Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The naked truth!

A great session at life drawing and a great model.
Nice to take time out from feverishly making 'stuff' for the Emporium Shop and just indulge in  something that has no need to sell.  It was a bit of a surprise to me then  to find that I had actually sold one of my sketches at the group end of year show! The drawing was one of Angela which I previously published on the blog.
I guess this has emboldened me to publish some more from last week's session;
I choose to take an academic approach because I feel that I don't have to make an Arty statement or produce a finished work, I simply want  to get my 'eye' in. Amazing that this discipline has helped my drawing overall, even the Urban Sketching

Sunday, November 16, 2014

51 not out, a little down maybe!

Yep, it is our 51st wedding anniversary today so bear with me while I trip down memory lane.
The  scene; university of Sydney Wheat Research Station, Narrabri  NSW.
Enter, Don, AKA the Prof, a recently graduated fellow now researching root growth in wheat plants (a topic which caused some hilarity among the farm staff), and Carole, recently graduated high school student  filling in time as a research assistant while expecting to go on to greater things.
The plot thickens!
Thrown into close proximity during a long cold winter in the potting shed the two young seekers find warmth in each other's company, the rest is history.
Fifty one years, a Phd, an Art degree, two children and numerous moves and here we are, still providing warmth for each other.
That day 51 years ago (the world was black and white then).
                                                                                                                                                                    Who could resist those eyes?

I miss my freckles and the gap in my teeth!

Thank you for your forbearance!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My life in fuzzy pictures.

Moving into town has certainly given me a new lease on life and a greater involvement in doings outside of my four safe walls.
 During the last couple of weeks I have been up and down the main drag (Hunter St) on the lovely free bus which directly connects me to the local fabric and craft store...pig heaven. The only catch is that I have to cross the rail line using 30 looong steps up and over to catch aforementioned bus. I count it as a compressed form of exercise which surely substitutes for that recommended 30 minutes a day! Regular trips are necessary to top up the supplies for things I make for the craft shop.
My involvement in the Emporium craft shop/gallery is moving right along, I have been busy this last week or so making origami birds and little stuffed bird ornaments and the echidnas are still selling like, well hot echidnas!

Our attempt to Christmas-ify the old space, behind the wall is the ghost of a very ritzy department store.
 Young Madeline arranging my birds on our Aussie Christmas tree!
A sad spot in the week was a gathering at a local pub with other "True Believers" to farewell a grand old man of the Labor Party, Gough Whitlam, who died last week at the great age of 98. He can truly be said to have been a man who changed the face of Australia and implemented many social justice reforms for all especially the indigenous people. Vale Gough.
I made three terrariums (or is that terrarii?) and dressed them for Halloween.
A cruise ship came and went......
I met an Etegami Club friend from Brisbane for the first time. Leeanne was in Newcastle to show off her skills at a Ukelele Festival! We are a diverse lot in the Etegami Fun Club!
And a spot of Urban Sketching to record yet another building which is in the process of demolition, I guess they will keep the facade to give the planned apartments a bit of character.
If they keep repurposing and wrecking these old buildings where will all the funky coffee shops live? (worried look).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thursday life.

More of the same.....
Life drawing yesterday was  very enjoyable. Our model, a tall African girl was expert at holding poses which made it easy to concentrate on her fine musculature. I do think that going to a life drawing session every week is helping me to see better. Unfortunately it is not helping me with my photography skills.

I am desperate to learn how to photograph my drawings, this is my latest clumsy attempt to  adjust the colour, really the paper is white not blue and the pencil is sanguine!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Looking at a Teddy Bear through a glass darkly.

