Saturday, December 27, 2008

Becoming Jane Austen

Christmas is over and done with for another year thank goodness. I mus admit that I was so unenthusiastic that I didn't even bother to put my "Merry Kissmass" teddy bear out on display. One thing I have noticed over the previous few years is that less and less people are sending Christmas cards. I thought it was just me but when I've asked around everyone confirms that it's the same for them. Whether it's the influence of the Internet or else we're becoming too busy to be bothered I have no idea but on the plus side I guess we're saving some trees.

I did much better at the Creative Hastings sale than I expected so should be able to pay a couple of worrisome bills in January. Four of the seven soaps I sent in sold- in particular the stylized butterflies and Jazzy cats were most popular. I gave a few for gifts and have heard from people that they're not going to use them which is a shame as I wanted to find out how the paintings lasted.

Full of good intentions every afternoon I sit on the sofa, my bean bag tray on my knees painting. Because I am so comfortable there I am able to work for much longer than usual but unfortunately this doesn't help for larger works as my sitting room is really too small to accomodate my larger easel. However I want to build up some stock so I can find other outlets to sell through.

I am currently reading "Becoming Jane Austen" which I guess partially inspired the Anne Hathaway movie. I have read every biography of Jane Austen that I could find over the past twenty years- this is a highly readable addition. It made me think of how important letters once were to people of those times and how well written they were. Although concerned with the minutiae of daily life they were very witty. There is nothing so wonderful as holding a handwritten letter in your hands, knowing that someone has taken the time to sit there and write to you. I wonder what Jane Austen would make of us today with our "text" language and emails? I can't talk though as I take so long to write by hand that battering out an email on the computer seems a much easier option. Who knows- if she lived today Jane Austen might be an enthusiastic blogger.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Great Underwear Caper

I have been painting painting painting gifts and still have more to finish today. However yesterday I had break when I went to town to finish a few chores including spending my birthday money which I had put aside to go on an underwear safari. So it was that I found myself at Farmer's panicking, trapped amongst the knickers with lacy over the shoulder boulder holders surrounding me in every direction. Two snotty young females on the counter looked haughtily in my direction but it was no wonder as I crept along, bent in shame, surrepticiously feeling every bra I could, trying to find any that were not underwire ones.

Finally I found two cotton ones that looked like they should really be in the training section and bashed my way out of the claustrophobic jungle of briefs and thongs (why women bother to buy them when it would be cheaper to wear dental floss is beyond me) ala "Father Ted". I now have great sympathy with men who panic at the mere thought of entering the lingerie section as it's bad enough when you're female.

Afterwards I dropped off another pendant at Creative Hastings. The past week has been very good for me as I have sold seven of my twelve Love Bugs, a couple of soaps, pendants and a brooch as well as animal cards. The sale ends today but hopefully there will still be a few last minute shoppers who in desperation will buy something that they don't want, don't understand and can't return ie. my stuff.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cheer

I feel a bit like a mouse frantically running on a wheel at the moment but that's only because I decided (due to finances) to make most of my Christmas presents this year. This can be a hit and miss event because some people feel that if you don't spend alot of money on them and instead "palm" them off with a home made gift you're short changing them. I should know- I've seen the look of disappointment often enough! I love having things my friends have made me about the house. I have a few paintings, embroidered cloths and beautiful beadwork that I've been given. I always think of their makers when I see these things and it gives me a buzz to think that my friends have taken the time to work on something especially for me.

We live in an increasingly sterile mass produced world with increasingly minimalist uninteresting "houses" designed to look good but which give little idea as to the owner's character. I was thinking about this yesterday when I went to the Painters' group end of year party which was held at our leader's lovely arts and crafts home in Waipukurau. Everywhere there was warm natural wood, textiles with a real eye for colour and, to me the most interesting part, many wonderful paintings hanging throughout the house. There were several delicate watercolours painted by our hostess as well as some that I recognised as being done by other members of the group. Everything was original and really made the house a home.

None of us really wanted to leave. We arrived just before midday, bringing our plates of food and our under $5 presents. Gine encouraged us to sing Christmas Carols with her and then sang a beautiful Irish song called "The Wind In The Willows" before we tucked into a buffet lunch. Blanca was there and the life of the party as usual. She had made gifts for a few of us including a necklace for me made from beads she'd brought over from Peru. Also Glenys made sure I was stocked up with chocolate with an unexpected gift. Later when we all dipped for a present I ended up with three sweet little recipe books for summer fruits which I guess it the universe's way of making me cook a little more!

At 3pm it was time to say goodbye. I honestly felt as if I would never see anyone again which is so silly as I surely will be back next month but still being without a place to move to has left me feeling unsettled, melancholy and overall very Irish.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Seeing Double

Last Friday was the last life drawing session for the year and for the second month in a row we had a couple pose for us. There was no need for heaters as it was broiling hot and most of the windows in our art room don't open so it wasn't long before we were all sweating and sighing. Finally someone remembered that we actually have a ceiling fan so this was turned on to everyone's relief including the models.

Our models have posed before for art students and enjoy thinking up difficult poses to prematurely age us. They quipped that they knew we were challenged because the room fell quiet without our usual chatter. In a couple of cases there was only time to pare down the subject to gestural poses which I think worked more successfully than the longer drawings.

We had started at 9.30am so we could end earlier as we'd booked in for our Christmas lunch at the Paper Mulberry Cafe. Our models came along and in a strange case of serendipity we met another of our life models in there as well. The Paper Mulberry has two advantages to other cafes in the area: there is a good gallery showing local art, a small shop stocking local produce and a second hand bookshop out the back of the building. The second advantage is the food is excellent and served in generous portions which means that when you order a mug of hot chocolate you also get a marshmallow and small chocolate fish! That's enough incentive for anyone I would think....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting Plastered

Late November I finally got round to running the mask making workshop at Otane. I was concerned that few people would be interested as it did involve taking off make up and trusting your fellow painters to get you plastered without suffocating you at the same time. Blanca (our Peruvian visitor) was the first to volunteer. We draped her in newspaper and towels after she had first vasolined her face and I demonstrated how to wrap Gladwrap around her hair before applying the plaster bandages. Even though she can't speak English Blanca continued chattering in Spanish before I finally plastered her mouth shut. Jacqueline documented the procedure with her digital camera so we have a great record of the morning including shots of everyone fully masked looking decidedly spooky.

Glenys went next and this time Blanca and Jacqueline did the honours while I supervised. I took the opportunity while Glenys was unable to speak to cheek her but she still managed to place a well aimed kick to the shins! There was one hairy moment when the girls inadvertantly covered up part of her nostrils and then she was partially exfoliated as we removed the mask but all in all Glenys said she found it all very soothing.

Marie had a huge phobia about having her face covered up and perhaps being unable to breathe properly but she bravely faced her fears and allowed us to plaster her face. The others in the group came over to add their support and occasionally a smart comment to the proceedings. The general consensus was that Maire resembled Queen Victoria!

Meanwhile Gine and Colleen decided just to plaster their hands. Colleen however was a bit impatient and didn't wait for the bandages to dry which resulted in a couple of her fingers falling off. She found a jar and positioned the hand over this while trying to stick them back on. At one point they were all facing different directions, another time one finger was standing alone flipping the bird, another time the hand was giving the Vulcan sign to "Live long and prosper". In the end Blanca helped Colleen to stick them back on and they made a great job too. It was only when they finished that Gine pointed out that the little finger was where the middle finger should be and visa versa!

After much discussion over lunch Jacqueline decided that she would have her mask done while lying down as that way all her wrinkles would fall away! She lay down on a table while four of us worked on her. Then it was my turn- photos to follow! I don't think I have laughed so much in a very long time.

