Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunday at John's

I have to take my camera next week and photograph the amazing etching presses John is building and engineering. Anyway, I actually remembered to go today (forgot last week - "Sunday School" in John's studio for local artists who care to get together and spend a few hours working in company). I worked on more backgrounds, not very exciting to view.. but am enjoying the layering up of the surfaces. Then I started drawing over a couple of them. Just getting started. I noticed some shapes in the colours so began to draw from those, so a lot more to do yet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mixed Media drawing

Acrylic and oil paints, and charcoal pencil on 50% cotton rag paper.
"Dark Legend". The oil paint was accidental. I thought I'd picked up watercolour. But it was a happy accident, though I had to deal with the brush straight away. Was aiming to put a black wash over part of the base, there are several layers of acrylic wash. Ended up brushing over the oil paint and using it to add texture.

Another character from my stories.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mark making

Some works in progress. Top pic is embossing of one of my collographs on printmaking paper. Then an indian ink sketch on mixed media base. Followed by the beginning of a life drawing on a mixed media base, and the last picture a drawing in progress and I was drawing flat which is soooo wrong, I'll have to start correcting before i get much further, but it's in charcoal pencil so I can make improvements (trying to draw the main male character of a book I'm writing, he's not a real person... he's in my head).

Spent time today at the studio of my artist friend John. We were talking about process and product and he made a comment, "I'm not making art, I'm making an artist." Found that interesting, because I talked in my last blog entry about the making of the art, the process, as being the art. Probably sounds convoluted. It is.

Anyway, we had got together for our "sunday school". John showed me how to stretch canvas, I've never learned to do it properly. And gave me his secret recipe for making a primer to use instead of gesso. I've never liked gesso on on canvas, though I love using it on paper. Makes a great surface to work on.

I had taken a collograph that I made a while ago, and we experimented, John used his wonderful press to emboss some of my paper that I'd taken to work on my mixed media bases. I'll be thinking of how I might incorporate this process in my work. A clean embossing on white paper looks fantastic but I'm all about layering so will have to come up with an idea that fits.

Still working on adding to the mixed media bases but I'm starting to put marks on some of them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Creating a surface as the background is an integral part of the work. I create surfaces using acrylic media mostly. Scumbling, working over and over, adding and taking away. The actually process of making this surface background is as important to me as the image I place on top of it, and the act of creating it is the art as much as the finished piece is, if that makes sense! The physical action of building up layers and visual texture is essential to me and creates my feeling about the piece, and I’ll work on that until I feel ready to put an image on the surface. I'm working on expensive printmaking rag paper. On canvas I've used modelling compounds, gesso, impasto gel, tissue and more.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Can you imagine how this feels?

You cannot see, you have to breathe slowly, you cannot laugh. It's okay while people are talking then they seem to forget you are there. They stop talking. Then the feeling of claustrophobia wells up, almost panic.

It's not me. I could never submit to that kind of experience. I was only the observor.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

NZ Art Guild - Collaborative Artwork "Ngatahi"

This year's collaborative painting was auction recently to raise funds for the NZ Mental Health Foundation.

We each contributed a small painting and the paintings were arranged into one large artwork. Mine is the 2nd from left third row from the top. The theme was "ngatahi"... one people.. my image was based on growth... life...the seed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Drawing musicians again

A couple of recent sketches of musicians... I like to draw people when I'm out. I'm not sure they are as keen. Musicians seem pretty tolerant though. I think the local musicians are becoming used to it. Musicians and artists both talk about "the zone". That headspace where you're right into what you're doing, and it flows. When creating feels like that, you wonder why it should ever be hard. But it is sometimes. Then we learn to let go and not control everything. We keep going, get over it and get into the zone and then it flows...


Still having camera/Vista issues. Shall try and obtain a better photo taking the painting out into the daylight.

This painting is based on drawings done of the model turning and walking around. Its a wonderful exercise to try and detach yourself, use sense and intuition to absorb information from the moving figure and capture it on paper. Working from these drawings I tried the same exercise with paint on canvas, trying to focus more on a sense of form and weight rather than detail. Sense and intuition is a strange thing. It is no easier to apply it in artmaking then it is in any other area of one's life. One just has to trust.

80 x 100cm acrylic on canvas

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Drawing in the dark

For these two drawings, the room was in darkness with light on the model. Yellow drawing was done first. When the lights went on I was surprised to see I'd picked up a piece of yellow pastel instead of white.

We focused on drawing the lit areas of the models body. It's not an easy thing to do. What you think you see, and what you actually see are two different things and you have to overcome what your brain is telling you.

That's why I love to draw or paint with music playing, finding it easier to slip into that 'zone', some would say its allowing the right brain to take over from the logical left brain.

Like to learn more about that? Look at Betty Edward's book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. And here's a link.

Life drawing

has been continuing again over the last couple of months... a couple of quick drawings... 18 x 24" compressed charcoal on heavy grade buff paper. I usually quickly cover the paper with some coloured pastel first which means even less time for the drawing - these are a couple of minutes long each.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Taking a drawing into paint

I've applied modelling paste to canvases, it takes ages to get it right, and to dry. Mine and Body (at the bottom of this page) is one of those where I've spent hours and hours on the surface texture of the canvas before painting onto it.

