Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Christmas everyone!

I hope you're having a lovely relaxing day. This is our most laid back christmas day since kids! most of my teenagers didn't get out of bed til 10, so I did some quiet sewing to start the day and listened to classic fm! Just a quick post before I get stuck into the afternoon's cooking.

This is the xmas card I sent out to family and friends, a new lino-cut based on an old sketchbook drawing I came across at the right moment! I realised it's the first lino cut I've done since January, so that will be a plan for next year to do a new lino each month. Not really a resolution but something for me to think about. Bye for now and have a wonderful time over xmas and new year :)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Have you read Big Magic?

Have you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? I bought it for myself back in September as soon as it came out. I'm a sucker for anything on creativity!!! I heard her interviewed about it on the radio a few months ago and was hanging out for it to come out.

I really enjoyed the book, I galloped through it really fast, and since then I've been re-reading it slowly with a pencil in hand, to underline the bits that resonate for me. It's interesting because it's very much her experience of the creative process along with anecdotes about people she knows. Some chapters have a big scribbled YES next to them, others got me thinking - oh that's interesting, my experience was a bit more like this... It's set me off thinking about people in my art class at school and college, people I haven't thought about in years. It's even got me doing a bit of writing after a couple of years drought! Here are a couple of the things I've written. The first is in response to how Liz Gilbert writes about loving our work even the failures, the second is in response to her writing about the lottery of success.

Myth #1

not Nicola
long black hair
but boyish.
She purged her record collection
to make way for Slade.
( I got Kate Bush
and the Boomtown Rats.)

She painted in oils
a lifesize Noddy Holder,
rendered the reflections
of his lacquered guitar,
the textures of his craggy face
and rocker hair.
Centre stage in the art room
everyone admired it.

Until the morning it was discovered
smashed in half.
Nicky wasn't satisfied.


The one to watch

Not up in the light filled studio,
he and a friend were in the basement
across the road, under the dark room.

A spotty teenager, with paint
on his clothes, on his face,
rumor he ate it too.

I remember seeing a sketchbook
with drab colour mixes, greys and browns
and notes scribbled beside.

He was not the one the girls chased
he hung out with the lads
a bit intense a bit wild.

Was I missing something?
Did anyone realise
he was the one to watch?


I'd love to hear if you've read Big Magic and whether you liked it or not :)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Christmas craft fair

Better late than never, a quick hello to let you know I'll be at the craft fair at the waterfront tomorrow morning, sharing a stall with my good friend Ingrid. I think there'll be over 80 stalls all local arts and crafts, I can't wait to see what everybody has been making. It's going to be hot so it'll be an earlier start and finish than usual 9 til 1 (instead of 10 til 2).

Here are some of the happiness flags I've been working on.

A friend of a friend has a gorgeous blog of daily photos of the sky! She recently did her 2000th post and had a celebration on facebook where she invited everyone to post a photo of the sky where they were, here's my shot.

Enjoy your weekend :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Build up blossoms

It's the build up, the hot and humid time of year when people go troppo waiting for rain. We did have some early showers in September but nothing in October and the heat is building... the plants don't care though, heaps of trees burst into blossom at this time of year.

Here are some photos of a flower spike on my galangal (Thai ginger) plant, I've been growing them for a few years but haven't noticed them in flower before.

And some photos of the blossom trees I saw on my walk this morning.

And a drawing from my big sketchbook.

Monday, October 5, 2015

foam print cards

It's interesting working in different mediums how an idea will jump across from one to another, and I don't mind if the best version is a 'substantial' painting, a journal page that no-one sees, a lino print or a card.

One morning last month I made some foam prints based on my latest little paintings and sketchbook pages. Foam prints are so simple, no need for sharp tools or special equipment, you just draw into the foam sheet with a pencil and then they are ready to print. I print them with acrylic paint with retarder medium mixed in to slow down the drying time, and use a foam roller. I printed a big batch of prints.

Since then I've been colouring some in with coloured pencils and collaging them onto cards. Hand colouring is time consuming but very calming and I enjoy it, it's an activity I can fit into little 5 or 10 minute windows of time, eg before work, or in the evenings when I don't have the energy for anything serious!

Friday, September 25, 2015

sketchbook stuff

I'm glad to say a little bit of sketchbook work is happening! I love drawing with charcoal but I'm trying to push on with adding colour too. Here's a charcoal drawing then with soft pastel added. I think I like the black and white stage better!

This was inspired by doodling flowers from a gardening book and then there was a big gap in the composition so I filled it with the cat!

