Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Introducing Twinkle Eyes

I'd like you all to meet my latest little pastel study, Twinkle Eyes (Twinkle for short):

I'm most certainly not being biased (well, OK, maybe I am being just a tad), when I say Twinkle has the twinkliest eyes you have ever seen.  And those twinkly eyes are coupled with the cheekiest little elfin smile which I'm sure gives you just a teeny-tiny hint of the mischief he is capable of.

Trust me, I'm sure even Twinkle would agree that whilst he's a lovely little boy, he sometimes knows no bounds when it comes to twinkly deeds of frolicsomeness.

[Yes, as an aside, you read the word "frolicsomeness" correctly.  It does exist - I looked up the thesaurus because I didn't want to use the word mischief twice in a row. As soon as I saw the word, I knew I had to use it.  I love this word so much, I think it is destined to become part of my everyday vocabulary.  I can picture it now, Hubby (upon his return home from work):  "How was your day today darling?" Kate: "Why thank you for asking, dear hubby. It's been full of fun and frolicsomeness."  See!  Perfect.]

Twinkle was drawn using a combo of Conte pastels, pastel pencils and Art-spectrum pastels on Canson pastel paper and took me around two hours to complete.

I'm thinking I may go back and tweak Twinkle in a couple of days as errors become more apparent.  It's really true about the idea of putting your pictures away for a couple of days in order to see your work with "fresh" eyes.

When I analyse this picture I realise that whilst I'm not as good as I want to be (and goodness knows if that will ever happen!), I can see that I have made progress this past year.  Click on this link here to see for yourself.  You have my permission to giggle or scream out in horror (either reaction is permissible.  Personally I like to alternate between the two for greatest effect.).

Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by.  Be sure to come back and visit and partake in some more frolicsomeness in the near future!


Saturday, 24 March 2012

A Promising Start - Part 2 - FINISHED!

Come on.  Admit it!

You knew deep down that once I started painting Bubba yesterday(my first ever pastel pencil wonder baby) that I wouldn't be able to stop until I had finished, didn't you? ;-)

I was a lucky woman, I tell you - hubby was so impressed by my initial work on Bubba, that he could completely understand why I felt so compelled to keep working on the baby, and has looked after our kidlets today in order to give me time to complete the painting. What a guy!

As you may recall, I was quite worried in yesterday's post that I'd muck Bubba up.  In the end this wasn't really an issue, as life threw me [up] a curve ball last night when my youngest child (known as Mister Cal-cal) came down with a spectacular bought of gastro at 3am in the morning.

Comfort and cleaning in the wee hours of the day has meant I've been feeling too exhausted to bother with being worried about the painting turning into a disaster.  Instead, I've only had enough energy to focus the small remainder of my consciousness and my bleary eyes on creating colour, intensity and line to try and due Bubba justice.

Disclaimer note! The next couple of paragraphs have been written specifically for those of you who are interested in the process I used to paint Bubba.  For those of you whose eyes glaze over at the mention of colour application and technique, please ignore the following italicised paragraphs and proceed to the bottom paragraph.  If you read on, don't say you haven't been warned... :-)

[Firstly I divided the painting into three distinct areas of work - initially the face; then the hat; and then the blanket.  I worked right way up (mostly) when painting in the face, although I occasionally turned the painting and source picture upside down in order to let me see more objectively whether I had captured the right placement, colour and tone for features.  I predominantly worked upside down when painting in the little hat, because I wanted to ensure the colour did not drop onto the face; and then I turned the painting right way round again, but made sure the painting was propped up on an angle when working on the green blanket, to ensure the pastel dust didn't drift upward toward the face.  In case you didn't guess, contamination is not my friend!  

In terms of the practical application of the pastels, I completed an under layer of the painting using solid "blocks" of bold colour. Yep, believe it or not, the painting is actually a combination of fluro purple, fuscia pink, electric blue, wake me up before you go-go green and neon yellow.  I used my Conte pastel sticks here, chosen because they are a harder pastel and are easier to layer over than a softer pastel.  I then gently blended the colour into the board using either a tissue (when I was being a goody-two shoes and health conscious) or my finger (when I was being lazy and couldn't be bothered worrying about the dust).     If you look closely at Bubba's skin, you may now be able to notice all these colours in action, as well as what you'd consider the traditional "skin colours". Sneaky, right?

