Saturday, December 11, 2010

An attack of Christmas spirit

A couple of weeks ago a few of my crafternoon friends got together to make Christmas cards, I was psyched about it as I haven't made chrissy cards in years. I decided that to make mine suitably rustic (and to reconnect with my inner 5 year old) I needed to make my cards using potato cutouts. I got all my supplies - most importantly potatoes, lino cutting tools, a sponge, cards, and paint. I ended up with shiny red and green cards and silver paint. I had a lovely time, drank lots of tea and chatted lots, and did succeed in cutting a potato snowflake and potato christmas tree....but the blooming things didn't stamp very well. I'm not sure if it was the shiny cards, the metallic paint, the very new potato (sort of damp), or all of the above.....?? I gotta admit I was a bit dispirited that my cards looked lame and so gave up.

I had an attack of Christmas spirit over the weekend and decided to have another go. I pulled out this weird rubber lino stuff made by speedball from the bottom of my making box and got carving.

I also switched from the the metallic paint to plain white. I was stoked with how they turned out so I started printing on everything....I made cards, wrapping paper and labels.
Not bad for one lino cutting. All this Christmas spirit inspired me to dig out my decorations and string them up in my lounge room. To top it all off, I made the family Christmas plum pudding....and used some of the 5 hour cook time to write in some cards : )

Friday, November 12, 2010

Catch up time

It's well and truly time that I hustle and get some sketches are the last additions to my little sketchbook.

The winters in Alaska are long, long and dark and cold. You could tell when spring had finally arrived because the birds would pass through on their northern migration. The ponds and lakes had only just lost their ice cover but the birds would all cram in and find a spot. I adore the sound of Sandhill Cranes honking as they fly overhead....spring and life.

I don't think I have much more to say than - flowers, lino cut, bright colour. Me, happy camper.

What seems like an eon ago my Dad and I visited the local architectural junk shop to buy a gate. I'd never been in anyplace like it before....a really crumbly old terrace house with all rooms filled with rows and piles of doors, fire places, toilet bowls, windows, door nobs, floor boards and ....gates. After being hidden for a few years behind some greenery the old gate was recently unveiled again. I think my Dad and I chose really well - I didn't realise the simple style of the gate until I sketched part of it. I hope that junk shop it still around....I'd like to poke about and see what treasures I could find.

My nephew loves all things automotive so for his birthday I made him a lino cut Racer dude birthday card. I liked the little racer guy so stuck him in my sketchbook too.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Because we sometimes need reminding

This is just a little reminder to myself, and an opportunity to share, the things that make me happy. Happy and sometimes happy and proud.

Patterns and colours...particularly in unusual places like the bottom of sea pools...

Gardening...and collecting the summer's harvest...

Yarn....and getting to knit with beautiful yarn....

Going on holidays....especially going fishing on holidays...

Finding beauty clinging to a rock on a wind blasted coastline...

Yep. Happy and smiles.

Melbourne's blue bikes

I was in Melbourne for the weekend recently....I don't go there often but I think I need to make the trip more often because it's such an incredibly cool city! After the architectural dryness of Canberra it was great to wander the streets looking at all the old and the very new buildings. Melbournians don't seem to be afraid of making a statement with their of the RMIT buildings looks like it's been covered in green slime!

Melbourne also seems to embrace new ideas so much faster than other Australian cities. As I strolled around the city I kept coming across these bike racks. The one in the photo above is in Federation Square right in the heart of the city. So, it turns out they are communal bikes that you can hire for $2.50 a day....ride all over the city and drop off at a bike rack when you are done. How is that for forward (and green) thinking!

I had originally imagined this picture for my sketchbook as an incredibly intricate three layer stencil cut in lime and magenta.....then it dawned on me how long that would take...and how I've never done a stencil cut before....and would the paint bleed...etc etc. So I decided to paint it instead. Somewhere between the drawing and the painting I forgot about the lime and magenta and ended up with purple and orange. Not sure what happened with that....I think I'll have to address that sometime soon. I'm also not sure what I think of this drawing yet as it is so different from the image I had in win some, you loose some. That, and that next time I go to Melbourne I'll hire a bike for a day.

Something about a sea breeze....

I find something particularly calming about sea breezes. I've got vivid memories of walking along rocky coastlines and sand dunes in a number of places around the world. In my memories I feel fresh and cleansed and calm. I think it's those sea breezes. When I lived on the south coast of New South Wales I'd go for a walk in the afternoons after work, picking my way around rocky outcrops and rock pools...along stretches of empty beach. The crisp, salty breeze would wash away any troubles of the day.

Even better than sea breezes is the sound of sea breezes through grass. You know the sound I mean....a swaying, rhythmic and soft brushing noise. Lovely. On a holiday with friends I remember laying in the sun in the shelter of the dunes with clumps of stiff grass swaying and rustling while we chatted and caught up on life's happenings.

I took this photo on an island off the north east coast of Tasmania. I was lucky enough to do some fieldwork on the island and one day came across this spot. I took a lunch break in the lee of some big granite outcrops and ate my sandwich while enjoying the coastal sounds and smells....salt, seaweed, crashing waves and rustling fronds. Certainly made up for the hours of rock hopping and scratching in the dirt.

