Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Feeling Renewed

Well sort of.  I have just got back into running in an effort to ward of a "Mummy Tummy" that seems to be developing at an ever increasing rate (with fat, not with baby - don't go getting any ideas!) and to assist with regaining my vitality.

As such, it seemed appropriate to try and create something that was symbolic of renewal, since that's what I'm trying to do with my body and I like to draw or paint things that have a personal meaning to me.

I did a quick Google search and Eureka!, came up with the concept to draw a peacock feather.  You see, the peacock is a bird which is incredibly symbolic for a number of different cultures throughout the world.

One of the peacock's symbolism's is that of renewal.  (Supposedly because a peacock loses and replenishes its feathers every year.  I'm not sure whether that is true or not - it sounds quite convincing though, you must admit.)  Perfect!  So, I pulled out my pencils and set about creating for an hour or two.  The result:

In my head, the feather looked spectacular!  The reality....?  I think I like it.  I have to think about it.  Maybe I like the concept, just not the execution.  Oh well, I guess I can't expect everything to always work out just because I want it too.    Now, what's a symbol for persistence?

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you'll  stop by again soon!


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lazy! Who Me?

OK, I admit it.  Most of the time I run around here and there and simply don't stop until my head hits the pillow at night.  But every now and then, usually on a Sunday, I like to have a lazy day.  And I must say I do lazy spectacularly well.  I could compete in the lazy Olympics I tell you!

Are you after some evidence to prove my laziness?  Well, how about it's after 5pm and I'm still in my pyjamas!  I've told my hubby that after I finish writing this post, I'm off to have a shower and get dressed in an attempt to appear civilised.

I must divulge that I truly didn't intend to carry my laziness quite to this extreme.  Honest. I fully intended to just have a lazy lazy morning.  You know the type, eating a late breakfast and reading the newspaper and not bothering to change out of my nightie until ten.

Ten o'clock passed and I suddenly felt inspired to start on this little piece.  Getting carried away, I found I just couldn't stop.

This little chap, a Fairy Wren is actually a mixed media piece, consisting of watercolour and my new pencils, a first time attempt at this style of artistic endeavour for me. I got the idea from looking at Graeme Base (the illustrator/author) who combines these two mediums to create absolutely stunning masterpieces.  

So, what do you think?  Success?  Fail?  Somewhere in between?

Kate had a  lazy day today - what a tweet! :-)

I'm feeling a tad annoyed because I couldn't work out how to get the camera to take a super clear photo of my fairy wren without making the black look over the top black.  Grrrrrrr!  Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.

Oh, and if you are wondering about the background looking textured, that's because I'm experimenting with drawing on rough paper. Guess what I discovered? It's really rough and a cow to try and fill with pigment.  I think I'll think twice before trying this technique on this type of paper in the future.

Anyway, thanks ever so much for stopping by and seeing what I've been up to.  Enjoy your Sunday evening, I'm off to pretend that Monday isn't just around the corner whilst having a long, lazy shower!


Friday, 27 January 2012

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Sunshine on a rainy day
Makes my soul, makes my soul, trip, trip, trip away 

(Lyrics From "Sunshine On a Rainy Day" by Christine Anu)

Meet "Sunshine", a drawing of a budgerigar just like the one my husband used to own when he was a little boy.  I decided to draw Sunshine today because the weather has been so lousy that I felt I needed something loving, bright and colourful to lift my soul and spirits and make my world feel a less grey and drab. 

Sunshine was the ultimate budgie.  In fact, he was more than ultimate - he was a legend.  By night, Sunshine would sleep in a cage just beside my husband's bed, scaring away the big, bad monsters.  By day, Sunshine would sit on my husband's shoulder as he'd ride his Dragster bike, exploring the local (and not so local) neighbourhood.  I always wish I'd had the opportunity to see that little boy riding his bike with a bright yellow bird sitting on his shoulder!

Sunshine was drawn using my brand new Faber Castell Polychromos pencils.  They are beautiful to draw with and I'm really pleased with how my very first coloured pencil artwork has turned out.  (Even if I was too lazy to fill the grain of the background with pencil. Maybe I'll get around to it later.)   If you have never used a good quality pencil to try and draw or colour in with, I am telling you, seriously, you MUST try it.  Borrow some if you have to.  Beautiful.  It will be very hard to go back to using cheap pencils, I can tell you!  

I hope that perhaps my drawing of Sunshine has brightened your day.  Have a wonderful weekend!


