Wednesday 29 August 2012

Dryandra baxteri

This morning the dawn glow cast golden highlights on the trees in the valley, which I see from my loungeroom window. It is an everchanging vista of seasonal hues. Autumn is ablaze with reds and bright golds and November is my favourite month as the jacarandas scattered throughout the valley don their coats of lavendar blooms.

Morning glow
I glanced over the other side of my loungeroom where a floor to ceiling window affords harbour views. A cruise ship was gliding through the harbour towards the port on water as smooth as glass. What a glorious morning for tourists to enjoy. The mist was lifting from the water and the clear skies promised a perfect day.

When seeing ships coming in or leaving I think about the tourists' reaction to our picturesque harbour, particularly with beautiful weather to showcase our spectacular city, Sydney.

I finished my Banksia biterax commission painting this morning. I had left it for a few days as it is easier to see if any further work needs to be done. I increased the tonal contrast and the focus on the flowers, and that was closure on the painting. It was posted this morning. I am about to clean up my palette and that is closure both emotionally and physically to this work.

I will give myself another day to catch up on other work and to write another magazine article about Art Tours, before beginning yet another commission painting. It is important to finish this painting so I can focus on doing my own work. Ideas are spinning around in my head, and there are specimens sitting on my desk, so I need to get to these as soon as I can.
Final painting Banksia biterax
Flower detail
The detail in the stamens and flower were painted with a No.3 Winsor & Newton sable brush, as it has a very fine point and holds enough paint to ensure constant redipping is not necessary.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Sketching Newsletter

The months fly be so quickly - then I think about the places I have been and the exciting experiences I have enjoyed along the way.

Join me on these travels through my latest Newsletter: Click on my Holiday Sketching site and click the link to the latest Newsletter.

The blazing reds and yellows in the Shanghai markets

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Banksia biterax

I was painting til quite late last night, until I had to leave it to eat....was getting awfully hungry.

Was up early this morning and didnt even have to put the heater on. I can feel Spring in the air, and the birds have certainly been very loud lately, so they must know something. As I taught in the city this  morning, my painting had to wait.

A three hour class usually means leaving home about 8am and arriving home at about 2pm, quite tired. I give so much of myself to my students, who are all at different levels of expertise and all working on a different subject, that it leaves me quite drained.

However, after coming home and having a tiny power nap, I worked on my new painting until about 5 minutes ago - as I wanted to post this blog and share my journey with you.

I am absolutely loving this painting. I love the movement of the leaves and the flow of the work in general. I have now completed the first wash and will do a lot more tomorrow morning.

Recently someone asked me what my favourite painting has been. The answer was easy - it is always the painting I am working on at the time. Once I have finished, it is closure and I work on another subject that has "spoken" to me, and ignited the passion once again.

Banksia biterax
The first washes are now complete. I will soon begin the fine detail on the flowers, which is the part I love, and the part that takes me to another dimension when I am painting.

Think I have earned the rest of the evening to put my feet up and relax.

Monday 20 August 2012

Prioritising - not always easy

There are many facets to my working life so not always easy to prioritise. Why do most things appear to have the same prioity? I am a copious List Maker which helps me through the amount of things I do in a day.

My solution is to work longer and harder, which I need to do to keep ahead of my work, which continually flows in, as well as new ventures, new concepts and wonderful new challenges. I thrive on challenges and love the journey to a new destination (metaphorically speaking). Some say it is the journey, not the destination, but my destinations are the culmination of much planning and hard work, which I enjoy just as much as the journey.... in fact more, as I can actually sit back and relax once I have arrived.

I spent yesterday absorbed in my art. These days it can be a real luxury. I finished off another Bali sketch and have finished the drawing for a new botanical painting, a Banksia biterax, which used to be known as a Dryandra baxteri.

My energies today will be focused on botanical painting, which is my Priority. I think it is also a state of mind, to organise other aspects of your life around this.

I cannot work if the house is untidy. My studio and office are at home and I am usually found there around 6am. I love the quiet time. The birds beginning to wake, the sun slowly rising and sending its warm red glow into the morning sky and reflecting on the water.

Ornate decorative door carving warding off evil spirits. This is on the entrance to one of the
rooms at Le Mayeur Museum in Sanur, Bali.

This is a detail from my sketch above

I love Le Mayeur museum, and it is definately worth a look if you are near Sanur. It is the former home of the Belgium artist Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres (1880-1958). He arrived in Bali in 1932 and married a beautiful Balinese dancer, Ni Polok. After her death the house was taken over by the Indonesian government to be run as a museum. It has been left as it was when they lived there. Incredible dark carved wooden furniture features in every room, with copies of his paintings, and unfinished paintings adorning every wall.

If you sit and ponder you can picture the life they lead while living in the simple but beautiful house which is right on the beach. Certainly no tourists there then! Take yourself back in time and you can imagine, through the story in his paintings, the lifestyle and happiness that they had.

Keep following my blog as I will be posting images of my new botanical painting. Cant wait to get started this morning.....

Sunday 12 August 2012

Bali journey comes to an end

After an incredible eight days exploring some of the beautiful island of Bali, it has come to an end far too quickly. I am now home, and as many of you could relate, it takes no time at all to slot back into the hustle and bustle of life in the city.

There has been a lot of work to do on return, but just taking it one step at a time, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I finished off a few of my own sketches, which is a luxury for me when I take a group, as my time is spent instructing and not sitting doing my own work.

