Sunday, December 30, 2007

Farewell To A Friend and A Discovery

I didn't get everything finished before Christmas Day as I felt so ill with this silly maybe-Fibromyalgia. Did complete an alpaca pendant on time and got alot of work done on one of the little cat paintings that were commissioned by Glenys. However she gave me a stern talking to about not pushing myself so I took her advice and slowed down.

Christmas Day was quiet but I spent a very enjoyable evening with my friends down the road. However the next morning Gine rang to tell me that Kate, my neighbour who had given me a lift to portraiture class a few times, had passed away Christmas Eve from the cancer she had been battling for three years. I felt incredibly saddened as she was such a lovely vital person with so much talent.

Her funeral was held on Thursday afternoon at Tikokino Village. Gaye, Rachel, the boys and I went together and although we went half an hour early the place was so packed we ended up sitting outside. At first we were right in the hot sun but some kind ladies lifted a small marquee over us so at least we were in the shade. There must have been over 100 people there, some even standing out on the footpath including one poor old man who collapsed in the heat.

I was ok until I saw the hearse pull up with her coffin inside. I couldn't believe such a sparkly lady was gone so had a few tears. Her son Gordon began playing the bagpipes before the family and close friends walked into the church. There was a speaker system set up so we could hear most of the service. The celebrant talked about all the activities Kate was involved with including the Otane painters and her book clubs. She also volunteered for several charities and clubs and was constantly helping and supporting her friends. Seven people spoke of the effect she had on their lives which was incredibly touching. All in all the service lasted an hour and was a beautiful celebration of Kate's life.

Afterwards we met up with some of the Otane painters who had turned up including Jacqueline, Glenys, and Betty and even our first nude model who had gone to see Kate in the hospice. She gave me a hug and I had to admit to her that I didn't recognise her with her clothes on! I finally got to meet Kate's lovely daughter and then her husband Spencer who gave me a big hug. Gaye and I signed the tribute book before we took Rachel and the boys home. Originally we were going to go to Kate's house afterwards but by 4pm I was beginning to feel the effects of the day (I had already been to Hastings early morning) and was just wanting to rest. For the remainder of the day I thought how important it was to live every day with no regrets and as if each could be your last. Kate had only just turned 54 which was too young to leave but she had packed in as much as she could into her life and left a legacy of friendship. That's how I would like to live my life as well.

To end on a positive note I am in love........with Rita Angus. After years of staring at one of her prints in my dentist's office I have finally realised what an amazingly talented artist she is. The reason for my conversion was watching "Lovely Rita" a documentary by Gaylene Preston which repeated this morning. Featuring interviews with family and friends as well as admirers it gave a great overview of her life and displayed a wonderful range of her work. I had no idea what a skillful watercolourist she was or how powerful her self portraits were (up there with Frida Kahlo in my humble opinion). And she's a Hawkes Bay girl too, born in Hastings in 1908 before she and her family moved to Palmerston North in 1921. I also learned that she had an affair with Douglas Lilburn (our most famous NZ composer) and miscarried a child he'd fathered.

To show how we still underrate her all of the 600 unsold works she still had at her Thorndon cottage when she died of cancer aged 62 are now in Te Papa Museum where they are rarely on display. Considering how everyone fawns over Colin Machon's work I think this is a travesty.

Friday, December 21, 2007

All Shook Up

Last night just as I was about to go to bed there was a very large earthquake. Five minutes later my friend Tanya rang to see if I was OK and told me it measured 6.8 on the Richter scale and was situated off Mahia to the north of here. Nothing was broken but I do remember gazing in horror at the TV swaying on top of the wooden bookcase it sits on. Mishka ran round the place barking which didn't help matters.

I am trying to finish three orders before Christmas (they're all wanted for presents so am feeling the pressure). Finished one yesterday and got it in the mail to Auckland. A young lady wanted five stones painted, a small dragon and tiger and three views of her cat. Not usual pictures I would consider for paintings but they worked out OK. Now I have given myself three days to complete two cat paintings I have been working on for a few weeks. I am so much a last minute Annie.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Moaning Minnie and The Naked Lady

My moans and groan about feeling unwell have become so boring that I'll keep them short for this post. However I returned to my doctor this week and after reviewing my test results and comparing them with my symptoms she is tentatively diagnosing me with Fibromyalgia. At this stage she is reluctant to label me but I think it's likely I have the disorder after reading all the available literature and talking to people I know with it. I have two medications to try to see if they help with the muscle inflammation and spend time lying with a wheat pack on my back falling asleep! Moan over.

