Friday, December 27, 2013


I hope you're enjoying your xmas break. This is the little charcoal sketch I based my xmas card on this year. Here are the linoprints in progress, the prints were a bit rough so there was a bit of hand colouring needed too! The monsoon is here, lots of rain, nice and cool for cooking a proper christmas dinner!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy holidays!!

It has been a busy couple of weeks but I've made it! School is finished, work parties are done, the Messiah has been sung (sublime!), not to mention carol singing at a carol service and the local shopping centre. I also squeezed in a market stall at Nightcliff markets last Sunday to make up for missing all the craft fairs, it was a last minute decision and I had a lovely laid back morning, thanks to all the people who stopped to chat and buy xmas presents! I finished work on Thursday coughing and sneezing!! So have had a couple of days resting and now feel ready for my holidays...I'm looking forward to doing some baking, lots of walks by the sea, pottering about in the garden (very overgrown after lots of rain), and getting back to my sketchbooks which have been neglected are my first journal pages since July!

A few weeks ago we had our first pineapple of the season from the garden, I replanted the top of the fruit and the slips (babies) which sometimes grow round the bottom of the fruit. In pots for now, once they get some roots and a bit more growth I'll plant them in the garden, they'll take a couple of years to fruit.

I hope your xmas preparations are going well, ha ha, it's always a bit of a scramble around here!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

diary dates!

The tactile arts craft fair that was cancelled because of bad weather has been rescheduled. It will be held this Friday 6th Dec from 4.30 to 8.30, I hope that lots of people will go along. Unfortunately I won't be there as it's the same time as the dress rehearsal for Chorale. We're singing the Messiah on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon at the supreme court with the glorious DSO!!

Also on Friday evening is an exhibition by Nat (Smallest Forest) and Kris at DVAA, showing the results of their experiments with marbling, I will try to duck in on the way to rehearsal...

Yes, art making continues, here are some new cards, and hopefully a proper post next time!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ups and downs

The weekend of celebrations at DVAA was wonderful - well done the current committee, admin and volunteers for creating events that were so inclusive and joyful!! The opening was complete with giant chocolate birthday cake, the art fair was relaxing, so lovely hanging out on the verandahs there chatting to other artists. It's exciting to hear that the exhibition will go on to show in Katherine in the new year.

This weekend (just gone) should have been the xmas craft fair at Tactile Arts but it had to be cancelled because of an approaching cyclone which brought not much wind (fortunately) but torrential rain. How disappointing!!! I must admit I was crabby all weekend because of it. Now we are just waiting to hear if the craft fair will be re-scheduled, there isn't much time left between now and xmas, and so many other things happening it could be hard to squeeze in... if the worst comes to the worst it means I have plenty of stock ready for craft fairs next year and can get down to some painting!!! (no excuses) Which is what I did yesterday, I worked back into this one which has been waiting on the shelf for months.

And this imaginary still life.

Hope your week has more ups than downs.

Friday, November 15, 2013

discovering DVAA

Twenty or so years ago I was newly arrived in a new town, my partner was working out bush and I didn't know a soul. I saw an ad in the local newspaper for a life drawing group and summoned up my courage and went along on a Wednesday evening! This is how I discovered DVAA (Darwin Visual Arts Assoc) which became a big part of my life for the next 5 years.

Discovering DVAA meant discovering a community of artists, the chance of a studio, the opportunity to show work in exhibitions and a shared market stall at the local markets. For me it meant a part-time job in the office for a while. I made friends who are still my closest friends 20 years later, and as Darwin has such a transient population, I met lots of people who have traveled on... I met an artist called Anna Curtis who inspired me to try lino-printing again after being hopeless at it at uni. Her many layered reduction prints are technically amazing and so beautiful! I spent wonderful days in the print room, and felt incredibly lucky to have stumbled on these facilities.

Time went on and I got another job, and couldn't commit time to being on the committee, and then had kids and my art practise ground to a halt for a few years. New people arrive and breath new life and energy into the organisation and it goes on from strength to strength. This year DVAA is 30, tonight there is an exhibition opening showing work by artists who have been involved past and present with DVAA, also a photographic exhibition by Fiona Morrison of artists in their studios. On Sunday afternoon there will be an art fair/market, if you're in Darwin I hope you can come along to one of these events and enjoy the celebrations!!

Here are some flags in progress, I'll have these at the art fair on Sunday (17th) and the craft fair at Tactile arts a week later - Sunday 24th.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reasons to celebrate

Frogs are loud this evening, we had heavy rain last night and they are celebrating!

Here are a couple of photos from my garden, a vine grows up just one palm tree. It only flowers for a couple of days a year but when it does it's spectacular!

