Saturday, October 31, 2009


I have been superbusy with work this week, getting ready to travel next week. Plus, I had to make decisions about what paintings to enter in the local art prize contest. It was hard to make a decision on just one, so I have entered two (up to three entries per person were allowed). Rules are that they have to have been painted in the past year, and both of these have been.

I had to also decide the name for the lion painting, because I had not yet named it ! It is now titled The Guardian.

I am missing Spring Waratahs already. The new waratahs painting is there as a placekeeper, but it is a bit smaller (30 x 40 instead of 36 x 48...inches !). It does not fill the space as well. And it is not done yet. But after I work on it each day and it is dry, I prop it up in that space, because the wall looked lonely and sad without its colorful painting.

Ian helped me remove the wire hanger on the Spring Waratahs and put the contest spec "strong cord" on it and the lion. I filled out my entry forms and yesterday drove to submit them. There were already a lot of paintings and art work in the "holding" area. There was screening to make sure entries were compliant with all the rules. Mine were and I paid the entry fees and the paintings were whisked away and put in the holding area. There were big piles of entry forms I saw...and with 6 and half hours to go for submitting artwork in the contest, they may have had lots more entries. So perhaps it will be a big field.

There will be a selection for the artwork that will be in this exhibition. And the announcement of which ones make it is just an hour after my flight leaves next week ! So I will have to wait that whole long flight, until I reach LA and then need to see if I can find somewhere to check the outcome.

More tomorrow...I am painting today, but nothing all that fun. I am doing the walls above the bathroom tiles ! But it has come out nicely, and looks very good. Another thing to cross off the to do list.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I did a bit on the greens of the waratah trio painting...and will be doing plenty more. But here is a preview of it, just getting stuck into adding a lot of green into the painting and also working mostly the shadows and background foliage today. Some of it will be a bit blurred, because it is pushed way back and out of focus. But it is a bit fun to do, though it still requires some thought about what marks will suggest the right depth, color and shape. Decisions, decisions !

And today is my daughter Katy's birthday, she has completed her first quarter century, here's to many more for her ! I baked a rum raisin cheesecake (from scratch, using a special recipe !) this weekend for her birthday cake. She was here last night and really loved the cake (she and Ian gave it a 10 out of 10 rating score, not bad...) We had a lovely dinner with her in early celebration. Tonight she is out with friends at the 'Flying Squirrel,' a popular tapas bar in the Bondi Beach area :)

Happy BDay Kat !

Saturday, October 24, 2009


After what seemed like heaps of chores, I got to do some painting on the waratahs composition. Today I concentrated on reds. Permanent alizarin, cadmium red medium, and my favorite rose madder deep/ The rose madder is a red with some real oomph to it !

Today's task was to add definition to the main flower, the one on the left. The mddle one is in the background and I will not be doing much more detail on it. The one on the right is the secondary subject and it gets some detail. Most of that is pretty good already, I just worked on its lower petals. The top of that flower is in pretty good shape.

The main focus flower on the left needed quite a bit of work, and I spent an hour and a half on it easily. For the dark tones, I mixed alizarin with a bright green, and got a neutralised red. Later on I used a wash of raw umber and gloss medium to add more depth to areas of the flower.

Pretty happy with today's Reds Session. Tomorrow's session will be Greens.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lion 2 Done !

Today brought very exciting progress...Lion #2 is done ! Yeay !!

Here is the lion and also his last palette. He is in the upstairs studio now, having gotten his glaze coat this evening, it will be dry by morning. I like glazing in the upstairs studio, because no pussy cats have regular access and it is nice and dry and still up there now.

I had a leave day today, so
got the lion done early. And so I did a little color study of some flowers I have for a commission I will be working on late November (earlier if I can). The flowers have all been photographed and a composition has been selected. But since I will be away most of November on business travel, I thought some color studies would be a good idea to do up, while I have the flowers still fresh here to study from life and in good light. They are yellow roses and dark blue delphiniums.

Here is a close up of the delphiniums, such a deep bright blue, with only a bit of violet in it. In this close up, the petals have little striations...I will be working on capturing a bit of those. The backs of the flowers have a long spikey shaped back petal that is deep blue violet and has a papery texture to it, very pretty.

I did a color study of both roses and delphiniums in acrylics, which is what will be used for the painting featuring them, though not much detail is shown in the roses. It was about getting the colors right, especially the vivid blues and yellows. I am happy with it, I have the right colors here, plus white will be added on petals that are in the light, etc. And I also did some more little paintings of the delphiniums in acrylics, to get the hang of how to create their petals in small swirling strokes of the paint brush and that show nice texture.

More on the weekend, when I really dig into the waratahs painting, maybe with some impasto !

