Friday, July 31, 2009

Double Trouble

Double trouble with our models. They are both experienced in posing for us now and know how to challenge us with body positions. I was excited to try my new pastel chalk pencils and found they worked beautifully on black sugar paper. Trying unusual colours spiced up the sketch for me but my energy began to flag before the end of the session and I came home, lit the fire, and had lunch before lying on the sofa with a couple of wheat packs for an hour.

Good news though is that my "Felines of the Night" painting sold at the "Out of the Blue" exhibition which ended today. After all the stress of the paintings taking so long to arrive in Auckland it feels like a happy ending.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mandalas and Materials Maketh The Madhouse

Rainy days make for good art making as long as grey skies don't make you depressed, mad or bad. My two cousins Gwendolyn (from Melbourne) and Elaine (from Waipukurau) came along to the Otane Art Group to spend the morning. Gwen brought along a book on mandalas as she is currently reading up as much on these as she can. I find them interesting, their designs are very balanced and each has a different spiritual meaning. I'm afraid I chatted so much I didn't get much work done apart from a commissioned pendant which I was putting finishing touches to.

When I arrived home there was a huge parcel sitting at the back door. It was full of materials I had ordered from The Learning Connexion several days ago. Always feels like Christmas when I open a parcel, even when I already know what's inside. In this case I replaced a few of my acrylic paints whose tubes had reached the soft-at-the-far-end-but-hard-in-the-middle-so-you-can't-get-the-paint-out-unless-you-stab-it stage, oil pastels, pastel pencils, pastel papers (black and shades of cream- yes women are able to tell the difference between tones of the same bland colour), two sketch pads, four canvases including one that was 30" long, brushes, brushes, and brushes, a big fat glue stick which hopefully doesn't lose its "stick" like my last one, and beautiful Cotman watercolours- eleven tubes to replace the ones that turned to concrete years ago. Ah heaven...sigh.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heads Up

The CHB Mail published an article on our "Midwinter mask fest" last Tuesday. Not a bad report- I am the one in the bottom photo looking like a demented purple chook on crack. I am keen now to explore the whole Venetian Masque subject a lot more and perhaps get over my phobia of masks. Had this fear since age five when my mother cut out a scary mask from a cereal packet, put it on, covered herself in a sheet and leapt out of the dark of my bedroom as I walked down the hallway.

A friend from portraiture lent me a conte pencil to "have a go with" so this afternoon sat down and drew a friend's baby as a practice piece. The last sproggle I drew looked like a mini adult all due to the features not being placed in the bottom third of the face. Plus the head was too small so the subject resembled the headhunter character from the ghostly waiting room in "Beetlejuice". Not a good look and one liable to ensure the artist receives a severe beating from an irate mother.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Otane Goes Venetian

It feels as if the past week has been filled with masks and mask making. Last Saturday Glenys and Marie S arrived for a morning of playschool where we worked on our masks for the mid winter luncheon at Otane. I stupidly had decided to make mine from scratch but being too tired the evening before had been trying to form a papier mache mask on a plaster cast of my face. I had just finished gluing the third layer of paper on when the others arrived and ended up trying to dry it out with a blow drier, mostly at floor level so I didn't blow Gleny's glitter and feathers all over the room. Marie's beautiful feathery mask was ready made but she embellished it with small gold butterflies while Glenys got the hysterics trying to control the purple glitter of her mask from spreading everywhere. Too soon it was lunchtime and I had not even begun to decorate my mask. Later that day Peaches the cat sat down in some glitter I hadn't cleared up and was strutting around with bling adorning her hairy ginger backside.

Tuesday Glenys, Marie S, Marie N, Joan Reed and I travelled to Otane to decorate the rooms. The building was quite chilly and seemed to get colder for the two and a half hours we spent there. Marie N had spent so much time and energy crafting different Venetian masks to hang on the walls of our room while Joan had made cardboard fans spray painted either red or gold for the gardening room where we set up the tables for the buffet lunch. The walls there were drapped with material and shawls to complete the effect. Later that day Glenys rang to say she would be unable to attend the lunch as she had to go to a funeral so I would need to welcome the people attending etc.

Later that evening I strengthened the papier mache of my mask before gessoing and painting it dark purple. After that I spread PVA glue over the surface and dusted purple glitter over it. I was still working on it Wednesday morning holding it in the sunlight trying to get the glue dry to hold purple geese feathers in place at the top. When I tried it on I resembled a plucked chook or, as Glenys remarked when she saw a photo of me, like road runner!

For a while it seemed as if the few painters who turned up in all their finery would be the only ones attending the lunch but soon people from the other groups began to arrive giggling as they tried to work out who was who behind their masks. It was amazing to see the trouble some people had gone to. Finally at 12pm I welcomed everyone and introduced the President of the centre who convened a five minute general meeting to pass an ammendment to the constitution before we all filed into the garden room for lunch.

