13 December, 2010

Practise time

Soccer game

My father sent me a lovely postcard of some boys of various ages having an impromptu soccer game in the middle of the veld.  As my boys are both soccer mad, I decided to paint this for their new room.I deliberately left the details of their faces out because a) I cannot paint them and b) it adds to the looseness of the painting. Detail is something I need to avoid.
At least I got a chance to paint today! 2 days till the summer school holidays....I might be gone awhile!

02 December, 2010

Waikawau bay 2010

I am preparing for the summer camping holiday by putting all of last years photo's in an album. O , the shame of being almost a year behind the photo albums!! Anyway, as I was sifting, sorting and reminiscing about our fabulous getaway(long drop toilets, no electricity at all,solar showers), I found a few photo's that I had deliberately taken to work up into paintings. As my computer has been bad(very,very bad) and in the shop, I found myself devoid of distractions and this is what I did.....

Waikawau Bay, Coromandel


As I look at these I am reminded of what an atrocious photographer I am! If you know how to photograph paintings and would be so kind as to give me a quick tutorial(bearing in mind I use a fairly simple Canon powershot a200is...whatever that means) , I would take it as a kindness.

This year I am taking my french easel and paints and ,hopefully,my wet canvas carrier that Ms.Toni is kindly making for me. I will keep you posted but, given the 11 month delay on the last holiday photos, I would not hold my breath if I was you!

Now I am off to bottle  the strawberry jam I am making.

24 November, 2010

When good computers go bad

I AM here.
 I AM painting .........................but right now, this very moment,my computer is being dissected, diagnosed and ,hopefully,reassembled and returned to me in a good state so I can once again post some images.I feel amputated from the world...but you know what? I work better without the distraction of my beloved beast of a desktop computer!!! Funny, I know.Sigh. At least I am not kidding you about being  easily distracted. I was that dog from the movie "UP" in a past life. Squirrel!So, you might ask , how is it that you are posting this? Magic, folks,magic!!!

07 November, 2010

The sting in spring

Oil on boxed canvas

Drying on the easel
Wasp and hydrangea
Oil on canvas board

Paper wasps and blossom abound at the moment.I sat in my little courtyard, enjoying the New Zealand spring weather ,watching wasps zoot around in that menacing manner they have. Bees waft from blossom to blossom, often flailing around in a clumsy fashion. Not wasps. They are driven and full of purpose.They have been making nests in plants, in pots and even in the rolled up hosepipe!Their sting is legendary but I was most attracted to the way they fly, legs dangling uselessly behind them, as if some afterthought.Junk in the trunk.

31 October, 2010

Rodeo revisited

Sometimes I surprise myself. I usually paint "alla prima" , all at once,in one sitting,( however you may like to phrase it,)  and once I have a canvas on the easel and an image, I paint till I am done...and then I am done. I rarely go back and fiddle .If it is a disaster, I don't try and fix the problems but torture myself with them and move on.So, to revisit a painting and work on the problem areas is novel for me, but I did it this morning with not one but THREE(yes, I just shouted that) previously painted canvasses.I am pleased I did . Not because there was any great improvement but because there WAS some improvement.

Then I moved on to some exercises in fast painting. I gave myself 30 minutes and put the music on.

 She was sitting outside a big, heavy church door,skewered by light on a cold autumn morning, listening to her Ipod and having a cigarette......I omitted the cigarette as the smoke was distracting with the dark door.

Then I looked at the other painting of a rodeo I painted way back in 2007.I still like it for it's energy.

Sigh. Happy day.
I will have to do more small painting as I see how they help me distill an image and block out the excess details( I obsess over detail and it really is not my forte!!)

Now to clean up the atrocious mess I have created.

19 October, 2010


I loved the energy of the original photograph.I hope it translates in this painting.

 It is still wet and I will need to fiddle with it ....but, I will leave it awhile.So for now, it remains on the easel, drying. Sigh. I am not a patient person.

17 October, 2010

Sea Change

My dear cousin Janet sent me an image from far away Canada. She and her gorgeous husband are very involved with boats and the sea etc and sailed from Cape Town to South America, then up through the carribean to Florida and now live near Vancouver.These people are not afraid of challenge nor change! She sent me some wonderfull photographs an this is my interpretation of one of them. Janet, I like to think of this as Summer Love(the name of that intrepid boat that sailed them round the world) relaxing in a cove, somewhere up the coast from you.
Still on the easel and still wet. It has rained relentlessly (spring, wouldn't ya know!) and nothing is  drying.

