Saturday, July 28, 2007

Killing Me Softly

Watercolour & White Oil Pastel - Canson CP 7"x9.5"

It's okay, I haven't gone mad! I've been trying to draw and paint now for about two years. I've been extremely preoccupied with different mediums and techniques and struggling to get control of a watercolour brush and that elusive substance - water. At the back of my mind has been a secret fear - I'm not say anything. I'm trying to paint something beautiful, sometimes ending up with something pretty, but I'm not saying anything!

This week my wonderful friend Sally (Author/Artist) sent me a photo from a fish market. She didn't say anything either - just emailed me a great photo. I decided to accept the challenge to paint this dead fish because of the wonderful colours. Then I found myself saying something. I can't eat animals with big brown eyes, and beyond that, have a lot of guilt about the creatures I do eat. Okay, maybe I am going mad! So, I've finally said something, like it or not!

Yesterday, I spent the morning making value charts of all my W&N watercolour tubes and turning them into a colour chart on a split ring. I saw this wonderful idea on someone's blog and apologise for not being able to remember who's it was. If anyone can help me I'd be most grateful, I'd like to say thanks because this is the most helpful colour selection tool I've ever discovered.

What made this really easy was my John Salmon brush Charger. I took a little pure paint directly from the tube, painted a square, than charged the brush from the base for the next lighter value and so on. I bet you thought the Charger was another of those gadgets I'm notorious for collecting and discarding!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Watercolour - 7"x10" HP Cartiera Magnani

I've been meaning for a while to paint our next door neighbours' much loved cat, Lampo. Lampo has a taste for antiques and contempt for Old English Sheepdogs.

This cat is stoic in the face of Dermott's terror campaign which, at present, only amounts to Dermott leaping up and down in one spot on top of the cisterna, barking in outrage. Of course, should Dermott at some stage get the idea to jump down from the cisterna and give chase, it will cause an international incident that will almost certainly sever ties between our two families and lead to a cut-off of biscotti and other treats. Do you think Dermott is bright enough to realise this?

I seem to be painting animals and fruit this month when I really intended to take the lead from Katherine, Making a Mark and paint flowers. I did fit in a quick watercolour sketch of the Plumbago which is about the only plant in our garden not suffering from the heat.

Watercolour - Fabriano Artist's Journal

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pears in Bowl

watercolour 10"x 7" Cartiera Magnani HP

You can't say I didn't squeeze the last drop of creative juice out of these pears. Now one has been devoured, so that's the end of the series, I guess.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Dog on the Tucker Box

Australian folklore celebrates the loyalty of a pioneer bullocky's (teamster's) heroic dog who, given the task of guarding his master's tucker box, waited, though he sat on a box of food, until he eventually died of starvation.

Dermott, the least intelligent member of our family, is in the process of creating his own legend here in Italy. His 'tucker box' is an ancient cisterna (water tank) between our garden and that of our neighbours. Here he sits patiently waiting for Lorenzo or Marina to appear with biscotti (biscuits). Now you are probably wondering where the elements of courage and character are in this tale? The cover of the cisterna is half-inch steel plate - on a summer's day you can fry eggs on it! At such times our 'hero' has to tap dance. But he never deserts his 'tucker box'.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Persevering with Pears

watercolour - Clairefontaine sketchbook

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pears Two Ways

Pears - watercolour sketch Clairefontaine 7" x 9"

Pears - Derwent Inktense pencil sketch on Canson

We're having a heat wave! It's an effort to lift a brush, but the two little pears I thought would be pretty to paint were ripening at a pace, so I did a quick watercolour sketch followed by one with my new Inktense pencils. Now I'm going to eat the dear little things.

Does anyone else do this - eat their subjects? Fortunately I'm not working on portraits at present!

Monday, July 16, 2007

A sketch & An Exhibition

Water Hyacinth - watercolour sketch

I saw my first Water Hyacinth in Jean's garden the other day. At some point I will attempt to do it justice.

We finally got to Cortona today to see the exhibition of three artist friends which is part of Le Notte dell'Archelogia at the beautiful Palazzo Casali.

The artists - Sarah Miatt, Peter Barrett and ceramista, Edi Magi all draw on the ancient Etruscan influence in this beautiful area. I didn't like to take any photos because I couldn't have shown the work in its best light but I've linked to Sarah and Edi's websites.

The exhibition closes on July 18 - probably too late for most of you to fly in but anyone lucky enough to be around Cortona in the next couple of days will find it well worth a look.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Whole Picture

Peach & Pot 10" x 10" oil on canvas

I'm calling this one finished. An artist friend asked if I enjoyed making this painting. I couldn't answer the question. I know I enjoyed the peach - both in painting and eating! I enjoyed painting the pattern on the blue pot. Still very intimidated by oils though. I plan to put them away for a while now.

The same friend suggested I should now make a choice of medium and commit to it. But which one?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

You can't beat Beetroot.

Beetroot is common as muck in Australia. A tin of beetroot in your cupboard pretty well guarantees you don't subscribe to Gourmet Traveller. When I was a child and Australia was still bereft of a decent cuisine, (that is before the Italians and Asians began to arrive in numbers) a salad was a limp lettuce leaf, a chunk of tomato and a slice of tinned beetroot sans olive oil. You could only buy that at the chemist! The beetroot used to bleed across the plate like a murder had been committed - and it had - it was the death of good taste.

There is only one exception, even today, there is no such thing as a Great Hamburger without a slice of pickled beetroot.

Of course you can't buy pickled beetroot in Tuscany and I was hanging out, so HWEM planted a small crop, then a few days ago when I was dreaming about the wonderful painting I was about to begin, he entered the kitchen, trekking his usual trail of compost and old chicken poo, dumped a pile of beetroot on the sink and gave me a tender look that I knew immediately meant 'Start pickling woman!'

... and that is where all my creativity has gone.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Peach Plus

Trust me! This is a work in progress.

Been working on my second oil painting with many interruptions due to entertaining, exercising, preserving, procrastinating. Since, so many loyal friends have been checking my blog, I feel I should post something. This is detail of the early stages of a corner of a larger still life.

I've just discovered a major drawback of working on stretched canvas. I would like to crop this picture (you'll realise why when you see the whole thing, if I don't trash it first). With a watercolour it is easy. Any thoughts from experienced oil painters?
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