Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

A friend recently told me that thinking time is flying past is a sign of old age. After I'd buried her body in the garden I pondered this thought. Personally I think it's a sign of being really busy. 2010 has been a hectic year for me, especially in the run up to Christmas. Although I had decided to begin work towards the Creative Hastings Christmas Sale way back in January I still needed to complete extra work towards it as I felt that with the economy tanking people would really only be able to afford small (and therefore cheap) gifts. As it turned out I was right with soaps being the biggest seller. I also received one order for a cat brooch exactly the same as a pendant I painted but which was twice the price. So therefore I spent the same amount of time working on something half the size for half the price. This is why I am not rich.

In the middle of all this were Christmas "dos" for both sections of the Otane Art Group. The Portrait Group took our life model with us to the Paper Mulberry Cafe in Pukehou (our usual hangout) where we spent a couple of chatty hours. The main Wednesday group met at the rooms in fancy dress for a shared lunch (I was a gypsy so not much change from my usual attire). There was also a scarecrow, Fairy Gothmother, a mermaid, Mother Hubbard, saloon girl, Camp Mother and a few not-sure-whats. Unfortunately when I tried to use my camera the batteries had died so thanks to Marie for sending me her photos. Of course when I got home and tried the camera again it turned on...

Then I decided to make some of my Christmas presents. Yeah that was a bright thought when you haven't much time or energy. I had been waiting and waiting to find time to experiment with glass painting and managed to complete a decorated bottle and two votive candle holders. During this process I learned that I need more practice, that the paint doesn't look any good with brush strokes showing and that I have a shaky hand when applying out liner. But I hope that this will be another medium for making affordable gifts which is what I'm all about. So a week off painting now until January 1st 2011 when I start preparing for Christmas again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bunny Paintings and Christmas Cometh

It is nearly two months since I posted. Hard to believe but true. I have been busy but mainly concerned with nursing my little Sheltie Mishka in the last weeks of his cancer. A month ago yesterday he made his last journey with me and since then the weeks have passed by in an unhappy blur. However I had to pick myself up enough to help organise the Otane Art Group's room for the annual Open Weekend on the 6th and 7th November. We probably didn't get the numbers through that we hoped as we were competing with a couple of big markets in Hawkes Bay.

On Saturday morning I sat with a couple of friends painting until lunchtime which helped pass the time. Big thrill was selling a painting I had only completed a couple of days before called "Somebunny". Shamelessly twee and cute the girl who bought it had only just moved to Otane from Auckland and mentioned buying some of my cards from me through Trademe ten years ago. I could have sold the same painting three times over apparently. Always the same- you complete lots of work no one buys (convincing yourself it's the recession) then a couple of small paintings that more than one person wants.

Our Circle Of Life works looked great displayed but in the end only one sold, a Helen McKenzie oil that was the most high priced work. However that does mean a donation to the CHB SPCA. Selling two paintings during this Open Weekend was a huge improvement over none last November although disappointingly only cards sold otherwise. However did receive an order for a smallish cat stone to be used in a scapbooking project.

My student loan has been approved so I have begun work on the Honours Stage of my Diploma of Art and Creativity through the Learning Connexion. Currently trying to decide my majors and minors and the projects I want to complete during my year. The annual Christmas Sale at the Hastings Community Arts Centre started this week. Despite forgetting the exact receiving days my work was still delivered to the gallery on the opening day after a weekend of kicking myself and wondering if I'm finally developing dementia.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Variations On A Theme

A few of us have been working on an interesting project at art group. I ordered several 8"x8" square canvases and we each began a painting based on a circle. Of course the possibilities are endless but I still ended up confused as to what I wanted to paint. In the end I decided to do something design orientated and painted this Flower Mandala in acrylics based on an antique Art Deco brooch. So far ten people have handed their canvases in with six more to complete and it's fascinating to see the wide range of ideas and styles. When they're assembled we're displaying the works at Otane Arts and Crafts Open Weekend in November with the paintings being sold and the proceeds donated to charity.

For life drawing last week I decided to try something different. I lay four sheets of cartridge paper on the floor and did a poor man's Jackson Pollock on them. This made a good basis for drawing on with pastel pencils. Another method is to draw first with oil pastels and then drip watercolour paint over the drawing although this is best done at home with a large supply of newspaper.

Dublin On A Budget

Dublin Castle is built on a site first settled by the Vikings. Although original building was begun in 1204 by King John of England most of the castle dates from the 18th century. The fortress was the seat of British rule until 1922 but is now a government complex used for important State receptions and Presidential Inaugurations. The State Apartments, Chapel Royal, Craft Shop and Heritage Centre are open to visitors.

Many Dublin hotels are close to the city’s historical sites include the Royal Hospital Kilmainham which houses the Irish Museum of Modern Art. There is a permanent collection with 1,650 works and the Madden Arnholz Collection with 2,000 prints by the Old Masters. Admission is free apart from special exhibitions. St Mary’s Abbey was once a wealthy Cistercian Abbey founded in 1139 but dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. Only two rooms remain- the Chapter House and the Slype. Admission is free.

Phoenix Park at 1,752 acres is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. With its own herd of wild fallow deer it’s also home to Dublin Zoo. The National Botanic Gardens has a collection of 15,000 plant species from around the world and restored glasshouses.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Visiting Paris: City of Culture

Visitors to the city of romance and culture will find hotels in Paris city centre near some of the greatest attractions the capital has to offer. The Louvre has dominated the city since first built as a fortress in the late 12th century. Over time it was developed into a fine Renaissance palace until it lost favor with French monarchs. After the Revolution the palace was opened to the public as a museum in 1793 and has since grown to house 35,000 works of art ranging from prehistory, the ancient world, to western art from the medieval period to 1848.

The Museum d’Orsay opened in 1986 in the former Orsay railway station built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. Displaying work from 1848 to 1914 the museum is best known for its collection of impressionist and post impressionist masterpieces.

The Eiffel Tower is an iconic Parisian landmark that was designed by Gustave Eiffel. Built between 1887-89 it is 324 metres (1,063 ft) high with three levels for visitors. The first two levels feature world class restaurants.

All Paris is accessible via the rapid transit Metro system which is also a work of art with its Art Nouveau inspired station architecture.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Shaken and Stirred

Earthquakes are on every one's minds at the moment with the terrible devastation suffered by Cantabrians last Saturday. I watched TVNZ's coverage all day except for a couple of hours when I attended the 40th Anniversary Celebrations at the Arts and Crafts Corner Otane. Glenys and I had taken along some of our old paintings to decorate the art room the previous day, Jean Addis had bought along two works from original founding members plus I printed out photos from our Venetian Masque themed winter luncheon last year. Glenys and I had stuck these on a noticeboard along with the masks we'd decorated for the event. I took photos of the anniversary for the centre's website including one of eleven past presidents. The most interesting moments though were meeting some previous members including the widow of my father's employer from the 1960s and the son of the man who founded the Arts and Crafts Corner who donated his father's scrapbook of newspaper cuttings to the art group, all collected from 1970 to 1984. These need to be pasted back into the book but once I've done that it will be a valuable addition to our group's memorabilia- not that we have much!