The following week I showed everyone how to vaseline the negative and pour plaster of paris into it to form the positive. As of writing this I have several scary looking plaster "Jen's" lying on the dining room floor. When I have time I will then make a couple of papier mache masks based on these to frighten the visitors!

Otherwise I have been frantically painting colourful "Love Bugs" and decorating soap for the Creative Hastings Sale. It has been so slow this year but I have sold three pendants and a few cards and there is still two weeks to go.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Nudes, A Drawing Tutor and The Peruvian Soap Decorator

I haven't had much time to blog this past fortnight as the days are full of activity and the evenings I fall asleep on the sofa with one of the cats! I've enjoyed a few firsts in art starting with life drawing on the 14th where we had two models. We often have this in portraiture but with the life class it's tough enough finding one person willing to pose in the buff let alone two. Fortunately this married couple were old hands at sitting as they'd posed for art students in Christchurch. The lady was quite bemused by the fact that I described drawing them lying down in a very awkward position (and I don't know a better way to write that) as drawing a human landscape. After we finished they came over to look at what I'd done and the husband pointed out that they looked like the Ruahine Ranges...

Two days later on the 16th Nov Glenys and I went to Otane to attend a drawing workshop tutored by Tom Williams. He brought along many of his own sketch books and portfolios so that we could see what sort of work he did. I was impressed with the range and quality of his work- especially his old buildings as he really captured their soul. He had us working hard at drawing an old Bentwood chair all morning and after a lovely alfresco lunch held under the century old trees outside we sat and drew a tree for two hours. At the end of this I was more convinced than ever that I need to spend time learning to draw trees as my picture just looked like a tree having a quiet nervous breakdown.

Wednesday Blanca, a Peruvian lady who is here visiting her neice in Waipukurau, modelled for our portraiture class. Fortunately Jacqueline is fluent in Spanish (as she was born in Argentina) so she translated all our extremelly witty and insightful repartee. After lunch Blanca taught us how to paint on soap. I had bought a packet of six "budget" cakes which we shared and she demonstrated (with Jacqueline translating) how to smooth the soap, varnish and then paint on it. I painted a bunny but because it's so dark it looks like something nasty has died on the soap so I may have to rethink my colour scheme!

It is now a week since the Christmas Sale at Creative Hastings began and for the first time in all the years I have entered I have not sold one thing! Whether it's the slowing economy or my stuff just doesn't gel I don't know. I finished another three pendants and a brooch over the past week and dropped these off today with the fervent hope that everyone is just leaving their Christmas shopping to the last moment this year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

National Wins

What a week of change we've had here with National sweeping to power in last Saturday's election. I was determined to vote this time as I felt the country needed a change from the nanny state mentality which has brought us to our knees over the past nine years. Gay and I went to Tikokino School to vote and although we passed some people coming out we were the only ones there so didn't have to wait in a queue. This is the only day when we truly are a democracy and our voices are heard and, more importantly, listened to.

I had so much work to complete over the last week preparing for the Creative Hastings Christmas sale but as luck would have it I ran out of one of my meds and as I couldn't get anymore until this week had to go cold turkey. Do not recommend that to anyone as I ended up dizzy, nauseas and sore all over as if I had the flu. Still I managed to complete four pendants and three more brooches although I think these cats look slightly under the weather by their expressions!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama and Otane Rock

I'm not American but I have to say even I became emotional watching Barrack Obama's speech after winning the US Presidential Election. I think his term in office will bring peace and hope to America and hopefully will raise their standing again throughout the world. After eight years of "W" the American People deserve a break.

Glenys and I spent last Sunday afternoon at the Otane Arts and Crafts Open Weekend. I was three hours painting a Christmas decoration I am donating to a project the New Zealand Art Guild are involved in to raise funds for Starship Children's Hospital. As it had to have a Kiwi theme I decided to paint a Perendale Sheep although he is without a Santa hat. A few people came into the art room to look at the paintings for sale (only one sold and not mine unfortunately) and to chat to the few of us working. I got to know another donkey person who took my business card. Also sold several of my cards- mostly donkey ones!

Today I returned to portraiture but my mojo had shrivelled up and died. Nothing I drew looked good and so in the end I gave up and went to sit in the art room where my friend Gine had laid on a celebratory home made sponge with sparkling grapejuice to celebrate the fact that she is expecting her first child. Everyone was so happy for her although the requests for her to pose while pregnant weren't long in coming. Never let it be said that an artist lets a chance go by!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Day Another Nude

I've been good and finally finished a folder of work to send to my tutor. I also have included all my latest portrait work including this watercolour pencil drawing of our six-month pregnant life model. This was the first time I had ever worked with watercolour pencils in a class situation and have to say that despite the fact that they do look wishy washy and pale in colour for indicating tone and shadow they're wonderful. It would be great to eventually work up a full painting from one of these sketches as long as I can remember skin tone, light direction etc.

Coming up to the busiest time of year. I have entered two paintings in the "Art For Tender" event at Electra Gallery in mid November. Also have a few to go into the Otane Arts and Crafts Open Weekend on the 1st and 2nd of November. Then it's time to get ready for the Creative Hastings Christmas Sale. With tough economic times facing New Zealand and the rest of the world it's hard to know how much will sell even in the run up towards Christmas. However I think artists are like gardeners- eternal optomists. No matter what happens you always hope for the best no matter how many slugs nibble at your begonias.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Critiquing and Catty Cuties

Yesterday we had a critique on paintings that several people brought along to the art group. I still find it extremely interesting how paintings can be "fixed" or improved by something as simple as removing a tree or darkening a background. I had taken along my "Celtic Mandala" painting completed for the New Zealand Art Guild Awards earlier this year. I was still unhappy with parts of the work as I felt they didn't gel with the main focus which was the Celtic Cross. I came away with several great possibilities to try and spent last evening an hour cutting out pieces of paper and placing them on the canvas, trying to work out whether adding decoration would improve the painting or just make it too fussy and busy.

Sometimes it is very difficult to know when to stop work on a painting. You can overwork a picture to the point that it can appear very technically proficient but aesthetically dead. Probably why I tend to work on tight deadlines- a lack of time removes the ability to do too much damage. Maybe it's a type of perfectionism that causes artists to keep coming back and back to a work, trying to make it better and better but really just making a right mess. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) is something you only acquire with practice and experience.

I finished three more cat brooches this week. They look slightly Indian with the bright and sometimes clashing colours edged with gold but I am enjoying experimenting with so many different shades and patterns. The older I get the more attracted I am to "shiny".

I took them along to art group and it was interesting to see who liked what. My friend Gine favoured the subtle green feline whereas others loved the red and pink of this jazzy individual.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Love Jazzy Cats Style

Yesterday I finally finished my Jazzy Cat painting which I've titled "Love Jazzy Cats Style". It is acrylic and on a 4" x 4" square wrapped canvas. It is one of four paintings I'm entering in the Otane Arts and Crafts Open Weekend on the 1st and 2nd November 2008.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Rob Guest, The Law Of Attraction and the CD

Heard today that Rob Guest died last night aged 57 from a stroke. I remember him way back when he used to sing pop songs on variety programmes here in NZ. The past few years though he has gone back to theatre and starred in Les Mis and Phantom both of which played here to great acclaim.

I've spent the last week getting over my shock news from the landlord. Every time I felt stressed I would go outside and chip away at the Oamaru stone marquette I'm meant to be finishing for my TLC course. Yesterday however was art day at Otane. I didn't think I would be able to concentrate on sketching but it turned out to be a good session as we had two young girls as models. Olivia is the granddaughter of one of our members and had modelled for us before. However being school holidays she had a friend staying with her and so they both posed rather self consciously with quite alot of giggling. It was interesting to try and capture their different facial features as one girl had a more oval face. This image is one of two twenty minute sketches I completed that I was fairly satisfied with.

