Gelli print landscapes

I’ve got the urge to start stitching again, so I’ve been reading the Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn books, including Stitchscapes. Looking at their sketchbook pages reminded me how much I enjoy creating abstracted landscapes so this afternoon I got out my Gelli Plate and some of the favourite Atelier paints. I taped my Gelli plate onto a piece of copier paper so I could line up multiple pulls and got to work. I’ve done 9 prints on good paper, and 4 on copier paper that are just from cleaning the plate – these often turn out really well because of all the tiny bits of colour that get picked up.

Most of the prints have 4 or 5 full or partial layers of paint, and all have the sun in them using Atelier’s Rich Gold series 4. This is a lovely metallic to use – it’s not as harsh as some metallics. Alongside my trusty old paints I’ve been trying out some new ones that I got sent as part of a sample kit; Liquitex heavy body Green Gold and Quinacridone Magenta. They are both really nice to use – they’re single pigment transparent colours and flow so well. I can see me moving to Liquitex from Atelier if I ever use up my paint stash!

These prints may stay as they are or I may try adding a little stitching to some of them, just to see how it feels.

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Progress shots

For once I am remembering to take rough ‘n ready photos as I work through the many, often ugly duckling, stages of a mixed media painting. The photos are quick, crooked and poorly lit, but are enough to show the process I work through, and are in order.

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Signatures for a swap

I’ve just finished my entries for the International Signature Swap 2013 organised by Erika Husselmann. It was such fun last year that I couldn’t resist doing it again. The rules have changed a bit from previous years, you can find all the details on the Art Swappers website. I’ve used Hahnemuhle 140gsm drawing paper, and started by adding a few layers of Golden acrylics with by Gelli Plate. Once that was dry and I had spent some time looking at them, I worked back into them with more paint, and Derwent Art Bars. I love the idea of the Art Bars but, in practice, I find I remove what I’ve done more times that I leave it on. I really to prefer adding extra marks with paint or pen. So, here’s what I created last night:

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Looking at the landscape

I am still adjusting to all the time I have now that Mum has died. Six months on I find the evening has vanished and, all too often, I have achieved nothing. Yet when she was alive, I juggled it all, and found art time. I think I’m still catching up on rest, and learning to live with the gap in our lives.

So one of the things I am slowly doing is going back to some of the things that have been good in my art in the past – like exploring the landscape to see just how far from a ‘real’ landscape you can get before it no longer says landscape. I’d be been using my Gelli Plate, foam stamps with words on them, and a bunch of bubble wrap, to get messy landscapey layers. What I love is that with printing you get bits of paint left over and they come out in a layer later on, adding more colors and texture.

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2012 as a blogger

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views. In 2012, there were 57 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 559 posts. There were 129 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 190 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per week. The busiest day of the year was June 10th with 177 views. The most popular post that day was New home office / art room.

These are the posts that got the most views in 2012.

Visitors came from 98 countries in all! Most visitors came from The United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom were not far behind.

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Italy on my mind

Our Italy trip has been on my mind a lot lately, for all kinds of obscure and tangential reasons. Things like the financial woes in Europe, the realization that Tony and I probably won’t be going overseas again, seeing some poppies growing locally, graffiti that reminds me of the trains in Italy…

I’ve been wanting to start a new series of paintings, using mainly black and white with a little red, and over the last few nights have dreamed these into existence. As I start painting Tony often asks, partly to wind me up, “what’s it going to be?”. He kept coming and looking at these three, a bit baffled. When I had finished he said “poppies”. Yup – but think of the viaduct, and the train tracks. Oh yeah, you have the graffiti underneath, and the old roman viaduct. Yes, Tony, I do!

Playtime in my art studio

It’s not often I get time alone at home; being full-time carer for my Mum means that I almost always have someone at home with me. On top of that, during the week we have two different caregivers coming in and out, etc. I value their help, we could not manage without them and both still work, but it’s more people in my days. For a real introvert, this is not always easy. Today my husband Tony has gone to visit his cousin Alison and my sister Ailsa has taken Mum out for a drive. So it’s just me, the cat and the dog. Bliss! I love my family and would not change my life for anything, but I do crave time alone.

So what does an artist do when they get some unexpected time out? Yes, that right, they head for their studio … and I did. I have started on some backgrounds, just playing with texture, colour and pattern. I’ve also done a few small, connected, abstract landscapes using my favorite Unison pastels.

