Saturday, December 24, 2016

Some journal pages

Hi, I've done a few journal pages from prompts I found called oxygen mask hopefully you can track them down at They are tiny little 3 minute videos, with an idea that you can do quickly with minimum materials. Thay have been good to play with this week inbetween the xmas stuff, office parties, shopping, digging out the tree and decorations.

A found poem

I hope you will find some little pockets of time for art over the next busy days.

Sitting on the verandah I can hear rosellas (parrots) next door going crazy over a tree that's in flower. Thunder rumbles in the distance, we just had a week of monsoon rain, and now a little break, I have sheets and towels on the line, and I'm keeping an eye out for that storm. The tv chatters away in side the house, my kids are watching documentaries on rock climbing of all things. A small bird perches on the pool fence and every so often flits down to skim the surface of the pool and then back to the fence. I'm not sure if it's washing or catching insects!

So Happy Christmas from the tropics!!  xx Kate xx

Monday, December 12, 2016

The build up garden

It's the build up... hot and humid with occasional thunderstorms, the monsoon doesn't usually arrive until after xmas - last year it didn't arrive properly at all... Inspite of the heat, and thanks to some decent downpours, some things in my garden are thriving.

Coleus thriving in the shade with amazing flower spikes.

I don't really have a garden plan, I like to grow some food and I've been learning by trial and error what can survive my not very green thumb! I grow a lot of things in pots because of the poor soil, and so that I  can move things in and out of the sun depending on how stressed they're getting.

Hard to make them out but here are basil, thai basil, 
mint, parsley, sweet leaf, lemon grass
pineapple and cherry tomatoes.

I grow a few flowers to attract bees and other pollinators, and so that I can paint them in still-lives!

I only tend about a quarter of the garden - the rest is established palms that fend for themselves (except for piling the palm fronds on the compost heap), and lawn, which my partner mows.

Some of the flowers at the front fence, and lots of
mulch, newspaper and palm fronds to try to
keep the weeds under control.

Lately we have eaten a beautiful pineapple, and another one is ripening. Now and again I fry up some sweet leaf and parsley in an omlette, a treat for me as the kids are not that keen on my garden greens. I  would love to be growing more and cooking more from the garden, but at least it's a start!

Monday, November 14, 2016

It's all happening next weekend!

That little bit of sewing I showed you last month is for the Constellations theme members show, it opens this Friday at 5.30 at Tactile Arts. I made two little star theme pin cushions, and put in two of my recent flower paintings retitled - a constellation of begonias 1 and 2 - to fit the theme (a bit of a cheat).

Next weekend will be busy as it's the craft fair at the waterfront on Sunday 9am to 1pm. It will be bigger than ever, spread over more of the lawns, I'll be with Ingrid over at the wave pool side under a shady tree, I hope to see you there :)

I mentioned back in September that I'd started on an altered book. It's been progressing slowly, when I have my acrylics out I lay down a base coat, the next week I might add a bit of collage, another week do some painting.... so it can take a month for a page to be completed. Some pages I'm not happy with might need lots more layers!!! It's a really fun process and so different to the way I usually paint - on small canvases so that the painting can be completed in one sitting.

I have treated myself to an early xmas present and have signed up for Lifebook 2017. Now I'm so excited for Jan 1st to come, and a year full of art inspiration. You can find out more about it on

The weather is so hot and humid.... it makes me go even slower than usual ! I hope you're having a creative day, thanks for visiting.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Things that have been making me happy in October!!

1) Photos by Geoff Whalan on flickr. I haven't met Geoff but discovered his wonderful photos of Darwin on flickr. He takes photos of my haunts around Nightcliff and it's so wonderful to see my world through his eyes. He has a series called 'the nightcliff sunset ritual' - of the sunset over the sea and people watching the sunset!! I usually do my walks in the morning but he's inspired me to do a few evening walks, the colours of the sky and sea are so glorious and the sea breeze makes it more pleasant (bearable) than in the morning at this humid time of year.

Dogs at the beach high tide and full moon

2) Walking! My workplace has had a 10,000 steps a day challenge through October. It was interesting to clip on the pedometer and find out how many steps I do. I was very pleased to discover I do around 8,000 to 10,000 on a normal day, and really surprised that while my walk to work and back is around 4,000 steps altogether, the rest was made up of all that incidental walking - around the house with piles of washing, putting out the rubbish or watering the garden, even walking round the kitchen cooking a meal. A few times I have topped up my steps with a little walk in the evening (as above) and it's been a real treat!!

