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.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Day 26 - Splendid Fairy Wren

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

I had already chosen a subject for today's painting but found I couldn't stop myself from trawling nostalgically through all my photos. I happened upon this photo of a Splendid Fairy Wren I took in 2004 while holidaying at Margaret River in the South West. It spoke to me more than my original choice did, so here it is.

I was feeling like a bit of a fraud today as I remembered belatedly that yesterday's painting wasn't my first figure painting in acrylics after all - in fact it was my third. I'd finished painting so late last night (after 10pm) and I was soo tired, my memory was addled. Below is a painting I did earlier last year which I painted for my father-in-law's birthday. It took over 5 weeks to finish it. I also did another painting last year from a photo I took of my daughter looking out of a window in Venice a few years ago.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Day 25 - Wading in the Shallows

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

I thoroughly enjoyed myself with this painting. I have never painted figures before in acrylics but after today I think I will be trying them more often. I used a photo I took of my daughters about 6 years ago while holidaying at a fishing village north of Perth. I seem to recall having to bribe them with chocolate to do this photo shoot. The photo of the painting hasn't come out too great. It is a little more obvious when viewing the painting that they are wading through water rather than sand! See reference photo below.

I was thrilled to finally paint from this photo as it has been on my "to do" list since taking the photo all those years ago. When I decided to do the challenge it was one of the first things I put on my list but today was the day I felt most inspired to tackle it.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Day 24 - Flower Tower

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

This took me three and a half hours to paint today. My longest so far in the challenge. The colours have come up a little less subtle in the photo. I painted from life today.

Monday 23 September 2013

Day 23 - Pink Drink

                                                   Acrylic on board 12cm x 16cm

I recently bought some new water glasses which have brightly coloured glass at the bottom. Every time I use them I'm captivated by the colourful reflections in the water.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Day 22 - Grass Tree #2

                                                   Acrylic on board 11.5cm x 16cm

I painted this from the photo below that I took some years ago not too long after a fire had been through the bush. It's a grass tree. I intend to enter it in the Daily Paintworks "grass" challenge. Lori Quarton had suggested that my previous grass tree might go well in it, so I thought I'd paint another one especially for the grass challenge. Thanks for the idea Lori!

Saturday 21 September 2013

Day 21 - Rose and Ink Bottle

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

I painted this first thing as I had a busy day ahead.

Friday 20 September 2013

Day 20 - Limestone Coast Re-visited

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

Day 18's effort

Today I decided to re-visit the painting I did on day 18 in the hope of trying to loosen up further. I thought I might make more headway if I tried the same subject in quick succession. In the end it took me around the same time to paint both pictures - approx 1 hour and 20 minutes. I think today's photo is less sharp than the one I took of the previous painting, but hopefully they are both clear enough to make comparisons. I think some aspects of today's paintings are better and some aren't. I'm not sure which one I prefer at this stage but I'm leaning towards day 18's effort. Does loosening up come about over time due to sheer volume of output or does it really need to be focused upon - or both? I'd appreciate knowing which painting people prefer and why. Also any advice on how to move forward would be appreciated.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Day 19 - Surf and Seaweed

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

Felt very happy with this one today.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Limestone Coast

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

I had intended to loosen up more with this one so I don't feel such a post-painting glow today.
Below is the reference shot. Having the two together makes me realise how far out I was with angles - amongst other things. I want to master simplifying the limestone, so you can see I have a long way to go.

Day 17 - Peach Blossom with Bee

                                                   Acrylic on board 12.5cm x 18cm

Quite happy with this one now. The photo below shows what it looked like in its first incarnation. I had considered it finished but wasn't really happy with it. I had to whiz out for a dental appointment and when I came back I decided I really didn't like it at all. I decided I'd risk overworking it to try for a better outcome, so I'm glad I took the risk. Although, I suspect the bee looked better in the first version.

 I've noticed that so many things I'm painting lately seem to have a predominance of blue.


Below is my reference photo taken of my flowering peach tree in a very ugly corner of the backyard.

Monday 16 September 2013

Day 16 - A Day Off

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

I had fun with this yesterday. I forced myself to paint fast and loose regardless of the outcome. Still not sure what I think of the outcome but it allowed me a day off from painting today. I had two up my sleeve yesterday after doing this one. Not that today was a real day off as I have been busy all day and have a daughter home sick with the flu - yes the flu - not a cold!

