19 August, 2017

When the cat's away.....

I am not very DIY inclined . Saying that, I do have a Pinterest account full of clever things to do and make if only i could, say, use a saw. That Pinterest addiction and the exposure to waaaaaaay too many clever projects has opened some kind of Pandora's box of curiosity about DIY. A Glasshouse made of old wooden windows?! Sure, I could knock that together. Raised Garden Bed?Totally doable! Garden furniture with something clever built in somewhere? Sure, why not. A million projects for a palette?????Hell, yeah. And don't even start me on my sewing projects. But I digress....

I also want to be able to be more self-sufficient and do more of my own cutting of boards to paint on etc. To know how to do basic DIY and work a saw should not be too far out of my capability.

Now usually, I start muttering things about machinery and DIY and Charles shuts me down with the reminder that it's quite dangerous and possibly I have more to loose (Digits, an eye, my dignity) that I have to gain. Curiosity is a cat I know well.It has led me down many paths and a few have been a bit wild. But Charles is not here. Charles is riding motorbikes in Australia with the Romanian Photographer and the Naughtiest Man alive. The cat went shopping.

...and bought a circular saw. And board. And hinges. And some other wood thingies I thought would be useful. I forgot screws.

Then I came home , unpacked the thing and went straight to Google" How to use a circular saw". You tube, I thank you.

A few hours later I realised I was short of a few things. A saw horse or two, clamps, safety goggles any experience.So I alarmed my dear neighbours by borrowing their sawhorses and clamps and asking for a live tutorial on circular saw usage , with focus on what NOT to do, too. Brian is a saint. He gave me the tutorial and left.

I enlisted Julius to help me because he HAS actually used a saw before. He is 12. I must admit to being a bit startled at the realisation of how MUCH he knew. He advised me on technique (start the saw before you hit the wood) hat and encouraged me not to chicken out half way through the job. He even worked out a more efficient way to deal with the project of cutting the hardboard.

I was crap at it. The early learning curve is very, very steep. Thank goodness I realised this quickly and lowered my expectations of my DIY Skills from" Rehab Addict" to " Cowboy builders" . Also, DONT'T saw hardboard indoors, it gets everywhere (like a dusting of "what the hell were you thinking dust" on every surface of the entire room. that is going to remind me for days) Also, what you really should have bought is a table saw, a drop saw and a handyman.

Ai ai ai.

But, I did cut the board

......very badly.

I made some mistakes. I chickened out of one cut half way.

I had to restart and forfeit that piece of board.

I stopped cutting 1 cm too soon on 3 cuts. Slow learner, but I did learn.

Modern clamps are so easy to use!!!! I remember those crappy metal vice clamps..the new ones are fancy!

Did I mention fine sawdust?


But I DID cut it and they will be perfectly good boards to paint on....and trim IF I want to frame them. Sigh.

My other neighbour has a table saw. I might go ask if I may have a tutorial on the table saw.......

Charles is home next saturday so my window of opportunity starts closing soon.

Oh, and I was selected for the Arts Gold Awards 2017 with  painting inspired by an exhibit in the Central Stories Museum in Alexandra.

There is a heartbreaking letter attached to an anonymously donated knife sheath and leather strap in the Museum in Alexandra . The letter is from a dying father in England to his son prospecting for gold in Roxburgh, Otago. In the letter , the father farewells his son James with great love and affection but simultaneously  cuts him off financially . He explains that they are destitute if they help him and no more money could be sent to support him and his . This poignant letter, dated 1862, has stayed with me for years. What happened to either is unknown. The area around Roxburgh is unforgiving, especially in winter and I imagined the grief both men felt at the finality of that letter. This work is my interpretation of that story.

Nowhere to Turn

TheExhibition of works will be At Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery
!6 September till 19 November
Central Otago
New Zealand

10 August, 2017

Breathing space

All the works for my upcoming exhibition with glassmaker Di Tocker at Gallery de Novo in Dunedin are completed. And when I say completed, I mean signed, varnished , named and photographed. Seriously completed. Done. Dusted. Done and dusted.

