28 December, 2012

Plein air with small, barking dog.

My boys are out motorbike riding today . So I have taken this opportunity to paint outdoors, en plein air is the arty term, and get used to making field studies to work on later in the studio. In the field you get a far better sense of the place and the paintings from those painting, along with my photos and notes, make for great studio paintings.
I can work on more than one painting from a single en plein air study and just being out there, painting in nature, is a thrill.

 I took the dog, Freddie( named after Mercury, not Kruger). To be honest, he is a 7 month old puppy, and as such, really a teen. I thought he would come, lie down and be mellow whilst I painted. Noooooooo, I was wrong. He had other plans. His agenda went as follows: bark at everything and anything, animate or inanimate(single blades of grass , waving in the wind, fair game) Bark at cars, bees, cyclists, cows, things in the distance, clouds, shadows, your own shadow, my shadow...the list went on and on. So did the incessant barking.

I snapped and popped him back on the car ( 2 meters away from me) and he was fine. So, I opened the windows, ties him to the carseat and settled back down to paint. Then he decided  NO, and barked at me. Loudly and with intent. So I hauled him out again, tied him to the fencepost in the shade and told him he was a good boy.I lied, but it was worth a shot.

This was not the peaceful experience I was anticipating at all!! I decided to carry on regardless and tuned him out ( mothers of small children can do this after years of practise)..and he settled down, ate the grass and chilled out in the shadow of the fencepost.

Later on, when I was packing everything into the car , he sat on my painting! He now has a cadmium yellow left paw and tail and a blue nose!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some of the new home owners on McGregors road and had a brief chat with them. They too love this view and we agreed it was worthy of a painting. I shall post the studio painting when it is done, but till then, a bit of evidence of the days painting events.

 Aren't you glad there is no sound with this!!!!

27 December, 2012

Post Xmas, pre New year painting

I have had a huge windfall of a present...a new, Italian, sexy H-frame studio easel. Wowsa! Almost as sexy was the under- the- breath swearing of my lovely husband as he assembled the beast from the  instructions, published in Italian.!!! I know he loves me because he did this on Xmas morning before he went on a bike ride on his new bike....the sacrifice! Thank you, darling!

So, I painted.....and I painted big! But the bad weather has not allowed me to photograph that painting yet  ( i take all my photos outdoors, in natural light) so you will have to suffer this little painting that I painted and managed to photograph just before the rain started.

25 x 30 cm
oil on canvas
Ohaupo towards Managatautari, from the school hall

I had trifle for breakfast yesterday. Just thought I would throw that out there.

18 December, 2012

It was the week before Christmas..

It was the week before Christmas,
and all through the house,
mayhem and havoc
made me grumble and grouse.(bah Humbug!)

I hate Xmas shopping
 the stress and the panic
 the car that then broke
and needed mechanics.(plural!)

Money's  been spent
and not just on stuff,
but bills and last notices
and than kinda guff.

My headspace is crowded with so many things
that painting and crafting are quite foreign things.
So, off with computers, out with distractions,
kids off from school means parental interaction.( oi!)

I need to recharge and get back my vooma
my vigour and vim and some kind of mantra
that lets me slow down when the world spins too fast
and helps me look forwards when I look in the past.

Whatever your faith
whatever you say,
enjoy the small things
and enjoy the next days
with friend or with family
whatever you choose,
rest and relax and maybe a snooze.

Tell those that you love
that love them you do,
and have a happy holiday
from me to you.

I have had a frantic few weeks of school productions, various domestic catastrophe's ( fridge , car and computer all broke!), bouts of extreme forgetfulness ( almost forgot to post my Xmas cards!) and general lethargy. So, in light of the above, I am downing tools, going to watch a few art DVD,s and learn a bit, draw a bit, play with my kids and enjoy the summer holidays and generally chill out. I will be back in the New Year. Happy Holidays! Thank you for reading my blog this year!

10 December, 2012

Bokkoms 2

Dried, salted mullet. That is what "bokkoms" are......and possible a delicacy but I have never had the stomach for them. They are, however, a standard roadside vendors trade in summer months along the west coast of the Cape in South Africa. Ramshackle stalls made of wattle or such wood with a zinc aluminium sheet as a roof  would shelter the dried fish from rain but not much else.

I guess I am homesick for familiar sights . And go figure how dried fish makes me feel better!!!!

oil on canvas
35 x 45 cm

I painted like a mullet this morning. Maybe that's why I chose the fish! This was painting number 3...the others were wiped due to serious atrociousness.

09 December, 2012

comment issue

It seems there might be an issue with comments on my blog...to be precise, some of you cannot comment( and lordy, you know how I love to hear your thought!).

So,if you can, leave me a comment......I will try and sort this issue out ASAP.

In the meantime, here is a photo for you to look at.

06 December, 2012

Plein air painting of Shelly Bay.

As promised, here is the painting I painted on top of the hill.....please note the bugs and grass seeds still in it!

I am chomping at the bit to go painting again, but the recent appalling weather, my hay fever and family needs have all shunted that to the sidelines.

I am setting my alarm clock for an early rise, preparing my palette and easel etc and going to see what I can paint tomorrow morning, really early, sparrow fart early.No wine for me tonite!

I have been using the inclement weather as an excuse to watch some painting DVD's. Quang Ho, a Denver based artist, has a wonderful way of explaining things and lots has fallen into place for me. The first DVD is called Nuts and Bolts .
Quang Ho explains some basic principles which, while I did not have a name for the, I knew them.( no, that does not make sense, but it makes sense to me!) I think it is all part of the echo that I have been feeling and hearing about various principles in painting. Now they have names, it makes it easier to remember and relate to.
The basic principles need to be adhered to, no matter your painting style, be it impressionist, abstract, expressionist, realist or whatever. If those elements are missing , no matter the subject, the painting will not read as a good painting.
If this atrocious weather continues, I shall get through my stash of DVD's and online videos pretty soon...but I better get some brush miles in too. somehow, indoor painting is not an attractive option right now...I really enjoyed the outdoors experience.

