15 March, 2013

Plein air friday

I was a baaaaaaaaaad mother on friday. I went painting when I SHOULD have gone to watch my kid swim at the Inter-school champs. But , before you agree, please know that the inside of that swimming pool is hot and humid, smells of chlorine and foot and I was there last week cheering both my kids on AND being a judge. I reckon that offers me immunity.

So, I went to the Hamilton lake to paint reflections but the wind was up and so, no reflections. The sun came and went, the light changed constantly, the wind died down, then started up again. I took this all as a sign to make a plan and stick to it. Decide, WHAT am I trying to achieve and stick to that plan.

25 x 35
oil on canvas
From the Jetty

I stood on a jetty of land which poked into the lake. The water level is low as a result of the drought.The hospital in the background, is undergoing major building works. All cranes, trucks, scaffolding and noise. In contrast , the lake was all water-lillies, languid dog-walkers, chatting walking groups and honking ducks. Remarkably domestic!

I came home to a kid who had swum well and was proudest of the fact that he has succeeded without my help. ( this is the kid who taught himself to swim) He was chuffed at going somewhere alien, representing his school and doing it all without a chaperone. He is 8. He blows my mind constantly with his outlook on life. Well done, Julius.

Hamilton Yacht club

The Hamilton Yacht club is inland and on the lake that I often go paint or walk the dogs/kids around.  It is also the place where my little neighbour is learning to sail boats as part of Sea Scouts. I will endeavour to get down and paint them when they are all out sailing, white sails aflutter.

Yacht club
33x 25 cm
oil on canvas

I enjoyed the challenge of the constant change in light, reflection, wind direction.....it all made me focus on a concept and work on that.

12 March, 2013

Reflective beach

I spent a lovely evening walking on this beach, taking photos and sketching , making notes as I went along. I felt very authentic and present, appreciating the experience of being there, but had a good laugh when I read some of my notes today ,as I was getting ready to paint

" How much do you thing a seagull weighs?'
" I wonder  what they taste like...chicken?? "
" Wet sand is darker( orange +purple?)warm grey than dry sand"
" I wish I had a Gin& Tonic"
"Gin tastes better when it's hot...best Gin was in Zimbabwe"
" Clint Eastwood is hot" ( He was shooting a film at Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, when I developed my taste for gin)

and so on and so on.....

Clearly my ADD was not on hold!

But the notes and the photos put me straight back there an,d as I hid from the ferocious heat today, I painted the scene as it felt. Cool and tranquil.

Waipu cove beach
24 x 18 cm
oil on unstretched canvas

10 March, 2013

A Quickie on an oldie

I had just over an hour to grab a paint( I have made it a verb, sorry) this morning.....Monday mornings are "chore" morning...you know, buy some more food, pay bills, run errands, return  library books and overdue DVD's....but I threw the paint setup in the car just in case.In that hour I dashed to the Hamilton Gardens to paint the cafe across the Turtle lake. It is a scorcher today, so I sought the shade of the trees at a viewing spot just past the Hispanic gardens  and threw paint at the canvas. No , really, it was a bit like that.

I am painting over old paintings because I love the sense of freedom that comes when I feel I am re-using a valuable commodity. I am a op-shop queen, second-hand junkie, recycling cheerleader....I love things that have history. If I were allowed to indulge myself I would live in an antiques emporium, surrounded by mustiness and dust!
Reusing the canvasses is part of the loosening up process for me and I tell myself it is not valuable, so it does not matter...and then I have fun, push some elements (sometimes too far!) and experiment with what works and what doesn't.

Hamilton Gardens Cafe
20 x 30 cm
oil on canvas board

I also forgot to bring Cad Yellow, so I had to experiment with Indian yellow( thank you, Universe, It is a pretty colour, a strong tinter and quite unusual. Nice to make your acquaintance under such unusual circumstances. Come here often?!??).....sorry, heat stroke......

