Sunday, September 15, 2013

Feel The fear And Do It Anyway

I have many creative ideas to the point that I'll need, as a friend once told me, to live forever to finish even a portion of them. Having a block is never a problem with me but anxiety is. Not beginning a project because I think it's beyond my capabilities has meant I will often put off work till tomorrow deluding myself that I will magically become Leonardo De Vinci while I sleep. Another day means another bout of procrastination and then a week turns into a month with very little of worth done in the art line.

Deadlines always helped me to paint something. Entering an exhibition means I have to complete work although I might not begin painting until the last minute, sometimes working until 3am and sending the painting in barely dry. Not only does this mean that I can convince myself that I can't do any better because of the time issues it's also stopped me endlessly reworking a picture which in a way is a good thing.

I have learned to embrace these foibles of mine. I know the panic I feel in the middle of painting will pass, that I can only do the best I can do at the time. Instead of looking at the entire work and thinking "I can't do this, it's too much" I'll tell myself I have half an hour spare and I should try to finish the eyes or the hair or slop in some background. Working in small bites of time really helps although discovering what times of day I work best has been a major development for me recently. For example I enjoy working late morning and mid afternoon plus some of my best work has been done late at night. If I need a nap I'll take one so that I can come back fresh. Tiredness just feeds anxiety.

In late May I attended "The Art Of Innovation" workshop run by Alice and Jonathan Milne of The Learning Connexion which pointed out many of my hang ups and worries plus encouraging me to find solutions to overcoming them. Listening to the other participants I realized I was not on my own in feeling inadequate whether it was having a messy house in one case to having health issues in another. My solution was to constantly have a goal or deadline before me and to feel the fear and do it anyway.

My first fearful deadline was to enter two 4" x 4" paintings into Electra Gallery's "Small Works" exhibition in early June. I didn't step too far out of my box and stuck with my tried and true animal portraiture. The first work is of a mini lop bunny called "Loppy". I gessoed the canvas black and then spent some time building up fur in glazed layers of acrylic.
"Loppy" an acrylic painting on 4" x 4" boxed canvas

Everything is better in pairs so I teamed Loppy up with another popular breed, a Dutch bunny called "Lapin". I have kept rabbits since 1986 so it was with some amusement in my family that when I searched for my biological mother we discovered her maiden name was Lappin. I was truly a bunny girl born and bred.
"Lapin" another acrylic painting on 4" x 4" boxed canvas
The next exhibition of note in the area was the annual "Art Extravaganza" at the Pukeora Estate in Waipukurau. This is probably the biggest exhibition in Hawkes Bay these days with entries coming in from around New Zealand. I have entered six times, been accepted five and sold twice so it's something I always try to paint towards. For two years I have intended to complete a huge painting developing a drawing I did several years ago. I even bought a 20" by 40" canvas (the largest I would have ever attempted) which leaned against the easel reproachfully for months before I gave up and opted for safety completing a small cat painting instead.
"Kitteh" an acrylic painting on 8" x 8" boxed canvas
Of course I knew they'd think I'd mistyped the title so the painting was displayed as "Kitten" but I had some positive feedback from those who saw it although no sales (well we've been through a severe drought here this year so all the farmers are broke and not buying art).

My next goal is to finally complete that huge canvas. I've gessoed it and chalked in the outlines and it's staring at me from an armchair in the sitting room. I've got my first solo exhibition in November this year and I have no choice but to get it done. Plus I have a website to complete and two markets to prepare for. So now I am feeling the fear big time but picking up a brush nevertheless.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fun With Collage