Walking by the park at dusk

3) Bon Iver. We have the car radio tuned to Triple J - my kid are teenagers, it's their choice. Now and again I hear something interesting - I check what time it's playing and leater search it up on the triple J website for another listen and to see if I like anything else they've recorded. Well I hit the jackpot with Bon Iver. I heard a sample from their new album, it sounded like a symphony, like choir music, like jazz with a saxophone like Keith Jarrett...I've listened to the whole album about 10 times now on youtube, and I keep coming back to it. It's pretty experimental, not pop songs! There's something 80's about the sound and if you journey on to the end you're rewarded, the last 3 or 4 pieces are gorgeous.

4) Embroidery. Happy to be doing some sewing :)

You're a star - pincushion
Thanks for visiting, and have a great week.

Monday, October 3, 2016

September paintings

I'm glad to say I seem to have got back into the routine of painting on Friday mornings. I felt that I'd come to a bit of a dead end with the work I had been doing - working from memory and the imagination had become stale, repeating the same motifs. So I have gone back to basics working from life, some of the pot plants from my garden. I don't think this is the end of my old way of working but hopefully I  will go back to it revitalised when I do.

These are all acrylics on canvas 5x7 inch except for the little square one which is 4x4 inch.

We have a big thunderstorm coming over so I'll post this now incase we lose power or internet !!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Podcasts and other stuff I like

I'm probably very late discovering the world of podcasts, but now I've found some I like, they are great to listen to while I paint or sew, and make a change from the radio.

The one I discovered first was Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert. She interviews people who are stuck or struggling to get started with their creative work, and give advice 'nudges to get them unstuck', she seeks advice from special guests and a few months later checks back in to see how they are going. There are now 2 seasons to listen to - I've only listened to the first of the new season. I love anything about the creative process and always get something inspiring or useful from these.

After that I tracked down Happier with Gretchen Rubin - I'd been reading her blog for years and finally worked out how to get to the podcast! The content could be described as - how to make the best of modern life - some of it I don't find that relevant, but it's lovely to hear the relationship between Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth who present the podcasts - the little trials and triumphs of their lives, it's like having a cuppa and a chat with friends. I haven't listened to them all but my favourite episode so far is #69 An interview with the musician Moby.

Just in the last month I discovered an Australian podcast Brilliant Misfits with Aesha Kennedy, these are interviews with women who are artists, creatives, and on the business side of it too. The first one I came across was with Wendy Sharpe an artist whose work I love, and now I'm slowly catching up with some of the other episodes.

I'd also like to shout out for a few sites/blogs I've been hanging out at lately - Julie Fei-Fan Balzer has been blogging for a long time and has a huge archive on art journalling that I've been dipping into.

Andrea Schroeder has a blog called Creative Dream Incubator, she has heaps of free resources and videos about journalling and getting to the bottom of what you really want to do.

iHanna has a cute blog including a great post about starting an altered book journal which helped me get started with my new project...there is almost nothing to show you yet but here are a couple of pages with more than just a base coat on them!

I hope all is well wherever you are. We've had early rains which have caught us by surprise!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

August paintings

So better late than never, here's a look at what I've been doing in the studio in August.

I wanted to try to keep up the momentum of the ICAD challenge, but also to change things up a bit. So I decided to work on some index card dividers using acrylics, and trying to work in a non-representational way playing with colour and mark making. I certainly haven't done one a day, but have worked on 2 or 3 at a time, once or twice a week, often going back over them with more layers (painting over things I don't like). I have maybe a dozen done. It has been great to get the paints out and play even if I'm not thrilled with the results!

Once there's paint on the palette I hate to waste it, so I'll base coat some journal pages, or get a little canvas out and start painting...

These little 4x4 inch canvas boards are both of begonia plants I have in pots in the garden - could be an excuse to go shopping for some new plants if I'll get some paintings out of them!!!

This one (actually painted in September not August) is of an agave baby, I've potted up a few that were sprouting from two big ones we have in the front yard. So gardening and painting are going hand in hand which makes me happy!!

And a bonus, 2 haiku after a long, long drought of no poetry.

High tide is splashing
the sea wall, seagulls perch on
the tips of mangroves.

My yoga mat spread
on the verandah, geese cross
the sky honking.

 Best wishes, and thanks for dropping by my blog, have a great September.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Growing tomatoes in the tropics

Warning- a rambly gardening post!

I grew up in England and moved to Australia in my mid-twenties, and even 25 years later I'm still getting used to topsy-turvy seasons and the challenges of gardening in the tropics.... So even though it's mid-winter, here in the tropics this is the best time of year to grow the kind of veggies you'd grow in an English summer.