After I completed the initial layer, I then went over the top using my pastel pencils, working slowly and carefully.  Finally, for the bright highlights that you can see on the painting, I used my super soft Art Spectrum pastels, as they had the ability to stand out from the smudged in lower layers.  I'd estimate all in all, that Bubba has taken me somewhere between eight and ten hours to complete.]   

I'm really thrilled with how Bubba looks.  My warm and fuzzy feelings were made made all the sweeter when Mr Cal-cal proclaimed from his sick sofa that "I love how your Bubba looks, Mummy!".

Thanks for stopping by and sharing my pleasure today, I hope to see you again sometime soon!


Friday, 23 March 2012

A Promising Start - Part 1

Hi There

Today's post features the face of a gorgeous little baby I am creating using a combination of my brand *new* pastel pencils and a plethora of stick soft pastels on a Monte Marte Pastel board.  My art teacher, Ms Kathy, says that "Bubba" is my best pastel work yet.  Can I just say that I am loving using pastel pencils?  They are so wonderful for obtaining detail that I struggled to obtain using sticks.  (I hope I am not obtaining an irritating reaction from within you by my overly zealous use of the word obtain.  It seems it must be my word for the day - a result of all those years I've spent watching Sesame Street where I excitedly guessed what the mystery number and letter would be.)

I hope you don't think I'm being overly conceited by my admitting to you that I'm loving how my little baby is looking at the moment.  The only problem is that I'm now feeling the pinch to try and keep the rest of the painting up to the same standard.  Yes, I guess you could say I'm experiencing a form of performance anxiety.  If only there was a nasal spray to fix that!

In case you are thinking "Come on Kate, it can't be that bad..." click here to see a spectacular muck up of all proportions which proves to you what I am capable of.

Anyway, stay tuned over the next few days when I try my very best to do Bubba justice.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

An Un-Scientific Experiment


Today's post features me conducting a terribly un-scientific experiment with layering colour using my trusty pastels.


Red and green (doesn't always) make brown.



I read about this idea of layering colours in paintings to try and create a rich, luminous effect and it sounded simple enough that even I would be able to try it. (I like simple.)  Basically, the idea is that you under-paint your picture using the opposite colour of the intended colour you want to use on top.

I wasn't completely convinced about this idea and worried my attempts might turn into to a brown, muddy mess. I continued to feel that way until I suddenly had a light-bulb moment of inspiration and thought to myself "Well if my painting is going to turn into mud, I may as well paint a water-lily.  They *love* mud!" (See, there is a warped logic in my madness.)  I then pulled out my Conte and Art Spectrum pastels and set about creating a water-lily, using the following approach.


1.  First, I under-painted the water-lily using the opposite of the colours I wanted on top.

I found it kinda fun!

To work out what would be the colour to use on this layer, I used the three primary colours - red, blue and yellow as my starting point. The opposite colour is the combination of the two other colours, so the opposite of blue would be orange, the opposite of purple would be yellow etc.

Here is the finished under-painting:

2.  After I'd finished my under-layer, I went about painting over the top with the correct colours.

Results: Look up at the top water-lily painting, you can see it there.

(Now since I'm doing a terribly un-scientific experiment, I guess I'd better come up with a Conclusion.  Here goes...)


My painting has ultimately worked.  I believe I have proven that red and green does not always make brown.  Only sometimes.  I will happily confess that I struggled with layering the pastel and the flower isn't as delicate as I would have liked.  Still, I think I'd like to try this technique again sometime, as I do think it adds some depth to the painting.

Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by and seeing what I've been up to!

I'll see you all around later in the week,


Monday, 19 March 2012

It's Not Everyday You Get To Create A New Species...