Tuesday I collected the CD Radio Kidnappers had made of my interview two weeks ago. Lent it to Gine who was working the day of the broadcast and she and Gay listened to it in the car on their way to art. They were very positive about the whole thing which was a relief as I wasn't too sure how I would come across on radio.

I am currently reading "The Law Of Attraction" by Esther and Jerry Hicks. It was a precursor to the popular "The Secret" philosophy which an online friend put me onto nearly two years ago. Where it really helps though is that it just doesn't tell you to think positively but gives practical advice about how to rid yourself of negative thoughts and explains how emotions play a huge role in attracting experiences into our lives. It definitely has helped calm me at the moment, allowing me to visualise the place where I want to live rather than thinking of all the difficulties that I could encounter finding it. After a childhood of being taught to "think the worst as then you won't get a nasty shock when it happens" it's good to realise that you don't have to live in a world of negativity and doubt and that you have more control over your life than you think.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Radio Kidnappers Interview

I had my interview on Radio Kidnappers last Tuesday (16th Sept). I was so nervous beforehand but told myself that I needed to move out of my comfort zone. Got to the station at 9.50am as the manager had said that the interviewer would ask me a few establishing questions before we went on air. Helen Charters was extremely efficient and took most of my nerves away. I had taken along my small portfolio to show her a sampling of what I do and she flipped through this over the next hour. She asked about everything I did so I managed to mention my jewellery, the pet portraits, pointillism as well as The Learning Connexion and Otane Painters.

Throughout the hour Helen played songs from a couple of CDs I'd taken along. Unfortunately most of my favourites are on tape so I only took along Hayley Westenra, Yulia and Crowded House. Helen also did a great deal of advertising of my site, blog, contact details etc. although as yet I haven't been flooded with new business (although Helen says she'll get back to me as she wants to order a couple of things).

I never thought I would be able to talk for an entire hour about my work but I managed it although I have a feeling I waffled in parts. Radio Kidnappers have recorded my interview so I'm getting a CD in a couple of weeks. Two people from Otane Painters listened in as did my brother and sister in law. However I think they were the only ones as all my friends tell me they forgot!

This conte pencil sketch is of my friend Gine embroidering last summer. I really want to work up a painting from this sometime as the backlighting made such a wonderful composition.

Friday, September 05, 2008

June In September

I've just looked at the calendar and realised how long it is since I posted. The past few weeks have just flown by in a blur. The Otane Painters' Exhibition in Hastings was well attended and favourably remarked upon. Unfortunately due to the depressed economic climate only one painting sold during the two weeks and surprisingly it was my "Patchwork Rabbit No 1". Gine helped pack up the paintings last Saturday and collected my three unsold works for me.

In the meantime I was frantically trying to finish my entry for the Pukeora Festival Exhibition which was due in last Monday. In desperation I positioned the easel in front of the sofa and settled in for the long haul on Sunday, staying up till 1.30am. I managed to grab two hours sleep before falling out of bed to spend another hour painting. The bad news is that I was out of film for my camera so didn't manage a photo although I did get two fuzzy scans of the painting and just need to work out how to merge them together to get one cohesive image.

My marathon painting session did not do good things to my body as I spent two days crawling around in a state of complete exhaustion. By Wednesday however I was feeling much better and able to enjoy portraiture at Otane. Our model June had long hair caught up in a bun which proved great fun to sketch. I did a couple of heavy graphite drawings which I brought home and covered with linseed oil to get the dark effects you see here. Even where the oil has soaked into the paper there are interesting effects which I think add to the spontonaity of the image.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Profile of Otane Artists Exhibition

Glenys collected me just after 9am and we headed off to Hastings to help hang the Otane Painters' exhibition. By the time we arrived everyone was sitting having morning tea after unpacking paintings. There were nine of us there including Helen's husband Jack who made my two wonderful easels earlier this year.

Although there was some method to it (i.e. hanging artists alphabetically) towards the end there had to be a change as Gine and my small paintings which were meant to hang on pillars in the middle of the gallery had to be situated on the walls as the columns were concrete and unable to be nailed into. As usual with this gallery's system of tapes and hooks this meant the canvases tended to hang forwards which they never do on nails. Glenys, Helen and I managed to position mine with blue tack and I spent the rest of the day giving the pictures a whack whenever I went past to get them to stick to the walls as they seemed determined to make a break for freedom.

Sixteen Otane artists were exhibiting- a great number of landscapes and flower paintings but also some unusual ones such as Martina Magee's "Koru" and Gine's dot works. One of my favourites was Helen's oil of sheep bottoms. I call it that but it was actually a view from her house early one morning with the soft pink haze of the sunrise shining on the backs of a few sheep and across the typically dry long grass of early summer.

Jacqueline volunteered to go and buy lunch on our behalf. By that time I was passionately happy to see a vegetarian filled roll. In the middle of this a photographer from Hawkes Bay Today (newspaper) arrived. We all voted that Jacqueline and Betty have their photos taken with their work but I noticed he also went round and took shots of some of the other paintings so it will be interesting to see what else gets chosen to illustrate the article.

At the same time another exhibition called "He Tangata" with artists Te Aroha Tauroa and Karina Reti was being set up in the upper part of the gallery so there were quite a few people coming in and out. Their official opening was going to be at the same time as ours which would mean a greater crowd than we would normally expect.

After lunch nearly everyone left and I had a short time on my own when Jacqueline and Marie went to do some shopping. By the time they returned it was time for another cup of tea before we got spruced up for the 5pm opening. I was on door duty to get our guests to sign name tags. I spent just over an hour doing this before having a look round and something to eat. The Mayor of Central Hawkes Bay made a good speech opening both exhibitions and stayed right to the end, mingling with other guests and viewing the artwork. A few Otane Painters and partners turned up as well as family and friends although I must say none of mine did! Gine played violin for a while which really helped lift the mood although by the time everyone had a few wines there were a few mellow individuals anyway!

Unfortunately no paintings sold that night but hopefully the pupblicity we're getting from the media will help generate some interest. It would be good to sell something although one thing I have realised in these past months- everyone seems to want photo realistic landscapes and the larger the better. My little miniatures are just regarded as cute despite the fact that they might take just as long to paint as something larger.

After I got home at 8pm I did chores, heated up some vegetable soup and sat and thought about the evening. It was a great opening and all due credit must go to the ladies of the Otane group who work so hard and give so much of their time to keep everything going.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Cat Line

I am developing a new range of coloured cat jewellery and spent nearly three hours Tuesday afternoon completing the first of these- a brooch. Took it along to Otane the next day and it got a good reaction so will try some different colours and see how they sell.

Portraiture was a bit of a wash out for me as I just couldn't get into sketching for some reason. After two hours I had lunch with all the others and then spent two hours working on my entry for The Festival Exhibition at Pukeora next month. Afterwards Gine, Gay and I then headed to Waipukurau to look at art supplies.

This morning Chrissie from Workforce (who funded the Artists in Business Workshops in May) drove out to give me 90 minutes more coaching. At least I could tell her that I had made some progress in finding new markets. It was also helpful that she had notes from our last session as I had forgotten some of the outlets she'd suggested I approach with my work. It feels like such a long haul ahead sometimes but I have to keep plodding along.

Jacqueline had sent the small piece I'd written on Otane Painters to a few publications to advertise our exhibition and so far it has been published in Country Scene and the CHB Mail. It has been so long since I've written anything seriously that I'm pretty rusty but at least I have a couple of clips for my file. I just have to bubble wrap my paintings and write up my artist's statement before Sunday and I'm ready.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Otane Stuff

I've managed to become a little productive the past couple of weeks finishing six brooches for Katz Gallery, continuing work on two paintings for my course as well as going to portraiture. Our first attempt at having portraiture on a Wednesday wasn't terribly successful due to a storm but last week the weather was fine and sunny and we spent a pleasant morning sketching members of the group since we didn't have a proper sitter. Of the four drawings I completed my one of Gay was my favourite, mainly because it actually looked like her. I had the most difficulty drawing Glenys but later I realised why- she had taken her glasses off. That's my excuse anyway.

