Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Holiday Hangover....

Let's talk holiday hangovers
a week has passed since we came home from the beach
and I think I may still have a touch of holiday -itis
I am wafting through the days in some sort of daze
partly because every now and again I get a whiff of salt in the air
this whiff may or may not be due to the fact that Sinus insists on dousing all food in salt 
in what I can only think is an all out attempt to harden his arteries
and excite his blood pressure
but whether it is Sinus or that the winter beach is just too hard to let go of
I have to say motivation has been on the scant side

I finished off this page of shells
which is not a shell from the beach but is one that Phantom had handy
and I finally finished off this sketch from  a photo that Mary took on the Fourth of July
it was a task and a half as it has been many many years since I have drawn anything similar
plus I was battling not just a holiday hangover
but also, perhaps, maybe, a little bit of a Fireball induced one
I am such a lightweight when it comes to alcohol it is embarrassing
but hangovers aside, I loved every challenging minute and the many cups of tea it required
I am thinking there may be some more streetscapes in my future

I am not alone in my holiday post holiday malaise though
 Mushu the wonder mutt also appears to be suffering
I keep finding him standing in the middle of the yard/ bed/ garden/ new sofa
nose in the air, sniffing and looking wistful
of course this could be due to the fact that he is girding himself
for the teasing and taunts of the neighbourhood dogs
which are surely accompanying him on his afternoon walks
because before we went up the coast we gave him a reverse poodle
and shaved his legs but left some hair on his body in a nod to the chilly winter winds
he does have a bit of a white hairy potato on toothpicks look about him
which is endlessly hilarious
plus he didn't bring half the beach home every day

So as I contemplate how long it will be before we can head back to the beach
I am painting up some little accordion artwork book things
they are going to come together I am sure
but they are at that scruffy stage
and I hate to leave them in that state for me to face in the morning
so I am going to get back to it
happy painting all...xx

Friday, 25 July 2014

Fireballing ....

A couple of weeks before we headed off to the beach for winter break
my recently turned legal age baby... otherwise known as Phantom Steve
came to me and asked to be driven to the bottle shop
and yes I do think if you are old enough to be able to buy and consume alcohol you should also be old enough to drive yourself
or at the very least have your learner's permit... kids these days right
anyway I must admit to being a little taken aback that lightweight Phantom made such a request
and enquired as to what she might be wanting to purchase from said liquor store
and with a twinkle in her eye she informed me she wanted to try
 which is cinnamon flavoured whisky

seriously... Cinnamon flavoured whisky
now this is concerning to me on a number of levels
I love cinnamon in baking
in fact Swedish cinnamon buns would make it onto my last meal menu
but outside of baking I truly believe cinnamon is evil stuff
this was not helped by a rather unfortunate incident
which involved a bet to consume a mouth full of cinnamon altoids
totally not worth doing to get Phantom to clean her room I must say
and then there was the surprise Big Red Gum incident
not to be confused with the surprise yolk incident which is a story for another day
but in short while Phants loves cinnamon flavoured anything
I however, am no lover of the stuff and held grave fears for just how awful this may be
but hey being young and stupid and trying disgusting things is part of being an 18 year old
and she did seem to be exhibiting quite the enthusiasm for trying it

Of course such enthusiasm led to the concern that my little baby
may be heading down the booze hound path
and yes I know it is perfectly normal for university students
to consume copious amounts of alcohol
but part of me immediately worried that she was going to do a full Miley Cyrus on us
and start wearing butt skimming shorts, chop off her hair, sticking her tongue out all the time and contemplate getting some meaningful ink tramp stamp
but I put my fears aside and reminded her of the whipped cream vodka she wanted to try and how that turned out... or the god awful Rambler incident of recent weeks
but she swore that it got a huge recommendation
on youtube... yep she is is getting booze reviews on youtube

In the end the tipping point for getting in the car and heading off with her
was the fact that she offered to buy it herself
which due to the fact that Phants was born with frightenly short arms and crazy deep pockets
is reason enough to put aside my worries
and witness the miracle of seeing those moths fly from her wallet when it is opened

After all that stress, worry, teasing and miracle wallet opening
I would like to be able to tell you that I was right
and it is awful on a level that can only be dreamed of
but no... it is freakin delicious
plus it was fabulous to paint and I loved having it sitting on my desk for a day
 felt very bohemian
but the only way she is letting me share Her bottle of the stuff
is if I publically acknowledge the fact
so Phants...you were right 
now can Mummy have a Fireball tonight please

happy painting and Paint Party Friday all...xx

Friday, 18 July 2014

A morning walk ...