I've been having a break from choir, we had a very busy first half of the year and I thought I'd take a rest and am trying to focus more on art. (Just for a couple of months, I'll be back once the current production is over in October.) I am missing singing of course and sometimes find myself singing my favourite songs from the gospel concert as I walk through the park!!

The season is changing, it's getting warmer, more humid, we've even had some showers of rain, it feels very early but I suppose it's almost October which is the real start of the build up... have a great weekend.

Monday, August 31, 2015

2 tiny paintings

Two new little paintings 4x4 inch acrylic on canvas board. Very happy to have something to show at last!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tomatoes, walking shoes, and using up the scraps

I can't believe it's a month since I posted, and yet I've very little to show artwise, so here's some of the other stuff that's going on!

Here are my tomato plants. My partner had to make a cage to go round them because the possum ate the first 2 ripe tomatoes and probably would've eaten the lot. They have nearly all split their skins - I don't know why that happens - they don't look like perfect shop tomatoes, but they taste good!!

On my walks I've started pushing myself to walk a bit further, an extra lap of the park (or a sidetrack past the horses!), or a little further along the foreshore. I'm partly inspired by my Mum who's in her late 70's and walks for miles. And partly because I seem to be putting on weight!! I don't know if that's a result of sitting in front of the computer all day at work, or to do with turning 50 and my metabolism slowing down. I even bought myself some new walking shoes...

It's been a gorgeous dry season, lovely cool morning walks, I hope I can keep it up when the humidity sets in.

I did start 2 little paintings but then painted over them - I guess I'm a bit discouraged but trying not to worry about it!!! I always think when I have no deadlines I'll be able to get some real work done, but when it comes to the crunch I think I need those deadlines - exhibitions and craft fairs to get me moving and producing. After my painting sessions I've used up the leftover paint on my palette on some off-cuts of paper. Just playing with colour and patterns. I hope to use these for cardmaking/collage.

August is flying, we've completely missed the Darwin festival this year... I hope your month is going well!!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

On my walk this morning

My most favourite walk is along the seafront at Nightcliff, but another regular walk I take is to the local park down the hill from my house. This morning I remembered to take my camera, so here are a few shots of the amazing foliage!

The last few days have been freezing, it feels crazy to write it! We've had temperatures that would be considered a perfect summers day in most places around the world - up around 28 or 29 in the day and down to 16 at night, brrr!! I've been chilling out in other ways too, with the craft fair over and my exhibition packed up, I'm enjoying having no deadlines to work towards, hoping to get back to my sketchbook and interested to see where my work might meander. I hope I'll have some new things to post soon...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

new cards

Just a quick hello, to show you some new cards I've been making ready for the craft fair next Sunday (at Tactile Arts next to the museum 10-3).

These are monoprints that turned out very dark and blotchy so I worked back into them with coloured pencils, and thought they turned out well (if I do say so myself!!)

It's school holidays so I'm not getting much other artwork done...the weather is first ripe tomato was snaffled by the local wildlife - probably a possum!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


The surprising piece of work I made for the Tropical Delirium exhibition was a sculpture - I almost never work in 3D, but after I made a little painting of a gardener and a drawing, I really wanted to get rid of the background and just focus on her.

I'd have loved to do a woodcarving or stone carving - but I didn't have the materials, and it might have taken me 10 years to learn the skills!! - so I made her out of paper mache. I made the basic form out of rolled up newspaper pulled into shape with masking tape, and then layer after layer of newspaper and diluted pva glue, and then brown paper to give it a bit more strength. I painted it with acrylics. It was a complete experiment, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out - the finish is fairly rough, if I made another I'd pay more attention to the face, to get it smoother and easier to paint!

Here's the little painting it goes with.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Big for me.

Last Friday was the opening of the group exhibition I’m part of called ‘Lost in Tropical Delirium’. I didn’t wander too far from my favourite subjects of gardening, parks, beach and birds, my experience of life in the tropics. I challenged myself to work a bit bigger than usual.

This one I think is 60x60cm – ‘Mother and daughter reading’. I posted the sketches for this one last time. It’s not based on real life, my daughter doesn’t come walking down the beach with me (too boring), and neither of the figures looks like us. But we do both read a lot, my daughter usually reads on an I-pad, one day she told me she was reading an manga called ‘Death Note’ (a fairly dark and edgy tale), and I was reading something at the other end of the spectrum ‘The Miniaturist’ set in 17th century Amsterdam. I guess this is the moment that sparked the painting.

