Sunday 22 December 2013

Three more sleeps!!

This is a Christmas card design that I sent out to family and friends a few years back. I did this illustration in watercolour and ink. It is a medium I really enjoy and hope to do more of in 2014.
I didn't get cards made from my recent Christmas painting in the end. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too expensive to do a small print run. I will hopefully do a few more Christmas designs and get a larger print run organised for next year.

I'm still struggling to get over my back pain. It has put me off painting because sitting is the worst position for it. Hopefully it will resolve soon and I'll be pumping out paintings in the new year!

I've been walking along the beach a lot lately and I took my camera with me yesterday. Divine conditions and looking set to be similar for Christmas day. Rather than having a white Christmas - we are more likely to have a white-cap Christmas if there's a good swell!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and creative New Year!
I've really enjoyed this past year of getting to know so many people on-line and really appreciate all the support and encouragement that has come with that.

Friday 6 December 2013


My youngest daughter and I have just spent a wonderful week in tropical Singapore. I particularly loved the lush tropical vegetation. When we returned home to Perth everything looked browner and drier than ever in comparison. But it is summer here of course.

I loved the Singapore Botanic Gardens which are home to the Orchid Gardens.

The above orchids were at the front entrance of our hotel near Orchard Road.

We couldn't go to Singapore without visiting the Raffles Hotel for high tea.

We had breakfast with the Orangutans at the Singapore Zoo

Above is a scene from China Town

Now I need to get myself back into painting and writing mode!!

Thursday 21 November 2013

Simple Pleasures

 I haven't had time to paint just lately as there are other things afoot. So in the meantime I thought I'd post some photos I took the other day of simple things around the house and garden that bring me joy. I was at a garden centre the other day with one of my daughters and we had never seen such ridiculously cute sunflowers before. I couldn't restrain myself from buying one. It is equally beautiful from the back.
The cat that featured in one of my recent paintings is now a very regular visitor.

A ladybird thought it was beautiful too!

The flower below is a native trigger plant (Stylidium) that my mum and dad bought for me recently. You can see some smaller varieties at the base of the larger plant. If you prod the flowers a little hammer is triggered and springs across your fingernail. Of course the hammer wasn't designed with fingernails in mind but instead for visiting insects as a heavy handed tactic to ensure pollination . 

I had only ever seen smaller varieties before I was given this larger specimen. It was in bud at the time and I waited with baited breath to see what the flowers would look like. It seemed they would be huge, with hammers big enough to bruise grown men. In the end they were smaller than anticipated but still beautiful. I feel a bit cruel when I trigger them off because they have to reset themselves. It must take up a bit of energy - particularly after having already expended energy by being cross that it wasn't an insect that had triggered them off in the first place. 

See the tiny little trigger flowers at the base.

We were pleased to have our resident bob-tail goanna visit a couple of days ago. We only see it once or twice a year - usually with its mate. Hopefully its mate is still hale and hearty somewhere in the garden.

They blend in so well with the sand and leaf litter it's no wonder we don't see them more often.

We have a nest with two Wattle bird chicks in it. Huge chicks about the same size as the mother.

I haven't seen them for the past day or so, so maybe they are already fully fledged!

Friday 8 November 2013

For Me?

                                            Acrylic on board 15cm x 15xm (6" x 6")

I finally reared up late this afternoon and finished off this picture. I was quite happy with how it came out in the end. The photo's not so great though as it was dark by the time I finished and this was taken in artificial light. Ironically, I have my daylight lamp which is great to paint by but it seemed to do weird things to the photo.

I was going for lots of great walks along the beach recently until I strained a few muscles last weekend. I feel I'll be ready to revive my walking routine tomorrow. The girls and I found some beautiful abalone shells on the beach last week. The three together are much smaller that the big one taken by itself.

Below the abalone are pictures of the beach taken a month or so ago when there was a lot of seaweed around. I find some types of seaweed to be very beautiful - like the specimen below.

Saturday 2 November 2013

A Bit Stuck

This is an illustration in progress. I was attempting to do a Christmas card illustration with an Australian theme to send to my overseas friends and family this year.Usually I do illustrations in watercolour. I begin with a pencil rough and when I'm happy with the design, I use my lightbox to trace it onto the thick, smooth paper ready to outline in ink and then paint in watercolour. I thought I'd try an illustration using acrylics for a change.
 I invented this beach scene without a clear idea as to exactly what I was going to do with it. Once I got it to this point I decided I would add a couple of festive koala bears into the scene to liven it up - either sitting or standing on the beach towel. I felt it would be too easy to spoil what I'd already done if I began trying to paint the koalas without a preliminary drawing first. So I did that but then found it too hard to transfer it onto the board.
 Doing the pencil rough stirred me up to do some more illustrating in my usual style as I quite miss it. I've barely done any illustrating since embarking on this acrylic journey at the beginning of last year. So I began to wonder if I should leave this painting in limbo for now and just do the whole thing in watercolour and ink. The indecision has caused me to do neither and now I feel there is a bit of a barrier to getting to it at all. How easy it is to derail a good run of painting! It isn't helped by the fact that my painting time is competing with my writing time and both are competing with all the other things that are currently on my plate. The writing has been winning over the painting lately. I've got quite a few hours under my belt this past week or so which I'm pleased about.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Blogger Friends

The other day I met up with my art blogger friend Karen Johnston who was holidaying here in Perth. We enjoyed a lovely lunch together at Hillarys Marina. It was so exciting to meet face to face and to be able to chat about art together. It is the first time I have met up with a blog buddy - such fun!
Karen is a New Zealand artist who does amazing work in oils. click here to see the beautiful work on her blog. Hopefully it will be the first of many catch ups.