16 October, 2010

Gardening hiatus

I had my parents visit me for the last month and have had such a good time, I scarcly saw the computer nor easel. We went on a road trip to the Hawkes bay, the orchard of the north island, in spring. Blossom everywhere and vistas  so bright green they hurt the eyes. Vinyards and orchards and a gently flowing river overshadowed by a steep cliffed mountain range...heady stuff, dear ones..It was ridiculously pretty.There are no words.

Then we came back to the family home and revelled in each others company and the daily pace of family life.I made lots of puddings.

I took the opportunity to rethink my approach to painting and research (by going through all my old Southwest Art and Australian Artistsmagazines) styles I admired or techniques to practise..I also took the opportunity to give my courtyard a bit of attention. I love that space.Peacefull and calming.

So, here is a work up of a cowboy, sitting on a fence, near sunset.I gave  myself 30 minutes to paint this .

I like it. I will do this excercise again and on a larger canvas but with a time limit. I will keep you updated.

Holidays are now over and work begins again.

I am excited!

18 September, 2010

Local colour

The school my children attended has a Favours auction recently. I was asked to paint something as part of the favours and I thought that a local scene would be appropriate.Man, did I underestimate how much trouble the sky would give me.I reworked it a few time and fiddled so much it was till wet on the day of the auction, so I put in another (above), possibly more appropriate painting.

So, my dear husband will get this painting for his office. I am still unhappy with the sky, but I like the overall feel. We have amazing weather here in the Waikato...real four seasons in one day stuff. The rain will pour down with ferocity, the sky will have voluminous clouds and yet somewhere, there will also be a patch of blue sky. Crazy wonderful.

I feel good today.

Getting back into the swing of it.

I sold some more cows! I am so pleased and so happy that they went to someone who really knows a cow when he see one...a Friesen-Holstein breeder, I believe! I hope he is happy.They made me happy to paint them.

Now,maybe a sheep lover(in a good way, folks) would like this one!

09 September, 2010

Primping and polishing

I have painters block.You know the Midas touch, when everything you touch turns to gold? Well, I have the Muddy touch right now! Everything I paint is muddy and wrong,wrong,wrong!!!
So,my usual solution is to stop,clean and think( I do my best thinking when I am in cleaning mode...go figure!) I am reorganising my paints, throwing away old tubes and grotty paint jars, washing and cleaning all my brushes and palette knives,re-arranging canvasses according to size and filing my resource file of photographs and images.I have even gone as far as cutting up old sheets to use as rags and stashing all the rags in a suitable receptacle,draining the turps jar and refilling it(although that made me want an early vodka...I resisted!). And all the time, thinking........block in the colours,use a big brush, stand back,squint,relax and enjoy,mistakes are how we learn,fat over lean(no..leaner than that,Jennie. Think Supermodel of oilpaint lean!).

When I am finished cleaning and thinking, I shall paint.I find it tragically funny that cleaning is my way of exorcising demons.Why could it not be shopping?!

Thanks to Robin Cheers for reminding me of the lessons above and, as always,  for her inspirational paintings.

29 August, 2010

A slow start

I am afraid I am rather slow at the moment. Slow to get going, slow to finish and slow to blog!My recuperation is going to take longer than I had anticipated, but I am looking for the silver lining to the cloud.

 I managed to paint these daffs in a wonderfull duckegg blue coffee pot that I rescued from the dump.I did not set it up as a still life but just painted them in situ, on the dark sideboard, where they were placed by myself so I could view them as I lounged on the sofa.Lazy girl! It shows you, you have to put a little effort in to get something out!!I shall do better next time but still lifes(still lives?) are not my thing at the moment.

The silver lining of all of this is that I am slowing down and learning to say NO to some things.I have put so much ahead of painting this last 6 months or so, that it is nice to have a legitimate excuse to now be able to put some days aside to just paint. Tomorrow is such a day and I look forward to it...today I am looking at reference photos and reading art books.....indulgence again! I am in the mood for a landscape.....

BTW, I entered 2 little paintings in the Thornton Gallery 10x10 One size Fits All exhibition and sold both! I am so pleased and I was proud of my contribution to the wonderfull wall of art that was dispayed.

18 August, 2010

With thanks to Sir Alexander Fleming

Whoops! Sorry about the sudden disappearance, but .....I was distracted by illness.
The children and the lovely husband all fell foul to a nasty flu strain and required quite intensive Florence Nightingale treatment for a while. Up till that point, all was well with the world. Then I forgot to be extra cautious with my own health and suddenly found  myself up Swine Flu Creek, sans paddle,braying like a mad donkey and obviously well in the throes of a complicated pneumonia.

