Five by Five: Fathers and sons

The obligatory paint brush sketch
The obligatory paint brush sketch

My friend Karin Panaino Petersen posted a challenge of Facebook yesterday: State five things you are grateful for.

I’ve decided to tweak that slightly. For the next five days I am going to try to post about five things that make me smile, and if I can manage it, do a quick sketch of one of the five to post. This may be setting the bar a bit high, given my time constraints. But since 4 of these days are holidays here, I’m hopeful that I can make it work (if I paint the fifth ahead of time).

Here we go – in no particular order:

– Fathers. Sometimes, we don’t really focus on our parents as much as we should. They’re quietly there in the background, and if they’re not particularly high maintenance, life just trundles along. Today my Dad stepped into the breach for my sister in the most amazing way. He was my hero today, and it reminded me how many times he’s just quietly been there for all of us.

– Sons. Both of my sons made me smile today. Christopher sent messages from Vietnam where he’s on holiday. Lovely to know he’s having a great time. And Nic is coming home for the weekend.  Yes!

– Sunshine – it came back for a fleeting few moments a couple of times today. After such a long winter, even a tiny but of sunshine is fabulous.

– Four days to indulge in painting. (And I’ve decided that painting paint brushes is possibly a rite of passage for every artist. Here’s mine. Now it’s done.)

– Chocolate. I know, I know. Such a cliché. But hey, it’s Easter. It’s allowed.

If you fancy sharing your five, or playing along on your blog if you have one, pile in and join the party.

Hope you have a fabulous Easter weekend.

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St Patrick’s Day

Shamrocks (watercolour sketch)
Shamrocks (watercolour sketch)

St Patrick’s Day always seems like a joyful celebration. I think that’s the Irishness of it – lots of parades, dancing, drinking and singing.  It is celebrated all over the world, but that’s possibly partly because there is at least one Irish pub in every city, it seems.

I did a bit of reading this morning and discovered a few quirky St Patrick’s Day facts here and here.

Whether you’re enjoying today with a glass of something alcoholic (and possibly green), or some other way – I hope you have an excellent 17th of March.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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What’s your defining word?

Pushing personal boundaries - again
Pushing personal boundaries – again

About a year ago, Donna Zagotta challenged her readers to describe their life as an artist in only six words. The picture on this post was my response.

I realise that a year on, this is still true.

If you’ve not organised your own exhibition before, it can be a daunting prospect. I’ve managed events for charity and business before so I do know how much work is involved. Somehow, in between events, I always manage to forget. No change this time either.

We’re now one day away from our preview evening and the last minute list of things to be done seems a bit overwhelming. I have meant to write a series of posts about staging an exhibition, but time has eluded me and they haven’t been done. Perhaps that was a bit too ambitious for now. I will write them, but I suspect a retrospective ‘how to’ series may be more useful.

In the meantime, I challenge all my readers to select one word (only one!) that describes what art means to you in 2013. (There may be a new word next year).

 

My word is ‘Stretch’.

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Rhythm and energy

In a previous blog post I mentioned taking risks with a new painting. In fact it was two paintings. I think of them as being almost twins because I painted them simultaneously step by step. They are on two different papers (because I always need to experiment, of course).

I went back to my South African roots on these. And since there’s been such bad press about the country recently, I thought it might be time for this post.

These paintings express my feeling about African Rhythm

African Rhythm (multimedia 49 x 36 cm)
African Rhythm (multimedia 49 x 36 cm)

…. and African Energy. They both pervade the continent and cross geographical and political boundaries.

African Energy (multimedia 49 x 36 cm)
African Energy (multimedia 49 x 36 cm)

And if you have four minutes to spare, this is kinda fun too.

History and Traditions

This post is more personal than my usual postings so please forgive me if you’re looking for insights into artworks. They’re not in today’s writing.

It has been an unbelievably busy weekend which has meant no time to paint this week – but it has been a fabulous couple of days nevertheless. I collected a load of framed and mounted works from Denise at Rosewood Studios on Saturday, and this painting was amongst them

Blazing London (watercolour 320 x 110)
Blazing London (watercolour 320 x 110)

This was my  January give away. The random.org draw brought up the number of  Dawn Denton who runs Legends of London, which seemed wonderfully appropriate. I’ve had the painting mounted for her and will be meeting her in London to hand it over. Collecting it reminded me to put it in my gallery, and also up on Red Bubble (so Dawn will be able to order cards to match her painting if she wants to).

Tradition and history have been a big part of this weekend. On Friday afternoon we drove down from Cambridge to Sandhurst to attend a dinner.  Friday night was the half way point in Nic’s year of training there. It has been a very tough half year with more to come, but it seems all the officer cadets think its well worth the hardship. They are a very impressive group of young men who embody the values of a military institution with a history of discipline and high standards.  You can’t feel anything but admiration when you look at these young gentlemen who are working so incredibly hard to earn the right to be leaders of men. They are an inspiration to us all.

Our first visit to Sandhurst was last July.  We attended Nic’s commissioning parade when he became an officer in the TA.  I wasn’t at my best that day. We had some distances to walk on site and I was battling with a fractured foot. This meant I couldn’t wear smart shoes, I wasn’t feeling particularly chic, and I was in some discomfort. After the parade, we had the standard photo session with various family members. Of course I had to have one taken with both of my sons.

Nic, me and Christopher at Sandhurst
Nic, me and Christopher at Sandhurst

Siblings in our family seem to have an almost uncanny way of knowing what the other is thinking. My sister and I do this quite often. We each know how the other will respond to something and can almost predict what they are going to say. The boys do the same thing and this time, they caught me unawares. Christopher just said, “Come on, Nic” – and without a further word, they reacted in unison.