PS:  For those of you who'd like to hear the song I was referring to at the beginning of my post, you can see the video clip here

Monday, 23 January 2012

Living in the Land of Make Believe


Today's post features a watercolour study of a make believe landscape. I used a picture initially as inspiration, but soon decided that enough was enough and I decided to go for it and use my imagination as my source of inspiration.  After finishing the painting, I decided to name the location as being Katesville.  It' s a magical place full of fluffy kittens, butterflies, chocolate, cheese and all the things I love.  Oh, how I wish I could live there (sometimes).

I'm sure you're wondering why I'd bother to go off on a tangent and disregard a perfectly good picture to invent a scene?

A couple of reasons. Aside from avoiding any possible copyright infringement issues, the wonderful thing about make believe is that it's an opportunity for your imagination to run free.  It's an opportunity to have fun changing things to suit your vision, just because you want to and you can.

Think about it, how often in life do you get to have such control and influence to do things just the way *you* want, just because you "want" to?   It was a wonderful experience, I dare you to try it yourself!

I'll see you around soon,


Friday, 20 January 2012

Kate's Recipe Submission for Nigella

What can I say?  I'm sorry Nigella.  I really tried.  Perhaps to make up for my lack of pencil prowess, you'd be interested in the following recipe I've created in honour of this attempt at drawing you?  I'd be more than happy for you to use it in your next book.

Kate's 'I'm really sorry I mucked it up Nigella Melange"


1 copy of Forever Summer (2005)  by Nigella Lawson

1 sheet of paper.  Use a triple milled, fine grade for the best results.

2 pencils, thoroughly sharpened.  I personally like to use handmade pencils that I found in a tiny village in the Pyrenees, although any old HB will do.

1 Eraser.  Use a good quality eraser here.  You want the rubbing out to be of the best quality possible.

1 pencil sharpener.  Once again, you must use a good sharpener.  You don't want your pencils to be blunt.  If you can't find one of my special edition pencil sharpeners available exclusively from a little shop just around the corner from Harrods, then I'd urge you to try using a hand crafted paring knife to gently ease the wood away from the lead.  Be gentle here with just a touch of gusto.

1 dash of bravado and

a pinch of frustration


1. Preheat oven to 160C / gas mark 3.

2. Carefully observe the beautiful lines of Nigella's face and envy how perfect her nose, eyes and lips are.  Be in awe of her luscious hair and delectable eye-brows.

3. Try to draw Nigella.  Make sure you include the ever so slightly innocent yet "come hither" look in her eyes and the ever so slight twist to her full, robust lips.  

4.  Realise after five minutes that you've mucked Nigella up.  Rub out eyes, lips, nose and cheekbones.  Leave the left eye-brow in place.  Now THAT was well done and a brow to be proud of!

5.  Start again.  Rub out.

6.  Repeat.

7.  Start to feel just a twinge of frustration as you try to emulate Nigella's stunning, tumbling hair.

8.  Give up half way through.

9.  Proceed to page 207 of Nigella's  Forever Summer cookbook and proceed to prepare the Vanilla Shortbread, devouring half before it gets into the oven in a true moment of self-pity.

10.  Feel much better and make a promise to apologise to Nigella by writing a blog post about it.

Hope you like it Nigella, once again, feel free to use it in your next cookbook!  I'm now off to eat the picture to hide any evidence that I ever tried to draw you.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Playing With Graphite


I was lucky enough to receive some good quality graphite pencils for Christmas.  I know, I know, I'm spoilt! As today is such a gloomy, rainy day in Brisneyland, I decided to pull them out for a play and an experiment.

I decided to try painting a watercolour wash for the flower petals and then use graphite pencil and a soft cream pencil to draw over the top of the watercolour to add in details.

The flowers were that of a yellow climbing rose.  To be honest, I'm not terribly sure how successful this little painting is.  It seems quite "heavy" for a rose picture.  And I'm not even sure the roses look like roses, since they have delicate texture and this is quite thick and lumbrous.  (Yes, I know that lumbrous isn't a word, but I think you agree that it should be.  Please start using as part of your vocabulary today.  Together, I'm sure we can get this word accepted as part of the English vernacular.)

At this point you are probably thinking "Kate, how on earth could you expect it to be "light" when you decided to outline the roses using a thick, black graphite?!"  And the only thing I can think to reply to you with is "Don't know.  Just did."  Hey, I never claimed to be an expert.  Sometimes I honestly believe that I learn more from my mistakes than my accomplishments.  Only sometimes though.  The rest of the time I just feel frustrated!

Hmmmmmm.  It might be back to the drawing board with this type of experimentation.  Anyway, thanks for stopping by.  I hope to see you around soon!


Saturday, 14 January 2012

It's Hard to Say Goodbye...

Today's post is a little bittersweet I'm afraid.  You see, my family and I have been dog-sitting Ivy, a cocker-spaniel these past five months while her owners have been overseas.

