if I practice my drawing. When I have about 3 under my belt I will consider myself on the way with my new series.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Getting Behind

It has been 10 days since I last blogged and I must confess I have had difficulty keeping up with the all the sharing via facebook, blog and uploading new paintings to my website. Think I need a Secretary!
I have however kept up with my painting and am showing you everything I have completed in the last ten days. Looks like I don't have any other life when I look at this many works but I have in fact fitted in visiting grandchildren, going to the movies twice, nursing a three day migraine and a lovely photo shoot at a waterfall outside Normanville a town about 50km away from me, which is the subject of my watercolour just finished today.
Ingalalla Falls
Watercolour 57cm x 38cm

Reference from my photo shoot
This is the first of the falls at Ingalalla, the second would have required sturdier climbing
 shoes and someone fitter than me

My studio was once again open during the weekend and I painted two more Small but BIG Aesop fables.
The Bull and the Calf

The Lion and the Hare
For those of you who also read my newsletter you will have seen "Major Keys" already but for my blogging friends this I painted during the first weekend of Open Studios but it took me three days altogether to bring it to a close. During my open studio I told visitors I was struggling to bring the totally imaginative composition together to a finished work but after painting again on the Monday I was happy with the result. Watercolour, Gold and Silver Ink and Collage on 300gsm Arches Paper, when finished it was adhered to a Ampersand Claybord Cradled Panel.  It has had about 6 spray varnish layers as I did not want the watercolour to move like it did for me on a previous work that had sanded watercolour pencil in parts. I then applied two Polymer coats of varnish. It did require an additional two as the collage took the gloss so much more than the watercolour paper so I added the extra ones to try and bring the total finish to a more even look. I waxed the natural timber sides which really suits this work.
This was certainly a much longer project to get a finished work but I am so pleased with it I have my eye on it for our home if someone doesn't love it for theirs.
Major Keys
Mixed Media
Cradled Panel 46cm x 61cm
Apologies for this lengthy read but I felt the need to get everything in this one blog post so I can consider myself back up to date. I have my Studio open on the next two weekends so now I have to plan what I am going to have on the easel to show and demonstrate this Saturday and Sunday.