Friday, May 22, 2009

Frozen Fingers

Woke at 3am this morning and found embers still burning in the Lady Kitchener so threw another log on the fire which kept it burning until daybreak. Just as well as when I pulled the curtains all I could see was a steely grey sky and white iced grass. Terribly hard to get out of bed but Glenys was calling early so we could do some exhibition stuff before portraiture. When she arrived she informed me that we'd had an 11oC frost and although it was nearly 8.45am the air temperature was only 1oC.

We arrived early at Otane finally beating Helen who is usually the first there. However our glee was short lived when we realised we'd be walking into a freezing cold building. Helen arrived just behind us and within five minutes had the gas fires going with us huddled around them moaning and rubbing our hands. Soon as we'd thawed out a little I went to lift the bricks off my loose fairy and was pleased to see she'd finally stuck down. I also gave Glenys the extra labels I'd printed out for our exhibition's guest artist Shirley Vogtherr's paintings. At this stage there is nothing more we can do although I am still going to make some smaller things for the cash and carry table as I am convinced that people are going to buy cheaper things due to the economy. But I have been known to be wrong before- quite often in fact!

Our model was a motel owner from Waipukurau and an excellent subject she proved to be sitting stock still although what she thought of our conversation is anyone's guess. This is my favourite drawing of her using the charcoal background and rubbing out the highlights. This was very useful for showing up the softness of her cardigan as well as the different tones of her hair. I think it would also be interesting to try drawing just a face with this technique, especially one with a strong light source coming from the side.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trees, Fairees, and Artees.

I finally put the finishing touches to my topiary tree painting yesterday and am quite pleased at the 3D effect the modelling compound gave. Definitely something I would like to try again. However I spent so much time fluffing about with it that I hadn't even begun refurbishing the frame for my faery painting. I applied the high build on Monday afternoon which allowed a good long drying time. I began painting this within 24 hours and after only half an hour I had a base colour applied and was dropping in deep blues, purples and various half shades. I was so onto it that within 90 minutes I was certain I had finished the painting part.

Evening came and I spent an hour working on labels for the paintings at our group exhibition next week. I then spent more time in front of TV listening to "House" cutting them out. Then I decided I needed to change some of the colours on my frame. An hour later I wasn't happy but it was getting late so I forced myself to go to bed. I kept waking up throughout the night thinking I was sleeping late so that by the time it was daylight I truly resembled "Kiss without the makeup" to quote Robbie Williams. Propping my eyelids open I quickly painted over what I'd done the night before and hauled out the old epoxy glue to stick the faery to the frame.

First there was the fight to get the tubes unstuck from their plastic holder. Then my hands got stuck to the tubes trying to undo their lids. When I finally prized these loose and unstuck the fingers from them I managed to squeeze some glue onto a card. mix it together and apply it to the painting and the frame. After sticking everything I didn't want stuck it was a profound disappointment when the painting peversely fell off the frame.

By this time Gay had arrived so on our way through town she stopped into Mitre 10 to ask if there was a proper glue for the job. There was- it was PVA glue albeit a professional grade. Although there were many people at Otane delivering their paintings for hanging my only thought was for my loose faery. I applied the glue and on explaining my dilemma a very kind art teacher fetched bricks and after carefully laying newspaper over the painting weighed the whole thing down with these and our handbags! Unfortunately soon we needed to hang the thing in position and after an hour or so of being shifted about the faery's wings began to droop forwards off the frame. She was unceremoniously removed and I reapplied the glue and she is presently lying on a table covered with newspapers with four bricks on top. In educated circles they say "You can't keep a good faery down..." so here's hoping my faery is very very bad and will end up very very stuck up.

