Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Creative Neighbourhood - 31 Oct 2010

So what's been happening in my creative neighbourhood this week?

Melissa Dinwiddie completed a stunning piece of calligraphic art.

Melissa Moss has released her 2011 calendars. Hurry to grab one of these lovely pieces of work as it is a limited print.

Kristin Dudish is about to launch her 30 in 30 for 30 challenge. Join her for Art Every Day Month. I'm certainly going to try.

David McRaney of 'You're not so smart' divined the core of the problem of Procrastination. This article is well worth the read. If you understand yourself, it is easier to manipulate yourself into doing what you want to do.

Tina Mammoser continues her experiments with water surfaces. Check out the extent of her blog, she has several entries pertaining to this exploration. Nice charcoal and pencil work.

Rebecca Sutherland was mentioned in a newsletter article along with a brief interview as a piece of her artwork sold for 21,000 pounds - take a look at it, it is worth every penny!

Have a look at some of Karla Gerard's latest work.

Birds In Blooms

She has some vibrant and colourful works. You can find some of them available for sale on her website.

As for me, I started a new piece of art today that I've found very fun to do. It's not quite finished, so I can't show you :( Perhaps, today, it's nearly 2am as my night was eaten by my tax return. So I will now buzz off to bed.

(who would had more highlights, but is falling off her chair)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Drawing Lab Challenge - #4 Results and fifth week catch up

Okay, I flunked badly this week. Left it to the last minute and that minute was smothered by the children and the pile of necessary things that need to be done.

But! This week is Catch Up Week. This is the time to have a go at any of the exercises you missed from the last four weeks (Labs listed here). Or to grab an idea generated by those exercises and beat it into reality. Or to finish up a piece already started that you know just needs that little bit more work to make it a masterpiece. And don't forget the extra exercises tagged on to each of those Labs, have a go at them. And if I start another sentence with a conjunction the proofreader in my brain is going to keel over and die.

Regarding Challenge #4, how did you go? I've seen White Violet Art's amazing doodle and she appears to have the process working smoothly. I'm finding that I'm having difficulty letting go fo the 'preconceived idea' method of drawing. I'm so used to having an ultimate design in my head, that it feels like I'm driving the car but have no idea where I'm going. A rather uneasy feeling for a control freak like me :D Anyone else get that feeling?

I'll keep trying, because I think it is a valuable skill to learn and it is part of my aim to free up my artwork (which is working really nicely at the moment :D Many thanks to all of you for your influences :D).

In the absence of any of my artwork to show you (though I'm planning on some more experimental stuff in the near future), here be three videos showing various aspects of doodling/zentangling.

The first one shows us how to start a zentangle, the second is how to draw a zendala (basically a zentangle in a circle, a cool idea I might try), and the last one is pure a guy who obviously has a lot of drawing skill to back him up (he has a series of videos you might like to look up if you like this one).

So onto Catch Up Week. Do any of you have any plans on works you might like to do?

(up far too late again)

Friday, October 29, 2010

More experiments - Five centimetre paintings

Frozen rivulets, acrylic on cartridge, approx. 50 x 50 mm.

Got a chance to play with some paint again today (I should have been doing my taxes, but KJ wouldn't go to bed, so we ended up in the backyard painting together).

This is a followup experiment from my One centimetre paintings. These ones are five centimetres square instead. Probably as big as I'd want to go.

Blue Storm , acrylic on cartridge, approx. 50 x 50 mm.

They are basically studies of colour in the small. I'm a strong believer that we miss a tremendous amount of beauty just because it is small and we aren't looking. I love the swirls of paint and the interactions of the colours, so I've made these paintings very small so those aspects can be focussed on. Look at the shades of colour, see their twists and turns, things that would be missed in a normal sized painting, the small things distracted over by the extent of the work. I'm attempting to focus on the little.

These are blue because this experiment also ties in with my paper mosaic experiments, and I have an idea for my next piece.

