Thursday, June 30, 2011

Frog Art

Time for some of my actual "art" on this blog! I am doing a wee bit at the moment, just not enough - I am going to have to get my "A into G" (see footnote) and get producing soon, as have quite a few exhibitions coming up in the next 2 months. Starting with the New Zealand Art Show, which I have to courier three paintings to Wellington next week. I have two done, though one needs putting in a frame but the third I only started yesterday. Nothing like the pressure of a deadline!

Last week I couriered a wee canvas (8x8) off to the Left Bank Art Gallery in Greymouth. This is the second year that they have held a Canvas Project Fundraiser. Artists donate their paintings and they sell tickets for $100, and on the night they draw everyone's name and match with an artwork. It's a lucky dip and apparently there is a bit of swapping that goes on afterwards!

For this year's canvas I decided on a frog image as my starting point.

After underpainting the canvas, I collaged on the magazine images, then I painted over it, and topped it off with a coat of clear gel.

And then I had to come up with a title, and "Frog It" was what popped out first!

Footnote: "A into G" must be a Kiwi saying, as one of my English friends looked very blankly at me when I used it once. It's short for arse into gear, and was one of my mum's favourites!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Water and Stones

June is whizzing by, which is great as I'm a bit over it all, over all the rain we've been having. Over the section having new water features which don't look good during open homes, over having open homes! We are now the proud owners of two houses, which is not ideal, but we WILL survive!

Enough of the moaning. Some great news ..... I've finally learnt how to crochet! It's something I've wanted to learn for ages, I even brought Debbie Stoller's The Happy Hooker book, but that just confused me more. So last Thursday instead of being in the cold hall with the art group, I escaped with my best buddy to the cafe and she taught me how to hook! At first I almost gave up, I wanted to hold the wool in my right hand like when knitting, and I kept doing everything wrong. But she was patient and finally it seemed to make more sense, she did say she was throwing me in the deep end learning to do a granny/peggy square first.

One of my aims for crocheting is to crochet stones! Even since finding a tutorial on The Purl Bee I've wanted to do it. And now I can, I made these two blue beauties all by myself. I did look at the tutorial a bit, but as I'm such a novice most of it made no sense so made it up myself. I'm so chuffed, and now I can't stop crocheting stones.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A long weekend

Yesterday was a public (bank) holiday, Queens Birthday, so we had a long weekend. Unfortunately it was gray and drizzly or gray and wet most of the time. No-one came to either of the two open homes that we had on Saturday and Sunday, which was a bit depressing to say the least. The real estate agent assured us it was the same everywhere else, but it still is a bit of a worry when we get the keys (and the mortgage) to our new house on Friday!

So when Monday rolled around and I finally managed to prise the hubby out of bed (he is one that could sleep all morning if he had a chance, I just don't get it!). And before the kids started fighting I declared we were going to the beach, even though it did not look like beach weather. We packed our coats and gumboots, and took some sausages and bread to have a bbq lunch. Amazingly as we arrived at Rabbit Island (which is only 10 mins drive away) I spied some blue amongst the gray, and by the time we were out of the car the sun was shining.

The pied oystercatcher didn't look please to see us!
Gorgeous, I felt my mood improve instantly. I had an utilitarian motive with the trip as with all the storms we have been having I knew there would be lots of driftwood, and there was, but it was hard to find what I was looking for. I collect wood that has been through the sawmill, then through the river and sea, so I want it to be battered, and suitable for painting on. So Miss L and I set off on the wood gathering walk, while the boys looked for firewood for the bbq. I did ask why we just didn't bring some from home, as it all looked quite soggy to me.
Walking towards Mapua
I found a few bits of suitable wood, and as the hunger pangs started and we were about to turn and walk back, Miss L spied a hut. There are a few of these makeshift driftwood huts along the beach, but this was the most elaborate we had ever seen. I think a few people must have contributed to it's construction.

The hut

Inside was a rope for a swing, so what's a girl to do, while her mum clicks away. It was magical.

When we got back to the car and the boys, they were throwing a rugby ball around and wondered why our walk had taken so long! Also they had failed to get the fire in the bbq going, so we went to plan B, which was to drive to one of the gas bbqs and use that. But that was thwarted by the fact the council had decided that as it was winter the bbq season was over and had removed the free gas. So onto Plan C, which was to for the kids to have their sausages at a friends place, but first I needed dropping off in Mapua at the art exhibition the art group was having. So I ended up having a soggy pie from the shop for lunch!

I was very happy to sell two of my paintings at the exhibition, and I also managed to get 2nd place in the people's choice for voting for the painting the public liked best. After I'd help pack up the exhibition and count the votes, hubby collected me up and we went back to the friend's house, where the kids had all had a great afternoon, for roast beef dinner, yummy! The hubby had even managed to wangle a few hours of kids free time while I was on exhibition watch, by leaving the kids with our friend, and going home for a bike ride!  And he did make a delicious apple crumble.  So not a bad way to end a long weekend.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Art in Jars

I ran a workshop on assemblage art at the Mapua Art Group, which is a local art group that I joined 4 years ago, last month. We meet every Thursday morning in the local hall, and once a month we have a workshop. I've always been interested in making assemblages out of found objects, and collect "interesting" bits and pieces all the time as the piles and boxes full in my studio are testimony to. So I thought if I ran a workshop it would make me "make " something first. So I was only one step ahead of everyone else!