Ivy and I have loved having lots of walkies and heaps of cuddles, although she has nearly driven me crazy with her penchant for chewing my good quality pencils in half! I think she finds it very satisfying to hear the little snap and have a good old gnaw on the lead.   Ivy has also loved my children and my children have loved Ivy. She had a rough start adjusting, but now she has truly become part of the family.

As such, my little boy is heartbroken that Ivy's visit has come to an end.  He knows he has to say goodbye and that Ivy was just ours for a little while.  He understands  returning Ivy to her owners is the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, that doesn't make the pain any less.  A couple of days ago, he asked me to do a special drawing of  Ivy for him, so that he can always remember her.  Oh, it hurts as a Mummy to see your children so sad!

I drew Ivy using predominantly Conte brand pastels on card and deliberately left some of the pastel marks showing to help give textures, movement and personality.   My husband likes her and thinks that the picture reflects her personality.

Farewell Ivy, thanks ever so much for being a part of my family - even if it was just for a little while!


Friday, 13 January 2012

Incessant Drawing Practice

It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.
 ~ Camille Pisarro

I adore Pisarro's quote.  His words give me hope that one day I will successfully reach my goal of being proficient at drawing.  I can tell you that it could be really easy to lose confidence in your artistic ability when you try to draw and draw and draw various objects without success.  For me personally, the thing that has kept me motivated to keep trying has been two-fold:  
  1. On a rare occasion, I get it right; and
  2. I wouldn't expect to be able to sit down at the piano and instantly be able to play a Concerto. It is therefore reasonable to consider that I won't be able to sit down at an easel and expect to be able to draw an object, just because "I want to".     
Today's post features a couple of pencil sketches completed on the run of a woman in profile and a little boy.  I wanted to reduce the drawing down to its simplest form, being that of essentially a line drawing.  That's because by using line, there is no hiding behind pretty colours, or effective shading.  It is all about whether I got it right or not.

I'm actually rather pleased with these as I  believe I'm actually starting to make some real progress.  I like the majestic tilt of the woman's head and the regal slant of her nose and I personally really like the expression in the little boy's eyes, even if he does look sad.  I do wish I could rub out the woman's shoulder curve and make her arm thicker though.  I can see now that I messed that up slightly.  Nevermind.   Oh, and I should tell you that each sketch was completed in between 10 and 15 minutes.  Yes, it's true - sometimes I get impatient and hate doing things slowly!
It is moments like when I look at these two drawings like maybe, just maybe, I am starting to get the hang of drawing.  Sometimes.  A little.
Have a wonderful weekend, I look forward to seeing you next week!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Ain't No Sunshine


Ever feel like this?

Three kids.
35 degrees.

Late afternoon.
 Dinner isn't cooked.

And hubby needs to work back late.
Honestly, it's enough to send anyone to YouTube for a dose of early 1990's rock.  Funnily enough, it didn't work.  Deni -  You're Fired!  
Since YouTube didn't do the trick, to cheer myself up I thought I'd paint my favourite flower, the sunflower, using my  not-so trusty watercolours:

So... What do you think?
 I can't decide whether it is brilliant or rubbish.  Perhaps I'll refuse to make a firm judgement right now.

HANG ON........

Hubby just texted.

He's coming home!


Who said that writing a pitiful post on your blog won't cause wonderful things to happen?

Thanks for stopping  by.  I'm off to delegate to get one of my children to make dinner.

I hope to see you around again sometime soon!


Sunday, 8 January 2012

From My Window - Still Life Part 1


Goodness, at times like this I realise I really do live in a pretty part of the world!

Today's post features Part 1 of my latest painting, where I am using my trusty acrylics in an attempt to create a Still Life scene, inspired by the view from outside my front window.

Yes, in case you are wondering -  those really are my mountains and my tree.  My vase and my lemons.  I must confess, the bowl is looking a little emptier now after having pancakes for breakfast this morning, where  lemons were squeezed exuberantly over sugar.  Does anyone else do this?  If not, you should try it. YUM!   

I didn't feel a slavish need to paint in every tree, every little house, every leaf detail, after feeling inspired by Alberto Giacometti who said:
The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.

Thanks for giving permission for me to be me, Alberto!

The painting is nowhere near finished, but I've already received a lot of very positive feedback from visitors to my house who have seen the painting in person.  I only hope that I can keep improving on it over the next week or so.

Stay tuned for an update over the next few days.  I know, I know, you can hardly wait!

I'll see you soon,


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Portrait of Lydia - A Special Commission


Today's post features a pastel creation of Lydia, a special commission to honour a beloved family pet who sadly passed away a few months ago.