I have moved them ( all 20 pieces) out of the studio into the room I annexed specifically for completed work...shall we call it a the viewing room?...and now there is a vacuum in the studio. The space that was filled with months and months worth of work...is now empty. The thing is, I feel empty too. I love the work. I am happy with it, but I thought I could move straight on to new work...and I cannot.  Di tells me that I need a break and to enjoy the time, but it has come at a time when a break is NOT what I want! I want to work! I want to paint! Charles is away on a three week trip through Australia, the boys are engrossed in school and studying....its the perfect time to be engrossed in painting, unapologetically , 100%, forget to eat,bathe and drink into painting...and I'm spent. I need a break, like it or not.

So, tomorrow I begin my break from the studio.

I have no idea what I am going to do, but if I pitch up on your doorstep, be nice. Make me a cup of tea, show me something interesting, give me a book you think I would like to read ...whatever, just throw something at me and let's see if it sticks.

The universe keeps saying "Tasmania" to me. I am going to chase that lead.

This one is called " Chasing Waterfalls"

25 July, 2017

More information about the Martin Campos workshop in New Zealand

For those of you who would like to attend this workshop and need more information, heres what I can tell you.

It is going to be an opportunity of a lifetime. Seriously.

Martin loves teaching, he loves talking and imparting his knowledge on others  and he loves pushing painters out of their comfort zones to create great work.

Have a look at this clip of his work .

The workshop will take place in Hamilton, close to Hamilton Lake, at a private studio. The mornings will be spent painting plein air (that"s outside, from nature) . Martin will demonstrate his abbreviated, 2 brush method of gathering information in these plein air works. Small canvasses, short bursts of time ( 20 minutes)  spent on each painting and several paintings and then back to the studio and the model. The afternoons will be spent drawing the model and incorporating the information gathered in the morning from the plein air work into the paintings of the figure.

Martin teaches is most painting mediums: oils, acrylic, pastel,watercolours. He stresses that the workshop is not about the materials , the mediums, the substrates or any of the technical paraphernalia of painters but about a new mindset, a way of thinking.

That sounds exciting!

Imagine 5 days of this and 5 days of personal painting growth!.

27 November- 1 December, Hamilton

Spaces are limited to 12 participants

Please email me jennie@jenniedegroot.com if you are interested in attending and i will forward you payment details. New Zealand participants can pay via internet or bank deposit. Foreign participants can pay via paypal.

18 July, 2017

Martin Campos workshop

Workshop fees

So, this is exciting news!!

I invited Martin Campos, a contemporary American figurative painter, to come visit and hold a workshop in New Zealand .....and he said yes! Who knew you could just do that?!

There was squealing....I confirm it was me.
There was delight...me too.
Martin then confirmed his excitement...so we are all squealing , delighted. and excited.

Martin teaches figure drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and figurative painting, plein air, and still life painting at the Wayne Art Centre.

You can see more of his work here and a video of his works here

Here is the description for the workshop:

27 November -1 December
5 days

with Arcenio Martin Campos

Join American contemporary figurative painter Arcenio Martin Campos in exploring the connection between figure and space in this 5 day dynamic and thought provoking  workshop.

This workshop will include an introduction to Martins refined and abreviated plein air technique that aims to report and gather information in small format in a short period of time.This work is the means to creating powerful and dynamic figurative pieces. Martins observation of light in in its fleeting moments drives his figurative pieces in the studio

Students will explore the construction of form and how it relates to a real or an imagined environment. We will employ a wide variety of approaches, from the traditional, to the organic as well as the intuitive —– with the final goal to build  solid design and composition. Added discussions will focus on narrative and imagination and the importance of how they correlate to drive and support an image to completion

A model will be provided or participants may use their own personal reference.
Combined with image making, we will also discuss the importance of an artists studio and surrounding environment as an inspiration and influence.
Please Note: This workshop is suitable for artists with some painting experience.
This trip includes:
5 day workshop with Martin Campos
access to a private model
Use of private studio and adjacent space
Delicious lunches daily
Morning and afternoon coffee and tea available
$1500 per person

Please note: Fee does not include travel costs to this destination or accommodation.


Enrollment is made with 50% deposit
Spaces are limited to 12 students. In order to reserve your spot, it is advisable to enroll as soon as possible
Balance Due 30 October

Cancellation policy
Up to 01 September you will be fully refunded if you have to cancel your trip, excluding your deposit.
Cancellation made between: 1 September and 1 November will result in a total loss of 50% of your art retreat funds.
Any cancellation made after that will result in 100% loss of art retreat funds.
We reserve the right to cancel the trip if it is not meeting the trip minimum and in that unlikely event, your deposit and any payments made will be fully refunded.
Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended if there is a possibility that you might have to cancel your trip.

