Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas...

Phantom, Sinus and I hope you all have a magical holiday season filled with 
 a grand haul of gifts
  friends and family who think you are special
 a clear run to the checkouts at the grocery shop
 a house that magically cleans itself
no fail recipes and pinterest worthy wrapping
no traffic jams, or surly shop attendants
 a table laden with food that sends your least favourite relative home with a complex
fifty squillion fairy lights
quiet time to catch your breath
a never empty glass of something bubbly to calm the nerves
that the annoying uncle who drives you all nuts falls asleep at an opportune time
and most importantly
that no one gifts you slipper socks... or a foot spa... or regifts what you gave them last year

thanks you for being my tribe and making my life amazing
safe and happy holidays and happy painting xx

Friday, 18 December 2015

My Sort Of Christmas Colours...

The last few days have seen me pondering the whole christmas cheer thing
 I am a bit of a boots and all girl when it comes to Christmas usually
 the cookbooks come out early and complex and in depth menu planning commences
 which is then followed by me cooking the same things as usual of course
 the decorations go up, present lists are drawn up and all the bits and bobs get put out
 after all I like my Christmas to be served with a nice big old helping of kitch
 no colour coordinated, military operation here
 we have a crooked tree and weird and wonderful singing and moving animatronic things
we live in a mish mash of dodgy decorations and slightly sad strings of lights hung at a height that could take off your head if you aren't careful
which I can't tease Sinus about because it was just recent history where Phants and I ended up putting scorch marks on the ceiling of the dining room after our attempts to create a ceiling of fairy lights... turns out you can have too many fairy lights... who knew right
 but this year things haven't felt quite Christmassy
despite the fun challenge of a Christmas light obstacle course to get to the front gate

So I decided to attempt to paint myself into some Christmas cheer 
and every day has been all about the seasonal themed sketch to warm up
which saw me painting up some baubles the other day
followed by a deer head with some gold bits for lights
and it was mildly working... the first stirrings of humming carols started to emerge
and then I got an email suggesting it might feel a bit more Christmassy if I used Christmas colours because otherwise baubles just looked like balls with knobs on them
now I don't know about you but if you find your balls are bright colours and have knobs on them then you should get to the doc pronto because that just doesn't seem right
but that health warning aside it got me thinking
The whole red and green thing does my head in a touch
 and I have used it on occasion but it isn't my favourite pairing
and while I can go the white and icy blue as a great colour combo at any time
it just doesn't scream Christmas to me
for me Christmas has a whole other colour palette

To me Christmas isn't about red and green and snow scenes
I only see red and green together when I am cutting up watermelon
and the only ice is what goes into the blender for frozen margaritas or iced tea slushies
to me it is a season about the deep cerulean blue of the pool and the summer sky
the orange of mangos, peaches, apricots and papaya
not to mention that wonderful red/ orange/ pink of piles of prawns
it is the yellow of pineapples and the sun
the green of the bamboo and palm fronds, and pine lime splice ice blocks
it is the bright colours of the bougainvillea, frangipani trees
and deep pinks of the dragon fruit, and the purples of hydrangeas and agapanthus
it is the red of cherries and lychees
of getting sun kissed and burning your butt on the leather seats when you get in the car
it is the smell of bug spray, and sun tan lotion, the sound of pool splashes and cricket balls
it is all about Christmas cracker paper hats sticking to your sweaty forehead
and groaning at the bad jokes within those same crackers
it is being sticky from eating mangoes and trying to wade through the god awful humidity
and long afternoon naps before being woken by the rumble of afternoon storms
to me that is the sound and colour palette of Christmas and I am sticking with it

happy painting all...xx

PS I am very excited about this challenge next year... have you checked it out yet?

