Thursday, 31 December 2015

Last Day! Shaun Tan and Magpies appearing :)
Shaun Tan

Magpies Emerging slowly - work in progress

Ok, here is my final Inspiring Artist (in reality there are so many artists out there that inspire me it was really hard to just choose 10) - Shaun Tan :) Shaun is multi-talented, he is an illustrator, an animator, an author, a sculptor and painter...and also a great public speaker by the way. His books are marketed towards children but they are so poignant and open to interpretation that they appeal to all ages. Between my daughter and myself we have several of his books, my favourite being 'Eric'. Shaun grew up in the Northern suburbs of Perth and when we were fortunate enough to go and see one of his exhibitions in Fremantle a couple of years ago his landscape oil paintings were so relateable to me, having grown up in the same area. But they had an other worldly quality to them, something mysterious hidden just out of reach. In 2011 Shaun won an Academy Award for the Best Animated Short Film 'The Lost Thing', I read this book every time I feel stuck in the dreaded block. It makes me remember why I love Art. You should really do yourself a favour and check out his blog  The Bird King

Something I learned this year, this is a small thing but it may be helpful to others. When I paint, I try to avoid pure Titanium white whenever possible, but this year I painted quite a few owls and sometimes you just need it. I am using this same technique at the moment to bring out my Magpies. I start with a warm grey underneath, then, using a dirty brush (I mean a brush that has been sitting in paint water or solvent to build up scumbled layers of slightly dirty white, getting more white as I go...only on the last layer do I use a dry brush with pure white on it. It seems to help avoid the chalkiness by contaminating it with other colour and suggesting depth with the darker colours underneath. I hope this makes sense?

And a product...well I can't really comment on its usefulness yet, I just got it yesterday! For a long time I have wanted to try a Moleskine journal but the only place I have seen them is ebay and they are all in the USA or UK...postage cost for them is incredible...but I took a little trip to Jackson's yesterday and they had just gotten them in so that will be one of my goals for next fill my little journal with finished sketches :) Have a safe and Happy New year everyone and thanks for listening to my ramblings :) Cheers!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2 days to go! Tricia Reust and some more unblocking :)
Tricia Reust

More unblocking! :)

 Today I worked a bit more on my new painting so I thought I would share my progress with you...three magpies have begun to emerge from the paint I put down yesterday...I can feel my block crumbling and I feel great :)

Today's inspiring artist is fellow Aussie, Tricia Reust. Tricia also has a Colour in Your Life episode and several other Youtube videos. Tricia was also featured in the Incite 3 and Incite 2 Mixed Media books! I love Tricia's beautiful nature inspired mixed media. She uses so many different mediums its hard to keep track! Her drawings skills are amazing and, having chatted to her by email, I can tell you she is as friendly and easy going as she appears on her videos. Tricia has a bottomless pit of know how when it comes to mixed media and isn't afraid to show her heart and individuality, so thanks Tricia, you have inspired me and countless others :)

Something I learned...or actually realised, I am the luckiest person alive! I think this is something many artists feel, but I feel especially fortunate to have such a supportive family. They are my biggest fans and my most honest critics and they don't complain when I spend more time painting than cooking tea :) My other half comes to all the opening nights, fixes things in my studio (basically built my studio!) and pretends to be interested when I am browsing paint at Jacksons endlessly.

 A product, well at this time of the year (2 days ago is was 42 degrees C, which is 107.6 degrees F) is my new AIRCONDITIONER for my studio...what a relief. Before this was installed (2 weeks ago) I could really only work in there till about midday, even less if it was really hot. Now I don't have to freak out if I don't get out there before 8 in the morning! Yay and cheers!

Monday, 28 December 2015

3 Days to go! Julie Ford Oliver, and breaking out of a block :)
Julie Ford Oliver

Breaking the block :) New Work in progress
Today I stopped making excuses and finding other jobs to do and I went out to the studio and slopped some paint felt so good I think I'll do it again tomorrow :) Now for the important's inspiring artist is Julie Ford Oliver. Now I know I said these would be in alphabetical order, but when I wrote my list I got confused by Julie's double barreled surname and chose O as the letter :) It doesn't take much to confuse me. Anyway, back to Julie...I chose the image of the kitchen sink that Julie painted because it was the first image of hers that I saw :) I still love it! Julie can make the most everyday scene so extraordinary. Her fracturing technique is so clever and she shares her huge amount of experience generously. Julie blogs very frequently, personally I don't know how she does it. If you aren't familiar with her blog Art Talk then you should absolutely become familiar immediately! That's an order :) Even though Julie gets copious amounts of comments (I have never seen so many!) on every post, she takes the time to answer all of them and always switches it around to say something nice about the commenters own art :) Also, Julie paints the best bird's nests, eggs and feathers I have ever seen :) So thank you Julie, you are a gem :)