This week I was frantically trying to log up more hours so I could complete a folder for The Learning Connexion and finish Year Two of Stage One. I needed to grab a nap on Monday and just as I was dozing a 5.2 earthquake hit south of Porangahau. That jolted me out of my snooze. Since then we've had three more quakes although nothing compared to Christchurch's aftershocks. Still you wonder with Hawkes Bay's history if the next one will be the biggie so have been filling spare bottles with water.

I spent hours working on my entry for The Art's Extravaganza at Pukeora over the past month. I took the photo of the lamb last year when its mother allowed me near to stroke it just after it was born. I thought it would be easy to paint but its wool really was a coat of many colours and very difficult to execute. No matter though as ultimately it was rejected. The selectors didn't like the background colour apparently. However I was rejected in some good company as there were a couple of well known artists whose paintings didn't get in. It's all a matter of taste I guess.

Finally completed the pendant of Tara the One Eyed Cat for her owner. Also sold another pendant on Trademe. As Christmas is fast approaching and Trademe are offering half price on their classified listings I have advertised my "services". Doesn't matter what other work I do I always return to painting animals. Which in turn feeds my animals. And buys me chocolate...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Child Friendly Montreal

Flights to Montreal take children to a city filled with fun filled activities and places to visit. Olympic Park houses the Biodome, an indoor zoo with four eco zones including a tropical forest, polar world, Laurentian Forest and St Lawrence marine eco system. The Park has extensive Botannical Gardens with Chinese, Japanese and alpine gardens, greenhouses, a touch garden with Braille labels and an arboretum. In early spring butterflies are set free to fly inside the largest greenhouse and in autumn the Chinese garden is lit by thousands of lanterns. In Winter the greenhouses are adorned with Christmas decorations.

The Old Port houses the Montreal Science Centre and Labyrinth, bicycle and quadricycle rentals, boat rides, and outdoor winter skating rink. Other kid friendly destinations are the Montreal Planetarium and The Grande Biliothéque with its great children’s section. The Aquadome has heated pools, diving boards and waterslides. The Ecomuseum is a 11.3 hectare educational wildlife park. La Récréathèque has bumper cars, arcades, laser tag and indoor sports.

Many of Montreal’s fine museums have educational programs including summer day camps and workshops. For more action minded children there is Go Karting and during the warm months there is rafting and jet boating.

Classical Boston

Classical music lovers will find much to enjoy during their Holidays to Boston. Symphony Hall features some of the best acoustics in the world and is home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum holds weekly chamber music concerts in their Tapestry Room gallery. They have the longest running music program in the United States and feature well known chamber music groups and soloists.

The Boston Lyric Opera is New England’s largest opera company. Founded in 1976 it supports emerging operatic talent. The Boston Classical Orchestra was founded by violinist Robert Brink. A professional chamber orchestra focusing on music from the classical period it is housed in the beautiful historic Faneuil Hall.

The Boston Landmarks Orchestra performs free concerts in significant historical, geographical and architectural settings within the Boston area. More than 250,000 people have attended their concerts in the decade since the orchestra was founded by conductor Charles Ansbacher.

Each year Longy School of Music hold over 300 concerts featuring their degree and diploma students. in the Edward M Pickman Concert Hall. The Museum of Fine Arts also hosts concert series with an eclectic range of music from electronica to world music.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Royal London

Hotels in London city centre are situated near some of England’s most visited royal buildings. Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of British sovereigns since 1837 and is the administrative headquarters of Queen Elizabeth II. Visitors can tour State rooms hung with paintings by Rubens, Canaletto and Rembrandt and decorated with fine Sevres porcelain and English and French furniture. The Royal Mews house State vehicles including horse drawn carriages and automobiles used on special occasions. This includes the Gold State Coach last used in 2002 during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Visiotrs can also tour the Palace’s gardens, home to 30 different bird species and 350 wild flowers as well as a lake.

William the Conqueror began building the Tower of London in 1080. Yeoman warders have guarded the fortress since the early 16th century. They are currently required to have served honorably in the armed forces for at least 22 years and are available to take guided tours. Tower Green is the site where many great historic personalities were executed including Anne Boleyn. The Crown Jewels featuring 23,578 gems are under armed guard along with the Coronation Regalia. There is also an exhibition of five centuries of royal armour.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Month That Was

The past month has been a roller coaster with my dog Mishka developing a tumour on his lip that needed to be removed, the death of yet another friend, more wet weather, putting my back out and the whole Lindsay Lohan thing...

Have also been busy completing the website for Otane Arts and Crafts Corner. I had forgotten so much about setting up a site from scratch but once I started it all began coming back to me although uploading and setting the nameservers proved a very stressful part of the experience as my host had given me the wrong ones. But I worked it out in the end and no computers were harmed in the process.

One highlight of July was the mid winter lunch at Otane hosted this year by the Herb and Garden group. They decorated the centre with Christmas decorations and put on a full Chrissy dinner complete with roast and delicious desserts (being a vegetarian I remember the desserts with great affection). We all supplied a $2 exchange gift which was handed out by Father Christmas and it was amazing the amount of ladies who couldn't wait to sit on "his" knee. Afterwards there was a demonstration of floral art by Mary McIndoe with the resulting arrangements raffled off. I had to leave before the afternoon tea as I had an appointment but from what I heard the afternoon ended on a high. It was a wonderful effort by everyone involved and just goes to show what you can achieve with united teamwork.

I am not achieving a great deal of painting at the moment but need to get my head down over the next month to complete my entry for Pukeora's Festival. Plus I need to finish all the half completed projects sitting about the place. If it wasn't for portrait sessions I don't think I would get much done at all. And we've had some wonderful sitters recently including these twins who are the grand daughters of one of our members.

News: I sold my Hobbit House Rock this week. Also my brooches are now available from "Cups n Things" in Ruataniwha Street, Waipukurau. The owner approached me first which is much less stressful than having to cold call a shop owner and go cap in hand begging for favours.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fun Times In Miami

Holidays to Miami aren’t complete without visiting the Everglades National Park. One and a half million acres of swamps, saw-grass prairies and sub tropical jungles filled with dozens of endangered species the best way to explore is by canoe although thrill seekers prefer tours by airboat. Hileah Park, built in 1925 and modeled after European racing track has a Renaissance Revival club house and landscaped gardens full of native flora and fauna. There is a lake with several islands inhabited by pink flamingos. This has been designated a sanctuary for the American flamingo by the Audubon Society.

