Friday 28 December 2012

Hydrangea in Pot

                                            Acrylic on board 6" x 6"

Yay! I managed to squeeze in one more painting by year's end.  I was very pleased with the results of today's painting, although not so much with the photo of it.  Couldn't seem to get a lovely crisp reproduction because I still haven't learnt to use my camera properly!

I could hear Greg Baker's voice (see blog for 27th Nov) in my head today while painting, which was a good thing.  It helped me do better with the tone.  I also put more effort in on the foundations before starting on the detail.

I was also quite pleased at the composition of the painting which I cobbled together from a photo I had taken a week or two ago.  Mostly when I've painted from photos I get bogged down in trying to faithfully reproduce them - colours and all.  Not that I ever succeed of course but it doesn't stop me trying.

This is the same hydrangea that I used for reference last time but it had changed colour somewhat since I took the first round of photo reference shots.  When I bought it, it was an elegant creamy colour with purple highlights.  I didn't realise that it was just in its adolescence and it soon matured into a lovely vibrant purpley, blue colour.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

We had a lovely Christmas day that began with our traditional swim at the beach. I was relieved to see that the conditions were very calm and clear when we arrived - all the better to spot any unwelcome visitors.  Our state has had too many shark sightings and attacks in recent times to be able to swim with gay abandon anymore.  Not that I was ever particularly relaxed swimming in the ocean anyway, being shark phobic long before they became regular news items.  The temperature rose to nearly 40C today.  The sea breeze had limped in by midday but took till the late afternoon before it became refreshing.

There were a lot of people setting up on the beach, but they are out of sight in this photo owing to the angle of the shot.  Not so many in the water as usual and very few  further out.  Usually on a day like this there would be flotillas of snorkellers mooching around the reefs taking their new flippers and goggles out for a test run.

I'm hoping now that the Christmas frenzy is over I will have time to paint by the end of the week.

I hope everyone had a very merry day!

Saturday 8 December 2012


                                                  Acrylic on board  5" x 7"

Wasn't very pleased with this effort, but am posting it to show the evidence that I have wielded a brush today.  I have a lot to learn about tone. I intend to make it a high priority in the quest to improve my paintings.

I had bought a few lovely potted hydrangeas of different hue to decorate the back garden for my daughter's afternoon birthday tea party.  It was a challenge to get some good photos before the heat spoilt them.  Having come straight from their pampered greenhouses they hadn't had a chance to harden up against the heat.  I have one long suffering hydrangea that has limped through quite a few summers in my care(lessness).
It is looking its happiest for years.  Now it's used to the harshness of the big outdoors it doesn't wilt so easily .  Since re-igniting my passion for gardening recently the garden and potplants are looking better than they have for some time.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Native Garden

This week went in a blur.  Impossible to squeeze in any painting time unfortunately.

The other week I took some photos of the native flowers I have been planting in my garden.
The above is a Verticordia Plumosa (I think!)

This is a red lechenaultia.  I have also planted some blue ones - mid and sky blue.

I'm trying to create a dazzling understory to the huge eucalyptus tree that dominates this area.  Time will tell if the new arrivals are happy with their sunshine quota.
The light is very dappled, which is very pretty but maybe not robust enough for some of the plants.

Oh yes! Like phoenix' from the ashes, a few seedlings finally appeared in the pots from the September propagation class . Although, with the temps in the mid to high 30Cs the last couple of days, I think I already have some casualties.  As I mentioned before, all my cosseted cuttings from that class turned their toes up, so imagine my surprise to find that three cuttings I have simply shoved in the dirt are all looking very much alive.  They were bits that had broken off various plants when I was getting them out of their pots.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Workshop with Greg Baker

On Sunday I went to an all day painting work-shop.  The first I’d ever been to.
The workshop was at the home studio of Greg Baker a very eminent local Perth Artist who also exhibits in Europe.
After spending all year painting alone in my art room, wrestling with a medium I really know very little about, it was great to see a master in action and get some insights into how I can improve my work.
Greg works predominantly in oils at the moment, but is also very accomplished in acrylics and pastels.  He demonstrated in all three mediums for us throughout the day displaying his consummate skills.  In the afternoon, along with many of the others, I attempted to emulate his style by using his photo reference that he painted from during the day – a scene from Rottnest Island waters.
I tried in vain to capture the light in the way he does, but I enjoyed the attempt nonetheless.
The first photo was taken once I’d decided I could risk going no further.
The second photo was taken after Greg made a few gentle tweaks that helped to enliven the scene.
Such a joyful day! Life has become very hectic this past week or so, so I’m hoping I will find a quiet day soon to paint before I forget all the jewels of wisdom I collected on Sunday.

Below is the final result after Greg added a few deft strokes and demonstrated how to do a glaze by adding medium.  I was pretty clueless about how to get the best out of my paints so I am going to try using medium in my next painting.  All very exciting!

