Sunday 30 December 2012

The Caribbean

It had startd to snow when we left New York a week ago. Once we had cruised a few days down the coast it began to warm up and for the past 5 days it has been a glorious 29-30 degrees C. To date we have explored St Kitts, Dominica, St Lucia and am now in St Maarten. Each  island is absolutely unique and all can boast of incredible vistas, beautiful beaches, rainforest areas and markets where a similar thread runs through each market.
The Christmas Bush seen at the Dominica Botanical Gardens. It flowers only in December and dies back until the following Christmas.

We experienced the most amazing street parade in St Kitts, where the locals were celebrating Christmas.

The reggae music from the truck reveberated through my bones and the singing and dancing had to be seen to be believed. This was the local people celebrating their youth, their origins and their music. This has been one of the highlights of the trip - to see the people in their natural environment and not a tourist experience.

One of the  beautiful bays of St Lucia, where some of the rich and famous have homes

So tomorrow is another day in this incredible part of the world. We have met so many wonderful and interesting people, I have managed to do a few sketches which I will post later, but it is always a race against time.
More later - and a visit to St Thomas tomorrow.

Thursday 20 December 2012

New York here I come

Tonight is my last sleep in Sydney for the year. Tomorrow morning we fly to New York, and anticipating a fabulous Christmas and New Year on the Queen Mary 2, cruising the Caribbean.
I adore the warmer weather but not so good with cold. However am anxious to soak up the Christmas atmosphere in New York before beginning our cruise. Everyone I have spoken to expresses accolades of New York and with a week there, cant wait!
Have packed my sketchbooks and visualising myself sketching some of the fantastic beaches of the Caribbean islands, with clear blue skies, azure waters and balmy sea breezes. Not to mention trying to capture the sights, sounds and atmosphere of New York.
It will be a time to relax, re-energise and experience new environments. Definately time to clear the cobwebs of 2012 and begin with a clean slate for 2013.
It has been a hectic but as always, rewarding year. I have new projects for 2013, as I love the challenge of creating something new, and seeing it come to fruition. I have workshops and trips away every month except December.
I love what I do, so it isn't like work. I am able to choose where I want to go and what I will teach. I have much more flexibility now I am not doing my regular weekly (1 day a week) classes, but still doing plenty of workshops. My life had been revolving around term times and it was becoming a struggle to fit everything in. So after 12 years, and meeting some absolutely wonderful people, who will remain lifelong and special friends, I have now put that part of my life behind me to focus on other areas, all art related of course.
I still have a lot of packing and last minute things to complete today, and wont really relax until I am actually on the plane, nestled into my seat. I even have a new project I am going to work on during the long flight.
Some fabulous workshops and art tours are in place for next year, so it would be wonderful  to see you there.

Holiday Sketching Art Tours where you combine a holiday with sketching
Sketching Historic Beechworth - 16-17 March
Fabulous Fiji where I also combine Botanical Art with Sketching - 15-22 June
Beautiful Bali which never ceases to excite and inspire me. It is an amazing place with wonderful people and incredible sketching locations. 2-9 September
 India - where we explore both the southern and northern areas, experience some unforgettable sights and have the opportunity to sketch the unique country. 1-13 November.
All details on the sketching art tours are on my holiday sketching website.
23 Feb                Pen & Wash at WEA
9 March              Looking at Leaves - botanical art workshop WEA
1-3 May              Canberra -  Australian Natives 
18 May               Pen & Wash at WEA
25-26 May          Banksias at Beechworth, Victoria
1-5 July             WINTER SCHOOL at Sturt Mittagong.
                           Botanical Art Masterclass with Advanced Techniques
21-22 Sept          Banksias Canberra
Details are on my holiday sketching and botanical art websites.
So for all of you who have read and followed my blog - I hope you have enjoyed my journey through art and life.
As this will be my last post from Sydney, and not sure when my next one will be (I baulk at paying $1 per minute for ship internet access) - but will try and do a post from the Caribbean and definately from New York, before my travels in the US continue.
I wish you all the very best for the Festive Season  
and a very Safe, Healthy and Peaceful New Year...

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Women of Flowers

GLEEBOOKS at 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe NSW 2037 has a Christmas Special on my book:

This is a half price saving for Christmas only and will make a wonderful gift for friends or family.

The book pays tribute to eleven brilliant women botanical artists from predominantly the 19th century with a rare insight into their lives and it showcases their exquisite botanical paintings. It is also a social history of these women and their contribution to botanical art, and a celebration of their achievements.
To purchase this book, contact Gleebooks or phone 02 9660 2333.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Holiday Sketching Newsletter

I have just published my last Holiday Sketching Newsletter for the year.

The Newsletter are full of sketching hints and tips, photos from trips, sketches from people on my art tours and sketches I have done.

There is information about my workshops, courses and art tours. There is something there for everyone, so have a look by clicking on this link: Holiday Sketching Newsletter

Painting completed

I have had so many interruptions between my last post and finishing the Dryandra formosa. There have been many students sending in their work to be critiqued before I leave for holidays - there have been friends to catch up with that I have sadly neglected due to my heavy work committment - and there have been some Christmas get togethers.
I am sure many of you are experiencing similar situations.
Last night I was tossing and turning thinking of all the things I need to do before leaving for overseas. Naturally I have lists but do not like leaving things to the last minute.
I had hoped to get another painting done before I left, and will at least get the drawing and initial washes completed, as it is not planned as a large piece.
So I now give you my finished work. Time to put it to bed and move on.

The wonderful characteristics of this plant that attract me are the curling, twisting leaves which intertwine giving fabulous movement and interest. I have kept the stem light so as not to detract from the other areas I wanted to enhance.
Although I do not often put botanical lettering on my work, I thought this painting deserved it as it is a good balance and it finishes it off.
I hope you have enjoyed my journey through the Dryandra - even though it seemed very protracted. Perhaps this gives some followers more of a sense of what is involved and how long it takes (with interruptions - as life gets in the way) from the initial concept and drawing to the final piece.


Thursday 6 December 2012

The importance of tone

Never underestimate the importance of tone and tonal contrast.
Below are the before and after images of tone, contrast and colour harmony to enhance the leaves of the Dryandra.
Leaves before tone.

 After tone


Notice how the tone gives shape and thickness to the leaves. The various tonal qualities also push some leaves back, and bring some forward.
Tone must be balanced throughout the painting. As the tonal qualities are built up in the leaves, they are also build up in the flower, so the finished painting is balanced:
Older leaves were added to balance and enhance the painting through colour.
I will be posting the final painting later today.
My other work is beckoning me. I was up at 5am and able to work very successfully with the light though my window. I painted until about 8 then had breakfast. I try and keep a routine in my everyday life, and allow for "life to get in the way".
The rest of the morning will be emersed in critiquing my external student's work, which is another aspect of my life I thoroughly enjoy. They always inspire me, and it makes my day when I open an envelope to find some wonderful, creative work from my very talented external students.
There is a whole world of undiscovered talent out there and the work I receive from students who have never picked up a paintbrush or done any previous drawing is astounding.
My days are never dull.....

Sunday 2 December 2012

The Devil's in the Detail

I have been painting most of the weekend on the flowers of the Dryandra formosa. It is now coming together and I can see what I need and want to put in.
As I was happily applying washes and adding some more details this morning, I suddenly thought "Oh no, I havent taken any photos to post". So here is where I am with the painting.
There are still more overall washes to apply and I will now focus on tone and tonal balance, colour and colour harmony and of course refining the detail.
The more I do, the more excited I become and the more anxious I am to see the finished result, which I will share with you.