Fifteen miles of beautiful beaches offer all manner of activities including water skiing, parasailing, jet ski and windsurfing. Spend half a day at Miami’s Seaquarium and enjoy shows with performing killer whales. It’s also home to seal lion “Salty” and TV star “Flipper” the dolphin. The Miami Museum of Science has over 140 interactive exhibits. Its wildlife centre has 175 live reptiles and birds of prey.

Another attraction is Coral Castle. Situated between the Florida Keys and Miami this was sculpted from rock by a Latvian immigrant over twenty five years. There is also a rich legacy of Art Deco architecture throughout Miami.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Edifying Edinburgh

Hotels in Edinburgh city centre are situated near the city’s most historic landmarks. Edinburgh Castle sits on volcanic rock at the top of the Royal Mile, a medieval thoroughfare linking the castle to Holyrood House. Housing the Scottish Crown jewels it also has the Stone of Destiny on which Scottish monarchs were crowned. Nearby Holyrood House is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland and best known as the home of Mary Queen of Scots. Visitors can tour the Royal apartments, throne room, the Great Gallery with over 80 portraits of Scottish monarchs and the Queen’s Gallery, Scotland’s first permanent exhibition space for pictures from the Royal Collection. Close by is the Scottish Parliament where free guided tours are available taking visitors from the Main Hall, the Debate Chamber and on to historic Queensberry House.

The Grass Market is nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town with the best shopping the city has to offer. There are over 20 cafes, restaurants and historic pubs and Scottish designers and artisans sell everything from antique books to high fashion. Finish off a day of retail therapy by taking the Cadies and Witchery Tours which take a look at the city’s ghostly side.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Family Friendly San Francisco

Holidays to San Francisco have many family friendly activities. The Aquarium of the Bay on Fisherman’s Wharf has over 20,000 marine animals which can be observed through 300 feet of clear tunnels. San Francisco Zoo is home to exotic animals who live in the Lemur Forest, Gorilla Preserve, African Savannah and Penguin Island. The Presidio of San Francisco, a former military post, is now a national park featuring scenic vistas and walking trails. Then there is Driven Raceway in Sonoma County, an indoor kart racing and family entertainment facility.

For fun seekers Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has the world famous amusement park with its 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and indoor game arcades. iFly SF Bay Indoor Skydiving has simulated indoor skydiving. The Submarine USS Pamparito is an authentic restored World War II submarine where a crew of 80 men once lived for weeks on end. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum on Fisherman’s Wharf was established 43 years ago. With collections of old and unusual exhibits in 11 galleries there is entertainment for all ages. The Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park was founded in 1879 with rare flowers from around the world and five galleries.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Altered Photos

My tutor send me an email assignment: to go outside for five minutes and take ten photos before playing round with them in Photo Shop or some other editing programme. I haven't really explored the effects I can get in PS so spent a happy hour exploring all of them. The above is a shot of sage leaves turned into a watercolour painting.

This is a mossy brick path "wrapped" in plastic which gives it a blurry distorted feel. I was impressed with how deep and vibrant the green of the moss appeared in the photos.

This is my favourite shot- a berry tree that has turned into an ink outlined painting resembling a William Morris design. I keep looking at the photo and finding it hard to believe that this little tree is growing in the garden and in reality is quite nondescript. The possibilities are endless- turn family snapshots into a mosaic, a self portrait into a distorted blurry horror picture, a pet portrait into a charcoal sketch. A great way to spend a cold winter evening.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gone To The Dogs

Everyone thinks I'm primarily a cat painter. I'm not really- it's just that they're more saleable as a cat owner will buy anything with a cat on it whereas a dog owner prefers their own breed. And there are a lot of dog breeds. Recently I received a commission for two brooches showing the owner's lovely King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. One was ordered for her, the other for the dog's breeder.

Within the same week I finished another commission for a paperweight to be given as a birthday present. On one side was the dog's intelligent and finely featured head looking towards someone.

On the other side of the stone I painted the subject "Holly" looking cute and cuddly. Every bit the alert little fox terrier. And now I am working on a portrait of a German Shepherd but it's going to be a long job as I've decided to only base coat in acrylic and to over paint in oils so I can match the beautiful colours in the dog's coat. Hopefully it'll be finished in time for Christmas considering it's meant to be a gift...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pastels and Pondering

Not being a huge fan of pastels I was interested to see how I would find artist quality ones. Conclusion- more vibrant colours and less dust. Also they resulted in a photo realistic picture although that doesn't necessarily equate with good art but rather good copying aka the Hong Kong Horror School of Art.

I have my travel blogging job for a further three months hence the occasional entry on Boston or New York. Also working on the website for Otane Arts and Crafts and should have this completed within the next couple of weeks. The time consuming part is trying to remember how I did things when I built the other websites a few years ago. It's true that if you don't use it you lose it. I dread to think the amount of information I have "lost" over the years and wonder if it's floating out in a never never land of great ideas that occurred while sitting on the loo but evaporated five minutes later.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cheap and Free in Boston

No Boston City break is complete without a visit to The Museum of Fine Arts. Opened in 1876 this now has over 450,000 objects in its collection. More than 1 million visitors annually take advantage of its special exhibitions and imaginative education programs. Admission is free on Wednesday nights. Another must do activity are the Swan Boats which ply the waters of Boston’s 24 acres of Public Gardens. The only boats of their kind in the world this attraction was begun in the 1870s by Robert Paget whose descendants still operate the business.

Boston is one of America’s oldest cities, incorporated as a town in 1630 and as a city in 1822. A Walk To The Sea begins at the State House on Beacon Hill overlooking Boston’s ancient common passing by historic landmarks and buildings for one mile before descending to the sea. The State House built in 1795 by Charles Bullfinch features a copper dome sheathed in 23 carat gold. Tours last 30-45 minutes and include an overview of the history of the state capitol including “The Sacred Cod” a wood codfish hanging in the House Of Representatives as a symbol of the importance of fishing to the Commonwealth.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Art In the City of New York

New York holidays aren’t complete without a visit to the Statue of Liberty. Sculpted by Frederic-Auguste Barthold and modeled on the Colossus of Rhodes this statue was the first landmark seen by 12 million immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island. Donated by the French people in 1886 as a commemoration of the alliance of the two nations during the American Revolution guided tours are available by reservation. Another striking landmark of the city is the Empire State Building. Completed in 1931 it was built in just 410 days and measures 436 ft (145m) in height. Art Deco at its best.