I am at my favourite spot in the world at the moment
So I thought you might like to join me on my morning walk
Not paintings I know but it was just so lovely
The cold makes for an amazing sun rise
And they are worth still not being able to feel fingers or toes
Enjoy and happy painting all...xx

Did you miss Tuesday's post... 
Here is the link in case you want to see some more perfume bottles http://traceyfletcherking.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/coming-back-for-more.html

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Coming back for more...

The blithe statement at the end of the last post that I was off to paint up the deer heads
may have been a touch premature
as they appear to be a little more challenging than I expected
so you are getting new sketches of a perfume bottle or two
After a few rather disastrous attempts at the deer
Which kept looking oddly like cows that had been run over by steamrollers
I turned to finishing off some perfume bottles to get my confidence back
Not that it was that shaken... more stirred perhaps
And a perfume bottle or two put it to rights
especially as they were both able to be painted in my favourite blues

One of the things I love about drawing and painting is the whole risk of it
every now and again you get something that turns around and bites you on the hand
 nothing you do can save it... and it bites you again and again
it may be a seemingly innocuous looking mug
or something as different as a miniature cardboard deer head
you never know which things are going to have a piece of your drawing sanity
it is one of the great challenges and always keeps it interesting
never knowing if this is the painting that is going to explode in your hands is half the fun
the whole high creative stakes thing is kind of what I love if I am honest

I know sometimes people get freaked out by the whole ruining it phenomenon
and I am not entirely immune to that
but I like that slight quickening of the heartbeat before you put paint onto a drawing
I like the leap, the whole risk factor, the who knows how it will turn out feeling
It is fabulous how it makes me concentrate and focus and not draw on automatic pilot
I like that the solution has to be puzzled out and the process is not immediately obvious
if I am feeling that then I know I will be creatively engaged and interested
It makes me happy just thinking about it

After all it isn't exactly going to have huge consequences is it 
if a painting is mucked up
the world isn't going to suddenly tilt on its axis leading to total annihilation
the way it would if I was to ever see the end of the washing pile
there is no physical risk to life and limb
Though perhaps Sinus may feel there is a risk to his life and limb
if I am having a bad drawing day
It doesn't mean life is bad, or I am bad, or that I can never laugh again
or that I will never create anything of worth ever again
I am not going to suddenly lose heart and quit drawing because I made a dud
It's just not that big a deal in the scheme of things... It is just pen and paper and a bit of paint
I have destroyed my share of paintings... every week
And there isn't a sketchbook on the shelf that doesn't have pages that are appalling
but I can say there isn't one piece of work that has made my life worse

I haven't learnt from all of them
I have repeated the same mistakes... Many times
I have mucked up and destroyed perfectly promising starts
But then I have also had success clutched from the jaws of defeat
Pieces that make me happy and bring back great memories
Finished work I am proud of, or moderately tolerant of as well as some that I think are utter crap
But they are all mine... My time, my effort, my results
imperfect, a disaster or fabulous... it just doesn't matter
it means that I have had time to paint and draw
The bad ones make me more creatively resilient
And the good ones keep me coming back for more
So bring on more squished cow deer heads people... I am ready for them

happy painting all...xx

Friday, 11 July 2014

Blame Sinus...

Every now and again I am forced to wonder how on earth Sinus and I have lasted for 25 years
now I know I am no picnic to live with sometimes
and all three of us are pretty strong in the pester power stakes
especially Phantom... she is truly gifted in wearing us down
but this week Sinus has driven me nuts harassing me into writing this post
personally I didn't think it was post worthy
but in the interests of humouring him so that he changes the subject
and also so that I am not forced to stab him in the eye with a pitchfork while he sleeps
I am writing this lame arse post
I wanted to write about the deer heads, or the model hand that I bought
and yes it has been arranged to make rude gestures
I have never pretended that we are into highbrow humour around here
so in defiance of Sinus's badgering I did sneak it into the drawing
but if you find the post boring then blame Sinus....

Costco has finally come to Brisbane
yep that's about the extent of it
well not quite because nothing is ever that simple with Sinus
Sinus and I braved the drive north to find it
which given the fact that Sinus can be directionally challenged was no sure thing
then he got distracted by the Bunnings next door to Costco
Bunnings is a big box hardware store for the non Australians
which was the cleanest Bunnings Sinus had ever seen apparently
I know this because he told everyone... employees, strangers, everyone
but once we got out of the cleanest Bunnings in the world we finally headed across the road

we then braved the line to join because Sinus may have overstated his having signed up online
turns out he was too cold to get out of bed and get his card
so huge line it was
but finally we had our cards and entered that cavernous wonderfulness
 that houses epic amounts of toilet paper and paper towels
it was rather weird as there was a strong sense of deja vu from our time in Florida
but not quite, as it of course has a huge number of Australian products
which made it familiar ... but not 

