Iron lacework Paintings

When I moved to Bendigo, I fall in love with the decorative iron lacework on the buildings. It makes even the most plain of them look elegant and festive, ready for high tea or a party. Slowly the idea for a series of paintings featuring ironwork & native plants started to form. Therefore I started taking photos and painting small studies attempting to figure out the best way to capture the filigree nature of the iron lacework. Since I haven’t posted them here previously, I thought I’ll share them with you now.
Iron lacework compass sketch

10 February 2015 Ironwork Compass – Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolour in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook

The Bendigo Discovery Centre, local Science Centre for the kids, was exploring the science of shadows during the winter school holidays and put out a call for the local artists to create shadow boxes. I couldn’t resist the temptation, since iron lacework creates gorgeous shadows, and attempted paper-cutting for the first time.

Goldfields Tea Break shadow box front
Goldfields Tea Break shadow box back

1 June 2015 Goldfields Tea Break – Winsor & Newton watercolour on Arches Paper; paper-cutting

Did you notice that it is the same iron lacework image that I later used for my Christmas cards?

After the paper-cutting I went back to the familiarity of painting, though I have some ideas for combining them both together.
Iron lacework & Eucalyptus sketch

5 August 2015 Iron lacework & Eucalyptus – Winsor & Newton watercolour on Saunders Waterford CP (not) paper

Iron lacework & Eucalyptus sketch

8 August 2015 Iron lacework & Eucalyptus – Winsor & Newton watercolour on Daler-Rowney watercolour postcard

Iron Lacework & Cherry blossoms sketch

30 August 2015 Iron lacework & Cherry Blossom – Winsor & Newton watercolour on Daler-Rowney watercolour postcard

Iron Lacework & Cherry blossoms sketch

31 August 2015 Iron lacework & Cherry Blossom – Winsor & Newton watercolour on Daler-Rowney watercolour postcard

I want to continue to experiment with the iron lacework and compass imagery and there will be more iron lacework paintings next year.


Making Christmas Cards

Making Christmas Card 2015
For few years now I was thinking of making my own Christmas cards and this year I finally did it.  I drafted an image that reflects my experience of Christmas/New Year in Australia and has some symbols traditionally associated with this time of the year (stars and a clock about to strike midnight), but also the ironwork that I see everyday and compass to help one find the right direction in life. After tweaking the drawing on thin tracing paper I transferred it to the watercolour paper, painted it (and how I wish I started making cards back in June, so I could paint few versions and choose the best), scanned, cleaned up the digital image with the help of Erik Davis, who I met on instagram, and printed the cards via VistaPrint.  Surprisingly easy, though time consuming.
Australian Christmas Card Design
Want to know the hardest part?  It is sharing my work with my family and friends.  What if they don’t like it?  What if they would rather receive a store bought card?  What if…  Yet sharing my paintings and drawings with strangers for years here on this blog and now on Instagram, helped me enormously to shut down that little scared voice and get on with wishing people a happy 2016.

Feathers & Dreamcatchers

My son & I found some broken willow branches during our morning walk. I showed him how flexible they were and told him about basket weaving. He wanted to bring the branches home, which I was fine with, yet I didn’t really want to attempt any complex weaving and was wracking my brain for simple craft ideas. Bing! Lightbulb moment. My daughter was asking to make a dreamcatcher for months, but we didn’t have any hoops. Here was my solution to both problems: we could weave the willow branches into simple loops and make dreamcatchers for all of us.

After watching SeaLemon’s “How to Make a Dreamcatcher” video, my son choose some thread, buttons and feathers from my stash and together we made him a dreamcatcher. My daughter made one for herself later that day with the minimal help from me. I’m still making one for myself as I complicated things by wanting to crochet the web.
Two dreamcatchers
Dreamcatchers close-up
I was joking that I’ll have to find something else to paint with my feather collection being depleted, but my daughter found a gorgeous multi-coloured feather and off I went painting few versions of it.
Watercolour of feathers
Watercolour of parrot feather
Watercolour of parrot feather

All feathers were painted with Winsor & Newton watercolour paints on Arches medium watercolour paper (10.5 x 15 cm)

In the Garden: Flowers

Hello! I’m on the spring-cleaning mission. Every room and every corner of the house has to be sorted and cleaned. I’m buying boxes for storing cooking ingredients, my and kids art & craft supplies, out-of-season clothes, etc. There are paintings that are begging to be framed and hanged to cheer up the blank light-brown walls (definitely not the colour I would choose to paint a house). I have over 9 (!) years of the computer files & photos to go through. I want to paint some illustration-type of images and would love to be able to use my own photos as references. However, it takes me too long to find the right photos and I want to learn to use Adobe Lightroom to index & cross-reference them all. And while I clean and sort, I’m also contemplating my priorities & dreams. I want to have a clearer direction of where I’m heading and what I want to achieve in the next few years.