But , to make a sad story sweet and short, thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, lovely doctors, nurses and such , I am now home and on the way to recovery.
This is the second time in 2 years that penicillin has saved my life. Thank you Sir Alexander Fleming and his happy accident.
The nice bit is that lots of lovely friends brought me flowers and I have been itching to paint them for days now.Expect daffodils, folks!

05 August, 2010

When I grow up I wanna be a studio.

I promised earlier I would post a photo of my studio. So, now you know, STUDIO is pushing it a bit. It is the diningroom, complete with 8 seater diningroom table that I have commandeered. It is chaos, much like the rest of my house, but for now, it is MY space. We are renovating soon and, if lucky, I might get a seperate space to paint /craft/sew (wow! you should see my sewing room...that is such a dark hole of untidyness right now that I shudder and close the door.Out of sight, out of mind). So, with what I did to the spare room in mind, this is actually quite ok.

I wish it was summer..............

I am now in the depth of winter. The light is so dreadfull in my house that I have to resort to a motley collection of cool and warm artificial lights, dangling at precarious angles  from my easel, across my canvas, to try paint. The effect is quite scary to work in (I have singed my hair twice) and my colours are sometime not what I remember painting when viewed in natural light.I will post a photo so you believe me!

I want to be here, above, lying on the grass , listening to music or maybe just resting.I had this idea from our last family trip to WOMAD, the world music and dance festival held in New Plymouth/Taranaki each March. It is a total hippyfest I we love it. The kids go AWOL with a huge crowd of other kids(very shades of Lord of the Flies), we listen to crazy and fabulous live music and eat more legumes in one weekend than we do in a year.We stay in tents, camping with other mad hippies. It's fabulous.
I want to be the guy in red, asleep or passed out, take your pick, under a huge oak tree,warmed by the sun. Sigh.
Back to the reality of sick kids and winter.I think I shall go walkabout with my camera today and find some winter warmth and inspiration.Either that or sniff my turps.Hey, don't judge me!!

02 August, 2010

The comfort of doing what you know best

I am doing my own head in with attempting a self-portrait.I cannot "see"myself clearly. So, I have decided to approach it differently by painting something that I am comfortable with and then going back to the self portrait with a hope of some clarification. Above is a painting of Bourbon, beloved pet of my schoolfriend, Fiona.I enjoyed painting this lovely doggy portrait.
I am now trying to get a good 3/4 pose of myself on film so I can paint form a photograph . Perhaps distancing myself from the immediacy of "me"staring back from a mirror wil allow me to see past the familiarity to the basic shapes of my visage. I am suffering from a classic case of "can't see the wood for the trees"!!
Now, to get a decent photo......

27 July, 2010

The start of the portraits

I struggle with portraits and the idea of a likeness.In saying that, I have been reading voraciously on the subject and have decided to forge ahead using a few tips and techniques learned from others. Primarily, I am forgetting about a likeness and trying to translate an atmosphere and find my portrait style.I have a few images from artists I admire around me and consult them from time to time.Have I learned anything over the past few days of painting portraits? Yes.Is it painfull? Yes! I have wiped as many boards clean as I have painted and then some, but with each effort I am getting closer to my painter "voice", my style.Still,no likeness yet......!

My apologies for the bloom,gloss, shine and general shabbiness of the photos.I am trying to document the paintings whilst still wet, it's raining outside so my usual spot for photography is waterlogged.sigh. This too shall pass.....

23 July, 2010

A superb winters day

The sunshine in mid-winter has such a different quality of light to it in comparison with mid-summer. I have caught myself sitting, watching my view and the light on the animals in the paddocks , and it has been absolutely captivating.
I live adjacent to a magnificent horse stud and benefit from fabulois tabloid of animals that I see from my windows.Most of the horses are dark, but this guy is amazing! When the light starts to fade he becomes almost luminous.It's crazy beautifull to witness. So.......I avoided trying to capture that and painted him by afternoon light..it was easier!


19 July, 2010

Back to normal

The school holidays are over and the kids are back at school. I loved having them home and around me. It was all ok because the weather was fantastic(shorts and t-shirts mid-winter!!wow!) and they are just that bit older. Having said that, I am still trying to vacuum all the glitter out of my carpet and blu-tack has made itself onto almost every wall at that suspicious height of 1 meter!!

