Sunday, September 30, 2007


Our model for portraiture on Friday was a teenager called Paul. He was a friend of Kate's son so we collected him on our way to class. He came along with a magazine and his Ipod to keep him occupied and did a good job keeping still over the two hour session. Unlike the previous models who were shy about looking at our work Paul would frequently walk round the room to see what we'd done. This portrait was his favourite out of mine.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Good Luck Comes In Threes

Usually I say that about bad luck and deaths but yesterday good luck paid me a visit three times! At Otane Arts Kevin Annan from Electra Gallery came along and gave a two hour talk about what makes a good painting and critiqued works people were brave enough to show. It was fascinating to hear him pick out a picture's weaknesses but also show how it can be saved by either cropping or chopping into smaller works. Jacqueline was sitting next to me and she took my Autumn lady up. When he placed it on the easel I wished the earth would swallow me up as he paused to give his opinion. He loved her. He went on and on about my using complimentary colours, her serene look, the light source being right etc etc. Then he asked people what they thought she was thinking and the answers were so different. Tom said she looked like an Art Deco lady and I replied that was exactly what my tutor had said. Kevin then said it was a really good painting and mentioned my donkey one that had sold at the Festival earlier this month. He said it was a beautiful work and they could have sold it many times over. By the time he'd finished I was shaking.

Jacqueline had asked me to bring along some of my jewellery but of course I hadn't had time to make any so I brought along my sample sheet, one pendant and my own cat brooch. She brought Kevin over to look and he said to bring samples along for the management team to look at as they would probably sell them in the gallery. He particularly liked the brooch with the poem- he said it isn't often art makes you smile! Jacqueline was almost purring after he left as she thought he would like them.

I had also brought along my patchwork paintings and cards for Donna to see. She loved them and suggested we drive over to Waipukurau after lunch to talk to her friend Claire Moore. Glenys said she didn't have to go home early so after a quick lunch we all headed out into the cold. Claire at Quilt Works loved the paintings and took four to sell on commission for me. She bought the cards outright and has ordered more. On the way home Glenys ordered some from me as well for her daughter.

And as if that wasn't enough good news later that day I received a letter from The Learning Connexion to say that my painting "Hippie Cat No 2" had sold in the students end of term exhibition a couple of weeks ago. I am totally thrilled.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hands Down (or nearly there)

Ten artists turned up for portraiture class at Otane yesterday morning. Our model was an older gentleman dressed in a red plaid shirt cinched at the waist with a belt, trousers tucked into boots and a white beard that made him look like Father Christmas. As usual we began with two minute gestural drawings to warm us up before beginning on longer poses where he sat down.

After beginning with charcoal I switched as per usual to pencil which allows me to include more detailing. These drawings are my better attempts. After morning tea the model lay down on the platform. Glenys and I moved from our positions as where we were viewing from the foreshortening was beyond belief and my current abilities. Even so I was left with a back view which included the hand placed in a difficult position. After two attempts I actually felt a hot wave of panic wash over me which the others recognised as a panic attack (very embarrassing). Donna came and stood by me and gave me some advice but said I was doing really well which settled my fears enough to finish the drawing and get the hand right.

My last drawing was executed quickly. When Donna and Helen saw it they were very complimentary and could not pick out any way I could improve it with Helen writing "confident line" on the paper. Glenys and I talked excitedly about the session all the way home and agreed how much we love the art days we spend at Otane and how much they help us with our work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Things Are Beginning To Move

Got up early to finish a ginger cat brooch for a lady at Otane Arts. Gaye and I drove down to Waipawa and as usual the time passed very quickly as we talked about anything and everything. Had taken a new canvas to work on this time- a continuation in my patchwork animals series. Donna the art teacher was very interested in what I was doing so I showed her my business card which has two finished works illustrated. She said she had a friend who owned a quilting shop in Waipukurau and she would ask if she would be interested in selling them for me.

Jacqueline the second in command in the group sat next to me working on a watercolour of magnolias while Glenys stood to my left working on a new landscape. Jacqueline was intrigued with the brooch I had painted and suggested that Electra Gallery might be interested in selling them as well as my pendants and painted rocks. She offered to take samples in for Kevin Annan to look at.

There was an unofficial meeting at 11.30am at which nominations for the new committee were put forward. Jacqueline will be leader and Glenys the deputy from February next year. Tom, a gentle man in his 80s who has only been painting for the past few years suddenly said "I think it's time to recruit more men" to which I replied "I think that every day Tom!" Everyone cracked up. Marie announced a mini exhibition of Otane Art Group work will be held at Electra in October plus all the groups will be holding an open day at Otane on November 3rd and 4th. Donna suggested that I sell my jewellery and cards then as people are looking for small items for gifts. Later in the meeting there was talk of a life drawing workshop being held in February.