08 March, 2013

What a week~!!!

Oh My Gardenias!!!! What a week!

I have been selected to submit works for The Original Art Sale in Auckland 17-19 May and I have been offered gallery space for my first, solo exhibition 19-21 April! Yikes! Doubly whammy!

I am so excited I am bouncing around!!!

I did a mad dash to my framers to get the ball rolling on the framing front and am going through other works, selecting and popping aside to be in the final cut for selection and still trying to paint and keep the kids alive whilst my husband is riding motorbikes in South Island for a week........breathe.......it's just all go, go, go!!!!

I am also bottling tomato sauce (autumn heralds the time of pickling and bottling the glut of fruit and veg that seems too good to waste), trying to pull the garden back from the brink of disaster (we have a drought) and house train the puppy.

Clearly, slowing down is not an option at the moment.

36 x 34 cm
oil on canvas

The drought and harvesting of maize is turning the countryside into a dust bowl. Rainclouds loom large each afternoon then disappear without depositing their promise on the parched land. The animals stand around in quiet groups in the shade of trees, the cracks in the earth are widening with each passing day.

I feel very much like I am in a transition: Summer to Autumn, drought to rain, unknown to known. I am ready.

06 March, 2013

Marina for landlubbers

I get seasick if I sit in a swing-seat too long ,so actually setting foot on a boat turns me green at the gills within moment. I even feel lightheaded on wooden, floating docks! I know, ridiculous, but somehow I make up for it by loving the sea from the land. I am a poor swimmer and I don't like being cold and wet, so the sea is not really my friend  in a physical sense, but from a scenic and creative point of view, I am happy to stand back, admire and then paint!

I wanted something very abstract and loose for this scene, so I chose a platte knife as my weapon of choice and used ALOT of paint...big, gorgeous blobs of it! It was like icing a cake!

I saw speciality cake icing knives in a deli yesterday and thought they would be great to paint with....might have to go back and get some( and maybe some cake too!)

 41 x 33 cm
oil on canvas

04 March, 2013

I owe Whangerei an apology

Don't ask me where I got the idea that the Northland city of Whangerei was a shithole ( sorry, but that is the best I can do this morning by way of description), but I was misinformed. It's pretty! It has some great architecture, a marina in the middle of the city, boatyards, trees, a general sunny feel and well worth a few days spent exploring. I am sure it has it's "wrong side of the tracks" element and all my police friends tell me it's a bit hardcore (Kiwi slang for crime and gang nonsense) , but I got a good vibe from it the day I visited.

So, sorry, Whangerei, if I have ever dissed you before. I want to come back and visit and make amends by painting you a few times. Only your good side, I promise.

I had not envisioned painting on the marina so I had not packed my kit, but I took a few photos and then drove back the 35 min drive to Waipu Cove and painted this, sitting in the dark on my cabin veranda(I wanted the authenticity of night!) and painted this from memory.

Whilst I was painting, a baby in the cabin across the way, popped up at the window and started gumming the window latch with great gusto until she spotted me. Mouth full of latch, she watched me gurn and make faces at her until she was convinced I was just nuts and not scary , and proceeded to chortle and engage in a game of Peek a boo with me, all whilst I was painting and she giving the window handle a good oral swabbing. Good times!

oil on paper
20 x 30 cm

03 March, 2013

Don't bullshit yourself.

It is a good lesson this one. Pull up a chair and get the popcorn, the story goes like this........I was spending a few days painting with Richard Robinson. I really enjoyed our last outing and it was his philosophy and attitude towards painting that drew me to visit again. Self -taught with great talent an a LOT of focus, he is a natural teacher and I find, if I actually tune in, he has a lot to say  in a succinct and direct way.