I'd like to introduce you all to the Kate-is Birdem, a little bird I accidentally "invented" via a series of small errors yesterday whilst experimenting with my coloured pencils on Canson Mi Tientes pastel paper.  Funny, I'd never thought of myself as being an Ornithologist before...

Kate-is Birdem can be recognised by it's unique call of
"Put that away this instant before you hurt yourself!"
If you look closely, you'll note that my Kate-is Birdem is a unique combination of the Fairy Wren I painted using my pastels a couple of months ago, and the Willie Wagtail I painted a couple of weeks ago.  You see, my intention was originally to paint another Willie Wagtail yesterday and I only realised the error of my ways when I had already way over-committed to the artwork.  In terms of explanation as to how this could possibly happen, all I have to say is "Don't ask!".  It is what it is and Ego sum qui sum (that's me just being a fancy-pants and saying and "I am what I am" :-)).

Amusingly, hubby said "Kate, it may not exist, but you certainly make a convincing pretend bird.  You're certainly getting the knack of using your pencils and pastels."
Awww, isn't he sweet?!

Finally, in case you are wondering about my experiment with using pencils on the sanded pastel paper, my recommendation would be not to try it.  The paper will seriously chew through your pencils and you will really have to layer very intently to get any depth to your work.  It was driving me crazy.  (And I was already feeling pretty crazy when I recognised the errors of my ways.)  If you are feeling rebellious like you still want to try it, don't say I didn't warn you... ;-)

Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by. I'll be sure to share my latest with you over the next couple of days.


Friday, 16 March 2012

My Dress Obsession Confession

I have a confession to make:  I LOVE clothes.   In fact, I would go so far as to confess to being a closet girly-girly-girly-girl. (Closet, because I sometimes wear skirts and jeans. Sometimes I even wear sneakers.  And whilst I try to do my hair and make-up every day, sometimes I have days where I simply can't be bothered.)

Anyway, back to the post.  Given my love for all things girly, it seemed fitting (pun intended) to draw and paint one of my favourite girly items in the whole entire world - the (not so) humble dress.  I chose the 1950's as my style inspiration for this latest little doodle, because I love the feminine form of the these dresses.  The dress was created using a mix of watercolour paints and watercolour pencils and it was completed last week in Ms Kathy's art class.

I'm afraid just like with Sharpie (aka my felt tip pen) in my last post, I got a tad carried away with using the watercolour pencils.  In case you are now wondering - No, I'm not sure what is going on with my sudden obsession with crazy backgrounds, but I'm assuming it is just a phase that I'll grow out of.

Incidentally, this was the first time I've used watercolour pencils since I was a tiny little girl when my mother used to have a tin of them and would let me use them sometimes, if I was being especially well behaved and promised to always put them back in the tin when I was finished.   I am sure you'll be relieved to know that I was very well behaved when I used them in Ms Kathy's art class, and I ensured I put all the pencils back in the tin when I was finished.  Just like all those years ago, I found the pencils really fun to use and would urge you to give them a try if you haven't done so.  You can create marvellous effects depending on how hard you colour in, how much water you apply and the type of brushwork you use.

Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by and seeing my latest creation.

Have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you next week!


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dear Sharpie, Can We Still Be Friends?

Dearest Sharpie

I know I bought you in order to use you strictly for labelling CD's, lunch-boxes, hats, drink-bottles and other items that get easily lost by distracted children.

I know I swore to you (never at you) that I would not use you for my art doodles.

The problem is, Sharpie dearest, that you are just too darn enticing.  Is it because you are permanent, and I like the dangerous risk of never again being able to remove your marks from any surface you touch?  Or is it your smooth, fine black line that you let me draw with such ease?  I'm not sure.  All I know is the opportunity to permanently draw all over my latest sunflower watercolour was more than my self-control could handle.

I promise, Sharpie, that I only intended to draw one or two little highlights in order to add depth and then I was going to put you away.  But then, somehow, instead of stopping at those two highlights, I swear you made me keep outlining, dotting and dashing, until before I knew it, the entire sunflower had been completely covered by your black ink.

So you see, Sharpie, it really isn't my fault.

I really feel like it was you who made me do it.