I had only just arrived home when there was a call from Donna to say her friend in Waipuk is definitely interested in my patchwork art and that perhaps we could go see her next Wednesday. I couldn't believe how she got onto it all so quickly! Also an email from my tutor at TLC in response to my selling a painting at Pukeora. She says I should be charging $20 an hour plus materials for my work so looks like I am not charging enough. I have to wonder though if people would really be willing to pay over the odds for my artwork.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Going Dotty Again

I received three of my Four Seasons paintings back from The Learning Connexion earlier this week and this turned out to be my tutor's favourite one. "Autumn" was done in the pointillist style (I wrecked a perfectly good brush too) and shows the poplar trees and smoke tree leaves from my previous rental property framing a model from our life drawing DVD. Irene has suggested I should follow this style a bit further as did Donna at Otane when she saw it. I never can seem to escape those dots.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Paper Mulberry and Farewell Tony Soprano

Kate picked me up for portraiture class at just after nine but we had a slow trip as she had a trailer load of hay she was going to deliver after class to Hastings. A nice Scottish girl for model who chatted away with some of the artists while she posed. I did two pencil drawings I was happy with in the end.
I seem to do better when I use pencil although note to self- remember to take a pencil sharpener. I am getting much more confident with practise although my drawings seem so faint compared with the others'. The morning flew by and I barely felt my shoulders protesting at working at an easel.

At midday we drove down to the Paper Mulberry at Pukehou- a blue renovated church housing a cafe/gallery. Martina had just finished hanging seven of her paintings for sale as she's featured there for a month. They looked great as they were mainly floral pictures and the walls were a pretty Wedgwood blue which set them off.

For lunch I had a Greek filo (very light pastry filled with veggies), citrus slice and a mug of hot chocolate with complimentary chocolate fish. There were eleven of us there so much discussion about arty political subjects. Funnily enough I was seated at the end of the table between Helen and Jacqueline (second in command of the art group) and as a polite conversation opener mentioned to Helen that my aunt lives in the same street in Waipukurau as she does. She asked her name and it turned out we're related as Helen is connected to the Ross's and the Sidwells as my mother's family are. I think we're cousins several times removed. Helen used to visit my grandparents on their farm at Wimbledon as a child and knew them well. Totally uncanny.

Coming home I needed a rest so watched the final ever episode of The Sopranos that I had taped the night before. At first I felt cheated and confused at such an abrupt ending but then it made sense that Tony was probably shot which is why the last scene was mainly from his point of view and why it suddenly went black and silent. David Chase always takes risks and some of them seem obscure but it was a fitting end to the series. I'm the only one amongst my family and friends that even watched the programme and thought it any good so it's been a lonely seven years.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Missing Muse

I can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying by. I don't feel I get much done during the day at all. Highlight this week was of course art class on Wednesday. I went with Glenys and we got there early so were able to talk with Helen about Pukeora. Apparently around 26 paintings were sold or a quarter of the exhibition which was good although down from last year due to the drought impacting on the incomes of the farming community who usually support this event.

I had taken along my four seasons paintings including the last one I'm working on. The autumn portrait was the favourite with everyone and Donna has suggested I develop this style in other works. She had ordered a brooch from me last week and I found an interesting stone with bumps that lent themselves well to a cat form. While I was there Colleen turned up to collect her cat brooch and was so pleased that she has ordered another one. They all seem to like the poem that I sell with these so I'm glad I did it.

I wish I could write more poetry but since Dad died five years ago my ability has completely dried up apart from the Feline Doggerel I wrote for the brooches. I should take a leaf out of Helen's book who gets up at 4am every morning and meditates. Perhaps that would kick start the muse again.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Another Friday Class

I went to portraiture on Friday with Kate my neighbour from down the road. We had a very interesting conversation on the way there encompassing spiders and other residents down my road. Just as we pulled into Otane Kate told me she had started The Learning Connexion Diploma earlier this year. I can't believe that I have another student living only a couple of kms from me. She skipped the Foundation level and went straight into the stage above which meant she was able to tell me what's coming up for me next term.