There has been a lot happening here with my youngest daughter going through the final throes of graduating from high school and getting through the last of her exams. Lots of stress and excitement all at once. I'm still getting a bit of time for creativity and am halfway through a small painting that I hope to finish in the next few days. I'm also making some progress on my writing. I hope you are all having a great weekend!

Sunday 13 October 2013

A Visitor to our Garden

                                          Acrylic on board 15cm x 15cm (6" x 6")

I painted this over three separate days this week and I also spent a few hours on my writing. Not as much as I would have liked, but there was a lot going on in other arenas so it couldn't be helped.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Palettes and Perth

I use disposable vegetable parchment palettes for my acrylic paintings and these are the ones I used in the 30 day challenge. They looked too pretty to throw out and I thought they would collectively make a nice work of art in themselves. I was waiting for a nice sunny day to peg them on to the clothesline en masse. It was rather windy but I got a few good shots amidst the buffeting.

I set myself a challenge to spend 10 hours this week working on my manuscript. I did over 11 hours and was pleased to fulfil the challenge considering how tired I was this week. I hope to do more writing hours next week and a small painting too!

For my blogger friends who have shown an interest in the area where I live, I found this short video promotion of Perth that you might find interesting.

Monday 30 September 2013

Day 30 of Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge - Grandma's Colander

                                         Acrylic on board 15cm x 15cm (6" x 6")

Yay! 30 paintings in 30 days!! I can't quite believe that I did it!

Maybe the incredulity that I'd actually achieved such a lofty goal was what made me start to second guess myself. I began to wonder if I could legitimately claim to have done 30 paintings after all. In the first week of the challenge, I had done a cloud painting that had gone from bad to worse and I ended up wiping it off, but not before I had taken a photo of it shortly before it went past the point of no return. I had definitely done a painting - and I had the photo to prove that I'd done a painting, but I no longer had the painting - so did it count? The obsessive in me kept worrying that it didn't. But I reeeally didn't want to do another painting after having already mentally high fived myself for finally finishing the challenge. But my pedantic ways got the better of me and I decided I must do another (sigh!). I thought it fitting that it should be another cloud painting, but this time, no matter how ugly it got (and it would get ugly - because I refused to spend more than 15 minutes on it) I must keep it as one of the challenge pieces. I just wanted to Finish. The. Challenge!!!! I grabbed a board, slathered it with gesso, then dab, blob and splat - it was done!

                                                   Clouds at Sunset - Acrylic on small board
(It has actually come up looking nicer as a photo than a painting - so it looks more respectable than it deserves.)

I'm really grateful to Leslie Saeta for hosting the challenge. It was so much fun to do it en masse with so many others. I really appreciate all the support I got from my wonderful blogging buddies (old and new), the comments really helped to keep me motivated thank you!! I also got a lot of support from family and friends via email, phone and face to face - and Facebook - thanks so much! And my father-in-law was indispensable and a great help by sourcing the particle boards and cutting them to size for me. It's all been so much fun! I plan to make October a writing challenge month but still hope to paint at least once a week.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Day 29 - Gottagotorotto!

                                          Acrylic on board 15cm x 15cm (6" x 6")

Well, I did go like the clappers today, and I feel I hit paydirt with this painting! It felt soo easy to loosen up after wrestling wildly with tightness for the last month. Most importantly, I feel I worked out how to do the limestone rocks without resorting to too much detail. This is a scene looking out from Rottnest Island (known as Rotto to locals) with the suburbs of Perth a haze on the horizon. There used to be an ad campaign telling us "you've got to go to Rotto!" (hence the title!).

I got up earlier than is my wont on a Sunday morning to finish off yesterday's Christmas ornament painting (see below). Then I collected my mum and dad and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours visiting Kings Park for the wildflower festival. We were lucky to dodge the showers. It's been a very wet September. The wildflowers were as stunning as ever. They really know what they are doing at Kings Park, they are at the cutting edge of propagating our beautiful and prolific native species. Did you know that the south western corner of Western Australia (which includes Perth) is one of the biodiversity hotspots on the planet? I have included some of the photos I took today in the park to regale you with some of our lovely specimens. I did today's painting after the visit to Kings Park.

Wildflowers have been a passion of mine since I was a young child.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Day 28 - In-progress - Broken but Beloved

Eeek! Now I'm half a painting behind - right when the finish line is in sight! I didn't get started on this painting until 3.45pm today and after nearly 3 hours working on it I realised that the light was changing too much on my subject matter. I was painting from life and even though I had my daylight lamp on, once the sun went down it still seemed to affect the shadows.
Below is a snap of the Christmas ornaments I'm painting. The two pine cones are beloved vintage ornaments that I grew up with as a child that my mum bought new in the 60s. The front one has a great gaping hole in the back of it and is unusable, but I couldn't bear to throw it out so it now resides in a Christmas tin on a little bed of tinsel. The little Santa is a modern ornament but made to look vintage. I'm going to have to paint like the clappers tomorrow!

Friday 27 September 2013

Day 27 - Pining for October

                                         Acrylic on board 15cm x 15cm (6" x 6")

I only had a very small window of opportunity for a painting today, so I tried to be very fast and loose. This nearly became a wipe-off but hopefully it looks like the pine-cone it is supposed to be. I would like to re-visit this subject again when I have more time.

Only three more paintings to do for the challenge! I'm glad, as I doubt I'd be able to keep this pace up for much longer! Although, I've certainly been enjoying the journey.