Saturday, November 5, 2011

IF - Stripes

A quick sketch for Illustration Friday this week. Topic is 'Stripes', so what better than an animal with a naturally striped boa, ready to accent any mood! I love ring-tailed lemurs...who doesn't?

I can't believe I haven't done any artwork since July!

I realized recently how important it is to keep being creative. You see, I realized long ago how important it is for my sanity to exercise my body. I run. On days when I don't run I'm less patient, less productive and more likely to be grumpy.

So why shouldn't exercising my brain be just as important?

I write. It's my profession. So, after several months of doing less creative writing and more paid writing, I realized I was suffering from a lack of exercise of the brain. I was grumpy, doubting my career choice, name it! So, a couple of days of drawing, photography and doing some unpaid but deeply satisfying creative writing, I feel like I've just done a half marathon and I'm ready to get back at it.

Lesson learned - keep running, keep creating.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Morgan's version

After my last post, I had to put up this picture of the canvas Morgan painted today. I have callously put an arrow to direct your attention to what he has told me is a copy of "mummy's flower". I think he's captured it personally - spiraling spadix and all!

The rest is a variety of things...but the boy knows how to use the whole canvas, that's for sure!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Letting go...

Anthurium scherzerianum in acrylic on canvas.

Since trying to paint with a three year old under foot, I've found that I've had to change my process considerably. If my son is playing away happily by himself and there is nothing else pressing, I get out my paints. Of course, soon as he sees me he wants to be involved - so out come his paints. At first he had his own brushes, his own paints and some scrap paper. However, this wasn't good enough because it was different from what I had. So, it evolved. He now has small amounts of my paint, my older brushes and his own canvasses. It makes him happy, which makes me happy.

However, it wasn't easy. I had to let go of how I did things. A painting session with Morgan means things are messier, noisier (there's constant chatter), and usually very time restricted. While painting the background to this image, he even leaned over and decided to add a few of his own touches. AHHHH! I wasn't impressed and it was following an incident where he had just accidentally dragged his sleeve through his paint and got it all over the my anxiety was already elevated. Then I took a breath and I let it go. "Oh...good idea." I said, "I'm going to add some black to what you did and then it will look like things in the background that are out of focus." He was happy with that.

You see, in a brief moment between having the unwanted addition to my painting and before I opened my mouth to tell him off I realized a few things. First, if I yell at him this isn't going to be fun for him anymore. Second, he thought he was helping me (and maybe he did), just as I help him grab the pen and write his letters - so how can I get mad for something I do to him?  Third, it's only paint. I struggle so hard to make the image in my mind come to life on the canvas and it rarely looks exactly how I imagined in the end. So, why not embrace that rather than get frustrated about it. Let it go!

Now, just so nobody thinks I let my child run rampant...we did have a discussion about asking first before drawing on someone else's picture.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Giant Australian Cuttlefish

Just finished this painting today. It was inspired by a cover photo on an old Australian Geographic, which just screamed out WATERCOLOUR!

The giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama) is a master of disguise. The skin of cuttlefish is made up of  layers of different cell types - chromatophores, iridophores, and leucophores - that give it an infinite array of colours. Chromatophores are literally little balls of colour that are so tightly bound up that they are invisible. However, when the muscles attached to the pigment cell is flexed, it stretches the ball out into a disc of colour. The muscles are wired directly to the brain so that pigment changes are instantaneous as information is perceived by the eyes and transmitted to the brain.

Iridophores lie beneath the chromatophores and contain multiple tiny platelets that reflect light, producing the iridescent and metallic colours. Beneath the iridophores are leucophores, which reflect the predominant light in the environment (i.e., they appear white in white light, blue in blue light etc.).  Besides the very impressive colour displays, cuttlefish are able to add another dimension to their camouflage, by creating protrusions in their skin with papillae, they can also mimic textures as well as colours.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Aquilegia vulgaris

From our back garden; Aquilegia vulgaris, commonly known as columbine. I don't have much to say about this other than it felt good (and challenging) to work with watercolours again. Also, I have an all new respect for botanical artists!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


This week's IF word is Asleep. It made me immediately think of the many, many hours I watched our son sleep in an incubator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We were in the hospital for two months as he was only 970 grams when he was born.

I kept a journal and wrote in it almost daily. I also sketched. This is one of the sketches from that notebook.