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.

Crusade No. 41 – Grid Lock

Most months I try to do Michelle Ward’s Crusade over at the GPP Street Team site. Crusade 41 is entitled Grid Lock – Michelle’s tips include a very cool way of marking out a grid on paper or in your journal. I decided to use this Crusade for a practical purpose. I have started dong a scrapbook of our recent trip to Dubai and Italy; I decided the album would be black and white cardstock only, with a little black and white patterned paper here and there. My favorite scrapbook shop sent me some lovely supplies but I hate cutting into “good” paper – silly I know. So, I have cut a sample of each piece of patterned paper and stuck it in the grids in my visual diary. Now the sheets are not “good” any more and I’ll get on and use them.

If you haven’t been to Michelle’s sites before, why not pop across and have a look? And if you lurk but don’t join in, why not grab some supplies and have a try. Then have a look at all the other entries this month, they’re sure to inspire you. Don’t forget to leave a comment everywhere you visit, you’re sure to make their day ūüôā

Starting on 56 6×6″ canvases

As part of my deal with shareholders in the trip we made to Italy for the LEGATO exhibition, I now have to make 56 6×6″ paintings. They all have their newsletter with its full colour photos, so that’s a good job done. I want the works to all be individual but at the same time do not want to create unnecessary work for myself. My intention is to work on the paintings in batches, probably six at a time. I have ideas for the first 3 or 4 batches and am mulling over the rest, making notes as I go. The first batch, which I am going to start on later today, involve digital art printed out on rice paper, glued down with gel medium and then worked over with more collage and probably some oil pastels.

Below is the digital work I have done so far. It’s made up of four photos initially. Then I have taken a photo of some poppies in the field and removed all the background so I have a field of floating poppies. I have layered this over the original digital collage for a sort of dreamy surreal effect. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when I start adding a few more collaged poppies over the top, then working in with the oil pastels.

Patea Freezing Works – Bare Bones IX


Bare Bones IX

In  my last post I talked about how I selected the colours for this series Рa combination of the local light, the colours of our land and probably most importantly the colours that describe how I feel about the Freezing Works.

I don’t normally work in such a high key palette but in working through Confident Colour, Nita Leland’s book, I realised that on many ways I prefer high key even though I tend to paint quite dark. I made a conscious decision to lighten up. It has been a tiring week and work, then this morning I got up and did ¬†3 loads of washing and ironed 5 ambulance shirts, made our lunches, loaded the dishwasher etc then headed for my art room.

Remember I said that the colours I am using are partly an expression of how I feel in my memory about the freezing works? Turns out they are also a reflection of who I am feeling at the time, which is no great surprise I guess. How do I know this. Because I painted for a couple of hours then roamed off to get a cold drink. When I came back to my art room Рoh my goodness!

This afternoon’s effort is dark and gloomy, despite using the same few tubes of colour as before. It is my use of them that has changed. Grey sky, gloomy buildings, dark shadowed land. Dreadful…so tomorrow it gets gessoed over and I start again.

I did the only sensible thing I could do when I realised what I had done. I went into Mum’s room, where she was doing a crossword as always, and got into her bed for a nap in the sun (giving her strict instructions to wake me after 30 minutes). It’s amazing what a quick nap can do for your day. It’s funny, at the weekend I often have a wee nap on or in her bed while she reads or does the crosswords. Some of us never get over needing our Mum¬†no matter how old we are…

In the meantime, here is one I finished a couple of days ago now. It’s 16×16″ in acrylic on canvas and called Bare Bones IX. It’s for sale on my website¬†here.

Patea Freezing Works paintings – Ruined II

Here is the second in the series of works based on the derelict Patea Freezing Works. The works closed in 1982 and that closure had a huge impact on the town. I know from personal experience; my dad owned a grocery store and the closure changed Mum and Dad’s lives forever. They owned the building, as well as they actual business, and had always seen the property as their retirement plan – but of course after the closure the building was pretty much worthless. Many people walked away form their homes, others sold them for a few hundred dollars, while a few daring souls packed their bags and moved their houses with them.

Time has moved on and the works have sat unused for 20 plus years. Time itself, and the work of vandals and copper thieves, has impacted on the structures and they had become quite unsafe. Then in February 2008 someone set fire to the works, but more on that in another post. The freezing works buildings are being demolished even as I type. The whole demolition process will take 6 months, and I’m taking photos throughout that time.

Speaking of photos, my thanks to local photographer Phu Tran, whose work can be seen here. He has graciously agreed to let me use his freezing works images as reference material for some paintings. I am deeply grateful for his generosity, and in awe of his ability with a camera.

This work, as with the previous one, is 16×16″ in acrylics on gallery wrap canvas. It is based on my memory of how the land and the buildings have combined over time as the buildings have eroded – they have become one, with the buildings sinking back into the earth, and the grasses and trees growing up through the ruins. Ruined II

Feeling better, doing more layers

Having passed my chest infection on to my husband (remember marriage vows – for better or worse – this is worse) and my mother (blast! at 85, it’s not a good thing) – I’m feeling a bit better. Although the house still sounds a bit like a TB ward really. Now that I have my coughing under control, and a wee bit of energy back, I need to get creating. The longer I don’t create anything, the worse I feel and the harder it is to get going again. I am sure many of you know exactly what I mean. So today I have been playing with this idea again:

I’ve taken one of the two large backgrounds and added some transparent freezing works imagery over the top. I want to print this out at roughly A3 size then work back over the top in oil stick and charcoal. I had already done one, and was pleased with it, so some more will help me decide if this is the path to follow or not.

Crusade #35 – what’s your sign?

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Over at Michelle’s GPP Crusades¬†blog, this month’s challenge is to document your sign. Michelle says “The signs I’m talking about are images or things that make you think of a loved one”.¬†My instant thought was “I¬†can do that, possibly even without crying”. And I did. Because I needed to write so much I have created my journal page in Word and Photoshop and will be printing it out to glue into my journal as a reminder to myself.¬† So, come on, why not join the Crusades too, and tell us about your sign? (By the way, documenting my sign turned out to be more imporant than doing something artsy this time. I didn’t even pick up a paintbrush!)

dad show me a sign copy

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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