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.