A New Start

View From my door May 2016 Pen and water colour pencil

View From my door May 2016 Pen and water colour pencil

The move has occurred and I have begun to settle in and even found enough time from the unpacking to do a quick sketch.  It is so good to be back in Castlemaine full-time, (will almost I still go to Melbourne two days a week for work) and I can finally get to play in my garden.  Lots to do and lots to plan.  Next to my art, creating gardens is my favourite thing and at the rate I move around, creating gardens is what I end up doing, rather than watching them age and mature.

This is the view out of my front door, of the old pepper-corn tree with the bird feeder and elk-horn plant.  The crimson rosellas are frequenting the feeder again as I am able to keep it topped up for them.  It is so lovely to have their flashes of colour in the garden.  There are also blue wrens hopping around and I will be drawing them in upcoming works.

Rosehips May 2016 Pen and water colour Pencil

I like to think of gardening as drawing and designing in 3D, with the added bonus of scent.  The garden will be a major inspiration for my art, so dear readers you will be seeing the creation of the garden along with the creation of the art.

I have done lots of researching on sustainable gardening techniques including permaculture and have found that you can make straw bale gardens.  You use strawbales and start them decomposing and then plant into them.  They will last about 12 months before they break down too much and you use them as mulch.  I am going to use some for the vege patch and others for an annual flower garden.  I will share the results with you.  Lots of pretty flowers with an abundance of gorgeous scent.

Start of the strawbale garden

Start of the strawbale garden

So hopefully I will be making pretty things and getting enough sleep.  The recipe for a happy life.

Karen

Changes

Mum and Hannah  Neocolor and ink

Mum and Hannah Neocolor and ink Lambley Nursery 

It has been 100 days since I last posted and so much has happened in that time.  It is amazing, life goes on pretty much the same for years, then in a few months everything all changes.  I have to admit that the need for change has been building in my life for a few years now, so in some ways these last months have been a good thing as they are sorting out a lot of issues, but did it all have to happen at once!!!  I know these things are sent to test us and make us stronger, but really how strong do we need to be!

Over five years ago I left my house in Castlemaine, came to Melbourne with my mother and moved in with my sister and her two children.  My father had just passed away and Mum was in her eighties and blind so we needed to care for her.  My niece and nephew were at high school and as my sister is a single mother it also gave her some support with raising the kids.

Well five years later my niece has finished her Masters and has a new job, she has moved out of home with her partner and my nephew still at Uni, is moving out as well.  Child raising responsibilities over, we no longer need the big house in the suburbs.  Mum is slowly declining and will need more care than we can provide soon as her memory and sight continues to fail.

Then the companies I (and my sister) work for are in serious trouble, government funding changes and we are no longer viable and two out of the three companies go into liquidation.  So for many months we have not been sure if the next pay day will be the last as we scramble to find a way forward.

As you can imagine everything was up in the air and changes needed to be made.  I will not bore you with the details but after three months of struggle we have a solution.  We are moving back to Castlemaine, thankfully the property never sold and was rented out, I will be working part time and Mum is slowly being transitioned into care up here.

So in the end it will be a great outcome.  Children happy and independent, mother having her care requirements met and my sister and I have ongoing employment and will be sharing the property, which has two houses on a large block.  Loads of time for art and to get serious in selling and a garden to play in.  There is even room for some chooks and a vege patch.  We will move at the end of the month and I am so excited by the possibilities before me.

So I apologies for my lack of communication but am looking forward to sharing my new life with you as I can devote so much more time to my art and sharing it with my friends.

Karen

Merry Christmas

12 Days of Christmas Turtle dove. Water colour and inks. Journal

12 Days of Christmas Turtle dove. Water colour and inks. Journal

It’s the night before Christmas already here in Australia and we have just about finished preparing for the big day.  Only a couple more presents to wrap and the ice-cream to set.  It has been a really tough end to the year, but we have rallied and are now ready for our two day Christmas festival.  With the children now gown up and with commitments of their own, we have had to spread Christmas over two days.  Its tough, but we are willing to go there.