Friday, 11 December 2015


I decided this year was going to be about attempting to catch every opportunity tossed my way... it turned out that that led to things being beyond mad for most of the year. I have been trying to keep all sorts of creative balls in the air for the last two months especially, and it was inevitable that they would all come crashing down in a heap. I am no good at juggling at the best of times, and  suckers were coming at me like I was in one of those crazy ball enclosures in a play centre. I was drowning in the things. But the great thing is that now I get to decide which balls I want to pick up again. 

painting for me is totally going to be a priority. painting up this watercolour peony was just so perfectly fabulous... I am not letting that drop off again.

plus I am going to focus on more teaching... I really loved teaching delicious paint this year, and I have two others in the works plus a couple of free tutorials and things, so it is exciting to know that 2016 will be all about the classes. If you want to be kept up to date on all the info with them then scroll up to the top of the sidebar and sign up for my newsletter... I promise it won't be coming out too often and spamming your inbox... 

The other big thing I am going to keep doing is the large abstracts that a designer now stocks... I love seeing them in the shop and they are great fun to create... so it is in the mix

So all of this means that time is looking a bit full so I have decided to scale back the illustration and only take on jobs that I really want to do. A couple of companies are so amazing to work with and I love doing work for them so they will continue for as long as they want me, but otherwise I am only taking on jobs that really excite me

The print shop and all that will happen as it happens, and the housework is also being de prioritised as always... it is time to step out of the ball pit and get painting... I am working on scaling up the peony watercolour onto a 3 ft square canvas... it is just starting to emerge
happy painting all...xx

Friday, 27 November 2015

Toasty tongs...

  You know how some people handle being busy with style and grace
 they sort of cruise through it all with all the elegance of a swan gliding on a calm lake
 well that isn't me... I handle it with the same sort of grace as a cat thrown in a pool
 I hiss and freak out, flailing about like a mad thing until I make it to the other side
and then I emerge bedraggled, tired and rather sorry for myself 
Not that I would ever throw a cat in a pool so I am not entirely sure how they would handle it
 but I think it is safe to say they might not be entirely happy.
The last month has been the busiest of my creative life
I have been balancing illustration work, with a huge order of canvases for a designer and a couple of commissions thrown in so it has been quite a ride
but I am happy that the pace is now slowing 
and I have time to appreciate the small things again
like the greatest invention ever... toast tongs

I bloody love these things
I seem to have rather sensitive little fingers
which is not ideal when combined with the truly nuclear temperatures 
that both rice bread and gluten free bread reach when toasted
those slices are hot like they have been toasted on the side of a volcano or the sun, 
or on the black leather seats after the car has been roasting
 in a concrete car park with no shade for ten hours
and my poor little fingers kept getting burnt 
which led to cussing and dancing around the kitchen like a mad thing
but no longer... now I am plucking those little slices of hellfire with abandon

Yes I could have used normal tongs or chopsticks 
though chopsticks are a bit like socks in our house and mysteriously love being single
but his little eggy type face makes me smile
and he is perfectly suited to the task at hand
the only thing that could make him better would be if they managed to somehow incorporate a teeny tiny whoopee cushion into him so when you plucked those slices of pure molten horror from the toaster it made a fart noise... now that would elevate it to genius
happy painting all...xx

 PS... happy thanksgiving to all my US friends...

Friday, 13 November 2015

The Warm- Up Sketch...

Do you remember a couple of months ago I said I had been busier than a blue arsed fly?
 Well that was nothing.
 The last two weeks been crazy busy, hugely fun, completely out of control
 and totally glorious
my brain has been a bit all over the place and jumping from project to project
which led to me drawing this into my sketchbook upside down
but I kind of like it just like that actually

as glorious as it has been it hasn't exactly been blogging friendly
and I haven't had much time for painting just for the fun of it
but the work has been fun so that is ok... sort of
I really miss my friends and blogging when things get a bit mad...
However I did start this little number as a warm up this morning
well it started as a little number
and then it sort of grew until it is kind of large
but I will need warm ups for the next few days so it will pull double or even triple duty...

I love using warm up sketches to start my day
as I get to draw out  any creative stiffness and loosen up and get into the groove
these sort of projects that are a mix of loose paint, and line
with careful, observed tone are just perfect
because it hits all the skills I am going to be using later in the day
plus they often turn out as some of my favourite sketches
amazing what happens when you have no expectations isn't it
now I just have to hope I don't muck this up over the coming days...

happy painting all...xx

Friday, 30 October 2015

My Week In Progress...

