Monday, July 18, 2011

Self portrait #1

So, done. Self portrait from my creative drawing class is finally complete. And I think it is the first picture that I started several different times, from several different angles before settling on this one. I'm not sure why, it just felt right.

I have to admit I'm quite pleased with it. It does feel like me. Not sure what on earth I do with it now though. For the meantime I think it'll go back into hiding under my bed.

Pastel on orange Canson paper. 55 x 37cm

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Finish something I started... really?

This month at the Creative Collective is Time to finish July. Which means... finish something you started!! So, after much deliberation, because I have so many unfinished projects to choose from, I have chosen 2 items to finish this month. The winners are:

1) A pair of handmade rabbit fur mittens, started in the summer of 2004.

When passing through the tiny town of Nenana, just south of Fairbanks, my parents and I ducked into the supermarket to get some drinks and poke around. Amongst the newspapers, pencils, beef jerky and Ice Classic paraphernalia there was a pile of white rabbit skins. My father and I were immediately drawn to this pile of super soft, glowing white gorgeousness. These puppies were seriously singing to us. Nowhere in my life had we been to a town where furs were piled high between the stationary supplies and snacks. We began to dig through that pile to choose the two softest, whitest skins. Half an hour later, drinks and skins purchased, we exited that store victorious. Now, what to do with these things?? The answer was pretty obvious. Mittens.... wonderful, toasty warm, silky soft mittens to keep my hands and my heart warm over the winter.

I found a instructions to make mittens (with a PROPER thumb gusset) and after much trepidation cut out my mitten pattern. I went so far as to consider which direction the fur needed to be facing so that when you slid your hand in it went "with" and not "against" direction of the fur. I sewed up those glorious thumb gussets....

and then true to form got caught up in work, study and play and never finished them. Although, when my hands were cold, I always thought of how much I wished I had finished those mittens.

Brown paper bunny
had a 4th of July crafternoon last weekend and I thought that was an absolutely stellar moment to get to work on those mittens again.

A note about Nenana. I'm not into gambling at all, never interested, but The Nenana Ice Classic is one of the coolest things ever. Nenana is situated next to the Tanana River, biggest river in the region. Every winter the town places a big big tripod out on the ice out in the middle of the river. The tripod is linked to a clock on shore. The locals, and many (many!)others from all over, then place bets on the exact day and time (to the minute) that the ice will melt enough for the tripod to fall through.... indicating end of winter and the beginning of the fun summer time. You'd think it'd be impossible to get the time right but this year with a prize pool of over $300,000 dollars there were 22 winners. Incredible.

2)Self-portrait, started July 2010.

I took a creative drawing class last year. It was great class where I met lots of really talented and interesting people. Our last project was to do a proper picture. One we thought about and would work on over a few weeks. I decided to do a self-portrait. I'd never done one before and thought it would be a good project. I tried lots of different angles but none of them suited. In the end I got a friend to take some photos of me from various angles to get one I like, I then photoshopped it to pieces. What resulted is the photo on top right hand of my blog. And here is how far I got with it....

Apart from these two projects I also have the following going on:
Knitting a dark fuscia crop cardigan (MUST be done by late August)
Weaving a gray cotton and silk scarf
Pondering patterns for my first lino reduction print (down to two ideas..)
A couple of sewing projects

Wish me luck... and think of my fingers - hand sewing leather is a bit tough on the hands!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Versatile Blogger

The wonderful Brown Paper Bunny nominated me for a Versatile blogger award.... thanks BPB, much appreciated. So, the rules of the versatile blog award are that I write 10 things about myself and nominate some other blogs that I love (and are versatile)... so here goes.

1. I've always wanted mermaid hair. Unfortunately I seem completely incapable of keeping the same haircut for more than 3 months. Coupled with the fact that my hair grows excruciatingly slowly I have had short hair most of my life, and I seem to have been "growing my hair out" on and off for the past 15 years.

2. I adore yarn shops probably as much as I love yarn. I love the atmosphere created when the yarn is pile highed in baskets and on wooden shelves...where there are people milling about chatting and knitting and perusing books. The ability to pat and drool over luscious yarn is time well spent in my opinion. Favourite shop ever would have to be Churchmouse Yarns and Teas in Bainbridge, WA. I am also a total yarn snob - I am most drawn to hand spun or hand dyed yarn or gourmet mixes of silk, alpaca, cashmere, mohair etc.... Here is a pic of a friend of mine at the wonderful Gypsy Wools in Boulder, Co, choosing yarn for a hand woven scarf.

3. I luuuurrve good action spam movies (especially martial arts movies)... some all time favourites include Aliens, Hero, 28 days later, and Inception.

4. I get huge joy from mismatched and bright and colourful crockery... look what was on my dish rack this morning.

5. When it comes to reading I'm really fickle, and I'm really sick of forensic/private investigator/murder stories. If I get through the first sentence on the back of a book I'm doing well, and will most likely read it. I've had a lot of luck in recent years choosing books with some kind of art or fiber theme the title. ... for example, Grass For His pillow, The Weavers Daughter, The Perfect red, and The Sacred Art of Stealing.

