Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Emerging From The Twilight Zone

I feel like I've been existing in some sort of twilight zone for the past ten days as I have worked on finishing two large paintings within only a week (I was meant to complete three but that was never going to happen). The only break I took (aside from animal care and going to town to load up the old chuck wagon) was portraiture last Friday. Our model was a young mother who held some amazing one minute long poses so we could do quick gestural drawings. I alternated between pencil and ink with the latter medium tending to be more spontaneous.

After twenty hours of work I finally completed my entry for the New Zealand Art Guild Awards on Sunday. I have taken a photo of the painting but don't want to post this until the competition has been judged on Friday. The challenge was to incorporate the four terms Cool Blue, Equality, Circular and Stamping into my work which really did make me think outside the box.

My entry for the Art Hawkes Bay Exhibition was due today. I worked until midnight last night and from 8am this morning until one of the Otane Painters arrived to courier it to Hastings for me. There I was trying to screw in D rings and wrap the silly thing while she watched me, thankfully very patiently. I had named the work "Old Friends" and chose to paint my dog Mishka with a cat sitting beside him. Hopefully I will learn if I have been selected for these two exhibitions by the end of the week.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

First Life Drawing Class of 2008

It was our first life drawing class of the year at Otane yesterday so I was pretty psyched. Glenys arrived early and I was able to give her the two little cat paintings which happily she was pleased with. Twelve people attended the session and our nude model was excellent and needed no direction, in fact getting in some positions that were extremely challenging to draw. We worked extremely quickly for the first forty minutes, in fact I completed about seven drawings.

I had taken along different mediums so used pencil, charcoal, ink and pastel to try out. I still prefer pencil for the control I have although ink calls for a bit more thinking. My favourite poses were when the model sat on the platform and I drew her from the back. These looked classical and I would really like to do a more permanent work from one of these. Having an experienced model who knew what to do was a real treat. By the time the two hours were over we were all exhausted. In fact I hardly had any energy to make lunch after I got home.

Big intentions to do much painting once I got home. I had begun one the night before and did manage to get a half hour of work in before I went to bed where I had some paper with me and drew plans for the other two paintings. I will try and get one of these drawn on the canvas today as I think I would complete them faster if I were working on the three at once.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Poppy and Sparkles

Yesterday was the first day back for the painters at Otane Arts and Crafts but Gine and I had a rough time even getting there with a normally half hour trip turning into an hour long one. On the way into Waipawa we were stopped on a hill by workmen who were felling trees ending up waiting in the hot sun for ten minutes. After doing a chore in town we then ran into road works on the way out of Waipawa and only reached Otane at 10.30am. I didn't like to let on that I was feeling really unwell. Don't know if it was the Fibromyalgia kicking in but my temperature went sky high, I got the shakes and thought I was going to faint. Glenys made me a cup of tea and after half an hour I felt much better and was able to begin painting.

I had taken Gleny's two commissions with me and actually managed to finish Poppy (to the left) before Gine and I left Otane at just after 3pm. I am very happy with this small (4x4") painting and would like to do something similar in the future.

Sparkles took a little longer to finish due to the complicated pattern of the tabby's coat but I like the juxtaposition of patterns and think the brown striped fur looks good against the blue. I just hope Gleny's daughter likes the paintings as they were both her cats.

I now have just over a week to complete three large paintings so will begin tonight.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Small Start Back Into Painting

A few months ago we had to clean out my mother's house and in the process came across this old watercolour painting I did when I was 16. These were flowers in our garden and although the composition is not great I am still happy with the way the lavender looks. I used to concentrate on botanical paintings back then as this was the main subject about me. Flowers are so beautiful anyway that they make wonderful pictures plus they're patient sitters!

I haven't had much time to paint this week as I have been enjoying spending time with my cousin Gwendolyn who is over here from Melbourne for three weeks. She is staying with her mother in Waipukurau and has been walking up to town, even going into Electra Gallery to see my work in there. She particularly liked my little tiger head painting so for the past couple of days I have been working on a pendant with the same picture on it for her. I desperately needed to get it in the mail this afternoon in order that it reach my aunt's on Saturday as Gwen is leaving Hawkes Bay on Sunday. I had it all wrapped up and rushed out to the mailbox at 2.10pm only to find that the rural contractor had come over an hour early. I sat on the road wondering what on earth to do when I heard a car speeding back towards me and sure enough there was the mailman who was bemused to confront a mad person waving mail at him. Sweetly he stopped the car and laughed "A bit early for you was I?" and took the parcel. What a piece of luck.

I have also realised with horror that I only have 21 days to complete six paintings- three of them large. I feel tired thinking of it. Another resolution to become really disciplined and set proper working hours......

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Drawing On The Right Side Of Your Brain

Often technical art books can be extremely tedious to read but like eating brown rice your force yourself as you know it's good for you. When I saw "Drawing On The Right Side Of Your Brain" by Betty Edwards in the library I knew I should read it as much of the Foundation level of my art course was based on her theories. I began reading it thinking that it was going to take me a while but instead I have found it an absolutely fascinating book and probably the must have of drawing books.

The basic premise is that the left side of our brain which controls the right side of our body is logical and analytical whereas the right side is intuitive and spacial. What is fascinating is the way these two halves fight for supremacy all the time. When we draw our left side tries to tell us what to do which is where we fall into many of our difficulties when trying to sketch. The Left Hemisphere will tell us what should be there rather than showing us what is actually there. When drawing with the Right Hemisphere you don't think "I'm drawing a nose" you think "the line starts here, then curves here, there's a bump here, it finishes around here". Not surprisingly the second effort will look more like the nose you were trying to sketch than the first drawing.

The book has many exercises which I completed in my first year including drawing from an upside down photo. Sounds crazy but it works and Betty Edwards shows you the difference between her students' first efforts at trying to complete a portrait and what they achieve just a few months later. What she reiterates it that anyone can learn to draw the same as anyone can learn to read or write. In fact this book is now used by people in other walks of life, not necessarily budding artists. It teaches you how to think outside the box and gives a fascinating insight into how our brain works.