So the whole creative whiplash situation got a bit mad during the week
 I have a tendency to wildly overestimate the amount I can take on and get done
 and it usually end up with me covered in paint and muttering like a madwoman
 while the house dissolves into a mess of unwashed clothes
 half arsed cooking, and a mess of dust bunnies take up residence
 but having said that I still got a shite lot done 
so maybe there is something to be said for impossible lists
I'm not saying that my sanity is intact
or that I have been a complete ray of sunshine
but hey that list took quite a beating so let's say it was a positive week

 Helping me through the whole glorious mess was a few little treats
 like this raw chocolates from Loving Earth, which were awesomely delicious
who knew that healthy type chocolate could be so freakin delicious
plus I got to sugar up on some Arizona iced tea
Now let me explain that a bit because we have been heading down the sugar free road
well not sugar free entirely, let's call our efforts somewhat sugar free
so to have one of these iced teas was like injecting the stuff directly into my veins.
I was hopped up like a toddler who has scoffed a bucketful of red food colouring
I had a chipmunk voice happening and I swear my hair was actually dancing on my head
it was pretty full on actually

The reason I subjected myself and my loved ones to a mad sugar high like that is because
I have a bit of a ritual for each quarterly cancer testing results appointment
because no matter how good you feel and how much you know all is going great
there is always that little whisper at the back of your brain saying maybe the cancer is back
which kind of leads to a stressful few days coming into getting the results
So my ritual for when I get yet another all clear I usually treat myself to an iced tea
it is kind of weird how important those rituals become to getting through the whole process
and I do wish I had a more interesting ritual, maybe one involving getting a massage, or being showered with gifts and and things like that
but the upshot is that I am not very accustomed to the sugar these days
so this was like crazy sweet
and now I am at a bit of a loss loss as to what to do next quarter.
I am not sure I want to face the sugar buzz again
so maybe I will settle for painting the bottles instead

So in between all that fun and games 
I managed to get quite a bit done on a big order of large abstract canvases
there is still a way to go
and 3 foot square canvases are quite a challenge, but it is a fun way to spend the days
I sit outside and paint with a bucket of tea and my ipod jammed in my ears
It is actually quite lovely with the fresh air and breeze 
the only downside is that if I'm not looking at the canvases
 then I am looking at the garden/ jungle which is inspiring a lot of thoughts and ideas based around foliage and those luscious big leaves I am surrounded by
and so the large watercolour at the top of the post is underway
in fact I am going to get back to it now

happy painting all...xx

Friday, 23 October 2015

Creative Whiplash...

To say it has been a manic ten days is an understatement
 I have been alternating illustration work, with some commissions
 and also preparing work for high res scanning to make high quality prints for the website
 plus I have been working on some large abstract-ish canvases for an exciting project
 painting abstracts is something I used to love, but it has been a while
 plus is the total opposite to everything else I have been doing
 which is sort doing the old noggin in big time

One minute I am working in a very controlled manner and working on realism
considering line, light and shade and all that good stuff
painting up this blue leaf for example
then I am printing it out and playing with hand inking them for future prints
I kind of like the idea that even prints can be individual and all a bit unique
then the next minute I am splashing paint like there is no tomorrow
thinking blocks of colour and texture, light and mood
I am getting creative whiplash in a major way
but that is half of the fun right

everything in my day is about opposites
mornings are in the studio working relatively small... A4 to A3 in size
working on keeping my eye in and controlled work
watercolours, and fine brushes, working from light to dark
then afternoons are out on the deck working on 90cm (36") square canvases and bigger
acrylic paint and big brushes and working dark to light
it is like I am two people
but it is kind of fun too...  like serious fun
that kind of maniacal cackling fun
which given our closeness to Halloween seems appropriate
though it may get a touch creepy in a few weeks