Ok, something I learned this year, as usual it's advice I am sure has been given to me before and I think I have even given it to others (but who takes their own advice am I right?). The best way to break creative block is to pretend you don't have it and go and put some paint down. I knew my process was reactive but I didn't realise how much so until today. I had no real ideas or plan...even though the image above doesn't look like anything but some scrapes and smears and drips of paint, I now have an image in mind and I am ready to put more paint exciting :)

A product...this year I bought a stencil cutter. It's nothing fancy, just kind of a modified soldering iron, it has a downward pointing tip and you can hold it like a pencil. It's been so useful. I love using stencils, but I often feel a bit limited by the ones you can buy. With this simple little tool I have really enjoyed making stencils using old pieces of acetate. Great fun. Cheers!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

4 Days to go! Terry Miura and some unfinished work :)
Terry Miura

Work in Progress - Free the Sun

Today I am sharing some old work that I have been looking at recently, trying to work out ways to resolve it. I am still no further along on that! Anyway, today's inspiring artist is Terry Miura who hosts the blog Studio Notes . I love this blog, not to mention Terry's artwork. He is really so masterful at treading that thin line between realism and abstraction. His landscape work makes me want to paint landscapes and his figure work makes me want to paint figuratively.  Terry is also generous with his blog posts, they often contain images of his work as it progresses and explanations of his process. I have really learned a lot from reading his blog, and have enjoyed everyone of his posts, thankyou Terry!

Ok, something I learned this year. If I can't paint what inspires me it will show in my work. I have been asked by people when I'm going to start painting landscapes again, and while the landscape definitely inspires me, the idea of capturing it in paint doesn't have that same pull as it used to...right now. That isn't to say that it won't tomorrow. Right now I am really enjoying painting birds and animals, and working on canvas..although I am also experimenting with sculpture (behind closed doors!).

A product...let me see...ah yes...Liquitex metallic inks. These are really only need a little to go a long way and they will kind of spread and do their own thing on the canvas if you add a little water, some gravity and or some alcohol :) Cheers!


Saturday, 26 December 2015

5 day to go! Christopher Lees and some Magpie studies :)

Ascending Shards
Christoper Lees - 'Ascending Shards'

Before I talk about today's artist, I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed doing these sketch book pages. It's very relaxing and is giving me some much needed inspiration. We have a family of these birds in our backyard and we can recognise each individual by their markings. At this time of the year they are raising babies so we give them a little bit of mince meat every day to take the pressure off. Most of them will come and take it from your hand. We always have a full bird bath because it's so hot here in the middle of it's nice to watch them :)

Today's inspiring artist is Christopher Lees. There isn't much info about him online and I have stupidly missed two of his exhibitions, normally I think he only exhibits East coast. His landscapes are so strange and quiet. Even though they look so alien, somehow they also feel familiar. I think there are a couple of Youtube videos but here is a link to his Facebook page. If I ever win Lotto, I'm buying one of his paintings :))

Something I learned, my craft heat gun is good, but my husbands industrial firebreathing paint stripper gun is much better! It has now left his workshop and taken up residence in the studio :) Yes it's good for speeding up drying, but what I really like about is is the way it makes paint blister and that is cool :)

A new product...see above lol :) Cheers

6 days to go! Sharmon Davidson, and some experimenting :)

"Before there was anything, Heron and Crow were there"   Sharmon Davidson
Sharmon Davidson

More Bronzewing Experiments

Been doin' a little playing around and chopping up old paintings...:)

And today's inspiring artist is Sharmon Davidson who hosts the blog True Adventures of an Art Addict   To say that I love Sharmon's work would be like saying that I kind of enjoy chocolate :)
Her work is indescribable, layer on layer fused together, often with a story to tell. Also, she uses bones, feathers, ancient books...need I say more? Her birds are sublime and her complex collages are fascinating...I look forward to every post :) Thanks Sharmon!

Whats something I learned this year...revisit old work, even if you liked it once. It's always been a habit of mine to let a painting sit around where I can see it for a while before I sign it (except when I have painted up till the deadline!). Then I usually send it off to a few shows, if it doesn't sell it may get hung on the wall for a while or put into storage at the back of the studio. Lately I have been going back through finished pieces and playing around with them. It's been a little less daunting for me than starting a new, huge piece and has been a bit of a warm up for me as I have had a bit of an end of year all honesty...I am suffering a bit of the dreaded 'block' :(

Okey dokey, a product...Inktense pencils and blocks...when I first read about them they didn't interest me at all but I thought it wouldn't hurt to try them so when they came on sale I grabbed some and guess what? I love them, you can use them on paper or canvas, you can scrape bits off to sprinkle on, you can use them on a wet surface or put them on dry then wet them. As the name suggests the colours are incredibly intense and they mix together without muddying...cheers!