Art lovers are spoilt for choice as New York features several famous world class galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses 2 million works of art ranging from ancient to modern times as well as hosting visiting exhibitions of world masterpieces. The Guggenheim Museum is a work of art in itself as it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and completed just after his death in 1959. The Museum of Modern Art or MoMA was founded in 1929. With over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs is has the most important collection of art in the USA.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Otane Arts and Crafts Exhibition 2010

I've been working hard towards our annual exhibition at Otane, especially as The Friday Portrait Group were the featured artists this year and I had volunteered to paint a nude. I also decided to complete the work in oils as skin tones would be easier to blend than acrylics plus colours don't change when they dry. Of course oils have a much slower drying time so I began painting a couple of months prior and spent an hour each day working in the spare room on an easel to protect my Sleeping Beauty from the attack of the cat fur. Of course I still ended up doing a last minute dash which was not aided by my red background which was still tacky days after I painted it. We were hanging the exhibition a full week before opening so I figured it would have dried out way before then which it did.

To make the featured works pop black tablecloths were hung on the wall and the pictures pinned and nailed on top. There were a mixture of working sketches and completed paintings from our life sessions. There was a positive reaction from the public- especially the men. One gentleman took a particular liking to my Sleeping Beauty and asked if he could have the model's phone number. Then he asked if the price meant the model was thrown in as well. I told him he had more chance getting the artist at that price. One old man headed over to the wall with a very determined look on his face only to have his wife grab him by the arm and drag him out of the room. Then there was the local radio announcer who was phoning in reports to Central FM over Friday morning. His eyes firmly fixed on boobs galore he remarked that "the paintings are really superb- you wouldn't think they were done by locals at all!" Did hear on the grapevine that some women in the centre found the works "offensive" but they find us a bit uncouth so that was no surprise.

I had a very strong feeling that with the recession and the tough financial times we would be very lucky to sell as many paintings as we did last year. In the end we sold one- a watercolour by Donna Dahm. However cards went extremely well as did Marie N's art dolls and my hand painted soaps and stone brooches. Marie had brought in four bookcases and painted them white the night before she and I were setting up. I thought I'd made sooo much stuff but when I arranged everything it looked quite meagre. However the display created a great deal of interest with the public and we sold well.

As leaders Glenys and I felt we had to be on duty perhaps more than we needed. I had twisted everyone's arms and had a full roster to help out. I set up my jewellery stand on Wednesday June 2nd, we went to the members' opening on the 3rd, spent Friday the 4th there, Saturday morning and the whole of Monday the 7th. The weather was extremely mild, there were good numbers of people coming through and Glenys had chocolate hidden under the table so the exhibition turned out to be a good thing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Getting To Grips With Oils

Working with oil paints after so many years has been quite an experience. Firstly remembering the different rates that colours dry- particularly challenging in that I have a mottled red background in the nude painting I am working on which I should have finished a couple of weeks ago to allow it to dry properly. However the flesh tones that I mixed with a white alkyd dry overnight and can be worked over the next day. Then there is having to plan where the painting can safely sit while wet so that it's not smooched or sat upon by various hairy individuals in the household. Tonight it's perched on top of the vacuum cleaner in the bottom of the hot water cylinder cupboard.

This is the second of two tea pot collages I did a couple of weeks ago. I painted several sheets of paper different colours then cut them and stuck them down in this crazy patchwork. Took hours. One of those projects where you spend so much time on it you feel as if your life is slipping away.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Historic City of Montreal

For one hundred and fifty years the historic city of Montreal was the industrial and financial centre of Canada. Now composed of nineteen large boroughs that are subdivided into smaller neighborhoods including the Plateau which is considered Canada’s most creative neighbourhood. Ville-Marie is the borough with the most neighborhoods including the city’s downtown, Cité Multimédia, Chinatown and the Latin Quarter.

Old Montreal is a historic area with restored architecture and cobbled streets featuring horse-drawn caléches transporting tourists around the city. The Old Port is a riverside area maintained by Parks Canada and is rich with historic buildings including mills, warehouses, factories and refineries. Old Montreal is accessible via the Underground City, a collection of interconnected complexes above and below the ground in downtown Montreal.

Besides its historic architecture Montreal is a capital of culture. In 2006 the city was named one of three UNESCO Cities of Design (the two others being Buenos Aires and Berlin). Cheap flights to Montreal ensure visitors can attend such events as the Just For Laughs comedy festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Nuit d’Afrique and the Montreal World Film Festival. The city is also centre for French language TV, theatre, radio and film productions .

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Toronto: City Of Culture

Cheap flights to Toronto can transport arts aficionados to a major international city for culture. Featuring more than fifty ballet and dance companies including the National Ballet of Canada, six opera companies and two symphony orchestras Toronto also has many world class performance venues including the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres and the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Each summer the Canadian Stage Company presents an outdoor Shakespeare production in Toronto’s High Park. Other annual events include the “Caribana Festival” held mid July to early August. Based on the Trinidad and Tobago carnival this event attracts one million people to Toronto’s Lake Shore Boulevard and generates $300 million in revenue.

Ontario Place hosts the world’s first permanent IMX movie theatre as well as the Molson Amphitheatre, an open air venue for large concerts. “Distillery District” is a pedestrian village where tourists can visit artists’ studios, restaurants, boutiques and small breweries including the Mill Street Brewery.

Toronto is also base for the production of domestic and foreign films and television. Pinewood Toronto Studios is Canada’s largest television and film production complex with five sound stages and the Toronto International Film Festival is an important annual event for the international film industry.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life Models

A couple of our regular life models have moved away which has left us in the tough position of trying to find a replacement. This is not easy as Central Hawkes Bay is a fairly conservative area when it comes to "that sort of thing". Even an advertisement in the CHB mail didn't even garner one single reply, not even a cheeky one. However this week we were lucky to find a woman from Napier who doesn't mind travelling down to Otane every three weeks to work with us. Not only that but she is amazingly fit having been a ballet dancer and now a yoga practitioner so she was able to hold difficult poses without even twitching. AND she knew how to pose so did her own thing without needing any input from us. For one of the longer stints I tried out my new artists' pastels and have to say I am still not a fan of pastel. Even working on proper paper with a good tooth I still managed to collect a good layer of dust over my easel. Obviously still doing something wrong.

As the Friday Portrait Group are the guest artists for our Queen's birthday Weekend exhibition there was some discussion over what to submit. We have decided to display some of our better drawings to show the public what we do on a Friday as there is quite a lot of sniggering and misapprehension as to what goes on in our sessions. I don't know why- there's nothing wrong with the naked body as long as it isn't yours!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting Stuck On Collage

It is so easy to get stuck on a painting. Not stuck in a good way but completely paralyzed and unable to finish. With myself I find I am so scared that I am going to make a mistake that each brush stroke feels like it could potentially wreck hours and hours of work. That is the perfectionist in me and is why I had to give watercolour away for so many years. Acrylics were a revelation- you could paint over your whoopsies.

