My mapping went “awol”

As you saw a few posts back, I am fascinated with the way modern Aboriginal artists map the land, often from memory. I had a play a week or so back and at the weekend found time to have another shot.It’s not as easy as it looks! Why? Because my brain automatically decides to do “western perspective” landscapes instead, and not very well at that. I think producing something that satisfies my idea of ‘mapping’ the land around me is going to be way more of a learning curve than I had imagined. Bring it on I say…

In the meantime, here are just four of the many I did at the weekend, all on Fabriano Artistico140lb 5×7″ watercolour paper with Golden Fluid acrylics. It was interesting to see the work got looser and more abstract the longer I had a brush in my hand.

Latest NZAG challenge

Here’s my entry in the latest NZ Art Guild challenge, which had to involve memory in some way, and only use two colours plus black and white. I drew the pears from memory, so that’s the inspiration part.
Title: Purple and Yellow Pears
Size: 20cm w x 23cm deep
Medium: Acrylic on white AS Modigliani paper. Black, white, Windsor Purple and Deep Cadmium Yellow acrylic paints.

Purple and yellow pears

Mapping the land; experimenting with paint

Mapping 2As you know from a couple of posts back, I have become increasingly fascinated with Aboriginal art, especially the idea of mapping the land. I’ve cuts lots of pictures out of magazines, downloaded art and maps from the net, made some sketches. Generally just started to build up some reference material in my new visual diary.

Today I started in using some paint in my visual diary. Thinking about the shapes of Taranaki where I live, edges and boundaries, about topography and how we represent where we live. One painting I am happy enough with as a starting point, the other doesn’t even begin to express what I was looking for, it’s too – hang on, that would be giving the show away. It’s okay that I’m not happy with one of them, because the diary is just my sandpit for messing round in. Can you guess which one pleases me?

Mapping the land 1


NZ Art Guild Challenge – winner, most creative

The NZ Art Guild runs regular challenges and I try to do all of them as a way of stretching my artistic wings. The most recent challenge was to use one of 5 suggested songs (all by New Zealand musicians) as inspiration for an artwork. Here are the details of my entry:

Title: My husband, my hero
Media: watercolour and digital. Watercolour portrait, then hand lettered lyrics in black. Scanned and added semi-transparent white text in my own handwriting font over the top. Size: 10x13cm
Inspiration: Dreamin’ by Scribe. One of the verses says “And I wouldn’t of made it if it wasn’t for you. You picked me up every time that I fell. When I was going thru hell, you told me that I would prevail“. My husband Tony really is my hero; he uplifts me, he understands my need to shut myself away and do my art, he sticks with me through all lifes up and downs.

This piece was voted “most creative” entry for the challenge, and got some lovely feedback, with one person saying they could see my love for my husband shining through – I am so glad it shows. Tony, this one really is for you.

My husband, my hero

Delving into an obsession

I’ve been interested in modern Aboriginal Art for the last 5 years or so, since being exposed to it as part of the theory side of my art study with TLC. Being in New Zealand, there’s little to be seen in the flesh,  and really only the internet for exploration. Any books available tend to be about older, more traditional forms.

And then along came this – a beautiful new glossy magazine dedicated to Aboriginal Art and Artists. It has lots of beautiful full-colour photographs, scholarly articles, gallery adverts and more. Completely stunning. The second issue has just come out, that’s the one shown here, and it’s every bit as good as the first.

 aaa mag cover copy

Did I mention that it’s around 180 glorious pages? And that I’m not on commission! Anyway, it has got me thinking about why I like modern Aboriginal Art and the short answer is – I’m not sure. The easy answer that springs to mind is joyful, colourful abstraction. But then I love some of the simpler, tonal works that have a Rothko feel. So it’s more than just colour, or abstraction or joy. I also love the aerial map feel of many of the works.

In the last few years I have worked on numerous series, obsessions really, such as the full moon, orange, shadows and pears. Only a tiny fraction of that study and obsession has ever been shown to anyone, even via my blog. And much of it is ongoing.

Now I think I might have to put all that aside for a while and delve into this obsession. Not that is is new, because it is not, but because suddenly I have this resource that I can study, pull apart, replicate, dissect and pore over. I suspect I’ll end up sewing, painting, drawing, collaging etc my way through the images until I begin to understand just what it is that draws me. I don’t want to produce Aboriginal Art – how can I when I am not an Aborigine? That would be mere copying. But if I can understand what draws me to it, I can transfer that joy to my own art practice.


The NZ Art Guild challenge that finished a week or so ago started with a photograph of some bones. We could do anything we liked, and boy, did I like. Here’s the details of the two works I produced for the challenge.

Original photo ref of bones

1. Title: I love Anthro Bones #1.  Medium: Fluid acrylic on cream colourfix paper, 9×11.5″
Inspiration: I knew straight away there were amazing hearts in the bones so I took the photo down to stencil setting in photoshop to simplify the edges and make the hearts shapes stand out.

anthro bones 1

2. Title: I love Anthro Bones #2. Medium: Watercolour, gel pen and oil pastels on Daler-Rowney 300gsm rough watercolour paper, 8.5×11.5″
Inspiration: In photoshopping the image to stencil to see the hearts betters, I decided the image needed some “bling” so I used white gel pen and neon colours to give the heart of the bones some sparkle.

anthro bones 2

A good question, and the answer…

Diane asked “Is it too personal to ask what your living space is and what modifications you have made for your Mum?” Good question Diane.

We moved into Mum’s 3 bedroom house with her when she first got really sick. We shifted her from the main bedroom to the smaller one, not to get the “good” room, but so that she is right next to the toilet at night.

We turned the tiny bathroom into a ‘wet room’ so that her caregivers can shower her without worrying about mess and shower curtains etc. The hospital system provided rails in the bathroom and toilet and a fancy chair for her at the kitchen table so she can get up easily. They also put a good rail at the back porch so she can get up and down the 4 steps to the house. We may need a ramp at the front door eventually.

We turned the second bedroom into an office / art room so that I have space to escape to and relax in. That’s as important as the other modifications!

We bought Mum an electronic bed so that when she’s at her sickest we can adjust the slope to help her breathing, sit her up to eat, adjust it to make a bump under her knees to ease her back if she’s uncomfortable.

Mum gifted the house to us, with my sister’s approval, so that when Mum goes we are not suddenly home less. My sister thinks that is fair after, at this stage, 11 years of caregiving.

So we haven’t had to do anything too dramatic thank goodness, and it has worked out well.

85th birthday party

We had Mum’s 85th birthday party yesterday with family and friends. Her half brother John, and half sister Margaret, were able to join us which was great. Mum was in her 60s when she discovered she’s adopted and then found out she had siblings. Incredible and such a blessing in her old age. We had cake and balloons and laughter – and I was able to publicly thank the people who help us keep Mum at home with us. We sure couldn’t do it on our own.  As I have said before, sure I get tired, sure sometimes I want my own life all to myself – but I know this is the best thing for Mum and I – we have a bond that is so close, and this time together is a gift not all daughters get.