The other biggish painting I did is approx. 60x80cm is called ‘The Cloud Dress’. It’s based on a little doodle in my sketchbook. The crotons in the background of the painting and the bush chooks at the front are very characteristic of Darwin gardens…

I’ll show you some of my other exhibition pieces next time.

I’m looking forward to a lovely weekend of singing. Dynes Austin is musical director of The Café of the Gate of Salvation Choir in Sydney, he’s coming to Darwin to lead a weekend of workshops which ends with a free concert on Sunday at 4.30 at Christchurch Cathedral. (workshops are open to anyone so if you’re interested contact Darwin Chorale) We’ll be singing thiskind of music – have a listen!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hello May!

Better late than never, here is the 2nd painting I did for the Don Whyte 'Offcuts"show - which I blogged about last time.

So April flew past and May is going the same way. I'm working towards a group show that opens on the 5th June, I'll keep the finished work under wraps for now, but here are some of my drawings working out ideas.

As always I've been finding it hard to knuckle down and get things finished, so I'm hoping a few things will come together at the last minute!!

The dry season is here with beautiful cool nights - I planted some tomato seedlings about a month ago and they're on the verge of flowering...

My oldest son is in year 12 at school, I feel him flexing his wings, about to launch into adulthood, imagining possibilities beyond 'boring Darwin'. (Wherever you grew up seems boring I suppose!) During poetry month I got a Sharon Olds poem "High School Senior" in my inbox, which expresses beautifully some of what I'm feeling.

I've been reading, reading, reading. Favorite reads of the year so far are -
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell - (just finished last night and loved it)
Also recommended -
We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
I'd love to hear what you've been reading.

This Sunday I'll be at the waterfront craft fair, do drop by and say hello.

Monday, April 6, 2015

I hope you've had a wonderful long weekend!

Here are a few shots from my studio - a bench on the veranda - there's a still life painting in progress. I've used cut out paper shapes of the plant pot and vase to play around with the composition. It's kind of an imaginary still life, but I did bring a plant in from the garden and a vase from the kitchen for reference.

The painting is for the Don Whyte Framing offcuts show. It's an annual fundraising exhibition which I try to get involved with -tho I blew it last year! If you're in Darwin it opens next Saturday and is always a buying frenzy!! There's a great write up about it here.

Here's a shot of the painting in progress, and the finished work, below.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wet season garden

Here are a couple of photos of m poor neglected garden. In the wet season I don't have to walk around with the hose, so I forget to walk around at all! The weeds are taking over, some thngs thrive and some get drowned or strangled.

Here's a pawpaw that self seeded - I love the shape of their leaves.

Here's some thai basil, we son't eat much because the kids don't like it, but the purple and white flowers are beautiful (and much more successful than the gazania flowers I did plant - the packet says they grow like weeds, but not in my garden!)

On the front fence are some sword beans or poor man's beans. I got the seeds from the local church/ charity shop/ community garden - people bring produce and seeds to swap on Saturday mornings. I got an envelope of 4 seeds and they have grown like the proverbial bean stalk!! As soon as they sprouted I realized the pots they were in were too small, but I was advised not to disturb the roots, so I cut holes in the pots and planted them pots and all in the ground in the front yard. They have grown like crazy over the fence, over a small tree, and along the gate - threatening to tie the gates shut overnight!! I've had to prune it back a few times so the postman can still get to the letter box! It's producing plenty of flowers, a lot seem to be falling off, but there are a few bean pods. If anyone knows at which stage to pick them and how to cook them, please let me know.

and a garden drawing :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

sneaking time in the studio

After sitting for a while I did get back to those 2 canvases I posted about a few weeks ago. Here they are, I think they're finished now.

I've been trying to do a little bit of painting in the evenings, ( some weeks it happens, some weeks it doesn't). When I paint on Friday mornings I have lots of time, I get everything out on the dining table on the verandah, books and magazines for reference and inspiration, several canvases in various stages of progress, and squirt every colour of the rainbow out on my palette and settle in for a luxurious couple of hours of painting.

When I paint in the evenings it's on the run, maybe 20 minutes between the kids showers and packing lunchboxes. I work on a corner of the bench where some of my art supplies are sored, and just squirt out a couple of colours to work with. I usually work on backgrounds, underpainting fairly loosely. I've always felt that I needed a big chunk of time to get any painting done, but these little sessions are helping to keep the momentum going. Here are 2 more I finished on Friday that have come out of that process.

Coming up next Friday 6th March is the members show opening at DVAA - small works 12x12cm in the small gallery and life drawing in the main gallery. If it's not pouring with rain I'm aiming to be there!!