My lovely new artwork arrived

I only have a small collection of work by other artists. I would rather collect more works by fewer people than have a “scatter-gun” approach. I think I just like my collection to feel focussed. I have works by a New Zealander I won’t name because they seem to have stopped painting, American artist Martha Marshall and now Tina Mammoser.

I have followed Tina’s blog for a long time; I admire her work ethic as a fellow artist and her very clear artistic vision. My first ever work by Tina is called “Brighton, late summer”. I am so happy right now – thanks Tina.

NZ Art Guild Challenge – ‘where the wild things are’

The NZ Art Guild runs regular challenges and, although we had a break over Christmas, it’s to get back into it. This is what it says about the first challenge for 2010 on the Guild website:

Welcome back to our fortnightly challenges, I’ve got some great challenges planned this year to get you thinking (and hopefully creating!!!). Here’s the first one for the year….
Challenge: Create an artwork inspired by a given book/movie
Using the book or movie “Where the Wild Things Are” as inspiration to create an artwork.  There are no other restrictions, all forms of media may be used.

All forms of media? Okay then, sounds like a good chance to exercise some creative muscle. I hauled out some old scrapbooking supplies and got to work. The final piece is 20x30cm, mixed media – paper, paint, pens, fabric, ribbon, glue, brads. Nothing like a little bit of nonsense to lift my spirits!

'where the wild things' are mixed media collage

Patea Freezing Works – On the grid

Although I finished this one last weekend, I haven’t had time to blog about it. So here, we are, back to Saturday – I’m up nice and early and into it. The photo this is based on was taken some distance from the site by Phu Tran. One of the reasons I like this shot is the strong lines of the chimney and power poles through the centre of the scene. As I keep painting the freezing works over and over again I can feel what I am painting, the how I am painting it, is becoming more focused. The color palette remains the same, even how I apply the paint has stayed the same, but the lines and final marks are becoming much more of a focus for me.  Some of the earliest works now feel a little ‘soft’ to me and may yet get some tweaking.

Patea Freezing Works : on the grid

It is the middle of summer here; hot and muggy most days. I am not using my art room at the moment because it is far too hot out there; the walls are iron and there’s no ceiling, just the roof, so nothing to deflect the heat. I use our third bedroom as an office for the newspaper we publish. I have commandeered the desk for painting. I have a table-top easel, a roll of paper towels, old wash clothes, a small box of paints, a jar of brushes and a giant bucket of water. Oh, and my color theory notebook with all my color experiments in it and a pile of canvas – I’m about to move from 16×16″ to 20×20″.

So, this one is 16×16″ acrylic on canvas, and is for sale on here on Etsy.

Crusades: braving the elements

Today I found time to join the Crusades once again. Michelle’s last Crusade is here. The challenge involved making some paper snowflakes. We all made them at primary school so how hard could it be. In my case, quite hard as it tuned out. I seem to be snowflake-challenged. Seriously! I ended up going to a kindy page on the net and following their instructions. That’s my rather embarrassed admission for the day out of the way…

I made 5 snowflakes, following the instructions for 6 year olds, and ironed them flat seeing I had the iron on already. I had gessoed my journal pages right at the start, as Michelle suggested.  I brushed color on let it dry a bit, misted with water and blotted to get a splotchy effect. I dry-brushed colour around and over the snowflakes, overlapping them to get partial images, and then wiped some gesso onto the flakes to mute the colours a bit. Once everything was dry I glued my flakes down on the page.

They’re not my favorite pages ever as they stand, but I want to leave them like this so I can journal over them later. They’re a great beginning though, and that’s very cool. And, as Michelle said it would be, this Crusade was a good reminder of skills we have learnt in the past. So some on, what have you got to lose? Get cutting!

Choosing art over (almost) everything else

In November 2007 I posted about finding time for art. I am going to repeat that entry below, because it is something that is as relevent to me as ever. Perhaps more so, with social networking taking up more time than 2 or 3 years ago.  So tell me, do you make your art your #1 priority, after self and family? Or is art right at the back of the line? It’s a choice we can each make every day…  (I may put a couple of edits in – and will make sure it is clear they are changes form the original)