This gives us the opportunity to have both the traditional and Australian Christmas fare.  My mum and brother love the full english tradition of turkey, ham and plum pudding.  I have to admit I have always struggled with this and with Christmas being 35C it isn’t the most fitting for our summer season.  The Australian Christmas is usually seafood, mangoes, avocados, ice-cream and loads of fresh berries or it is in our house.

12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas

I have been up early and to the market to get all the seafood and fabulous deli treats. My sister and I love to cook, so we are baking for a couple of weeks and have loads of fun planning our festivities.

12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas

Now these are something I prepared earlier, in fact I started them last year, but didn’t get them finished on time, so I have finished them for you now, I hope you like my version.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well and everyone just has a lovely day with friends, families and loved ones.  I would like to thank everyone for their support and kind words this year, you really keep me going and I appreciate it so much.  So have fun everyone I will be.

image

The back room is decorated and ready for Christmas

 

Last two drawings – Bali Journal

Cafe Bunete Ubud Bali. Watercolor and ink

Cafe Bunete Ubud Bali. Watercolor and ink

I just realised how long it has been since I last posted and it has been ages.  My day job has been totally flat out and I have just not had enough energy left to draw.  But it is slowing down a bit and I have had a chance to finish the last two drawings in my Bali journal.

The above drawing is of a cafe we dropped into during the heat of the day to cool off before we went to the spa.  It was so inviting and the bright silk cushions were so lovely and bright in the dim coolness.  The food and service that we had in Bali was excellent, but the thing that stands out most in my mind was the lime drinks.  I wasn’t able to drink alcohol while I was away, (when I get too tired it just gives me a headache, alas for all the lovely cocktails I couldn’t sample), but the non-alcoholic drinks available were awesome.   Some had lime and mint, others had spices like cinnamon and two or three vanilla pods.  Vanilla pods were clearly cheaper there than at home.

I am really happy with the layout of this and the next spread that I did, I think I am finally getting the hang of journal page layout.  I like the visual link between the pages where the drawing either goes onto the next page or the little illustration links across.  This gives more interest to the journal pages and makes it a journal rather than a book of different drawings.

Cafe spread  Watercolour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Cafe spread Watercolour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Taksu Spa Spread Water colour and Ink Bali Journal 2015

Taksu Spa Spread Water colour and Ink Bali Journal 2015

The Spa drawing is of Taksu Spa in Ubud and it is a divine place. The Spa complex spans a creek bed and you climb down into the creek gully into this wonderful  alternate universe with pavilions floating in the pools, water lilies, ferns and aerial roots from the figs above hanging down.  The treatments were also pretty good too.

Taksu Spa Ubud Bali Water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Taksu Spa Ubud Bali Water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Well that is all of the main drawings done for the journal, I just have to add some photos and neaten up a few pages and it will all be complete.  It has been a magical trip and I have really enjoyed making the journal, even though it took much longer than I had hoped.  Like all these things I have learned such a lot by doing it and the memories from this trip are saved in such a wonderful way.

Karen

 

What working in a journal teaches you – Bali Journal 2015

Rice Terraces Acrylic and ink. Bali Journal 2015

i have finished adding colour to the rice terraces.  I should learn not to delay between the line sketch and adding colour, as I get nervous about wrecking the drawing.  This is also heightened with a journal, as I will not be able to get rid of it if I mess it up. I think that is one of the reasons why it took me so long to work in journals, the permanency of work and what if I wreck the drawing and I am stuck with it?

But of course this turned out to be one of the great things that I have learned in the last year of working in journals, the mistakes aren’t as important as I thought.  I have learned to not only live with mistakes and imperfections in my drawings but to embrace them and see that they add life and feeling to the image.  I have also learnt to work through the mistakes and how to rescue drawings that were teetering on the brink of disaster.  The use of multi media helps me, I often find a different approach of a various  mediums can often be what is needed.