Another method is to use tissue paper and acrylic mediums to apply it to the surface. A little quicker and quite satisfying if I want a more regular appearance to the surface.

Canvas is still my favourite surface on which to paint, using brushes. I love the 'give' of canvas, and I'm quite hard on brushes.

I've been going to a life drawing group for about eighteen months now. John Mulvay organised it, through community education, and when the funding hasn't been there we've managed to keep it going on a private basis. He'll provide tutoring for those who want it, and I very much appreciate having live models available every week. This is a real achievement for John to have kept this group going and it seems to have settled in with a core of regulars, and new people coming and going.

Piled up in my studio, are hundreds of life drawings. I've sold a few. Others I'll offer to the models. One day I'll have to dispose of some, that will be painful. I'm now trying to be more experimental when I go to life drawing. Sometimes I'll draw directly onto the canvas and paint it later. There is a an energy in a drawing done from life that is lost when copying it later. The more prep I put into the surfaces that I take along, the more satisfying is the result.

This photo is a painting of one of the warmup drawings, where the model walks around, or holds a pose for only 30 seconds. My first attempt at this, and I'll continue working on this idea to see where it takes me.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pear & Offering

"Pear", 18 x 20", acrylic on canvas.

"Offering" 18 x 20" acrylic on canvas

The top pose is one I've been using for about 3 years now and YES I have exaggerated the model's figure deliberately.

Changing Woman & Jealous Sisters

Named from a myth.. staying with the theme of woman and body as earth and life ... changing woman is from Navajo mythology, introduced in the creation story. The lifegiving and sustaining qualities of the earth being derived from Changing Woman. Seemed to fit with the image that grew from my original life drawing.

Acrylic on canvas (mixed media). 12 x 24"

Another painting created from two life drawings, placing them together on the canvas suggested the title.
Acrylic on canvas 12 x 15"


Waiting 1 10" x 30" acrylic on canvas

The colours are a little richer than here (using a grumpy PC on XP to edit the photos, then taking to an uncooperative laptop with Visa to upload to site).

Waiting 2 10 x 30" acrylic on canvas.

I have struggled with getting back to painting for a few months, which wasn't a totally bad thing. I finished a book over the the first three months of the year. But I needed to be painting and somehow needed a kick up the proverbial.

Inspiration is an elusive thing. It's easily lost or squashed. A couple of friends provided the kick and someone else close to me seemed to provide the inspiration and I started painting again a couple of months ago. I've hundreds of life drawings and had been thinking of taking some into paint, but felt I had to come up with clever metaphorical ideas, or symbols or backgrounds to create a worthwhile painting. The consequence of that was that I did nothing. Finally I realised I was holding myself back, putting a restriction where there didn't need to be one. And just picked up the paintbrush.

Really there is no replacement for just putting the time in, the hours. And just like with the book, that is what I did. Fulltime, no outside teaching, just every day and half the night in the studio.


Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 28" on canvas.

From a life drawing, mainly in Payne's Grey so slightly bluer than this image.

On of the paintings I created in the last two months. Recently I exhibited a lot of work, these and other works of a figurative nature. It was interesting to see what sold. The current economic situation means there is not a lot of disposable income out there so I wasn't expecting to sell anything. The mixed media drawings were the pieces that sold. I LOVE creating those. Painting is difficult. Its painful. Like giving birth I say. I never know when something is finished. And am never satisfied of course. But the mixed media drawings, they are a joy to create. I love the whole process of creating the bases on which to draw, and they're fun to draw onto, direct from life.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two more drawings

Another couple of drawings of our young model, one with her mother.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Been having trouble with my photo editing on my new doesn't want to accept my favourite programme, so I give are some unedited photos from the last couple of life drawing evenings. I like to edit them to make them more as they really are...they're a bit dull.

I'm in the studio painting everday at the moment, a body of work based on the life drawings. I'll post some of the works in progress soon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life Drawing 11 March 2009

Only four drawings last night, not sure why it worked out that way. All 62 x 42 cm 180gsm paper, compressed charcoal and soft pastel.

I tried cropping the figure for some. Have been happier with such drawings but don't find it easy to decide what part to put in and what to leave out!

The model pointed out to me that I'd drawn a map of New Zealand on her pubic hair in the reclining drawing haha. Not intentional. Just my little scribbles that I put on the drawings.

I asked her to stand with her hands up and I was quite pleased with that sketch. Its an idea I've had for a while, to take through to a painting.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Drawings of musicians....a couple more...

Very soft thick that they don't allow smoking in bars in New Zealand, there are no ashtrays into which I can sharpen my pencils! I tried to draw the top person several times, couldn't capture his face. The flute player, well I think I got him ok. And the third is a singer guitarist and artist, Robyn, whom I also think I captured fairly well.

Sketching musicians in a bar

Last night I took a sketchbook with me to The Burrowing Bully where they have open mic regularly. These people are great...they don't seem to mind me sitting in front drawing them.

Can't say I always get a perfect likeness but it's good fun.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Life Drawing 4 March 2009

These are done on 180gsm paper in compressed charcoal and conte. We had two models though I concentrated on the male model mainly. The red and blue is a drawing done while the female model turning and moving her arms.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Life drawing 25 February 2009

These are the drawings from this week's group. All done on 150gsm grey paper, in compressed charcoal and pastel, 62 x 42 cm.