I was late getting my tomatoes in this year - I usually plant them around Easter or May Day at the latest - but this year I was wondering whether it's worth the effort, I didn't get many tomatoes last year. It turned out to be a good thing I waited as May was very hot and humid. I think I ended up planting at the end of May, our cool weather kicked in in July, at long last. For a while the tomato plants were flowering but then the flowers were dropping off, then suddenly a whole lot of them set fruit, which was very exciting!! I'm not sure if that was to do with the cooler weather, or because I was off work for a couple of weeks and gave them extra water if they looked droopy in the day. So now the first one is starting to ripen - these are 'patio tomatoes' so the plants don't get too big and the fruit is bigger than a cherry tomato, but smaller than a regular salad tomato! I got them as seedlings from my local hardware store.

I've also had an experiment with growing from seed. I bought some locally grown cherry tomatoes from the markets and we didn't eat them all, a couple started to go squishy in the fridge so I put them outside in the warm, still in the plastic bag. I left them for about a week until they were completely mushy, then I planted the lot (even the skins) in a pot. Heaps of seedlings sprouted, and I've transplanted 4 into a bigger pot. I knew it was possible because a friend grew a tomato plant by accident out of her compost bucket... Here's her beautiful photo on flickr. I'll be interested to see how they go, as the weather will start to get hotter and more humid next month. I've heard of people managing to grow tomatoes in the build up, so I'm hoping this is one of those varieties...

My mint plant is still surviving, it struggles through the wet season and comes good in the cooler months.

I haven't had much luck growing flowers over the years, so I'm trying begonias as they are a tropical/subtropical plant, the thick fleshy leaves made me think they might cope with the heat. I'm hoping to take some cuttings from these once they get established.

I hope you're having a great weekend maybe spending some time in the garden too!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

ICAD = awesome !!

Today is the last day of the index card a day challenge. I'm thrilled to have got all the way to the end. I just uploaded 2 weeks worth of cards to flickr, and hope to upload the final 5 tomorrow.

The joy of the challenge was that it wasn't about the results, but about making a little bit of time to be creative, to play everyday, some days I wasn't inspired and did a bit of a doodle, but that became the stepping stone to the next card, and the opportunity to create again.

In the batch that I just uploaded there's a group that are based on a memory or from the imagination, that seem to hang together. Here are some of them. Here's hoping I can keep the momentum going tomorrow and the next day...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

ICAD = Unexpected

I'm still keeping on with the index card a day challenge (ICAD), and I've just uploaded all my cards up to day 35 on my flickr stream.

After I took the gardening books back to the library I've had to look for inspiration in other places... Most unexpected was a series working from photos of artists, some from books and some searched up online. First was Picasso

some of Matisse

and Chagall.

Also this one, which I love, that's loosely based on the Matisse painting 'The Conversation'.

I wrote something in my journal about these -

I don't know what to think of them except fandom! But it's lovely to have this arena to do them in where it doesn't have to be for a reason, it doesn't have to be so they'll turn into cards or linocuts or work for an exhibition - they are just for their own sake, for the value of putting paint on paper and seeing what happens, and in this case to spend a moment thinking about artists I love...

It's not too late to join in with the ICAD challenge, it carries on 'til the end of July, you can find out all about it on the daisy yellow blog.

Friday, June 24, 2016

ICAD = daily art making

I'm glad to say I have jumped onto the index card a day challenge. It runs right through June and July and you can find out all about it at the daisy yellow blog. I've been uploading all my ICADs to my flickr stream, so you can see them all there. Here are a few selected ones. 

This was my first, a warm up card I made in May, and a reminder to me to enjoy the process and not to make it a chore - which is how my art making has felt this year.

Tammy (daisy yellow) provides daily prompts and weekly themes which you can use or ignore. 

This one was for the pyramid prompt. Most of the time so far I've been working with gouache. I have a pile of gardening books out of the library at the moment and kept thinking I should do some drawings from those - so this is the perfect opportunity. I have a bunch of index cards done now based on those books ...and probably still more to go on this theme. 

What's working for me is that the commitment is small - a little gouache sketch can be finished in 5 minutes, but it makes me feel like I'm making a tiny bit of progress each day. Because it's a small commitment it means there's less pressure on the result, yesterday I did two attempts at the same image and don't like either of them, but who cares it was 10 minutes wasted (or not, maybe something learned, maybe in a few weeks I'll look back and see something of value in them). Today is a new day and a new card. 