They caught be completely by surprise.
They caught be completely by surprise.

This will always be one of my favourite photographs. It reminds me just how much I love having my family around. They know exactly how to make my day.

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With a little help

Impazzito di luce (watercolour 38 x 48 cm)
Impazzito di luce (watercolour 38 x 48 cm)
Impazzito di luce (watercolour 38 x 48 cm)

Sometimes the inspiration for a painting title just doesn’t come easily.  This one was finished yesterday and I just couldn’t come up with a title that clicked. I put out the word on Facebook and got a wonderful list of suggestions. The one that appealed was Impazzito di luce (thank you, Karin). Crazed with Light seemed like a lovely way of expressing the energy in this painting.

I’ve got a stock of potential titles now so more sunflowers will need to be painted.

Over the past year I’ve come to really appreciate the community of artists I’ve met on Facebook, Twitter and through my blog.  Painting and putting your work out for everyone to see takes a leap of courage. Well, it certainly did for me – and often still does. The support and encouragement from others is such an important factor.

I don’t see art as a zero sum game. If someone buys a painting from you, it’s because they loved that painting. It doesn’t take away a sale from someone else. What it does do, is encourage more people to buy original art. The more people who think of buying original art, either directly from the artist or through a gallery, the better it is for all artists.

The past few years have been tough for artists. Economic conditions are not providing people with much disposable income and everyone is conserving cash. In my view, that makes it all the more important for artists to support and motivate each other to keep going.

Thank you to all those who have given me words of encouragement since I started painting. You’ve seen me through some of my wobbly moments.

Now that I’ve got my blogging routine back on track, I’ve decided to pick up on my Meet the Creatives series. I’ll be blogging about other artists from time to time now (I’ll aim for one a week, but forgive me if I don’t make it). I’m changing the format slightly to an interview with pictures so you can read the artists’ own words. I really enjoyed Maggie Latham‘s series of interviews in her 31 Days of Colour.

So this is a call for artists who would like to be featured as one of my Creatives. Please drop me an email if you’d like your blog to be featured. You’ll need to let me have answers to the interview questions, which I will return to you by email, and also send me a few photos of your work with permission to post them on my blog and my Facebook page (with full credit, of course).

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Eight by Eight by Four

Eight by Eight (watercolour 8 x 8 inches)

Eight By Eight is a project set up to support Camille’s Appeal, a charity supporting children with brain tumours. The organisers have a goal to collect 100 artworks, each measuring 8 inches by 8 inches. These will be exhibited in April at Eden Court in Inverness, and then sold to raise funds for the charity.

This weekend I made my Eight by Eight contribution which will be posted on Monday. I wanted to create something, simple, with impact, that says what this charity is about – full of heart.

Eight by Eight (watercolour 8 x 8 inches)
Eight by Eight (watercolour 8 x 8 inches)

The latest update on their website puts them at 48 pieces of work – so they’re almost halfway. I wanted to tip them over that milestone – so I made them four.  Eight by Eight by Four seemed to have a good symmetry.

Eight by Eight by Four (watercolours 8 x 8 inches)
Eight by Eight by Four (watercolours 8 x 8 inches)

There’s still time to do your Eight by Eight. The deadline is 1st March. And to make it even easier, here’s where you can fine the submission form.

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Perspectives and growth in 2013

Charlotte 1 (small watercolour card)

The idea that started to crystalise in my work in the last months of 2012 was one of gaining new perspectives. Many of my paintings started to focus on something every day, but with an emphasis or a focal point that leads us to look at a particular aspect of the scene.

This thread emerged unconsciously as I painted and I’ve now decided to make it a conscious focus for 2013.

Charlotte 1 (small watercolour card)
Charlotte 1 (small watercolour card)

Today I painted a set of cards to go with some gifts I’m sending in the mail. The cards form part of a series in which we see a part of a garden from the perspective of a spider in it’s web. Looking down, a bed of flowers in just below the web and in the background is a border of shrubs and trees.

Charlotte 2 (small watercolour card)
Charlotte 2 (small watercolour card)

This is a different perspective from the one we generally view a garden from, and in addition to that, it ticks another box for me: the element of growth. Growing my repertoire of painting skills is on my list of things to do in 2013. This little scene seemed entirely appropriate for a series of cards to start the year.

Charlotte 3Charlotte 3 (small watercolour card)
Charlotte 3 (small watercolour card)

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Starfish Greathearts Foundation

The charity I’ve chosen to donate this painting to is Starfish Greathearts Foundation.

Christmas Tree 2012

 

I’ve been an ambassador for Starfish Greathhearts Foundation for a number of years now. I donate to them every month and have been looking for other ways to support them. The charity supports children in South Africa who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Their projects span healthcare, education and child protection. All vital support for vulnerable children.

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Converted

iPhone cover with Red Shoe design

I’ve always thought brightly coloured iPhone covers were in the domain of the young. My phone is a tool, not an accessory. I suspect that’s a generational thing.

I’m not quite so convinced now – I may even be a convert.

iPhone cover with Red Shoe design
iPhone cover with Girls’ Best Friend design

I put my Girls’ Best Friend image up on an iPhone cover on RedBubble.com because I thought the image could work quite well in that context. I have to say – it took ages to get it right. Getting the size right to fit the template required some manipulation of the image. Balancing the position of the image so that the lens gap didn’t take out too much was also a bit of a fiddle. But it got done and the first cover finally arrived yesterday.

And I think I am now converted. I rather love my phone.

PS. In case you didn’t see yesterday’s post – there’s a little painting up for grabs

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