I love the feel of pastels plus there’s such a depth of colour; I enjoy the way the light hits those fine particles of pure colour. The only downside for me is that if I use them too much the ends of my fingers get sore from wiping them clean all the time. I try not to be too compulsive about keeping my fingertips clean and that helps!

For the backgrounds I gathered up foam stamps, liquid acrylics, a white wax crayon, rubber paint spatula, letting stencils and some scraps of patterned paper. I fairly randomly layered the colours and patterns on. These are nothing finished about these at all – they are very much at the beginning stages so it’ll be fun to see what develops over the next few days.

Now I am going to sit down in the sunshine and start working with some ideas I’ve had for Christmas gifts. There’s less than 3 months to go, and I want to make one or two textile items for family members. Fingers crossed that my new glasses give me sharp enough focus for doing needlework. Time will tell…

Starting on some backgrounds; these will uncurl as I add more layers.

Working on small landscapes in pastel.

I love the way Unison pastels catch the light.

Patea Freezing Works – Where’s my knife?

I am back to my Freezing Works series; I need to have 3 works finished and sent off by the end of the month. They’re heading to the “One Size Fits All” exhibition at the Thornton Gallery in Hamilton in August. Each work has to be 10″ square and that suits be just fine for this series. I always enjoy working at that size anyway as it suits the way I work in winter – sitting down at my office desk with the heater on. In winter it is simply far too cold to go to my outside studio and stand at an easel. The studio used to be the caravan shed so it has corrugated iron walls, a concrete floor on dirt, and no insulation at all. Freezing in winter and hot as heck in summer. What a wimp, I know!

These three works are loosely based on photos by New Zealand photographer Aaron Cubis. You can see some of his amazing work here on Flickr. I started with loose washes and runs of Golden Fluid Acrylics; Napthol red medium, Quinacridone magenta & crimson, and Phthalo green (blue) and Permanent green light. From there I have just played around, trying to capture the feel of years of peeling paint and rusty metals. What I loved about Aaron’s photos was the vivid contrast of the red and green paint on the walls and this is what I have tried to capture. This is probably going to be the most realistic of the three works as I tend to loosen up as I get into a subject painting by painting.

Photo by Aaron Cubis

The clean-up of the Freezing Works following the fire a couple of years ago is 95% complete now; the landscape looks so different with all those buildings gone. I guess the biggest impact on the landscape was when the chimney came down. I am happy to see it all gone; as I come down the hill into Patea the view out to the Tasman Sea is spectacular. Of course the landscape will never be as it was 100s of years ago, because of power lines, house sat the beach and so forth, but it does give a better idea of just how beautiful the untouched landscape must have been here pre-settlement.

Where's my knife? 10x10" acrylic.

Patea Freezing Works – Metalwork VI

This is the latest in the Patea Freezing Works series. I haven’t done much on the series for a couple of weeks as I have been busy with work for the LEGATO exhibition in Italy. Tony and I are both going over for the exhibition as it is such an exciting opportunity. Anyway, back to the Freezing Works.  This painting is based on a shot by local photographer Phu Tran; you can see his amazing photos on Flickr.

This work is 40×40″ in acrylics on gallery wrap canvas and is for sale on my website and Etsy.

The Freezing Works as I knew it is no more! The demolition work has been going on for over 3 months now and most of the above-ground buildings have gone. Most significant of all, in terms of the look of the site, the chimney has gone. This was quite controversial, for reasons I won’t bother going into, for now at least. You can see in the photo below, taken by Sandra Robinson, just what a mammoth structure the chimney really was.

So, increasingly, this series of works is from photos and from memory, rather than from photos and a daily view of the works. This isn’t a bad thing; the point of the series was always about the “remembered landscape”.

Old house – latest Art Guild challenge

You might remember that a few posts back I showed you the reference photo for the latest NZ Art Guild Challenge. At the time, I was sure it was the colours that would inspire me – and I was right. I tackled the subject twice today; once in acrylics and once with ink, oil pastels, soft pastels and acrylics. Neither are an accurate representation of the image and in one I have moved windows, resized some parts, generally messed with it a bit. In the second I was thinkng mainly about colour blocks, the Impressionists, ghosts (don’t ask!) and light.

For me the NZ Art Guild challenges are a great opportunity to tackle a subject, style or material/s I might not normally go for; a chance to have a creative play with no real pressure. So here are my two most recent entries:

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