For morning tea one lady had supplied a cake as it was Tom's 80th birthday. We all went into the painting room and sang him "The Song" and in return he made a lovely speech about how we were the loveliest and most friendly group of ladies he'd every met. What he didn't know was that we were taking him to lunch at the newly opened "McCauley's Store/Cafe" in the old Otane Library. Inside the building had been redecorated in burgundy and cream and filled with lots of old furniture, tins, pictures, bottles and everything else antique you could think of. There were also locally made gifts available for sale. Looking at these helped pass the time while we waited for our food to be served as the place was packed out being the official opening day.

Preparations for the Otane Painters' Exhibition in Hastings are steaming ahead. I am helping hang on the Sunday apparently and Jacqueline has passed the article I wrote for her about the group onto the local newspapers. She also contacted a couple of radio stations and Radio Kidnappers asked if a member of the group would agree to be interviewed for their "Creative Women" programme. Jacqueline has suggested that I should do this as she thinks it would be good promotion for my work plus I could speak about the animals. I have agreed although my stomach is churning at the thought as I've never been on radio before and will probably make a complete and utter a**e of myself. Well nothing new there then!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Just A Little News

Last week was our last portraiture class to be held on a Friday. From now on we will hold them Wednesday mornings with the afternoons being for personal art projects as before. John had to adapt our existing plinth the models pose on so that it can easily be moved into the garden group's room which we will be using for portraiture in order not to disturb people not wanting to participate. He cut it in half and put castors on two legs on each part so that it can be easily rolled. Hopefully with the change of day more people will be able to attend the class as we were dwindling in numbers.

For our last session in the old room we had my favourite life model. I mainly used the Pitt pastel pencils (like in this drawing) but at home the next day completed a graphite pencil and linseed oil work which I was quite happy with but which is too large to scan. It is alot of fun moving out of your comfort zone and using new materials.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Inspirational Art

Tuesday I had my long awaited dental appointment to repair a broken tooth. As a reward afterwards I went to Aaron's Emporium in Napier, that evil shop which compels me to spend too much money. I was mesmerised into buying over twenty small paintbrushes which I wreck when painting my jewellery as well as six smallish canvases including a couple of minute ones measuring just a couple of inches with a small wooden easel to display them on. As a finale I bought more shiny glass things that I pile into glass bottles on the window sills so that when the sun shines through them I can indulge my obsession for shiny things. I am beyond hope.

Afterwards headed to the Hastings Community Arts Centre to replace the donkey cards I'd sold. While there I viewed an exhibition called "Odyssey" by Shirley Vogtherr, a Hastings based artist. There were a variety of works displayed including four dramatic charcoal nudes. However I was more captivated by her painting of two female nudes viewed from the back and painted in shades of grey and golds with an almost silvery sheen over the surface of the canvas. Her other works were landscapes, mostly of Hawkes Bay views but again these were not conventional paintings- rather they appeared fragmented as if looking through shattered glass which she says is inspired by Hawkes Bay's history of earthquakes. There were also a series of boat paintings painted in the same manner but again with oil paints which seemed to softly glow. It wasn't surprising to me that of the twenty-two works shown ten had sold on opening night.

Wednesday at Otane I worked on some calico cat brooches requested by Katz Gallery. As these are very time consuming I decided to do several at once in a kind of production line but even though I spent three hours on them I didn't complete much painting. Blame this on my propensity to chatter away, especially as we have another interesting new member of the group.

Today I returned to Otane with Gine and Gay late morning as the Wool Group were hosting the mid winter annual lunch for the combined groups. This was my first time at a lunch but I was so glad I attended as it gave me a chance to see people from the four other groups that use the building. There was a lovely lunch provided by everyone bringing a plate and afterwards we were given the chance to look at the sales tables (resisted this as guilty after my art supply splurge) as well as a raffle table (bought two tickets). The main event was a talk given by two locals who have an olive oil business. Afterwards the rolling raffle was drawn. Nineteen wrapped packages were on a table and after each ticket was called out the winner would pull out the next ticket before going to choose a parcel. I got the giggles as I constantly had the numbers before or after the winning ones. However our painters did well with Gine, Gay, Glenys, Lea, Colleen and Betty all winning something. I also had a couple of chats with the President of the Otane Arts and Crafts who told me my friend Maxine who moved from Tikokino seven months ago is selling her new place in Taupo soon and moving back down to the Bay. Next minute I turned and who else did I see sitting across the room but Maxine who had driven all the way down for lunch.

I have finally scanned my abstract work completed at Gine's workshop last month. Based on the Australian tree seed head I drew in graphite this work is composed of textured card overlaid with crumpled tissue and embellished with small stones, lentils and rice. I had great fun with colours and everyone says the work reminds them of looking into a river. I however think I've been watching too many episodes of "Stargate Atlantis" as it looks like outer space gone blue.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Reach Out" New Zealand Art Guild Collaborative Work 2008

The New Zealand Art Guild's 2008 collaborative work "Reach Out" is now up for auction on Trademe with a percentage of the proceeds raised going to the Mental Health Foundation. The work itself can be viewed at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland until the end of July. My contribution is third from the left and two rows down from the top.

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS (Rows 1 - 9 left to right) ROW 1 - 1.Erika Hussellmann 2.Trish Muir 3.William Rutledge 4.Ronda Turk 5.Rochelle van der Werff 6.Jude Blake 7.Megan Morris 8.Sophia Elise 9.Viv Hansen

ROW 2 - 10.Sharon Burger 11.Julia Dungan 12.Jen Longshaw 13.Carol Winterburn 14.Tessa Birks 15.Damian Barnshaw 16.John Sargeant 17.Lisz Bodsworth 18.Margaret Ngawaka

ROW 3 - 19.Tereana Davies 20.Wendy Murphy 21.Catherine Outwin 22.Donna Steel 23.Angela Laby 24.Trish MacReady 25.Sher Green 26.Wendy Matthews 27.Helen West

ROW 4 - 28.Deanna Gracie 29.Christine Dempster 30.Tanya Dann 31.Sophia Elise 32.Melissa Muirhead 33.Lynn Morrison 34.Anne Lengauer 35.Terri Dangen 36.Maria Hartley

ROW 5 - 37.Jennifer Christiansen 38.Eleanor Wenman 39.Melissa Muirhead 40.Anni Morris 41.Beate Minderjahn 42.Ingrid Boot 43.Tineswari Maruthamuthu 44.Cath Sheard 45.Sandra Toornstra

ROW 6 - 46.Rachael Inch 47.Paulette Shepherd 48.Pam Buffery 49.Tracey Stringer 50.Elissa Ramsey 51.Tony Brown 52.Des Lattey 53.RifRaf 54.Marlene Faithfull

ROW 7 - 55.Ricky Kazmierczak 56.Shiree Meikle 57.Shelley Van Soest 58.Lyn Hurring 59.Elspeth Alix Batt 60.Lyn Murray 61.Liz de King 62.Chris Cruickshank 63.Cheryl Irwin

Row 8 - 64.Jane Bold 65.Tracy MacDonald 66.Natalie Makeef 67.Silver Dunlop 68.Kelly Gatchell Hartley 69.Helen McNamara 70.Peter Augustin 71.Sally Blyth 72.Cairyn Tomokino

ROW 9 - 73.Joanne Louise 74.Bobby Shen 75.Natasha Wheeler 76.Alison Mulgrew 77.Lesley Carew 78.Sharlene Ngatapuna 79.Ron Esplin 80.Michele Bluck 81.Fiona Woods -

ROW 10 - 82.Gail Boyle 83.Kirsty Black 84.Jane Santos 85.Lynette McKinstrie 86.Sarah Jayne Woodward 87.Chavah Kinloch 88.Teresa Rodger 89.Michele McCreedy-Shaw 90.Jan Amohia

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Helen bought me a present of four Faber Castel pastel pencils (two brown, one white and one black) as I have been enthusing to her about using the ones John lent me. I couldn't wait to use them so discarded my pencils and charcoal and sketched Friday's portraiture model with them. Their advantage over ordinary pastels are that they're in pencil form so much less messy as they don't generate the same amount of dust on your hands and the floor plus they're great for detailing. Yet another great medium to use.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Changing Times

Had one of my favourite models at portraiture yesterday. The grandson of one of the artists Mattie is always very patient and uncomplaining which usually results in us turning out some very relaxed drawings. I have been using graphite pencils the past two weeks and must admit that I really like the effect. However two artists were were achieving some wonderful results using Faber Artists' Pastel Pencils. John lent me three of his to bring home and I have been having fun working with them which now means I'll have to save up to buy a few for myself.