Now I have found the solution to the procrastination. Have more than one project on the go. That way when you feel yourself making excuses for not working (or stressing when you are) you can just move onto something else. At the moment I have an oil painting of a nude, a pen and ink logo and several cat brooches on the go. During the day I will switch from one to the other when I feel myself becoming stale and starting to sigh more than usual.

Another way to freshen your outlook is to try something completely different. Maybe a new media, a new technique, a subject you've never tried before. Recently for me it has been collage. I always associated this art form with bad school projects but now I see it as having a wealth of possibilities. In this exercise I drew one of my teapots in charcoal before photocopying it twice and using these templates as bases for collages. In this one I have ripped up some of that boring old junk mail we get every week as it had the nice glossy surface I wanted. The original teapot was royal blue but in this picture I have changed it to a comfortable brown but still retained its shadows and highlights. The only disadvantage with collage is that it takes ages to do as each piece of paper has to be fitted to the next like a jigsaw. But as a fun project with no expectations it's a great way to kick start your creative juices. And that's what art should definitely be about- having fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Woolsheds and Weed Paintings

Last Wednesday saw a few of my art group heading to Ashley Clinton to paint the Ashcott Station Woolshed. Marie S and her husband collected me and fortunately because the property is on State Highway 50 I didn’t really get us too badly lost. The woolshed was old, dark green and now serving as a slightly tumbledown pigeon residence. After wandering around and taking some photos Marie S and I sat with the sun on our backs, had morning tea, talked a bit and tried to look enthusiastic since it was both our first that way as the building turned out to be tricky to draw. I measured, I erased, I redrew, and by the time lunch had arrived had managed to get a pretty faint outline onto paper.

Like many large stations Ashcott has been broken up and the original homestead is no longer part of a working farm. We were lucky enough to have permission to have lunch in its grounds and saw close up the extensive renovation work taking place on this massive building. The front of the house belies what lies behind. According to Helen a whole wing had been taken down (I assume it was too damaged to repair) but even so the house must be a maze of rooms inside. As I went around snapping I kept finding more bay windows, more hidden balconies and more evidence of all the work the owner is undertaking to try and bring it back to life.

Apparently I am no better sketching homesteads than I am woolsheds. You’d think straight lines would be easier than bodies but apparently not. It’s all I assume a matter of practice. As I remarked to Marie- perhaps it might be easier to start on something simpler like my cottage (or the woodshed).

So I have finally-nearly-almost finished the painted book I have been working on as part of my Learning Connexion course for the past weeks (a friend says it’s months but I try not to think about that). The exercise was meant to be an illustrated poem so I took one of my own as it had floral imagery and edited it into page sized pieces. I prepared the calico with gesso before swirling colour onto it with acrylic but in thin glazes ala watercolour. After that I wrote the poem out with a calligraphy pen (an old fashioned job that you dipped into ink). This took a while as the calico soaked up the ink like Sponge Bob Squarepants so every letter meant a new dip.

I drew the flowers in pencil and then outlined them in ink before wetting each petal with water and swirling colour into it. I even managed to accomplish my first dew drop courtesy of one of the instruction books I bought at the Bookarama a couple of weeks ago. I used to paint flowers a great deal when I was younger until the cost of framing my watercolours drove me into the arms of acrylics and financial considerations meant I had to turn to pet portraiture. Long live flowers with their beautiful vibrant colours. They are so much easier to draw than woolsheds…

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Montreal- City of Culture and Fun

Flights to Montreal arrive in the largest city in Quebec and second largest in Canada. Situated on two large islands on part of the St Lawrence River this cosmopolitan city known for its cold winters and wonderfully hot and sunny summers.

One of the main features of the city is the Casino de Montreal which offers 24 hour gambling, food and drinks. For shoppers The Underground City links major buildings and multi level shopping malls in the downtown area. Sheltered from the weather it offers access to cinemas, food courts, entertainment and a wide range of goods and services. The Notre Dame Basilica, a neogothic church dating from 1829, features beautiful interior with stained glass windows, statues, a Casavant organ and the largest bell on the continent.

Mount Royal is part of Mount Royal park and overlooks downtown Montreal, across the river towards the Monteregian Hills. The top is divided between two cemeteries, the Catholic Notre Dame des Neiges and nondenominational Mount Royal cemetery, and a park. The Olympic Stadium was built for Montreal’s 1976 Summer Olympics and is still used for sports events and concerts. Next door is the Biodome originally used for cycle racing, now an indoor zoo.

Monday, April 19, 2010


After waiting for a year the first day of the Pakareki Lions' Bookarama finally arrived (16th April). Rose and I left here at 8am in the chill and arrived at Waipukurau by 8.25am. There were already a few people there including the ubiquitous dealers sitting along the front doors so that no one else could get near. They had large fadge sized bags into which they would later sweep books off the tables without even looking at the titles. Fortunately only a few people had arrived at that point and I was next to someone I knew from art who was waiting patiently with her three daughters. As the sky began to cloud up and darken more people began to arrive. The polite ones lined up behind us but the cheekier individuals went an alternative route and pushed in front of the line. Eventually there were several well dressed people crowding by the dealers.

At 8.45am it began to rain yet the dealers and other rude buggers wouldn't let us under the overhang of the building. Some of the organisers must have seen our predicament and opened the door to let us shelter in the lobby which is when the nastiness began. Pushing, shoving to get in front, not only was I knocked about but an old lady on a walker was nearly pushed over. We huddled in the lobby until the crush began to get unbearable when the main doors were opened and everyone tried to squeeze through at once. I get claustrophobic at the best of times but this was really frightening although Rose and I got into the hall without being punched. There were tables and tables of books (over 18,000) that had been donated. I couldn't see the art section but someone pointed it out and I rushed over in time to meet a friend (also called Rose) from portraiture who was also keen to get some books. She and I worked together, swapping books and finding titles for each other. I was thrilled to find a copy of Susan Harrison Tustain's "Glorious Flowers In Watercolour" which usually retails at $70 for just $2. Also three large folders of watercolour magazines for just $1 each.

I only rifled through a few sections before my two bags were so full I couldn't lift them at all. A friend's eldest daughter stood guard over them for me (if you left your books unattended someone would go through them) before I ran out of energy and money> I sat there exhausted, shocked that only half an hour had passed. By the time we left the building it was pouring with rain so there was a mad dash to the car with the stash of goodies. Oh how I wish I'd had more bags and money as I would have come out with double- as it was I bought 33 books (mainly reference- art, history, crafts). But as Rose reminds me there's always next year.

