Fear Burning

Hobart’s winter festival of Dark Mofo, created and funded by self-made multi-millionaire, David Walsh, and the Hobart City Council, came to a close, ushering in the Festival of Voices. David Walsh is the founder of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and single-handily put Tasmania on the map and increased the state’s tourism.

Each year, a massive sculpture for Dark Mofo is created, to make a large fear-jar, so-to-speak, for people to write and deposit their fears into. This year’s sculpture was a huge spider.  People’s fears were collected and stored in the spider’s egg sacks.

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A large fear-jar

With much-a-do, music, dance and costumes, a procession walks the sculpture, and the fears of Hobart, down the city streets for it to be annihilated by fire.

Dark Mofo

I found it to be quite powerful imagery, and the act of articulating your fears then witnessing the burning of it, gone, ka-poot, liberating.  The ball of fire was enormous when the spider caught fire.  Here’s a couple of photos of the spider’s web and egg pouches burning.

 

I like Salvador Dali’s gem of wisdom, “have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.”

Soledad O’Brien is quoted saying that “I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?”

On that note, here’s to fear-burning, whatever the fear/s may be.

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I want one!

Look at what I spotted in the Ridges Hotel in Sydney, Australia. I love this! How cool would this be to having hanging in your kitchen area in your house?!  While waiting for the kettle to boil, you can add a word and have a game bubbling along with your children for a week at a time.

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It’s a functional work of art, and a literacy & numeracy skill developer.  It would be great to have this at TAFE for adult literacy students and those learning English too.  It’s a fantastic ready-to-use fun, tactile learning and conversation tool.

It’s an awesome feeling when you discover such an exciting find!  🙂

Thanks for sharing my excitement.

 

 

One Word

Two years ago, it happened quite by accident, like things falling on your head when you open an overfilled cupboard door, imagery and ideas bombarded me when I read the instructions on a tea package.  The word “unfurl” jumped off the page, accosted me and since that fateful day, it has become my companion.

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Instructions on package of tea

 

I’ve never encountered another word that is shaping me, and hence, impacting my life as much as this word. It is often in the forefront of my mind, urging me to grow stronger and explore places in art that I haven’t tried yet.  “Unfurl” is a beautiful word and I picture a fern unfurling, brave enough to leave the comfort zone of being safely curled up and protected, opening itself to exploring the outside world and ideas.

This is part of my journey with the word “unfurl”.

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Initial drawings
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First pencil drawing.  I turned some of the splattered paint into bubbles 
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I did this painting on coloured paper, with more splattering.  I painted the steam fairies with watercolour paint mixed with watercolour pigmented ink.
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This painting is painted on a watery ink wash.  The cups and steam fairies are painted with ink, an Artline pen is used for the word “unfurl” and the furled ferns are drawn in pencil.  

….and I’ve done many more “unfurl” paintings which I will write about in the next few posts.  This is the beginning of my journey.

Has a word influenced your life or art?  Thank you in advance for your comments, stories and feedback.

Happy Easter and thanks for visiting.

Framed

I framed two of my three favourite animal drawings.  I did both drawings really quickly.  The pencil drawing, I did while sitting in bed.  The pen drawing I did during the Inktober Challenge 2017, and while I was doing the drawing, I was deciding to quit the challenge.  Producing a drawing a day was taking its toll on me. I haphazardly finished the drawing, not caring anymore because I was quitting and then to my amazement, when I looked at it from a distance, I immediately loved it. (It also inspired me to finish the Inktober Challenge).

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People have asked me if I find selling my paintings difficult on an emotional level, aren’t I attached to the paintings?  There is one painting in particular that I regret selling, my first emu painting but in general no, I have no problems selling my paintings.

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My first emu painting. I named the painting ‘Family Portrait’

But these two little guys, I am very attached to (and I don’t have any particular fondness for rabbits). I definitely wouldn’t want to sell them.  Maybe it is the surprise element of the finished product working out when I wasn’t expecting it to or maybe it’s just their cute little faces. Who couldn’t love this little face!!

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Has anyone else ever regretted selling a piece of art work?  I would love to hear your story.

Cheers

 

 

Embrace Individuality

Last week, I did a two-day drawing workshop.  In the evenings, I checked out the neighbourhood.  It’s one of my favourite things to do, looking at houses and gardens.  Some people aren’t afraid to express their individuality, actually they celebrate it.

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Some yards had very cool things in it, like this three storey treehouse, with three decks.  It is difficult to see the three storeys in my photo, but it has three decks, with each one looking like they are meeting current building regulations.

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… and this very cool way to store your firewood.