Drawing Lab Challenge - I haven't posted my results today because I was rudely interrupted by Izzy tonight in the middle of doing it. It is nearly 1am here and I've only just now managed to get her to bed. I'm posting this simply because I'm too stubborn to let it go until tomorrow. Hope you are all having better results than I.

(to bed I go)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Creative Tuesday - Curtains

Creative Tuesday's challenge this week was 'curtains'. And the first curtains that came to my mind were these:

Blue Curtains, graphite and watercolour pencil on cartridge paper, approx. 250 x 200 mm.

I am really happy with this piece. It is simple, but I think it does communicate what I wanted it to communicate. It has an 'impending' feel about it. Either regarding news the patient might be going to receive or simply who lies behind those curtains.

Now, why would I immediately think of these curtains? Well, I had a bit of an epiphany while wrapped in a similar set about five years ago, and they became the focus of the memory. I know I stared at them for hours on end. I wrote up the reason for it back in 2008 and I thought I would share it here. There might be a 'little too much information' warning on this, along with lots of medical terminology, so if that is a worry for you, please don't read further.  That and the writing isn't crash hot, but it is a piece of my history and an important moment in my life.

One in a thousand

Very early on Monday morning, I hit the wall. 

It was during that dull twilight of hospital night where blue curtains hide the world and give the illusion of privacy. I had been desperately trying to sleep. My heart was thudding in my chest, literally shaking me awake in its attempts to keep my blood oxygenated as I slowly drowned.

I had been like that for hours, and I was exhausted. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream out the injustice of this happening to me. I couldn’t take it anymore. It was one of those moments where you don’t think you have anything left.

Only to realise that you do. Whether you like it or not.

I stared at those blue curtains, forcing calm on a body wracked by anything but, and waited for the long hours to pass.

Such is the life of the IVF patient gone wrong.

It’s ironic really. I had never considered myself the motherly type. I never played with dolls as a child, was very much the tomboy, and had planned a career rather than a family. But life makes up its own rules.

We knew from the start I was going to have problems.  That department has been the bane of my life, and for four long years we ran the fertility treatment gauntlet, producing failure after failure. IVF was our last resort. We ventured in bravely, pulling money from our pockets and clinging to what remained of our battered hope.

I wasn’t afraid of the procedures. Ovulation induction is very similar and I had managed that through nine cycles. IVF had a few more hoops to jump through, but I was a seasoned rollercoaster rider. I could do this.

And I did.

It wasn’t until the first blood test that things started going astray.

I remember the nurse looking at me a little strangely when I arrived for my ultrasound. The blood test had been the day before and she informed me that my oestrogen levels were extremely high. The number she gave me was huge, about forty times higher than the levels I experienced during my induction cycles. I didn’t really know what to think other than higher oestrogen equals more eggs - which is what we were after, wasn’t it?

The ultrasound revealed the source of all that oestrogen - there were too many follicles. So many, the doctor decided to harvest, but not transfer any embryos. The eggs would be fertilized and frozen for later cycles.

The injection to induce ovulation was on Monday. Wednesday was harvest day. They managed to retrieve twenty-six eggs from my eager ovaries and everything seemed to be going well.

Too bad it wasn’t.

Wednesday afternoon I started vomiting. Thursday was equally entertaining, and by the early hours of Friday morning I was vomiting blood.

Admitted to hospital, I fell worshipping at the altar of anti-nausea medication. Dehydration and an abraded oesophagus kept me in overnight. Saturday morning I collapsed in the bathroom.

That prompted a code blue and a trip to intensive care. The list of symptoms started piling up. My blood pressure was non-existent, my kidneys were beginning to fail, and fluid was being drawn from my bloodstream faster than it could be replaced.

I was suffering from a serious case of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).

If you read the small print of any IVF treatment agreement, those three words are spelt out quite clearly, usually with other words like ‘rare’ and ‘possible side effect’. It is a situation that occurs when the ovaries overreact to the induction medication. The number of follicles stimulated causes them to overproduce their hormone cocktail and the rest of your body is left to ride out the consequences.

