Seeing inspiration in the everyday

There’s no denying that our trip to Italy and Dubai was inspiring; I will be looking at the photos for years to come. Sure exotic people and far off lands are exciting as an artist, but we can’t be forever on holiday (not with my luck at Lotto anyway!).

Much of my inspiration comes from the land around me – the buildings, paddocks, the distant view of Mt Egmont, the waves crashing into Mana Bay at Patea Beach. Places that are accessible and affordable to get to. I try to have a camera with me most of the time so I can take a photo when something grabs my attention, often because of the light. I have a semi-organised filing system on the computer for my photos and also save some to cd in case my computer ever dies.

These two  images are a digital combination of three photos; Mt Egmont, the waves crashing into the sand at Mana Bay and a cabbage tree at sunset. When I play round with the images like this I’m not necessarily wanting to achieve a particular end result. It’s more about knowing the subject, feeling comfortable with the shapes and just letting them seep into my brain. I know that I paint differently – better and looser – when my brain really knows the subject and can let go of some control.

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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.

Monoprinting on fabric

My friend Trisha and I have a private challenge going on, where we each create a textile piece once a month and share the process, and results, with each other. I am running a bit behind, however…

I have been seeing a lot of artists doing monoprints and linocut lately, and that got me thinking. Today was THE day, Taranaki Anniversary – an extra day off work to do art with. Cool!

I simplified the photo using ‘cut out’ in Photoshop, reversed it and printed it out. I drew the basic lines onto acetate then painted it with acrylics. (they dried a bit too quick on the heat really). I did a quick test run on some scrap paper and was satisfied I had the basic shapes. I’d already washed and ironed some very pale fabric, but left it vaguely damp. I re-did the paint on the acetate, laid the fabric down, put paper over the top and rolled like heck with a brayer. I lifted it off quickly before the two bonded together and there it was – my first monoprint on fabric. I repainted and lifted off another couple, so I would have some to play with.

This is much more abstract than last month’s work, and I’m pleased with that. I want to do some stitching on top of the paint now, to put some details in here and there. Oh, and while I was at it, I layered the base photo and the fabric monoprint on top of each other in Photoshop – just to see what would happen.

Original photo and fabric monoprint, layered in Photoshop.

Full tide #1 – enjoying our beach

I have been really intrigued by the Watermarks blog; a collaboration between some fabulous artists who are all inspired by water in one form or another. The artists are Vivien Blackburn, Lindsay Olson, Katherine Tyrrell, Laura Frankstone, Gesa Helms, Jeanette Jobson, Tina Mammoser, Sarah Wimperis and Ronell van Wyk.

Stay with me through a little geography. Where we live, Patea, is on the west coast of the north island of New Zealand. Patea is built on top of 200 foot cliffs, only about a golf course width back from the edge in places. From our home, at the beach end of town, we look out across the golf course to the Tasman Sea. About 2 minutes drive away is Mana Bay and the sea walls that give the fishing boats access to the sea – being the west coast, the seas can be treacherous. The road down to the beach settlement, about 10 houses in all, is quite steep and has a couple of lookouts along the way.

At the beach itself, there is a jetty, the sea walls, two beaches separated by the Patea River which flows down from a hydro dam, a rock wall that protects the far shoreline and a beach that is really a tidal river edge. All the sand is black iron-sand; the Japanese mined here for iron-sand until the early 80s.

I love to go down there are look around; sometimes I take Mum down, just to get her out of the house for a bit. In summer the iron-sand gets incredibly burn-your-feet hot. And to that the summer colours of sunset in our clear skies, and the feeling can be one of almost overwhelming heat. Hot skies, hot sand, hot colours, hot summer air. All against the beautiful clear blue of the Tasman Sea.  

I have been working small again, 4×8″ on gallery wrap canvas, and exploring how I feel about summer at the beach here. This one, Full Tide #1, is for sale on ArtFire.  There’ll certainly be more to come; I love the colours, and the memories that inspire these works.full-tide-11

Playing with fabric

My friend Trisha and I have got a private blog going where we are challenging each other to do some textile work right through 2009. (Trisha was one of my mentors when I did Stage 3 at TLC last year)

I decided my challenge is to take a photo of Patea Beach each month and then interpret it in fabric, stitch, paint etc. Trisha came up with quite a different challenge to mine for 2009 and it’s fun  to watch it unfolding. This is my ‘almost finished’ first attempt.

jan-01-stitched