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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At the framers

mt egmont pastelThis one is at the framers as my husband wants to hang it somewhere. Because it is for him, he took it t the framer and chose the frame, matt colour etc. It will be interesting to see the final results. It’s done on a half sheet of Colorfix using mainly Art Spectrum pastels.

WIP – interested in snow

I have to finish four works to send off to Auckland mid to late September, for a busy hairdressing salon. There have been quite a few avalanches here in new Zealand recently, sadly some of them have been fatal. This got me thinking about snow, avalanches, global warming, glaciers – fascinated, I have been doing some reading, looking at images, talking to people about snow etc. I have made a start on all four canvas at once. I want them to end up pale, with hints of mauves and blues under lots of layers of white – like shadows on snow or objects buried under fresh snowfall.

Here are the first few layers done. One of the photos has come out far too bright, and all seen to have a weird green tinge in places, but the general idea is there. More layers coming soon….

More mapping, of a sort.

I am still deeply fascinated by the way in which Aboriginal artists map the land. I have been going through some of my stash of photos, and there’s quite a few of them, looking at the land and what has taken my eye in the past. Is it mountains, the sea, grass, buildings – what? Turns out the sea and Mt Egmont feature pretty prominently.

Then I got to thinking about what I like in others people’s work, and in my art journals. And what I like – and don’t like – about the mapping sketches I have done so far. I like simplicity, but I also like layers. Into Photoshop for a while, and I came up with 3 images that I like. This week I will be taking them onto paper for a play round to see if the ideas translate into the material world. You just never know until you try it. For the record, the images are a combination of  Waverley beach and the lillies we have growing outside Mum’s room so she can enjoy them.

beach flower 1

beach flower 4

beach flower 3

New Mt Egmont painting – looking at the values

This week I have four days off work, and I intend spending the whole time painting. I have to get some big works done for an exhibition in Auckland. BUT this coming Friday is Waitangi Day. It’s the day New Zealand celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the document that more than 150 years ago was signed between Maori and the Crown detailing how this land would be in the future. It gives Maori equal rights in law – amazing for a colony in the 1800s – and probably one of the reasons New Zealand has, in the main anyway, thrived as a bi-cultural society.

This Friday my town, Patea, celebrates with an event called Paepae in the Park. It’s a massive day with music, food stalls, speeches – all celebrating our diverse community (Patea has a high percentage of Maori, as has this area generally). Businesses are closed but to support the day I open the library, which is next to the park where the event is held. A top NZ band, Katchafire, is playing this year, and we expect about 5,000 people to attend. The library has disabled access toilets, and offers people time out in the shade and quiet. I also think it is good for the library, and me as library manager, to be seen to be involved in events within the community. Last year the event did not go ahead because of a massive industrial fire in town on the day. The year before I had more than 700 people through the doors on the day – amazing, because at that stage our usual weekly footprint count was only 500.egmont-and-cowsWhat does that have to do with painting? Well — I am going to do some small, 4×4 or 6×6, acrylic paintings of Mt Egmont to display – and hopefully sell – in the library. The Mountain (Maunga) is very important to local Maori. When they have been away form the area, seeing Mt Egmont signals that they are ‘home’. So I have cropped a favorite photo of the mountain to square-ish, and turned it to gray-scale to make  the values more obvious. And tomorrow  head into my art room to get messy. Love it.

Another Mt Egmont painting sold

It seems that Mt Egmont / Taranaki is very popular at the moment, which is fine with me as I enjoy painting it. This one has been sold locally; the new owner tells me it is propped up in their bedroom at the moment so she can sit in bed and look at it in the mornings. What lovely feedback! It’s done with water soluble oils on board and was approx 12×14″. It’s a photo I took with my old camera, so the colours are not accurate, but at least I do have some record of it. 

Mt Egmont in June

Mt Egmont in June

And an aerial view

This is a view of Mt Egmont that I guess relatively few people see – taken from the air. Incredible. If you fly from New Plymouth, my nearest airport, to Auckland – NZ’s largest city -you get spectacular views of Egmont as you fly past. Providing the clouds part that is 😉

In my two libraries we also act as information centres, so deal with a lot of tourists keen to see the mountain. Especially after it was made famous by Tom Cruise filming The Last Samurai in the region. But the reality is that a lot of people passing through simply do not get to see her – because of cloud cover. Lots of cloud cover!

This is another wee 4×4″ in acrylics on gallery wrap canvas, based on a photo taken on a clear day when there was no real cloud cover, and not a lot of snow either to be honest.

Mt Egmont from the air, 4x4" in acrylics

Mt Egmont from the air, 4x4

There’s plenty of snow on the mountain

But it’s easily 20 degrees here again today. I am sure we don’t normally have this much snow left by mid November. I blame global warming.

Anyway … I have been painting Mt Egmont ready to put some small works into Red Rock Cafe. Here’s the first one completed. Acrylic on 4×4 gallery wrap canvas.

mt-egmont-9

New place to hang my work

For the last 10 days or so I have had painting on display with the local Patchwork & Quilting exhibition as part of the annual rhododendron festival. There’s been 30 to 50 people through a day; good numbers for a rural town of 1,000. I took my Mum to see the exhibition yesterday and while I was there I was approached by the owner of Red Rock, a 7 day a week cafe here in town.

Michelle has some art on sale already, but the only painting she has of Mt Egmont, our amazing mountain, is $500 — too much for the average passing tourist. The painting attracts a lot of attention though. She wondered if I could supply smaller, cheaper artwork featuring the mountain. Heck, yes – I love painting Mt Egmont. I’m going to start with some little acrylic 4x4s and them perhaps some 8x8s in oil.  

In the meantime, here are some of my reference photos for you to enjoy.