6. I wish I had more time (and space) to sew, especially given the amount of fabric I am hording. Here are some of the fabrics in my stash. Now.... to get sewing and get those fabrics out into the sun!

7. My most prized possessions are hand me downs or found most treasured possession would have to be the trunk my grandfather made when he was in the army during the Second World War.

8. I'm a bit of a techno skeptic and I'll only reluctantly bring new technologies into my personal life. I think I'm a bit old fashioned and really do like doing things the "long way" and get a great deal of satisfaction from it. At work I'm the opposite.... my current occupation is as an instructional designer.

9. I have been building my dream farm (and house) in my head for about 10 years. I daydream about digging up potatoes, keeping chickens, picking raspberries, jam making, rammed earth walls, grey water recycling systems, bread baking and recently... piglets.

10. I've had half done self portrait hiding under my bed for the last year. I think it's time to finish it.

My nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award are the wonderful...

Hybrid Handmade
Do a bit ....everyday

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Illustration Friday: Duet

This weeks IF theme was a like a word association game for me. IF: Duet....Me: Yellow!! IT took me a while to figure out why yellow jumped straight into my head. I've been a bit fixated on it of late, but, I thought my reaction was more that just my favourite colour of the moment. It wasn't until I went to bed that night that I figured it out....and so I have drawn my bedside table, a duet in yellow.

Some things and colours sing to me, and yes, yellow is one of them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weaving silk and memories

I've taken a break recently from my other wonderful time consuming distractions to finish a weaving project for a much loved friend. While visiting with her in Boulder late last year my friend asked me to weave her something. Usually I beaver away for a while and then bestow a gift on someone with a ..."here, have some of my hand made crafts." So it was wonderful to be asked to make something. I also (happily) got to drag my friend along to the yarn shop I had been eyeing off but avoiding because like most knitters I am drowning in yarn and really don't need any more...although beautiful, it can start to become a bit of a burden. So, off to Gypsy Wools we went. I am so glad we did, Gypsy Wools has a glorious array of all hand dyed yarns.... and I really can't resist what I call gourmet yarn from a local crafter/artist!

It took a while to get into this project, but with the help of lots of cups of tea and a lovely crafternoon I managed to get into the swing. I do love these colours, and when the silk yarn catches the light it is truly beautiful...a little like spun gold. So now, after a brief stint in the southern hemisphere, this yarn is returning to its place of creation...I really quite like that.

I had really enjoyed the weaving again, and we are coming into the autumn here in Canberra, so I straight away warped up the loom with a scarf for myself...with all my favourite colours. One thing I love about the knitters loom is that I can use all the ends of balls from finished knitted goods. For me all the yarn in my stash has a little history and that is woven (literally and figuratively) into the new project. My autumnal colours scarf has some hand spun yarn from an amazing spinner in Tasmania, some boucle and cashmere left over from a baby wrap jacket for a friend in the UK, some gold silk given to me from a friend in Alaska, and some of the lovely wool chosen by my friend in Colorado. And I think that makes it extra special.

Thanks to brown paper bunny for these lovely photos : )

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Illustration Friday: Cultivate

I've been lurking around Illustration Friday for a while now - I have discovered some incredible artists and really enjoyed the many many ways different people interpret the same theme. This weeks theme is Cultivate....and I could lurk no longer, I felt compelled to contribute.

I am a mad keen gardener, particularly vegies! Unfortunately due to townhouse living in Canberra the last two years my gardens have been restricted to mostly pots, and consequently my fingernails have been a bit clean. Sad state of affairs, I know. The cultivate theme make me reminisce of my days in the community garden in Fairbanks. Talk about first 'proper' gardening experience was amazing....600 sq feet of my own to cultivate and always an interesting soul poking about to chat to during weeding breaks.

A little like the different ways artists interpret the IF theme it was interesting to see the way different gardeners designed and worked their gardens. I think mine really was more about aesthetics than function. And to boot, a minimum of bugs (too cold) and almost 24 hours sunshine meant my vegies were huge and my efforts hugely rewarding...ahh, happy days. Most of my friends contributed to my garden too.... digging, planting, weeding or harvesting....I remember them and our time together in the garden very very fondly.

So, my drawing....a cabbage leaf. Doesn't nature come up with THE very best colour combinations! What is not to love about the sun shining through a leaf so you can appreciate all the more the complexity and beauty of the ..... not so humble cabbage.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Colouring in This Love

A friend recently got me onto a great project called Drawing this love. The band is creating a video clip for one of their songs by getting people to colour in individual frames.... some 3500 thousand in total. No small undertaking. Below is my small contribution to the effort - can't wait to see the finished product!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Revisiting an old friend

Over the last year I have been trying to re-embrace my artistic inner child. I guess it's a way to make sure I stay "tuned in" to beauty around me, an excuse to stop and ponder the shape, pattern, colour or texture of something. Then to wonder how on earth I might attempt to recreate that feeling in two dimensions. Some days I don't feel inspired to draw anything in particular so I just pull out the pastels and blend colours, get pastel dust on my clothes and under my fingernails.