Only six artists turned up for portraiture this week. The model was a young Japanese woman who has been working on an orchard near Tikokino. Very pretty, lithe and with the most delicate hands. After a couple of quick gestural drawings we went into longer ones only broken by morning tea (which included delicious chocolate cake this week). On Helen's advice I had taken along my small table easel to work from and it had a dramatic effect on my work as it was easier to judge proportions while I was looking directly at my paper. I concentrated on perfecting hands this session by following Donna's instructions to treat them just as shapes. I was very happy with the pencil drawing I did just before the end although in true portraiture fashion I was brought back down to earth with my next one which was terrible. Working at the easel did prove tough on my shoulders though and I had to stop early.

It was very interesting to look at everyone else's work. Helen had gessoed paper and was working with diluted oil paint. Glenys who I sat next to was busy in charcoal and Betty was putting pastel around the edge of her pieces. I wish more people had been there to take the opportunity to draw the model who was so good. I hope they ask her back sometime.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pukeora Festival

I had the most wonderful day at The Festival at Pukeora yesterday. My mind is buzzing with images and ideas.

It was a freezing morning with a dusting of snow on the foothills right at the back of my cottage so I bundled up in two jerseys, a scarf and gloves. Martina and Gaye arrived just before 10am and we reached Pukeora in half an hour. We were surprised as it was already very crowded with two coachloads of grumpy old women and so many cars we had to park half up on the footpath down the hill from the buildings. It is many years since I went there and it still feels like an institution with it's warren of corridors.

Martina's neighbour Viv had brought Martina's two children along and together we went into the big hall to see the exhibition. My little donkey painting was hung alongside a dog one (copied from wrapping paper apparently but very professional) and I had a giggle listening to some of the comments. Donkeys seem to make people giggle or go "awww" for some reason. The standard of art was high and there were a couple of pictures I would loved to have taken home. In particular one of three mosaic pots with orange and yellow zinnias and Nola Weber of Taradale had two gorgeous oils of pansies and deep red roses which you could almost eat.

Funny comments: two Havelock North-type women (impeccably coiffured and expensively dressed) observing a huge painting of iceberg roses "Yes it's so wonderfully balanced"."Yes it is wonderfully balanced, and the frame matches too!" Then from across the hall another woman "Yes I DO like it but it won't go with my curtains!"

We spent an hour looking at all the work with Martina making some pithy comments when I happened to turn to look at my painting and saw a red dot on the ticket. It had sold in the first hour! I sat in shock in front of it and actually got a bit shaky when a lady came up behind me and asked if I was "the artist". She then told me she had been going to buy it, actually had her chequebook in her hand. Then Donna the art teacher who was manning the payment booth came and asked me to meet the buyer. He was a very nice middle-aged gentleman who apparently collects original art.

After that surprise we decided to get some lunch. We went to one cafe which was freezing, fought our way through the crowds to another one which the kids weren't happy about as it mainly had sweets not hot dishes, then back to the original cafe where the kids said they didn't like the food. After getting hopelessly lost in the many corridors filled with rooms belonging to the previous "residents" (first TB patients and then the unwanted disabled residents of Hawkes Bay) which were occupied by stalls we arrived outside and found the Potato Man. Gaye told me she was shouting me lunch and we both got vegetarian stuffed spuds, mine with ratatouille (no real rats involved). We then wended our way back through the crowds and sat at a sunny table in a porch overlooking the farmland down below.

After eating a little of their potatoes the kids stated they were full although they could manage something sweet if their mother would queue at the cafe and buy them something! Martina and I were steadily ploughing our way through the biggest potatoes Hawkes Bay had to offer and by the time we finished we couldn't face anything else. However Gaye joined the line for half an hour and a waitress returned with coffee for three and a hot chocolate for myself.

After lunch I lost everyone and found myself wandering down the corridors looking at beautiful ethnic skirts I couldn't afford. Then I came upon Waddle Inn's room by Kim Priest wasn't there, instead it was a lady called Esther who is a friend of Gaye's and Gina's. She managed to sell me 160 gms of beautiful mauve dyed alpaca to spin. I told her Kim sells my cards and jewellery and she suddenly realised who I was. Long story short she is coming out here to teach me to knit.

I finally found Gaye back at the exhibition hall when a familiar face passed by and said hi. I had met this lady at the Creative Fibre Festival last year. Turns out she is Yvonne Monk whom everyone has been telling me about since I moved here. She pulled out photos of her alpacas has invited me out to her farm for a visit.

We were just about to leave when a tall man walked up to me. Turned out to be Kevin Annan who runs Electra Gallery and also selected the work for the exhibition. He told me I did beautiful work and to send more into him and he would sell it in the gallery. By this stage I was a shivering wreck but couldn't believe how everything had worked out that day. The best part- sharing it all with my new friends.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


"Two's Company" has been accepted for The Festival exhibition. I am shocked as I thought it was too small. Five of us from the Otane art group were accepted which was very good considering that of the 180 works submitted half were rejected. Helen tells me that the whole exhibition is very professional and the standard high so I'm looking forward to seeing it today at the opening.

