Friday, 13 October 2017

Inktober 2018

October means Inktober, the annual drawing challenge that has been going for a number of years. Jake Parker started this in 2009 to improve his inking and drawing skills. The challenge comes with daily prompts to help keep you on track. 

Perhaps it’s because I have trouble following rules, but I’ve usually lost interest when the given prompts didn’t strike a chord with me. 

This year Sktchy has joined the challenge, using the ‘official’ prompts. Theses are emailed daily to all taking part. Today is always earlier in Australia than everywhere else - except for New Zealand - so the prompts come at the end of the day. I like to get my drawing completed early, or even start a new one the day before, so getting a late prompt has given me a good excuse to do my own thing!
(Yes, I know, I could download the list...)

My challenge is simply to do a portrait in ink every day in October and to date it’s been working well. 

Ink in Hero Bent nib calligraphy pen 

De Artramentis Fog Grey - Pilot Metropolitan Medium nib and water Brush

Digital ink using Procreate - this was drawn on the way from a weekend away. The ride was quite bumpy which added to the scribble effect!

Noodlers Black ink in Pilot Metropolitan fine nib in a Midori notebook. The paper, while quite light, is beautiful to use with a fountain pen - silky and smooth with no feathering or bleed-through. This notebook is available at a wonderful stationery shop, Bookbinders in Brisbane. They stock all kinds of notebooks, pens, ink and writing accessories. 

Ink and water brush in Midori notebook

Black and brown ink with water brush in Midori notebook.

Bic Crystal ballpoint in Alpha softcover sketchbook - using a ballpoint with a light touch mimics the appearance of graphite.

Sam the Sphynx with his special "look" - Fine nib Pilot Metroploitan in Midori notebook - the ears are pink Tombow brush pen, the eyes Inktense green.

Noodlers #41 Brown on Viking drawing paper A6 size

De Artramentis Fog Grey - Pilot Metropolitan Medium nib and water Brush
on Viking drawing paper A6 size

De Artramentis Fog Grey - Pilot Metropolitan Medium nib and water Brush
on Viking drawing paper A6 size.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Calendars for 2018 - yes already!

Last year I had some calendars printed which showed examples of my paintings. I can’t believe it’s time to plan for the New Year already!  I’ve just finished designing a new one for 2018. 

There will be both a Wall calendar and a Desk calendar. If you like to add special dates and anniversaries then the Wall version is ideal. I like having a Desk calendar around for those days when I can’t remember what day it is!
These calendars make lovely Christmas gifts and a good way have some shopping done early. 

Here are screen shots of the two versions. The resolution is not great but will give you an idea of the images.

Wall calendar - Flowers and Still Life

Desk calendar - Flowers and Still Life

If you would like to order one please let me know either by replying here on the blog, by email - or leave a message on my Facebook Page. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Time to develop your creativity - Hamilton Road Studio

At this time of the year I realise that time doesn't ever stand still. In fact, if anything, the days pass by too quickly. In January I booked flights to visit my family in South Africa, thinking that the time would drag. Now there are just over ten weeks to go before my holiday. 

Studio Vacancies 

The last term of the year starts on Wednesday 4th October and ends on the 9th December. 

Wednesday evenings - places filled
Thursday - one place available
Friday mornings -  places filled
Saturday mornings - casual attendance available.

Please let me know if you would like to enroll or if you have any questions about the classes.         

Exploring Abstraction 

The artists attending the Friday classes have been investigating abstract concepts in painting. I plan to cover these topics more extensively in the first five weeks of the term with a different approach each week. These classes will be more structured than the usual Studio classes where artist work on individual projects. If abstract painting is something you have wanted to try, this is an ideal opportunity for you to experiment. Also, if you are less experienced, the more structured class will be helpful. These mini workshops can be done on the other days as well.