There is also talk of our changing the day of portraiture from Fridays to Wednesday instead. This would mean that we would spend the day at Otane, mornings drawing, afternoons working on our other projects. The main reason for the suggested change is the price of petrol which increased to $2.19 a litre this week. It is just too expensive to make two trips to Otane a week- especially if you live half an hour away as many of us do. I sincerely hope everyone will see the sense in this new arrangement.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Something Fishy

I was up until late Monday night finishing the two fish paintings for my brother's birthday present. Next morning was up early signing them with shakey hand, trying to get d-rings screwed in and both sprayed before he arrived. Made it with about half an hour to spare which is pretty good for me.

The two paintings are 4"x4" square acrylics. I've named them "Hello Goodbye II and III" after the first version I completed last year. Although the design looks quite simple they are difficult to paint as they need to be quite flat in tone plus being so small they're very fiddly in places. Still Rich seemed happy with them. He has always told me that if I have any artwork I don't want to give it to him because if I become famous and then drop dead he will make a fortune! Yes black humour runs in our family...

Got to Otane early today. Fortunately the painting room was well warmed with several heaters. Got my easel out and began work on my new painting which is a large picture of Briar. Purely done for commercial reasons- donkeys sell. Got the work sketched out and began laying in a wash for the sky before lunch. Gay, Gine and I left early though to do a little shopping in Waipawa before heading home to light the fire and to spend the evening convincing myself I did a good days work (not).

Sunday, July 06, 2008


The New Zealand Art Guild Annual Member Exhibition "Make It Memorable" opened on July 1st (last Tuesday) at the Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland. Five paintings sold the first night, unfortunately none of the ones I sent but it's a fantastic result for everyone else. The exhibition runs until the end of the month.

Wednesday at painting group I managed to get ahead with the two paintings for my brother's birthday. Also have been chipping away at two exercises for TLC which I am trying to finish this weekend. The weather is so bitter and wintry at the moment you'd think it a great time for being inside working but most of the day I am trying to thaw out which doesn't help the creative process.

Friday at Portraiture our model decided not to come and sent her brother instead. The long suffering boy was so patient and even contorted himself into interesting positions for us to sketch. This is a more conventional pose.

Finally finished reading a biography on Georgia O'Keefe which I have been dipping into over the past fortnight. A fascinating artist who has really helped wake me up to abstracts (along with Gine's workshop a couple of weeks ago). I wonder what O'Keefe might have achieved if she hadn't been married to such a strong personality as Streiglitz. Now onto "The Art Of Andrew Wyeth" which I first read twenty years ago. His paintings of rural Maine and Pennsylvania resonate with me, especially living in a shabby chic house covered with lichen. Everywhere I look now I see potential paintings.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Queen Of The Night and Tiger Eye

I stayed up until 10pm Monday night (that's late for me) finishing two more paintings for The New Zealand Art Guild's Annual Member Exhibition "Make It Memorable" to be held at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland next month. I've been working on "Tiger Eye" since before I moved. Couldn't quite get enthused as the canvas shape made the painting quite difficult to execute, especially as there were three sides apart from the front to think about. However I kept plodding on and managed to get it finished.

"Queen Of The Night" is an experiment as it is the first time I have included crystal beads in my work. The cat is based on Gypsy who is a very noisy opinionated cat who always lets me know when she's around. She is so dark that unless you photograph her outside you only end up with two eyes looking out from a black blob. However she is also sleek and silky and looks like she'd dress up for a night on the tiles except I don't allow her outside after dark so she lives a very boring sedate existance instead.

Wednesday at art group I began work on two small paintings for my brother's birthday next week. Didn't get much done however as Glenys was back for the first time in three months and we spent most of the morning chatting.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blue Nude

Woke up to an intense frost this morning. Apparently it was -9oC in Waipukurau first thing so goodness knows what it was up here near the ranges. However I didn't have time to concentrate on the cold too much as I scurried about preparing for life drawing.

Must say our model was very intrepid agreeing to strip off in the middle of winter but Helen had the art room well heated by the time Betty and I arrived at 9.30am. In fact it was so warm that after half an hour I had to take off one of my two jerseys! We worked on longer poses this time so I only completed four drawings but I was happy with them, especially the pastels. Taking on board advice from my TLC tutor I kept my strokes lively and didn't rub them into the paper especially since she told me that tends to make the form appear flat. I also tried a graphite and linseed oil portrait which worked well enough although I think that I will have to buy a softer graphite pencil in order to obtain the intense darks that Gine showed us at her workshop.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Graphite/Abstract Workshop

Yesterday Gine held a workshop at Otane. Firstly she taught us a new technique with graphite pencil and linseed oil. We drew an object (in my case a very strange seed head from an Australian tree which Gine lent me) with the graphite, shading in areas darkly before painting linseed oil over these areas and rubbing it in with a cloth. This caused the graphite to darken considerably and spread across the paper making for dramatic contrasts. After drawing the item realistically Gine told us to focus on just one area and draw that. Suddenly the object became a series of abstract shapes. For the past fortnight I have been watching DVDs of Stargate Atlantis which my brother lent me- I definitely think this may have influenced the sci fi feel of my second picture.

After we'd finished Gine had us lay our pictures together in the middle of the room while we stood and looked at everybody's efforts. The range of styles and the wonderful results were beyond anyone's expectations. By this time we were all fired up with enthusiasm.

The second part of the workshop Gine had us write down what art meant to us which we then read out aloud to the group. Some of the responses to this question were extremely moving and most were universal to all of us- the feeling of comaraderie we get from each other, the excitement of learning new things and of creating.

The final part of the workshop Gine provided us with textured card to work on along with items we'd brought from home. Our task was to create an abstract work based on our subject. I used small stones, lentils, rice and tissue paper to construct my work but too soon it was 2pm and time to leave so I never got my picture finished but brought it home to complete. The whole day flew by and I know the four hours we were there at the workshop were extremely constructive and inspiring.

Monday, June 16, 2008


An Otane patchworker sat for us at portraiture on Friday. We began with longer poses this time so I didn't get so many drawings completed but I was happy with what I did as I seemed to have improved on hands. Feet are another matter however! Strangely enough I felt an urge to return to charcoal this session when it's not a medium I usually work with.

I received my TLC folder back today with my tutor's DVD feedback. It was much better than I had hoped as she liked my self portraits and life drawings as well as my patchwork paintings. Carrie even mentioned how pleased she is that I'm moving out of my comfort zone. After the 21 minute film of her comments I felt a bit better about my work whereas yesterday I was having a down about it. Next time I am packing a sad I'll play that DVD again to keep me working.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Girl With A Hack Saw

I seem to have fluffed about a bit too much this past week although I did finally get a folder of work away to TLC as well as completing a gift for a friend's birthday (a small brooch fashioned after her deceased foxy "Fred").

