29 December, 2013

The memory pool

A month or so ago, I went on a child-free weekend away to a  coastal holiday town with my friend, Monique. It was amazing. No one else to worry about except ourselves and we were sooooooo mellow we barely had a pulse. We walked on the beach, ate pate and crackers non-stop,talked and talked, drank endless cups of tea…and then went out for coffee! We pottered and read , picnicked and napped and, can you believe it, after all that there were still 6 hours left of each day to fill! So, Monique took me for a walk to a little waterfall. She said" Let's go to the waterfall", so we did. I just took my hat and hopped in the car without having to find a pair of shoes for everyone, the sun hats, a bottle of water, snacks in case someone has a meltdown or needs a bribe, the insect repellant or all the swimming togs. No, just me in the car, one smooth move. Sweet!

The walk to the waterfall was easy and fun. Along a little stream and around the corner, in an indention of the hills, a pool! The waterfall was really just a natural weir…..on, no it was not. It was the base pool for a higher waterfall up a rock face that was in itself, the base pool for yet another waterfall and so on and so on. Fabulous!cThe rock was the perfect kind for climbing up…nice footholds and hand holds and easily done IF I was not wearing the most voluminous white gypsy skirt with ballet slipper shoes. I looked like a runaway bride scampering up rocks . Coming down was even more hilarious as the wind made my skirt Marilyn over my head . Sometimes I wonder how I manage to get myself into situations like this.

Anyway, the pools were tranquil, deep and very cool. We sat up there looking at the water and rocks for some time. I did not have my phone with me so no records exist of the scene, but this is the sentiment of the place.
30 x 60 cm
oil on canvas
Top of the waterfall

27 December, 2013

Getting high.

I recently had a great opportunity to fly in a 2 seater plane over the beautiful Coromandel peninsula.. This 2 seater has one of those perspex bubbles that slide open when you climb in and out , the cockpit is tight enough to make ANY movement unwelcome (unless you are well acquainted with the pilot, nudge nudge, wink wink ), more dials and buttons than I have ever seen and has a big "EXPERIMENTAL" sticker on the side of it. I am not a great flyer ( I get nervous) but I trusted the pilot absolutely, so I was fine.

We took off and flew over the coastline from Pauanui , up to Opito bay via Cook's beach……and back! The only bit that freaked me out was the G-force when we did a tight turn to have a look at some engineering works that were acting as a break just off Cook's beach. I was NOT prepared to loose all the blood out of my brain and was quite nauseated by it. I had to lie down and recover a bit when I returned, but I have googled what to do next time….because there HAS to be a next time! It was magnificent up there! The view of the land is semi-abstract art, just as it is. I fell in love with the aerial perspective right there and then.

So I have to go up again and take some photos (just for reference) and the joy of being up there in a small plane was not what I was expecting to experience. A lot of my life is like that. Not what I was expecting.

Someone suggested I use Google Earth……but you know what? It's just not the same. It's like instant coffee vs freshly ground made- by- a- hot- barista coffee.

600 x 600mm
oil on canvas

This is my local hamlet, Ngahinapouri. Blink and you'd miss it. It has a school, a community hall, a golf course and about 20 houses. THAT. IS IT.

Anyway, it could be anywhere of a thousand places in the whole world and I like the universality of it .

23 December, 2013

Studio chaos

I thought I would post a few photos( with new camera! ) of the chaotic studio situation. I am in the middle of painting it white…it used to be the family room and was painted a rather dark value green. Lovely for a family room, abysmal for a studio ,where a neutral is best. I want LOTS of lights, so I have chosen white….but the green needs 3 coats of white and I am a slow and lazy wall painter. In amongst all this I am preparing for Xmas, have hosted the family Xmas get together, am parenting a child who has recently had his computer confiscated and is attempting to break my resolve by annoying me constantly with his need for entertainment. I am almost in a mind to return to solvents just to get him out of my hair!!!

