Thursday, December 30, 2010

Season's greetings - going slow

December is not a good month for me artwise, my Friday mornings are given over to xmas shopping and going along to end of term assemblies and the like at school. I chaffe against it for a while and eventually get in the mood just in time - I wrote my xmas cards 3 days before xmas this year!

The main drawback for me is that I don't enjoy shopping, and that's what christmas seems to be all about these days. Luckily I squeezed in time for a bit of sewing and made these presents for two of my workmates.

Now I'm off work for a couple of weeks, I'm busy with the kids of course, lots of trips down to the skate-park for the twins to ride their scooters - which is the latest thing! I'm going for walks inbetween rainstorms and taking some truly awful photos!! (maybe I'll share some of them through January) I'm getting back to my sketchbook which has been growing dusty on the shelf!

It's exciting to think of the new year just around the corner and what it might bring. I hope you're enjoying some relaxing times over the holidays and that the creative ideas are brewing...

Friday, November 26, 2010

craft fair and more

The craft fair is over!! Here's a photo of my stall, last Sunday.

It was a good day, very busy and with pretty good sales. I must admit I find it a bit stressful getting organised, coping with my expectations, and feeling exposed sitting there with my art. Hopefully the more I do it the more I can relax and enjoy... This time I made the mistake of letting all my kids stay for the second half after dropping in for lunch, and they drove me round the bend!! Just too hot and too tired to deal with them by then. Oh well, you live and learn.

Here's a photo (taken by my son) of one of two pineapples we grew in the front yard - which have been guzzled, very sweet and beautiful! All the family love them so we've planted all the 'slips' (little shoots that grow off the bottom of the pineapple) so hopefully we'll have ten to eat next year.

Bye for now, have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

too busy!

Sorry I haven't been around for a couple of weeks, I've been busy getting work ready for the last (and probably biggest!) craft fair of the year, next Sunday. Here are some new cards I've been making from the monoprints I did a couple of months ago.

Also had a lovely evening out at 'Off the page' our local spoken word event - Bronwn Mehan, another Darwin poet describes the evening on her blog, I also braved the open mic and read a couple of poems (and won 4th prize!!) best of all I'm feeling very inspired about poetry again.

I hope things are creative for you too!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bird Sculptures

When I'm at an exhibition I trip over the sculptures because I'm so busy looking at the paintings - this is an old joke of mine, but not too far from the truth!

So it's quite amazing that my latest creations are 3-D. Remember back in August I was trying to play with new materials and made some clay birds and hearts? I was partly inspired by the bird house sculptures by Sue Pelletier in Cloth Paper Scissors, and partly because I've been painting birds and making felt birds and fridge magnets, it's another way of exploring that theme.

I wanted to combine them with wooden bases, and by amazing co-incidence found some lovely bits of wood on the roadside on my walk to work over the last month! I bought a roll of wire, I painted the clay pieces and glued scraps of fabric to the hearts. Everything was there but nothing was happening...

Then I realised I needed some work for the Territory Craft Xmas Exhibition - this gave me the push I needed to get moving and bring all the elements together....after being quite tentative (and grumpy) about the early stages it was great fun, and I'm already playing with making more of these!

I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend, hopefully with a bit of time for art making - this is the time of year when the kids get in the pool and I can have an hour's peace keeping an eye on them and doing a bit of sewing at the same time. Right now the thunder is rumbling and we might be in for a storm with any luck!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

and the winner is...

My computer has decided to fix itself - maybe it just needed a weeks holiday from the hammering it gets from the kids, possibly the screen is about to die we'll soon find out!!

So I've decided that, as there were only 3 comments for my giveaway I'll send you all something!! Lisa and Clare I'll need your postal addresses so please email me. Many thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment, and hello to any 'lurkers' out there don't be shy!