At painting group at Otane I heard that I'd sold quite a few cards at the exhibition but unfortunately no paintings. Overall seven works sold for other people which is wonderful considering how bad the economy is at the moment. One of the painters suggested to me that I need to paint local landscapes if I want to sell and I have to admit he's right as CHB does tend to favour the traditional/rural painting rather than anything whimsical and out there (which I think sums me up!)

After art last Wednesday Gine, Gay and I went to see Glenys who is still unwell and not able to come to the group. We spent a lovely two hours with her in front of the fire and admired some of the pictures on her walls including a very old painting of Tikokino Church which apparently fell out from behind an old family photo. What a shame that the building was pulled down and replaced by a very boring concrete ediface that adds nothing to the area's charm. Glenys also has a book on Tikokino's history and Gine found a picture of my place in there. Apparently this farm originally belonged to the Matheson Family (after whom the road is named) but in the 1930s a combination of scrub and rabbit infestation forced them to walk off the land and the place remained unihavited until my landlord's father took the farm over in the 1950s.

Thursday was Gine's birthday and she invited me along to Pukehou to a woman's group that was holding a "Drawing With The Right Side Of Your Brain" workshop. Fourteen women attended and we partnered to draw portraits in white crayon without looking at the paper before covering it with dye and having a good laugh at the Picasso style monsters we'd drawn. Funnily enough I met the daughter in law of my mother's best friend while I was there. I had heard so much about Matilda over the years but had never met her. I told her how her mother in law was at boarding school with my mother and that they'd been friends for well over sixty years before Betty passed away a few years ago. Talk about a small world.

For lunch Gine and I went to the Paper Mulberry where we met her husband Gareth and five of her friends. We were there over two hours and enjoyed a lovely meal while Gine opened her presents before heading home in the late afternoon. This cafe is a great place to meet and has an array of interesting paintings and collectables for sale and is a firm favourite of ours.

Friday I went to portrait class, freezing in the old school room despite the fact that there were three heaters on. Our model was a beautiful looking lady who has Multiple Sclerosis so she couldn't stand for long periods of time. I really enjoyed drawing her though as she had such beautiful eyes.

And I have finally begun work on the marquette for my sculpture in Oamaru stone. I have a sunny place to work at the back of the house and spent half an hour trying to cut a small piece off the main stone so I can prepare a mock up of my larger piece in order to correct any mistakes. In 30 minutes I managed to cut three inches down into the stone but soon realised that this is going to be a larger job than I originally thought as I am just using a hack saw. I am also togged up in a scarf, shirt, safety goggles and dust mask which makes for steamy work. The chickens were mightily amused at the sight of me and even the cats fell about laughing.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Out And About

Tuesday this week I finally went to Creative Hastings to see the Cats Copper and Car Parts exhibition. My painting was displayed right in the window so anyone passing by could see it from the footpath which was a thrill. Unfortunately no little red dot to say it had sold. There was such a variety of work displayed at the centre, pictures of cats made from car parts, car radiators painted and hung on the wall, copper abstract sculptures as well as traditional paintings.

Wednesday Gine arrived late at 9.30am but told me she'd been up until 5am working on her large Waikaremoana painting for the Otane Exhibition this weekend. When we got to the old school there were only a few people there putting last minute touches to the displays. There were two amazing jewellery sections,one with garden themed necklaces and earrings, and another with dicotic glass pendants. The building was quite cold so we were relieved to sit out on the front steps and have our lunch. Afterwards everyone left apart from five people, four of whom had decided to paint. As there were no trestle tables in the room we made do with the floor or in my case my knees. Gine managed to finish the edges of her large painting and get it hung before we left in the late afternoon.

Thursday was another early frosty start as we headed to Napier for our one on one mentoring. We collected Martina from the end of my road and within an hour had reached the city with just a few minutes to spare before our appointment. We had thought we would have an hour each but this had been cut down to half an hour so we decided that we would go in as a group. Although we had an interesting discussion there was no new ground covered at all and all we could think of was the petrol we'd wasted getting there.

We emerged at noon and Martina led us down the road to a German bakery so we could get some lunch. I was very good and resisted the chocolate goodies and bought a vegetarian roll with two types of cheese, lettuce and tomato. This held me until we got to Otane at 1.30pm in time for the opening of the exhibition.

Gine and Cedric had been asked to provide music so after the speeches they spent half an hour playing very lively folk music (Irish and Hungarian) while Otane Arts and Crafts members looked at the paintings and walked around the rooms to see the displays put on by the other groups. In the two hours the exhibit was open I sold six cards and the lady who made the dicotic jewellery made a number of sales and got several orders. I showed her the fish paua pendant I was wearing and she told me that she often has little pieces of glass left over from her jewellery making and suggested it might be of use to me. As the colours she uses are so vibrant and irridescent I hope that we can come to some sort of an arrangement. I got home at nearly 5pm and already it was getting dark and cold. I quickly rushed round feeding the animals before heading inside for an evening of nodding off on the sofa!

I read an article on a worldwide barter site in a country newspaper last weekend and decided to join the Hawkes Bay Branch. No money changes hands, instead you accumulate e dollars which you can use to barter for things you might need. I offered manure from the animals plus mentioned I made jewellery and painted. Within a couple of days I had a reply from someone wanting a couple of bags of manure. Yesterday afternoon the lady and her husband arrived to collect these and she also asked to see my paintings. I showed her my small portfolio and she asked for some photos to take away. It turned out she is a journalist and she suggested she write an article about me. She also liked my Patchwork Rabbit No 2 painting and bought it with e-dollars so I am hoping to find something on the site that I desperately need (ie. firewood)

We're due a few days rain this week so I hope I can get back to painting. I have finished a self portrait of myself for TLC and now have to complete a nude without using brushes. I also had the excitement of receiving some materials from school including good oil paints, impasto gel, gesso and modelling compound as well as boards to paint on and four larger canvases. It always feels like Christmas when parcels come from TLC- the greatest excitement in art is contemplating your materials before you wreck them with your artwork!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Final Workshops

Not much painting done again this week although I did do quite a bit of sketching at portrait class last Friday including this pastel on green which I did in twenty minutes. The model liked it which was gratifying for me as he poses for other artists and has seen alot better work than mine.

Over the weekend I tried to get a painting finished to submit for the Otane Queen's Birthday Weekend Exhibition but too much happened so I had to be content sending in three older pictures which have not been exhibited in Central Hawkes Bay: Hippy Cat No 3, Celtic Mandala and Horsewatching (I put a large price on this as I don't really want to sell it). I also sent in 48 cards and am hoping that these will go well so I can buy some firewood.

Monday was our third workshop in the Artists in Business series. I had been looking forward to this so much over the past fortnight, especially as the third session was about pricing. Found out that I am selling far to cheaply. Also discovered what I am doing wrong with selling, a common problem with creative types who tend to sell something cheaper if they don't like it or else point out all the mistakes to prospective buyers. I always thought that was modesty but in reality it's just stupid wearing a new hat.

Unfortunately we had to leave twenty minutes early on Monday so missed the talk on approaching galleries but Lani promised to spend an extra 30 minutes going over it after the fourth workshop. This was about taxes, something you don't really want to think about but have to face at some point. I was amazed at all the things I could be claiming on my tax return. Lani also gave us a much easier method to keep track of receipts rather than having them rot in the bottom of our shopping bags and purses. She also explained about GST which is still a pretty daunting prospect but I won't be put off with registering if my income (hopefully) rises to the threshold (she says hopefully).

