Monday, 30 May 2011

The Incomplete, Completed Painting: First Landscape, Part 4

Over the weekend, I finally reached a point where I felt like there was nothing more I could do to add any additional value to my landscape painting.

I then applied this notion as a form of warped logic and promptly declared the painting complete. (Or maybe I just admitted defeat, I'm not sure). 

Behold!  Kate's "I'm not sure I'm finished" Landscape Painting

Gee-whiz, this painting makes me feel perplexed.  I think it is because I like it and detest it in equal parts.  Worse, I'm not sure what parts I like and what parts I detest! Grrrr.  I hate conundrums.

I think I need to think about it some more as to whether I hang this up on my lounge room wall.  Oh well, I'll put this one down to a learning experience.  Any words of wisdom?

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Fragility of Making Progress: First Landscape, Part 3

It ain't easy being the new kid in town...
Comparing this progress shot of my painting to my last post, I'm relieved to be able to say that I can definitely see some improvement at last.  I hope you can see some progress as well.

The thing is that I'm still feeling at this point that the painting is screaming to the world "Looky, look at me everyone!  I'm Kate's first ever landscape painting. Look at those funny leaves, look at the dodgy water - Bwa-Ha-Ha!"  and that really annoys me.  Even if it's true.  Maybe it's because no-one likes being the new kid in town. And that notion applies even to paintings.

Taking a positive, half glass full perspective, I guess this exercise has been a useful way of taking stock of where my painting abilities have improved and where they still require further development.  And I do feel some hope that I can still improve on this painting enough so that I'd be happy to hang it on my lounge room wall. 

I think I'll work on this some more over the weekend and see if I can make some additional improvements.  I can feel some time is going to be spent drawing and painting boats this weekend. And painting delicate leaves on trees.  Any other suggestions?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! :-)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Get Ready To Pass The Tissues: First Landscape, Part 2

Landscape - Schmland-scape. How depressing!
As you can gather by the title, things are not going particularly well in Kate-land.  Painting-wise anyhow. 

I'm trying to think of something positive to say about the painting, but words have kind of left me mute for just a moment...
Sorry about that. ;-)

Reworking the painting - some progress is made
I've gone back and worked the painting some more.  I think I can see some improvement, particularly around the water.  I am unhappy with how the painting currently looks, but I'm hoping that a restful night's sleep, coupled with a good hard look at the painting tomorrow morning and art class tomorrow night, will give me the inspiration to get out of this mess.  I shan't give up just yet.

Stay tuned for Part 3, where I attempt to fix the painting.  Otherwise, please get ready to pass me the Kleenex!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Will It All End In Tears? First Landscape, Part 1

My tears of frustration, that is. 

It's been a week or two since I last painted anything, so I decided to get my act together and try to use acrylics again on canvas. 

I quickly discovered one minor issue though... the canvas I want to use is a weird, extremely narrow, rectangular shape and all my ideas for paintings were for big, wide, rectangles or squares.  Still, that was not going to deter me(!), so I decided to look through a couple of old photo albums.  It didn't take long to come up with this little beauty:

Aw - isn't it pretty?!

I thought this picture, taken a couple of years ago in the Lakes District, England, may just work on my narrow, Aussie size 6 canvas. (Size 6, is because if this canvas was a dress size, that's what it'd be!) 

Whilst I was still feeling inspired, I quickly started my latest artistic project.

Righto!  First step: Paint the background.


Except I'm not happy.  

Yes - that IS a tub of margarine in the corner of the picture!

I keep telling myself not to panic, that this painting will get better.  But, the tiny negative voice in my head keeps asking, 'What if it doesn't'?  Oh well.  I guess I've got to give it a "proper" try before I give up, right?! 

Stay tuned for the next installment in a couple of days, where you'll discover whether I ended up tightly curled in a little ball in the corner, or running around my house with glee and jubilation.

Who knows?  Only time will tell!