Tasman Story - oil, oil pastel and Cold Wax Medium on panel 405 mm x 810 mm

Art Classes Hamilton Road Studio

Terms and Conditions
Class times:
Wednesday:   6.00pm – 9.00pm  
Thursday:       9.00am – 12.00pm               
Friday:            9.00am – 12.00pm 
Saturday:        8.00am – 11.00am 

Please note that the Classes are suitable for adults
Venue:   22/960 Hamilton Road, McDowall 4053
(Please ring 22 then “Bell” at the intercom. There is usually parking inside the complex)
• Tuition in drawing, watercolour, acrylics and oils is offered
• During each class there will be some demonstration of technique as well as individually mentored tuition.
• Classes are small (Max 6) so each participant can work in their chosen medium and at their own pace.
• Students should be prepared to enroll for a term (usually 10 weeks). Since my Studio is small, casual classes i.e. pay per attendance cannot be offered.

Please contact me for more information or if you have any questions.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Botanique on show at Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane

Botanique, and exhibition of all things Botanically inspired, is on this weekend in the Richard Randall Gallery, Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens, from Friday 15th September at 1.00pm until 3.00pm Sunday, 17th September.

I will have a selection of paintings, a couple of large ones and a few small, gift-sized paintings. 

Peonies - ink and watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper

Orchids - watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper

Australian Bouquet - watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper

In addition, there will be some cushions and tote bags. These bags are a good way of introducing ourselves to using reusable bags instead of the throw-away plastic kind - and much more attractive too!

A view of my corner at the Richard Randall Gallery 

I've also printed a selection of cards which feature some of my paintings. 

Artichoke cushion 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Nundah NOW! Art Exhibition this weekend

I have four paintings on show this weekend at the Nundah NOW! Exhibition.

I've been experimenting lately with Cold Wax Medium and have become fascinated with the tactile quality it adds to oil paint. This technique is so well suited to recreating memories of last year's holiday in Tasmania. The granite cliffs on the Tasman Peninsula were the inspiration for this painting.

Tasman Story - Oil, Cold Wax Medium and Oil pastels on Birch panels.
810 mm x 405 mm

The park across the road from my home is another inspirational place. This abstract has its origin in the bark of trees I pass on my early morning walks. 

Bark Layers - Oil, Cold Wax Medium and Oil pastels on Birch panels.
810 mm x 405 mm

In addition two watercolours complete the quartet of paintings.

Abundance - watercolour on Saunders Waterford 535mm x 535mm

The Wrap of a Leaf - watercolour on Zeta paper 545 mm x 720 mm

Monday, 4 September 2017

Drawing - an all-time favourite

One of the all-time popular posts on Art Matters is Drawing: A thin black line. It is re-published below. 

Whenever I get into a bit of a slump I turn to my drawing materials. Of all the tools, ink is most satisfying to use. There's a decisiveness about making marks that you can't erase.  

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Drawing - a thin black line

Why do we assume that we need a special talent for drawing? Often people profess to have no talent for drawing, saying – “I can’t even draw a straight line”.
When shown that they can draw – they declare that they must have a hidden talent. 

We don’t make that assumption about other talents like reading. What if only those with a special talent could learn to read? The teachers would supply reading materials; not guide or instruct the class for fear of hampering creativity in reading. Then the teacher would sit back and wait to see what would happen. 
The kid says, “How do I read this?” The teacher replies: “Just be free, use your imagination - reading should be fun.” Some of the class would be able to read but the rest would say: “I can’t read – I have no talent”. 

We apply this strange reasoning to teaching art. We are too afraid to instruct for fear of hampering or diminishing the child’s creative spirit.
Drawing is in reality a way of learning how to see. We can learn to hone our powers of observation with the result that almost anyone can learn to draw.

