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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