We went off painting and I deferred to his local knowledge of where and what to paint. First off was a wonderful, vaguely derelict shed, on a bit of farmland. Richard saw things that I, obviously, did not and painted a wonderful piece. Click here to see it. A magic painting...it glowed.
I painted the THING. It was dreadful. I could not, for the life of me, find my groove and formulate any kind of plan for the painting. What was the concept...I had no idea.

I was frustrated.....why could I not "see " what he was seeing?

 So, I went off that afternoon and found a spot on the beach that spoke to me and painted...and it was good! And then the bell started to ring, just a little. What was it that made it possible for me to paint well and then paint like a chimp at other times? ( no disrespect to my chimp fans) . I mused over the issue that evening, but hit the sack early...I was tired!

I woke the next morning and met Richard at Waipu Cove beach. He told me to pack light for a tramp across the rocks from Waipu Cove to Langs beach, a fabulous walk across cliffs, rocks and farmlands but edged by the sea.

We had to abandon a few sites due to wasp infestation ( Ha! but they were there first!) and settled on this scene. Richard bounded around like a rock rabbit, taking reference photos and sorting out light issues. I stayed on land and admired the bounding and wondering why I had failed to bring a flask of tea.

We set up and started painting. It became clear to me about 20 minutes into the painting that I was hating what I was doing. I was not concentrating, I was lost. I realise, I had no emotional engagement with the scene. I know what I wanted to paint, I know the feeling, and it was about the sky and the land, not the sea and rocks.  I stopped and took stock.
I looked over to the right, up the hill  and there stood a few young bulls, languidly grazing atop the parched farmland, silhouetted against the sky. Bingo! Thank you universe and thank you bulls!

I must have made some kind of gleeful sound because Richard turned round to find me scrubbing my canvas clean and turning my easel round to paint . I quickly explained that what I wanted to paint  and got on with it.

So, I have come to realise that every artist works differently, sees differently, thinks differently and has their own set of emotional buttons that need to be pushed to find a scene paintable or not.  The technical stuff can all be worked on but the creative and inspirational stuff is all you. I know I have to work on my values and that I shall do, but I am also happy to be secure in knowing that I know why I paint and that when it is an emotional response, I stop thinking about the "thing" I am painting and paint how it feels, the poetry of it.Then the bullshit about everything else stops and you are true to your minds eye vision and translating what you see into poetry on the canvas. 

Clifftop bulls
27 x 35 cm
oil on canvas

Please look here to see what Richard was painting. Amazeballs! He really is such fun to paint with and a very nice person to boot. He is off to the Plein Air conference in Carmel in April and I wish him all the best till next time.

01 March, 2013

Waipu cove eavesdropping

Ridiculously pretty beach
Waipu Cove is a charming seaside town in Northland, New Zealand. Picture postcard pretty and with fabulous views in every direction. I sometimes feel the scenery stunts the painter when it is too perfect...I like a little fuggly in the mix!

The only fuggly thing about the beach was the smell!  A recent algae bloom/red tide/ grimness has been washed up the river and the lack of high tides had left it unable to cleanse itself again, so the smell of rotting vegetation was pungently obvious.

I decided to paint atop the dunes, not 20 meters from my cabin at Waipu Cove Campground, and paint at dusk. As I live inland, scenes of the coast, especially the east coast, are not frequently my subjects, but I really enjoyed getting to grips with the subject and the light.

The teenage girls watching the surfer boys were a hoot. Clearly I was giving off the air of one too occupied to bother being an impediment to their discussion, or maybe they just didn't care, but I got to hear all about the hotness of the surfer boys, the hotness of their tight wetsuits, the hotness of their tans, their bleached hair, teeth.....you get the picture. If you can catch "Hormone-itis" , I was worried I might have done so!

20 x 30 cm
oil on paper
Waipu Cove 
So I painted, communed a little with the beach and the beady eyed seagulls, then went home. Richard told me of a seagull eating his paint once!! Clearly , they have moved on to  fish and chips as I witnessed families dine on the beach. My palette and I left , unmolested.

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