Welcome Spring!

Yellow Wattle
Last week of winter was gorgeous: clear blue skies, bright sunshine, warm weather and flowers everywhere.
Blue skies and pink blossom
Yellow Daffodil
I love spring and wish that I had plenty of time to paint all the beautiful flowers and fleeting blossoms.
White blossoms sketch in progress
The blossom petals are starting to come down in white-snow showers and fresh young green leaves are slowly unfurling.
White blossoms sketch in progress
Ironically enough the first day of spring was chillier and it rained most of the day. I welcome the rain as well – the garden needs it.
Watercolour sketch of white blossom
Welcome, dear spring. Please stay awhile and don’t rush to give way to the hot summer.

Defeated by the primroses?

I am attempting to paint the primroses. Why!?! as I don’t really have any emotional connection to them. For the sake of learning.
photo of primroses
I came to the conclusion that seeing a professional artist paint outweighs reading any number of the instructional books. The books are unable to show how much water the artist adds to the pigment; how she holds the brush, how he touches the paper, etc. Back in Melbourne I researched potential watercolour classes before admitting to myself that I don’t have the time or the money to commit to the regular classes. So I went to the library and browsed through the available DVDs on the watercolour painting (sadly there wasn’t many) and left with the two DVDs by Ann Blockley “Flower Painting Through the Seasons” and “Flowers in Watercolour”. I watched them and felt that I picked up some useful information, but watching isn’t enough to truly learn and therefore I’m attempting to paint some of the same flowers before re-watching the DVDs.

First I did a quick pen sketch to start getting to know these flowers; followed by two watercolour sketches, both done on Saunders Waterford cold pressed paper with Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolour. First one was overworked.
Watercolour of primroses
Second was slightly more pleasing, but under-worked and didn’t look at all like the primroses.
Watercolour of primroses
A slow pencil sketch in the Moleskine watercolour sketchbook to try to figure out where the lights and darks are. I haven’t sketched with the pencil for a very long time – it required patience and discipline to push through the distractions and the initial reluctance to slow down.
Pencil sketch of primroses
A quick coloured pens sketch just for fun.
Coloured pens sketch of primroses
Third attempt at the watercolour on Fabriano cold pressed watercolour paper – better, but still overworked and still doesn’t look like primroses.
Watercolour of primroses
I think I know where I am going wrong (that must be a step forward), so I will have to attempt another version (or two) before admitting the defeat.

Daily sketching

Sketches - shoe and tree
I’m trying to get back to daily sketching – doing it for about two years before taking the break proves that I can find the time everyday. I bought a cheap Quill sketchbook from the Officeworks (an office stationary supply shop) to always carry with me and started to pull it out whenever I remembered and had any amount of the uninterrupted time.
Sketches of people
I did the sketch on the left while Glenda Millard read her two books “Lightning Jack” and “Isabella’s Garden” at the Bendigo library’s storytime during the Bendigo Writers Festival. I still get excited every time I see a real writer or an illustrator talk about their work, as I grew up with the idea of them being special different creatures, who lived magical inaccessible lives far away. My children on the other hand seem to take it for granted that one can meet the writers and artists in everyday life. The youngest likes poetry and play with words, so I think he enjoyed the strong rhythm and rhyme of Glenda’s books.
The sketch on the right was done during the Cushion Concert for pre-school children at the Bendigo’s theatre The Capital.

Good to be back

Hello! We finally have the Internet again and I am glad to be back here. In some ways it was very helpful to be forced to go internet-free for few weeks. I noticed how many important things are done online nowadays, but also how much time I waste in the mindless web-surfing following link after link after link in the endless trail.
Morning frost
I had a moment of self-doubt and questioning fuelled by seeing the work of so many talented people: everyone’s families and houses seem to be perfect; everyone seems to be progressing faster and achieving much more in their chosen field than I am; and everyone seems to be able to successfully juggle incredible number of responsibilities. Yes, I know that these perceptions are wrong, but still I was wondering if I should be able to do more or better or faster or differently.
Yellow wattle
I haven’t sketched or painted during the move (no motivation, desire, time or energy) and then I missed it. I started to notice the beauty abundant in my immediate environment and I wanted to record it. I was feeling cranky and impatient and I needed my life to contain the simple act of putting pen to paper. I needed to pause and really look at the world and sing the praise to it the only way I know how – by drawing and painting. My world is gentler, safer and happier place when I paint. I guess for me that’s good enough reason to keep on painting.
Watercolour sketch of daffodils

Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolour and Daler-Rowney acrylic ink in Moleskine watercolour sketchbook (Landscape 21×13 cm)

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.