Gaye picked me up for art and we had a highly enjoyable trip there and back. We spoke of reincarnation, psychic dreams and poetry. I've never met anyone who has been so interested in my writing before. It has given me a lift I didn't expect.

I took the little calico cat brooch I'd painted as Colleen (a busy lady involved with multiple charities but who pops in for a chat with the group nearly every week) had said she wanted to buy it. We arrived dead on time at 10am but she'd already left the money so Marie left the brooch packet on a side table. This meant that my "Feline Doggeral" poem was read by nearly everyone throughout the day and Donna ordered a brooch for her daughter who is a vet in America.

I worked on my spring painting in The Four Seasons series. I had drawn it in roughly on the canvas the day before and was concentrating on painting the background. I cannot make the light teal that I achieved with the pastel drawing. It either comes out silage green or else a deep wedgewood blue which I actually like. After putting two solid glazes on I changed tack and am flicking paint lightly over the surface to imitate pastel strokes. Donna looked at my work which worried me as I thought the nude was not such a great one but she thought it looked good and was very interested in the process we were told to go through to arrive at the composition.

Betty is a local farmer/artist who has been working on a large painting of sheep and farmdogs in a yard. One of the sheep is sighted back on and there was much debate on how to improve this. At one point five people were clustered around the easel talking about it. As I left I said that if anyone asked me what I'd done that day I'd say I'd watched people discussing a sheep's bottom! Fortunately they found this funny.

Later that day I received an email from Irene to say my folder reached TLC safely and she was taking my work to a tutors' meeting today. She'd also passed Hippie Cat No 2 onto the exhibition organiser. I sincerely hope I have Irene as my tutor throughout stage two of my diploma. I have just gelled with her so well.

Finally here is a closeup of the camellia bush at the head of my drive. It has been a delight most of the winter. If you have camellias and roses you can be sure of colour in your garden all the year.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ups and Downs

I have been painting like crazy to get my hours up for my end of academic year review for TLC. The cut off date for folders for this is the 7th September (Friday) so I need to get mine away this morning. It has been a frantic few days.

I received my paintings back from Auckland today. Not one sold at the "Off The Brush" exhibition although eight business cards were taken (from the second batch). I can't understand it as the work is not bad and the paintings were priced cheaply. Anyway I'm sending one of them down to the end of term students' exhibition at TLC today so fingers crossed.

I am also sending a pendant to the US. A commissioned piece for a lady who lost her much loved dog recently. Hopefully she'll like it.

I haven't heard if "Two's Company" has been accepted to The Festival exhibition but it has been featured as artwork of the month on the Zenafterhours group homepage.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

First Portraiture Class

As usual I was running around like a hairy goat just a few minutes before Glenys arrived to take me to portraiture. Holding the donkey painting in one hand so it could dry in the sun as I'd just varnished it while collecting charcoal and pencils to take along to the class. After I gathered everything together I waited outside in the sun for Glenys but only had to sit there a minute as she arrived just before 9am.

We were the first people there apart from Helen who was setting up the room. It was good just to absorb the atmosphere before everyone arrived. About nine people came including a lady who lives down my road but whom I'd yet to meet. The class began at 10am with Helen providing a couple of poses for quick 2 minute gestural drawings. I started in charcoal as I find this loosens up my technique although I find it awkward for doing hands and features. The official model was a young woman with her ten week old baby. We began with a few quick gesture drawings before settling in for 10 minute poses. At 10.45am we broke for morning tea (chocolate biscuits!) so I sat and chatted with Martina about how she finds living in NZ compared to Germany.

After the mid morning break the baby posed with her Mum. Apart from spitting the dummy (literally) on the floor she was perfectly behaved and just watched her Dad who was standing behind me. I had chosen the hardest place to sketch from (directly in front of the model) so had some difficulties to overcome. My best sketch was a 20 minute one in pencil which actually resembled the mother to my surprise. Donna the art teacher came along afterwards and corrected a few things (shoulders not wide enough, baby too adult looking, hands as usual my bugbear) but said I'd done well which gave me a burst of confidence. I now feel I can achieve my goal of painting the human form if I just keep practising.

I had taken my donkey painting along and after I wrapped it up Martina offered to take it with her two works to Pukeora on Monday for the selection process. Donna felt that it was a very saleable picture so I hope it's accepted for the exhibition.