This is the second time I've been asked to undertake a commission in memory of a much loved family pet. Emotionally, it is a fascinating experience.  Part of me is truly honoured to be asked to create an artwork honouring such a loved member of a family.  Part of me is terrified that I will muck it up and the final artwork will be a disappointment, both to myself and the client.

I've learnt through the process of completing commissions that it's very important to ensure the owner feels happy that the picture is an accurate reflection of "their dog" and their idiosyncrasies.  Sometimes a quirky little patch of fur, a twinkle in the eye, or a big thick tail can be the difference between being the owner feeling the artwork is a picture of "any dog" rather than a special picture of "their dog".

Lydia was quite tricky to create and there were a few times if I wondered whether I was going to be able to do her memory justice.  I had the added complication that this was the first time I've included the whole body of the dog, rather than a head and chest image which caused a few additional palpitations.   After a few rough drafts and a bumpy middle, in the end I was really pleased with how she turned out.  And more than a bit relieved.   Part of the success I believe, was the regular communication I had with her owner throughout the creative process to ensure she was depicted as they remembered her.

Her owner was also really pleased, thank goodness and Lydia now hangs proudly on their lounge-room wall. As a beginning artist I can tell you that it's a most satisfying outcome.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope to see you 'round again soon!


Monday, 2 January 2012

2011 Review, Part II: What Was (a) Flop

Happy New Year!

I hope 2012 has started off wonderfully for you.  So far, mine has been peachy keen.

Well, my 2011 review just wouldn't be complete if I didn't give my top five "flops" just one more glimmer of time in the spotlight, before they become part of my recycling.   (I don't believe in hoarding.)

These five little artworks were selected because they had the honour of  either causing me intense feelings of frustration and annoyance, or, for their ability to make me laugh till tears rolled down my face at the way they unintentionally turned out

So, here I go!

In no particular order, please delight in my top five "What a Flop!" art works for 2011:

1.  The Promising Start (which I then managed to wreck):

This was one of the few paintings I've completed where I honestly felt just a little lump in my throat when I realised how badly I managed to muck it up.  Look at her sweet little face here, isn't she gorgeous?

Now look at  how I managed to destroy her...

(I'm so embarrassed I don't want to share!)

(Oh, OK, in the name of honestly, peace and goodwill I will.)

(Here goes.)

(Brace yourself)

(Brace yourself further and strap yourself in):

I know, I  know, I KNOW!   Yep, with a few dapper dabs of  my paintbrush I wrecked her. Now, can you see what I'm capable of?!

2.  Kate in Drag:

This was one of my first attempts at a self portrait, and my goodness, can't you tell?!  I look like I'm in drag.  Impressively, I don't even look like me!  (I guess that means my identity will stay secret for another day...)

3.  I'm Freaky (and I know it):  

This was my first attempt at drawing a child using my trusty pastels.  I think I have managed to capture a look in the child's eye which says "I'm gunna come and get you!  I'm gunna give you nightmares.... give me a lolly pop, or else!"

4.  My Nemesis - Watercolour mayhem:

These "flowers" were my very first attempt to use watercolours.  The paintings were so bad, my husband thought that one of my kids had painted them.  (Not a compliment when one hasn't even started school yet.  Ouch!)  This disaster was the spectacular commencement of  my very own personal battle: Kate ~vs~Watercolour, the greatest artistic struggle of the millennium.  (Nothing quite like being dramatic to get the point across, right?)

5.  The Accidental Rude Gesture:

So here's the story....  I was doing a quick little pencil sketch of a boy in an attempt to improve my drawing skills (I know, I'm so diligent!).

I was drawing away, merrily, when I suddenly looked down at the paper and realised that it looks suspiciously  like this charming little boy is (I don't know how to say it without being improper.......) well..... flipping the bird.

He's not!  It's his fourth and little finger, I promise.  It's just that I can see it most certainly doesn't look that way.  I couldn't stop laughing when I realised what I had done.  It was like my drawing was telling me what it thought of my drawing!  Nothing like honest feedback, I guess.

Well, there you go,that concludes  my top five flops review  for 2011.  I hope you had a giggle, (as I did), having a look at the artworks.

I have absolutely no doubt that 2012 will continue to have its own share of artistic disasters.

 The thing is, I'm as proud of my flops as I am of my hits.  Because it means I'm not afraid to experiment or try something new.

I consider it's the mix of the disasters and the (relative) masterpieces that makes this whole artistic journey to be so fascinating and fun.  And by my sharing, it helps others to realise  that being an artist is not just about having an innate talent - but rather, that it's about trying and experimenting and just plain doing things, just because.  Regardless of  the outcome.

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