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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Figurative painting, here I come

While we were in New Zealand, I was given the name of an artist who lived in Amberley who painted live models. I thought now that really interests me, so gave him a ring.

Ok, so at this stage, I have not painted anyone is a formal class before. I have thoroughly enjoyed painting several renditions of my gorgeous husband, however this is the first time with a model who is; not related, who will also pose nude and where there will be other "experienced" artists. My heart is pounding and I have butterflies that are just itching to jump out of my mouth so to speak!

First impressions - what have I gotten myself into? This guy with the studio can really paint, there are obvious signs, like amazing paintings hanging around the place, that he has painted.

There are two other ladies present, they both enjoy painting portraits - head and shoulders only, so the fact that our model is naked is neither here nor there. They both take pride and enjoyment in letting me know that they have painted for many years about 15 years for one, 18 years for the other. I really feel like I am in over my head, they are not the slightest interested in me.

The model. She was great. Now my memory may fail me, I think she was something like a Ukranian (that might be the bit I get wrong) body builder. She was very self assured, muscular yet petite, has a rather sharp hair cut, is tattooed and fascinating.

The guy hosting us in his art studio is very welcoming. I love the whole setting of the stage, lights and poses, ready for action. Our host is happy for me to observe his technique after we have done a few warm up sketches. I start to loosen up and enjoy sketching this woman.

Later we begin painting, and I am still undecided as to what I would like to do. Eventually I decide on a body only painting, no head (I'm thinking I need to practise drawing heads in private, not in a studio with two ladies who specialise in them), think I'll go biggish, palette knife, bold strokes, just go for it. And I do, plus I enjoy the whole experience.

To paint or sketch someone while they are there in front of you is an amazing experience. I am pleased that I had a willing husband to practise on first, just to get over the initial nerves. If you ever get the opportunity, give it a go.

So which part of the process do I like the most? I must say, it's the warm up sketches that I find the most interesting. You begin with several 1, 3, 5 minute warm up sketches before moving on to a long pose. In my humble experience, a model can hold the most intriguing pose for shorter periods, whereas the long poses of 20 to 30 minutes need to be so comfortable for the model that they inevitably involve sitting or lying down and aren't nearly as amazing. It is those warm up sketches that I get the most painting inspiration from.

Have a look at these and decide whether they are short or long poses. You might like to try them out to see how long you could hold them......

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Putting it all to good use

At the same time as attending those very first painting lessons with art teacher Cheryl Peebles Muirson I was relief teaching at Loburn, North Loburn and Tuahiwi Schools. Lots of fabulous children to share my newfound skills with.

You get the picture. They were all painting, it was wonderful and the results were magic. There is no better way to reinforce what one learns than by passing that knowledge on. Cheryl was more than happy for me to share what I learnt. The children were doing great work.

Since I had a predictable block of teaching time at Loburn School it was time for to try something a little more adventurous, so the idea of a painting unit seemed exciting and passed with the DP Mike Reed's approval.

Of course I was no expert, so what else does one do? Call in those who are. Fortunately there were some pretty fantastic painterly parents. The fantastic thing was that they were also prepared to come on in and share their knowledge. Those lucky children had exposure to two landscape artists in Rae Noble Adams and Mandy Buchan, plus one watercolour artist in Adrienne Findlay. Each artist had their own approach, each child in the class produced a painting using the techniques shown to them by the artists. I can still picture their paintings up around the room, it was stunning stuff.

AND being the ultimate swatty bum, I was busy taking notes and learning loads too. Lucky me!
Ah, those were good days. I was surrounded by painting, it was stimulating and reaffirming.

I was prolific in my production, and my son Bradley, whom I have always felt has this amazing raw, natural talent was also attending art class and producing some stunning pieces. So in June, just before we left for the USA, Bradley and I entered into our first combined art exhibition at the Kaiapoi Art Expo. It was exciting and nerve wracking.

Putting yourself out there made me feel vulnerable. It is hard not to watch and listen to peoples comments. I remember saying to Bradley, soak up the positives, yet don't take to heart anything negative that people say about your artwork. It is only one opinion, and everyone sees things differently. Your work is wonderful and you should be proud. I also had to remind myself of that very thing too.

Neither of us sold a painting, however we were in our first art catalogue and it felt great!

These are a three of my earlier paintings, after we had arrived in the USA. My family were fishing while I sketched. I love them, they are not perfect, however they do remind me of a time and place that was perfect. These three paintings have made a trip to Florida to be in a show.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

First time

So welcome, thanks for stopping by!

Well there is a first time for everything. This is my first blog and I am excited, a little unknowing of what will happen and where it will go, that's life though, part of the adventure.

Where did my journey into painting begin?

I had no intention of being a painter. While I was teaching Geography and Science at Rotorua Girls High School in New Zealand I fancied doing an art class. The art teacher at the time said that I was welcome to participate in her painting class. What did I find out? That it was hard and that I had no talent for painting.

Each member of the class was handed a copy of a painting to reproduce. I remember looking at an artwork by Georgia O"Keeffe, and thinking "I can do that!" The result was a resounding "Actually it is way harder than I thought. In fact I can't do it."

So fast forward a few years to one husband, two children later and having returned from four fantastic years of living in Tasmania, Australia. We were living back in the Land of the Long White Cloud (aka New Zealand) and built a house.

As all the building action settled down and life was settling into a routine, I was invited to join a painting class. Actually I was talked into it by Teresa Rosanowski, no pressure, no expectation. What I went to painting class to do was to socialise, you know, meet a few new people, have some fun. The actual painting was low on the list, in fact I was certain it was not for me.

The reality was I loved it. I discovered a palette knife, lots of colour, a creative outlet that I had not accessed since our time in Devonport, Tasmania where I had attended a fantastic creative craft group called Chat and Choose at the Baptist Church.

I soon discovered figurative painting, with live models and that was that. I was hooked and there was no going back!

Here are a couple of paintings I really enjoyed creating; the Dancer and a Kiss


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