In a previous post, when I was considering all the different types of media I have used over the years, I left out the two simple tools for any artist that have always been used – a lead pencil and an ink pen. I love buying new pens and pencils – I am happiest in an art supply store or even a basic stationery store. I have become addicted to finding new pens that will help me draw better.
Pier at Blankenberg
Whenever I traveled anywhere, first into the suitcase would be a sketchbook, pencils, pens and a smallwatercolour box and a brush or two (although I never seemed to get around to adding much colour.)  
Departing ferry, Breskens

These sketchbooks became a visual diary, capturing people and places. 
Paging through them takes me back to the experience of different countries more vividly than any photograph album.
Ferry Harbour, Breskens

Pen and ink drawing can provide drama, strong contrast and fine detail. The sketch below was done in the Museum Skone Kunst, Antwerp. I came across an artist painting a copy of Fouquet's Maria and Jesus surrounded by Angels, and couldn't resist doing a sketch of her.

Sketching the copyist in Antwerp, Belgium
Recently, I have experimented with drawing on alternative surfaces such as ink on canvas or on a wooden panel, adding a new dimension to drawing.

Seeds and Leaves 382mm x 760mm  Ink on canvas 
It takes courage to draw in ink – there are no second chances – no way to erase the errors. Instead, one has to really look at the subject, focus on where you want the line to go, and execute it fearlessly with a clean fluid line

Friday, 11 August 2017

Our Fragile State

Please note: this post deals with a topics we often avoid - suicide and depression. 
Please discontinue reading if this is confronting.

If you need help please contact one of the many organisations that offer support.

Beyond Blue
Lifeline Australia Crisis support and suicide prevention
Queensland Health

Pink Roses & Mirrors - oil on canvas 500 mm x 900 mm 

We are fragile. So very fragile. We live with such high expectations. We have high expectations of others but more particularly, we have high expectations of ourselves. When we don't match up to those lofty ideals it's easy to berate ourselves and feel that we are failing.

Sometimes this self criticism, self loathing even, takes over and we fall into a bottomless dark pit. We see no escape. 

This week I watched Australian Story. It was an episode entitled The Bridge and had a very personal connection. Usually TV programmes are about others, people far removed from me, people that I don't know. This time it was different. The story was about someone I know, someone who serves on the same committee as I do. 

I realised immediately that I didn't  really know her. My knowledge was limited to superficial knowledge. I didn't know her back story at all. It made me realise that in our daily dealings with others we ought to remember that they often have a life we know nothing about. A life with problems and struggles in spite of their seemingly normal attitude.

Five years ago, my friend, a high achiever, was struggling to cope at work. She felt that she was failing, and was not living up to the standards required of her. In a very short time, only about ten days, she came to the decision that everyone, including her small two year old son, would be better off without her. She walked over the Story Bridge in Brisbane and jumped.

Against all odds, she was seen by a passing ferry as she was about to go under. The ferry captain came alongside and a deck hand pulled her out of the water. She was alive. A miracle. 
Today she has reclaimed and rebuilt her life. Thankfully she is now in a good place.

As I watched the story unfold, what struck me so forcibly was the rapid disintegration of her state of well being. From coping with work and achieving her goals, from being in control, the drop to utter despair took a few short days. We are so fragile it doesn't take much to take us to the brink.

I write this as a reminder, to myself as much as a reminder to you to look to the people around you. We don't know their struggles. We don't know their despair. 

We can only be aware, be kind, and to listen.

If you live in Australia, I urge you to watch the episode. You can see a replay on  ABC iView. 

If you need help please contact one of the many organisations that offer support.
Beyond Blue
Lifeline Australia Crisis support and suicide prevention
Queensland Health

Monday, 7 August 2017

Looking back - September 2010

In September 2010 I wrote about a memorable visit to Philanjalo, a hospital in rural Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. Philanjalo means live longer. My sister and I visited a relative who was a doctor at the hospital. We were able to find out about the lifesaving work undertaken there. 