Our last portrait class on Friday was so enjoyable as our original life model returned. I took along some different mediums to try including an ink pen and pastels (my least favourite). However the resulting drawings turned out much better than I hoped. It helped that the model is a fan of art deco and came along with 1920s hat, shoes, jewellery and fox furs! Most of us got totally caught up with drawing the hat, even the men in the class. I am particularly happy with this drawing as it is much freer than my usual work and the pastels caught the skin colour really well.

This one also turned out better than I hop ed although I made our model very tanned. However the hat looks great. Glenys and I yawned all the way home and by the time I got inside I discovered I was shaking tired. However after a light lunch I felt well enough to wash down the back wall of the house which was incredibly dirty and footrot the goat. That night I reverted to the human pretzel but it was worth it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Parties

The Silly Season is upon us again. Because I have been unwell I am hopelessly behind but have been making an effort to go to my last art classes since there won't be any more until mid January. Last Friday we had a local guy called Tony sit for us- I really enjoyed trying to capture his face with the close clipped beard. After portraiture the eight of us made our way to the Paper Mulberry Cafe for our Christmas meal. I had Greek Filo again with a slice of carrot cake and hot chocolate. I think we were there nearly two hours chatting. Helen managed to get a free wooden high stool from the owner for our life models and while I was waiting for my desert I bought two bags of carded wool for just $7 each. There is a great range of items for sale at the cafe and I'm sure they sell well as it's such a popular venue.

This past Wednesday the Otane Painters' Christmas party was held at a member's new home in Waipukurau. We were all meant to meet at the local park to sketch but when we got there at 10am no one was about so Gaye, Gine and I ended up having a hot drink in town waiting for midday. Turned out everyone turned up at the park at different times and found no one there, we must have missed each other by just a few seconds.

The day was so incredibly hot that we were glad to get to Jean's at lunchtime. Around twenty five people turned up, many members I had never met before. We all took a plate so there was plenty of wonderful food and Helen donated the Christmas Cake she won as a raffle prize and the Otane Open Weekend. The wife of one of the painters made the most beautiful slice that everyone loved out of filo pastry, honey and nuts. A Greek recipe apparently. We each took a present and received one in return. When I dipped into the basket I received a sachet for putting in my wardrobe and a recipe for Christmas slice. Everyone had a wonderful time- there was certainly alot of chatting going on. By the time we left at 2.30 I was exhausted although sorry to go. Jean was a lovely hostess and she made us so welcome.

Gaye dropped me home at 3.30pm and I found the mailman had left my TLC folder at the back door. There was a letter from my new mentor/tutor Carrie who comes from England and specialises in illustration. My feedback is now to be via DVD and the half hour session she gave was very helpful as she was able to visually show me my strengths as well as things I can improve on. Carrie will be working throughout January so I will be able to use that time to catch up on work since I had to start so late in term (thanks WINZ).

Monday, December 03, 2007


I have been busy artfully this past week but haven't felt like blogging much. Collected a few unsold items of jewellery from The Craftsman in Napier to put into Creative Hastings plus finished off another pendant to send in. Apparently so far I have sold three cards, a cat stone, a cat brooch and a tiger pendant. Not bad but not wonderful either.

Wednesday at art group I'm afraid I spent too much time gas bagging with Helen and Glenys. Did manage to do a wee bit of painting before going home. Only a couple more weeks before the art classes shut down for nearly a month which is going to cause some withdrawal symptoms.

An ex policeman called Jerry was our model at portraiture on Friday. He was a wonderful subject as he kept so beautifully still. Apparently from Wales but he'd been here in NZ so long he had lost his accent.

Helen did a most wonderful couple of studies of him in oil paints. I have no idea how she works so quickly- makes my tentative pencil studies look positively anaemic. There were only six artists at the class which was a shame but people are becoming more and more busy as we get nearer Christmas so can't afford the time out to sketch.