I've been pretty busy in the studio (verandah) and hopefully will be back in the next day or two with some photos to share.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

gnashing of teeth

Just a quick note to say - my computer is down again. So the giveaway that's supposed to be drawn tomorrow will probably be delayed. Sorry everyone, and hope to be back online soon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ramblings on painting

Such a pleasure to get back to painting - I've started on another wave of little paintings for the next craft fair.
These 2 are the ones I did last Friday, starting to paint felt thrilling like standing on a cliff edge ready to launch off - it feels silly writing this, I know some people really do it - parachuting, hang gliding, bungee jumping. I'm not that brave!! I suppose I do it creatively, jumping in not knowing what will happen. Such a treat to have the house to myself and be completely absorbed in the process.

This painting was inspired by seeing a large bird in our garden, it perched on the fence for a few minutes then disappeared, though I heard its call in the neighborhood the next morning. I got a book from the library and discovered it's a pheasant coucal, the description of its call was the clincher 'deep liquid glugging from a bottle...'

I did a bird painting yesterday too, hope to have photos soon when it stops raining.

It's not too late to leave a comment and have a chance in my giveaway.
Hope you're having a great weekend.

Monday, October 11, 2010

giveaway at last!

As promised I'm doing a giveaway to celebrate one year of blogging, which happened mid-September. I've been doing a bit of clearing out and here are a couple of collage postcards I made two years ago that have been unearthed! They will be part of the giveaway, and also a new card, as I'm back in cardmaking mode ready for the next craft fair.

Just leave a comment to be in the running, I'll be drawing the giveaway on Fri 22nd Oct.
Best wishes to all!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

birthdays and revisiting still life (now with photos)

First, to get back to what I was saying when I got all tongue tied in that post about the still life painting...

I have a beautiful book from the library 'The Bird King and other sketches' by Shaun Tan. Shaun Tan is an amazing artist, illustrator, writer of children's books. This book is something different, a collection of some of his unpublished work, the doodles that turn into children's books, the sketches for his own entertainment, and drawings from life/nature. Here's a little from his introduction:-
'Some are exercises to simply keep fit as an artist, where the practise of drawing is about learning to see, a study that never ends.'
I think that's kind of what I was trying to say!! He also reminds me that I don't draw enough.

It was my birthday last week, we celebrated fairly quietly! But my 8 year old son made me this lovely diorama, and took the photo (much better than the photos I took.)

Sometime in September was my first year anniversary of blogging, I was intending to do a giveaway to celebrate, hopefully I'll get my act together soon, watch this space!!!

Here are some little xmas decorations I've started making ready for the next craft fair.

*aargh!!!* for some reason blogger won't upload my photos, I'll try again tomorrow.
Monday my photos still won't load, any ideas why???

So then I tried to load the photos onto flickr and they wouldn't work there either. I've never had any problems over at flickr so that made me think there was a problem with the photo eventually I reloaded the photos from my camera and voila!!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Busman's holiday

Through August I tried to have a month of trying different/new things, as a kind of break after working towards the craft fair in July. The things I tried were -
handmade fabric books (inspired by a project in Ecobooks),

a scroll book(from a project in Cloth Paper Scissors),

making things with air-dry clay - birds hearts heads

a series of drawings of women artists (I did 2!)

All these projects are in stages of half-finished.Not really a holiday! it was harder than usual to get down to work, I found it really hard to work in an open ended kind of way, and most Fridays I did a little painting too, so that I had the satisfaction of something finished under my belt! Hopefully I might have picked up a few new skills or ways of looking at things along the way. If nothing else I'm back refreshed and have dived into a woodcut. I've done plenty of lino-cuts over the years, but this is my first woodcut. I went to a demonstration of woodblock printing a few weeks ago - using the traditional japanese method, no press required... well I've been inspired to have a go, and should have some photos to share soon.
Hope you're feeling inspired about whatever you're doing!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

still life

Recently I did this still life painting 'Tea for Two'.

Here's the real still life set up.

I've been doing lots of little paintings with teacups in them, over the last year. I thought it was about time I looked at a real one...only to discover that I didn't have a proper tea-cup in the house (I always have a mug/bucket of tea!). So I took a trip to the op shop to buy these cups to paint.