Actually, when I think about it, Sharpie, I think really, it's you who should be apologising to me.

You know I'm right.

Sharpie, in advance, I just want you to know that I accept your apology and yes, I'd be delighted to use you again sometime.


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Pastel Under Pressure #5: The Pity Party Edition


Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that when "Mummy Goes Down" the entire household descends into utter chaos?

Or, is the household (that would be hubby and kids) are functioning perfectly well without me while I lay curled up in bed feeling dreadful, and it's just that I feel so awful that it seems like the house is in chaos when it really isn't?  Does what I've just written make any sense?  Gosh, these are certainly things for me to ponder at 2am the next time I can't sleep.

Yes, people, I hate to say it, but it's true.  Today's Pastel Under Pressure (PUP) edition has been inspired by my very own pity-party for one.

[For those of you who are wondering what on earth I'm talking about when I refer to PUP, click here to have a look at an earlier edition where I explain all.  For those who know what I'm talking about, read on...]

I know I must be sick because I found myself involuntarily singing the chorus of You Light Up My Life (Debbie Boone version), as I went about creating my little lighthouse pastel creation.  Because my throat is so sore, I sounded like a cat on a fence at midnight after one too many cans of Whiskers.  Lucky no-one was around to hear at the time is all I can say. It was created on textured Canson pastel paper using Conte and Art-Spectrum pastels.  This was the finished product when the beeper went off:

Ironically, for feeling dreadful and only 15 minutes worth of work, I actually think my little lighthouse pastel has turned out rather well.  Thanks for the inspiration Debbie!

I don't know about you, but ultimately the big thing about being sick is that it makes you grateful for everyone who cares for you and looks after you when you are feeling vulnerable.  So I'd like to say a big thank you to my lovely hubby and children for caring for me these past couple of days.

And I'd also like to sing out a big thank you to you for bothering to click on this post and see what I've been busy creating.  I really appreciate it.

On that heart-filled, slightly delirious note, I'll say thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon.

I'm going back to bed.


Thursday, 8 March 2012

From My Window - Still Life - Part 3 (Finished!)

Can I just say that this painting has been an absolute nightmare from start to finish to paint.  I cannot even begin to think of how many litres of paint I've wasted fixing up continual mistakes in tone, perspective, line and just about any other artistic term you'd like to think of or even invent.  You think I'm kidding?  Go back and have a look at my earlier posts about this little number and you'll know I'm telling the absolute truth.

Ta-da!  It may look simple, but trust me.... It wasn't!

Overall, my assessment of the process of painting this artwork is that it's been a very personal and maddeningly pleasant experience.  Maddening, because, well, I've just told you about my "issues" and I'm sure I've lamented about all the problems I've encountered in earlier posts.

It's pleasant and personal because it features things I love: my blue vase is featured in the painting, as are my lemons (which are now all but a memory as they've been squeezed liberally over pancakes before they went mouldy.  Mmmmm Pancakes with sugar and lemon - try it if you haven't, it's a delicious alternative to maple syrup. Yes, I know I digress from the topic on hand, but you must admit it is very wonderful that you can  come visit me and get handy cooking suggestions as well as share my art.  Right, back to business... ;-)); my mountains in the background (I like to pretend I own the mountains, even if I know deep down they belong "to the people and mother earth"); and my tree (nothing special to add there).  

A close up of a section of the painting  to show you some detail. 

So, what do you think?  Do you like it?  Success?  Thumbs up?  Go back and start again?  Let me know.  I'm always curious to hear what others think (and I sometimes get lonely being the only one writing here).

Personally, I think I'd like to try another scene similar to this one to see if I can improve second time around.  Once I finally recover from the "maddening" part of the process, that is.

Anyway, thanks ever so much for stopping by!  I'll see you around soon,


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

That's Mr. Wagtail To You

Does anyone else recall how when you were a little kid (back in the day), you always used to call grown-ups Mr and/or Mrs X?  And how suddenly, one-day you're a grown up and you still continue to find yourself calling these very same adults Mr and/or Mrs X?  And this is despite as a proper adult you now realise these Mr and/or Mrs X are actually less than twenty-five years older than you and you are now nearing  f-f-f-f-forty?  And not only that, you realise you will continue to always call them Mr and/or Mrs X, because using their first name after all this time just feels so totally and utterly wrong? (Come now, I can't be the only person out there who feels this way!)