Most women only experience mild symptoms, bloating, nausea and some dehydration, but an estimated one to two hundred patients in every one hundred thousand assisted reproductive cycles develop the severe form of OHSS.

Apparently I’m one in a thousand.

Fluid pooled in my body tissues, distending my belly, back and thighs. It filled my lungs, strangling my breathing as my heart fought to compensate. A beached whale, flat on my back, I was too weak to do anything.

Except stare at those blue curtains.

I can remember thinking that IVF was supposed to be hard, but not this hard! Was it worth giving my life in the attempt to create another?

Fortunately, I didn’t have to make that sacrifice. But it is possible - the stakes can be higher than you think.

It took four and a half days in intensive care, six in the ward, and six weeks at home for me to recover. During that time I faced secondary complications including pneumonia and pleurisy. I required a blood transfusion and spent one awful night in the emergency room when it was thought I might have sprung a clot on my lung. To this day I am reminded of my encounter with OHSS every time I take a deep breath. The pleurisy left scars.

However, now there is also one other reminder.

Of those twenty-six eggs, ten successfully fertilised and eight survived the freezing process. But in the end it only took one to create my beautiful baby daughter.

Apparently the odds were in my favour.


I wrote this shortly after little KJ was born. Since then I have had another beautiful daughter who is as much a miracle as her sister. Both came from this incident, non-identical twins two years and one month apart. KJ was 3 years old when she was born, Izzy 5 years old. They are older than they look, and a darn sight tougher. I couldn't ask for more.

(sorry about the TMI)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Creative Everyday - my first mosaic

Here it is, the project that has been taking me that extra bit of time to finish. It is an experiment, well, for me as I haven't done one of these before. Done totally on the fly. Beyond deciding the pallette beforehand, I just cut and stuck squares of card. This is what I came up with.

Feenik's Talon, cut card and glue on card, 300 x 300 mm
Apologies for the shoddy photo. My camera is showing its age and it has never handled reds or pinks very well. (We won't mention the shonky operator :D)

This is a very basic experiment for what I'm interested in doing in this medium. I has ideas :D and am intending on playing for a while longer. I'm just happy that I finally managed to finish this one. I'm not sure if it is the motherhood duties or the medium, but it seemed to take ages. But then, since I started this blog, most of my finish times haven't been much more than a week, so I'm spoilt :D

Groovy close up 1

Groovy close up 2
 I had intended on doing more than just a pixel arrangement with this, but I'm obviously clueless and found that if I started one way, then I'd have to continue that way. It is also full of errors, but hey, it was fun.

It was also an exercise in colour. Since the Creative Colour Challenge, I've found myself learning more and more about colour and how to manipulate it.

Now for an example of how this medium can be expressed in the hands of those with both practise and skill, check out Rebecca Sutherland. I am so in love with her work. Her use of colour ticks all my boxes and has me wanting to experiment like crazy. You can find her blog here.

What else have I done this week? I've done a little doodling with no exciting result. I have lots of plans, but haven't really had time to execute much. I also have an unfinished oil pastel experiment which I fiddled with today until my youngest woke up and derailed that plan. But I'm happy that this piece is finished. Yay!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Creative Neighbourhood - 23 Oct 2010

So what's been happening in my creative neighbourhood this week?

Chasing Purple Dreams had the opening night of her solo exhibition, 'Emerging'. Congratulations, and I hope it all went well. There are some beautiful paintings in her collection. My favs are 'Optimism' and 'Flight'. I'm a sucker for good colour manipulation.

Juliette Crane was interviewed for a magazine and found herself painting a new beautiful little girl art piece. She's gorgeous, Juliette. Love her red hair. And it was great to see your outdoor set up.

Loretta Grayson uploaded some new artworks to Flickr.

papercraft and crochet garland

This lady does some seriously beautiful artwork. If you haven't seen her stuff before, you are missing out. Check out her crochet and her tree paintings. I am a major fan. This paper craft effort...ooh, that reminds me I need to comment on it and rave a little...I just adore her use of colour.

