Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Back again after big changes

The two years since my last post have been challenging. Lots of changes in all areas of my life. I returned to a job which I hadn't done for 25 years - teaching piano to young people. So I've been pre-occupied with re-training myself and getting up to date with syllabi and repertoire. Not to mention the technological revolution which enables me to instantly send sheet music to a student along with an audio or video file. Using my phone. It's mind-boggling.

So my visual art took a back seat for about 18 months. I was simply too physically, mentally and emotionally drained to attend 3 hours of life drawing, and then teach 4 hours piano. My brain is low on serotonin at the best of times, and my new music teaching job was greedily eating it all up.

Last September I took a painting class at the Workshop arts centre, Willoughby. The teacher, a professional full time exhibiting artist, Jo Bertini, inspired and encouraged me to do more.

Around the same time, a remarkable person came back into my life. John Hancock was my creative director when I worked as a copywriter at Ogilvy and Mather Direct in Melbourne in the 1980s.
I was lucky to reconnect with him for the last few months of his battle with cancer, during which, despite hospitalisation, heavy duty treatments, and palliative care, he was an energetic and powerful mentor. As he was when we worked together all those years ago.

So I have experienced unexpected and incredible generosity of spirit in the last 6 months. And I am painting again.

Also, my music is different from when I used to play years ago. I no longer feel pressured to perform, to achieve, to live up to family expectations (I grew up in a musical family). The impulse is coming from within me, something I thought I would never experience. I was one of those kids who dutifully   did all the classical exams, practised 2 hours a day, and never questioned it. But it wasn't coming  from my heart.

My grandmother said back then "don't ever give up your music". But of course I did. I had to. I had to drop it, forget it, then rediscover it and claim it as mine. And my grandmother was not a painter, so she didn't really "get" the art thing. I am a far, far better painter than I am a musician. Now I feel free, and entitled to enjoy both on my own terms and no-one else's. It probably sounds weird but that is
important for me. My own terms.

Through all of this, my piano playing is the best it's ever been, my painting is the best it's ever been, absolutely incredibly and profoundly satisfying. I'm still battling with my severely depressive brain which is a constant. I've been through worse and survived. Menopausal symptoms don't help (ironic chuckling) but that too shall pass.

More to come, plus new and wonderful paintings. I am planning an exhibition soon which will be both online and IRL. Excited.

Monday, April 2, 2012

New paintings and other things

Here is one of my recent life paintings of "Kim", a model at the RAS NSW. I painted him several times years ago at another class, and he's always great to paint. I don't think I've done his back before though. It's good to return to the same subject, years later, and see how much easier it is than before. And of course I'm a lot looser now. I wanted to contrast the transparency of the flesh with the opacity of the background. I love the layers of glazes that resulted. The finished painting is about 100 cm square, I used a 4 inch nylon housepainter's brush with acrylic and matt medium, using the brush's side edge for the thin lines such as the creases on his neck.

My daughter insisted I remove this self-portrait from facebook because I "look deranged". Success at last! Seriously, the reason for the weird colors here is that I was in the car, waiting for Her Royal Highness the Princess to get off her horse. I had just painted a lovely study of a pumpkin, using watery acrylic on watercolor paper. I had another small piece (A5) and looked in the rear vision mirror, saw my reflection, and painted. The fact that it was dark, and I only had limited colors (cad red, cad yellow and phthalo blue) meant a "deranged" self-portrait was the end result. I love it.
It's amazing what I paint when I have limited resources, a tiny space, no light, and only the vegetable shopping in the back of the car. One is forced to paint oneself.

Notes on my blog...

Well, once again, yes, it has been rather a while since I've updated my blog. Something called my daughter's HSC (matriculation) got in the way. Then we had a long summer break, then she started (gulp) University. Now, she is driving herself everywhere so I have been sacked from my chauffeur job. Yay! I have a LOT more TIME to spend at classes and in my studio now!

These are about 1% of the things I've made since my last post. Since January, I've been focussing on painting, and I'm doing a weekly life painting class with Leyla Spencer at the Royal Art Society of NSW. I've been in Leyla's drawing and painting classes on and off over about 8 years. She taught me to draw properly!
(legwarmers and gloves custom made for a client in the USA)

However much I try to avoid "handcrafts", I always end up with a crochet hook and a ball of wool when painting is impractical. It's like meditation for me. I crochet and knit while I watch TV with Rick, and while Rick's driving. Then while I'm sitting there I'll come up with all sorts of other ideas for other stuff I want/need to make. Such as furniture/clothes/accessories/decor. Oh, and more paintings and drawings. So it's one big circle of create, create, create. It all feeds onto something else.