What's exciting is that some of these little playful things are turning into 'real' work. I've been inspired to make four little gardening theme lino prints, just in the nick of time, to be included in the memory, dream, mythexhibition which opens today at Tactile Arts (photos of these to follow!)

Hopefully I haven't jinxed the whole process by writing about it! I'm excited to see what comes out in the next month or so..... 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ebb and flow of art

I think I've mentioned a couple of posts ago, that I haven't been feeling like making art for the last few months. I'm still doing little stuff, making cards and jotting things in sketchbooks, but have no enthusiasm to get paint on big ideas!!

I'm trying not to stress out about it too much. I have a great quote in my journal for times like these.
I've quit and started again and again and I now know that starting is not better than quitting - it's just different. It's a circular dance of quitting and starting over and over again. - by Sark from her book Making your creative dreams real.
That's in my journal from 2009, so I know I've been here before!

The downside of this is that I'm part of a group show next month - Memory Dream Myth at Tactile arts, I have a handful of little paintings that I made at the beginning of the year, and they will have to do. Luckily there are 9 of us in the exhibition and everyone else is madly creating, so more wall space for them! I'm sure it'll be a lovely exhibition.

Here are a couple of journal pages on the memory theme that never made it out of the sketchbook!

Romford Rd mid 1980s. The day I bought my first Doc Martens and walked until I had blisters!

Gotts Park rose garden, part of the park we visited often as kids, now apparently neglected and possibly to become a community veggie garden if things I've read on the internet are correct.

Now it's the dry season I'm really happy to get outside as much as possible, walking at the beach and pottering in the garden - there are a lot of wet season weeds to deal with! I'm also thinking about taking part in the ICAD challenge (an index card a day challenge) which should be small enough to be doable, and no pressure to make capital A art, just to get back in the habit of doing a little something everyday. You can find out more about ICAD on the daisy yellow blog. So with any luck I'll be back with more of that soon!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Lazy composting

I love the idea of composting - of something for nothing - turning what I'd throw away into something my garden desperately needs. But my compost heap doesn't work that well, the problem is too many palm fronds, I don't have the time or energy to cut them up small so they go on the pile in big chunks and take a long time to break down. I thought about setting up a worm farm for my kitchen scraps but even that seemed too much effort.

I saw article in Pip (australian permaculture magazine) at the library, about worm farms. Their simplest suggestion was to create one directly in the soil using a poly pipe with holes drilled into it so the worms could get in and out.

I've adapted this idea using old plant pots with extra holes cut into the bottom half. I didn't buy in any worms, I figure there are worms in the garden and they'll find the kitchen scraps I'm adding to the pot. I've set up 3 of these around my garden and top them up with kitchen scraps most weekends, when I have time to cut things up into small bits and pick out the onion skins and citrus that worms don't like. The rest of the week I throw everything on my big heap as normal. It seems to be working well and breaks down quickly into the soil. We'll see if there's any improvement to the pineapples this year, last year they were tiny (not much bigger than an orange) that was one of the things that prompted me to try to do something, anything to improve my soil!

I got these two gardening books out of the library last week and have really enjoyed 'My tiny veg plot' by Lia Leendertz. It's more of an inspiring book than a how to book, with lovely photos. I was excited to discover there's a thing called a keyhole garden, a round raised bed with a section cut in to access a compost basket in the middle of the bed. Which is the same kind of idea as my inground compost pots.

The weather has cooled down at last and I've planted some tomato seedlings and a parsley plant. I've also been re-potting the things that survived the wet season, lemon grass, thai basil, sweet leaf and mint.

Now to sit down with a cuppa tea and start reading the Stephanie Alexander gardening book!

tomatoes just in, very late this year

pineapple and herb pots in the front yard, inground compost bottom left!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Unexpected break in transmission

Hi everyone, sorry for the unexpected break in my blogging. I'm doing a bit of reassessment about my artmaking, not that happy with a lot of the things I'm producing. So instead of boring you with that, here are some lino prints my daughter made in art class at school. Kudos to her teacher who got a bunch of 13 year olds to do 3 plate prints. These are at the 2 plate stage, I love that she really played around with colour combinations, hopefully I will get to see the final stage, and will share some photos here.

The weather has cooled down a little bit, tho we are having unseasonably late rain. I'm glad for any rain after such a poor wet season, but it's sad that it disrupted the seabreeze festival on Saturday. Well, it's just a quick post to let you know I'm still alive, and probably out in the garden instead of in the studio!
I hope you're having a lovely May!!