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Philanjalo - live longer

The countryside is dry, dry, dry. There are rocks, dried aloes, and dry earth. There is no grass to speak of – what
there is has been turned to stubble by the goats. No rain has fallen since April this year. The streams and rivers are collections of boulders – there is no sign of water. All my photographs have a haze –a dust haze that coats the land-scape. The sky will only clear when rain has washed the sky.  
Tugela Ferry mountains
I spent last weekend in Tugela Ferry in rural Kwa Zulu Natal, one of the poorest regions in the whole of South Africa.Along the road we pass children with 20 litre containers of water on their heads or in wheelbarrows - if they’re lucky. They get water from pumps at the roadside and then have to transport it back to their homes often kilometers away. We are greeted with smiles and friendly waves – so cheerful in spite of extreme poverty.
Carrying water home

My contact there, a doctor working at Philanjalo, showed us around. Philanjalo – meaning live longer - was started as a hospice for aids patients.The local people have a very high incidence of MDR TB – multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis and XDR TB, coupled with an HIV AIDs infection rate of about 50%, making it exceptionally difficult to treat the disease.With the outbreak of the TB epidemic TFCARES set up the clinic as a research station.Doctors from all over the world come to Tugela Ferry to do research into MDR TB and XDR TB.Now the emphasis at the clinic is on ARV treatment - treating the side effects of HIV Aids. I was struck by how clean and efficient everything was – and the cheerfulness of both patients and staff in spite of the enormity of the problems 

faced. Philanjalo works in conjunction with the Church of Scotland Hospital and provides both clinic and

On Saturday a trip to Msinga Hill was proposed. Oh dear, I thought, not mountain climbing! Not at all - there is a road to the very top. The purpose of the road  

became all too clear with the incongruous presence of a cell phone mast. 

Msinga Hill Rocks
From the top of Msinga Hill we could see patches of green along the Tugela River – the lifeblood of the area. 

Community Gardens along the Tugela River

Violent inter- faction fighting previously wracked Tugela Ferry.  However, life now seems more peaceful – perhaps fighting poverty, MDR TB and HIV Aids is enough of a challenge for the people of this village.
To give you an idea of the value of the work done by these marvellous doctors and nurses, I quote from an email I received from the doctor we visited:
“The patient that I had to treat yesterday and who I thought would die, when I saw him today, he is sitting up in 
bed, eating and chatting to his relatives.   Miracle”

Monday, 31 July 2017

Looking back - August 2010

I started writing Art Matters towards the end of August, 2010 when my move to Australia was becoming a reality. (I had applied for a visa back in February 2008) It follows that around this time of the year I become nostalgic. I thought I would revisit some of the posts that I enjoyed writing as well as those you enjoyed reading too.

When I began the blog I knew nothing and had to learn everything along the way, including how to add photographs. 

My second post  on Art Matters 'Deciding to Move'   sets the scene...I've added a favourite painting from that year. It's the view from my daughter's farm across the Barbeton Valley to the Kaapse Hoop mountains.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Deciding to move.

Towards Kaapse Hoop - oil on canvas  760 mm x 915 mm

In May 2008, I made the decision to relocate to Brisbane, Australia. Now, over two years later, the move is becoming a reality. It's strange to be in neither one place nor another and it's almost as though one's life is in limbo.

Although I studied art at high school and later trained as an art teacher, most of my life has been spent following other career options - more out of circumstance than a specific plan. I have been amongst other things: a landscape gardener; a mosaic artist; a book illustrator; and at one time junior and high school
teacher teaching a variety of subjects - English, Maths, and History.
For the last 12 years I have been the owner of a retail shop that has no connection with the "art world"
at all.

I taught art formally for relatively short periods, but have lectured and demonstrated for numerous
art groups. Although  making art has had to be done alongside other occupations, and has often taken
a back seat, I've learnt to be very productive in short bursts when a gap appeared in my day.

I plan to change this and now, eventually, do what I love - paint, draw and teach art.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

It's me who is my enemy

It’s me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence.
~Paula Cole
Please  listen here: Me - Paula Cole

Cannas - watercolour - hand painted collage papers