The day just flew past so quickly and all too soon it was 1pm and people began leaving. Fortunately Lani agreed to revisit the galleries issue with seven of us and gave us a list of do's and don'ts to follow (making appointments, dressing well etc.) Gine later said how that was the best part of the whole series for her. I must say I was blown away by the level of talent that attended the sessions. So many gifted people who should be much more well known. I just hope some will keep in touch so we can keep the momentum going.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


The "Cats Copper and Car Parts" exhibition in which I entered a painting opened on the 13th May and runs to the end of the month. Finished some jewellery and sent it away to Katz Gallery- nearly died at the cost of the postage. A package that would normally cost $3.50 is now well over $6! NZ Post should be ashamed of such a price rise.

Wednesday at art group I began another cat painting. It's an experiment so have no idea how it will come out but I want to finish it in order to enter it in the Otane Exhibition which begins on the 29th May. However the painters are hanging the paintings next Wednesday so I will have to get a wriggle on in order to finish it. I am also entering my last Hippy Cat picture and perhaps my NZ Art Guild Awards entry although I may alter this slightly as I'm just not happy with it. I have also cards to sell.

While I was painting yesterday I began to get so fed up with my work. It doesn't seem as serious as everyone else's. I looked out some of my older work and was more inspired by that than what I'm doing now. To the left is a rose painting I did on a stone which was bought by a friend in California. The rose is the famous "Peace" that was bred during the Second World War. Roses are one of my favourite flowers but they're so difficult to paint!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Red Boots

Time flew at portraiture last week although my drawing seemed to deteriorate as the session wore on. I guess getting tired may have something to do with it. This week we were drawing the daughter in law of one of the ladies in the group. She was wearing a rather snazzy pair of red boots which I coveted greatly. At one point I found myself making a very careful pencil study of these instead of the woman wearing them.......

Jacqueline also reminded me about writing the newspaper piece about the group to advertise our exhibition at the end of this month. I managed to get this finished and emailed yesterday. I can't remember the last time I wrote an article- I know I've written very little since I've lived in Tikokino. Obviously I am extremely undisciplined.

I taped the film "Dangerous Liaisons" last night. I haven't seen this in years. I had forgotten how beautifully filmed it was- the 18th century costumes were utter confections. Although Glenn Close and John Malkovich did a good job as the poisonous pair who set about corrupting two women for their amusement I would have much preferred Alan Rickman in the lead role, especially since he played it on stage. He can let through a glimpse of vulnerability even at his most villainous. I thought Uma Thurman did a great job in one of her first roles though.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Artists In Business

I have not lifted a pencil for nearly a week apart from last week's portrait class drawing two young boys. However Gine, Martina and I did attend the Artists In Business Workshops held in Hastings on Monday morning. We arrived early at the venue in the freezing rain and found our way to the conference room where the event was to be held. I didn't know any of the other twelve artists there although I did recognise a couple of names. The facilitator of the workshops was Lani Morris, an artist herself with a business degree and experience in how to earn a living from creativity.

I have never attended workshops before so had little idea as to what went on in them. There was quite a bit of participation required the first day with the obligatory intro to the group which I found daunting. It was interesting to hear how so many other people had similar problems finding outlets for their work, deciding pricing and with being taken seriously. Lani didn't pull any punches and by the end of the day I had a completely different view of what I do and how it is perceived by the public.

The second workshop was held on Tuesday afternoon and concerned marketing. Lani had us brainstorming about what people need in their lives and how we can fulfill these needs with what we make. There was an emphasis on having a "bread and butter" line of items you basically churn out for the market which is separate from the fine art side you would send to a gallery. I have come to the realisation that my hand painted jewellery is my bread and butter line although Lani feels my small paintings could have a ready market as well.

Towards the end of the day we were told to buddy up with someone, tell them our goal for the next fortnight and they would help chivvy us along and visa versa. Gine suggested we three CHB people should work together as we see each other every week. My goal is to complete jewellery I have promised to both Waddle Inn and Katz Gallery to bring in some ready money. I have also offered to help Martina with a website for her work.

The afternoon went so quickly it was incredible. We were so inspired we talked all the way home. Just as well we kept occupied as poor Martina's car kept overheating and we had to stop to put water in. At 5pm we were sitting on the side of State Highway 50 with steam pouring out from the radiator. Several cars passed by and not one person stopped to help or see we were OK. So much for Central Hawkes Bay chivalry!

I didn't get home till 5.45pm so was busy feeding everyone in the dark. It proved a very long day but my head was still buzzing with ideas and I couldn't get to sleep until late. The next day I was so stiff I couldn't face going to painting so stayed at home huddling by the fire. I now have a good idea of what I want to portray in my art and how I want to sell it. Hopefully the next two workshops will clarify how to go about doing this.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cats and More Cats

A beautiful Autumn day today. It was so nice driving through the countryside with the trees turning shades of red and gold. Gine and I got to Otane mid morning and I began painting two more calico cat brooches to send to Katz Gallery in Masterton. There are so many exhibitions coming up that I haven't had time to paint for that working on jewellery right now is a bit frustrating but it's a more reliable source of income than paintings which may or may not sell in this uncertain economic climate.

I always get inspired by seeing everyone's different paintings on Wednesdays. So many different styles and mediums that it makes you want to try everything yourself and of course there isn't time. It also helps to know that others have the same hang ups about their work as yourself but that there's someone around who will help you over your self imposed hurdles.

At least this week I finished something. Finally got the cat pendant done and away in the mail to Canada yesterday. I love painting tabbies as they have such sweet faces.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wearing My Black Velvet Hat

I sat on the sofa steaming with two wheat packs watching a DVD of "Pride and Prejudice" and drawing. Helen from my painting group had taken a photo of me when I least expected it at our Art Deco lunch on Waitangi Day. I begged her to delete it but she went and had it printed and gave me a copy. However I decided to see if I could draw a good likeness of myself and unfortunately I succeeded despite my best attempts to make myself resemble Keira Knightley. Damn those portraiture classes!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Old Friends

It's been a stressful week with Tobermory goat going downhill and finally dying yesterday on ANZAC Day. After he'd been put down I sat on the sofa and drew portraits for two hours which helped calm me down somewhat compared to Wednesday at art group when I was so distracted I barely got anything done.

I have finally finished hanging my paintings round the house. In the hallway by the front door I have hung "Old Friends" which was my Art Hawkes Bay entry earlier this year. The dog is my Mishka whose life is dominated by two things: an insatiable need to eat and his compulsion to lick the backside of any living thing. Also cats rule his world but he takes this as a matter of course.

This coming week I have a few goals to complete. Firstly to finish another folder of work for TLC course. Secondly complete the cat pendant as well as four cat brooches that have been ordered by a shop. Thirdly work out what paintings I am going to enter for the Otane Arts Exhibition over Queen's Birthday weekend. Fourthly get back to spinning and finally try and get some more writing done. I also have lots of outside work to do before the weather finally turns bitter. Better get on with it.....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Rainbow Nudes

I actually got some painting done this week. I have an order for a pendant which I took along to art group Wednesday completing over half of it. When I got home I found a parcel containing the three paintings I sent down to The Learning Connexion end of term exhibition. Not one sold but a photo of Hippy Cat No 3 was published in the catalogue.

Thursday I was out all day as I had an appointment for my biannual EKG. Embarrassingly this was done by what looked like a 12 year old male trainee technician. While in town we went to Mega Mitre 10 which was having a sale on tools as I needed things for the sculpture part of the course. I managed to find a tomahawk, three chisels, a wire brush, a file, a hacksaw, 10 metres of sash cord and a packet of picture hooks for $36.00! I was intrigued by the fact the file was called a "bastard file". Rich was amazed at my ignorance but as I told him although I used to hear Dad call his file that I always thought he was just swearing!

Friday was another life drawing class. I tried to incorporate some ideas my tutor came up with re colours. The twenty minute sketch is on red paper but I decided to go pink to make the picture pop. My scanner is small so I've had to cut out the hands, legs and feet but it gives you a general idea.