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Today's post features a little charcoal study of a boy building sandcastles at the beach: 

It's been a couple of months since I last used charcoal.  Once again, on the whole, I found it quite a pleasant medium to work with.  I feel must be honest with you and confess to an ongoing battle of wills throughout the compositional process where despite my best efforts, at times the charcoal's levels of smudginess were perilously close to getting out of control.  In the end I think it was Charcoal 5; Kate 4.  You may have won this time Charcoal, but I'll be back and better next time - I *will* prevail! ;-)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Pastel Under Pressure #2 - She'll be Apples (or Pears)

Today has been a very busy day and I found myself feeling sad that I haven't had time these past couple of days to undertake any artistic endeavours.  It was looking like I wouldn't get a chance to do anything at all today until my children asked me to prepare them Fish and Chips for dinner.

 "A-Ha!" I said to myself, "Fish and Chips is an oven baked meal that will give me fifteen minutes to complete a pastel under pressure exercise!"  So, I put the chips in the oven, set the timer and gave myself fifteen minutes to create the following:

Rejected! Apple and Pear

Why draw fruit, you may wonder?  Well, because two minutes before I set the timer, I discovered a couple of sad looking left-over pieces of  fruit, uneaten and rejected from the kid's lunchboxes.   I figured that surely fruit has featured in an awful lot of wannabe artists creations over the centuries.  And that I should join the ranks and become one too!

The pear took eight minutes to draw, the apple took seven.  I was then rather naughty and gave myself a bonus three minutes (because as far as I'm concerned,  I make the rules, so I can break them to suit!) to shade in some shadows in an attempt to "ground" the picture.  Dunno if it worked.  Oh well!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Story Behind My First Charcoal

Title:  "Not a Portrait of Kate"

Yes, I will admit, this post features an artwork from when I first started art lessons in February this year (rather than something I've drawn today). 

However, I'm hoping that you may like to have a look at her and hear the background story behind this particular artwork.  

I think it is probably fair to say that it was a combination of this piece of art, coupled with my pastel lady (which you can find in April's posts) that really made me fall in love with all things art.

I loved working with the charcoal!  I had so much fun  smudging and making a great big mess of the paper, my skin, my clothes, the table....  
And because I know at least one of you out there is wondering this very question, I have decided to answer it truthfully: Yes, dear reader, this being my first "life portrait" experience, I did giggle as I drew her bottom.  (Hmmm, would that mean that I was 'cracking' up? Sorry that was a tad rude and distasteful.  I shall wash my own mouth out with soap and water! ;-))

After I finished her, when I proudly took her home for the compulsory show and tell experience (AKA "Look what I created tonight, boys!").  My husband, not surprisingly I guess, liked it.  My children, however, were absolutely aghast and said  "Mummy!  That's naughty!  That's *rude*!"

Needless to say, they forbid me from hanging her in the hallway...

I am going away for a few days and hope to be posting better than ever by later in the week!


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

It's a Flop!

Man oh man, I am feeling *so* frustrated today! I was trying to draw a pastel picture of one of my children and no matter how hard I tried, it just wasn't happening.  What on earth is going on with the cyborg eyes and the "so pale I feel sick" skin?  And the hair?!  If I had hair like that, I'd be sure to wear a hat I can tell you!

To be honest, I didn't really want to post a picture on here that I felt less than happy with. However, in order to be honest and accountable about my progress in relation to all things creative, I felt like I should post it. Grrr to that conscience of mine! 

Please, try not to laugh too hard when you are looking at it. Oh, alright, I do grant you permission to have a slight chuckle and I wont take it personally. Just remember, everyone has to start somewhere, right? ;-)

A flop like this just makes me more determined to work out where I went wrong, why I made that particular mistake/s and how to fix it/them for the future.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes to show some progress!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope to see you around soon.


PS: The answer to the number of calla lilies in the previous post is 8.  Go back and have a look and see if your number matches mine!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

How Many Calla Lilies Can You Find?

Today's post is a florally artistic version of 'Where's Wally'. I have titled it 'Calla Lilies in pencil.' Oh, I know, I am *so* original!

Go on now, challenge yourself - how many flowers can you see - Count both the full and partial blooms.

I'll post the answer in my next post so stay tuned!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

My first pencil drawing of a rose 
Dear Mummies of the World,

May your day be filled with as much love and care and cuddles and kindness and chocolate as mine has been.

Love Kate x

Friday, 6 May 2011

Agapanthus - Not Just a Pest

Yes, I know how many of you feel about agapanthus - they can be a pest, bad for our waterways and our native flora.

For this reason, I must admit that I do a little guilty selecting this flower as the feature for this painting. 