I guess photographic realism is not what I'm after in my paintings - they are usually about a memory of something, or a feeling/emotion. Not quite sure what I'm trying to say here!! might have to get back to you...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Red skirts and red studios

Here's a new painting - about 2 weeks old, called Ginger cat in the red room.

I seem to associate red with creativity, Matisse has a red studio painting doesn't he? Twenty odd years ago when I was an art student I bought a red paisley skirt at a jumble sale for 2p!!! And then wore it to the studios everyday for the next 3 years. I called it my painting skirt and somehow putting it on put me in the right frame of mind to be creative. Eventually it wore thin and fell apart - I wish I'd known I was going to end up gluing fabric to my paintings and I'd have saved the scraps to turn into art!

Here's a photo of one of the pineapples, also about two weeks ago, growing bigger and with tiny purple flowers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

About the birds

I think this is the first painting I made where there are birds on people's heads. It's from about 4 years ago, and is a kind of a family portrait of myself and the twins who were 3 or 4 back then. The birds are ones that we see in the parks or beaches in Darwin - from left to right - plover, wedge tailed eagle and ibis. (Neither the birds or the people are very realistic, but that's a whole other discussion.)
A while ago someone on flickr asked me if there was a story about the bird in this picture,
this was my reply. 'I do a lot of paintings of women and birds, I think the birds can express something about the woman's character, also that it can explore the tension between freedom and duty. Also I like the humour of the image if you take it literally. I don't have an exact story for the paintings and I hope the viewer will bring their own ideas to it too.'

I'm completely submerged in the book 'The Time Traveler's Wife' (about 3/4 of the way through and dreading a tragic ending.) in it there is a scene in an art gallery where a ten year old girl is talking about the artworks 'bird boxes' of Joseph Cornell. She says... 'He made the boxes because he was lonely. He didn't have anyone to love, and he made the boxes so he could love them, and so people would know that he existed, and because birds are free and the boxes are hiding places for the birds so they will feel safe, and he wanted to be free and be safe. The boxes are for him so he can be a bird.'

Joseph Cornell is a real artist although the book is fiction, you can see a slide show of his works here. It's funny that he was mentioned by an artist in the last issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine though it didn't make much of an impression until I read that scene above and some kind of little alarm bells went off!!

Here are a couple more bird quotes;

Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken winged bird
that cannot fly.
Langston Hughes

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson

Hope your weekend is going well, I'm trying to have a quiet one - though the kids have other ideas!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I'm sure no-one else in the world is interested in this photo, but here it is anyway, my compost heap!!
I'm ridiculously pleased with it- a mountain of palmfronds and kitchen scraps. At the weekend I squeezed on the last few leaves and sweepings, watered it and topped it off with some flattened boxeds and a brick - to stop the whole lot from blowing away. It will moulder and rot through the wet season and hopefully be useful compost by the early dry (April/May) next year. I have a second bay to fill in the meantime!

My whole weekend seemed to be spent breaking up squabbles with the kids...and filing. We just got a second hand filing cabinet, and now I have no excuse not to organise 15 years worth of papers. I did manage to do this little painting.
And today this possible - first draft - poem.


When I come out
from the bedroom
where I've been drawing
or reading poetry,
you're watching tv
and want me to be enraged
about something you've seen
on the news or perhaps
on youtube.
I don't have the strength
to take on the world,
I need to save it
for the daily tussles
over showers and readers.
I make my declarations
for hope, with paint on canvas
with seeds planted
in warm soil.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Reasons to be cheerful

(The title of this blog post shows I'm an Ian Dury fan from way back.)

First reason to be cheerful, is we have two pineapple plants flowering. Growing pineapples in the tropics is easy, but only for the patient! You just cut off the top of a pineapple, plant it in the garden, water it now and again, and wait...a couple of years...

Here are the plants, about thigh high,

and the beautiful spiky flowers nestled inside that should be fruit by christmas. I'm also waiting with bated breath for 3 eggplant flowers to open. Fingers crossed they won't just drop off like the tomato flowers did.