My days have taken on a sort of insane creative madness at the moment
I leave teacups all over the house
I don't know whether I am Arthur or Martha, or perhaps some other person I've not even met
my clothes are paint splattered, the floor is lightly speckled
my hair is a birds nest that needs a good hedge trimmer taken to it
my brain hurts half the time, but it is all bloody glorious

The only real downside to creative whiplash and working on large canvases  
is the whole getting them from the art shop into the car
I am not the tallest person and it is decidedly windy today so getting two 3 x 5 foot canvases into the car earlier was quite the experience
I almost took off at one stage
those things are like giant bloody windcatchers
happy painting all.. xx

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

My Week On A Page #11 and #12...

This week I am posting two weeks on a page
 well two weeks... each on a separate page... not two weeks on a single page
 or maybe two pages of weeks on a page
 it is all very confusing to tell you the truth
 but here they are...

 the week just gone was an easy one
 because it is all about the brushes
 I have been painting large again, making a glorious mess
 and getting back to abusing some old favourite brushes
and it has been all consuming so they had to be the stars of the show

Last week was more familiar in style
and I have no clue why I didn't post it
so here it is a week late

too many... coffees with Phants
loving... tea in the huge mug from ikea
coveting... Phant's new sneakers
in love with... Palm House Candle from Laura Ashley
eating.... too many little Gems from Organic Times
smelling.... pineapples

happy painting all...xx

Friday, 9 October 2015

A New Path, Wordy Work In Progress...

As many of you know I have been heading off into all sorts of new directions this year. I made a deal with myself during treatment for cancer to take opportunities and just see where they led me, so it has been quite the ride in lots of ways. I have taken on lots of illustration projects... some huge, some small, most challenging, some I could share, like the amazing teas which are shown below, which totally fell into the fun side of the illustration ledger, and lots of others weren't shareable which has led to there being a lot less work shown on the blog etc. Most of the projects have been fun and challenging and the learning curve was really steep at times, an ant jogging up a mountain steep, but it has been pretty positive, except for one thing... it takes a crazy amount of my time. I work ridiculous hours now and life is one huge juggling act, and I cannot juggle people. I can barely catch one ball let alone the five squillion I have in the air all the time. Add to that launching a website and the opening of the etsy shop and some cracks have started appearing... not little cracks either, more like gaping canyons that need ladders lashed together to get over. I have not been an easy camper to live with at times, and while I still believe I have managed to be the innately charming soul I think have always been, it may have been a stretch to say that I haven't been prone to more than a few moments of behaving like a surly sod.

I am just going to say it... I am not a huge Etsy fan...not because I have only sold one print since it opened a few weeks ago, because I do believe that I would have sales in time because I have sold so many prints over the years, but it is lots of little things... these things are too numerous to discuss as this is wordy enough already, and I know a lot of people have a lot of success there, but it doesn't sit so well with me. I had set up a website as a hub for illustration, classes etc, and the Etsy store doesn't fit easily within it... the pricing structures don't encourage the really high quality prints I would want to buy myself etc... and don't get me started on the need to bombard your Instagram feed etc with your products... it just doesn't feel like me... and I was stressed... seriously stressed... I was finding I had little no time to make any art for myself, for blogging or visiting blogging friends, and I have so many emails waiting for replies I considered actually turfing the computer in the pool and saying it was hit by a freak wave. Instead of painting and doing stuff that makes me bearable to the people who have to live with me, I found myself working on marketing plans and the like, and I am crap at all that... I just don't like it, but I was rolling along sort of half hanging in there, busy being stressed and thinking this is the path at the moment etc. But then in quick succession a few things have happened to make me question that it is the path.

