A process indeed

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pencil self portrait

A few months back I did a pencil portrait of myself, and was pretty pleased with the results. I wrote a blog about that process at the time. More recently, while in London, I visited the Portrait Gallery, as they run the BP annual portrait competition and exhibit the short-listed paintings, and winners. I liked many of the paintings, but there was something special about Frances Borden’s work that appealed to me: the (seeming) simplicity of the composition, and the bold choice of colour. “I think I’d like to try a self-portrait in oils,” I told my husband, buying a postcard of the work from the gallery gift shop on the way out. Continue reading

A return to the art classroom

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ink flower sketch

Ink & watercolour sketch

As I’ve mentioned before, I can get stuck with what I know when it comes to sketching, but nothing beats joining an art group from time to time and just going with ‘the flow’, literally.  On the last two Saturday afternoons I attended Tony McNeight’s class in the teaching block close to my home. Centre table was a large striped vase filled with silk flowers and dotted around were a bundle of twigs, and numerous pots of coloured ink. ‘Mm’ the class said. Continue reading

An artist who lived her dream

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Frances Hodgkins was born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1869 and died in England in 1947. Last weekend the exhibition, Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys finished its run at the Auckland Art Gallery. I made sure I saw the exhibits, over 150 in all, as this artist has been a trail-blazer for the many female New Zealand artists who have followed. This particular artist stands out from the crowd because she forged an art career at a time when the art world was completely male-dominated. Frances Hodgkins left her birthplace for Europe in 1901 at a time when just a handful of women travellers were experiencing the world. What made Hodgkins different from those women was not mere travel to exotic countries, but her personal mission of becoming an artist of international repute. Continue reading

I have a thing about fountains

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Cherub fountain, Prato 2012

I do love drawing fountains, ones with figures spouting water in particular take my fancy. The first I drew was a few years ago when I happened to be in Prato, Italy. It was summer, and hot. My husband was at a conference, so I had time to sit and sketch. But when I found my subject, the sun beat down, my hands got sweaty, and I was forced to close my sketchbook.  Back home, with the aid of a good photo I drew the cherub-like fountain feature above. It now hangs on the wall of my study. Continue reading

A deviation from the usual

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cordoba hotel

In May, after leaving Seville and the sketch group, we travelled on to Córdoba. The city was old and quite lovely, with streets so narrow our taxi almost scraped the walls. We turned into a  square and stopped in front of our modern hotel. I was impressed. My husband less so, when I took the invitation to ‘upgrade’ our room. Boy, what a room. King-size bed, windows and balcony; I had no regrets about my decision, after the dingy, and rather stinky room at our last stop. However, it is not our hotel, or the wonderful churches, and artisan stores which surrounded our hotel, that I wish to dwell on here, but a different part of the city where we ventured. Continue reading

Domestic sketches

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To wind up this series of what I found in my art folders I have decided to show some  sketches – people, plants, animals, and objects – which I drew in and around my house. I have always loved using graphite pencil and this aluminium teapot was a perfect object to draw, given its shape and sheen. I really like the contrast of light and cast shadow. I must have placed the teapot near the edge deliberately so the curve of the table showed in the composition. Continue reading

Writing for children

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toby&tuatara

I came across more illustrations in one of my art pads; images I planned as part of a children’s picture book called Toby and the Tuatara. (see above). As in Flora’s story (2 posts back), I forwarded this work to a publisher. Again, there was praise for my illustrations, and a polite reason as to why the story did not fit their ‘lists’. I was subdued, maybe a little sad, that my stories were not considered good enough for publication. But did I let it bug me? Continue reading

Finding more than I bargained on

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As a pulled art pad after art pad from my folder and turned the leaves, I smiled, laughed and occasionally grimaced. I found sketches of my children, pets, and articles from around the house. The more I looked the more I realised the stories I’d been telling through my art. One story was perfectly clear. Continue reading

More discoveries from the art trove

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A few years ago, my husband and I lived for a year in Hong Kong, in an apartment on the Chinese University campus in Shatin.  I looked for something to do with my time while my husband was teaching and began tutoring children after school in drawing skills. One fourteen-year-old girl was passionate about art, and she was a delight to have around. Flora was already very skilled in traditional watercolour, but wished to extend her drawing knowledge. The reason? She was also passionate about cats and brought a different cat book from the library when we met on a Friday. Every day she drew a cat at the top of her diary page, and Friday was no exception. Flora’s aim: to draw every cat species she could.  Continue reading

Coming across some old friends

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charcoal 2I  have accumulated many sketches over the years; some in notebooks, on scraps of paper, in art pads and folders. Some work is good, some bad and the rest indifferent. And that isn’t all of it, when moving, I made the bold choice to give work away, or throw it out. Recently I decided to go through a folder or two, to see if I found anything interesting.  These drawings had stories attached to them; some had sold and I only had photos of the originals, but many were tucked away, waiting for me to show them the light of day. It was nice, dipping into my past and meeting old friends.

For some years I concentrated on doing life studies, using my own models, working in a studio above my garage. I used Anita, who was great to work with,   on many occasions, mostly drawing the whole form each time.  I used  charcoal pencil and willow stick on Grumbacher paper in the image above.

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