I have begun the Design In Sculpture section of my Learning Connexion course which meant playing with clay. My first exercise was a fantasy creature which I called "Washed Up Mermaid". Rose pointed out that her breasts were too upright considering she's lying down but as I told her she'd just had silicon implants put in by a shady squid doctor which is why she was washed up deceased on the beach. Then made a small rabbit sculpture which was meant to represent a French Angora rabbit although it seemed to be suffering a severe case of gastroenteritis as it was a bit on the skinny side. One exercise consisted of making an abstract sculpture representing an emotion. I chose grief but the resulting piece resembled a urinal with a giant brown jaffa sitting at the bottom...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cosmopolitan Toronto

Toronto began as a small French colony in the 17th Century before the American Revolution saw families loyal to the British fleeing northwards to safety. Many settled beside the north shore of Lake Ontario establishing the town known as York. In 1834 the name was changed to Toronto, the Indian word meaning “Meeting Place”.

In the early 20th century the English nature of the city was changed and enhanced by the cultures brought in by an influx of immigrants. This saw Toronto turn into a city with 80 ethnic groups speaking more than 100 languages.

Also known as Canada’s commercial capital Toronto features “Yonge Street” the longest street in the world and the city’s main north-south artery. Toronto’s main landmarks are the CN tower, the world’s tallest standing structure with glass-fronted elevators rising 1,815ft (553m) to indoor and outdoor observation decks and “Skydome” an entertainment complex with retractable roof. Besides these there are also museums, art galleries, massive shopping complexes, a dynamic stock exchange, cutting edge architecture, first class restaurants and hundreds of parks.

Flights to Toronto have an average flight time of 7 hours and 20 minutes from Dublin with a time zone only 5 hours earlier than GMT.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


My friend Pete died on Tuesday- he was 42 years old. He first wrote to me fifteen years ago just after his brother died of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome when I was setting up the NZ support group. We first met ten years ago when he flew up from Timaru for a conference I'd organized in Napier. After the weekend of lectures we spent a day together, we went to lunch and then spent the afternoon sitting in a park talking, comparing dislocations and flat feet. Since then Pete had kept in constant touch, he remembered my birthdays and Christmas, he rang me every day for a week after my Dad died, he was always there when I needed someone to talk to. Six years ago his bowel perforated and we nearly lost him but against all the odds he survived. Every day was a miracle although he did still have his health scares, bleeds that put him in hospital, sleepy days when he couldn't do much plus times of extreme pain. Just recently however he had a period of good health and was able to go fishing with his friends and do a lot of the things he wanted to do. The fact that his death was caused by medical misadventure by an arrogant doctor who lied and didn't listen to the family when they told him that Pete couldn't be given Warfarin as he had a bleeding problem just adds another layer of pain to an already painful situation. And it will go on as there is to be an inquest into his death.

I wanted to curl up in a ball after hearing the news about Pete. Certainly I had no intention of going to art on Wednesday but then I heard that it had been arranged that we could go and sketch in the garden on "Punawai" a property just off State Highway 50. Gay picked me up on her way and we arrived just after 9.30am. It was a beautiful Autumn morning and the trees were just beginning to turn gold around the dam turned garden pond. A feeling on serenity and peace pervaded the property. I wandered around with a camera ending up taking 80 photos of the English style country garden, the park-like grounds and the many sculptures dotted around. Finally I settled down to sketch near a creek. I was determined to draw some trees in ink and ended up spending nearly two hours scribbling away. After lunch I left with Gay to have afternoon tea at the Onga Onga General Store so didn't get a chance to put a watercolour wash onto the drawing until the next day by which time I had developed a pissy little head cold which I am still trying to shake off. I hope the picture conveys some of the peace of that lovely place.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two Exhibitions In One Day

This week I received my first payment for three months of travel blogging I'm doing for an Irish company. I also received a cheque from a gallery that had sold a couple of my brooches, my first payment from them in a year. My electricity company will be very happy. In a recession the arts tend to suffer first as they're considered a luxury. Jobs are tougher to get, paintings are harder to sell. Therefore I thought it was very brave of Liala Ireland to ask to hire our art room at Otane this weekend to hold an exhibition of her pastel works. Yesterday after portrait class we cleared the room of all furniture, found hangers for the frames and put the boards up at the windows so that there would be more room for her works. This morning my friend Gay and I left at 9.30am to help Lea for the morning and arrived to find her in the midst of doing last minute tasks. She hadn't enough hangers for her works so I wandered around the Otane Arts Centre and nicked some from the other rooms so she could complete hanging. When someone remarked there was no signage I took one of the Centre's signs out by the road with a notice advertising Liala's exhibition. Gay took another out to State Highway 2 and put it on display. Despite radio and newspaper advertising by the time Gay and I left the centre no one had been through to look at the exhibition. It reminded me of my disastrous day at the Waipawa 150th Celebrations market six weeks ago. I hope that a crowd with plenty of money arrived after lunch and bought every picture.

Gay and I went down the road to McCauley's Cafe to have a drink and something to eat. Afterwards we went to the Central Hawkes Bay Settler's Museum to have a quick look at the Mary Bibby exhibition that was opening that afternoon. Mary Bibby came to NZ as a young woman, married, had several children, started the CWI in Waipawa, was active in the Church etc. but still found time to paint. Gay and I were allowed in to look at the exhibit before the official opening which was a bit fraught as we felt like two naughty children but it did mean we weren't trapped with a crowd. There was an interesting display of drawings and paintings of local landscapes and buildings plus a write up about her life including a moving account of her final day written by her son in whose arms she passed away overlooking Kairakau Beach.

I was a bit away with it when I saw a woman turn and smile at me. Got a surprise to see it was Joy Cowley who was launching her new book at the museum later that day. I rustled up some courage and told her that she'd written one of my favourite short stories. She smiled and asked which one and I told her it was "The Silk" and how it had actually made me cry. She seemed quite surprised and said she'd written it a long time ago but that just the day before a girl from Weta Workshop had rung her to say that she'd bought the rights to the story and was going to make a short film of it. I congratulated her and before I ended up turning into a complete pain wished her a happy stay in Hawkes Bay and left one happy literary groupie.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Destination Las Vegas

Situated in the Mojave Desert Las Vegas is easily the world’s biggest theme park. Since 1946 when Mafia Don Ben “Bugsy” Siegal opened the Flamingo Hilton on Highway 91 this city of 1 million inhabitants has entertained 35 million visitors per year.

Las Vegas houses 18 of 21 of the largest hotels in the world ranging from the family friendly Luxor resort to the opulent Bellagio Hotel. However room rates and restaurant bills are the lowest in the Western world. The world famous “Strip” sports the skylines of New York and Paris, Egyptian Pyramids, Venetian Canals and Treasure Island where an on-sea battle between a pirate ship and British Galleon is re-enacted. Elvis, Liberace and Frank Sinatra entertained in Las Vegas and today visitors can book to see shows by artists as varied as Lance Burton to Cirque du Soleil.

Although Las Vegas is most closely associated with casinos and gambling it’s also now marketed as a family destination with theme parks, shopping malls and golf courses. Nature lovers can leave the city environs and visit the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Red Rock and Grand Canyons. Reasonably priced Las Vegas Deals make this city an affordable holiday destination.