Camera: I bought a Fuji Finepix X10. It still has the idiot-proof settings I need but also has capability to be used by someone who knows what the hell they are doing. So, once I track him down and get him to explain all the features for me and how they apply to me, I can use those too. It is also a rather retro-feel camera. It makes an audible "click" when the button is depressed. I like that. Charles knows about cameras but is working quite long hours at the moment, so I will ask him to help me work it all out over the next 2 days, whilst he is trapped with me and the kids over Xmas.What fun.

I started to clear the bookshelf in my attempt to move it…and got distracted by my fabulous collection of Southwest Art Magazines and Plein Air magazines. A treasure trove of inspiration and information. Then, of course, there is the usual detritus of drop cloths , paint tins, rollers, dogs, old canvasses that I want to paint over…..

…and of course, the view that always distracts me, but in the nicest possible way. Today, overcast.

Waiting for  a chance to add the chickens and finish this painting off.

My children are busy eating straight out of the pantry at the moment. (Saves on washing, they tell me) So, I am returning to restore some semblance of order and parental control to what will otherwise be a lunch of Dorito chips with a side order of M&M's. I will insist on a vitamin tablet too! Seriously, I will be glad once Xmas sweets and chocolates are eaten as I am not sure it is ok to have a Quality street assortment as breakfast.

Merry Xmas.

16 December, 2013

Making hay whilst the sun shines.

Summer in New Zealand.

  • 6 weeks of school holidays
  • camping at the beach
  • fights over who's using all the broadband 
  • sleeping late
  • no lunch boxes or running around to classes
  • swimming 
  • wet togs and towels lying in inappropriate places
  • hot dogs for lunch
  • early sunrises and fabulous sunsets
  • sundowners
  • old friends come home for the holidays
  • hammock time!
  • reading good books
  • salad ,BBQ and fruit salad, regularly

...and it is also the time farmers grow maize and grass and bundle it up in bales, making hay whilst the sun shines, quite literally. These bales are the feed for cows and sheep over winter. Great, big monster agricultural tractors etc can be seen operating, day or night, at the moment. Look at this sequence!

mower starts to mow….

…still mowing….

…grass is long...

Welcome ! here 's the sweeper thingy….makes  neat rows of the cut grass….

…followed by the gobbler thingy and pooper trailer….

…follow sweeper, gobble up grass , poop out a bale…..repeat…...

….munch munch munch…...

Ta DA!


I wish I had that kind of machine to do the house vacuuming! A machine that sucks all the items left lying around by my kids( and self!) and pops them into bundles as befits for each person.

I went painting this morning and spent the last 10 10 minutes finishing up alongside a tractor mowing the field I had just had in my painting foreground. The mower had a "skirt" covering the blades, so I avoided being covered with dust and seeds. Farmers have such cool machinery!Loud, though!

I spent most of the last few weeks painting and supervising the painting of a christmas float at the local school.
Yes, this float….Santa's sleigh! Pride of Parade!! See those elves?…well, they helped me paint it and I had a lot of fun and they are a very cool bunch of youngsters. I really enjoy them . I have taught them a few times during the year and was impressed by what a nice bunch of kids they are, to me and each other.

Painting will slow down once the kids are home, I think. I wish you some slow down time too. Disconnect from the internet and reconnect with those you love.  For those of you in winter, enjoy the cosy times. For those of you in summer, enjoy the warmth of the sun . 

Sounds good, doesn't it?

11 December, 2013

My life as a bird…or a plane

I love this perspective. Up high, looking down.

Bird's eye view
oil on canvas
35 x 45 cm

Truly, perhaps I was a bird in a past life , but I do love this perspective on things.
 On my last trip back from Australia, I almost pulled a muscle in my neck craning around trying to get a good look out the airplane window as we descended over the Manukau harbour and into the city.Seas gave way to rocky coastline, then patchwork farmlands with lifeline roads and the harbour with sandbars that looked like underwater mazes.
I love a view. In fact, I NEED a view. I can sit and look out over a vista for a very long time and not get bored. That is a good thing ,as very little else holds my attention for that long. When I complete a painting on site, after a long day of looking, I am at my most content, even if the painting is a disaster. This is why my house is a mess. I stare out at the view instead of doing the housework!