Saturday 17 November 2012

Art Deco Strainer

                                                    Acrylic on board 5" x 7"
I painted this today in two sittings - 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.  It was 6.30pm when I finished, so the photo was taken at dusk and probably hasn't done justice to the colours, but I was too impatient to wait until morning.
I set these items up right in front of my easel to get the view I wanted, hoping all the while that I wouldn't get paint on the fabric. Thankfully I didn't! I also painted "Christmas Baubles" from life as I find it takes so long to try to get a good photo of the subject.  Also the colours end up too far from the originals.  It is far more satisfying painting from life even though it is harder to keep the exact angle that you begin with.

 I hadn't originally begun with a top view like this.  It was slightly on an angle so I took care to make sure the plate wasn't exactly round. Then I discovered that I had painted the strainer from a top view and suddenly the plate looked like it had a flat bottom.  I tried to change the strainer to have the same perspective, but it didn't save the plate, so in the end I made the plate a little rounder.  Now I see that I forgot to change the shine on the strainer back to what I had originally.   However, it wasn't precise enough in the first place to get too precious about its faults at this late stage.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Christmas Baubles

                                          Acrylic  -   canvas on board  8 x 6
                                         Available as Christmas cards on Fine Art America

I began painting this last Thursday and have returned to it for a couple of hours most days since.  I had run out of rectangular boards and had to use canvas. I think it took longer doing it on this rather than on board because it was harder to get the fine detail on the textured surface.  However, I was quite pleased with the finished result and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I didn't try to loosen up in the end, as I liked the challenge of the fine details.   Which isn't to say that I wouldn't dearly love to also be able to do this subject matter in a looser style.  Hopefully I will find it easier as I continue to paint more regularly.

For anyone who is curious as to what happened to the cuttings and seeds I was trying to grow from the propagation class I did a few months ago, here is an update.  Everything died!
There were half a dozen that bravely clung to life for a while, but slowly and surely the hints of green disappeared entirely.  Surprisingly, this bleak outcome hasn't put me off and I hope to try again later on.  In the meantime I have bought dozens of seedlings from a specialist native nursery "Lullfitz" and every single plant is thriving where I have planted them.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Banksia Nut

                                          Acrylic on board 6" x 6"

painted this today from a photo I took in local bushland in May.  I'm no botanist but I think it is the nut of the Banksia Menziessii. I did the painting below in May from a flower on the same bush.

                                          Acrylic on board 6" x 6"

                                             The real thing.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Oak Leaves

                                                    Acrylic on board 5 x 7
I painted this today from a photo I took, looking up into the canopy of an Oak tree my dad planted about 15 or 20 years ago.

I find I am sometimes a little disappointed with the photos I take of my finished work.  I had thought that by buying a digital SLR , the photos of my artwork would magically improve and be glorious reproductions of the originals.  I guess it would help if I actually learnt how to use it first and stopped relying on its automatic mode.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Goldfields Bottles

The above photo was taken last year of a still-life I set up with the intention of painting one day.  The bottles probably date from the late 1800's and were found in the Western Australian goldfields half buried in dirt.  The flowers are dried everlastings that a friend picked  for me a couple of years ago on her farm.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Unfinished Painting

I have posted this half-finished horror just to prove that I have done some painting today - over 3 hours in fact! It took me ages to work out what I wanted to paint.  In the end I decided to try the bucket of cut banksia flowers that I took a photo of the other week. I have no idea what I was thinking!  As usual I thought I'd be able to loosen up and simplify it - and as usual I didn't succeed!  I also thought I'd use up one  of my larger canvases that are gathering dust and taking up room.  This one is 20" x 16".  It is canvas on board.  After using the small hard boards lately - which I love - I didn't enjoy painting on the canvas again.  I find that too much time is spent trying to get the paint to cover the surface thoroughly.  But maybe that's just due to inexperience.  When I called it quits today I had almost decided that I wouldn't bother continuing with it.  But I will persist - I hate leaving things half finished.

Wednesday 3 October 2012


                                         Acrylic 7" x 5" on board
I entered this painting into the Daily Paintworks Birdbrain challenge today. Very exciting!

Saturday 29 September 2012

Wildflower Festival

 Today I went to the wildflower festival at Kings Park with Mum and Dad. As soon as we stepped out of the car park we were regaled with stunning mass plantings of everlastings.  Further along were the beautiful red and green kangaroo paws (above).
 The banksias were particularly stunning at the cut wildflower stall.
Here is a beautiful banksia mosaic that has been laid at a little rest-stop alongside one of the paths.
There were the usual swathes of everlastings sown throughout  the bush 
 We had a short walk through the natural bushland as well to see if we could spot any orchid stragglers.  Only spotted one lone donkey orchid and quite a few cowslips.  It seems that overall the orchids flowered earlier this year, because last year at the same time it was oozing with them - including enamel orchids and red and white spider orchids.
 Butterfly sunning itself on a gum leaf.
There was a riot of kangaroo paws growing naturally in the bush.
I bought a few kangaroo paw seedlings at the plant sale.  I'm afraid there have been quite a few casualties amongst the cuttings I was trying to grow from the propagation class.  But there are a few potential survivors that still have a slightly green hue.  I will keep my robust new specimens out of sight of my poor tortured cuttings.  I don't want them giving up hope before I've even got them into the ground.