I've been following Kirsty Hall and her 365 Jars project since January, so she inspired me to restrict our workshop to art in jars. Thinking that this would make it easier! Well it did and it didn't. It's actually quite hard to fit things into jars, as I discovered. Especially as the neck of the jar is almost always narrower than the main body of the jar. Anyhoo I managed to created four jars before taking the workshop.

The first was created from a heart shaped cookie cutter and 25m of yellow embroidery thread that I found at the recycling centre. It's called "Pike 29" in memory of the 29 miners who lost their lives in the Pike River mine disaster in November. We lived in Greymouth for almost 4 years, so it all felt quite "close to home". After wrapping the heart in the thread, I cut out 29 numbers from a calendar, and glued them onto a West Coast beach pebble. I didn't want the stone to rattle around in the bottom of the jar, I wanted to cocoon it, so put some pillow stuffing in the bottom of the jar.
Pike 29

The next jar I made is called "Jar for Japan". It is based on three pages from a wee Japanese calendar that I had, I stitched some details onto the figures then stitched the three pieces together. Then because I didn't like looking at the back of the calendar inside the jar I collaged over it with a picture from a magazine of cranes flying at sunset. The next issue to resolve was that I didn't want it all to sit on the bottom of the jar, so I made a wee pincushion for the bottom of the jar. Lastly I wanted an origami crane hanging from the lid, hubby is very good at making them, but didn't have time to rope him in, so instead it's a plastic Japanese bow, again out of the depths of the studio. This jar is hard to take in with one photo, there are lots of elements, probably too many!
Jar for Japan

For the third jar I wanted to do some collaging, as quite a bit of my art practice is centred around ripping up images from magazines. It took me a while to find some small wooden blocks, many trips to the recycling centre in fact! The ones I found had holes drilled through them, so after collaging the image on the blocks I worked out which way up I wanted them, and then glued three blocks together with an old pencil through the centre of the holes. The half round one I added to the lid, as it couldn't fit into the jar. I called this one "Grid Lock". I especially like the knob, with the light reflecting off the car windscreen which adds some "zap" to the whole assemblage.
Grid Lock
The final jar, is based on a poem written by my great great grandfather John Liddell Kelly, who emigrated to New Zealand from Scotland in 1881. He was a journalist who expressed his creativity with poetry. In 1902 he published a book of poetry called "Heather and Fern: Songs of Scotland and Maoriland". I have inherited my great grandmother's copy from my father, which has a lovely inscription on the cover from him. I was actually a bit shocked to discover that you can buy a nasty looking scanned version of his book on Amazon I particularly hate the cover! It doesn't look like either New Zealand or Scotland the image they have used. It's also available as an e-book, which looks more authentic.
Heather and Fern

I wrote each verse of the poem Heather and Fern onto a strip of video tape. So they can be taken out of the jar and read. During the workshop a friend read it out and it was very moving, especially for a woman who emigrated from Scotland 9 months ago. The words are just as relevant now, except now emigrants can quite easily hop onto a plane and return "home", whereas g,g, grandfather never saw the land of his birth again.

Click on the last photo to enlarge so you can read words written 124 years ago.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June, here we come ready or not .......

It's hard to believe May is gone and June is with us. According to the statistics May was the warmest on record, not that I really noticed, as it was quite wet. So now we must prepare for shorter days and colder nights.

Miss L had a private dance lesson at the local church hall tonight, and while we were waiting I wandered around the graveyard. It was a lovely low light, that made everything appear golden.

St Paul's Church, Brightwater built in 1857

such a sweet wee gravestone, now lying down
the kidlets letting off some steam

I have to admit to having a lot of "blog envy" at the moment. I read a few lovely blogs from the UK, most have a vintage/illustration theme, and have to admit to feeling a bit green about all the loveliness I see, and wonder how on earth I can compete!  My finds from the op shops and recycling centre seem to pale into insignificance, there's no way I can post photos of 15th Century castles, or cottage gardens (well not in this month, wait until October!) and I doubt my artistic abilities. The last one is probably because I'm not in the creative groove at the moment. Having the house on the market has dried that well up!

But then I think of all the lovely things I am surrounded by, and I am grateful. I think the fact that my sister and her family, plus my uncle and aunt are all enjoying a 6 week holiday in the UK is just adding to it all. I have a vague plan of a similar trip for us in 3 years time. In the meantime we just need to focus on selling the house, as we get the keys for the new one in 9 days time! Whoppeee!

This clematis was growing over an arch, I have the same one flowering in my garden except it's cream with speckles, I'd never seen this colour before