Friday morning got taken up with framing artwork and delivering it for exhibitions. ( I hate when the whole morning is gobbled up by admin and nothing creative gets done, but sometimes it's necessary.) This lino print is for the tactile arts members show - themed 'TEXT' - which opens this Friday 8th Nov at 5.30.

Also opening this Thursday is a historical display - DVAA revisited - at Darwin Civic Centre. This is just the first of events to celebrate 30 years of Darwin Visual Arts Association. I'll have more about this next week!!

November is shaping up to be very busy, so I'll keep this short and sweet and get back to my long to-do-list! Have a great week!!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

new things!

On my table yesterday...

a new little 4x4 inch canvas and the plant that inspired it! A closer look here.

And here are some sketch book pages from the last month

I'm busy making things for the craft fair at the end of November... and getting used to a new routine, I've changed jobs and have an extra day for art!!! It's a real treat and hopefully I'll have lots more to show for it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

slow progress (is still progress)

A month ago I showed you a still life I'd set up, with the plan to get painting, well I haven't got around to starting a canvas yet, but I have done a few sketchbook drawings, and a gouache. By now the flowers are dead and the aloe vera needs to go back out in the garden for while! So I'll have to make a new arrangement and try again!

I have just about finished the felt dolls I've been making for the group exhibition 'this way madness lies', it opens next Friday at Tactile Arts.

This is the 3rd doll, it took a long time to finish because of sewing all those tiny beads on - half an hour a night for a week, so that I didn't go crazy but I did make a little bit of progress each time.

Here's the blurb I've written to go in the catalogue -
I was a crafty kid, always making something, knitting, sewing, trying everything from paper-making to macramé. In my teens I discovered Degas and the Impressionists, then Van Gogh, Gauguin and Matisse, and fell in love with painting.
Painting, drawing and lino-printing have been my focus for 20 years or more, but recently I’ve been wandering off the path and dabbling in all kinds of things. I get seduced by colour, I had a stash of gorgeous embroidery threads before I ever thought of going back to sewing.

When I first made these dolls they were supposed to be angry, voodoo dolls, but they turned out more like love songs to feisty women. I approach them like drawing. Cutting into the fabric is a way of making a line, a row of stitches is another. Think of them as fertility goddesses, or like paper dolls that can be decorated a thousand ways.

The craft fair - almost 2 weeks ago - was a lovely day, I didn't take my camera, I couldn't bear to carry one extra thing that I didn't have to! But you can see a lovely photo of my stall over here on flickr taken by one of the friends I shared a stall with Nat aka Smallest Forest does amazing embroidery, book binding, painting and more, and writes the most entertaining blog around - do check it out!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Saying it with every colour!

Here are the finished birds that I started back in July, they'll be on my stall at the craft fair this Sunday at the Darwin waterfront.

Also on my table is this doll in progress (the 3rd one for an exhib coming up in Oct), in some way it feels like drawing, cutting out the fabric is just drawing a line, and the same with the embroidery, a row of stitches is another way of drawing. They also remind me of paper dolls that can be decorated a hundred ways...

Last week was my birthday and I just had to share this creation made by my daughter...

I know the boys love me too, but it's so lovely to have one who expresses it in every colour and texture she can lay her hands on!

I hope your week is going well, come and say hello if you can on Sunday.

Monday, September 16, 2013

a moment in the garden

Just a brief post in the midst of my crazy couple of work weeks. A photo from my garden of a mystery plant that I first noticed a year or so ago, it's some kind of parasitic plant like mistletoe it's growing on another tree in our garden and getting more and more established.

The flowers attract lots of different birds and the last few mornings there have been some little red chested finches there, I don't fancy my chances of getting a photo!! But maybe I'll do a little painting soon...
I hope your week has got off to a good start! Best wishes.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Stepping up to September

Suddenly life has got busy!! On my table this week, some dolls in progress for a group exhibition in October. (called this way madness lies)

Hand colouring lino prints to make cards for a craft fair at the end of September - Sun 29th at the waterfront.

This painting that I started a couple of weeks ago and still needs a lot more work.

I finally finished the first volume of the Matisse biography by Hilary Spurling, completely inspired by Matisse's work I've set up this still life and have done a few drawings, I hope to have something ready to share soon.

Next week I have to work a 6 day week because of workmates on holidays, not to mention a choir performance on Saturday! so there won't be much art happening...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Good habits!!

At the craft fair last month, I was chatting to a friend about how much (or little) artwork we're getting done! And about different friends we had who were on holiday at the time, and we knew they'd come back with sketchbooks jam packed with drawings. How do they do it?

When I went on holiday to England 4 years ago, I bought myself a special little sketchbook and pen...but did almost nothing, 4 little sketches that I thought were awful at the time, but treasure now and wish I'd done so many more.

So that's the first thing for me, to stop worrying whether it looks good - whether it looks like my friend's gorgeous sketchbook, and do it for the process as much as the result.