Deborah Dugan has been exploring pan pastels with some fantastic results.

It appears that just about everyone has jumped into the fun over at Tam's Willowing and Friends Art, Heart and Healing free e-course. If you haven't had a look yet, hurry on over, it looks like great fun (unfortunately I couldn't afford the time to join in :( so I'm missing out).  I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with. Looks inspiring.

Shortly after I wrote this post, my friend Angela knocked my socks off with her first attempt at drawing an animal. Another eye boggler.

Concetta, over at Glittering Shards is in a mosaic making frenzy in the lead up to her solo exhibition. Drop by and cheer her on. Don't forget to check out her lovely work.

My best wishes go to Melissa Dinwiddie, who has had a hard week. But also my best curiosity because she has some seriously interesting creative stuff brewing on her blog. I recommend a visit :D

Geninne's beautiful birds caught my eye. I'm dazzled by the lovely effect she has created with the white on blue. She has me wanting to reach for drawing implements and try it out myself.

Julia Crossland is getting into the spirit of Christmas early. Her cards are gorgeous. I need to get started too. (Who am I kidding?)

Don't forget that Art Every Day Month is coming up next Sunday. I'm new to the idea though I have attempted NaNoWriMo on two occasions. Let's just say my novel is still in progress (three years later). This challenge looks much more manageable and despite the children factor, I'm planning on giving it a go. Join me?

As for me, I have some art in the works at the moment, though despite my declaration in the previous paragraph, I'm finding it hard to find time. This piece is a little more work intensive than its recent predecessors and it is taking me a while. Hopefully I'll have something new to post soon.

Also, don't forget the Drawing Lab Challenge is still running. Anyone can join at any time and I'd love to see your results.

Thanks for sharing your creative work. You're a bunch of inspiring neighbours.

(who hopes to find the time to do everything)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Drawing Lab Challenge #4

Now for a little bit of relaxation...

This is the fourth challenge post for the Drawing Lab Challenge. Grab your copy of 'Drawing lab for mixed media artists: 52 creative exercises to make drawing fun' and join us as we tackle the book together. Details of the challenge and joining can be found here.

This week the challenge is...

Lab 33 (Page 92).

After last week's brain extender, let's take it easy for a bit.

Have at it!

(time to put the brain in idle)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Drawing Lab Challenge results - my tunnel

It's been one of those weeks for me. Being sick and stuck at home has not been conducive to art work. So my entry for this week is rather poor and was thrown together on a vague idea in this last hour or so between hanging out the washing and mum duties. I type this fast hoping that Izzy stays asleep just that little bit longer. I guess my topic source is pretty obvious.

Apologies for the poor reproduction. It was too large to scan. It doesn't quite fit the bill for the challenge, but that is what I came up with. My other idea was to use cogs, lots of them, but I couldn't get a 'machine' to gel out of the idea.

I hope you all did better than I did. Show me and cheer me up :D

In better news, I do have another piece of work that is gelling well for the moment. It's not finished, but as experiments go, it's looking okay at the moment. Hopefully I'll get the chance to finish it soon.

In the meantime, have a gander at this little guy I found while hanging out the washing.

Get the feeling I was being observed while observing?

(mmm, lunch)

Incredible Art - Autumn

Beautiful, isn't it? Golden Days by Moaan (Flickr). He has a whole series of these Fall photographs, you have to see them.

(who has no art of her own completed as yet, so I'm sharing my amazement at others' work :D)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Creative Every Day - 18 Oct 2010

I haven't managed to create much art over the last week. Only two pieces have been completed since Sunday before last - my one-eyed monster and my answer to the Creative Tuesday challenge for this fortnight which I can't post about until it's due.

I do have a small piece in progress as part of my oil pastel experiments, but haven't had time away from the children to actually have a go at it. That and the weather went sour, a final blast from winter blew over us, and oil pastels are best used outside.