The second one was done in just ten minutes and I think it does show a sort of frantic panic. Ah well we're there to learn. I only drew in pastel and charcoal this session to try and keep my work loose and free. I don't know if this always works for me. I must find a book in the library on pastel drawing as I haven't got to grips with it yet.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Almost Civilised

I hadn't heard any more about the WorkForce workshops for artists that we were interviewed for a couple of months ago so I fired off an email yesterday and received a reply today. Gine, Martina and I have all been accepted for the course which begins next month. What was even better was that Gine was here when I got the news so I was able to share it with her.

The past few days I have made a last ditch effort to finish the last of the unpacking and turn the rooms into a semblance of civilisation. The dining room was stumping me but Gine suggested I move the kitchen table under a window by the sofa and she moved a coffee table into the middle of the room which makes it look inviting. The larger table I will be able to work at in the winter as it is near the fire. Now that the unpacking is completed I can resume my art course with a clear conscience, especially as the next few days are forecast to be rainy and I'll be stuck inside.

Helen recently lent me a wonderful book featuring the work of Anthony Ryder. He draws nudes from a classical perspective and his art is just amazing. In the good old days students were encouraged to copy from the Old Masters to learn about technique so I decided to do this with some of Ryder's work. This will be in my workbook for my tutor to see but I was so happy with my first drawing I wanted to post it here. I hope through doing this I can begin to incorporate his techniques into my original work.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

On My Mind

I am a "you must eat your vegetables before you have your dessert" sort of person so I haven't felt guilt free enough to spend much time painting the past month. If it wasn't for going to Otane I wouldn't have done anything creative at all. However I managed to finish my piece for the New Zealand Art Guild 2008 Collaborative Work "On Your Mind". I was sent a wooden rectangle with the background colour of cadmium red and buff already painted in. This was to be left alone as it forms part of the whole work which won't be seen until the NZAG Exhibition opens in July after which the whole work will be auctioned on Trademe.

Of course the theme "On Your Mind" made me consider leaving the wood blank but I sat with a scrap of paper and drew without consciously thinking for about ten minutes. What emerged was interesting. I went back to the topiary tree which was something I drew a great deal of several years ago. I guess that represents new growth or a new start in life. The two toned heart represents two people very close to me who are extremely ill at the moment. The golden sun above this weeps healing tears onto the heart representing all the healing and positive thoughts being sent to them at the moment. I find I definitely enjoy painting on a wooden surface for a change plus getting something completed a month before the deadline was a really nice feeling as well.

Helen's husband Jack completed making the second easel for me which is now in the dining room waiting to be used. It's just wonderful and will mean I can paint large paintings in comfort instead of being hunched on the floor for hours. My other easel is at Otane for use there with a sticker "Jen's Easel" marking my territory. ;o)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hippy Cat No 3

Despite being so close to moving last week I worked at finishing Hippy Cat No 3 to send down to The Learning Connexion end of term student exhibition. It turned out differently than I envisaged in a deep yellow, purple and antique gold finish. Measuring 4"x4" I painted in acrylics on box canvas. I managed to get this into the mail Friday the 14th along with Celtic Mandala and Old Friends.

After the big shift I was really happy to go along to Otane for art on Wednesday. I have no idea where my canvases are at the moment so worked on a cat brooch I found in my paint box. The big excitement was that Helen's husband Jack had completed an easel for me to use. He had adapted Marie's design so that it wasn't as tall. It will be kept at Otane with a sign "Jen's Easel" on it while Jack makes another for my use at home. At last I will finally be able to work on large canvases.

Only got an hour's painting done before we all went to Abbotslee for a final lunch before it closes at the end of March. We sat outside in the garden under umbrellas which was very pleasant. I took along my camera and got a couple of shots of the house as well as a lovely one of Gine sitting in the dappled sunlight working on some embroidery. Would make a great picture I thought .....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nekkid Male

I was so pleased to be able to get to Friday's life drawing class after missing the last one. This was the first time our model was a male so to celebrate I broke out the new papers that we'd bought from the pile Helen arranged on behalf of the group. This was also my first time working at a full size easel since my table one was proving tough on my shoulders. Marie (hi Marie) had brought along one she had designed herself which dropped low enough for me to work from. This made such a huge difference to my drawing as I was able to use the whole of my arm making for larger work that Helen has suggested her husband make a copy to be kept at Otane for me. She also gave me a lightweight drawing board to work from which has made a massive difference compared to the heavy one I use at home.

We drew for nearly the whole two hours taking only ten minutes for morning tea. The model was extremely experienced and got into some challenging positions (and I don't mean that to sound the way it does!). The last two poses he kept for 25 minutes each so I was able to complete two pastel drawings of which this is my favourite.

When I arrived home I found a business card tucked into the back door. A minister representing the local Anglican Church had called while I was away. I wonder what he would have thought if he'd known what I was actually away doing that morning?

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Last week Helen took a digital photo of a leaf drawing (A3 size)that I had completed as part of my Learning Connexion course. Yesterday at art she gave me a print which I am happy to have as the picture was too large to fit on my scanner. Makes me want to return to doing more drawing as I used to in my teens.

Some good news was that I received a cheque for two patchwork cat brooches I had sent to Quiltworks in Waipukurau. Donna suggested I make more for the shop so I will get onto these after I've moved. Also a drawing called "Rat Watching" that I did for my other blog sold on Trademe last night for the grand total dollar! I would have only thrown it away otherwise so at least it's something plus the purchaser wants me to sign it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


For the first time ever I wasn't tired after portraiture on Friday. Glenys and I usually chat furiously all the way to Otane and then yawn all the way home but for some reason this didn't happen this week. Our subject was Pat who had a lovely strong face to draw and was so incredibly patient, sitting stock still for each pose.

I had received another folder of work back from the TLC on Wednesday so was able to put some of my tutor's advice into practice. Mainly trying to draw more freely, noticing where the light fell etc. Carrie is much harder on me than Irene but I have learned a great deal already. Often I will look at a painting and think that something is not working and I can't tell what it is whereas Carrie can pinpoint the weakness and tell me how to improve. Perhaps I need to use a greater variety of brush sizes, the colour is wrong etc.

This morning I have been making business cards for Martina also from the painting group. She is a very talented artist who paints floral/natural subjects in an unusual way. She will concentrate on a small area, perhaps the centre of a curled up fern frond, a piece of paua or kina shell or else the heart of a succulent. Martina is preparing for a mini exhibition at Electra Gallery in a week's time and I hope this will be the beginning of great success for her as she has worked so incredibly hard for it.

As for me I am currently working on Hippy Cat No3 in garish gold and purple for the Learning Connexion end of term student exhibition at the end of March. I am also sending "Old Friends" and "Celtic Mandala" to Wellington as well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sometimes The Magic Works

I've read a few books on writing and some of them have been so boring and obtuse that they almost put you off reading let alone writing. However I picked up Terry Brook's "Sometimes The Magic Works: Lessons From A Writing Life" from the library and have nearly finished it after just three days. Brooks is basically a fantasy writer and he writes of the difficulties of getting published, what it's like to write something you think is wonderful but doesn't sell, as well as the vagaries he encountered when writing the book for the movie "Hook". There is some specific advice in there as well: the importance of having an outline or blueprint for your novel so that the story doesn't run out of steam half way through, having a strong beginning and ending, building your characters, as well as the usual rules of writing what you know even within the context of sci fi or fantasy writing.

I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels or fiction in particular although I enjoy reading a good historical yarn. However Brook's book was an interesting insight into writing a novel with many personal anecdotes spiced with a dry sense of humour. For anyone aspiring to write it's a good introduction to the technicalities without taking itself too seriously.