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Patterns & Textures

Here are a few textures and patterns featuring in my latest photo imports. These are being captured for backgrounds, inspirations, and other influences for artistic work.

First some industrial textures and patterns. Turns out I have a rich local source for some of these images, in Ian's garage ! The very cool toothed gears are part of one of the lathes (the big one). And then there is some metal "junk," or so I thought. I was corrected on this one, it is a box of nuts. The shadows came out with lots of electric blues in them too.

A bright and airy pattern, in a cheerful yellow green citrusy hue. A bamboo and timber birdcage, that is starting to sneak into some photo shoots. It makes a nice backdrop prop, adding an interesting color.

Behind the old pocket watch dials is text from an old dictionary. Lovely font and makes an excellent backdrop for vintage photos.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Colors

Hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend. Mine is full of vivid color and thoughts of colors I will use for projects or just to have around to be delightful and pleasing to the eye.

From a fruit bowl on the table, lovely warm colors.

I have paints to organise. And I do find it easier to find things if they are at least put away in some nice order. So my boxes of paints have them as you see here, grouped by color. Though, when in use, they get quite mixed up on the worktable at times.
Palettes get ordered too, but I am far from pedantic about my palette having certain colors in certain places. I put the paint on next to other paints I know I will be mixing with that color, for ease of mixing. I try to keep dark and light colors on separate sides, to keep white clean and dark from muddying things up.

Here is a lovely scarf by Leanne of Rainbow Revolution. She makes awesome colored scarves, wraps, and more. She is doing a custom scarf in silk netting for me and I have ordered some rainbow striped socks too. Check out her etsy store to see more of her uplifting color work !

And here a project I am working on, a baby quilt. Stripes that will be done in a lovely rainbow like sequence !

As a child I kept my crayons in order of the rainbow, or other color progressions. I recently bought a box of 64 Crayolas, the first I have had in many years. An impulse buy for reminiscing perhaps ?! Was a bit disappointed to find the colors not in rainbow or color order as expected when I opened the box, they were scrambled around...and also some classics have been swapped out for new colors with snazu names like "awesome" (a neon red), "giving tree" (bright green), and "super happy" (a bright lemon yellow). It has been decades since I bought a box of Crayolas, and obviously much has happened since I sorted my blue violet and violet blue crayons just so ! As you can see, I put the crayons back in the box next to their color relative friends ! The crayons of my world are happy like this :)

What color makes you happy today ?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I need to paint another big waratahs painting, because I want to enter it or the oneI painted last December that is hanging in the our kitchen in a local art competition. I will also enter the big lion I did earlier this year and he is ready to be entered and hopes to make the cut for the exhibition.

Meanwhile, I do not want to remove the waratahs from the kitchen and have a blank wall ! The painting there is just so lovely and fills the space with color and uplifting energy and many people who have seen it have made admiring comments about it there. I can't bear the thought of no painting there. So I decided to do a new waratahs composition, almost as big (30 " x 40") instead of 36" x 48" of the one I did last December).

Waratahs have been available recently. I did not want to do the same exact composition I did before, so I got a few of them a few weeks ago and did a new photo shoot of them (I have learned a lot about photographing flowers since the waratahs photo shoot I did last year). I chose a very nice photo with three flowers in it, one fadey in the background and one very crisp in foreground detail. The other in between in terms of focus and detail. The shapes of the petals appealed and so it won the composition contest here !

I sketched it this afternoon and decided to start painting by blocking in the background. Don't usually start that way, but it was effective. I used a big house painting style of paint brush. That is a totally fun way to get a new painting started, especially for work on a large canvas. It gets the paint on there fast and it is easy to get swept away in the excitement of creating the foundation for the new painting !

Then I set up greens on the palette and lots of gloss medium and did my leaves and greenery. At this point, I really wanted to capture some feeling and movement, plus good tonal variation. It was fun and exciting to work fast to capture what my right brain saw, and not think it through much at all.
Then when done with greens, I rinsed the palette and did my reds and some pinks. Alizarin, rose madder, napthol red and some rose pink, plus white. I had a bit of green to mix in to create a dark neutralised red for my darks. It took two passes with the reds. I always enjoy this early stage and allow the paint to drip and make a bit of a mess. I will keep and develop some of those marks made early on, others will be painted over in time.

And then I surveyed my work and am very happy to have captured some of the drama I wanted to with these gorgeous flowers, which are really stunning. I have lots to do. This is just my underpainting, but I am very happy with it as a start, I have my navigation points in the painting and a very good foundation. I will be using acrylics for this painting, with impasto. It (or the oils of Spring Waratah's in the kitchen) needs to be entered on 30 October. When this is done, a decision of which one will be entered will have to be made.

Stay Tuned !

