Monday, February 16, 2009

An Exciting Trip!

Carolyn and Brooke
I am going to hold, cuddle and breathe in that lovely baby aroma of my sweet little granddaughter, Brooke on Wednesday! I held her when she was two weeks old and now she is almost 6 months. I see and hear her on my computer screen fairly regularly using Skype – what wonderful technology – but she feels like a “virtual” baby.
I have bought a cheap ticket to the UK and am going just for a week!

Our Plein Air exhibition this weekend was a real success. We held our show at the home of Noeline McMaster and our artists set up their easels and painted in Noeline’s spectacular garden throughout the weekend. Our visitors were delighted to watch and interact with the artists at work. Here are some photo's of some of the artists explaining their work.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, people were so interested to see what we were doing. I had many people complementing me on my paintings hanging on the show and even had two people ask if I could teach them to paint in watercolours! One lady brought some paintings from the boot of her car for me to give her some advice!
Before me was a profusion of pink roses tumbling over a low stone wall which really appealed to me, I love roses! I was aware that I was there to demonstrate painting outdoors, so decided to take a more figurative approach to the painting.
I started with watercolour on some smooth hot-pressed watercolour paper. I decided to experiment with rubbing watercolour pencil on a piece of sandpaper, letting the small particles fall into the wet paint. Oooh, it makes star-shaped speckles in the transparent paint. Then I had fun flicking on various colours into dry and wet areas.
I dipped watercolour pencils into the water and played around with making various marks. Next I had fun with oil pastels, using them as a resist for a further layer of watercolour. Mmmmmm, I had such fun!

Saturday, February 7, 2009



Acrylic, 122 x 88 cm

This painting was originally posted under the name “flight”. I have been working on this canvas on and off for the last few months, I have even hung it at a recent exhibition and then worked on it again after the show. Do you ever do this?

I have turned the canvas horizontally, it looks better this way. My eagle represents strength and determination. She has the ability to move freely from one dimension to another, to soar above mundane daily life with absolute freedom.

I love to turn my paintings around and hang them up for a while in this new view of the work, it is like having four different paintings! Contemplating my paintings in progress plays an enormous part of my painting process, I spend ages looking at them in order for the paintings to direct me and tell me where to go next. I usually work on three or four at a time and so my studio can become very cramped with canvasses standing about. I dream of having a studio the size of a church hall!

In order to hang them all up without banging a million nails into the wall, we put up picture rails in my small studio and have hung chains from which I can hang the paintings. I screw a nail into the middle of each stretcher bar and then tie a loop of string so I can hook up the painting in whichever way I fancy. I can move these chains according to the size of the paintings and can hang two or more on the same chain.

What do you do with your paintings while working on them?

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Chance Encounter with a Stranger

Detail from a Chagall etching
Don’t you wish that life could always potter along on an even keel? Sometimes events descend on us that can really knock us sideways, just like a kick in the stomach. You can suddenly feel you are on a roller coaster that dips you into the depths of despair.

All of us go through times like these. As time passes, the ups and downs may become less pronounced and we may hit a plateau where we may float along with a welcome bit of peace and tranquillity.

A few years ago, during one such extraordinarily distressing time, I was on sales duty at a local exhibition. I had also been feeling dissatisfied with my paintings, they seemed to say very little about how I felt and who I am. Deep inside me I had questions about where my art was taking me.

An elderly man came in with his hiking boots and old gnarled stick. This exhibition hall is on the side of the mountain and we frequently get hikers stopping by. He spent ages, carefully looking at each painting. He called me over and said,
“These artists are very proficient in what they do, their technique is excellent but there doesn’t seem to be much soul in many of the paintings.”
I was immediately intrigued and questioned him further. He said,
“Artists are usually quite sensitive people and everyday life can be turbulent, life is a journey, it can be a difficult journey. An artist should use the power of that turbulence in their paintings. I am not saying they should paint dark and negative paintings, I am saying they should somehow portray the difficulties of life and how those difficulties have been overcome”.
I am trying to remember is his exact words, they were so relevant to me, they almost took my breath away.

We spoke for about 45 minutes – he spoke to my very soul without probably realizing it, he came and told me where I could go with my paintings and also a little bit about healing my soul. As he was about to leave, I asked him his name. He smiled in a gentle way and said, “Virgil” and went on his way.

I felt that I had been visited by some sort of vision. This dear, sweet man set me thinking about a new direction, a new path on which to travel.