It is almost school holidays. I am looking forward to no school lunches or timetables but realise that I am going to have to pay my boys for some painting time!!! They have recently become very interested in the power that currency can wield and have discovered Ebay! I am factoring that in  to my expenses! Children and artistic endeavours area dangerous mix, to be handled with care and skill lest it all explodes in one's face.

Oh, this is the view from Mt.Pirongia, the Waipa river and farmlands, as interpreted by my bird-brain.

04 December, 2013

Giving thanks for a rainy day.

Summer clearly did not get the memo and is dragging her heels at the moment. Perhaps she is detained elsewhere, but I think late arrivals are diva behaviour….and rude. It is cold, wet and quite revolting.

Grumpy much?

So, today I did my accounts (dispairingly) and then painted. Naturally, that was a disaster. How anyone can mix worry about money with creative pursuits is a mystery to me.

So, I turned to my music collection and asked for inspiration……..and started again. Deep breaths, just in and out, getting into the zone, just painting for myself, muttering under my breath words of encouragement to the artist within who is clearly out of sorts...…be kind, mix well, adjust values, keep going, lovely, now more, what else, adjust,breathe.

And I love it.

Thank you, universe.

03 December, 2013

The things we do for love….

I am painting at the moment but not the kind of thing I usually paint! I am helping the year 8 children at the local school paint a sleigh that is to form part of a Xmas float! It is time consuming but hilarious. Do you know how much mess red paint makes when mixed with a bunch of kids?….a lot! I have loved listening to the conversations that have passed amongst them as they have worked. The best comment today was from a girl who was rinsing the metallic silver paint off her brush in a bucket of water. "Look, I am sure this is what unicorn blood looks like" indicating the silvery sheen on the surface of the water. Brilliant. And yes, I am sure it does.

I am also trying out new paints in an attempt to become less toxic but have not found the consistency that I like. I struggle with paint that is too creamy…I like it thicker as I work with my palette knife quite a bit and enjoy texture. The answer came in the form of cold medium wax. Added to the paint in equal parts, it becomes a buttery, icing like format that, frankly, made me squeal when I started smearing it across the canvas.

But no painting till the sleigh is done and that is a few more days now.

The sunsets have been taunting me……pretty, no?

Yes, I will paint it as a landscape soon!

27 November, 2013

Salvation Army Art Exhibition

I have 5 pieces in the Salvation Army Art exhibition to be held this Friday-sun at the Salvation Army Headquarters church in London street, Hamilton.

I have a soft spot for the Sallies( as they are known) as they truly seem to do good work without the overt canvassing that drives me slightly scatty. They have helped out a friend in dire straights and provided her with great support when she was on the bones of her arse, scrabbling in the wreckage of a horrific divorce. They are the touchstone for many who are attempting to get by in our economically savage world and they do it with a gracious heart.

There are lots of local artists exhibiting…..a great time to see local talents before local gets too expensive! I will be doing some Xmas shopping there, myself, as I saw some great pieces when dropping my paintings off.

Windy day
320 x 410 mm

21 November, 2013

The nocturne as narrative

This was a difficult painting to photograph as it is
a) so dark and
b) varnished with a gloss finish…REFLECT!!!!!

Nikola Mitchell, a clever photographer down the road, helped me and photographed it for me.

I love the idea that this is a lovers meeting spot, a place to park the car and make out with the  romance of twinkling lights and solitude (anybody do that anymore or am I stuck in American Graffiti again?).

My kids told me that that is NOT what this painting is about.(made some eugh sounds and screwed their faces up,noses crinkling in distaste)  It's about a person, lost in the wild, who comes out of the bush to see the city lights in the distance….salvation! ( too many episodes of Bear Grylls, methinks)

Another friend said it was a spot on the rocks at the beach, looking across the bay to the seaside settlement.

I love that the painting tells a story for each and every person. I have been missing the "narrative" element in my painting, recently. I am happy to embrace that again.