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I am still learning so many things. I spent part of the afternoon styling and photo- graphing flowers, to add to my photo library. I really need my own compositions, having decided I do not want to paint things that aren't my own compositions (a commission to paint a customer's photo or preferred image would be ok though, because that is theirs and I would not paint that again for anyone else). So I need to create my own, I can't buy photos that are someone else's vision, unless I was going to do some really creative work to add or integrate it into something else (e.g. make a new composition or image !).

I originally intended to go right out, get my flowers and a vase shaped like an urn like I wanted...and then to just make it all happen ! Well, first the flowers I wanted (peonies or David Austin roses) are not yet available. So, I would wait until late November and order flowers I want then (when expected to be in season here). I hadn't found the right vase or urn yet anyhow.

Then on other errands, a vase practically found me ! Yeay :) It even had a chicken wire topiary sort of topper that could be used with it (or not) and that I think I will use at the holiday for a dessert table centre piece, because it has a big tree-ish shape and I can put pretty decorations in the wire form. And where I got it, there is also a possible opportunity to exhibit and sell some paintings on consignment ! So very good-oh.

I brought the vase home and figured I would be doing floral arranging in it in several weeks time...then I was at a market and saw some flowers that inspired me to give a them a try. Ranunculus and Lisianthus. The lisianthus were blushing, with pale shell pink blushes on the petals (very nice) and a few were an ivory color. The ranunculus are coral, peachy and pale citrus colors. Very nice, looked really good together. I got a bit of a trailing flower I can't recall the name of, resembles slightly a lily of the valley, but sturdier. I bought a bottle of moscato wine too, a sparkling pale rose color refreshing dessert or aperitif wine, because it seemed to go with the flowers (you could call me an opportunist !)

The ranunculus were not open enough to photograph yesterday. They were better today and maybe I will have another go tomorrow too. Here are my initial photos, some have come out very well. I played around with different backdrops and props. But the best ones were just featuring these stunning flowers.

I still have heaps more to learn about: 1) styling flowers 2) photographing flowers 3) finding the right balance for a fantastic composition and 4) editing my photos. But each photo shoot I do, gets a bit better. The DSLR camera is so easy to use, I shoot several hundred shots and then have a critique and review. After a week I will have one more of those and pare down the photo shoot pics, discarding probably 80%... keeping a couple dozen really good shots. If there are more, I could keep more...but it is overwhelming to look at so many. I have to write down the keepers to find them (though sometimes it is pretty obvious). As an extra exercise, I ask myself why the keepers rated better than the rest. This is to make sure I LEARN how to do better photos and compositions next time !

Continuous improvement going on here. And I still have to paint some of these ! Stay tuned. I have a queue of things to work on, but some of these florals will come up for a paint before long.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It has been raining lots here...Steady and every day for over a week, seems like forever. But we need the rain and so do inland areas, that should get more this coming week. Important and welcome. Meantime, our water tanks are full, the garden is well hydrated and the regular rain is hopefully adding to local reservoirs.

Yesterday after the rain, we got an awesome rainbow, the first I have seen in our back yard. I have seen some up the road here before, and even one with a set of reflections so complete that it was a "double" rainbow. But rarely is the rainbow in a place and time I can photograph it. This one was and I got a couple good pics of it !

And then, a totally serendipitous sight I saw ! I looked outside and saw a yellow balloon floating past our yard, passing right by where the rainbow had been. It looked as if it had happily escaped and was having a lovely flight. I almost missed snapping a pic of it, but got it before it disappeared from view as it continued its flight journey ;)

It's hard not to be optimistic and cheerful about seeing rainbows and wayward but happy looking balloons on journeys !

Today I have had to do errands. Tomorrow I paint !

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Break in the Rain

The rains cleaned off the red dust from the creamy white flannel flowers blooming by the mailbox. I photographed them in the morning, when we got a sunny break between storms. Got some bonus shots of two visitors. A ladybird (ladybug if you are in America, they are the same, just referred to as Ladybirds in Australia). And a bee ! I was surprised to see the bee, usually they are on the lavenders, which are dotted all around the garden. But after the rain, the bees were visiting many of the garden flowers.

Above right is the rose bush I refer to as the garden champion. I got excellent photos of its roses in two successive days of photo shoots in various light and also with some props I found around the house, including one of the cherubs in the cute miniature cherub statue I have. It is perfectly sized to photograph with the small champion roses.

I did some work on finalizing the Paris Lion, His paw is almost right and his platform got more work and fine tuning. He got more rust here and there too. The background got some good work too and is about right. I darkened his back shoulder that falls in shadows and it came out well without undoing the nice warmer tones I had put in. He got more light painted on to his face and mane where the sun shines brightest. He is very close to ready. Maybe one or two very small fine tuning areas to address, then he will be done !

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Almost !