There were all our old favourites
giant jars of olives and peppers
breakfast cereal in containers so large that they could see you through the apocalypse
and those giant packets of crisps that could act as pillows for small animals
but then there were also some new wonders
huge packets of leeks that were actually affordable
compared to the normal cost that practically requires you sell a kidney
and giant packets of bed socks
which are necessities as we suffer through an unusually cold winter
not to mention my favourite pens for next to nothing
I was mightily excited by those pens
and perhaps I was a bit punchdrunk and went on about the pens a bit
but that pales in comparison to Sinus harassing me to draw the pens
and write about our Costco trip
it is no exaggeration to say he has "suggested" this post 21 345 times in the last four days

So there you have it
we went to Costco
we got cheap pens
we got lost coming home
and we have toilet paper for the next several months
I am now going to go and draw the miniature cardboard deer heads
that are new to the studio wall and are begging to be posted about
there are soooooo many deer puns I could be using right now
but in the interests of preserving marital harmony you have Costco
and hopefully I now have peace....

happy painting and Paint Party Friday all...xx

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Mid Week Ramblings...

Sketchbook Skool semester 2, "Seeing",  started last Friday
and in an attempt to make myself accountable and do the homework
 I am blogging this week's homework
We started by having to draw toast
yep toast... weird right
kind of gloriously weird though
and due to Phantom's celiac-ness, and my intolerance I had to draw some gluten free fruit toast
as that was all we had in the house
It is quite palatable when hot
but when it is cold it should be known as Spongebob Squarepants on a plate
I swear this stuff could absorb an ocean when it is cold

the second part of the homework was to lay down background colour quickly
then add detail slowly in pen, concentrating on observation
kind of fun even if I didn't get into the detail so much
I enjoyed it enough to give it another shot
and painted and drew the bloody kitchenaide mixer
it was quite meditative and gave me time to consider some mid week oddities

like the fact that my Dad came in for a visit yesterday
and it turns out we have matching hair at the moment
like seriously matching
I like to call it my electric badger look as it is very dark at the roots
but takes on quite a silver tip
and I now know who to blame for the fact that my hair permanently looks like my finger is stuck in an electrical socket as it grows out after chemo
Nice one Daddy dearest... thanks for those genes

Sinus man is also becoming quite the handyman and studio renovator
check out the rack he added to the wall to complete the studio makeover
beyond perfect for larger sketchbooks
I have no clue what happened to my old husband
who, quite frankly was about as handy as a one armed, drunken blind man
but I am keeping the new version
he is showing some serious skills
skills which included passing wind and laughing like a maniac while installing this beauty
but hey the stench dissipated and I was left with this wonder

It does feel as though my ramblings are starting to ramble
so I am going to leave it there
and get back to attempting to revitalise some urban sketching skills
thanks to a fabulous photo that my friend Mary took on the 4th of July
if Sinus can show new skills then surely an electric badger can
minus the farting I hope
happy painting all ...

Friday, 4 July 2014

I Know It's Cheesy...

I know it is cheesy
but I feel grate...
and not just because I finally got to use that pun
which, quite frankly, I have been storing for months
but because this week I had all of my one year scans and CT's
and poor lefty was podded, poked and squished
by the last twenty remaining people in the city who hadn't previously done so
and after a very long few days waiting for results
I was given the all clear for my first milestone
No evidence of disease and no evidence that it has spread
so if that isn't reason to feel grate then I don't know what is

In celebration of one year down and just four to go to be called cured
I went all out and drew
my grater
which goes to show how seriously I wanted to use that pun
but of course it was a touch boring and weird looking sitting on the page alone
and I didn't feel like drawing cheese
that would be too cheesy and punny even for me
so the food processor got a run

I tried to process some puns that were appropriate 
but that is embarrassingly lame
and after I had drawn it I realised that I have this other grater thing that I could have drawn
which is actually really cool and brightly coloured and interesting shape
it would have been a much better piece of work
but it didn't occur to me until too late
and I am not so into the pun that I would start again
so it is a mildly boring take on such fabulous news

But it is fabulous news no matter how bland the celebratory drawing
and I satisfied my constant need for bright colour
 by redrawing my pencil box from the tutorial thing from Tuesday's post
well it almost satisfies it... but not quite
I am feeling the need for brighter, stronger colour so I am off to work on more perfume bottles
happy painting all...xx

linking to Paint Party Friday

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

How I Do It...