Sunday 15 September 2013

Day 15 - Peach Blossom

                                          Acrylic on board 15cm x 12cm (6" x 5")

By yesterday afternoon I was feeling exhausted by the challenge and felt I really needed a day off from it. So after spending 3 hours working on yesterday's painting "Tea and Tinsel" where I'd inadvertently turned tinsel into a wildflower, I somehow managed to wrestle paint for just a tad longer to produce this quick little painting. Two paintings in a day meant I could take a day off, yay!

I felt quite pleased with this one actually, because for once I was able to resist adding too many details. I was simply too tired! Maybe I have finally unlocked the secret of how I can loosen up - paint when totally exhausted!

It was so great not to have to paint today, so imagine my surprise this morning when I actually felt compelled to paint something. I again made it super simple as I had a lot of other things earmarked for today. So I am still one ahead. I wondered initially if I should post today's painting today and just keep this one up my sleeve for when I don't paint, but I thought it would be better to keep them in order to see the progression.

I spent a couple of hours weeding in the garden today and now I am about to do some writing. I still haven't managed to make the writing a regular thing during the challenge but I did do some at least over this past week.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Day 14 - Tea and Tinsel (supposedly!)

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

I thought that I'd try for a Christmas theme today. I had really enjoyed painting the teacup and bauble last year and I am always drawn towards painting shiny things, so I thought why not try some tinsel?
It proved way too ambitious for me as you can see from the results. At one point I was going to concede defeat, wipe the tinsel off and just finish off the cup, but I decided to persist. I actually thought briefly that I might have succeeded, but when I showed it to one of my daughters, she thought the tinsel was a bottlebrush flower. (Sigh!). For those Australians reading this I'm sure you'll agree it's a good likeness!

Oh well, I did my painting for the day at least and I'm happy with how the cup turned out - and I think I will know better now to stay away from tinsel. Also, I painted from life today rather than a photo and that is always satisfying in itself. Here is a photo of the set up.

Friday 13 September 2013

Day 13 - Floral Emblem

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

This is a red and green kangaroo paw which is the floral emblem for the state of Western Australia. There are many different colours and shapes of kangaroo paw but this is my favourite. As a child I lived on a farm in a semi-arid environment, so in comparison, the bush around Perth actually seemed quite lush to me at the time. When we drove to Perth to visit our grandparents we would spot these beautiful flowers all through the bush as we entered the Darling Ranges. So even now I think they still channel a little of that exotica I felt as a child when visiting the "Big Smoke".

Below is the photo reference I worked from today. They are usually a little more spaced out when in found in the wild, this photo is of a mass planting in the gardens at Kings Park.

And below is a modest little specimen of a different variety (it may even be a hybrid) growing in my garden. I took this photo today. The kangaroo paw flowers actually feel furry to the touch.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Day 12 - Spider Orchid

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

Day 12 of Leslie Saeta's 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. It's amazing what a big slice of each day it seems to take out, even if I only spend between one and two hours on the painting itself.
I didn't begin painting today until nearly 4.30pm and it took longer than expected to finish - nearly 2 hours. So it was pizza for dinner tonight!

I'm so pleased that I bought a daylight lamp on the spur of the moment about a month ago. It has come in very handy for the challenge when I run out of daylight hours. I purposefully didn't make painting my first priority today because jobs around the house were becoming desperate. But of course painting was still a non-negotiable thing to tick off my list of things to do.

Here is the reference photo I painted from today. Our native orchids, are very delicate, precious little creatures. They are extremely difficult to grow in captivity and therefore not available even at specialist wildflower nurseries (as far as I'm aware).

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Day 11 - Banksia Menziesii

                                          Acrylic on board 15cm x15cm (6" x 6")

I really enjoyed painting this today. I wanted to stylise it rather than try to be too exact - I'm hoping it will be suitable as a greeting card for my Australiana range (if I do one). I have been using thicker paint in the last few paintings which has helped to loosen up a little. I can feel real improvements in my understanding of how to manipulate the paint just in these last 10 days. It's nice to see tangible benefits from the challenge already.