The second reason is these gorgeous embroidery threads that I couldn't resist at the dollar shop. I don't do much sewing, even less embroidery... I'll probably sit and look at them for a while, maybe steal the colour combinations for some of my paintings.

The third reason is this inspiring new book I picked up at the library - Eco books by Terry Taylor, it shows you how to make books from recycled materials, there are 40 projects to try, some simple, some too complicated for my limited bookbinding experience! I'm having a go at a fabric covered one and I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, July 26, 2010

new journal page

While I was preparing for the craft fair, my journal was neglected!! This is my first 'getting back into playing' page. I started off by loosely painting some faces and then worked more into the ones that interested me. I'm reading a book of short stories set in India (the anger of aubergines by Bulbul Sharma), and I think the atmosphere of it has sneaked into this page.

I've been really struggling with writing (poetry), possibly sending out work has made me too worried about the finished thing, so I'm going back to basics, here's a couple of not quite haiku...

Hard as rock
round and green as peas
baby mangoes.

at the kitchen sink
indigo sky descending

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

That was the craft fair!

The last couple of months I've been very focused on getting work ready for the craft fair, it finally came around on Sunday. Here's a shot of my stall.

We made some cards and bookmarks from the kids prints, here's my daughter looking after them.
I really need to make some more of these...bird fridge magnets!

We had a nice day, I managed to sneak off a few times and look at some of the other stalls. Now I'm looking forward to a month or two of being a bit more experimental, doing open-ended work, following my nose just to see where I end up.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The hopeful gardener

I finished this painting about a week ago, it's called the hopeful gardener. She's dropping seeds into the soil and telling the bird not to eat them!
I feel a lot like her about my efforts in the garden! This is my first year of seriously attempting a veggie garden. I've planted things before and even had some success (mainly basil) but it's been a bit haphazard and disheartening when things don't grow because it's the wrong climate and I don't know what I'm doing...

bok choi seedlings
So now I'm using Leonie Norrington's book as my bible - if she says it's easy to grow here I might have half a chance! The garden has changed a bit since these photos as I've had to put a knee-high fence around it to keep the bush chooks (scrub fowl) out. The bush chooks are about the size of a chicken, black with orange feet and a wierd call that's a cross between a screech and a gobble. They must come scrabbling for bugs in the soil and throw the mulch around - they've got into my veggie patch about 5 times now - I started off with 5 capsicum seedlings but only 2 survived. The basil seedlings have been flattened 3 times and I've had to replant again... Sometimes I wonder why I'm trying to squeeze another thing into my life! but the first thing I do in the morning is check out the veggie patch!!

parsley and mint


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kids and computers...

My home computer is on the blink again, shutting down and sending error messages, so I might not be around much until that's fixed. Funny that my partners computer (that only he uses) hardly ever breaks down, but mine (that is hammered by the kids) seems to crash every six months. In some ways it's a good thing, it's school holidays and the kids have been much more creative in using their time since it crashed. They all have to have their hour's turn - morning and afternoon if they're allowed, and tend to watch each others turn, which doesn't leave much time for anything else. Now they've been playing boardgames, making cards, and more trips to the park than ever!

Hope your holidays are going well, and hope to be back here soon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

a couple of new paintings

Here are a couple of (blurry) photos of new paintings. I did these 2 or 3 weeks ago. The one of the woman in the boat was sparked by my 7 year old asking why did boats have those old tyres ?...
They are supposed to be for the craft fair that's coming up fast in 3 weeks! But the boat painting sold already. So I'm busy at the moment finishing off little birds, fridge magnets and lots and lots of cards. Hopefully I'll squeeze in a couple more paintings too.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Catching up on a bit of reading!

I finished reading Wolf Hall, and really enjoyed it. I was a bit perplexed at the end that she chose to stop there, it didn't feel like an ending. I don't think this will spoil it if you haven't read it yet, to know that there is going to be a second book.

