26 February, 2013

Painting at Waipu Cove

I am taking a break from my usual stomping ground and have migrated north for a spot of companion painting with northland artist, Richard Robinson. He is great company and makes a mean tuna sandwich to boot.

We painted a shed scene alongside a rather busy road( logging trucks well outnumbered any other vehicle) . It was windy, the sun came and went and it rained , but as usual, Richard painted superbly . I painted like a chimp. C'est la vie. I revived this Afternoon and painted a beach scene from Waipu cove. Still windy, but I took more time and stopped often to step back. More hominid than chimp. Depending in the clouds, I may or may not paint this evening.

21 February, 2013

Why I'd make a terrible lunch lady

I, as a member of the PTA at school and one of the few mothers not in full time PAID EMPLOYMENT( don't get me started .....)  donate time a few fridays a term to man the kitchen and cook lunches for the kids. By cook, I mean reheat. Jamie Oliver would do his nut at the offering of pies and pizza, but the demographic of kids at this school is such that they all have breakfast, all eat very well, exercise enough and none are overweight, so a pie on a friday is not going to tip them over the precipice into fattyland.

But I hate it. Not the actual handing of the food to the kids . I like that bit. We chat, I come across as lame when I try and be cool, my kids roll their eyes at me when I ask them their names...you know, that stuff is great. No, it's the slogging over a hot stove, feeding the pie warmer with tray after tray of hot cubes of pastry enveloped beef and plunging my hands alternately into the freezer for the frozen yoghurts and then popping hot pies into pie bags. I smell like a pie for the rest of the day.  And all the time I know I could be out painting. I seethe with resentment and worry that I'm burning the sausage rolls!

This morning I got a quick paint in before my 2 hours penance. I painted in the same road as the school,   cutting it fine enough to still be in painting smock but have time to wash my hands before dealing to the lunch orders. The high of painting did much to carry me through the first hour, but so help me, if this was my job everyday, I would need a bottle of something in the third drawer down to help. A BIG bottle.

Plus, I look shite in hairnets.

  A start.....

18 February, 2013

Plein air tuesday at Hamilton Lake

I took the dog to the groomers ( he looked  Keith Richards baaaad! All rattails, yellowed chin-hair and eyes like pissholes in the snow) and I went to the Hamilton Lake for a paint. I know my morning was going to be far more relaxing than his, poor poppet.

This lake is in the middle of town, boasts a wonderful l4.3km path around it for runners,walkers, mums with prams and toddlers on bikes. It also has a great play area for kids , a gazillion ducks to feed, manicured flower gardens, a train you can climb all over and, blessed of all blessedness, a coffee- serving  cafe on site.

So, I set up near the loo's (class act, I am) and painted. I had the great fortune to eavesdrop on a number of parents interacting with their kids(various degrees of hysteria and thank the ex-pope I am not there still). I also had fun chatting to some people who stopped and spoke to me about what I was doing. Many of them expressed a wish to paint too( well, not that very minute, you understand...) and I made it my mission to encourage everyone who said it ,to do something about that wish. JUST DO IT.

Anyway, I painted two paintings, had a coffee and went to fetch the buffed and polished Freddy who now looks David Bowie camp. There is something un-macho about a fluffed dog. He knows it too. His whole demeanour read"whipped and a pansy"when I collected him.

Thank you to everyone who chatted to me or liked the paintings.

Surgeons Row
20 x 40 cm
oil on canvas

Oil on canvas
25 x 30 cm
Palm row
click here to purchase from Website www.jenniedegroot.com

12 February, 2013

New toys

I love the art shop! It's an Aladdin's cave of fantastic and inspiring tools. Just standing in front of the various paint charts, the tubes all chromatically lined up, the colour swatches hanging off to the side, the names(Cerulean blu, French Ultramarine, Pthalo, Prussian, Cobalt.....rrrrrRRRRRRrrrr!sexy!) makes me hum with delight.There are brushes and mediums, papers, canvases, boards, pastels. conte, pencil, dipper, palettes, easels, books, nibs,pens..........the list is endless.
Want to make me happy? Let me shop in the Art shop!

So, in need of a little retail therapy and aware that shoplifting is illegal, I went and bought myself some rubber paint-shapers. I limited myself to a pack of three wedges, but the other available shapes are groovy and I intend to revisit that corner and find out what the other interesting shapes do and how I can convince my wallet to disgorge some money to fund the newest acquisition.

Now, the reason I wanted the shapers is to loosen my style of painting a bit and add some different marks to the paint surface. As much as I love loose painting, I sometimes find myself standing an inch from the canvas, nose almost touching, with the paintbrush gripped vice like in my claw,just short of it's ferrule. Not loose at all. If loose is an orang-utan, then I am a tortoise. So, I have to have some props to remind me to loosen up. I can't paint drunk( tried ,and it did not work) , so this is part of my arsenal to help me. Funnily enough, I have enjoyed painting en plein air because the need for speed makes me loosen up a lot. No dawdling in the rain/wind/sun/heat (please add whatever weather conditions are unpleasant in here..............) and I am not overly keen on being without a cup of tea for more than an hour or two at any time.

So, these are the paintings done with the aid of the paint-shapers, but using brushes too. Let me know what you think.

15 x 21 cm
oil on paper
21 x 30
oil on paper

08 February, 2013

Why the dog cannot come painting with me.

I have tried, on several occasions, to take Freddie painting with me. He hangs out in the studio with me all the time, but plein air painting with him is just to difficult, for both of us.