 The reference photo was from a shot I took in May last year of a flowering Banksia Menziesii. For those not accustomed to this beautiful species, I have posted the reference photo below. There are so many different varieties of Banksia and as a genus they are a very iconic Australian flower.

Day 10 - Grass Tree

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

I was flat out today and was beginning to worry that I wouldn't get time for a painting. I didn't begin this until 7.40pm, but thankfully it worked out ok and I finished it in just over an hour. I wasn't quite sure how I would approach it at first, but in the end I decided not to worry about it looking too realistic. Despite the invented flowers and foliage, I felt that I somehow captured the essence of the flowers and the ambience of the walk that I enjoyed with my husband yesterday. The yellow is supposed to represent the Hibbertias that were flowering in profusion all through the bush. The pink is Swan River Myrtle (I think!) and the splashes of purple are Hardenbergia and another type of peaflower and dampiera. I guess some of the yellow could also represent the donkey orchids which were unbelieeevably prolific - check out the flock of them below.

Here is the photo that I painted from and a few others that I took yesterday.

Sunday 8 September 2013

Day 9 - Seaweedy Beach

                                                 Acrylic on board 15cm x 12cm (4.5" x 6")

I had an early start today as I had to drop my daughter at school by 7.30am. So in contrast to yesterday's late painting finish (early evening) I finished this one by 9.34am. I feel that I have the day ahead of me now to do some writing. First though, a short walk in some local bushland to admire the spring flowers which are out in their full glory right now. I will take my camera of course and I may just spot something for tomorrow's painting reference.

Because we are about 12 hours ahead of the US, I suspect that this post will show up as still being the 8th Sep, so I have taken a photo of the time and date on my computer to show that this is day 9 for me here on the west coast of Australia.

Day 8 - Yellow Capsicum

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

Last night I promised myself that I would whip up a quick painting in the morning so I would have time to write in the afternoon. Well, I didn't even get up until after 9.30am and for reasons too long-winded to go into, I had to dispense with the photo reference I had chosen the night before. Luckily I recalled taking a photo last year of a rather fetching yellow capsicum which I thought would make for a quick and easy painting. I trawled through my photos, located it, and was itching to begin. Then I remembered that I hadn't had breakfast yet - and there was no milk in the house! So I whizzed out to the supermarket, had breakfast and then finally I was ready to begin.
  It was now 12.30 and I only had a half hour window before I was due to walk to a cafe with my daughters for a spot of lunch (Eeergh, I'd only just eaten breakfast!). I was bold enough to think that I'd be able to paint that capsicum in no time at all and that the time constraint would force me to loosen up. I had seen on Mo Teeuw's  post last night that she had created a stunning beach scene in 10 minutes flat when under extreme pressure and I was mightily impressed. "I want me some of that" I thought, and I really thought it was in the realms of possibility for me! For some inexplicable reason - which flies in the face of all factual evidence - I still have this deluded idea that an easy subject matter actually exists.

I painted like fury for half an hour, but it wasn't looking good, so I made the girls cool their heels for another 10 minutes or so until I accepted that I wasn't going to convince anybody that it was an anatomically correct capsicum at this stage.
The weather was great and we had a lovely walk to the cafe and back, then it took me another hour of painting on our return before I felt happy with it. I had come very close to scrapping it when I hadn't been able to make it work in my unrealistic allotted time. But then I realised that most of my paintings look like duds for the first hour or so but they usually morph into something respectable if I put more time and effort into them. Maybe it's just not in me to paint faster and looser and I just need to be more patient and work to my strengths. In the end I still finished it in under 2 hours and I probably wouldn't have been able to accomplish that a year or so ago. I guess it all comes down to practice, practice, practice!

Oh yes, It's now 6.20pm and I haven't got onto dinner yet, so it's not looking good for my writing!

Saturday 7 September 2013

Day 7 - Molly

                                              Acrylic on board 15 x15cm (6" x 6")

I took a snap of my friend's lovely Staffie the other week. It wasn't a great shot as she was a bit too close to the camera, but I thought I'd see if I could make something of it. The perspective in the photo made it impossible to know how to paint her neck and upper body so I thought I'd leave it out altogether. Molly is such a sweet natured dog which shows in her face.