Just for the hell of it I got some professional standard scans and prints done, and the quality was just so lovely, like perfectly lovely.... They were just so much nicer and I was proud of them, and would happily hang them on my wall. Are they pricier....yep... would they be hard to sell on Etsy... dear god yes... do I care... nope... I love the higher quality. I was madly wondering how to go about restructuring etc when an opportunity to apply to sell through a great platform that I love came up... the downside was they require only professional quality prints, which is hardly a downside after seeing the difference a great quality print makes... I can sell through my own website as well, so I was starting to feel a bit excited. I may actually have found the perfect platform... well as perfect as it can be in a commercial setting. Will I look like a bit of a goose because I just set up the Etsy shop, and all that.... probably... but I would rather be a happy goose, than a miserable one so the application process has begun. My nerves are shot, and I am juggling three illustration jobs at the same time, but it is all exciting and it feels more right if you know what I mean.

This was promptly followed by an out of left field opportunity to do with my painting... like a once in a blue moon chance that made my heart beat faster and has started an avalanche of painting ideas erupting out of every orifice like crazy. I have spent months saying I will have time for them soon, and taking illustration jobs, but all of a sudden I have to choose. I have to decide whether to wind back illustration... I have some contracts I have to honour, and there are some companies that I love working with and wouldn't change that for the world, but I can't do anywhere near the number of jobs I do now and chase the painting opportunity. It isn't really a contest and even though the chances of pulling it off are kind of slim-ish concerning this new opportunity I am taking it with both hands baby. Paint is starting to fly, my brain is fizzing and I actually feel happy... well happy and scared shiteless all rolled into one. So I have been playing with Inktober when I can squeeze it in, doing some watercolours like the coral and leaf above. These are very much works in progress at this stage, but I want to play a bit and start getting some painting mojo back while sketchbooks are filling with thumbnails and ideas and canvases are being primed. I am facing very little sleep in the next few weeks, but what else is new... So I am now a new path, work in progress, happy goose facing possible failure and creative humiliation on an epic scale... which adds up to all being right in the world in my books... 
happy painting all.. xx

Friday, 2 October 2015

Some Inspired Random Thoughts...

Inspired by Kristin, our intrepid PPF leader's Wednesday post
I am sharing some random thoughts as well...

my long suffering paint splattered keyboard died during the week
but the new/old one I am using has a very clattery sounding keyboard
which makes me feel kind of efficient and typist worthy

I can't type to save myself

I bought this little collection of gorgeous tea cups from T2 to give as gifts
but now I am have been madly drawing and painting them 
I am thinking it might be rude to send them on now
or is it?

I am the worst bagel slicer in the world

Sinus is living up to his nickname at the moment

I painted my lightbox mint green
not sure it was a genius move as photoshop seems to hate it
or maybe photoshop is just tired of my dodgy photography 
and is spitting the dummy so to speak

a dummy is our name for a binky or pacifier to my US friends

Phantom said something so funny yesterday when we were at the mall
I snorted my green juice
that is not a pretty sight coming out of your nose in public let me tell you

I have a collection of half dead pens that I love
because it means that I can draw and get nice scratchy lines

I love my new phone a scary amount

I am attempting to set up photos of my prints for the etsy shop
and using props and things
this may not be my greatest talent lol

But the candle smells incredible
like good enough to eat incredible

but I won't be snacking on it any time soon
because it is time to get back to it
happy painting all...xx

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

My Week On A Page # 9 ...

My week on a page in tea and infusers...
 Earl of Grey in a lollipop infuser
   Oolong in the dagger
  Boulder Breakfast in the Tardis
 Pink Lemonade Green in the birdy
 Earl Of Grey again in the strawberry
 Summer in Provence in the little weird yellow thingy
 White Tea with Cucumber in the heart
 they grew across the page each day like a line up
 and I can't see a line up without thinking about The Usual Suspects
happy painting all...xx

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Big Drip...

