Saturday, November 28, 2009

Poses and Roses

So my TLC folder finally arrives Thursday a full week after it was sent and I discover the courier company responsible was PBT couriers not NZ Couriers this time. Very bad service but at least it arrived. Positive feedback from my tutor with some suggestions for improvement.

Friday we had two models: Toni the granddaughter of one of our members plus her dog Cassie, a princess disguised within a red setter's body. I began in conte pencil but switched to ink which is a most unforgiving medium but it does make you look and think before you put pen to paper. It also sped up my drawing considerably. Having a camera with me has freed me considerably from trying to capture an exact likeness during the session but sometimes it accidentally happens anyway. Cass had no idea what we were doing and was quite concerned with Toni posing, shoving her head in places you don't want a dog to be. I can understand why they say never work with animals or children but then it wouldn't be near as much fun!

After lunch I went through two shopping bags full of dead headed roses sent by a friend and separated into colours for drying as I've decided to go back to making potpourri. Took me three hours sitting on the floor but finally finished and have the petals laid out on newspaper in the spare room (or perhaps I should call it Kit's bedroom as she has taken to sprawling out there all day). Being surrounded by such a colourful garden I feel drawn back to my old crafting pastimes and tempted towards others like beading. The older I get the more I am tempted by shiny things like beads and mirrors so perhaps I'm finally morphing into a magpie.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tight Paintings and Crap Courier Services

Being part of a group of artists you pick up so many ideas and are constantly inspired but it is also frustrating that while everyone is busy embarking on new projects I am stuck working on bread and butter projects for the Christmas Sale at the Hastings Community Arts Centre. My painting style at the moment is as tight as a hen's bum but when you're painting in miniature you can't be too experimental.

My painting "Gine Embroiders" has been temporarily renamed "The Embroiderer" and is hanging at Electra Gallery, Ruataniwha Street, Waipukurau for a fortnight. It is situated between a mini exhibition of portraits by Blair Logan and two by Helen McKenzie so is in very good company.

I am waiting for a folder of work to be returned from my Learning Connexion tutor at the moment. It is a week tomorrow since it was sent via New Zealand Couriers- the second time this year I have had delays with that company delivering items. Frustrating considering the extortionate delivery fees they charge. If my folder has gone missing I am not so worried about my drawings but the thought of losing my visual diary has me slightly pissed off. Well actually extremely pissed off. To the extent I could poke someone with a sharp stick...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Twenty One Again

Celebrated another anniversary of my 21st birthday on Tuesday. I thought I'd spend a quiet day working but a couple of friends rang in the morning and Glenys popped in for a while in the late afternoon bearing antique gold paint amongst other goodies. I'd just said goodbye to her when I had another phone call and then my brother and his wife arrived with a combined birthday/Christmas present- a new printer to replace my hysterical misbehaving one. It was the first time I'd seen Rich or Diane in over five months so it was quite a big thing that he'd made the effort to drive out when he is still feeling so ill. After a late rice meal and internetting during the evening I finished up by making silver wire findings for pendants before going to bed near midnight.

Next morning I was all prepared for art early and waiting out on the roadside when Glenys and Marie S drove up. Marie gave me a beautiful bunch of roses from her garden which I carried down to Otane with me. Although we were the first to arrive it wasn't long before a few others wandered in. While the door was open into the corridor I was shocked to see an old friend standing there. She was equally shocked to see me there as she'd brought her grandson to take part in the Otane School sports day and had just wandered over to look at the building. As I hadn't seen or heard from her for three and a half years there was quite a bit to catch up on.

Mid morning Marie N came in and then disappeared again. A while later I heard the door open and glanced up to see Marie's grand daughter Toni holding a chocolate birthday cake with three candles blazing away (thankfully not relating to my real age otherwise the building would have burnt down). I must have been in shock as it was the first time I didn't disappear under the table when Happy Birthday was sung. Everyone got a slice of the deliciousness but there was enough left over to bring home thankfully. Toni had cooked the cake herself so it looks like she has inherited her grandmother's culinary witchery. I remember the last cake I baked- it sloped down one end and was burnt and raw all at the same time and not where you'd expect either.

Friday (20th Nov)was my first time back at portraiture in a few weeks. Glenys came at 8.30am so she could photograph some of the red poppies flowering in the garden before we headed to Waipawa to drop off a box of my jewellery and soaps etc. plus an awkward stand at the home of someone who works for Creative Hastings and would take everything to the gallery before the sale starts next week. Our model for the portrait session was a Japanese girl which brought its own challenges but she was so beautiful and with such a giggly personality the morning passed extremely quickly. Afterwards she walked about and took photos of some of our drawings including this one which she photographed several times including one closeup. Hopefully this meant she wasn't too insulted.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To Otane And Back And Back

Otane Arts and Crafts Corner Open Weekend (7th-8th Nov)came up before I knew what had happened. I decided not to go on Saturday so I could stay home and work. Mid morning I received a desperate message from Glenys that she was on her own and the tables and model's plinth hadn't been cleared away but fortunately someone from the Wool Group helped her set up and tidy the room. By 10.30am a couple of our group had arrived to work but apparently there weren't many people coming through and the day was very slow. However one really lovely thing happened when my Hong Kong Horror sold to someone who worked at Cranford Hospice in Hastings. Apparently one of her patients had complained that there were no paintings featuring boats so she bought my picture to pin up in his room. After he passes away she is having it framed. An amazing result considering how much I disliked that pastel (I only marked it for $10 because I thought so little of it).