04 December, 2012

Richard Robinson painting experience: part 2

After a second breakfast or early first lunch( sorry, Hobbit reference) and buoyed by our early success, Richard suggested we climb to the top of a small hill and paint the next cove along, called Shelly beach. I ditched some of my equipment, the extra canvas panels, and by mistake, my palette!

After a climb through chin high grasses we set up looking down onto the beach but also with an amazing view of just about everything else in sight.

What to paint, or rather, what NOT to paint. Richard had earlier explained how painting a scene should be akin to describing it in poetry. He described his plan of action and chose to focus on the small beach area rather than the whole vista, as it presented itself to us. I nodded, grateful for the direction and insight.

It was too windy for the umbrella's and we knew we were going to battle the sun and yet we forged ahead. I was deep in thought , painting away, adjusting values and examining colour choices, when he suddenly threw his canvas across the grass and jumped on it a few times. His water bottle came out and he liberally doused the whole thing then , declaring himself satisfied, popped it back on the easel. What a laugh!

We painted for a while longer and then I realised my eyes were starting to get sore from the glare of both canvas and the canvas palette I had to improvise....I knew I was flagging. We took the opportunity to chat some more and he described something he called " abstract expressionism".....and the lightbulbs went off in my head again! I get it!

The last photo is of the beach, the other side of the hill, at Waipu.

We finished off, carrying our completed paintings down over our heads to prevent the long grass heads adding to the brush marks on the canvasses. My completed painting contains a few bugs and some authentic Northland grass seeds!!!

I love my painting, not because it is especially good, but because I had such a good time making it.
I hope you looked at Richards's blog to see his completed version.

I shall post mine tomorrow. Today I am battling ferocious hay fever and trying to sort my new computer out.

03 December, 2012

Richard Robinson painting experience:part 1

I have just returned from a much anticipated trip to sunny Northland to paint with the highly successful and experienced New Zealand artist, Richard Robinson. I have been looking for something to nudge me forward with my painting...there has been an echo in my head about how I want to paint but I have been unable to put my finger on what it was, exactly, and how to proceed. I hoped a day painting with him would be the nudge I needed....and Boy, I was not disappointed.

I drove up from Hamilton( about a 5 hour drive) the day before and checked into a local beachfront motel. I threw my gear in the room and went for a walk.....2 minutes from my room , over the dunes and there it was, Bream bay in all it's splendour. Is this not an amazing place ?!

1December traditionally heralds the start of summer and there were quite a few hardy souls in the water. The lifeguards were in action, flags up and patrolling in their quad bike.

The next day saw me wake at 6.30 am( yes, AM!!!) to be on Richards doorstep at 7 am to go painting.
I was very nervous.....what if I was an idiot and painted like a chimp all day?! Best I concentrate and focus on what he had to teach me.
Well, what a lovely and generous teacher he is! He is a gentle spoken man with an easy manner and a great way of teaching. In fact, I did not feel he was teaching me but that we were having a conversation about painting and he said many a thing that made lightbulbs go off in my head like paparazzi on the red carpet.

We started painting at Waipu, a place he has painted many times, in the shade of Pohutakawa trees with a view over the sandy shadows out across the sea to Bream Bay beach. We set up our easels alongside so I could watch him and so we could paint a similar scene.
Whilst I had paint smeared on my face before I had even started, Richard is amazingly tidy. His easel is pristine, his tubes of paint organised and all had lids( some of mine are wrapped in tinfoil, the lids lost somewhere else a long time ago..o the shame) his brushes look new.....all his paint is on the palette in ordered blobs and even his puddles of colour were ordered. I felt wildly out of control!

We started, chatted a bit about composition, colour, shadows and how the eye is fooled by light and shade etc. He spoke of his painting experience outdoors and with other eminent painters....it was heady stuff. Then he dropped his first bombshell statement. I paraphrase this, but what he said was to this effect: at any stage of the painting, the abstract shapes should be beautiful . The abstract shapes should render the subject. A painting should read well at all stages. BOOM! it does not matter if you have not drawn a tree and a beach and a river, but if you have rendered the shape abstractly with attention placed on the values(the lightness or darkness), the painting should read as a tree,beach and river. I don't explain well, but he sure did! I got it!....now, how do I make that happen....

We had blocked in the abstract shapes( well, he had, I was still trying to get my head around some stuff) and we stood back to eat a banana and look at the paintings from a distance when a freak wind mini tornado- ed towards us...and tipped his whole easel over. My old Grumbacher stayed put ( possibly due to all the crap I had in it) but his easel ,palette, brushes and canvas were planted in the sand.


Cool as a cucumber, he took this as an opportunity to try something different. He was using the Holbein water soluble oils, so went off to find a tap, washed most of the sand and some of the paint off and attacked the canvas with new vigour and less inhibition...because what did he have to loose? and man, it was a fabulous result!!!
I could see how pleased he was with this effort and just watching him and the energy he used when painting it was a masterclass in itself. To see his final effort click here. Go, do it now!

We then stopped for a bite to eat and a coffee at a lovely local cafe, right opposite the beach where we sat and critiqued the works. He gave great, constructive feedback and, once again, some lightbulb moments with regards values and composition. I was having such a good time I did not notice if anyone looked at us or the paintings.

I will continue with my story tomorrow.

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