Rocked up to life drawing class this morning to find that the organizer has quit and we were left to our own devices.
Not all bad, an excuse to stare at my fellow artists and scrutinize each one as they sat for us in 15 minute 'bites'. I was luckily spared the scrutiny.
One downside is that we will no longer be provided with the splendiferous morning tea/lunches that we had come to expect.
Apparently this group have been meeting for many years and until recently had organized themselves, so it is back to the old days and 'bring a plate' (that quaint Aussie expression which has confused many immigrants who didn't realize that there is meant to be something ON the plate!
So, a morning of 15 minute sketches, apologies for the lousy photography!
                                                                   Half sheet
Quarter sheets

I have come to the conclusion that I am quite good at drawing teddy bears but terrible at drawing trainers (running shoes)!
For the technically minded I used a big fat 2B graphite stick, a rather blunt instrument but allowing freedom to wobble about.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I have not been idle...

Lately my life has been hijacked by the need to keep up stocks in the craft shop where I sell my stuff. I'm not complaining mind you but I have been working my little fingers to the bone.
I love doing this because it keeps my aging hands nimble, also, I actually feel the need to produce stuff (that's the residue of my Protestant work ethic ) and by sitting in the shop every Saturday I get a lot of feedback and contact with the people who come in.
The shop is one of a group situated in a now defunct  department store in the the dead heart of the city. An enterprising soul thought that it was such a waste to see all of those empty shops and actually did something about it , thus RENEW Newcastle was born and crafty folk and artists can use some of these empty spaces for a peppercorn rent. The new shops and coffee shops (life is nothing sans coffee) have brought new energy to the city precinct but of course it will only last until it has achieved its aim and the wreckers ball moves in to make way for apartments in the revitalized area! Catch 22, (thank you Joseph Heller).
Just a taste of my wares!
Flanders poppy pins (try saying that three times quickly). I though these might be nice given that it is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of The Great War, remember that one?, it was meant to end all wars, sigh.
Next April 25 also marks the 100th anniversary of the battle of Anzac Cove, a defeat that has come to symbolize bravery and sacrifice and is deeply embedded  in the Australian and New Zealand psyches.

Next are a few little birds I have been working on for Christmas ornaments.
Next, a little gathering of Echidnas, freely extrapolated from a Little Cotton Rabbits pattern for hedgehogs ( longer snouts, more spiny yarn.

It is so nice with the warmer weather to be able to sit on my lovely balcony and work, I am blessed!

Monday, September 1, 2014

The unforgiveably lazy artist.

Art has taken a backseat to survival for the last two weeks.
I remember visiting the Beppu Hot Springs in Kyushu a few years back and it was appropriately name "Boiling Hell", I think the weather makes Singapore nearly eligible for that title. I did manage, between fainting and moaning, to dash off a couple of etegami in response to a call by Debbie Davidson to incorporate packaging materials in a card. There have been some clever and witty submissions but the only interesting stuff I found was the wrapping paper around some art supplies I brought at the Straits Art Co. I did buy a bamboo pen and that made me think of all of those wonderful drawings Van Gogh did with either a bamboo or a reed pen. So by way of an homage...
And reflecting my somewhat jaundiced view of the world at present, a card inspired by a window display of large silver and gold dandelion heads, this priceless quote from Mr Darcy ( I wonder if "A pair of fine eyes" would make my resolve crumble so easily?)

Happy snaps.

Is there anything more annoying than having to look at the 2,000 holiday snaps on someones smartphone?
So in the interest of brevity if not wit, here are a couple of happy snaps from our long planned trip to Singapore.

Chinatown all decked out for the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, all of the flowers are lit at night.

Number two son lives and works in Singapore and we see him so seldom what with his busy lifestyle, the expense of the required Business Class seats on the plane and my precarious  and unpredictable health. It follows then that the Trip has been planned, put off and fantasized about for two years (since the last one in fact) I fear this may however be my swansong, the heat really plays silly buggers with my lungs and it feels like the ante room to Hell. It is a lovely place to visit but unless one dashes from air conditioned car to air conditioned mall, one is a pitiful soggy mess.

A charming chap I met in the corridor outside said son's office.
Another charming chap I met about 51 years ago (otherwise known as the Prof or my Minion).
He did a sterling job of fetching and carrying and making sure that I made it home in one piece, he's a keeper!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do not adjust your sets...