Freddie wants to say hi, hello, howzit, waddaya up to to everything and everyone. I have to keep him on a leash (by-laws and such) in public places and if we are in the countryside he chases everything unless tied to a fencepost!!!

Today we went here..Hayes Paddock beach on the Waikato river. We lasted about 10 minutes. He chased some cyclists, managed to knock the easel over (twice!) and then started barking and would not stop because he was too far from me i.e.,2 meters away!

So, we came home, had a cup of tea, then drove off again, sans dog. I left him in the courtyard with a bone. I think he was happier.

I went to introduce myself to neighbours up the road who have a great view from their top of the hill homestead and a dam/pond at the foot of their hill.I asked permission to paint at the pond and gained a watermelon in the process! Cool! I shall have to go back and paint from their property again as they have 360 views of the area and a brilliant view, all-round. Nice to meet you, Murray and Chris!

When I came back home an hour later, Freddie was still at the bone, happy enough to see me but happier not to have been out in the paddocks, sweltering in the heat and not allowed to chase the black swans and ducks that occupied the pond too.

So, i cleaned the brushes, wiped the palette and set the painting up to be photographed.....and his wagging tail swished the wet paint and effectively ruined the painting. Sigh.Poor poppet, not his fault his smile is a wagging, fluffy tail. I will scrape and try rescue it.Or maybe not!


We have another puppy, a friend for Freddie, who will be his companion whilst I am away. His name is Elvis, he is a Pappillon and Freddie is already besotted with him. He is a happy doggy now!

05 February, 2013

5. am Waitangi Day

Up at 5 am this morning and it was a shock. There was a stinging southerly blast ( in New Zealand, that means it feels like someone left the fridge door open ,because that southerly blasts  straight from the maw of Antarctica) and I felt like the only person alive. The moon is now a crescent and there was little light at all...I almost went back to bed , then I saw the lights on the farmhouse up the road flick on. Life out there! A beacon in the otherwise dark night, I painted the view across the valley towards the south, the hill and the farmhouse,the night sky and the dim orange haze of the sun on the distant horizon, as it started to make it's influence felt on the atmosphere.

My hands were so cold I could barely hold the brushes after 30 minutes. It did not warm up for hours, but by then I was back inside, a house-full of boys, sleepover breakfast and plans for a bike ride. Today is a public holiday. Waitangi day.

30 x 30 cm
oil on archival paper

02 February, 2013

To the tune Billy Joel's "Piano man"

It's 4 am on a sunday morn
the regular crowd are asleep....

In my 20's, 4 am saw me winding up my evening of  nightclubs/concerts/parties/some mischief . In my 30's, I saw it regularly with  a baby over my shoulder, patiently waiting for a burp or a fart  to appear ( from the baby!) . I swore then I would sleep as much as possible if I ever had the chance.

Well, my 40's have seen me sleeping well until recently, when 4 am has seen me wake , unbidden by anything, and I have marvelled at the clarity of the night sky .I know I should not open my eyes and try go back to sleep, but recently, I have peeked out the windows and spent some time with the night view. It is very,very peaceful.

So this morning, I woke at 4 am, and went painting. I had everything ready at the door, jumped into some warmish clothes and boots, and went out to paint.I wanted to paint the view I spied at nights, across the farmlands towards a distant farmhouse, the crossroads with State Highway 39 and the foothills of the Karamu range.

I loved it. Quiet,still,dark,peaceful.I painted for about 20 minutes when suddenly, the cat appeared silently , rubbed against my leg and I levitated. Quite high, I have to add, with the added benefit of a zombie-like gurgle of fear to add insult to the injury.

After I had reduced my heart rate from a gazillion and coaxed it out of my throat back to it's normal position in my chest, I continued painting. Not 5 minutes later, a possum had some kind of fit in the vines covering the pergola behind me, thrashed around wildly and fell the gravel and sped away into the paddock next door. I was gratified to see the cat companion was as shocked as I was by that particular interuption. We both stared into the dark, trying to gain control of our sphincters and get back to the business of painting. I say we because anthropomorphising makes me feel better about being scared and alone in the dark. So does making up words.

Sunday morning 4 am
20 x 30 cm
oil on archival paper

01 February, 2013

Plein air at Night

Things that go bump in the night......

I have thought of painting the nights sky for years. I try it every now and then, especially inspired during the summer months when the skies are clear and the weather conducive to being outdoors at night. Because there are few cities and the quality of the air is good, the night sky is incredible.

My closest city is Hamilton, a hamlet on the scale of cities worldwide, and a just a vague blip on the horizon from my eyrie.. I painted on the verge of our country road , last night, camp torch headlight illuminating my palette. Four cars passed me( what must they have thought!!?) .Friday night , 10 pm, and I am painting outdoors. My 18 year old self is hysterical with laughter at the idea...she was off partying at this time!At least I am always having a good time, no matter what age!

As a first attempt en plein air painting a night scene, called a nocturne, I am pleased with the result. I only spent about 30 minutes out there till I scampered back indoors for a cup of tea. I preloaded my palette with Pthalo Blue and Pthalo green, permanent Alizarin,ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, raw sienna, cadmium orange and white.

Here is what I learned:

  • have a plan!
  • work fast if you are working in dusk!
  • know what colours do what...mixing on the palette with artificial light relies on experience
  • squint....even in the dark
  • do not shine the light in your own eyes...you will be blinded for a while
  • photos are fairly useless!!!
I am going to do this again! It was fun!

20 x 30 cm oil on archival paper
Friday nocturne

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