Friday, 25 December 2015

7 days to go - Vicky Christensen and a concept drawing

Vicky Christensen        
The Poet's Garden

Hi  all :) I don't  know if you remember the painting I finished recently, but the drawing above is the concept piece that I started with. Lately I have enjoyed doing resolved drawings to get the design of some of my pieces right before I get to the canvas.
Now down to the important stuff! Today's inspiring artist is Vicky Christensen. I think she's awesome! Her blog I'm Learning to Paint always has a new interesting chapter. Vicky loves to experiment with stencils, collage and colour and she isn't afraid to paint over something that didn't work. I love her fresh, vibrant colours and patterns and it's obvious that she embraces a real sense of 'what's next' when she paints. Vicky is an active blogger and I never have to wait long for the next installment, Thanks Vicky!

Ok, something I learned this year. This isn't always possible, but when the budget allows...if you find something new at the art shop, give it a go. This is the main way I have found many of the products that have become an integral part of my practice. This is not such a difficult thing for me as I live in the most isolated capital city in the world, which means I can drool all I like over products I see online, but they hardly ever make it into the local shops! Also, this doesn't mean that if a huge and magnificent studio easel turns up at Jackson's I can take it home...obviously there needs to be ground rules :)

Last but not least, a product that I can't live without. For me, as I have focused a lot more on drawing on paper this year, there have been a few products that I hadn't tried. This is going to sound really basic and boring, but when I drew in the past it was just a 2b, 4b and a plastic rubber. I always knew paper stumps existed but because I was sick of seeing them over used with pastel, I gave them a wide berth. I had no idea how fantastic they were for use with graphite and charcoal. They have really changed the way I look at drawing now. Sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees :) Cheers!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

8 days to go! De Gillett and kangaroo studies :)
De Gillett - Habitat       

Kangaroo study in pencil, Conte and Pitt Pen

And's inspiring artist is a wonderful, colourful Aussie called De Gillett. As you can see from the image at the top, her work is vibrant, individual and textural. I was inspired by this artist after watching her Colour in Your Life episode. She had such good techniques for using inks and moulding paste, and her artworks are full of life. I would love to go to one of her exhibitions or demos, however De is East coast and I am West...sigh. She is a fountain of knowledge and a real ideas woman...oh and she can sculpt and draw too!

Something I learned this year, drawing is important (to me anyway). When my family was younger drawing was the only way I had to keep time for art in my life, and even then, I neglected it. When I took up painting again, I really only used drawing to sketch out thumbnails or to make guidelines on my canvas or paper. Gradually the joy of drawing and line has crept back in to my life and especially this year I have made an effort to draw several times a week, trying to do it everyday and using different methods such as pencil, ink charcoal etc and different papers too :)

And finally, a product that I discovered this year...Air Dry Clay. This stuff is FUN. Working with your hands and thinking in 3D is so challenging. I can't believe what some artists produce with this stuff! I really want to experiment with it more next year :) Cheers!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Nine days to go! Bronzewing Pigeon Study and Marla Baggetta

Marla Baggetta
Bronzewing Pigeon Studies

Today's inspiring artist is Marla Baggetta. I have been following Marla's work ever since I got my first set of pastels in 2009. Marla makes marks so freely and uses colour with such abandon and fearlessness...she is the sort of artist that can revisit a landscape many times, but each time is something new and exciting. I love the way she constantly changes up what she does, the size, the medium, the palette...I always look forward to her posts. So thankyou Marla for inspiring us with your beautiful artwork :)

Now, something else I have learned this year, the more you give, the more you get back :) OK I already know this too, but this year I really felt this. I shared all my new discoveries with other artists, I gave away artworks and I mentored...and in return I had the same thing returned to me. I have just wrapped up a very eventful and rewarding art year and I know that it wouldn't have been the same without the support I have had from other artists (and my family of course) :)

Last but not least, a new product that has definitely become an important part of my Mixed Media work - Derwent Metallic coloured pencils. These pencils are awesome, they will draw on almost any surface and they react well to water. They also look fantastic on a dark coloured surface.