But today I did manage to get started on a new project I've had in mind. I won't give details yet, but I'm having fun. It's more an exercise than an attempt at a masterpiece as I'm still experimenting.

It involves the above and may, in the future, involve the below.

I am so enjoying this experimenting. It takes away most of the precision and requirement for a masterpiece (if possible) at the end of the process, and I'm learning so much. Too bad it has taken me 30 years to finally work out how to relax with my art.

(who has been sick, but is feeling better)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Incredible Art - Surreal trees

Esfera Natural

Esfera Natural by Gustavo P. Fernandes. Make sure you check out his other trees. Beautiful stuff.

You can find him at his website (there is an English version, link at the bottom of the page) or on Flickr.

(I've managed to be in bed for half an hour tonight, there has been no sleep yet, it's 2.30am.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Drawing Lab Challenge #3

Let the industrial revolution begin...

This is the third challenge post for the Drawing Lab Challenge. Grab your copy of 'Drawing lab for mixed media artists: 52 creative exercises to make drawing fun' and join us as we tackle the book together. Details of the challenge and joining can be found here.

This week the challenge is...

Lab 36 (Page 98).

We've been drawing some organic stuff, now let's fiddle with some machinery :D

Have at it!

(squeaky wheel)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Drawing Lab Challenge #2 results - Eyes

I've always loved drawing eyes. There is something about them. Their shape, shadow, the soul staring out at you from the paper.

I've really practised drawing them over the years as they are my favourite part of portraiture. I know how important it is to put the shadow and highlights in just the right place and have followed some of the 'recommended' techniques. After all, a dead eye is a dead portrait.

But I have never quite drawn one like this.

This be my entry for the Drawing Lab Challenge #2. It be doodled and I have no idea what it is called. Pen on bleedproof paper. It looks like Sauron collided with a willow tree, got eaten by a chicken and then tattooed....but who am I to judge? :D

I have also had 'One-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater' singing in my head all week.

So...lemme see your inventions!

(bonus points to any Star Trek fans who can identify who owns the eyes)

Incredible art - Oil and soft pastels

I've been following these two artists for awhile now and am continually amazed at their work. This morning's works were jaw dropping.

Blue eyes

Irina Miroshnikova and this is her latest, 'Blue Eyes'. It's in oil pastel...and the first time she has used the medium!! ::eye boggling:: Make sure you check out her soft pastel work over on Flickr as well. Beautiful stuff.

And Angela Bishop and her latest in soft pastel, 'Soaking up the sun'. I LOVE the light in this. It just glows. You can find Angela's soft pastel work on bith Flickr and for sale on Etsy, and Angela, herself, on her blog, 'Beauty in Art'.

I is humbled.

(a student of the greats)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Creative Everyday

I've joined a new challenge. This should be no surprise to anyone since I've managed to drown myself in the things in order to keep myself on the art track. But this one is a good laidback approach that might just keep me doing something everyday.

 And this will be followed by the slightly more challenging 'Art Every Day Month', the artist's version of NaNoWriMo.

Anyone want to join me?

As for what I'm doing at the moment....

I have a one-eyed monster under construction and this...

Some more oil pastel experiments :D Hoping to finish this soon.

(totally challenged)

Lessons learnt during pregnancy

During the first few months of my eldest daughter's life I wrote 'The Laws of Baby Physics'. But that wasn't the first science class my daughter taught me (nor the last, 'Toddler Logic' is nearly complete). She was educating me from the moment she took up residence. This was the first piece she inspired. I wrote it while sixteen weeks pregnant. That was over three years ago now, and I've since been pregnant again and had her little sister, but that first time...there always has to be a first time :D

KJ, 20 weeks

1. There is nothing rational about pregnancy.

2. No matter how many books you read, no matter how many medical professionals tell you so, you will still think that if you push too hard on the toilet something might come out that shouldn't.