Still not sure....go and listen to him as he was interviewed by Antrese Wood The Savvy Painter https://savvypainter.com/podcast/martin-campos/Podcast.

22 June, 2017

Getting naked on a Sunday evening

Have I told you that I am going to a life drawing session on a Sunday night?


Well, I am.

In Fact, I was invited by two artists whom I had not met in person (we each inhabit our own hermit shells. It's ridiculous, really) and the group meet at the Waikato Society of Potters on a Sunday evening and draw lovely bodies for two hours. I love a weird invitation.

The Waikato Society of Potters studio is fabulous place to draw in. It is covered in a fine dusting of clay powder, extruders bolted to walls, shelf upon shelf of items drying or waiting for their firing, first or second, I know not. Potters wheels, electric cords hanging from ceilings and odd notes tacked onto every allspice( " Items not removed from this bench will be thrown out!" dated 2016. Items still very much there)

Now, I don't often draw the figure. In my work, it's rather an anomaly ,but it was for that very reason that I embraced the opportunity. Say yes to the undressed.

I worked out fairly quickly that I like a sketchy image, not a perfectly executed rendition of a figure. I want mystery and shape and confusion and suggestion. Can you understand why buying me a birthday present is such a nightmare for my dear ones?!!

The boys had bought me some watercolour inks a few years back and I used them, drawing with the dropper and adding lines with a fine liner if I felt that way inclined.

I loved the sketchiness !

I missed last Sunday but will be back for this Sunday's session.

11 June, 2017

Open studio and sale

Studio sale

Please accept this invitation to my open studio and studio sale

When: 2 July 2017 10 am till 1 pm

Where: 158/2 Gillard Road, Ngahinapouri, Hamilton

There will be a selection of work available: Big and small, framed and unframed, studies and finished pieces and perhaps a few on paper etc. I am discounting work between 30% and 50%.

There have been a few changes at the studio and i am looking forward to showing them to you( it makes my life a bit easier!) and talking with you about the works and the works.

Being a maker is quite a solitary existence, so this is my opportunity to socialise and have some conversation with my audience .I am always delighted to put names and faces together and to see faces I know well , again. Did you know I have an Instagram account and a blog? True story! www.thedistractedpainter.blogspot.com and Jennie De Groot on Instagram. Easy!

If you cannot make the date and still want to come and visit, let me know and we can always make a plan.

You can email me on jennie@jenniedegroot.com or call me 0274534307

Looking forward to seeing you.

03 June, 2017

Cold wax, good wine and demystifying artist speak.

I travelled up to Auckland( I know I always make that sound like an epic journey, but I am a country mouse. Auckland is scary for country mice) last weekend at the invitation of Sandy from Takapuna Art Supplies . The invitation was extended to Jenni Stringleman, two Janets and myself to use their studio facility and brainstorm the use of cold wax medium in our various practises. We watched Sandi give us a wee demo and then all went hammer and tongs for 5 hours producing a small series of works using the wax and trying out techniques.

This interest comes on the heels of 2 successful workshops and a new book by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin called  :Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts & Conversations.

ps. Its a good Book

Anyhow, it was a great opportunity to work and play with a new medium .Thanks you Sandi.

Sandy from Takapuna Art Supplies

The lovely Ms Jenni




I stayed overnight at the home of the lovely Ms Jenni Stringleman ,and was hosted with a fine meal, a bottle of Mt Difficulty Pinot noir and a super comfortable bed. Does it get any better?
Mt Difficulty, for this not in the know, is a renowned vineyard in Bannockburn, central Otago, New Zealand. It makes heavenly wine and sits close to my heart because I love the area so much.

The following morning I attended a writing workshop with the articulate and very considered artist, Lana Lopesi. I have heard Lana speak before and have read a few articles about her and was very interested in hearing what she would have to say about writing for artists etc. I was not disappointed. She's a smart, insightful young woman who has steel in her veins and genuine interest in the written words around art. I valued her considered responses to questions (and some of them were awkward! There always that one angry person...).
If you are interested in the world of revising, have a look at there online review project, Hashtag500 words. www.hastag500words.com

The premise of the workshop was to help artist write statements about their work(and others!) and to take the "artspeak" out of the statement. If you have ever read and artists statement and gone" What the hell did I just read?", then you are not alone. It seems there is a lot of that about and Lana showed us how we could write a statement and still keep out vices without once having to explain how Marxist theory applies to the work!!