Normal service will be resumed as soon as the technicians come back from lunch! Yep, back in the slammer again but on the mend. Had a brilliant week, was doing well on the Out and About program then whammy! A common old cold, bummer!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A fishy tale.

Fun and games at the residence yesterday. A visit to the Fish Markets to buy a fish and then home to 'tackle' the Japanese art of Gyotaku or direct printing from fish!
Two granddaughters, one son and one poor deceased model (the fish) and we had a whale of a time. Surprisingly for a first try we produced some not too shabby prints. A couple of little minnows were not quite as successful as models and had to be told to flake off...okay, enough with the puns, now the pictures!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Excuses, excuses....

Cant think of a single believable excuse to account for my absence from blogging for over a month but moving on, it seems that life in the city has me in its clutches and the ease of getting to and fro has made me a gad-about! Continued success with sales of my "stuff" at the little gallery shop where I volunteer every week has kept me busy, sock monkeys, rabbits, foxes etc are in warm-ish demand so that keeps me occupied of an evening.
Living here also has given me a new lease on life as far as protesting goes (shades of the 'sixties), today I am joining the ranks of other disgruntled voters to protest the new conservative government's meddling with our health care system. They will be requiring the poorest patients to cough up $7 each time they visit a GP. Seven dollars is not a lot to most people but for some it is the difference between ease and worry. Like Mr Micawber said "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.” I hope this government's days are numbered as they have reneged on so many promises.
I am really enjoying getting out and about with the Urban Sketchers and yesterday we met at a very picturesque spot (Newcastle abounds with them), a row of very grand houses. My sketch however relocated the house to Hobbitown but it was fun to do all the same. After the meet it was lunch at the beach, hot chips! a rare treat , eaten in the windy but warmish shelter (20 degrees C, I can't believe it is mid winter).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's all a matter of proportions...(warning: nudity. Ooh er!)

My lifedrawing group this morning had a fantastic model but I was having a great deal of trouble getting the proportions right. Big head in one, big legs in the next. Part of the problem lies in the fact that I now have to draw sitting down, kind of a worm's eye view, not conducive to accuracy. The model is usually posed on a stage so that helps a little but I do wish I could get it right. Standing and drawing has become impossible, I start shaking after about ten minutes and that's the day over.
There are some great sketchers in our group and it is difficult not to compare oneself with them, it is always helpful to come home, photograph and analyse the drawings at one remove to see what you did wrong. Weird isn't it, I can see the errors in a photo but not on the page. I wonder if this is a common thing? Certainly in etegami as soon as I have scanned one, spelling mistakes jump right out at me. I think that the concentration of doing the thing makes your left brain take a holiday somehow while the right one, the arty, farty, bad spelling , can't seem to measure accurately side, is in control. That's my theory anyway!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hope and recycling..

Regular readers of this blog will perhaps have noticed the little bottles containing origami cranes which I amused myself making during my last incarceration.
At the time it struck me it would be a good idea to exhibit them in the hospital where I have special status as a "Frequent Flyer".
The combination of the origami crane which is a symbol of hope, long life and healing and the little bottles which had contained the intravenous antibiotics I was having at the time, seemed irresistible.
Discussions with the lady who organizes such things were fruitful and the result was a little exhibition in one of the internal window galleries that line the main corridor of the hospital.
All of this activity, far from healing me means I have been visiting Doctors to address the problems caused by folding, drawing, knitting, carving, swiping the iPad, etc...Carpel tunnel, trapped nerves and bursitis! Ahhh, old age! Rest they say!!! I simply do not know what to do with myself if I don't do any of the above. Daytime TV would atrophy what I have left of a brain, Oh well there are always audio books I suppose or maybe I will join the Cafe Society and watch the world go by.
BTW the tags on the little bottles say HOPE, TIME, HEAL, LOVE, LIFE. The smaller bottles are less than an inch high.

Friday, May 23, 2014

New directions...