After lunch we finished labelling the paintings before heading to McCauley's for a hot drink. As usual there was some interesting conversations going on. For example in the space of a few hours today we discussed pig welfare, battery chickens, dogs eating manure, pregnant fairies, how coffee conscious Kiwis have become, old cars, and how hard it is to get the smell of chicken poo off your hands. Perhaps it might sound weird to a "normal" person- you just have to be there.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Going and Mojoing

I don't think I'm meant to gad about much. I've been out five times this week and I'm shattered. Monday Glenys and I had to represent the painting group at the monthly meeting of the Otane Arts and Crafts Committee. Tuesday was my shopping day and I had the thrill of finding a wooden frame to gussy up for the fairy painting I am entering into our Queen's Birthday exhibition. Wednesday was art where I continued with my topiary tree picture although I didn't get much done as Gine, Gareth and baby Moses stopped in for a visit so all of us clucky females spent a good hour staring at the little guy. Thursday afternoon Marie and I went to Gine's for the afternoon where I spent two hours holding Moses and was even rewarded with a smile (I will not admit it was wind). Then this morning Glenys and I went to life drawing at Otane for the morning.

I am now convinced the model is responsible for how I draw. If I don't connect with them my drawings are blah. If I do (and I have my favourites) then my mojo is up and running. That's how I felt this morning. To avoid boredom I used pastel pencil, ink and finally charcoal and eraser. All in all eight drawings within two hours which flew by. The general consensus is to have life drawing every fortnight until the money runs out. Hopefully all this extra practice will allow our drawing to improve dramatically. Once we're broke I think we may have to do furtive self portraits in front of a full length mirror at home. {{SHUDDER}}

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Squishy Subjects

Missed out my portraiture session last Friday so I could go see my friend Gine who gave birth to little Moses Eliah on 28th April (Tuesday). Well worth it to get another cuddle and to spend some time with Gine who had a really rough time getting him into the world. Doesn't matter if you're the maternal sort or not it's still amazing to look at the perfection of a baby's tiny hands with their perfect fingernails. Let's face it babies need the cute factor so you don't mind the poopy nappies and the frequent screaming. And then we end up the same way at the other end of life sans teeth, sans memory, sans sanity in many cases. Makes you realise how quickly life passes. So much chocolate- so little time...

I am painting a series of Art Deco Flappers on small stones for McCauley's Cafe in Otane. Delivered the prototype a week ago and then made a few more in shades the owner was happy with (to match the interior of the cafe). Then needed to complete
my contribution for the New Zealand Art Guild's Collaborative work "Ngatahi" which will be auctioned at our exhibition in July 2009. Glenys gave me the idea and I stayed up until 10.30pm Sunday night finishing it. Wasn't hard to keep awake as a minor TV station here was screening the semi finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. I have never seen this before (apart from excerpts showing ABBA's famous win with "Waterloo" in 1974). It was well worth watching for the total kitschness of it all. From a Lithuanian guy with long black hair who rocked out a power ballad completely out of tune (in Lithuanian to boot), to Belgium and several strangely dressed females singing a funny oompah anthem, down to Ireland's entry performed by a puppet called Dennis the Turkey who at one point broke wind while feathers blew out his backside. The Irish have a very tongue in cheek sense of humour. As my Dad once said the Irish gave the Scots the bagpipes and they still haven't got the joke!

Today I began work on a painting for the Creative Hastings Artists' Challenge "Trees Keys and Brollies". Spent ninety minutes experimenting with sketches before committing pencil to canvas. It is also the first time I have used modelling compound- what fun it is. Now I can understand what my aunt got out of cake decorating. All that squishing and mashing is vaguely satisfying.

You never know what's going to happen at our painters' group. One brave lady is making a 3D naked woman out of foam displayed in a homemade shadow box for our exhibition in three week's time. The comments and advice she garnered from the room ranged from the reasonable to the risque (I made a few rude suggestions but then I usually do). As she artfully applied the bellybutton and nipples with a tiny brush there were quite a few tears of glee being wiped away. To me it rates with the time a while back that seven artists gathered around a half finished canvas ernestly discussing the merits of a sheep's bottom.