I thought I'd use that photo as inspiration for my first lino cut in many many years. I'm really happy with the finished product...for me it captures a little of the bliss of those salty, breezy memories. I used good old fashioned lino that I think I may have had in the bottom of my making box for a good 15 years....still cut like a charm...and the smallest cutting tool in my kit. I tried a couple of colour combinations but settled on the brown/gold because it gives a warm and dreamy feel. I painted the sketchbook page with a brush and used a kitchen sponge to apply the gold paint to the lino. The sponge gave much better coverage than the purpose made lino paint roller. Go figure.

And because I was so happy with how my cherry blossom and grasses look side by side...I'll share it with you too.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One for you Gallery Chick

Because the blossoms are still flowering and because I love them so much I decided to dedicate another page of my sketchbook to them. I also thought they deserved some colour this time. So.....Gallery Chick, these blossoms are for you.

I did an outline sketch using pencil, then went over the top with watercolours. I think I'm beginning to enjoy using watercolours, and maybe with few more sketches I might just love them... it is a very forgiving medium.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blossoms!....It must be spring.

I was a bit shocked to see that the Cherry blossoms around town have started flowering in the last two weeks. I love the blossoms and tend to have a small branch displayed on my kitchen bench for a month or so every year....but I am sad that winter is coming to end. It seems to be such a short season in Australia, and for me spring marks the beginning of the long hot season.

The street where I grew up was lined on both sides with cherry my memory they stretched all the way from my house to the town centre. I like the little pink buds, then the mass of colour as the flowers unfurl and finally fall and carpet the ground around them. It has always amazed me that a tree with such a glorious and delicate flower could be so drab when in full leaf. I guess you can't be perfect at everything....and I am just happy that I again live in a town that celebrates spring with blossoms.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Detail of a Central Park footbridge

A few years ago I visited New York and spent quite a bit of time roaming the streets, parks and galleries of Manhattan. I think like most visitors I was really taken with Central Park....what a wonderful place to have right in the heart of such a huge city. I visited New York twice at Christmas and once in late fall. Consequently when I was there most of the trees had no leaves, and there were no flowers to speak of. I actually really liked the washed out sepia tone of Central Park in late fall. In the afternoon glow is was quite magical and I though sort of old world, like looking at an old photograph.

It may be because of this pretty stark landscape when I visited that I noticed the little details in fountains, bridges and buildings so much. This weekend I decided to draw a section of bridge that I took a photo of on one of my trips, it had lovely concentric and intertwining circles.

I would normally use pastels for this sort of picture because I love the very flat and vivid colours that dry pastels produce. I haven't yet figured a way around the "no smudgy media" I pulled out a box of coloured pencils and gave it a shot. I think it'll be a while before I do that again as it took an awfully long time to colour in the two page spread. But, it was pretty miserable weather outside and it was nice and calming to sit at the kitchen table and colour-in. I like to draw with orange, the colour just seems so cheerful to I drew my bridge in this colour simply because it makes me happy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cyclamen nouveau anyone?

This weeks entry is a bit of departure from my normal stuff...I don't think I pulled it off, but it does look very colourful next to my Stink Bug!

Two more things to add to the list of things I love are 1) art nouveau and 2) plants that are tough! The Canberra winter is not cold by some standards but for us Aussies Canberra is probably the coldest city we have....we even get into sub zero temperatures...Wow!

I love cyclamen, not only because they come in what I think of as very glamorous colours, but they show those colours in the depth of winter which makes me very happy. I bought one from the markets a couple of months ago and it is a champion - I leave for work in the morning and it is all covered in frost and white....and when I return home it is a deep red wine colour and looking spectacular. Grins!

I don't know if art nouveau and cyclamen are a match made in heaven, but I gave it a go anyway. I used acrylic paints straight onto the molskine held up to the paint pretty well. It didn't photograph really well though....the pics that were in good focus also had a lot of flash glare.

I'm looking forward to the sketch crawl (and Canberra Sketchbookers get together) this weekend....expect to see the results in my next post.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Up close and personal

Many moons ago I used to work as a pseudo entomologist....I used to spend hours collecting, sorting, identifying and photographying the little critters....and as you can imagine I spent most of my work hours staring down a microscope. One of my favourite tasks was to pick and identify bugs from out of pitfall traps. No I don't think I'm mad! Let me explain. Sometimes leaves and seeds and flower buds would also have fallen into the jam jar sized traps and when I looked down the scope my whole vision was taken up with this beautiful miniature world suddenly larger than life. It was most amazing, and often incredibly beautiful, to see in absolute detail things that I would never normally notice.

I have since moved onto other work but I still have a bit of a fascination with bugs. I have also always appreciated the incredible skill of biological my second sketch is a bit of a homage to both. The bug in the picture, and I mean a hemiptera (sucking insect) not just generic creepy crawly, is a Stink Bug. I was tempted to put on a scale bar, but since I've taken too much artistic licence in the drawing, I resisted. In real life it would be about 8mm long....very small eh.

I based the drawing on a photo I took with a microscope and digital camera. The drawing I finished using a felt-tipped pen.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A flower in the forest

My sketchbook arrived yesterday and I was so excited I sat down and started my first sketch without taking my coat off.

My friend Morgan takes the most beautiful photos, I love them all! I think Morgan and I view the world in much the same way, for one thing we both love hunting for treasure out there in wild and we both love macro photography, particularly of the treasures we find. So, I thought I'd start my sketchbook with an interpretation of one of her recent photos.

This is the picture half done...

And here is the final product.....

I hope you like it Morgan!