I love the way kids give pictures, for no other reason than they thought of you and wanted to give it to you. I love getting pictures - they brighten up my life, my fridge, my office cubicle and put a smile on my face. Today I was thinking of my niece and so thought I'd make her a picture.

This print comes from a lino cutting I did quite a few years ago....I dug it out of a dusty old box a little while ago and printed a few pictures with it, it even made it into my sketchbook. I have tended to print it in bold colours on crisp white paper. Today I wanted to give it a bit more mood, some of that sepia toned olde worlde look I like so much. I think maybe that is one of the joys of lino, you can revisit an old friend and give it a reinterpretation depending on your mood and.... your colour obsession of the moment.

Happy playing!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Final sketchbook sketch

Well, this is my last Brooklyn Art Library related post. I think I've decided to keep my blog going,and blog a little more often : ). So expect more varied media (yay for pastels!!) and some larger format pictures.

So, onto my last picture. I decided for this one to do another lino cut, since I have been loving them so much. This time, however, I picked a more ambitious subject - the New York city Cloisters. I visited the Cloisters during my recent trip to the northern hemisphere. I was most enamored of the arched ceilings and so have focused on them. The progression of my pic follows below.

And one cup of coffee later I had this much done....

And the finished lino....

And finally, the finished picture....

I added some detail in watercolour to try and get some depth to the picture. I think next time I'll play with creating more shading in the actual lino cutting process. I also think this picture could do with some more work, and I wouldn't mind seeing it in bright colours...naturally!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pansy and butterflies

Another (slight) obsession of mine is fabric....and how can you not with this gorgeous stuff!! I had a few scraps of this butterfly fabric left after cutting out a skirt pattern, which I faithfully hoarded away. A little while ago I was perusing through this amazing book I have called Painting with a Needle by Young Yang Chung. I decided I wanted to embroider something over a patterned fabric, so I picked a simple flower motif and dug out the butterfly fabric scraps. It took a while to finish because I haven't embroidered anything in an age, and I'm not sure what you'd do with it if not stick it in your arthouse sketchbook, but never-the-less I am quite please with the result.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some architectural details

The sketchbook project is coming to a close....only two days left, so I've been getting busy putting some more "faces in the crowd" down on paper. I've just realised some people who check out my book at the Art Library might be sad to find there isn't a single portrait to be found in it. I hope they like my take on the theme anyway.

The first picture is a quick pen sketch of a window I saw in Beacon Hill, Boston on my recent holiday. I would so love to live in this suburb, I thought it was just gorgeous with the narrow streets, old buildings and big trees. I was really taken with a few of the details in the ornate metalwork on the front stoops, curved facades and shuttered windows. I was visiting in the fall so I also had the pleasure of lots festive decoration. This window really took my fancy...the pumpkin and flower decoration added a lot of colour to my day.

After a few mostly black and white spreads I thought it was definitely time for some colour again!! This is a picture I've been meaning to do for quite a while - and luckily I'm really pleased with the way it came out. First, the colour. I finally got around to the lime and magenta combo, yay! I was at the National Gallery of Australia on the weekend and remembered why I love this combination so much. There is an Andy Warhol painting of an electric chair in these colours. Such a horrid subject, but an incredibly (to me) appealing painting.
The nuts and bolts detail is from a bridge in a small town in New Jersey. I was there many years ago now, visiting with a friend, and was very taken with an old footbridge. I'd post the original photo I took too but it's from back in the day when I used a (non-digital) SLR and black and white film.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Colorado Aspen

I think stands of aspen and birch so serene...and soothing. I love being in them at any time of the year. In winter they are ghostly and still and create amazing shadow play on the snow. Spring "leaf out" is a phenomenon I think I'd never grow tired of. Watching the leaf buds form and waiting in anticipation for the emergence of green after so long surrounded by a bleached landscape. And if you don't pay attention you can miss it, you can go outside at lunchtime with no change, then home in the afternoon to find whole mountainsides are covered in glorious colour. Summer is laying under the trees in the dappled shade listening to the shake and rustle of leaves. And glorious autumn, all that yellow! My particular joy is walking tracks in mixed forest...the carpet of gold that winds its way through stands of spruce...really quite magical.

Although I have wanted to draw aspen and birch for a while now I've always been a bit afraid to. About not getting the mood or detail right. Today I swallowed my pride an gave it a go.....I was trying for mood more than anything. I'm not sure how I feel about the outcome but I am very pleased to have finally tried. I started with watercolour, then added some pencil and felt tipped pen detail to the foremost tree. Next to work on some autumn trees!!