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We had nine participants doing the drawing workshop.  Each person is an amazing artist.  An impressive range of diverse art skills was represented, pastels, penwork Mandalas, woodwork, some imaginative whimsical art and some unbelievable realism.  Often, people that paint life-like portraits wish they could think of imaginative things to paint and lament their ‘lack of creativity’, which isn’t accurate, it’s there, it is just being presented in a less obvious way, and people who have no shortage of quirky ideas, wish they could paint realism, people who paint loose, wish they painted more detailed, people who paint detailed, wish they could paint looser and so on.  From my observation, people undervalue their individual style. There will always be people who may not like a particular style, but there will also be heaps who admire and wish they had somebody else’s style or talent.  My theory is to celebrate individual style and to not allow negative self-talk interfere with the joy of producing art.

We started the workshop by drawing upside pictures to help engage the right side of our brains.

We went outside to find a splotch to turn into an imaginative character.  To my eyes, the blob on the right of the centre looked like a pig with a broken snout.

I’m unsure about this style but it definitely has given me some ideas that I want to explore.

Here’s an unfinished blob from the footpath that I’m transforming into an imaginary creature.

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Thanks for visiting and for being ‘you’.

The quest for sharpness

I number, title and sign prints of my original paintings each week to sell at our local market.  The prints are printed on 330 gsm water colour paper which is a rather coarse paper and consequently I have to sharpen my pencil every second print.

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I have been on the hunt for a pencil sharpener that sharpens a pencil to a sharp point.  I have bought so many disappointing pencil sharpeners.

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When I was teaching an English class, one of the students had a pencil with a super sharp point (I notice these things :-)).  I asked her about her very pointy pencil and she showed me the sharpener that she had purchased at Woolworths for around $5.

I am very happy with my Woolworths pencil sharpener.  I have finally found a sharpener that does what it is supposed to do and does it well.  Sometimes price doesn’t  reflect the quality of a product.  Has anyone else struggled to find a decent pencil sharpener?

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Wishing everybody a memorable festive season full on fun, laughs and happiness.

Hobart Street Art

Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania, has generally been devoid of street art but very recently this has been changing.  Some of it is decorative, some I think are trying to subtly convey powerful messages and one mural is definitely explicitly trying to present a visual picture of a controversial proposal. I’d like to think that the purpose of the mural is to help the community better understand what is being proposed and hopefully gather more opposition to thwart this application.

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A scene painted on the back of a petrol station near Howrah Beach on the Eastern Shore of Hobart

This mural in Mathers Lane in the centre of the city has a real Mexican feel to it.

This mural is on Criterion Street, also in the centre of the city.

This mural is on the next building in Criterion Street, Hobart.  I think it has a powerful message about mobile phones.  I think the world probably is a lonelier place for the lonely.  You used to be able to strike up a conversation with somebody waiting at a bus stop or in a cafe, but not now because everybody’s eyes are locked onto their phones.

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There are plans to build Hobart’s first sky scraper which thankfully is being met with some resistance to protect the low rise historic precinct and not devalue Hobart’s heritage-era architecture.

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A visual of the height of the proposed skyscraper compared to the current “tall” buildings in Hobart

This scaled drawing is painted on a wall of the new University of Tasmania (UTAS) students’ residence located on Elizabeth Street, Hobart.

Enjoy the rest of your day and the street art in your town/city.  Cheers.

Maudie – a movie review from an artist’s perspective

Maudie, the true story of Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, featuring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, both Academy Award Nominees, is a movie that moved me profoundly.  It was difficult viewing Maud’s mistreatment, her husband referring to her worth being less than his dogs and chickens, and the like, but the strength of art being in one’s soul, blood and very being, its relentless and irrepressible fight for expression was awe-inspiring.

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Not that I equate myself to Maud, but I can totally relate.  My youngest child was unwell his first few years of life and to try to somewhat satisfy this internal literally clawing feeling of art trying to get out of my body, I used to sign out the maximum amount of library books of artists’ works that I could.  I would flip through them while I was breast feeding, trying to quench some of my art appetite through my eyes and when I worked six days a week and lacked painting time, while lying in bed, I would imagine a blank sheet of paper, draw the picture, paint the wash and proceed to create the painting step by step.  I would chastise myself to go to sleep because doing this imaginary painting was going to take hours.

I have met several people who have done Fine Arts Degrees that have said that they haven’t painted or drawn since.  I so wish I could have done an art degree but maybe I would have had the same end result.  I can’t fathom this because the art in me feels like an unstoppable force, as I think it felt for Maud.  She couldn’t help herself and drew at every opportunity, including drawing with her finger in the condensation on the glass of windows.  When she took on a housekeeping job, she had ZERO chance in stopping herself painting when she found a tin of paint.  She opened it and dipped her finger into the paint and began painting the internal wall of the house using her finger.