Tongue in cheek. If you don't know what I mean by the above, google this and see what I mean
www.artybollocks.com   I guarantee you some laughs!

18 May, 2017

Evidence of yellow

When I was young, my father fell very ill. So ill, he turned yellow. Jaundiced, is the medical term. HE was yellow, his skin was sallow and the white of his eyes, the most telling evidence of this change, were a very unwell yellow. He lay recovering in bed , camouflaged in sheets as yellow as he was. Surreal overexposure and total reign of yellow.

I have been diligently focussing on yellow this week and in doing so, that memory of my yellow father surfaced.  Like a yellow submarine.

Autumn is well and truly here. Yellow reigns in the garden. The Gleditsia tree thinks it's at the Met Gala Ball and is positively glowing in her dress of gold-leaved finery. 

When Spring comes, the terrible Gorse will spring forth with it's blooms of acid yellow. 

I have no yellow sheets in my linen cupboard. My fathers eyes are bright white.

11 May, 2017


Yellow is one of those weird colours on my palette. I consistently use it IN a mix and rarely on it's own.
Cadmium Yellow Light
Cadmium yellow Medium
Indian Yellow
Yellow Ochre

I don't like Naples yellow. That might change when I find an application for it.

I like yellow, but I own no yellow item of clothing. The thing that may be considered the yellowest item of clothing is a sad t-shirt that is probably yellow from age. I am only just beginning to wear green after wearing blue for so long. The yellow seeps in slowly.

Turner and Van Gogh are the artists I think of when I think of yellow. Klimt too, but he was more about gold.

I see yellow as a challenge. One of those mindfulness exercises that I set for myself: Use yellow in a painting. Use it today.

Oil on canvas

Oil on Gessoboard
15 x 15 cm

Muslin used to hold spices when I made a curried chutney
Inadvertent pear.

Alex Kanevsky wrote a lovely piece about yellow. 
He titled it: Yellow.Reluctantly since 2006.

Yellow is difficult. But it seemed easy to Van Gogh. Maybe I should spend some time in Provence. Pierre Bonnard said that you can never have to much yellow. Yellow was one of the four colors found in Piet Mondrian paintings. Indian yellow was originally made from cow urine but not anymore. Its powerful tinting ability makes it very hard to control. Yellow is the color most susceptible to dramatic changes from even smallest additions of other pigments. Naples yellow ranges from astonishingly ugly to very beautiful, probably because nowadays it is a mix, and its composition depends on the maker’s preferences. It is one of the oldest synthetic pigments, dating from around 1620. The actual pigment is toxic, like many good things in life. I always have a tube of Cadmium Yellow (how could you not?) but almost never find any use for it. Yellow is the first color to fade from the sun exposure. White paper and fabric, on the contrary, turn yellow from exposure. Nobody uses yellow in paintings sparingly and reluctantly. It is either with abandon as did Turner, or not at all. Matisse was not afraid of yellow, but I wouldn’t call it an embrace. Morandi stayed safely within Naples Yellow and Yellow Ochre, only rarely venturing into insane Cadmium Lemon Yellow excursions. Zinc Yellow used by Seurat was unstable and turned brown. Although the leader of a stage in Tour de France gets a yellow jersey, he is not considered the winner of the yellow jersey, only the wearer. Yellow is the first color introduced into fresh white snow as dogs are taken out for a walk early in the morning. In Russia, a colloquial expression for an insane asylum used to be "yellow house.” At the moment, my favorite yellow is Sennelier’s Light Yellow Ochre that also has a wonderful german name “Gelbocker Hell”.

I shall continue to use yellow.
I like it because it's not natural, feels weird. That seems as good a reason as any.

04 May, 2017

How I almost qualified for a Darwin Award

Let me tell you a tale of stupidity…my own.

Last night, on ,my way to bed( I seem to be the first into bed these days) I passed Julius playing on the swissball in the corridor.