Saying that, I am off to the beach with my friend Monique this weekend .No kids, no dogs, no husband ( wow, not the right order) , no meals to cook, no chores. I aim to paint a little, chat a little, drink coffee and tea , walk on the beach, dine out and answer to no-one else. Faaaaaaaaabulous.

oil on canvas
50 x 76cm

19 November, 2013

Studio painting

There was a thunderous sky and a weather warning for lightning, flash floods and heavy downpours, so I stayed home and worked up a plein air sketch into a painting.

Originally, I stood on the side of the  flooded paddock, cold and wet, breath steaming, and painted this scene of a flooded paddock, cows in the background. Only when I started to pack up did I notice the electric fence was submerged and the clicking I heard continuously was not an insect but the fence short-circuiting in the wet…the same wet in which I had stood! Facepalm.

30 x 40 cm
oil on canvas

17 November, 2013

Floods and disaster

What a week for flooding. Is it just me, the pervasiveness of modern news, or is the weather becoming more extreme?

14 November, 2013

The Vantage point

For as long as I can remember I have been attracted to sparkly lights.  As a university student I would drive up Table Mountain ,in Cape Town, and sit and watch the city in all her shimmery, nocturnal glory. Hideously dangerous behaviour, now I think about it, but even now, almost 25 years later I can close my eyes and transport myself back to those very same scenes.  I can hear that hum.

900 x 600mm
oil on canvas

NZ $500, postage included

13 November, 2013

Going green with Cobra

My house stinks of kerosene at the moment because i accidentally spilled some on the floor and egads, it is awful! I use the kerosene to clean my brushes. I also use turpentine (sometimes the smelly kind! ) and I have destroyed many an item of clothing and some upholstery with my clumsy distribution of oil paint. The studio is pungent( even the ever faithful hounds have upped and left) , the house is not smelling good and the family…the family have said ENOUGH.
We are revolting, they said. ( I agreed but they told me I was off-topic) .
No more smelly stuff in the house, open the windows or go outside , anything but STOP stinking us out.
I was at pains to tell them the windows WERE open and I WAS painting outside but it's the indoors cleanup that makes the most stink and mess.
Tough, they said, make a plan. Either make it better or stop.

So, I am taking a leaf out of Richard Robinson's book and converting to water-mixable paints. Walnut oil as medium, gloves on hands, water as clean up…….going green.

I have watched Richard paint with a variety of paints over the past few years and he seems to have settled on Cobra by the dutch company Royal Talens, so I will give them a try as my first point of call. ( the Dutch know paint!)

I suspect there will be some teething issues as I get to grips with the challenges associated with any medium change, but I have done my research and have read a bit about them.You have to start somewhere!

Water is for cleaning up, not the actual painting. For that ,the mediums are either linseed or walnut or any of the commercial painting mediums available. I am changing to Walnut oil. I reckon I can use it in salad dressing if it does not work out for me!!!


So, I shall continue to use up the last of my trusty Windsor and Newton, Schmincke and Archival oils and await the arrival of the new paints and hope I get a grace period of smelly clean up from my family.

11 November, 2013

Plein air Tuesday

I packed the car and went painting, today. Just a mornings jaunt within a radius of 10 kn from my house. I am spoilt.

07 November, 2013

Friday painting

I was supposed to be assisting at the discus event at my children's inter-school athletics day but it was cancelled due to the weather. Kidlets were devastated. Me, not so much. All day athletics, measuring how far a discus is thrown and avoiding the actual throw (the big ones sometimes aim for you, I swear) in the hot sun, no chair,ugh…..but I do it because it is what needs to be done. You can see how I took the cancellation as a sign to go painting.! I opened the car boot to load the gear (I had already spotted cows lying down in a paddock round the corner) and discovered it was full of biking gear that I have to deliver to Tauranga later today. Stink. So I dragged the easel across the road and painted this.

Towards the city

My version, with greyscale reminding me to keep an eye on values!

06 November, 2013

Tweaking and housekeeping.