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Maud responded to an ad for a housekeeper job and then transformed the interior of the house with her art.
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A Maud Lewis painting 
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Road block by Maud Lewis.  It’s nice to see her sense of humour.

I also related to Maud’s distress when somebody wanted to buy a painting that was unfinished.  I had a similar experience and I distinctly remember the feelings of strongly not wanting this to happen.  I had to firmly and repeatedly say no.  It was a small practice painting of elephants and I hadn’t even painted the eyes yet, but it looked completed to her and she said she liked it as it was, and she wanted to take it.

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My practice painting that somebody tried to buy before the elephants even had been given eyes!  I still have this painting as it was an experimental piece.

I found Maudie a wonderful movie and I wonder how many other artists would be struck by some of the universal, undeniable artistic shared characteristics and feelings depicted?

Maud Lewis, I salute you, your art and enduring inspiration.

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Maud Lewis 1903 -1970

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Composing Composition

About five years ago I relinquished my management position and moved into a teaching position (both full-time positions) so that I could devote more head space to my art. I then went part-time because I needed ‘time’ to paint.  I also secured a permanent market stall site (#30) at Salamanca Market in Tasmania.  Working part-time and having a stall is somewhat of a game changer.  My art has to supplement my income, and now I find myself in the new realm of managing the tension between what I want to paint and painting what sells.  There are plenty of positives with this but sometimes it feels a little like a conflict-of-interest inner struggle is happening.

I painted these two paintings pre-part-time employment. One sold like hotcakes and the other not.  Can you guess which the best seller was?

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Beauty Queens I

I sell 100/100 limited edition prints.  I quickly sold 100 Beauty Queens and about six prints of Beauty Queens I.  I’ve painted a replacement Beauty Queens and now with only two left, I’m painting it again as this is a popular print.

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Replacement Beauty Queens

I’m in my comfort zone painting emus at the hair salon and it’s fun to paint. I’ve decided to mix it up a bit this time otherwise it starts to feel a bit too comfortable, which actually makes me feel uncomfortable with my art.  For me, probably the most challenging part is composition.  My favourite emu in the Beauty Queens I painting is the emu with the row of curlers down her neck.  I’m painting three versions and then deciding which one I think works or doesn’t work.  I find it too difficult to be able to predict which composition is good until I see how the colour and form work together.

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Beauty Queens V
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Beauty Queens VI
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and then one in the same composition…. just in case… Beauty Queens VII

Which one do you think works best?

Thanks for reading my post.  I’d love to hear from you, about your art, earning a living from art, composition dilemmas or ….

Why I Like Being a Stallholder

Yes, there are some cold, dark, Saturday mornings in the winter that I moan and groan with the thought of struggling all day to keep my toes warm, despite wearing three layers of everything.  It is really not an enticing prospect to help motivate me to get out of bed but most of the time this is not the case.   I really like having a Pjpaintings permanent stall at Salamanca Market.

Setting up and taking down each Saturday is not as bad as it sounds and it is a source of weight lifting and exercise without the gym fees.  During the setting and packing up time, before the gazebo walls go up, is actually the easiest time to chat with your neighbours and the market community around you.  Close bonds are developed as we get to catch up every week over many years.

The best thing about having a stall is the conversations with people from all over the world.  Salamanca Market is a major Tasmanian tourist attraction that gives me the opportunity to meet and interact with people from everywhere, including Canada and Belgium, where I have spent some of my life.  I sometimes even attempt to have a conversation in French.

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Meeting a fellow Belgian

Art exhibitions or galleries’ privacy clauses prevents me from finding out who bought, or where my art work went, whereas at Salamanca Market I can interact with those that are taking home my artwork.  It is such a buzz to be able to talk about your art work with those that love it enough to buy it, to hear how they connect with it and their stories.  For example, a couple who sold their house in Brisbane and moved to Emu Park, Queensland, were looking for a piece of artwork featuring an emu and were thrilled to discover my stall-full of emu art.

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Family Outing

 

The motto of my art is “helping put smiles on faces”.  It is lovely seeing all the smiles at my stall and when people see the perfect gift for a baby, daughter, son, family members and friends or gifts to take with them to give to hosts when travelling and relatives abroad.

 

Also, you meet many people that are attending all sorts of conferences, competitions and events in Tasmania that I would have never had known about, if it wasn’t visitors telling me about them.  I am amazed at how much we host here.  Recently we’ve hosted the Australian Society of Micro Biologists Conference, Sausage Conference, Underwater Hockey Championship and much more.

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Some sort of event taking place in Hobart

And finally, all the great stories I hear on Saturdays and the interesting characters I have the privilege of meeting, makes great weekly writing material and another avenue of connecting with people through the written form.

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Regular bagpipe group meet-up at the top end of Salamanca Market