“Watch me, watch me he pleaded. Good parents should watch their children, so I did. 
Bracing himself against the two side walls of the corridor, he stood on the swissball and then tried to let go and balance. He managed for a second or two. Then he grabbed the walls for support again.

“That looks cool! “I said” I want to have a go”

Now, this is when the judges of the Darwin awards all pulled up and watched, scorecards at the ready. 
 I began my attempt to stand on the swissballx  Background  info is that I have not done any swissball exercise in over 2 years, not yoga in 3 months, am unfit, chubby and frankly, totally unfit for any kind of gymnastic feat. 
The ego, however, was a fucking olympic athlete. That was how that quick inner conversation went.

I stood up on the ball, hands bracing me on walls either side. When the ball sagged under my weight, I should have dismounted. 
“You are as lights a feather” shouted my ego, hands covering my eyes and dismissing the fear department who mentioned , quietly , that the ball MIGHT explode.

I was up! I was standing!

“You are fucking awesome” said the ego

Then Julius stepped back and in a split second, everything changed.
I had not realised Julius was stabilising the ball with his leg.

The ball SHOT forward.
I SHOT backwards............ and down.

Paint shot through so many places. I hit the floor :elbow, ribs, head…in that order.Things that should NOT go crunch went CRUNCH in my neck.
I lay very still. Shocked.

That was a lot of shit that got shot in a very short amount of time.

My head hurt a lot. Those crunching noises in my neck freaked me out and I could not comprehend what had just happened. More than that, I could not comprehend how I had failed to anticipate the outcome.
Hindsight works fast.

I lay there for a good 5 minutes, assessing damage, going through the events in my head and mentally and physically prodding around looking for signs of real damage.

I am still sore this morning but INCREDIBLY grateful that I seem to be ok. Sore ribs, sore neck, bruised ego and sudden realisation that my reactions are those of an older person and not a 20 year old have left me a bit quieter today.

I may go back to the yoga mat. I need to work on my balance.

My ego is doing a downward dog as I type.

Painting will be slow going this morning but I will be out and about on saturday for the planned plein air paint out in Hamilton Gardens.

Stop Laughing, please. 

Google Darwin Award .

30 April, 2017

Scale is everything

I went to visit Gibbs farm last thursday.

Gibbs Farm is not a farm. Not really. It is a world class outdoor sculpture  gallery on the Kaipara harbour, just north of Auckland.

It opens only a few times a year , often as a fundraiser , so I jumped at the opportunity to visit last thusrday. It required a 5 am start. People, that was hard. I am NOT a morning person.I had invited Di Tocker (the glassmaker) along because she knows her sculpture stuff and I needed some education. When you are going to spend 8+ hours in a car, travel with a person who is interesting and can navigate. It took us almost 4 hours to get there.

So the backstory is this: Alan Gibbs buys the farm in 1991 , establishes it as a world class sculpture park, invites artists to spend time on the farm and ,in collaboration, a work is commissioned and then created. Some artists have returned year after year to establish a link.....one thing is for sure. They are all quite spectacular and unique. I think it's an open chequebook kind thing.

There are big names and big works. Anish Kapoor's incredible "Dismemberment1" had my jaw dropping. I had seen it before in a catalogue, but in real life, the scale and the situation of the work in incredible. So much attention has been paid to the work that even the triangle of grass that lies underneath the sculpture is planted in a low growing, shade loving grass, to maintain the artists vision of the red over green....so sandy, scruffy patches!!!
Andy Goldsworthy's Arches were half submerged, but there was a great photo in the book.It was the only one I did not see at close quarters.

It went on and on like that. Work after work . If I muttered "Scale is everything" once, I must have muttered it a thousand times. How deeply anchored must a 28 meter high sculpture on a ride be?! How ? I kept coming back to the mechanics of assembly and creation.How? The ideas and the translations thereof. How? So much discussion and so many questions, made my head spin. It was so very worth the 5 am start!

Some photos:

Di catching a view of the Kaipara Harbour and being my scale model.

Bernar Venen. 28 meters tall corten steel.

Len Lye's posthumously erected Windward. It could only be fabricated after his death once the technology had caught up with his vision.

Windwand and the Kaipara Harbour with what Di and I suspect is new work being created in the mangroves 

the tips of Andy Goldsworthy's Arches

Google Gibbs farm. Really. It's visionary.

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