So here is a bit of a how I do it post....
I often get asked what steps I go through
and what I use to get to a finished drawing so I took some photos and scans as I went
well I sort of did... I kept forgetting
but that is probably a good thing or this would have been 50 photos long
but this is a bit of a basic run through

I started with my pencil box
it has the dreaded, disgusting marmite jar on the front
which was a smart arse gift from Sandra 
who has been engaging in vegemite vs marmite wars with me for some time now...
and while I would like to not have such an abomination on my desk
it holds my commonly used pens and pencils perfectly
which perhaps means she is perhaps winning the war... for now

I worked in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook for this one
though I often work on loose paper as well
and used my usual Uniball eye fine pen
which is called other eye related names , like Uniball Vision in other places
no clue why companies do that... seems unneccesarily complicated doesn't it

I use sizes 2 and 5 watercolour brushes
which I pretty much use for every piece of work that I do
I'm not fussy about brands as I tend to be a brush abuser
though one here is an Art Spectrum and the other is Winsor and Newton series 7
I  don't go for the really cheap ones... they never work as well
or stand up to the abuse so mid range brushes suit me

For paints I love the Koh-i-noor brilliant watercolour wheels
these are my everyday paints and I just blu-tak them onto an old plate to form my palette
this is a serious love too... up there with chocolate and tea type love
I have so many different types of watercolours
but these are my go to for pure pigment and ease

I add a splodge of payne's grey from a tube to the centre on one wheel
and a blob of permanent rose to the other
payne's grey has to be the most versatile colour ever
perfect for shadows, or deepening colours
and permanent rose is the ultimate pink and works wonderfully with colours like orange
so with those additions I am covered for almost anything I would want to paint
the Koh-i-noor's aren't lightfast in the long term
but for work in my sketchbook or work I am going to be scanning they work perfectly
you can't go past the clear brilliant colour

I start with a bit of an outline in pen
if I work in pencil I am a bit precious and tend to not concentrate and observe
so pen makes sure I don't drift off with the pixies mid drawing
I am looking for the correct angles like along the edges of the box
and once that is right then I have a reference point to line the pens up against

again I am looking at angles and work from the far left first getting in the first pen
then over the the far right and get the ones near that edge in
then back to the left if you know what I mean
If I work from just one side then I am likely to get the scale wrong
and run out of room with four pens left over
so I go back and forth and work towards the middle
in retrospect it might have been good to scan those steps to make it a bit clearer
but I am not great at the whole planning thing at times

Once I am happy with the general positions I strengthen the lines up a bit
adding a a few details as I go
at this stage I always start to see all the places I have done a dodgy job
but I have learned to like the dodgy bits
It took time to trust that it will turn out
and no it doesn't always work
but it is a bit of paper and some scratchy lines
hardly worth stressing over
my sketchbooks and drawers are filled with almost drawings, some of which are truly awful
but there are also drawings that I thought were rubbish
but with a bit of paint turned out just fine
I have learned not to judge them as I go
nothing could stand up to the sort of scrutiny we often apply to our art

First layer of paint is usually quite strong in application
I am looking for the strongest areas of colour and also putting in the main shadows
I am not too precious at this stage either
a lot of people get caught up in shadows
but I like to look at it in terms of colour
the colours are deeper in places, and lighter in others
and I try to get those basics down
I am constantly looking up from the page to the box
lots of quick looks
not lengthy gazing and contemplating
more subject , pallette, page... subject, palette,  page... 
and I am constantly cleaning my brush as I go... it is like a nervous tick...
swirl the brush and look at the subject
check the colour and get it on the page
the quicker the better at this point so I am not overthinking it

I then strengthen up all the colours a bit more and correct any glaring errors
basically by painting over them
and if it is really bad then I use some gouache
which is the magic eraser of the watercolour world
but there wasn't a lot of paint to add to this one so it was just bits and pieces
like on the left hand pen and the marker towards the back
but basically the paint is pretty much like the previous scan

once I am happy with the paint it is all about adding pen
I am looking at adding detail and shape with the lines
it isn't just an outline but more about finding the edges
and also reinforcing the shapes of things
the lines on the top of the clips have directional lines so our brain reads them as receding
and the slight curve in lots of lines on the pens gives them a bit of shape
I also make sure that the pens that are sitting behind others are a bit darker
so it is clearer that they are shadowed and it is at that point that the front ones always emerge

Finishing off is always about grounding it on the page
so I added the shadows to the right of the tin
and strengthened the shadows along the front, top edge of the tin
 which helped it pop forward a bit more
I then added some light washes of blue and purple into the shadow
which lifts it and adds a bit of interest to what would be a fairly bland drawing colour wise
which meant I added some to the background as well
but it was looking a bit flat
so I picked up touches of green in the background
which tied into the green on the tin
and it looked pretty finished so I called it done

I worked on all three of these at the one time
adding paint to one as another dried
and pen to another while the other two were drying
I love working on a few things at once
which may say something about my attention span
 and speaking of attention span
mine is being sorely tested by such a long post
so I am off to do some drawing
happy painting all...xx