Today, I'm excited about a lovely loose watercolor portrait that a colleague did in class the other day. I rarely see people painting in watercolor, (except for the botanical class I sneak through every Tuesday, trying not to bump anything on my way to the sink). So now, after many portraits in oils and acrylics, I'm thinking "I must try THAT" i.e. watercolor portraits.

Anyway, Leyla had me working on lost edges on Saturday. Lost dark edges (shadows) and lost lights. She showed us work by Matisse, Degas, Rembrandt and another guy I've forgotten his name. Yet another way of simplifying and defining the form, with minimal visual explanation. It's got my brain going in yet another direction. So I did another large nude, started off linking the shadows, and ended up linking the lights, when the lighting changed. I'll show you in my next post. Please remind me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

now, which end do I hold the paintbrush???

Well I don't know what happened, someone put a bomb under me perhaps, but I completed two small watercolours on the weekend. I had a massive mental block, created by a few weeks' break from painting due to "Daily Paintworks Challengeslife getting in the way". Daughter's exams, school holidays, husband starting new job, husband spending a week in Europe on business, oh yes, and the dog ate an easter egg and almost died. So, it was all I could do to put dinner on the table, let alone sit down and draw or paint...

Anyway, enough about all that. The heater in my studio isn't working, and it's freezing down there so I don't want to paint in oils or acrylics. Even pastels are a bit messy for upstairs, so out come the old faithfuls, the water colours.

If you want to have a closer look at these, they're in my Etsy shop and also on the Daily Paintworks Challenges pages.

Friday, March 11, 2011

coloured pencil drawings

Last night I did these little still-lifes with coloured pencil, can't help myself. I scanned them but maybe should photograph them next time, it takes a long time to download them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

two more paintings

Here are two more paintings - the first is a small still life of nail polish bottles, for my daughter. The second is from the Daily Paintworks Weekly Challenge, the 10 minute Challenge, where you have to paint an object (in this case, my apple) in 8 different "poses"for a maximum of 10 minutes each. Each apple is about 3 by 4 inches. Not for sale - I don't think anyone would want to buy it! LOL

I loved painting the pinks - luscious reflections and shadows. I hope to do more like this one (top).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

creative crisis and a solution

When I got back to Sydney, I had a small crisis. I thought the broken colour/impressionist style worked well for portraits of men and boys, but for girls and women, who have softer complexions, I was convinced it wasn't suitable. I didn't want to make my girls look ugly!

THEN, I saw a program on Studio channel about Lucian Freud. Just what I needed to see!!! I could never in a million years make my sitters look as ugly as he does his! He has painted his daughters, for example, and although they are in real life quite attractive, he manages to make them look like monsters.

Lucian Freud painted the Duchess of Devonshire (another Deborah, above!) when she was in her 30s, and she said now, in her 80s, she's starting to resemble the person in the portrait. Anyway, talented painter, interesting paintings, but pretty? No!

So with renewed confidence I set to work on another picture of my daughter, this time in acrylic, just to get away from the linseed fumes for a few days (the whole house smelt like cricket bats). Very happy with this one. And to my delight, it dried in an hour or two!


in addition to painting and drawing each day (usually small sketches/paintings), I've been pursuing my interest in portrait painting.

I started exploring broken colour a few years ago, then my old dog got sick, then I spent 3 years nursing him, then we got a new dog, then my husband left his job, etc., etc., etc., you know, life kind of interrupts my art.

So I booked in for a week long workshop at Mitchell School of Arts, Bathurst, this January. My tutor was Lesley O'Shea, another of my favourite painters. I love the way she uses colour. Anyway, my first painting was fairly traditional :
Then, after a few reminders from Lesley, I "went to town" on a picture of my mother, getting all carried away with brushstrokes, colours, everything, which matched the joyful expression on my mother's face (I worked from a photo).With all that going on in the portrait, I didn't need a background at all, so left it white.
The next day I got stuck into a picture of my husband, and then one of my nephew who had recently visited us in Sydney.
So that was one painting each day - Monday to Thursday - at Bathurst. On the final day I decided to paint a friend's horse - I'd promised to do it a while ago, as a gift for her 21st birthday. Here is the initial painting, just needs final tweaks now (like some EYES for the poor creature!)

The beauty of this week-long workshop was that after my initial half hour with Lesley, I was again on the right track and worked on my own for the remainder of the week. You can probably see a similarity in my style once I stuck to the technique.

I am very happy with the results, working in the broken colour technique. Horses are really really complex, even more so than human figures. I've drawn and painted hundreds of humans, and horses are much more difficult. Anyway, I can only improve! LOL