Before you all laugh( especially my mother) no, I am not talking about real housekeeping or have misspelled "twerking"(mind boggles, right there). I am referring to my online presence: this blog, my website and Twitter account etc. I am sprucing and updating them. Dear god, what an awful thing to do. I do most of it by trial and error and when I do something right I am amazed…and then I have to remember what buttons I pushed to repeat that success!

Did you know I write a newsletter? No , well, neither did I but I am told by those in the know that it is an essential marketing tool.Maybe not monthly but decidedly seasonally, I think.  Did you know I sell my paintings online ? I do! From my website( did you know I have a website?) Paypal and I am busy sorting out all the details (mostly me shouting at the screen and the dogs farting in their sleep, clouding my judgement ). Twitter…hmmmm, I feel a twat when I twitter but I shall endeavour to improve my tweets. Sheesh…..twit. Did you know you can subscribe to this blog and it lets you know when I have published something? true story.

Off topic, now, for a moment.

I have a painting in the Arts for Health exhibition to be held this sat and sun, from 10-4, 78 lake crescent, Hamilton. Lots of artists exhibiting for a good cause. Come have a look if you are in the area.

Now, off to find my technology broom and sweep up a few spiders that have cobwebbed my site and see what I can achieve without breaking anything!

At the Darling harbour Conference centre…large public artwork that had indigenous significance but reminded me of a pathology slide…..can you tell I am a doctor's wife!???

04 November, 2013

Sydney is beautiful!

I have visited this lovely antipodean city many times over the years and it never fails to please me. Charles and I spent the weekend with good friends, laughed A LOT and got to see a lot of North Sydney and the north city beaches, drove down to Doyle's on Watsons bay and had lunch and generally just ate, drank and laughed our way through the weekend.
Then we went into the city and stayed in a lovely, quiet hotel in the middle of the city, which I used as a base to then attempt to see every gallery, sight and sound in Sydney, by foot.
I was footsore but happy by the last day.

I thoroughly enjoyed theArt Gallery of NSW(New South Wales), so much so that I dragged Charles back to show him a very special painting by 2011 Archibald prize winner, Ben Quilty. It is a portrait of the artist , Margaret Olley, and stopped me in my tracks. I was asked twice to step a little further away from it…..but I juts HAD to try view it from the side as I had never seen paint applied in such an impasto fashion.

The white you see is bare canvas( some pencil marks remain ) and the paint has been troweled on with some kind of giant painting knife. It is stupendously fabulous( can you sense how impressed I am?!) and I have since looked at more of his work and been equally impressed.

Besides the NSW gallery, I also visited the Contemporary Art gallery which was, predictably, both fabulous, intriguing, infuriating and downright ridiculous. I managed to bump into the wife of a dear friend and subsequently got to catch up with him the next day. That made up for some of my annoyance towards concept art.

I was impressed with the number of school groups visiting the various museums. The girl above was a hoot. She spent quite a bit of time scratching her head asking her classmates what she was looking at!

Then I spent time wandering round, just looking. Looking down alleyways, up at the great buildings, new and old, and generally soaking up the australianess of the city

Mural on a staircase in The Rocks area

Birdcages suspended

Charles at the NSW art gallery

I will leave you with this for today and tell you more tomorrow.

31 October, 2013

Dio Day Out exhibition

I had a fabulous time in Sydney and I am going share it with you in good time BUT I am full tail- feather- up and steaming ahead(weirdest metaphor ever) organising  for an exhibition at David Lloyd's Lake Crescent gallery to be held this Sunday, 3 November . He has kindly opened his gallery to a one day exhibition of local artists as part of the Dio Day out, a great fundraising event organised by Dioscesan Girls school. It includes visits to various houses and gardens around Hamilton with art at several stations . So, I have a great collection of painting and am keen to get organised BUT, I promised my boys a good run on the beach and the dogs will love it, so I am only delivering and hanging paintings on saturday afternoon.Eek, that is cutting it fine!

Anyway, I shall lean into it and accomplish the task at hand ,music blaring and the smell of sausages cooking from afar. (weird again, I know. Sorry.)

Sydney was such a great experience. I know such lovely people. Wish you lived in my world.

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