Tim Flannery came to Darwin for Wordstorm unfortunately I didn't get to the events he spoke at, but I thought it was about time I read his book The Weather Makers (before I dive into another novel). It's a really important book about climate change, and pretty depressing reading. The science is made interesting and relatively easy to understand. My natural reaction to anything bad is to bury my head in the sand. This book is arguing against that attitude - that accepting global warming is a fact is the first step towards doing something about it. He does give a note of optimism - 'the most important thing to realise is that we can all make a difference and help combat climate change at almost no cost to our lifestyle...'

Kind of in the same vein, I came across a great article by Jeanette Winterson in the Guardian online which is also about the individual making a difference. (Just by the way, the Guardian book blogs discusses a poem each week, if you haven't come across it it's great to read new and old poems with a brief intro, and discussion via comments.)

I'll be back soon with a post with some pictures!
Hope you're having a great week.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On the run!

I didn't post last week as we've been busy with visitors. Oh we're terrible creatures of habit at this house, so it's a good shock to the system to have lovely friends come to stay, and make us go to the markets and the wildlife park, and out to dinner; and to remind us that there is life going on outside Darwin!
Now we're back to normal for a week, but then school holidays will mean more chaos!

I have done a couple of new paintings, but haven't uploaded photos yet. So instead here's my favourite batch of cards I made from recent monoprints.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Discussion of a painting

Be warned this could be a long and rambling post!
On friday my partner looked at my new painting and said - what's the story with the buildings and birds? I said nothing really they just are. That wouldn't be an acceptable answer for his tutor at uni, or for an exhibition proposal...

This is not a major or significant piece of work, but it is interesting to think about a better answer for that question. This painting is a spin off (or continuation of a theme) from one of the monoprints I did last week. When I do the monoprints I work fast, I have a few art books/magazines/sketchbooks open on the table as I work, for ideas and inspiration. The bird and house image came from the cover of the last issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine which featured a sculpture made of clay, paper mache, and wire of a bird atop a small house. I really liked the dark - negative version of this print and that's what set off the painting.

There are other things that I might associate with it but they are not what the painting is about such as-1) I'm reading Wolf Hall at the moment, about the court of Henry VIII, it has constant references to people being sent to the Tower - which also reminds me of the superstition that if the ravens ever leave the tower of London England will fall...
2) Lying in bed listening to bush chooks (scrub fowl) scrabbling on the roof.
3) The fact that they are towers not houses has a fairy tail feel, also the size of the birds is magical.
4) Whether the birds are protective, malevolent, imaginary...
5) I could even look at it with an environmental slant - all those high rise developments in town, people living cut-off from nature, unaware of the birds swooping down to roost on their roof at night.
I hope that another person looking at the painting would bring their own associations and meanings to it. But really it's about the visual - that I wanted to make a painting with the dark silhouettes of the buildings and birds, and from there I wrestled with colour and composition to get something 'satisfactory'.

I'd love to hear how others feel about explaining the ideas behind their art. Hope you had a good weekend!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

new monoprints

Just a really quick post (it's late) to show you these new tiny monoprints, around 10x7 cm each.

I've added colour to one with coloured pencils, and will probably be working into and collaging some of the others. I've already used some on cards and hopefully will have photos of them to show soon.

The weather is strange, the rain is back it's very confusing!

I'm a third of the way into Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - my Mum and sister raved about it so I have to read it too!! It's about life in and around the court of Henry VIII seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, amazingly detailed and completely absorbing. I keep having to go for a little lie down and read a few pages...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wordstorm and beyond

This weekend was Wordstorm, the NT writer's festival. It's a huge festival for a small town, I managed to get to only a fraction of it. I missed/avoided the big names and big ticket events, and went along to some almost randomly picked forums, and readings, which all turned out to be wonderful. I won't forget for a long time Andrea Hirata struggling through tears to read a chapter of his book, of course tears were rolling down my cheeks too.
Each day I dashed off for a few hours of inspiration and then back home to reality, clothes to wash, kids to feed, my mind still buzzing.

So there wasn't much time for painting but I did start this little canvas.

It's the same lacy top as last time - a very young woman was wearing this on the bus a few weeks ago, she was beautiful but 'undressed'. Probably fine for going out to a night-club, but not for the bus at 8 in the morning. I wanted to tell her to beware...