Do you ever stop and think and what your responsibilities are? And how best to juggle your time so you get things done and still have “art time” or “me time”. It’s a topic I often come back to.
I work full time as a librarian, study art by distance learning, publish a monthly community newspaper and Tony and I are Mum’s caregivers. Am I going to gripe about how busy I am? No way. I think that is one of the things we do wrong. People seem to play “I’m busier than you are” like it is some sort of game, and I think all it does it drain your energy. Accept you are busy and get on with it.
So how do I get art time? Well, for starters…I employ a housekeeper for 3 hours a week, someone comes and does the lawns once a fortnight, and someone else tames the gardens from time to time. (we now have a dishwasher as well, and all the laundry goes in the clothes dryer. Hey, it’s only a power bill, right?)
Due to serious health issues, the medical system provides a breakfast helper, lunchtime helper, and home delivered midday meal for Mum on weekdays. (We still have this level of support, for which I am grateful. I should also have said, my sister comes down once a month for the weekend, to visit Mum and help out. I love her to pieces.) That way I can go to work and not be worrying about whether she is okay, out of bed, had her breakfast and meds etc. Night time is my responsibility. Two days a week a rest home collects her for day care so she has some other company, and I pick her up on the way home from work. Weekends the care is up to Tony and I. So, we are getting a good level of help with Mum. Even though it can be really tiring, I am very grateful that we still have her with us; not everyone is so fortunate.
So, what else? I forgo television. Yep, that’s right. Except for the news, and some art programs, while Mum and Tony watch it while I head for my art room. I try to do other jobs in batches, like paying bills etc, rather than fluffing round endlessly with that sort of task. I try and relax about the state of the place; whilst clean enough and tidy enough, this is no show home.
In the end is comes down to – what would I rather do with this moment, these moments? This, that, or art. Unless my family wants or needs me, art wins most of the time. For me, it’s about knowing what my passion is and going for it heart and soul.
What do you choose most days?

Patea Freezing Works – Framework

I showed details from this painting a few posts back when I was talking about the colors I am using. Those photos also give some idea of the mark making involved in these pieces. I start most of the works with a few lines in a black Cretacolor pastel pencil – both as a rough guide to placement and just to get some marks onto the canvas so it’s not so ‘new’ any more. From there I put really runny white acrylic over most areas and start brushing thin acrylic color into the white. Again, just tinting the surface and giving me clues about what goes where. In some areas I will keep working away at it until I have a fairly flat area of final color. While this is happening others areas are drying as quite pale washes.

Once I have paint over the whole canvas, and some areas at a near final colour, I start blocking in larger areas of more concentrated colour. I use big brushes, a lovely wide 1 1/5″Color Scraper, painting knife and old credit cards. As I get more color on I start adding marks using the knife, the edge of the credit cards, brush handles etc. I also scratch paint off again with the same tools. With some of the flatter areas I may mist them with water and then blot some of the paint off with a paper towel. I keep an old houseplant watering bottle on my desk for doing this. The Atelier Interactive paints are especially receptive to this sort of treatment.


Most of the finishing of the work is done without using a brush, except for a rigger, because I like the marks to show.For me it is important that people can see my hand in the work. I think over time we each develop marks that are distinctly our own; even if someone else tried to copy them, they’d never be quite the same. It’s like giving an authentic signature and a forgery to a hand-writing expert; the differences show.

So, this work is titled Framework, and as with the others in the series so far it is 16×16″ in acrylics on gallery wrap canvas.

Patea Freezing Works – Switched Off

This is another work which I completed at the weekend, called “Switched Off”. It stared with a photograph of a power switch on a factory wall, with the coloured wires going up he wall towards the ceiling. I don’t know what room it was in within the works. All the other works I have done so far have focused on the exterior of the works, but I have some incredible photos of the interior, including gears, switches and chains. Later, as the demolition continues, there will other things come on site, such as air quality monitoring kits and ground testing equipment. All fascinating stuff in its own way.

Switched Off

Speaking of fascinating. I am reading a book called ‘100 most important science ideas’. I love science; things like Fibonacci’s Numbers, the Golden Rectangle and Schrodinger’s cat. Sadly, although fascinated, my brain is not very good at science. I have a dear friend who is incredibly logical. If you gave us both 30 bits of related information, all on separate bits of paper we would handle it quite differently. She would arrange them all, mentally sort and sift and calculate – then come up with the correct answer. I would look at them all, handle them and scribble on them, perhaps fold some – then go quiet on you. Two hours later my brain makes a leap of intuition and I yell out the correct answer, frightening small children and animals in the process. (no wonder my husband sometimes panics when I do crosswords) So, I am destined to enjoy, but constantly fail at, science – ah well…
Anyway, back to art, which is much more suited to my slightly unusual brain. As with the other Freezing Works paintings, this one is 16×16″ in acrylic on canvas and will be for sale through my website.  I may not get it uploaded tonight as I seem to be having problems with our wireless connection.