3. The baby is still there and daily ultrasounds are not needed to prove it.

4. Fundus hunting is a new sport. Note: baby is still there even if you can't find it.

5. Anything gooey is worth gagging about.

6. Yes, it is possible to double your bra size without the aid of chocolate cake.

7. Purchasing of new bras is not only a necessity, but a painful urgency.

KJ's face, 20 weeks

8. It's supposed to look like that.

9. Reading pregnancy books can be dangerous.

10. Reading books entitled 'What your mum never told you' can cause pre-natal depression and not a little amount of terror.

11. Being pregnant, nauseous and generally feeling like crap for the first 12 weeks and not being able to tell anyone why is torture.

12. Pregnancy was not designed with full-time work in mind.

13. All the pregnancy books tell you to lie down and sleep at work if you feel you need to. What planet are these writers from?

14. Pregnancy news equals hugs. I'm thinking my friends are more excited than I am. This is not a bad thing.

15. There is no subtle way to approach telling the news to anyone. It refuses to slip into casual conversation. Thank god for blabby friends.

16. It is finally permissible to have a belly.

17. Clothes shopping is forbidden because this summer, you're not going to fit into anything.

18. There is no food that can be eaten without guilt. Diabetic diet + pregnancy diet = I don't know what to eat anymore. Eating out is a minefield and all supermarkets are aiming to kill both me and my baby.

KJ & Izzy, two years apart, but still twins.

19. Everything you do affects your baby. See point 18. All that MSG I'm currently consuming is going to be the cause of baby's third leg.

20. Pregnancy is also a mental illness. And can be blamed for just about everything.

21. Irrationalities extend to examining your parents, your grandparents and every parent your family tree possesses. Most will be found lacking and you will immediately doubt your own abilities and blame them on genetics.

22. Genetics can not be fixed by killing one or both of your parents.

23. You sit and wait for one parent or another to pronounce the fateful words - 'I told you so'.

24. And then all your friends to recount just how screwed your life is now.

25. Control is an illusion.

KJ holding Izzy on her birthday, March 2010.
(early hours of the morning...that's my excuse and I sticking with it :D)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oil pastel experiments

I'm learning!

Remember this from yesterday? One of my one centimetre paintings. Well, they were designed to be inspiration points, so since I had time to paint today I took this one and turned it into this:

Oil pastel on watercolour paper
I finally got out my oil pastels to play. I laid down the background and then etched in the wobbly doodle with an unused nail file. I neglected to measure for squareness.

I could have left it there, but I was unhappy with the level of contrast and was game to experiment more. I had no idea where I was going and it was rather scary to do what I did next.

Storm blue acrylic gouache over oil pastel on watercolour paper
My first true mixed media attempt. And it failed miserably. I was attempting to etch in the doodle lines darker. It worked on a test, but I think I had the paint too thick on the actual piece and when I scraped it off...well, it was okay, but definitely not what I was looking for.

Now at this stage in the past, I probably would have dropped it and stormed off, considering it a failure. But there is one thing that some of tou have taught me in these past few months...never give up. If it isn't working, keep working until it does. The beauty of mixed media is that you can layer upon layer upon layer.

But I was stuck for inspiration. What I had was a multi-green piece of paper with blue splotches all over it. What do I do? Time was a factor, so seeing that it needed an object focus, I reverted to an old painting favourite and drew from my brain. I was quite happy with what it turned out to be.

Transparent Lily, Oil pastel and acrylic gouache on watercolour paper, approx. 200 x 170 mm
If you look carefully, you can see the blotchy background underneath. Did I need to do all that work beforehand? Maybe. In any case, I've now learnt a bunch of new things and have a new little painting to show for my efforts.

And where was Izzy during this? Beside me :D

More experiments to come.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Painting experiments

I did some experimenting with paint today.
Nine One Centimetre Paintings, Acrylic on paper, approx. 9 x 10 x 10 mm.

I think they are pretty groovy and have ideas what to do with them. I really like the subtle blending of colours. I'm certainly going to continue my experiments in this area.