I look forward to Tuesdays now since our TukiTuki Art Collective mornings are about having fun and learning something new. Last week we met at a member's home in Waipukurau where Marie Neilson introduced us to the craft of embossing. My favourite part of the craft was that it involves "Sparkly Stuff".
Busy having a ball!
Marie and Pam had also brought along items to demonstrate stamping. After eeewing and ahhing over a Neapolitan ice cream style ink pad in pinks and mauves we watched as she taught our other Marie how to make a bunch of pansies. I have one stamp which I bought for 50c on a sales table at our local scrapbooking shop so I may actually get this out and use it now.
Two Maries sharing stamping tips
I began a collage which I managed to finish yesterday. Firstly I painted an A3 size piece of watercolour paper with purple, alizarin crimson and cerulean blue acrylic paints. I then leafed through some old glossy magazines (NZ House and Garden are my favourites) for images that jumped off the page at me. I positioned these before gluing with Mod Podge. I had also painted tissue paper with watercolours and these were shredded and added to the mix. Later in the week I applied impasto gel with a palette knife, nearly asphyxiating myself in the process (safety note- make sure the room you're working in has a window open) before adding more tissue and overlaying with paper lace. I also added some tiny gold hearts with a gel pen but these aren't easily seen in the photograph.

"Airs and Graces" collage
I realize some people look down their nose at collage but when you consider that Picasso was one of the first artists to employ it in his work I think they should begin to lighten up and smell the Mod Podge. I probably won't be able to sell this collage but it was a bit of fun and I inspired myself with some new ideas which I can put in my future work. Following the example of one of my friends I will now devote a visual diary to collage and feed that inner child. I think I will have to live and extra fifty years to fit in all the new things I want to learn plus find a rich sugar Daddy to fund them all.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

TukiTuki Art Collective

I don't cope well with change but sometimes it is time to move on from situations and to begin new things which is why I started an art collective two weeks ago. I invited seven people from my previous art group, five have committed to joining although one will only be attending once a month. There are only two rules- one is that we're serious about having fun with our creativity and the other is "No Committees"! Each Tuesday we will meet at a different home to do something enjoyable, bring along our latest work for feedback and generally have a laugh. After some discussion we decided on the TukiTuki Art Collective as a name as that encompasses a large area although at the moment the group is by invitation only.
My small visual diary exclusively devoted to Zentangle
I haven't painted in the past few weeks although that doesn't mean I haven't been creating. I bought a small 21cm x 14.5cm visual diary which could comfortably fit two Zentangles on each page. I enjoy working in graphic black and white and these works have been a relaxing change for me as I leave the workbook beside the sofa so I can pick it up when I'm in the mood. I have challenged myself to use one element from each tangle in the following one to allow some sense of continuity. If I really wanted to challenge myself I would complete one Zentangle per day but I am one of the slowest workers in the world and a girl can only cope with so many changes in one month!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rush Munro

Had another trip to the big smoke with the occasional Stud Muffin yesterday so I could spend time with my sis in law on her birthday during her lunch break. After a lovely vegetarian meal Mike and I finished our day with a visit to Rush Munro's for ice cream.
The pond at the entrance to the shop holds one of the most obese goldfish I've ever seen
When I was a kid if we headed Hastings way on our weekly Sunday drive we'd sometimes stop into Rush Munro's as a treat. I didn't realise at the time the unique taste was due to them making their ice cream from natural ingredients which they've done since the shop opened in the 1920s. But my parents always had ice cream to go so I never got to sit in the lovely courtyard garden and enjoy the atmosphere.
In the courtyard is another pond with some fresh water crayfish fighting it out with the goldies

We were able to forget the drought and all our other concerns as we sat under the trees eating a passionfruit cone each, watching the sparrows fight over the few crumbs that came their way. Anyone else who entered the garden also seemed to magically mellow in mood striking up conversations.

This little fountain was the scene of some major fights as sparrows fought over showering rights.

My favourite items in the garden were feature ceramic tiles popped amongst the pavers, a mosaic drinking fountain and giant terracotta pots filled with plants. I know that taking even just one of these ideas and implementing them in my garden would make it a better space. But after leaving this leafy sanctuary in the middle of the city I realized something much more important: it really is all about the ice cream!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Napier and the Sea Princess

Since giving up my art group Wednesdays I have been having trips out to unexpected places and found myself in Napier last week. I lived in and around Napier for twenty eight years from age four. Growing up on the seafront at Breakwater Road was a relaxed upbringing with hot evenings spent walking on the oil pipes that once ran along the beach holding my Dad's hand so I didn't fall off. Or else we'd wander down Harding Road which was lined with cute but slightly worn old cottages, many with sofas on the verandah so people could sit in comfort watching the waves.