Monday 24 September 2012

Rottnest Seagull

                           6" x 6"  Acrylic on board

I painted this today with the intention of submitting it to the Daily Paintworks "Birdbrain" Challenge. However, my daughter has taken a shine to it and is ambivalent about me selling it.  I haven't offered anything for sale yet and this was to be the first one. Maybe next time!

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Spider Orchid

                                                      5 x 7 Acrylic on canvas

I thought I would continue with the theme of spring flowers for my painting this week.  This was painted from a photo I took last year on a bush walk.  I love the architecture of Australian flowers.

I have been checking my cuttings every morning and although some of them have turned their toes up, most of them still have some vestiges of chlorophyll coursing through their veins. I don't know if this means that some just take longer to die or if it means they are still in with a chance. Time will tell.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Donkey Orchid

                                                                7 x 5  Acrylic on board

I don't feel I did any sort of justice to the real thing, so I will probably re-visit the subject later on.

Sunday 9 September 2012

Spring Has Sprung

I don't have a painting to post today but instead some photos taken at our friends' (Bob and Kelly) - bush property where we visited this morning.  Despite poor winter rains this year it seems that the flowers are more prolific than ever.  The bush is awash with lushness and colour and there were flocks of orchids EVERYWHERE.  The photo below doesn't do it justice at all but have included it to give an idea of the general landscape. I was too focused on the orchids to take the time to get a better overall shot of the terrain.


Hiding amongst the shrubs are all the little jewels. I think these are called Granny Bonnets.

There were swathes of Donkey orchids everywhere.  They were very beefy specimens too.
This donkey orchid was one of many growing amongst the hibertia and pea flowers

 There were quite a few red spider orchids and green orchids too but donkey orchids and pink orchids reigned supreme today.

 I took a heap of photos and hope to use some to paint from during the week.
We've had a few nice wildflower outings already this spring and I did a class in propagating native plants yesterday at Kings Park.  I have been cosseting my cuttings today and hoping I won't kill them with kindness.  I will be very excited if I am successful at growing natives from cuttings and seeds.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Apple Blossom Hibiscus

                                                          5" x 7"  Acrylic on board

I didn't think I'd have time to paint today but at 3.30pm I decided I'd try something without too much detail.  I'm still finding it very hard to simplify, so even though this is nothing like what I had in mind when I started, I was happy-ish with the results. This painting took just under one and a half hours.  It felt like minutes!  I'm reeeeally enjoying painting on board rather than canvas.

Monday 3 September 2012

Green Cup, Plate and Saucer

                                                                   6 x 6 Acrylic on board

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Backyard Succulent Revisited

The very first painting I did in my 10 day challenge was from a photo of a succulent I have growing in the back yard. I hadn't painted with acrylics for four or five years and even then I'd only ever done one painting. I'd totally forgotten how to use the medium which became very obvious in the finished product (see above).  I was disappointed with it and vowed to try it again later down the track.  Today was the day.

I used a different photo today and began laboriously trying to copy the colours and shadows exactly.  There is only so much of the masochist in me and after a while I decided to stylize it which seemed to work a little better and was much easier to do.
I loved the new boards.  I had previously been using stretched canvas or canvas covered boards which I found took a lot of extra paint to cover the textured surface. Today the paint felt lovely and buttery and made for a very enjoyable painting experience.

                                                               6" x 6" Acrylic on board

Sunday 26 August 2012

Jug and China Doll

                                                                       10" x 12"  Acrylic
                                                  I painted this last week for my mum's birthday


                                                                 8" x 10" Acrylic
                                           This was painted in July for my husband's birthday.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Afternoon Tea

                                                                     12" x 9"
Well I really loosened up with this one and had a lot of fun.  However, it was a bit too rough and could have done with some preliminary drawing to get the scale right. This was painted in July.

Perfect Conditions

                                                                           6" x 9"
I felt I achieved what I set out to do with this one.  This time I got a lot more green into the water.
This was also painted in May.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Rottnest Island View

I painted this in May from a photograph I had taken several years ago.  It took me 4 hours to paint and I felt very pleased at keeping it loose.  When I'd finished I realised that the colours of the ocean were a little insipid but I didn't have the courage to change it at that point.

Rose in mustard jar

                                                   This was painted in May.  I enjoy the challenge
                                                   of painting glass.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Launching the Boat

                            I did this painting for my Father-in-law's birthday in April.  When I began it the plan was to do it in a very loose style and finish it in one day.  The two previous paintings each took around 4 hours to paint but I wasn't able to loosen up with this one and it took many, many more hours over 5 weeks to complete.                   

From the 10 day challenge

These were the two most successful paintings from
          the 10 day challenge which I undertook in February.