(experimenting is fun)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Drawing Lab Challenge #2

Get that mind's eye working...

This is the second challenge post for the Drawing Lab Challenge. Grab your copy of 'Drawing lab for mixed media artists: 52 creative exercises to make drawing fun' and join us as we tackle the book together. Details of the challenge and joining can be found here.

This week the challenge is...

Lab 26 (Page 74).

I'm really excited to see the results from this one. Let your imagination run wild!

Have at it!


Drawing Lab Challenge One results

Our first week  and our first exercise. How did everyone do? I know my biggest challenge was actually getting anything done. There was no bed in my catdom, but there was kitchen table, couch, and coffee table.

I was going to post this post last night, but decided to leave it to Friday night (I'm in Australia, in most people's futures ::waves to NZ who are in my future, along with the Aussie east coast::). Upon reflection, I think I will stick to the original plan of posting my Thursday night for the results and issuing the next challenge on Fridays.

But anyway, I digress. How did you all do? I've seen two wonderful results already, both Kristin Dudish and White Violet Art were on the ball and had me oggling at their work earlier today. Great stuff, guys.

As for me, I didn't manage to draw all thirty cats. I think it was a combo of my complete inability to just scribble (I'm working on it!) and the two time eating children who live in my house. I will admit to not reading the instructions properly and using pencil instead of pen to draw most of my cats, and I forgot to try to use my non-dominant hand. So basically I just drew approximately 13 cartoon cats.

What I did do is fall into my old habit of working the idea. I needed to draw cats, but I have this thing where I can't just draw a cat, I have to have some quirk in it to make it worth drawing. I think it is a left over from graphic design school where one of the best ways to find a good logo/advertsing concept was to do exactly that and draw until you find an idea. Not quite what the Lab had in mind, but I did produce some bits and pieces that could lead on to better works, so I'm happy for the most part.

Here we have 'Stick Cat', my first idea. He's a character that is going to launch my career in t-shirts ::tongue in cheek:: He was followed by 'Fluff Cat', but he resembled washing machine lint just a little to much, so he got scrapped. 'Lion with mane in rollers' turned out good, I was really happy with him and may take him to the next level. I don't know where 'Egyptian Cat' came from, but he was fun. 'Menacing Cat' never really got off the ground because I was feeling a bit too lazy to draw in his detail.

'Dali Cats' had so much potential. I could have cats naturally floppy like Dali's floppy clocks in all sorts of positions. Only one got very basically drawn, and I'm sure the concept has been explored before, it feels like my brain is regurgitating something I've seen in the far past. 'Wide Load' is in honour of my Hubby's cat he had as a kid - big, fat, and owned his territory by sitting on anyone who got in the way. He also had the original name of 'Puddy'. Fortunately I was around to help name our children :D

'Castostrophe' was Hubby's idea. I also thought of creating an entire alphabet out of cats, hey, that would be 26 of the 30 cats needed. Never got there, and it has probably already been done by someone anyway. 'Catamaran' was the first 'word concept' sketch I did (Hubby discovered 'Catostrophe' shortly after) and is proof I'm positively evil.

All of the above were done in pencil, so really I managed to cheat without meaning too.  Symptom of me leaving the book out by the computer and not in the lounge where I was working. I did do some reeeeally quick note sketches of ideas in my idea notepad (a place to stash inspiration when I'm otherwise occupied). I dare you to be able to read my horrific handwriting - there were a bunch of ideas that never made it to the sketchbook.

There was one cat that I did do in pen all by itself. I've found myself really attracted to the zentangle/doodle/mandala type art that I'm continually seeing about, so I got brave and threw off my pre-conceived art and drew a doodle cat. (No initial sketch, just pen starting from the top and drawing down.)

He's a bit wonky, but I like him and intend to try doodling some more in the future.

So how did you all do? I wanna see stuff! Link here in the comments and load up your stuff to the Flickr group. Did you enjoy it?

(who had fun)

A snippet of thought

A single star on the darkest night
With a sparkle, can light your way,
But a single friend with a helping hand
Can lead you through the darkest day.