It is raining steady rain showers, soon our water tanks will be full again. They were down to a bit under 20% capacity. Now already 2/3 or so full. We let the first rains wash the red dust from the icky dust squalls of last week off the roof and gutters before we connected the guttering back into the tanks. It's good, we need rain...we have had a couple days and expect another week of rain.

I have Almost finished the Paris Lion. He got a lot of light handed detail work today. I thought I could finish him today, but then at this stage in things I always think that. No, he needs another day of work. Real fine tuning, light embellishments on him and his statue platform and on his background too. But before stopping today I did paint in a wash of shadows on the background, which is a moody afternoon scene with dappled shade of late autumn (late November to be precise). Another thing I did was introduce some rust to the painting ! That was very exciting, because the Paris Lion has had a restrained palette of beiges and darker colors for the background and Verdigris colors plus dark shadows for the lion and his platform. It was nice to have a new color to introduce and it helped give the painting some additional dimension.

This lion has been done more yellow green verdigris than the Chicago Lion, which was very blue is just the colors he wanted, I took my cues from his personality. The Paris Lion has suggested his colors too. Interestingly, he had previously suggested a deep teal for some of the shadows on his back and sides. It was a great idea, an exciting addition. Today he suggested some real limey green colors for his shadows. I gave it a go and really liked it, the yellow green warms up the shadows and is interesting to see. I toned it down a bit in places with some grey and raw umber. And one area needs a bit of knocking back tomorrow. And it looked great with the rust I touched in to some of the crevices of the lion's self and shadows. Painting in the rust stains on his platform was fun too. The rust stands out against verdigris. I love how it looks !

I also put in some white highlights where the sun shines on the statue. It seems like this is enough, but on reflecting from more distance or from the camera image, I need to do more. This was also the case with the Chicago Lion, but at the end I got the sunlight on him looking good. So more to do tomorrow !

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Secret Admirers

I have spent a rainy Saturday getting flowers and wine...then coming home to do a big flower photo shoot. One photo shoot is for photos to use in a painting for a competition. Another is to add to my photo library some additional shots of roses (I need more, in many colors). The last set of photo shoots was a set of preliminary compositions for a commission that features a floral still life with particular colors.

The roses are not market bought. They are garden ones, that come from what I call the Champion Rose Bush in this garden. It blooms first, continuously and vigorously, and last. Its small-medium size flowers are a bit loose and unremarkable in summer (they fade and open very quickly, then lose petals), but in spring and autumn, its blooms open to be very pretty with more pink on them than in summer. We got storms last night, so I decided I had best collect the nice blooms on that rose bush before they got ruined by storms. Though, with Rose Grazers in the house, I had to bring a big sacrificial bloom in for Winston....who was waiting at the door to see what flowers I brought him. I gave him one and put the nice ones in a vase and popped it in the fridge until today, as photo shoots of flowers are best done in natural light. I did get some nice shots today and one of them is shown above. I will be doing some paintings of these I think, very cheerful and springlike. Photographed in contemporary close ups and also in more traditional still life styles in vase.

When I was doing the photo shoot of the roses, I had some Secret Admirers come visit ! First Winston, who can't resist roses. I did not allow him to linger and graze however ( I know he will graze the roses heartily, which will ruin them)

Then Pook got up and came and checked them out too. Maggie did as well, but did not stick around to be caught on camera (she is shy of being photographed). Pook loves being on camera. So after I shushed him away from thoughts of tasting the petals, he stayed awhile and posed. He is a good cat model !
Pity these are small roses and a small vase, Pook is totally out of proportion to them, he looks like a Giant Lilac Burmese next to the dinky arrangement. (I have photographed him with bigger roses before with great results !) If not for that, I could use one of the photos with him and the pink roses for a painting... !

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lemon Studies

Our neighbours gave us a bag of lemons yesterday and I was pleased to see some had leaves and stems attached on them still. I had not painted with oils in a while, so late this afternoon, I got out a palette and oil paints, turps and some oil medium and decided to paint a couple of small studies of the lemons with leaves. I hadn't done a still life for a while either, so that was good to do too. It makes you think and consider what you are seeing. And also you have to make some decisions. I intended to do them as small alla prima studies. Alla Prima paintings are done in a single session. So you capture what you see at the time and in that painting session and don't muck around with it any more after that. It is a good practice for me to do this. I am thinking I should do one or two of these a week, of whatever I have on hand to paint that day. It's a great way to tune up and warm up before doing other painting too.

I painted the lemon studies on small primed canvases sized 8"x 10". I did one of them more zoomed in than the other, as you can see. The other has a bit more space around it...just worked out that way. It was a nice little painting session, no more than 2 hours and it was fun to use the oils again. A great warm up for more painting with them this coming weekend !

Local voting likes the zoomed-in lemon study better. Which do you like ?