I digress. I am back and despite some truly horrendous holiday paintings(I wiped 3 canvasses clean !)I am finding my groove again.

I usually avoid skies but in the process of moving some of my dad's paintings around the house I had chance to ,yet again, marvel at his talent and have a good look at his skies. I took a leaf from his book and gave it a go.

04 July, 2010

A change of attitude

The school holidays have begun.A whole 2 weeks of them.To be honest, my selfish self wants my days back to myself but time spent with my kids is rather precious...they are growing up so fast and I never seem to have time to just sit and chat with them. Weeks are devoted to homework, sport,school activities of some sort, bath bed and ...........constant arguments!!!

Whilst I am surrounded by their vortex of energy(and I need calm to paint effectively) I have changed my attitude and promised the kids a crafty holiday. This morning we bought all sorts of items from the craft store and I have hauled my huge lump of clay out of the garage to assist with the 3d side of the creative process...plus, if it's not messy, it's not fun!Glitter,glue sticks,clay,paint,coloured paper,popsicle sticks........and plastic tablecloth.(I am not that relaxed!)

Creativity is a mindset and I would like to instill a love of all things creative with my boys.From the singing at the table, I would say its a good start!!!

27 June, 2010

For fun

I like the idea of a painting being on one canvas. The idea if many canvasses for one image has never appealed to me personally...........Until I came across two little 8"x8"black canvasses that I stashed away at the bottom of my canvas- stash- cupboard.So, I had some fun in the 30 minutes between getting home from town and collecting the kids from school.

26 June, 2010

Feeeeesh.......or Koi in a pond

I have had great trouble with this painting and have the feeling it might end up on the fire.
I am very aware that I have to make the mistakes to learn from them(and wow, isn't THAT a frustrating process!) Usually I wipe the canvas clean and start again if it is truly abominable. This time I persevered.
Sometimes it is appropriate to look at the the bad and the ugly to appreciate the good!I shall put this one down to learning.

I have a one in 3 attrition rate of paintings, ie. for every 2 I paint and feel one is a duff!

23 June, 2010

The Milking Shed

I live in a dairy farming region of New Zealand. There are cows EVERYWHERE!
I am gratefull I do not have to get up to milk them myself and just get to paint them. The early morning light is beautifull ...but it does not make up for the cold and the incredibly antisocial hours one keeps as a dairy farmer!

21 June, 2010

Cabin fever

It has been a long 4 days of inclement weather and all the boys in this house have cabin fever.And you know what those boys do when they have cabin fever? They bounce off the walls and become very demanding ! Lookatme lookatme lookatme!!!
I need some peace and quiet......so I daydream of this autumn day at the seaside. The colour of the sky in New Zealand is so different from my childhood African sky.
If you look closley, you can see where a ball bounced off this as it was drying.The shared living/painting space thing is a challenge!

17 June, 2010

Banner sheep

Someone wanted to see the whole of the sheep painting that features in the banner.Tadah!
I really like sheep. I patted some today at the local Fieldays agricultural thingamabob and took some great photos of farmers. Did I mention how much I like farmers?I am sure there must be a mailorder catalogue specialising in farmer fashion and bruskeness...and gumboots and funny hats etc.Anyway, if I could get away with it, I would take more photo's than is sensible or neccesary , but I am carefull not to offend.So, I settle for sheep patting and sly photography

14 June, 2010

The animal thing again.

It seems to me that, although I have no great affinity for animals, I manage to paint them effectively enough!
This Elephant is a present for dear family friends who kept me entertained as a child with numerous craft projects and introduced me to the world Of Tintin and Asterix and Obelix.

They travel annually to the Kruger National Park with my parents and those trips are often the basis for hilarious stories of baboons raiding the fridge or getting lost in the camps.I hope this painting will remind her of those times. I posted it today.

12 June, 2010

Pet portraits

I never intended to paint animals. Despite living in the country , the only animals in our house are some small boys and an enormous tomcat.

These two Scotties belong to my dear friend Sarah. She lives on the opposite side of the world to me and is an infrequent correspondent.I painted Douglas for her as a gift and Daisy for myself, to remind me of Sarah.

10 June, 2010

In the beginning...

This is the painting that makes me want to paint more. This simple little portrait of Morag the black labrador is my best piece of work to date.So why not start with the best?!

I paint when I can. Quite often, I mull ideas over for ages before I lift a brush.In that time, I am doing housework,gardening,playing with my kids or running errands.My life as a MommyGoddess is hard to reconcile with painting,hence The Distracted Painter moniker.
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