Cheers for now!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Countdown to 2016 :) 10 - Tasmanian Tiger journal page, Seth Apter and random thoughts

Hi everyone, it's been a while - I've been taking a little break from blogging and painting. It's been a really busy year and it's been nice to just relax for a couple of weeks. Done some gardening, sketching and lazing around with my other half, basically not doing anything :) Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to do a countdown for the last ten days of 2015. For each of the last ten days I will be talking about one artist that has inspired me this year, one new thing I learned and one product that I have either tried for the first time or could not have done without...also, seeing as I can never seem to finish any of the 30 paintings in 30 days challenges, maybe ten days of sketches, journal pages and or other random experiments might work out better!
So to get the ball rolling (and I want you all to know that the artists will all be listed in ALPHABETICAL order) today's artist is Seth Apter who hosts the Altered Page. This is a really enjoyable blog. Weekly Seth provides links to other artists blogs and sites from which I have found some real gems. He also encourages interactive blogging by hosting challenges such as the 'real' studio table photos which was so much fun to be part of and also to see that other artist's have the same messy habits as I do! His artwork is inspiring and I have read his books over and over. Also, there are often photos of shows he has been to see in New York that I would never have a chance to experience. So thanks Seth, for a year of enjoyable blogging.
Now - something I learned this year...I already know this, and I tell students this...but as in everything, sometimes it's hard to take your own advice. Taking off paint is as important as putting it on! Making layers and enjoying the 'happy accidents' is an important part of Mixed Media for me, however, if they aren't in the right place or they don't add anything...they have to go :( .
As for a product, I just found this one this year...I was experimenting with homemade pastel grounds and bought a big container of Matisse transluscent gesso. I don't normally use this brand, but this product turned out to be a great addition to my studio. It didn't work very well for pastel but it is awesome for giving a foggy toned down look to acrylic. It almost gives an encaustic feel when mixed with paint or rolled over the top. It also adds some nice tooth to the surface, which works well for me as I like to use pencil and crayon in the final layer :) Cheers!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

After my post yesterday about our local Kookaburra family, and Julie's questions about their nest, I thought I would take a photo to show the hollow they nest in each year. I couldn't believe my luck when I managed to get a shot of one of the birds leaving the hollow, what luck! Thanks Julie for your interest, I got a great photo :) We are lucky enough to have quite a lot of natural bush land next to and behind our house which we walk in all the time, this tree is actually in our neighbour's block but it is closer to our house. This tree has been eaten from the inside out by termites and I wonder how deep inside the actual nest is. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos, feel free to use them as references, cheers!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Australian Song

The birds in this piece are Kookaburra's, they are reasonably common here and are well known for their call which sounds like raucous laughter. At the moment their favourite time of the day to sing is about 4.30am! This will be my last large painting of the year,  a commission that I have really enjoyed as these birds are such an Aussie icon. We have a pair that returns to nest next to our house every year and it's always exciting to see them venture out with their chick for the first time. I see them most mornings, during their 'shift change', they meet each other on the same tree branch, have a little song and grooming session...then one goes to look after their baby and one goes to hunt. :) Cheers

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Ending the art year on a high :)

Hi all! Just finished up the last exhibition of the year, the Armadale Society of Artists is the wonderful club I have belonged to since 2008. They are such a great, supportive group of people and I owe them a lot :) I was lucky enough to receive First Prize for 'Message in a Bottle', the 'Tony Buti Award' (sponsored by our local politician) for 'Podargus Biology' and I just found out...the People's Choice Award for 'A Crash Course in Whimsy'! To top it all off, I sold a painting and a drawing...I am so grateful for all the support I have had from this club, I would urge anyone who has a local art club or society near them to join, the benefits can't be measured and there is also often the opportunity to give back to the community through being involved with something local :) We are all so involved with being online these days (not that that is a bad thing either) sometimes we forget what is just outside our door...cheers!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Elements :)

Wow, this was hard to take photos of! Both panels are coated with resin and it is like glass. This piece is two 45cm x 100cm panels. They were painted for a show with the theme 'The Elements'. The theme is open to whatever interpretation you like, but I haven't strayed far from the basic four elements: Earth, Air, Water and Fire...with the added idea of Night and Day. The first panel has Fire represented by the Sun in Gold leaf, and Earth with thick crackled surface and some tiny stones. I really enjoyed doing the textured parts of this one. The left eye on the Water Buffalo is actually a little Earth globe that can spin :) The other panel has the reef and ocean on the bottom with the owl and the moth representing the air and the night. I have also included vintage poetry, one panel has 'Day Break' and the other has 'Twilight' (Longfellow). The owl has a little monocle and the moth is real, there is also a little working hinge in the reef part that reminded me of a treasure chest. I used much brighter colours than I have been lately which was fun too :) Cheers!