So I thought I would share a few of my latest sketches with you - as a final farewell to Bali for another year. If any of you readers are interested in doing a Bali Sketching Holiday, join me next September. Details will be on my Holiday Sketching website.

Wonderful sketching subjects:
An evil Barong character.  Quick sketches are initially done with pen. Colour is then applied. This is an excellent way to work, as if time does not permit the sketch to be coloured, it can be done at a later date from working references.

A temple protector. This is a simple black pen sketch with a tonal watercolour wash to give it interest and form.
Wonderful food, and more sketching subjects:-

The food presentation is a feast for the eyes, as well as the palate. Never let a sketching opportunity pass you by, as you may never be this way again....
Wonderful scenery - and this is the last pen and watercolour sketch I did on the last day of the trip. We were staying at the magnificient Rama Candidasa Spa Resort on the east coast of Bali, which is well away from the very busy tourist destinations. What a special way to unwind and relax as we used this hotel for 3 nights as a base to explore more of the area.

This beach was right next to our hotel

And no trip to Bali would be complete without a enjoying a final dinner sitting on the soft sands of Jimbaran Beach, and watching the glowing orb of the sun sinking into the sea.

The setting sun at Jimbaran Beach

This trip to Bali is gone - but not forgotten - and I look forward to more great experiences next year.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Tirtagangga Water Temple

Walking through the entrance to Tirtagangga Water Temple is an absolute feast for the eyes. Stone carvings of all types and sizes are set  around the grounds, many in or around the water features  which are fed by natural spring water. The centrepiece is a tall thin fountain with eleven tiers.

Sculptures and the water fountain at Tirtagangga

We spent the morning there sketching and exploring. The bridges linking water pools were a favourite subject. They projected beautiful reflections over the pools where enormous multi-coloured carp were regularly fed by tourists.

Viv sketching a bridge

Marie Carmen's sketching showing the reflections
A morning did not seem long enough as we began to capture the essence of the place through sketching. It is the most meditative thing to do, and hours happily speed by with no conception of time, only of place.

To finish a perfect morning, a special Balinese lunch was savoured in the restaurtaurant perched high above the temple grounds, with a cooling breeze pervading.

Ann's sketch of the entrace to one of the temples within the Tirtagangga complex.

Friday 3 August 2012

Gunung Kawi Temple

Early morning at Kintamani volcano was a little misty with the top of the volcano shrouded with clouds. As the sketching group settled on a balcony with unobstructive views, the sun began to shine and, the azure blue of the skies glowed through as the clouds dissipated. What a glorious morning, and a fantastic sketching opportunity.

Sketching Kintamani volcano

Heading back towards Ubud, we experienced the very unique coffee, made from the coffee beans that have been eaten and excreted from a possum like marsupial., the Lahab. The resulting coffee is extremely prized and etremely expensive.

 Mr. Suki, our fantastic guide at the Spice Gardens

A highlight of our trip was sketching at the Gunung Kawi Temple, an 11th century spring temple, one of many in Bali. A spiritual peace pervades the site and I am sure the Gods look on us favourably while we happily sketch some of the many features. 

A Protector,of Gunung Kawi Temple

Thursday 2 August 2012

Barong Dancers

The costumes of the Barong dancers were absolutely amazing. Highly layered and incrediblly decorative, they added to the drama and excitement of the dance.The  mesmerising percussion music leads the tone of the story of the dance. Whirling colours, graceful and beautiful Balinese dancers and the age old story of Good and Evil with the Good conquering all. and told beautifully through dance and mime against the backdrop of the temple.

Balinese cast of the Barong dance.
 Myself and the group did some very quick sketches while watching the dancers. Sketching is all about capturing the moment, the colour, the vibrancy and the movement. I am always thrilled by what each person does, as the sketches are so unique and yet capture the spirit of the moment.

More sketches followed after returning to our hotel, mostly by the pool. The are many sculptures surrounding the pool and scatted throughout the hotel grounds. I could spend a week here and never run out of subjects, and all so very different.

Before returning to the hotel we visited a wood carving factory and saw the carvers creating some of their intricate carvings. I believe some of the world's best wood carfers are from Bali and some of the work has to be seen to be believed. Life size stallions rearing and entwined, fishermen casting their nets, complete with fish inside the nets. Alll of these carvings are done from one piece of wood.

Wood carver

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Sketching in Bali

I am currently sitting on the terrace of the Tjampuhan Hotel in Ubud, listening to the creek bubbling many metres below, The hotel is situated on a steep hillside with incredible natural forest views. It is serene and amost ethereal and it encapsulates some of the unspoiled countryside of Ubud (which was once a sleepy little hollow).

Bali has not disappointed me this trip - the weather, the people, the ambiance. It is truly a beautiful place to be.

The Barong Dance this morning was both exciting, fast moving and full of colour and sound. Definately a must to see when in Bali.

The balmy weather and cooling soft breeze make the evenings perfect  to relax before heading to dinner.
The group I have this year are doing some great sketches and surprising even themselves. It is wonderful to be able to return from a holiday with a unique visual record of the places you have visited and the many experiences you enjoyed.

I am about to go for a relaxing early evening swim and enjoy the pool which is nestled amongst volcano carvings and enclaves of ferns and colourful tropical plants.

The pool at the Tjanpuhan Hotel, Ubud

Decorative door carvings at Le Mayeur Museum in Sanur.