The second thing is to make it a habit, I'm already the kind of person who takes a sketchbook everywhere! Now I have to get into the habit of using it, even if there doesn't seem to be a real subject to draw. These sketches are a start to new good habits!

If you're in Darwin I hope you're enjoying the festival, we've been to 2 events (2 more than last year!). It was so lovely last night, to be at the botanical gardens at twilight, bumping into old friends, eating yummy food, and enjoying a free percussion performance.

Friday, August 9, 2013

back to painting

So last Friday I did sit down to do some painting. A bit daunting after a break of nearly 2 months!! I started small, on some tiny 4x4 inch canvases, finishing off one that I started months ago.

On the other two I worked on, I used a foam print to stamp one of my drawings onto the canvas and used that as a basis to paint on. One of trees, here's the foam print.

and here's the painting.

And one of a woman with a bird, here's the foam print.

and here's the painting still in progress, you can see the print on the canvas isn't as clear as it is on paper, but it gives some interesting textured effects to work with!

I'm still ploughing on with the Matisse biography - which makes me want to paint all the more! I was lying in bed the other night thinking even if I do a painting a week for the next 40 years (til I'm 89!!) it's only 2000 paintings, it doesn't sound like very much...I'd better get a move on!!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

At book group

Last month at book group we read Astray by Emma Donoghue, a book of short stories by the same author who wrote Room, which we read 18 months ago.

The book group were split right down the middle on this one, 3 of us loved it and 3 didn't!! The stories were all based on real people or events, little snippets from history. Many of the stories are about people who emigrated from England and Ireland to America, others are about journeys within America. My favourite story was about a woman who is on the boat to America with her 3 small children going to meet her husband who has been there for 2 years already. I loved that it used lines from real letters sent by the people the story was based on. I loved the structure, hearing her voice and then his, so many times mirroring each other. Each story is in the voice of one (or more) of the characters and really well done.

I read on the bus and in my lunch break and these stories were perfect for that,
to get a whole story in one sitting.

Not much happening artwise this week, here are photos of some felt birds in progress. The kids are back at school now, so next Friday I plan to get down to some painting!! Also planning to add a couple of items to my etsy shop this week.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A thing or two about Matisse

One of the books in my pile of half read ones - hopefully soon to be finished - is a biography of Matisse by Hilary Spurling. He's been one of my favourite artists since I was a teenager - but reading this book it seems I didn't know anything about him at all!!
- that he had no interest in art through childhood, just a vague rebellion against going into his fathers business.
- that he discovered art when he was 20 and in hospital, the man in the next bed was painting copies of prints to pass the time, and suggested that Matisse try try the same. Matisse said "Before I had no interest in anything. I felt a great indifference to everything they made me do. From the moment I held the box of colours in my hand, I knew this was my life."
- that he had the most amazing wife, Amelie Parayre!! When he was courting her he declared "Mademoiselle I love you dearly but I shall always love painting more." It seems that she embraced this idea and supported him completely, she pawned jewellery so Matisse could buy a Cezanne painting which inspired him through his life, she opened a hat shop to support the family, so that Matisse could just paint, and she adopted Matisse's illegitimate daughter Marguerite.

I'm barely halfway through the book so I may be back with more. (And I'm hoping the library has volume 2 when I finally finish this.)

Thankyou to all the people who visited my stall last Sunday, I had a lovely day. Here are some shots of my stall.

And here are some lovely prints my daughter made!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Craft fair tomorrow!!

Just a quick reminder for those in Darwin, that it's the Dragonfly craft fair tomorrow 10 til 3 down at the Museum grounds at Tactile Arts.

Here's a sneak peek at the happiness flags I've been making over the last month or so. I will try to remember my camera tomorrow and take some shots....

I hope you're having a great weekend wherever you are!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Using up the stash again

Yesterday I got out my folder of papers and my tray of foam prints and had a play!!

 Those folders of card making stuff are like the magic porridge pot!!! they never seem to be used up. I guess I'm always adding things like wrapping paper or japanese papers I can't resist, along with my new prints. All there, waiting to be put together in the right combination - it's lovely when a little piece that's been waiting for years finds its place on a card!

Here's my third piece for the çurrent' exhibition, which opened last week at Tactile arts. The members shows are always an interesting mix. There are some lovely sculptural pieces, and jewelry using electrical components!

Today I went on a gallery hop around Darwin (to catch up on a bunch of exhibitions where I've missed the openings). The one that blew me away was Wendy Sharpe at Muk Muk Gallery - she's a Sydney artist so we're pretty lucky to see her stuff. Just wonderful exuberant use of paint!!

I have also been doing a bit of blog hopping, I loved this thought at daisy yellow blog - to think that there are six months of the year ahead to achieve something!! (instead of worrying that half the year is over).
I hope you're having a great weekend!!