Popping With Poppies

The dozens of poppy photos I took in the Spring finally came in handy when I began working on this tiny (2"x3") painting. Focusing on the centre of this ruffled flower made for an interesting piece of abstraction but was frustrating to paint until the last moments when the jigsaw finally began making sense.

My favourite feature of this piece is the tiny easel it sits on. I have several of these in stock so have ideas for landscapes, animal and other flower paintings but am unsure as to whether these will sell. Oh the joys of trying to be saleable. I have sent this painting and "Autumn Journey, Tikokino" to the end of term exhibition at The Learning Connexion Wellington.

Our last two portrait sessions have been model-less but having to draw each other has been fun as we get to draw several different body types within two hours. I sat for two poses yesterday in positions that were comfortable for me yet when I looked at every one's drawings I realised how hunched over and disjointed I appear as if I am having an out of body experience. The joys of being hyper mobile.

Had a visit from the local Occupational Therapist on Thursday but instead of health issues we had a ninety minute conversation on crafts. She actually gave me many great ideas to follow, ideas for subjects, ideas for mediums and outlets. I was so hyped up after her visit that I wore myself out and had to have a cat nap. Inspiration is all very well but it sure wears a girl out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Destination Orlando Florida

Florida is closely associated with Walt Disney who built his Magic Kingdom there 40 years ago. This has grown to encompass four main theme parks including Epcot, the Animal Kingdom as well as Disney Studios along with dozens of smaller attractions (including two cruise ships), hundreds of restaurants and snack bars as well as thousands of hotel rooms.

Daytona Beach in central Eastern Florida stretches for 23 miles (37 kms). Jet skiing, surfing, para sailing, fishing, cycling and beach cruising (during the day) are just some of the pastimes available to vacationers. Seaworld, the Orlando Odditorium which houses Robert Ripley’s collection of weird and wonderful exhibits, the Orlando Museum of Art and Daytona Speedway where the annual Daytona 500 Nascar race is held are just a few of the exciting attractions the area has to offer. An hour’s drive away is the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral or you can watch the space launch from the beach, sail, fish or walk the 840 ft historic pier at nearby Cocoa Beach.

Flights to Orlando Florida are reasonably priced and with a time zone only 5 hours earlier than GMT this exciting destination is easily accessible for families or the intrepid tourist.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Agony, Ecstasy and the AGM

Already the nights are drawing in- in fact they're doing more drawing than I am at the moment. I haven't been firing at portrait class the past two sessions, perhaps because I am tired or grumpy (probably both). I have been busy making pressed flower cards as part of my order from Country Collectables and was able to deliver the bulk of this to the shop on Tuesday. Anyone traveling through Waipukurau should stop by and have a look at the great items sold there, all beautifully displayed and colour co-ordinated. I wish I could find an outlet for my pendants now but think I may have to extend my subject matter beyond animal portraits.

Monday the 1st was the AGM for the Otane Arts and Crafts Corner Inc. I was voted in as leader of the art group with Glenys swapping back to deputy. When the general business section came the President asked me to talk about the website I might design for the club. I had taken along the laptop with a couple of screen shots of my websites but people were more interested in discussing how the website would be financed and updated. Many members weren't computer savvy, in particular there was some confusion as one lady was adamant that Google provided free web hosting but it turned out she was talking about belonging to a Yahoo group which wouldn't really advertise what our organisation does or increase our membership in the same way as a website. It is now up to the executive to approve my fee (have no idea what to ask) and an honorarium for running the site.

Been doing a few different things this week including calligraphy with pen and ink for the first time in many years. Making a book featuring one of my poems. Also have some clay sculpture to do as part of my course. Not one of my strengths I will readily admit. And I finally finished "The Agony and the Ecstasy" by Irving Stone. All 781 pages of it. I always thought it was just about Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel and his struggle with Pope Julius but the book actually covered his life from age 14 through to his death at 86. His agony was common to any artist- having to please buyers, sometimes undertaking commissions you don't really want to do. His ecstasy those magic moments when the work grows of its own volition, when the artist's vision takes material form and something special results. Hopefully you don't have to be a genius to feel the ecstasy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sketches and Another Outlet

The benefit of having a digital camera is that I've been able to take it along to my portraiture class Friday mornings and snap away so that I have ended up with a good selection of shots of each model. My intention for doing this was so that I could work on longer and more detailed drawings at home. The beautiful model for the drawing above was Miko, a Japanese University student who was working on organic farms throughout New Zealand.

The second drawing was a bit more difficult as it was a member of my family- my cousin Gwendolyn who lives in Australia. I'm not sure if she'd really like this sketch as she's much prettier in life but I am hoping it does give some sense of her calm and peaceful nature. I told a friend this week that after I'm "gone" (in the permanent sense) my family will go through all my visual diaries, ripping out unflattering pictures of themselves. Rather like when I was at Port Ahuriri primary school and the teacher had us draw one of our parents so that the results could be sold off as a fund raiser at the school gala. I drew my mother with her Dame Edna glasses, curly red hair and the turquoise synthetic top she loved to wear. I was so proud of my effort as I thought it really looked like her but obviously my mother had a different take on it as she made sure we arrived at the gala before everyone else, bought the drawing and shoved it into her handbag. I never saw it again!

Yesterday after art group I bit the bullet again and took my goods to Country Collectables in Waipukurau, coming out with an order for cards, three brooches and some soaps. It wasn't as nerve wracking as my first wholesaling attempt but I had to bite back my disappointment that the owner didn't purchase any of my pendants. However she seemed to stock the ubiquitous beaded necklaces that are so in fashion at the moment and my hand painted pendants would not have fitted with the general feel of the shop. I will continue to find somewhere to place these.

Today I managed to get three months of writing work. Hopefully this is the start of me getting back to wielding the pen and not just the brush.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Picking Myself Up and Kicking Myself In The Butt

Theme tune for this week was "Pick Yourself Up (Dust Yourself Off and Start All Over Again)". Tuesday morning I took a couple of boxes of my work to Country Traders, a gift shop in Waipawa. Ended up selling three brooches, six soaps and quite a few cards wholesale- hopefully this will develop into an ongoing relationship. The difficulty with approaching retailers personally is that you have to develop a thick skin in that your "babies" are about to be criticized as they are seen from a seller's viewpoint. You also have to bite your tongue when something original and hand painted is compared to a mass produced "cheap" (read tacky) item. Still everyone has to start somewhere.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Waipawa 150th Celebrations Market

I worked like a dog this past week completing $1000.00 worth of work for Waipawa's 150th Celebratory market at Coronation Park. The first glitch occurred Friday night when I rang to check that the person who was bringing my jewellery stand from Hastings Community Arts Centre had done so. She had forgotten. So till 11.30pm that night I was busy finding baskets for cards, my black velvet covered polystyrene block to hang my pendants from as well as finishing pressed flower cards and wrapping brooches.

