About viviennelingard

I am an artist and writer. I have been an an art teacher and as an illustrator of children's books. I love writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have written many short stories. I am also a keen reader and write book reviews, among other art related articles on my blog site – viviennelingard.net

The meaning of pencils

Featured

I love sharpening pencils, as it reminds me of sitting on the back step as a child, and watching how my father sharpened pencils – always using a knife. He was never without a pencil, which he kept behind one ear, whether for jotting down sales in his bookshop, or sketching a scene for painting. ‘A sharpener doesn’t give nuance to the lead’, he told me, and I only discovered the value of this statement when I became an artist much later in my life.

one of my boxes of colour pencils

I had planned doing a botanical kind of drawing this week, showing three stages of our native Pohutukawa tree, which are abundant around this area. I walked along the waterfront and stopped to take a photo of a clutch of new buds. Next I photographed a limb, a great example of its old bark; a least a hundred years old. Then I plucked some coloured leaves from the footpath, a last memory of autumn. The plan: three sketches, using different drawing mediums for each one. That afternoon I pulled out my scalpel and sharpened the colours I would need. I drew the two leaves, one reddish and one more golden and it didn’t take me long to finish.

pohutukawa leaves

My plan only reached first base. But, I thought I’d tell you how I go about drawing using colour, which is not just a matter of sketching with graphite and then adding colour. I don’t use graphite when using colour pencil, as I sketch in lightly with colour from the start. I chose the red leaf to draw first, and examined it carefully. Which I note, is the most vital start for any sketch. I selected two reds from my Faber-Castell collection: Dark Carmine, and Indian for the deep tones, with Dark Orange under Indian Red for the lighter side. I could see the stem was yellowish, and the edges the same, with a touch of green. I used Lemon Cadmium, and Apple Green here. I used Dark Sepia for the darker textural lines.

The leaf was curling, and with any sketch when creating a curve, it is necessary to draw using a curved motion. There was also a rippled look to the edges, and to achieve this I apply and lessen pressure to my hand, thus creating a line which is thick, then thin when necessary, showing variance in movement. I drew the yellow leaf in the same manner, using a mix of Burnt Ochre, Orange Yellow, and Dark Sepia again.

Next time, I’ll work with graphite, and explain what my father meant by the nuance in the pencil lead when sharpened with a knife, and how that helps your drawing. Thanks for your patience.

Why do you stop reading a book?

Featured

Recently I struggled to finish a newly published book of short stories, which surprised me, as it had received reasonable reviews. The storylines were okay, but weren’t dynamic, and the characters didn’t draw me in. I just didn’t like all twenty of the stories, apart from one.

I was bewailing my dislike of this book to a writing friend, who told me I’d love Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, a collection of short stories, and lent it to me.

Continue reading

Writing or sketching? – what to do?

Featured

sketch of Roman statue

I wrote recently of being in a slump, where I wasn’t feeling like writing or sketching. Weeks of Covid Lockdown have done that to me, to some degree. Then one day I felt like continuing the novel I’d deserted, just a few pages in. With any genre of writing, but especially with a longer piece, it is necessary to write then leave it alone for a while, returning with fresh eyes, as one can become too close to the work. I read through those pages, adding something here, and removing something elsewhere. I was happy to be writing again.

Continue reading

An interesting encounter

Featured

Whenever I read a regular post by someone from Brittany, I am immediately taken back several years, when I met two men from that region. I had been staying with a friend in the fabulous Villefranche-sur-mer, on the southern French Coast, when she suggested we visit some nearby gardens she had spotted in a tourist magazine. Hanbury Gardens. Old, and of historic interest. The images looked beautiful, so I said “why not?” and we planned our trip for the next day, Saturday.

Me on left, all ready to go.

Continue reading

A Van Gogh inspired post.