While I’m trying to look inwards the nature outside is bursting out in flowers before everything complete dries up in the scorching sun.
The succulents are putting out gorgeous display of the flowers in the various colours and shapes.
Succulent with pink flowers
Succulent with white flowers
My friends are telling me that this is Jasmine and praise its scent, while I try to stay as far away from it as possible (I’m not a big fan of strong smells).

Inside of an iris
The irises are still blooming, but many of them are starting to wilt, so I painted one of the light ones and am hoping to find the time to paint the darker purple one.
Watercolour of light purple Iris

Winsor & Newton watercolours on Arches medium watercolour paper (10.5 x 15 cm)

Some houses have gorgeous displays of roses and our white & purple ones are also starting to open up. I’ll paint them next.
White roses

In the Garden

Hello! The re-instalment of the OS went well and I seem to have a working laptop again, though I’m still installing all the applications I use and changing settings to get everything the way I like it.

In between my battles with the laptop, I was doing some gardening, though the weather is so unusually warm that I suspect I should’ve planted many more veggies few weeks ago. I worry that if the weather keeps on breaking all the top temperature records most of my plants will die from the heat.

At the moment everything changes so quickly: a week ago I sketched the apple blossoms and now they are completely gone. (Please excuse the blurred edges – I couldn’t get my sketchbook to lie flat in the scanner)
Sketch of Apple Tree Blossom

Winsor & Newton watercolour in Strathmore 400 Series sketchbook

Photo of Spent Apple Blossoms
I spotted this gorgeous lizard (could be Shingleback) at the back of the garden a week ago and yesterday saw another smaller one, but was too slow to take the photo.
Shingleback Lizard
Head of Shingleback Lizard
I enjoy gardening, but the main reason for attempting to grow food is to show my kids how much works goes into it, to get them excited about the fresh produce and to encourage them to try new food. This spring my kids, who act like I’m poisoning them whenever they spot any green herbs or leaves in their food, tried some of the spinach from the garden and the oldest asked me to add spinach to her school-lunch sandwiches. Therefore I declare this growing season a success no matter what happens next.
photo of growing  spinach
photo of lettuce
Today I planted tomatoes and couldn’t resist making a quick ink sketch.
Sketch  of tomato plant

Lamy Safari pen with DeAtramentis Archive Ink in Strathmore 400 Series sketchbook

There is so much more going on in the garden (flowers, bees, birds) – maybe I’ll post a garden update once a week. What do you think?

Perfect find

Hey! How are you? I’ve been battling my MacBook this week. It’s been slow since I’ve upgraded the operating system to Yosemite earlier this year, but lately it reached ridiculous levels of painful slowness – every few minutes everything stops and I get to “enjoy” looking at the spinning “beachball” cursor, while waiting for the system to catch up. I cleaned few things up & it seems to improve matters, however the laptop is still sluggish and freezes up periodically, so I may try doing a complete OS re-install (dreading it! Can you believe I used to work in IT?!?). My husband, who still works in IT, keeps on smiling knowingly & suggesting that maybe the time has come to buy a new computer (mine is 5 years old). Wish me luck in getting this beast to work!

On one of my walks, which weren’t so numerous this week due to the sudden heat, I found another feather. It was a perfect companion to two other tiny pinkish ones, which were patiently waiting to be painted.
Watercolour of pink feathers

Winsor & Newton watercolours on Arches medium watercolour paper (10.5 x 15 cm)

It is so easy to say that this wasn’t a good week (with another mild sickness & nights of broken sleep), yet I live a comfortable life in a beautiful place with a loving family and whenever I paint I’m reminded of how lucky I am. Wishing you beauty, peace and love.

25 paintings in 30 days

4th of October already? The 30 paintings in 30 days challenge is finished and I’m glad to get to the end of it. I didn’t manage to paint 30 paintings as I forgot to plan for the school holidays and didn’t have the energy to paint every evening at the end of the fun filled days. However, 25 paintings feels like good enough result for me. Here they all are, grouped by theme instead of chronological order:
Collage of 25 paintings done in 30 days
The challenge was a great reminder that regular painting brings with it the improvement in skills and allows to explore the same subject in numerous works gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of the beauty and complexity of nature.

The challenge also helped me to gain a realistic view on how many hours I can dedicate to painting. During school term I get about 3 hrs two mornings a week for painting while the youngest is in childcare. In the evenings I get between 1 and 2.5 hrs to myself, but I need at least one evening for planning/admin/letter-writing/etc and another evening for chilling out. This is a tiny amount of time as even simple small paintings take me at least an hour (and often two) to paint. I need to think hard about the way to divide this time in the most beneficial way to achieve a healthy mix of learning, targeted to improve specific skills; working on more intricate paintings (I’m bursting with ideas!) and painting for the pure fun of it. I also want to get back into daily sketching/visual journal keeping as it creates lovely record of my everyday life and allows to tackle some of the subjects I wouldn’t paint otherwise; but maybe I can fit it into my daily routine with kids.