Interesting exhibition by Diane Widler Wenzel

Back in August ’09 Diane Widler Wenzel at Umbrella Painting Journal wrote about a new project she had undertaken. She posted a question, I replied, then she made a vase as her interpretation of my answer. You can read my reply, and see the vase, here.

Anyway, a few months on Diane has made a series of these small vases, and some accompanying paintings, and they are heading out on exhibit titled “What is the most awesome thing ever?”. I am so excited that a vase I have a connection with, by an artist I follow, is going out where people can see it and enjoy Diane’s talent. How cool is that? Here is Diane’s post about the exhibition.

Patea Freezing Works – Bare Bones IX

Bare Bones IX

In  my last post I talked about how I selected the colours for this series – a combination of the local light, the colours of our land and probably most importantly the colours that describe how I feel about the Freezing Works.

I don’t normally work in such a high key palette but in working through Confident Colour, Nita Leland’s book, I realised that on many ways I prefer high key even though I tend to paint quite dark. I made a conscious decision to lighten up. It has been a tiring week and work, then this morning I got up and did  3 loads of washing and ironed 5 ambulance shirts, made our lunches, loaded the dishwasher etc then headed for my art room.

Remember I said that the colours I am using are partly an expression of how I feel in my memory about the freezing works? Turns out they are also a reflection of who I am feeling at the time, which is no great surprise I guess. How do I know this. Because I painted for a couple of hours then roamed off to get a cold drink. When I came back to my art room – oh my goodness!

This afternoon’s effort is dark and gloomy, despite using the same few tubes of colour as before. It is my use of them that has changed. Grey sky, gloomy buildings, dark shadowed land. Dreadful…so tomorrow it gets gessoed over and I start again.

I did the only sensible thing I could do when I realised what I had done. I went into Mum’s room, where she was doing a crossword as always, and got into her bed for a nap in the sun (giving her strict instructions to wake me after 30 minutes). It’s amazing what a quick nap can do for your day. It’s funny, at the weekend I often have a wee nap on or in her bed while she reads or does the crosswords. Some of us never get over needing our Mum no matter how old we are…

In the meantime, here is one I finished a couple of days ago now. It’s 16×16″ in acrylic on canvas and called Bare Bones IX. It’s for sale on my website here.

The works – thinking about colour

After my last post Margaret made these comments “Coming from a place where the grayness of the days often sets the colour schemes I use in my own work, I find the vibrancy of colour in yours quite a contrast. I’d love to hear a little more about how you go about choosing your colour schemes. E.g., are the colours vibrant because of the emotionality you feel about the topic/place.? I love the boldness of the purple/ green combination.”  Thanks Margaret, it’s lovely to hear from you and know that you took time out to really look.

I guess the first thing I’d say re the colours is they’re a reflection of where I live. A lot of New Zealand tourism marketing is based on slogans such as “100% pure” and certainly where I live that’s true. The air is very clean and clear and as a result colours are clear as well. Grass is green, the sly is blue, the cows are black and white or vivid iron oxide red.

I think the colours are also a reflection of my feelings about the Freezing Works themselves, and where I live generally. Patea is a poor, rural, low socio-economic town that knows hard times personally. In some ways it is not always an easy community to live in. The derelict works are ugly, just as the closure was ugly. But I love both of them; the town and the ruins. Being raised here was good for me, coming back here almost 20 years ago now was also good for me. Living here gives me the chance to work full time, be an artist, publish a newspaper, care for Mum and still be happy – try that in the city!

I am using what is, for me anyway, a limited colours selection – mainly to help tie the individual works together a bit more. Sitting on my desk I have Naples yellow, permanent green light, brilliant orange, transparent yellow, titanium white, phthalo blue (green), manganese blue, quinacridone magenta, permanent violet dark, quinacridone violet, ultramarine violet, and phthalo green (yellow). I chose this colour set, ok two sets really, after doing some of the colour exercises from Nita Leland’s Confident Colour book.

It’s been interesting to try to explain a bit about the colours; I may end up coming back to this later on. In the meantime …the photos (taken at night wiht  aflash, so dodgy colour) this time show some of the detail from a painting I am working on at the moment. Hopefully you can see that there is a reasonable amount of texture going on. I like my marks to show, to leave traces of what I  have done and how I got there.