Monday, August 31, 2009

Gine Embroiders

I feel like I've run a marathon but have really only just been pushing myself to finish the painting that I've entered in the Art Extravaganza at Pukeora this coming weekend. The subject is my friend Gine who was furiously working away at an embroidery she was finishing as a wedding gift for friends over a year ago. It is the first time I've ever done a proper portrait, of a human that is. And trying to paint a white garment without it ending up looking flat was especially challenging.

At art group last week Kevin Annand from Electra Gallery came along and did a critique on people's paintings, giving us some pointers at how to improve them. "Gine" was discussed and Kevin remarked that he'd once seen a painting of a woman in white except no white paint was used. Now that would be really interesting to try. Suggestions he made for other paintings was to try and allow the viewer be able to walk through landscapes in five or six steps so that colours gradually lead you through the picture. Also how a living thing added to a painting will immediately become the centre of interest. One other idea I found helpful was that there are often two of three prospective paintings trapped in a picture waiting to get out. By using a couple of cardboard mounts he was able to show how paintings could be improved by strategic cropping.

Friday my cousin Gwendolyn posed for portrait class. I have no idea what she made of us all but she certainly seemed to enjoy the banter. At midday we all went to the Paper Mulberry for lunch. Unlike the last time I was there in early June it was very warm and pleasant sitting at a table with the others. Gwen and I even went into the second hand bookshop at the back of the the cafe and managed to find a few books for her to take home to Melbourne although she did give me two (on Feng Shui and crystals) to add to my hoard- um I mean collection. It was a lovely day but I wish that she lived closer so we could see each other more often as I find our conversations fascinating and uplifting.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oil Pastelling

I have been using oil pastels for the first time and must say that despite the pungent aroma they're quite good to work with as they are much cleaner to use than the softer chalk variety. Today I experimented with a couple of sketches resulting as an afterthought from last Friday's portrait session where Marie S modelled some yoga positions for us. I am happy that I have quite a few photos from the class so I can practice sketching some of these when not under time constraints. I have used very bright colours in order to stand out from the black paper and to try and move away from my usual muted palette. Suffice to say that Marie's hair is really not bright pink.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Favourite models are a joy to sketch again and again. Our new favourite for portrait class is William who wandered into our art group's annual exhibition in late May and was immediately snaffled as a model. We drew him about a month ago and enjoyed it so much that he was invited back last Friday. He has the gift of being able to relax into a pose without a trace of stiffness and then to maintain that position without moving. Children and teenagers have this flexibility and fluidity but generally can't concentrate on remaining still for too long so to find an adult with this natural grace is quite exciting.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My Own Hong Kong Horror

I'm still not a great fan of working with pastel sticks. Probably because I am using the cheap student variety which drops the most incredible amount of dust and means I have to vacuum (never a good thing). This "work" is part of my course and is on black sugar paper. Adapted from a cliched calendar photo it has all the charm of a Hong Kong horror. Perhaps I should sell it on Trademe for a few hundred dollars.

Finished a good book today. "You don't Have To Be Famous: How To Write Your Life Story" is that most unusual writing manual- it's well written, informative and write on. Everyone should write their autobiography no matter how boring they are. Preferably to be distributed at their funeral service which would ensure that all the relatives turn up to see if they're mentioned in it. If the deceased has a wicked turn of phrase they could ensure a bust up at the wake with a resulting family feud. I think I should begin writing mine...