Boxes, boxes every where

There is no progress in the quilt making or the stamp carving or anything else for that matter. I was suffering from a severe bout of the packing procrastination and was watching silly amounts of the brainless reality TV instead of doing things that I love, but which require mental energy. However I had an idea for a little watercolour swirling around my mind since I sketched at the aquarium at the end of May and being tired of the nagging feeling I got around to painting it.
Watercolour of a girl riding a seahourse
Ironically, despite first working through 6 pencil sketches, the minute I finished the painting I knew that I wanted to make few small adjustments to the composition and the colours. So I’m planning to do another one – though it will have to wait until after the move as my art and craft supplies are now packed away. Once I started packing it wasn’t too bad – a bit like playing Tetris. Does anyone still play Tetris? I haven’t played it for ages. The boxes are slowly piling up along the walls and it’ll probably be very quiet on this blog for the next few weeks until everything gets unpacked on the other side and I’ll get back into some sort of routine.

Inspiration: John Wolseley

While in Bendigo we had a quick look at the Bendigo Art Gallery. I’ll have to come back for a slower look around. However in this short visit one work stood out for me – The Language of Lizards by John Wolseley. I liked the background of charcoal marks and watercolour, the carefully executed drawings, the possibilities of painting and drawing on the watercolour paper that size (it’s 56 x 284 cm) and maybe the subject matter caught my attention because of my own recent sketches of lizards. Few years ago I probably would’ve said with jealousy and frustration “I could’ve done that if I only had time to paint or studied art or…”. Now I know better, I understand the commitment required to achieve the representation of one’s world vision on paper, so I look and attempt to understand why and how and feel inspired to keep on painting.

The Promise of a quilt

Somehow, in the moment of weakness or madness or unlimited overpowering parental love, I promised the oldest that I’ll make a dragon quilt for her. I’ve looked through enough quilting books and read enough quilting blogs to be aware of the time commitment and the level of skills required to make one. I’m also painfully aware of my own lack of knowledge and experience. Sewing few squares together and tying the quilt layers instead of tackling hand or machine quilting is as complex as my quilt making got so far.
Patchwork quilt
However I’ve dreamt about making quilts for years. Maybe I should attempt something simple in the interim and yet this is the quilt that I want to make and maybe I can learn as I go along, because having an emotionally strong reason for learning is the best incentive to achieve much more than at first thought possible.

I want this quit to be light in colour – the Girl used to get excited about the snow and the whiteness of the linen. Her nature is gentle and I have visions of her wrapping herself in the warmth and the tranquillity of the quilt when she needs some calm and quite. I don’t want it to be completely white and was thinking of adding blues – like in the chinese pottery (and Russian Gzhel for that matter). I had some old interior design magazines, that I got from op-shop for collaging with kids, and looking through them I realised that I can create a colour board for the quilt to progress with the design.
Sketchbook - colour ideas
Sketches from Melbourne aquarium
I went to the Melbourne aquarium on my own to sketch reptiles to get some visual ideas for the central dragon image. The bulky saltwater crocodile won’t work as in inspiration for this dragon. The lizards could, but what really caught my eye were the seahorses and leafy seadragons. I may go ahead with something based on the seadragons and chinese dragons – the girl likes the dragons in the books to be gentle and kind.
Sketch of seadragon
All sketches were done in A4 Daler-Rowney Ebony Artist’s sketchbook.

to Bendigo

Vintage Bendigo tram
Last weekend my family and I went to Bendigo for four days. It wasn’t just a sightseeing trip, my husband got a job there and we wanted to explore the area before moving there in few weeks time. I never been to Bendigo previously, though I’ve visited the towns not too far away from it. Upon hearing the news of the job offer I felt relieved and happy for my husband, but apprehensive about moving to unfamiliar place where I don’t know anyone. Yet, it is only 2-hours train trip away from Melbourne. Everyday I would search the internet for the information and come away feeling reassured that Bendigo seems to be a lovely small town with everything we may need at this stage of our lives. Just before the trip I could write down a long list of the advantages of moving there and only few disadvantages, but I was definitely having cold feet about the whole thing.
inside old tram
On friday we looked at two schools and areas around them. In the afternoon I left everyone else at the playground to take a short walk around the neighbourhood to get a better understanding of the distances as we spent a lot of time driving around. While I was away my daughter hit her head at the playground. It was just a small scrape, but there was lots of blood (as often happens with the head wounds) and my husband’s choice of words on the phone made me imagine the worst. I was back with them in the few minutes and by that time the blood flow almost stopped, which made me realise it probably wasn’t too bad, but it was hard to see anything for the blood and the hair, so we went to the emergency department of the hospital anyway. I guess it was useful to find out that emergency department seems to be well run and staffed by nice, caring, professional people. After the emotional adrenaline-fuelled roller-coaster I felt drained and wanted to hide away from the world in a safety of my own home under warm covers and not to have to face new places or people. It didn’t help that every night during our trip I kept on waking up feeling totally disorientated and not knowing where I was.
Bendigo Rosalind park
The next three days we took it easy: walking around, looking, exploring the type of places that we usually spend our time at like the library, the park, the museums, finding cute little shops and interesting restaurants and cafes to try out later.
Photo of the autumn tree against  the blue sky
The sun was shining, the sky was blue, people were friendly and I felt that maybe it will be OK, maybe this was the right place for us, maybe I can let go of my resistance to change and start writing to do lists and taking steps to get us there.

Pansies yet again

I realised that I forgot to show you this sketch of pansies that I’ve done after the first lot, but before the ones I shared on Tuesday.
Watercolour of pansies
It’s in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook (Landscape 21×13 cm), which means I get to keep it. The thought of brightening someone’s day by a simple act of sending them a letter with a small painting does make it very hard to resist the urge to part with the best work. However I don’t want to keep only the unsuccessful paintings, as I would like to have some representative examples of my progress and the learning process.

Black and white pen sketch of pansies
This week I didn’t feel like getting out my watercolour kit, so instead done some black and white sketches with the Staedtler pigment liner pen attempting to gather ideas for designing some new stamps, which I’ll use to decorate the envelopes. Now I just need to figure out where my set of lino cutting tools is – I suspect it is in one of the still unpacked boxes.

I have to warn you that I’m not yet over sketching the pansies and thanks to their long flowering season I should have plenty of opportunities. They are such lovely, simple and cheerful flowers; and despite their simplicity I discover something new about them each time I paint them. So far I’ve been sketching these beauties.
Viola Tricolour - yellow and purple
However I also have these ones growing on my balcony.
Blue pansy
Blue pansy
Happy creating!


One rusty balcony railing.
Two coats of yellow paint – 2 hrs each.
One watercolour painting (18 x 12.5 cm) – 2 hrs.
Watercolour of pansies
Postcard size watercolour painting (14.8 x 10.5 cm) – 1 and a half hours.
Watercolour of pansies
Having long uninterrupted blocks of time to do all of the above – priceless.

P.S. I think these paintings show an improvement on the previous attempt to paint pansies.