- Nutty, July 2005 

Photo - Sunset behind Port Lincoln, South Australia, 2003.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Incredible Art - Bernard Pras

A French artist who has a different view of the everyday object.

The site is in French, but art doesn't require a written language.

(who should be drawing)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Soft pastel experiment

As some of you know, I've been playing around with my soft pastels since I started this blog back in June. I had great fun with them during the Creative Color Challenge, and although I've been playing with my pencils lately with the Silly Workshop, they have been in the back of my mind most of the time - I simply adore playing with colour.

So yesterday I got them out with the intention of playing with an idea I've had in my head for some time now - lichen painting.  I fell in love with some of the lichen piccies I stumbled across one night and was all enthused about the colour possibilities. The idea didn't quite reach realisation this time around and I will have to go back and have another go at it, but I did produce a piece of artwork.

Firework Agate, soft pastel on red textured card, approx. 300 x 300 mm.

It is only a scribble, really born from some of the spirit of the Silly Workshop. I drew a shape in the middle of the paper and went from there. It never did reach 'lichenhood', but became something else, more of a agate pattern, if a little too excited. (It should also be noted that my historic camera is not a fan of rendering reds correctly.)

What I did do with this piece was experiment. I'm fairly new to pastels and all the works you have seen on this blog have been my learning pieces. I've been collecting Rembrandt brand pastels for a few years (well, for a short period before I had children...then I had children and everything came to an abrupt and screeching halt) and I considered them, while not the top of the range, a really decent brand of pastel. Certainly pricey enough to be so. I've loved working with them, but halfway through the Creative Color Challenge we were assigned Raspberry Red. Great, I love the colour, but my Rembrandt pastels were not up to scratch. Just that colour, the sticks were too hard and would not deliver pigment onto the paper evenly and would scratch and make a mess of the work (very frustrating!). So in order to finish that Red challenge I was faced with finding another brand of pastel that would do what I needed it to do.

I bought Schmincke, Windsor and Newton and Art Spectrum. Schmincke, I knew was going to be good. The price alone told me enough, they are, in my books, really expensive at A$6.80 a stick (Rembrandt are around A$4.50). Windsor and Newton have ceased production of pastels, so the art shop was selling them off cheap. Great for my pocket, not so good for long term collection. Art Spectrum are a cheaper brand, so I was a little wary of them, but bought a couple anyway. I finished off 'Blood Lily' with the Schmincke pastels and thoroughly fell in love with them (feel sorry for my bank account).

But today I really went to work on them. Schmincke, of course, won hands down, and I have decided to switch my collecting focus to that brand. The Rembrandt pastels are harder and can be used for basework, but the Schmincke pastels rule for putting in highlights and layering that extra bit of colour on top.

As for the other two brands...Windsor and Newton are almost level in quality with Rembrandt and were quite okay to use, but I found the Art Spectrum sticks to be much harder. If I was using a single brand for a painting, and I had the right support, it probably wouldn't matter, but trying to layer a hard pastel on top of a soft one? Forget it (and I would only try because I needed a certain shade I didn't have in the softer stick).

So I'm doomed to spend lots of money collecting Schmincke now. I would sigh, but I love buying art materials :D

Another thing about this painting is that I started it upside down. Again some Carla Sonheim influence. It wasn't working one way up half way through, so I turned it upside down and worked it that way.

Oh, and I also tried an different support. I discovered that 'canvas paper' seems to only be a type of textured paper, and that texture is very similar to the texture on the many coloured sheets of card I bought early this year when I was playing around with scrapbooking. Enter a new way to play!  Firework Agate was drawn on red textured card, a first for me as I usually draw on black Canson paper. It worked okay. I don't think it can take as much pastel as the paper can, but it was fun to play with and comes in a rainbow of colours, is acid free, and cheaper than other supports.  Something new to play with.

It was fun.

(who always loves to have a piece of finished work at the end of the day)