Well, when I completed this tiny study of a charming Willie Wagtail a couple of days ago (one of a few in acrylics), I decided that this here bird would definitely be known as a Mr. (full-stop intentional) Wagtail.  Under no circumstances would there be a friendly shortening to Willie or Will, or him requesting to be known as the Wills-meister.  No Siree, he would definitely be called and known as Mr. Wagtail.

Mr. Wagtail ONLY, or there would be consequences. (Pooping on my clean washing or on my car perhaps?)

I'm primed for action if you call me anything other than Mr. Wagtail!
See what I mean?  Yes, I realise Mr. Wagtail may be fairly poorly executed, but I do feel comfortable in declaring that I believe I have managed to successfully convey a certain atti-tood.  I hope you agree!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by.  I'll see you around soon (hopefully with all my washing intact),


Saturday, 3 March 2012

Self Portrait #6: It's Me Again.... In Colour!

Following my last post where I completed a little pencil sketch of moi, I decided I wanted to try drawing myself yet again, but with an added colourful twist.

No, in case you are wondering, I am not obsessed with me.  It's just that royalty and embarrassment free models are currently few and far between.   Heck, even the cat won't sit still for a photo.

Ultimately, I concluded that drawing myself would be the best option, because if I stuff myself up, no-one else will be subjected to looking completed picture thinking to themselves "Boy oh boy, I never knew that I looked like such a freak. I never before realised my nostrils were so big, my eyes so lopsided and that my hair is actually blue.  I'll never be able to go out in public again!". No Siree, this whole artistic caper is not about creating insecurities in others, that's for sure.

I decided to draw me on some Canson Mi Tientes textured paper I had lying around and once again used the (in)famous "not quite married and still young and pretty" photo files from many moons ago.  I used my cheap and cheerful Monte Marte pastel pencils, a few of my Conte pastels, and my Faber Castell coloured pencils to try and recreate me.  This is what I ended up with:

I have to be totally honest with you and say I've decided I absolutely HATE using this type of pastel paper.  It does grip the pastels somewhat upon initial application, but it doesn't take long for the "tooth" of the paper to be filled making it harder to add many layers of pastel.  I also have decided I prefer the look of a smoother surface.  This makes me look like I'm in dire need of an exfoliant.

When I reflect on today's artwork, I'm pleased to feel like I have at least I have learnt something new, regardless of how the final product turned out.  I guess it ultimately means that even if in some ways I'm a little dodgy, in other respects I am a winner.  Just like life, I can live with that.

Thanks for seeing what I've been up to - enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Self Portrait #5 - Believe It Or Not It's Just Me

Why is it I am stuck in a 1980's music time-warp at the moment?

First it was Pretty In Pink, now The Greatest American Hero.  I can only fear what catch-tune my sub-conscious will think of next - hopefully not the theme from A Country Practice or Love Boat.

Perhaps somebody could kindly suggest a song from the 1990's to bring me a little closer to the present.  Just not the B52's.  Or Enya.

Anyway, today's offering is a quick doodle of moi.   For those of you saying "Yeah sure, Kate, you're not that gorgeous and you certainly don't have long hair!", the inspiration was from a photo of me taken just before I was married when I was young, was gorgeous and had long hair.  Where did those days go? <insert wistful sigh here>

I'm still not convinced I look entirely like me, but hubby does assure me that "he can definitely see me in the drawing" and that "I'm certainly improving".  It can't be hard for him to say that when you consider what my first drawings looked like:

Anyway, I'll leave you to ponder whether I do look like I look like in this picture.  (I love a tricky nonsensical sentence on occasion.) Or whether I don't.  I'm not telling.  I like to think it adds to part of my mystique....

Thanks so much for visiting me, I hope to see you around soon!