While I have never been one to take direction very well, if I do strike out in a different one I do it with a vengeance.
Having decided to take advantage of this beautiful weather (somewhat akin to "The Medieval Warm Period") and being of reasonably sound mind and limb, I have been doing a lot of outdoor sketching and life drawing which has in turn gotten me out of the house. I almost feel the need to capitalize that statement, for years my kids have viewed my hermit like existence as a case of agoraphobia, not taking into account the fact that with limited energy, the job of raising kids and running a house took priority over coffee mornings and the other social pursuits that nice middle class ladies indulge in (tennis anyone?).
Well...I have been to two coffee mornings this week! (admittedly one was morning tea in aid of cancer research) and I find them to be a very strange and discomfiting experience. I took along my sketchbook to the first one and happily drew my soy latte and Portuguese tart before eating them.
This morning I sketched a local landmark very near my house (1,800 steps away to be precise, I counted them) the "TUFF'N UP  Boxing Gym, Don't get Hit, get Fit". I drive past this little rusted corrugated iron shed almost every day and the sign still makes me chuckle.
Not particularly happy with the result but here it is anyway. I did feel the  need to draw it as I suspect it will soon make way for a new development in this growing area.
There have been other directions but they are subjects for another day.
I do need to get my etegami, blogging etc back in the picture, I am feeling the lack.....

Friday, April 18, 2014

Life in the slow lane....

Whilst I am still waiting to pick up my normal speed following the last trip to the "Big House on the Hill" AKA the John Hunter Hospital, I have found the energy to reignite my interest in figure drawing. One thing I have discovered over the last few weeks is that drawing small, in sketchbooks, is not for me. I like to draw big! the model at this week's session of life drawing certainly helped me along, not only is she generously proportioned but she gave me the excuse I needed to work on A2 sized paper. Hallelujah, my arm suddenly seemed connected to my body once more, less wrist action, more arm movement. I still have a long way to go but I feel as if I am on the right track.
Other news is that I am slated for a mini exhibition of my teeny tiny origami cranes in medication bottles to be held at the aforementioned hospital sometime in May. The idea is to draw a link between hope and science. the hospital has a number of internal windows along the main corridor where small artworks are displayed.
My small craft items continue to sell quite well at the local craft gallery and I enjoy manning the gallery every Saturday afternoon, a chance to speak to people and see the work other craft people are doing.
The weather is delightful, the Prof continues to bowl several days a week, all's right with the world..........(just waiting for that big Monty Python foot to appear above us...never said I was an optimist did I?).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Am I de-evolving?

For someone who has always been interested in technological  progress I was a bit dismayed when I realized that I have been participating in a gentle movement that is holding on to something which is fast becoming the modern equivalent of buggy whip manufacture!
I speak of what is now quaintly called "Snail Mail".
Rumours of the demise of the penny post abound, notwithstanding the boom the postal services are experiencing from delivering packages from online sales.
Like lone voices in an increasingly digitized world many artists have hung on to the notion of making art and mailing it to other artists. Thus it is with etegami, the discipline I have grown to love and I hope have helped to expand in some non traditional ways.
This brings me to the quote from Marshall McLuhan who also predicted the advances in technology would turn the world into a "Global Village". He said that the medium would be the message and that  the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. Sometimes we don't see the forest for the trees.
I'm not sure that I follow all of his arguments but it is a good bet that even if the medium (mail)  changes we will adapt. Already a large part of the fun of making etegami is sharing it with everyone on Facebook so we are adapting.
I'm glad that's settled, I was worried that I would become a reactionary in my 'older' age!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Life is full

of disappointments but it's a well known fact that crying won't make things better. Boo Hoo.
The big disappointment for me this year is that the trip to Japan we had planned with our son has had to be cancelled. Our aim was to follow the cherry blossoms on a part of their march up the islands of Japan traveling on the wonderful Shinkansen network and perhaps meeting some of my etegami friends .
But as the words on my card say, the cherry blossoms will be there next year and maybe, just maybe I will have a miracle cure or a new set of lungs.
I feel rather like kids who got one of those Tshirts that used to say "Grandma went to Hawaii and all I got was this lousy TShirt!" I didn't go to Japan and all I have to show for it is this lousy stamp!

