What do you see in this photo?

Do you see a slightly grubby desk? Paints in cut down old cartons? Nothing much? I see two things – opportunity and happiness.

Opportunity because the paints are sitting on my desk so I can make use of any spare minutes, without going in search of supplies. Opportunity because every time I pick up a bottle of paint I have the opportunity to create something new. Opportunity because paints give me freedom to express myself.

Happiness because painting relaxes me. Happiness because those paints sitting right on my home-office desk means that my family and I both accept my need to create. Happiness because I can afford to buy paints (I work fulltime, and know jobs are a scarce resource for some). Happiness because I did not always paint, and am so grateful I found my love of creating.

So what makes you happy? What opportunities face you each day?By the way, when I get a new bottle of G0lden Fluid acrylic, I open it up and smear some of the color on the lid, That way I can easily find the color I want, without ratting through all the bottles.

Graffiti it – NZ Art Guild challenge

The current NZ Art Guild Challenge is graffiti. Given the recent awful graffiti on my work place I was keen to try this one, and make it more about art, less about vandalism.

Title: Cath was here, 2009

Size: 21x30cm on Art Spectrum Colourfix paper

Medium: Background – acrylic, inks, rubber stamps, stencils, pastel. ‘Cath was here, 2009’ added digitally.

Inspiration: I have had the start of the background sitting round for two years, knowing one day I would use it. I have added another couple of layers to it today, then scanned and added ‘Cath was here’ in Photoshop.

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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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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….

Happiness is: new paints

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I found Golden Fluid Acrylics at 30% off the other day at Tanjis. So I ordered a few – some are new colours to try, others are spares of long-time favourites. Happiness is: a wee box of paints, sitting on my desk tempting me. The first thing I do when I get new paint in a bottle is smear some of the colour on the lid. It’s easier to find what I want, and seeing the colours lifts my spirits.

Oh, and for the record, here are the colours I bought: Turquoise (phthalo), Green Gold, Phthalo Green (yellow shade), Paynes Gray, Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Anthraquinone Blue, Nickel Azo Yellow, Iridescent Fine Gold, Napthol Red medium, Quinacridone Red, 2 of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold and 2 of Quinacridone Burnt Orange.

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.

Painting interlude

I have not really done any painting in the past week. I have two problems mainly:

1. The weather is so hideous. It is 24 degrees or so here most days and incredibly humid. My acrylic paints are giving me grief; they get to the tacky stage almost instantly. Awful.  There is no way I would consider varnishing in this weather.

2. Our wee dog has been increasingly sick over the last week. We have it under control now I hope but it has been very time consuming. She is my only baby and I have been really worried about her. You can meet Faith here.

I’ve been going to bed early each night so she can cuddle up with me and get some ‘Mom sympathy’. So while I soothe her, I have been rereading some favorite art books. Such as the Acrylic Revolution, and some books about journals and mixed media. Then I scribble some notes in my art journals; so the time has not been wasted. It’s amazing what even that small amount of research does to rev up the brain and get the creative wheels spinning.

My hands are tools as I paint

Some people could eat a 4 course meal with only a fork, and not have a drop of food on them. Or cook Christmas dinner for 10 and emerge from the kitchen looking pristine. Me? I can’t eat, or cook, without spilling, dripping or slopping. It’s not that I’m clumsy as such, just – I don’t know – a bit uncoordinated I guess.

And when I paint? Yes, the same thing applies really. They say a picture paints a thousand words; in which case my clothes, and hands, tell quite a long story. I have tools – brushes, scrapers, knives – and paper towels, rags, wet wipes etc. Yet, somehow, I always end up with paint on my clothes and on my hands. The food mess may well be lack of coordination, but (forgetting the clothes for a moment) I think the paint on my hands is really about something else.

I am one of those people who likes to touch things. I’m a librarian by day; I touch the books, I touch my customers – sometimes I hug them if they need it – I touch my scrapbook pages, my pets, my mother, flowers, the hand of people who serve me in shops.

And I like to touch what I paint. I pick the small canvas up and hold them in my hand as I paint. I pick up the tubes and bottles of paint and feel the weight of them and, of course, I touch the wet paint! Not deliberately, but then again, perhaps really it *is* deliberate? Perhaps for me part of the process of painting is feeling my way through the layers of paint and glazes and marks. Feeling what is right, what needs changing…

I think that for me painting is not just about the image, the colours, the texture – it’s about the feel of the process, and the feel of the finished work. And that’s why my hands tell a story – because for me painting is as much a tactile pursuit as a visual one. How about you?