On the writing front another rejection, and nothing sent out yet for May.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Crochet Story...

It all started on a Saturday morning... after our usual trip to the library, I popped into the fabric shop for 5 minutes. It's a shop for patchwork/quilters, I don't quilt but I drool over the fabrics and threads and wonder how I can use them in my work. Well, my son came across a book of 'amigurumi' (cute animal softies), 'let's make these' he said, 'oh but they're crochet,' I said, 'I don't know how to do that.

But the seed was in my head, so a few weeks later I went back and bought the book, balls of wool and crochet hooks. The amazing thing for me was that when I sat down with the wool and hook, my hands knew exactly what to do even though I hadn't done it since I was a teenager (30years ago!)

My son who's 12, went in 2 days, from struggling to make one stitch, to finishing a ball that will be an octopus body! My 7 year olds decided they needed more I taught them finger knitting instead.

Two weeks later the crochet craze is over, hopefully he might pick it up again in the school holidays when he's at a loose end. I've managed to finish this very mutant turtle! (with the book showing how it's supposed to look)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Still in the doldrums...

On Friday morning first of all I had to sort out a bad smell in my kitchen, which turned out to be a dead (decomposing) mouse in the bottom of a cupboard - it took rubber gloves and a lot of bleach to deal with!

Then I forced myself to sit down and paint - 2 little paintings. I'm not completely happy with them, they might need a bit more playing with before they're finished.

Last day of April I also sent out 3 poems to this Australian online journal, there's some wonderful poetry here, do take a look.

1st of May is officially the start of the dry season, and it is feeling a bit cooler in the mornings. I got the kids to help me dig over my veggie patch, raked in some fertilizer, and hopefully next weekend we'll start planting.

Well, it sounds like I got a fair bit done, so why the doldrums? I'm feeling like a surfer waiting for the next big wave of inspiration...

Monday, April 26, 2010

A bit of a mish mash

There's always a bit of a feeling of deflation after the craft fair (even worse after an exhibition). After being really focused and working madly for the last month or so, I feel like I should beable to relax and play around a bit. Which I have been doing - rediscovering crochet!! - but also feeling a bit guilty for not powering onward...

At the moment I'm reading a book (borrowed from a friend) about the Canadian artist Emily Carr (1871-1945). I'd never heard of her but I think she's well known in Canada for her landscapes and particularly images of the northwest coast Indians, their totem poles and townships. As a person she comes across as a prickly difficult character, and the writing of the book is quite dry, but I will slog on to the end! I'm at the point where she's 56 and is just getting some recognition from the art establishment for her work.

I did this drawing from one of the photos in the biography, of Emily,aged 16, with her pet crow. I've been painting women with birds for a couple of years now, and I don't seem to get tired of the subject. It's wonderful to stumble across a photo like this!!

Still also slogging on with the poem a day for April.

I have at last sent out one poem and will try to get a couple more organised before April runs out!

Hope you had a great weekend, the dry season is around the corner here - hooray.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Craft fair and more

I'm a bit late posting, it was a hectic weekend with the craft fair on Sunday. It was well worth doing, I had plenty of sales and it's great to get feedback, amazing the number of people who say 'oh I never knew your did art'!!

Here are a couple of the last minute paintings I did.

My 12 year old has decided he wants to learn to crochet. We've seen a lovely book of amiguri animals, so I'll be splashing out some of my earnings on crochet hooks, wool and the book. It's a very long time since I did any crochet...I think when I was about 11 to 14, so I'm hoping it'll come back to me. I was a crafty kid but then was won over by 'art' (and less interested in sewing at school when it became serious dress-making), my sewing like the sock-monsters seems to come from that child-like place.

I'm still mostly managing the poem a day, some of my poems this month have been about art and art school, here's one (below) that still needs a lot of work. (I'm taking a leaf from Jessie's book, I'll leave it online for a few weeks, and then take it off to re-work and hopefully send out.)

I've had my first rejection of the year and still haven't submitted anything for March or April - must get my act together now the craft fair is over!