Reminds me of the man in the old fable about the condemned man who was offered the choice of death or the task of making the King's horse talk. His reply to a question on his choice of the latter was " Who knows?  In a year , I may be dead, the King may be dead or the horse may talk!" A true optimist!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Can you kill an earworm?

Living as we do atop a very popular outdoor restaurant we are treated during the summer months to a variety of live singers. This can be very pleasant, one night Reggae, another night Jazz but it is the performer who is channeling the "80's  who gives me pause. The nineteen eighties was a decade when popular music ran a gamut from bad to awful (no correspondence will be entered into on this subject). The young thing singing songs from this era (before she was born I believe) has a very sweet voice but, unfortunately, a very limited repertoire and we are treated to the same songs  in rotation several times a night. The song I find most irritating and which has lodged in my tinnitus affected ears has the refrain "you always take the weather with you, everywhere you go".
In an effort to exorcise this particular demon I thought why not use it for an etegami? The idea of umbrellas seemed particularly appropos for the words but unfortunately the image called up many of the songs with "umbrella" in the lyrics and I am now left with the equally annoying, " Umbrella" song by Rihanna!

Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, ay ay ay)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, ay ay ay)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, ay ay ay ay, ay ay)
See? Annoying!
I think I will just have to learn to ignore the earworms which creep into my head however difficult that may be.  Scientist have discovered that tinnitus sufferers are prone to this phenomenon which is possibly the brain's way of masking the annoying buzz, ain't working folks, add a song to an annoying buzz and you have two things to drive you crazy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A drawing we will go...

Hi ho the derry-o.
Yup, I have found another drawing group and went for my first ever experience of a "staged" drawing event.
Called The Drawing Room, it is a venue where models pose according to a theme, last night's theme was the work of Niki de Saint Phalle whose voluptuous nude sculptures are ubiquitous in France. Viva la France!
It was a fun night and the buxom model was channeling life on the Riviera 1950's style with a big hat and a beach ball, not to mention the gin bottle prop. Halfway through the session it was Roy Lichtenstein as the theme and the model was acting out a nightmarish version of life in the 50's as a domestic goddess complete with puffy petticoats, fluffy slippers and polka dot sundress.
As I said, a fun evening and despite the glass of wine we were offered, or maybe because of it, there were some nice drawings produced. The music playing was tailored to the era and even though the Beach Boys are not my favourites, they set the scene. All of this against a background of projected images of the artist's work. I will be going again next week as we are promised a peek into the Seraglio when a local belly dancer will model for us.
Thirty second poses.
Ten minute pose. I do think that I work better at the fast drawings and lose some of the freshness in the longer poses. Something to work towards, keeping the freshness of the 'quickies'. Apologies as I have no idea why these drawings photographed so blue as the paper is actually off white.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

AAh! Domesticity.

Just hanging around the house today, conserving energy in the humidity,  but keen to try a looser style of watercolour.
Bring out the teacup, that default subject.
Most of the many teacups floating around the internet (have I fallen down the rabbit hole a la Alice?) are sketched in cafes and ritzy watering holes. Mine I am afraid is situated on a tray on my balcony. I do have a rather distracting view of a gigantic cruise liner anchored over the way but I managed to produce something at least.
It always bothers me if a day goes by without something to show for it. Yesterday it was some resin jewelery made with my granddaughters, we had fun embedding Hundreds and Thousands (sometimes known as cake sprinkles and often used to make Fairy Bread) and gummy bears, very cool and lots of fun.
My effort to float a tiny origami crane in a bottle was less than successful, the paper despite being sealed did not look good, maybe another time.
Today's effort (A4 size) .
Not wildly happy with it but it is a start.