Then after years of pulling down Art Deco buildings someone discovered this whole thing could be big business. Suddenly everywhere had a paint job, many of the cute cottages were pulled down to make way for faux Art Deco houses, and the Art Deco Weekend became an annual event where people thought that dressing up in flappers' evening dresses in the middle of the day would make them appear authentic.
The old T&G building used to house an x-ray department & doctors' offices

I didn't realize how majorly Napier had changed until my visit last week which also coincided with a visit by the Sea Princess cruise ship. The streets where filled with bewildered looking tourists touting cameras and bum bags getting their fill of the Art Deco experience before being shunted back on board. Their few hours were spent ferried around in tour buses from shop to winery safe from interacting with any "real" people ensuring they only saw a sanitized version of Hawkes Bay. Even the shops got in the act with their windows filled with Art Deco dressed mannequins and expensive NZ themed items made in China.
The Sea Princess moored at Napier Harbour
Even around the Iron Pot inner harbour where my brother once had his succession of fishing boats moored has changed from a working class area surrounded by warehouses to boutique cafes and upmarket apartments where you have to ask your neighbours' permission to have a couple of people round for dinner.
The Iron Pot Inner Harbour
After channeling my frustration at how Napier has changed into a Disney Art Deco theme park into a passion fruit ice cream I saw something that gave me hope. Amongst all the upmarket faux houses along Harding Road snuggled one small battered cottage. And on its verandah nestled two weather beaten pink sofas for sea gazing of an evening.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I am clearing my life of much of its negativity at the moment leaving toxic situations and giving up pastimes which have brought me no joy. This has left extra time for new ventures including Zentangles. As usual it began with a library book as I am an inveterate doodler and the concept of transforming the scribbles I make while on the telephone into a finished artwork was intriguing. 

Zentangle Inspired Work In My Visual Diary
In a nutshell Zentangles are miniature (3.5" square) abstract works of art usually in black and white. The concept was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas who train CZT® tutors although you can pick it up yourself via sites such as the marvellous Tangle Patterns. As a beginner I am winging it so not using the official tiles or recommended pens so probably I have to qualify my work as Zentangle inspired. But I have to say it is relaxing even if I did spend far longer than the recommended 15 minutes on my creations. A very addictive new pastime!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Watercolour Nude

I am trying to move out of my comfort zone so when my tutor suggested I take my watercolour paints to life drawing I decided to have a go. I am trying a looser way of painting which fits with in with the short poses we attempt in our Friday class.
This is one of my favourite models and is painted in red cadmium and raw sienna with a size 12 brush over a charcoal pencil drawing. I have tried realistic shades but am much happier with more dramatic colours. I keep reminding myself that if I don't like my paintings I can always save them to light the fire with!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Return To Watercolour

I used to be a watercolour painter when I first began painting. I started with flora then moved onto fauna before the price of framing my work became too exorbitant which is when I shifted to acrylics and the ubiquitous gallery wrapped canvas. But in my honour's year with The Learning Connexion I am lucky enough to have a tutor who specializes in watercolour so I am not going to waste the opportunity to learn some new techniques.
In the portrait group I attend each Friday in Otane we're lucky enough to have an excellent watercolourist who agreed to teach a workshop in early December 2012. Heather Dennison also works in oils but we had more interest in the watercolours and ended up with eight people wanting to attend. Heather's style is reminiscent of Nancy Tichbourne and in many cases this meant a step out of our comfort zones- especially those of us who try to avoid putting in backgrounds!
We all worked from the same photo Heather had taken of an iris in her garden. We learned how to mask the edge of the flower so we could put in the background before floating in the petals and it seemed no time at all until the six hours were over. A few had completed their paintings but as usual I only touched the surface of mine.
For me the highlight of the workshop was discovering that you can work from dark to light with watercolours as well as finding new colours to use: Indigo, New Gamboge (yellow), Winsor Violet and Winsor Blue. Will I finish the painting? Who knows. But I know I have been inspired to look at different styles of watercolour art and in some cases, to try them myself.