However, I'm sure this painting is of one of those new varieties of agapanthus that are non-invasive.  Feeling slightly less cross with me now?
I've tried to paint the agapanthus in a style which is expressive and emotive, without complicating the essence of the flower with fine detail. I guess, when I analyse the painting, I think it would be fair to say that this would be my first attempt at the Impressionism style of painting.  

I feel compelled to confess to you at this point that as a teenager, I loved all the art works of the french painter Claude Monet, who is often referred to as the founder of impressionist painting movement of the late 19th/early 20th Century.

During those years of angst and turmoil, instead of posters of Rob Lowe and Emilio Estevez on my bedroom wall, I had, by choice, posters of some of Monet's most famous paintings.  I can remember lying on my bed, staring at these posters for hours on end, thinking all those rational teenage girl thoughts: 
"Gosh, that Monet guy sure knew how to paint. I particularly like that blue blob in the right hand corner. Oh!  How my heart aches - Why, why, why doesn't he like me?  How could he go out with her?  What's she got that I haven't got?  It's *not* fair!  Hmmmm, I wonder what's for dinner tonight?" 

I struggled with this painting initially as the picture was looking very flat and the flower was disproportionate to the size of the canvas.  The stem was also driving me crazy and I had some very dodgy leaf action happening there for a while.  Still, I persisted and now I feel quite pleased with the end product.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Time's Up! Pastel Under Pressure

I decided today that I was going to see what would happen if I attempted to draw a picture in 15 minutes.  Would I create a masterpiece or a disaster of pastellic proportions? 

All I knew is that I had to come up with a way of ensuring that I stuck to my self imposed time limit.  Unfortunately a couple of issues emerged:
  1. I don't own a stop watch, and
  2. It was time to cook dinner.  
Hmmm..... Thinking.....

A-Ha - Solution!

I don't own a stop watch, however I do like to multi-task. (Why do one thing at a time when you can do two?)  As such, I decided that I would draw a gerbera simultaneously whilst cooking oven baked Fish & Chips for my children's dinner. 

This way, you see, I could utilise the oven's in-built timer as both my cooking and my creating time keeper.  (And because I knew that ignoring the oven's beeps at fifteen minutes to cheat and keep on drawing would have an automatic "Kate burnt the dinner" punishment imposed.)

Whilst the oven was heating, I gathered my supplies - black paper, pastels and brushes.

Once heated, I then put the fish in the oven, set the timer for 9 minutes, ran to the kitchen table and set about creating.   (In case you are wondering, fish takes longer to cook than chips.)  Here's my first quickie picture:

Quickie Gerbera #1 - 9 minutes - Fish

I then put the chips in the oven and set the alarm for another 6 minutes for the chips:

Quickie Gerbera #2 - 6 minutes - Chips

Sorry everyone - the oven timer started to beep that 15 minutes was up before I could draw the floral equivalent of salad and tartare sauce.

(Yes, in case you are wondering, I did have to then cook the chips for an extra 12 minutes following the completion of my challenge to ensure they were golden brown and edible.  A mere 6 minutes in the oven would have resulted in a dinner comprising of Fish and 'Soggy, Semi-defrosted Mounds of Starch'.)

I surprised myself by enjoying this little challenge.  I think it was because it forced me to think "big picture" and not get all caught up in the detail, which I sometimes tend to do. 

I think I might just try it again in the future - any other suitable dinner suggestions?

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Wonders of Proper Paper

Go figure! I discovered today that if you use watercolour paints on proper watercolour paper instead of ordinary Xerox paper, it actually makes a difference to how successful the final product looks.

It means you can actually blend layers or washes of paint without the paper falling apart before your eyes AND you stand a teeny-tiny chance of correcting some of mistakes you make when you apply the paint to the paper. Wowzers!  :-)

Today's post is my second ever attempt at using watercolours and features a painting of a plant specimen called Chinese Lantern.  I can't recall seeing this plant in real life, so I have no idea if it looks remotely like the plant or not.  Knowing me, probably not. Still, the kids and the hubby liked it - My six year old even remarked "Good job, Mummy!".  Bless him, you've gotta love a build up like that!

I'm pleased that whilst it still looks incredibly amateurish (and I can see heaps of mistakes), it is at least an improvement on my earlier attempt at painting using this medium.  I get excited when I see progress!