Sunday morning Glenys collected me early (before 9am) so we ended up being the first to arrive for the day. I set up at a table and began a long session of painting soaps (exciting- not). A reporter from "Hawkes Bay Today" was walking about when suddenly he got on his knees and began taking some close up photographs of me working. Fortunately I don't think these will ever see the light of day..

The biggest excitement of the day was when two swallows flew into the hallway. One flew straight back out the front door again but the other managed to concuss itself on a window and confused flew into our room. We opened the large sash windows but the poor bird didn't seem to realise how to get out and ended sitting on an electric light cord. After an hour of gradually turning into an ice block I grabbed a long pole (no double entendre intended) and encouraged the bird to fly around until it managed to fall between the glass panes of a window where our tallest painter present climbed up, dropped an apron onto it and then set it free to general jubilation.

By the time 4pm arrived and despite catching up with a couple of people I hadn't been in contact with for years, Glenys and I were staring tiredly across an empty room waiting until we could decently pack up and leave. Not being punished enough we were back at Otane on Monday afternoon for a committee meeting. Meetings aren't my favourite thing and when you get excited about the smelly gent's toilet being fixed you know that you have hit rock bottom ('scuse the pun). "And God so loved the world he didn't send a committee".

Wednesday I was back at Otane again for our art morning. Gay and I were the first there so she set up the plastic covers over the tables while I set up the tea trolley and boiled the kettle. Only eight people turned up but despite this we had some animated conversations including one concerning the article one of our nude models had written about our Life Painting Workshop which had been published in the Central Hawkes Bay Mail the previous day. General consensus was that we were very glad that it hadn't been published before Glenys and I had gone to the committee meeting.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Life Painting Workshop

The long awaited Life Painting Workshop with Wellington artist Rosemary Stokell took place last weekend. I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to cope physically with such a full on couple of days so took it easy on the Friday before, only making sure that I had gathered the list of materials I was meant to take prepared and ready in a box.

Saturday morning Glenys and I headed to Otane early but even so we arrived after most of the others in the group. Our art room had been turned into a temporary gallery with examples of the nude painted in a variety of styles by the masters. We were going to be working with two models who usually come along to pose for us on our Friday mornings except this time they had brought along their camper van and were staying nearby.

Rosemary began with a series of two minute poses in graphite to warm us up. We then moved on to charcoal for the longer poses. While we were working she walked about and offered advice and comments on foreshortening etc. Before we knew it morning tea time had arrived. Then more drawing for ninety minutes (including some hilarious "blind drawing" exercises which turned the models into Picasso wannabees) before a shared lunch and then two and a half more hours concentrating on turning a pose into an abstract work in charcoal. This was my first experience working with a blending stump as I usually muddle through with my fingers making a happy mess. However I was really impressed with how sharply you could blend with it and will definitely use it from now on. Then we began working in colour, drawing a pose with both models before selecting two complementary colours and applying and blending these on the paper. This was a toughie for me as the acrylics were drying so quickly there was a strong line between the shades rather than a soft graduation. For once I longed to work with watercolours.

The next day (Sunday) I woke up tied in knots but sat with wheat packs on the sorest muscles before we returned to Otane. Our day's first task was to trace the abstract charcoal we began on Saturday onto a longish canvas before painting each section with a graduating tone of a single colour. I had a hell of a job getting the acrylics to blend again but Rosemary showed me how to use two brushes and work with water in order to achieve the desired effect. I still have a long way to go with this but it is definitely an avenue I want to explore.

After an hour spent on this exercise we had smoko before having a very fun time trying to draw with ink dipped sticks on paper on the floor. The monstrous effects were extremely fresh and spontaneous with even the more experienced artists having a bit of a struggle. We hung our drawings on the wall and admired each others attempts, having a giggle before grabbing a plate of food and sitting outside in the sun for some time out.

Rosemary had brought along a selection of her paintings which she lined up along the hallway explaining how she painted them and what had inspired her. For me though the most mind blowing things she showed us were her visual diaries. I have kept a couple over the last two years but they were nothing compared to what she showed us. Books filled with amazing ink drawings done on site in European churches interspersed with postcards, exhibition fliers and other sentimental keepsakes. My resolution became to find a smaller diary and keep it in my purse so I can draw when I'm out and about.

That afternoon we began working on projects we wanted to develop. A few of us wanted to learn how to paint flesh colours so Rosemary demonstrated before posing the models so we could paint from life. I had prepared a MDF board with gesso and began painting in the colours, firstly tentatively, but later more painterly with Rosemary's encouragement. Before I knew it the workshop was over and it was time to pack up and go home but before we left we each showed our best work and talked about what we'd each taken away from the weekend.

I came away totally inspired from the workshop, especially from seeing Rosemary's work. It made me realise how much I'd missed out on with having such useless art teachers at school. It has also made me long for yet another workshop with Rosemary pushing me out of my comfort zone and I know I'm not the only one to feel this way. Nude painting rocks!