There was quite a feast laid on as everyone had brought a plate of food. During the hour everyone was eating and chatting I went around and got some wonderful shots of some of the masks. We then filed back into the art room where I introduced out guest speaker, Kevin Annand from Electra Gallery who talked about art and creativity and how it takes different forms for the next thirty minutes. He had also agreed to judge the best and scariest masks which were awarded prizes. After that it was time for our roll on raffle. Our group had donated sixteen prizes.Each time someone won a prize they drew the next ticket. Embarrassingly I won twice but the second time forfeited my turn so someone else had a chance.

Several of our group stayed on to clean up and restore the rooms to normality once everyone else had left. After all the work decorating the day before it only took a short time to dismantle them and the Venetian afternoon was over.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dreams and Scary Pictures

I have the most amazingly weird dreams. This morning I dreamt that a crowd came to portraiture class and we waited and waited for the model to arrive. In the end he came an hour and a half late and we hurriedly sketched for thirty minutes before the session ended. I remember being extremely impressed by the drawings of the woman next to me, someone I'd never met before. Strangely her pictures were of a woman whereas the model was a teenage boy. Freud would have a field day.

I was in the middle of watching the cats watch Demelza who had just caught a mouse and was busy torturing it when Glenys arrived. Melz took off leaving Kit and Peaches behind as the thought of fresh frosted mouse was stronger than their fear of visitors. The temperature was 0oC when we left Tikokino but had gone up 2 degrees by the time we reached Otane. There were only six of us sketching and fortunately our model was early so we got to work quite quickly. Nine drawings and several photos later it was time to yawn our way home again.

I remember when I first began portraiture two years ago that I would become very tired and wonder if I would last to the end of the session. Now however the time passes extremely quickly and the thought of thirty minutes spent on one sketch no longer scares the hell out of me. The end results though sometimes do!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Wings Beneath My Wind

Began the week with the good news that my paintings had arrived in Auckland last week in time for the exhibition so this very relieved artist celebrated by baking. When will I ever learn?

Glenys is back from the South Island so I rode down to Otane with Marie and her this morning. The conversation soon turned to donkey manure- how she must have missed our scintillating conversation while away on holiday! Did about twenty minutes work on my portrait before heading into the garden group's iceberg of a room to help make arrangements for the mid winter lunch next week. I had taken a small gold basket along with bags of fake berries and cobbled together a small arrangement which looked more Eighties Retro than Venetian Chic.

Am enjoying working on different portraits in various mediums. I am sometimes surprised with the end result as I was with this fairy picture where I sculpted with high build, glazed with acrylics, rubbing back into the paint with bath cleaner. The frame was $7 from an op shop which I worked on to match the painting. Not to everybody's taste but if you don't move out of your comfort zone as an artist then you will just end up being a mere painter.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Missing Paintings

What a crazy week. After working so hard on my exhibition paintings for the NZAG exhibition they went missing on their way to Auckland. As of writing this I have had no word as to their whereabouts. Over $600 worth missing.

Then my brother contracted flu on Tuesday and on Wednesday was rushed to hospital by ambulance from the doctor's surgery. After being in re suss he was moved to the Emergency Department and then to a ward where he was put into isolation until he was cleared of Swine Flu. He was given a nebuliser several times as well as oxygen and by this time was diagnosed with pneumonia. However on the Thursday some self officious nurse decided it was "a big hassle" to give him his nebuliser and although the doctor argued with her and told her it was necessary she still didn't give him his treatment. In the end he left the hospital- or tried to as he collapsed before he got out of the ward. However they were kind enough to give him a wheelchair so he could get out to the car.

Interesting part was that during all the tests they discovered that at some point in the past he had suffered a heart attack although he doesn't know when as he usually as chest pains with his emphysema.

I can't face picking up a paintbrush at the moment so just went to portraiture Friday and since then have been keeping busy with housework and doing my tax return- a sure sign of procrastination.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Out Of The Blue

Began a new painting at Otane Painters today. Am moving out of my comfort zone with an acrylic portrait of my friend Gine based on a photo I took of her while she was embroidering. It will be challenging as the sun was behind her which makes her skin seem several shades darker than usual as well as forming interesting patterns through the material she is sewing. Plus she was wearing white so a few problems for me to solve.

The New Zealand Art Guild's annual exhibition "Out Of The Blue" opens tomorrow night. The collaborative project most of us contributed a painted wooden panel to is being auctioned with the event being filmed by "Campbell Live" and screened on TV3 after 7pm tomorrow. This will be the first time any work of mine has been on the telly so it's quite exciting.Just hope the people attending will be excited into parting with some cash and buying a few pictures as I need to buy some new paintbrushes and some firewood. I am happiest with my painting "Felines Of The Night" which I dreamt of one night. Better than some of the dreams I have. The one with Antonio Banderras and me on the run being chased by David Duchovney is one I remember vividly. Especially the part where we hid in a caravan with a severed head sitting in a small fridge with its false teeth sitting on the floor. Obviously I can't control my dreams otherwise Antonio and David would have been stark naked and I would have looked like Keira Knightly.