I have been known to have flighty weeks every now and again
  okay... pretty regularly if I am completely honest
  but this week has been all over the place mentally
  I haven't been able to settle to any one thing 
  my brain has been flitting from thought to thought like a hummingbird on roids

I blame the drippy chairs for this sad state of affairs
I have spent all week trying to work out how to scale them up and paint larger versions
without having to do the whole soak and stretch paper to keep it flat
but have been plagued by paper buckles
which could be graded from mild in some cases all the way through to truly mountainous
I could try the old iron and heavy book trick
but I am always scared of doing that and the whole possible burning down the house thing
so I am trying to find just the right combination of paper weight and paint application
these paintings take a lot of moisture to create 
and finding the right combination is meaning lots of experimenting
which is never a bad thing, though there has been moments of insane frustration
followed quickly by awesome yowzer moments, followed by more frustration
ahhh the joys the are the rollercoaster of creation right

I could have made my life easier
and used the 640 gr hot pressed paper that I favour for huge watercolours
those suckers take more abuse than any paper known to man
and stay so flat and perfect it is mildly freaky
but for some reason in my brain I decided that it just wasn't white enough
so I have tried creating them with different papers
both stretched and unstretched
thick smooth white paper in 5 different weights and brands,
 and even a lighter weight paper... as if that was ever going to bloody work
and finally even had a play on Yupo
but to be honest Yupo sort of does my head in a bit
something about that plastic surface just feels mildly wrong

I even tried different paints
high pigmented ones
normal ones
and finally even the Peerless liquid colours
I even hunted out some inks
and played with different combinations of all of the above
the studio has been looking like some giant threw up paint everywhere
my hands look like I am wearing technicolour gloves
and most of the clothes I have worked in this week
have little dots of colour splattered in lovely outlines
courtesy of my apron just not being up to the task

so these are the closest I have gotten to results that don't make my brain hurt
Of course you know what I am going to do next don't you
yep this morning I have pulled out the 640 gr paper
and it is quite white actually
so I am going to get in and do some on there
which is what I should have done in the first place
but then where would be the fun in that
happy painting all...xx

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

My Week On A Page #8...

dreaming of a Mexican themed Christmas 
No Mexican Christmas would be compete without ceramic cacti right 

scoffing...Phantom's pecan biscuits/cookies

Loving... My Steep and Go iced tea tumbler

Coveting... Tiny tea cups
I bought them for presents and now really want to keep them

Adoring... Spring poppies

Friday, 18 September 2015

Things I Love...

There are a lot of things that I love
  Tea, chocolate, Sinus and Phantom
  Not necessarily in that order
  Sometimes Sinus is rather annoying

But here is a bit of a list of others...

I love drinks with umbrellas in them
Doesn't matter what they are 
They could be turkey gizzard smoothies with a sprinkling of dead ants
But if it has an umbrella then I am going to be smacking many lips like crazy

I love the mini horse down the road
 it is elusive to spot
but makes my day everytime I see it

I love the word synecdoche 
I also like the words, trope, bouillabaisse and antiestablishmentarian

I love the banner I made for the website and etsy shop
no clue how to attach it in the right size etc
but love it none the less

Novelty duct tape
especially duct tape that has ducks on it... duck duct tape is a perfect item

I looove the bottom sheet of the bed to be perfectly smooth and tight
Like crazy smooth and tight
Forget bouncing a coin on that sucker
I want to be able to bounce an elephant
Or a small car
Top sheets can do what they like but the bottom sheet has to be perfect

They make my ovaries quiver

My sunburst granny squares
great colours and haphazard crochet all rolled into one

Lip balm
Burts Bees peppermint lip balm to be exact
I have always been lip balm crazy
The misplacement of such item is a cause for search parties
raised blood pressure and panicked voices in our house

I would love lip balm with GPS markers built in

yes it is a Bruce Springsteen song but I love Glen Hansard
and he is backed by Eddie Vedder... doesn't get much better than that
I would drive all night again...Just to buy you some shoes.... 
Why thank you very much Glen... I take a size ten
yes I have whopping huge feet... get over it


I love creaming butter and sugar together
Always the start of great baking
but also there is something about the grainy, lumpy beginning
Turning into that light smooth loveliness that is satisfying

I love segmenting oranges, or grapefruits
you get that fan type membrane insides left that you can flap about a bit
Weirdly fun

And my new pineapple mason jar drinking cup thing
I drew it up as part of my Week on a Page from Tuesday...
If I could work out how to add an umbrella to it it would be perfect

Happy painting all... xx