Up early the next morning I had a phone call from Hastings from the lady who had forgotten to collect my stand. She'd driven all the way back to work to collect it and would leave it outside her house for me to pick up. I was running late when Gay who was helping me for the day turned up. She loaded the car while I finished letting chooks out, feeding chicks, getting dressed etc. By the time we arrived in Waipawa it was 9.20am (ten minutes before I was meant to be at the park) so Gay rushed in to find the stand which she couldn't see so I went around the back and discovered it under a staircase. By the time we'd rearranged the car to accommodate it we were very late but were allowed into the park despite being one minute before cut off.

Most stallholders were established by this point so we looked around to find Marie N whom I was sharing the stall with. She was busy trying to unravel the intricacies of her new second hand marquee along with two helpful men who were sticking poles in various places. There was a generalised panic but after throwing the canvas roof over the frame they were able to fit the corner poles in and lift the whole thing into place. The next door stallholder had agreed to come under the marquee with us in return for us taking over some of her space so she set up in one half which left us with the other.

Marie had brought along four round tables (two each)for us both but as she unloaded them from the trailer each one the legs pulled away from the wood so they couldn't stand which left us with one four foot diameter table between us. I covered this with a tablecloth and by 10.45am had set up the table and hung some small paintings up on a a cargo net Marie had strung between on the side. I sat out the front and began painting to try and draw people in while Marie sat at the back and stitched her dolls.

And then we waited. The main parade arrived in the park at 11am with the public following. A great many people walked past including some in costume, a few friends popped in to say hi, but few public ventured in. Then a nor'wester began blowing everything around. My business cards took off, dolls flew off the table, paintings swung around but fortunately I had painted stones so was able to use them as paperweights to hold things down.

By lunch time I had stopped painting and did a bit of rearranging to try and entice people in. By 2pm the next bout of wind began and by that time I had had enough. For apart from Gay buying a couple of cards and the stall holder next door a couple of soaps I sold nothing at all to the public. This for the first time in over twelve years. I packed up my stock, Gay loaded the car and we asked a couple of ladies to help us lift the marquee over the other stall holder who hadn't packed up so that we could help dismantle it. No way were we wanting to leave Marie to cope with having to pack that away all on her own.

Both Marie and I came out of the event out of pocket and me with my confidence absolutely shattered. I had items marked from $3 upwards, everything professionally packaged, everything original and hand painted. Why why why?

Next post will be titled "How To Deal With Failure" once I work out how you do that.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Hare and There

Just a week out from Waipawa's 150th Celebrations and I am booked in to share a stall with Marie N at Coronation Park next Saturday (13th Feb). The toughest part of preparing for a market is guessing what will sell and combining popular items while trying out new products. My soaps have been selling since I began decorating them just over a year ago so I decided to add another theme to the line. However I am unsure as to whether they'll sell as most people don't enjoy seeing a hare on their soap...

For a break from my incessant puddling I went along to portraiture yesterday morning where we drew a new member of the art group. Robyn sat incredibly still and her classic features made for some interesting sketches.

When I arrived home there were two packages from TLC sitting by the back door (materials I'd ordered) so after lunch I spent an enjoyable half hour unpacking all my goodies. I now have a small visual diary which I have put inside my purse so I can sketch when I'm out and about. I also ordered clay for sculpting, sepia ink and a set of calligraphy nibs to replace my old pen that was given to me on my 21st and which is now worn out (a bit like me really). Also ordered fresh sketch pads and canvases. There is nothing as joyous as an unused sketchpad or brand new book, both of which are full of endless possibilities and undiscovered excitements.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Autumn Journey, Tikokino

On the 24th January I promised to go to the baptism of a friend's baby son in Waipawa. By the time I arrived home and had lunch it was after 1pm before I began continuing work on my pointillist painting which I had unimaginatively titled "Autumn Journey, Tikokino". I worked throughout the afternoon into the evening with the picture perched on a small easel on my knee, my paints arranged on a bean bag beside me. The night passed in a blur to the rumbling soundtrack of TV: "Enchanted", "Doc Martin", "Stargate Atlantis", "Wes Craven's Dracula 3" Legacy" and "Alamo". Finishing this not-quite-an-all-nighter I turned my lights off at 3am, getting three hours sleep before packaging the picture for a friend to deliver to Vidal's Winery for the selection process. It wasn't until the following Friday that I heard that the painting had been selected for Art Hawkes Bay's exhibition "Shapes and Scapes of Hawkes Bay".

Apart from the fraught hours painting my nemesis (trees) I attended two portraiture sessions including a life drawing session where the model was 78 years old. She enjoyed regaling us with the story of how she met someone in the Post Shop who knew she was going to pose for us. The woman asked her if she was going to have a Brazilian and our model, assuming in her ignorance that this was a stiff drink, replied that no but she needed one...

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Art Of The Pre-Raphaelites

Hard to believe a month has gone by since our last portrait session but today was our first for the year. How true it is that if you don't use it you lose it- my rubbery fingers fumbled trying to make an intelligible mark. Our model was a local girl who works on a farm near Onga Onga. What she thought of our mad group I have no idea. I don't think most of us know what to make of our mad group either.

Currently reading "The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites" by Elizabeth Prettiejohn. Gives an excellent insight into their working methods, how they began with a brilliant white background, painstakingly building up the picture with small brushes and completing every detail in the background before beginning to work on the main subject-their devotion to working from nature was their raison d'etre.Every part of the painting was considered as important as every other part. At the time this was considered a rebellion against the art establishment and the group were ridiculed until John Ruskin took up their cause. Although the male counterparts of the Brotherhood are famous their female associates such as Evelyn Pickering, Elizabeth Siddall, and Rosa Brett are rightfully becoming of more interest to critics. Their work is of equal quality but they were limited by education and lifestyle (in particular marriage). Thankfully times have sort of changed and women have more opportunities for pursuing their careers and passions.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Rocking Hobbit House

I have too many half finished projects sitting around the place so decided to pick just one to finish before New Year's Day. Found this rock on a river bed near the village of Onga Onga. Rivers tend to produce interestingly shaped stones and this one said "Hobbit House" to me. For months it has sat dustily on my dining room table with just its lawn roof completed.

I'm not sure how many hours I spent on this house. Far too many to make it financially profitable but that's not the point I guess. The bricks in particular had to be painted unthinkingly so I didn't fall asleep with boredom. The lead light windows are my favourite feature- I would love these in my own house.

It's interesting to look at a rock and then make features out of its bumps and lumps although I am sure I'll be asked how I added the chimney (that shape was already present). The sad part is that the finished product will just be regarded as "just craft" as it's merely painted on a stone.