What I’m reading


I’m finding this more academic than I expected but loving it all the same. I’m particularly taken with the Wolf Kahn and Hans Hoffman works, and some of the gentler abstract expressionist works.  I sometimes forget what a profound impact colour has on me though. I read this till about 10pm then spent half the night with possible paintings dancing in front of me, and vivid colour schemes making my brain as far from relaxed as I could possibly get!

I’m wanting to do a new, large-scale, painting for our kitchen and am thinking about really strong colours along the lines of those used on the book’s cover. I might even work in pastels instead of acrylics for a change. We’ll see … I need some peaceful sleep first though.


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.

Lots of little trials

Yesterday I spent a few hours doing more than a dozen 16x10cm tests on Bockford paper using fluid acrylics, pencil, pen, oil pastels, pastels and Indian Ink. As usually happens, I started off quite tight, drawing what I could see. Then, as I got used to the image and the shapes, the works got looser. There are a couple that are heading in the direction I want – both have at least some of the hazy, layered quality I am looking for.

These were all based on just one of the photos so there are more samples to come before I get to a stage where I am heady to bring out the canvases. Not that the paintings will be based on the test runs, but these wee works will certainly inform what I do, and help get my brain and hand familiar with the subject matter.

Looking at the lines, ready to start drawing

fe 2fe 5I have been looking at my inspiration wall of photos for a couple of  days now. Today I chose about 20 favorite photos and used the “find edge” function in PhotoShop to have a closer look at the lines in them. It’s interesting what turned up; I have shared a couple of them so you can see what I mean.

Tonight or tomorrow I will start drawing them in Indian Ink and pastels, concentrating on the lines and the bigger shapes. At the same time, I am rereading one of my most-used books on abstract art, thinking about the theory behind what I am doing. Thinking about the words, the layers of meaning and what I am bringing to this project.

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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:



The moon in pastel

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For those who have visited my blog from time to time over the last three years or so, my moon obsession has no doubt become familiar. I am one of those people who suffer from “full-moon-itis”. You know what I mean. It’s full moon and you’re wide awake, making art at 3 in the morning, or drifting idly round the house longing for sleep.

The moon is waxing gibbous,  74% of full tonight. I know this because I have a moon calendar so I can see, as well as feel, the moon’s phases. As I came home from work tonight the sky was clear blue, the 3/4 moon was up and there were parallel jet plane trails just underneath.

I grabbed my camera…and the results make me want to get out my pastels next weekend and attack some full sheets of Colorfix. I’ve had a quick play with these in Photoshop, cropping and colouring. In any form, the moon fascinates me and when the colours are inverted – wow!

Pastels for a change

I have been working mainly in acrylic and ink for quite a while now. I love the speed of working with acrylic, and the ease of cleaning up. But I also miss getting my hands in the medium. So I’ve started using pastels again, playing round on full sheets of Colorfix paper.

Sure, it dries my skin out. Sure, the dust gets all over me. But you know what? That doesn’t matter, cos I’m loving it. The immediacy of the medium is wonderful – the colour on the paper is the colour of the stick (is the colour on my face as I wipe my hand across my temple!) I can’t believe I stopped using pastels for so long. Silly me…

Materials: reference photos, full sheet Colorfix paper, Unison and Art Spectrum pastels, and my fingertips. Magic! Not finished yet, but thought I’d share the WIP.


Loosening up

I came home from work tonight incredibly, physically, tense. Not sure why – it was an okay day. I guessfigure some days I feel my job and its responsibilities more than others; or perhaps I started the day a bit tired anyway. Who knows …  Anyway, what I  needed was to relax once I had all my ‘chores’ out of the way. So I’ve aspects-of-the-land-3had a play with acrylics, ink, pastels, oil pastels – just loosening up mentally and physically. Now it’s time to set breakfast out for the morning and head off to bed with a glass of water and a book on fused quilting.