Featured

If it hadn’t been for Kerry sending me the photo above through to my phone today, it probably wouldn’t occurred to me to write about Van Gogh. The photograph was taken in April this year at the touring Van Gogh Alive exhibition in Auckland. The clever little scene, where I am perched on a chair, is a 3D recreation of Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, France. He lived in Arles for little more than a year, yet his output of work from February 1888 until May 1889, was prodigious. Yet this post isn’t just about the famous Dutch artist; quite likely the most well-known artist of our times, but what his paintings conjure; in my memory, and imagination.

Continue reading

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori: Māori language week

Featured

mānawa – mangroves

While out walking around the mangrove estuary the other day we passed an area which accommodates several of Navy buildings. Devonport has been the Navy’s base for a good deal of years, and this area is just one part of it. It is a tranquil place, settled beside the mangroves and looking across water to a peninsula, and to the harbour bridge to the south. The glare was harsh on the water, when I took this shot, just a few steps on from the navy marae, Te tau Moana marae.(This tab will give you a sample of simple greetings, if you were to introduce yourself in te reo Māori. Example here is from an NZIE meeting at the marae). Kerry and I skirted around the wharenui (large house in the centre of the marae, meeting ground).

Continue reading

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

We were thrust into level 4 Covid lockdown and I found myself without a book to read, and, libraries were closed. The thought of it! Thank goodness for Gabby, who said she would swap books with me. I put The Midnight Library (recently read) into a wee bag and walked (mask on) the few blocks to her letterbox and popped it inside. That afternoon, she did the same for me, and left The Elegance of the Hedgehog at my front door.

The title was intriguing. The setting was Paris, a favourite city. It didn’t take me long to start reading. Except the ruminating on Marx at the start almost made my head spin. But when the protagonist Renée introduced herself on page 15, I was hooked. 

Continue reading

Stormy skies

Featured

While walking, on the lookout for something I could sketch, I looked no further than the sky. It was both fantastic and rather terrifying, as the brooding clouds looked ready to empty their heavy load on me. So, before the anticipated deluge I took a photo, and continued on my walk, expecting to find myself racing for cover at any moment. Weirdly, those clouds kept on brooding and finally wreaked havoc in the middle of the night. Wind thrashed the trees, streets, and whipped up the sea, but our region was relatively unscathed, fortunately. Not so, further out west where floods drowned cars and wrecked homes and businesses.

Continue reading

Finding a saving grace

Featured

Usually I am up reasonably early, take off for a walk once I’ve finished my chores, returning refreshed and ready for ‘work’. But, lately, I have been staying in bed longer, reading, not wishing to face the world. I do go out eventually, masked while walking, and steer clear of others coming too close. I look at at the clouds, the sea, and the trees still in blossom, to help lift my spirits like they usually do. But my heart is heavy, as the Delta strain of Covid has hit New Zealand and we are in lockdown again. I miss my family terribly. One week has become two, and I have done little artwork or writing. I knew I had to shake myself out of this slump, and gave myself a little drawing project to complete. 

Continue reading

It’s been a crazy few days

Featured

Belated gift. Artist: John Drawbridge

It all began with me couriering an artwork to Melbourne, as three of my son’s planned trips to New Zealand were cancelled through Covid, and I had intended to pass this over to him when he came. The artwork was intended as a gift when they’d finished house renovations, a year or so back, but I have been a bit slack. You see, I had promised him that I’d do an artwork as a house-warming gift. I did get as far as sketching the idea, but then I just didn’t get around to doing it. That dratted procrastination thing again. But, when I spotted a print in an art store window, by an old tutor of mine, I knew it was the perfect present, and I brought it immediately. I packed it securely for travel, and sent it off to Melbourne last Monday, anxious about it surviving the trip. I was thrilled when Duncan phoned to say that it had arrived safely and he and Harriet just loved it. I got to talk with my granddaughters too, which was great, as It has been a long time since I’ve seen any of them. Then, Beatrix the eight year old said, “Can you draw a sloth for me, NaniViv?”

Continue reading