The few things that I now always check when a drawing is just not working are

  • Line variation, I like to make sure that there are variations in the lines I am using and thicken up some of the lines or make breaks in the lines.  This gives much more life and movement to what I am drawing.  I have a very favourite brush pen that makes the most delicious tapered line.  It is a Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Brush pen and it is under $10.
  • Darks, since I started drawing, I don’t get the values right in my images and it is usually because my dark areas are not dark enough.  So I always have to check my drawings and go back to what I have been taught, do I have the right balance of light, middle and dark tones in my image.  As I use a lot of my photos as references, technology helps by being able to make my photos black and white.  That often  sorts out the problems.
  • Highlights.  Adding those last highlights is now much easier since I discovered good white pens.  My extra fine white sharpie is great to add in those highlight, (or fix a problem) and you can go back over them with colour to knock back the brightness and sink the area back into the drawing.

Back to the journal, my main disappointment in my last trip was not seeing the rice terraces, so this time we went for a day trip to the north of the island and did a half day walking tour of the rice fields   It was so interesting as the guide not only explained the rice production but showed us the medicinal and other plants in the region, plus something I had not seen before, clove trees  I did not realise how big the trees are and you can smell the cloves as you walk by them.  You could also see the cloves being dried on large sheets beside the road.

Cloves drying by the side of the road

Cloves drying by the side of the road

I also went back to one of my previous pages and added a drawing on a urn that was beside the bridge.  I drew the urn, but the spread didn’t work and I thought I had wrecked it, but a couple of days away from it and with fresh eyes I realised it had no darks and by adding in a very dark background it matched in with the other drawing and the spread was saved.  A drawing is such a journey and there is hardly a drawing I do that I don’t hate at some stage, but as I learn more I find that I am able to see were the problems are and fix them or learn to let go of the perfection and embrace the wonkiness

Urn and offering. Water colou and ink. Bali Journal 2015

Urn and offering. Water colou and ink. Bali Journal 2015

Bamboo bridge and Urn spread. Watercolour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Bamboo bridge and Urn spread. Watercolour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Karen

PS I have written this post on my IPad, so please forgive any problems as this is not my preferred way of posting.

 

 

Water Theme – The Bali Journal continiues

Water lily and dragonfly Water color pencil and ink Bali Journal 2015

Water lily and dragonfly Water color pencil and ink Bali Journal 2015

I am still drawing in my Bali journal and quietly proud of it.  I am determined to complete it and although I have a number of different projects that I think I would like to try, back to the journal it is.  This will not be one of my many uncompleted projects.  With the completing of journals I feel the need to start some larger more finished art works.  It has been ages since I did a big drawing outside a journal.  (See one sentence is about finishing and the next is looking at the bright, sparkly idea over there, the attention span of a gnat.)

The drawings that I have recently completed in the Bali journal all have a watery theme.  One of the highlights from the trip was a tour we took to the north of the island to go walking through the rice fields.   I was also keen to get out of the built up areas of Bali and see the rural landscape.

Line drawing of rice fields Pen and ink Bali Journal 2015

Line drawing of rice fields Pen and ink Bali Journal 2015

Above is a line drawing of the rice fields, I haven’t added the colour yet, not sure what medium I want to use, but no rush.  On the way to the rice fields we passed by some volcanic lakes, one with an important water shrine, Pura Ulun Danu Beratan.  We had followed a whole village who were going for the yearly celebration to this important shrine, they were packed into every type of transport imaginable including large trucks with about 50 people squashed into the back.  It was a beautiful and tranquil place and here are a couple of water serpent carvings that were right on the lake edge.

Water serpents at Lake Danau Beratan. Matt water colour and ink Bali Hournal 2015

Water serpents at Lake Danau Beratan. Matt water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015

While at Ubud I went to the art store, you can get some really cheap and unusual art supplies in Bali and I found some matte water colours which looked like fun.  I used them on the serpents, interesting with a chalky feel to them.  Undecided on whether I like them or not, but always fun to have new supplies. Below is a picture of the line drawing before I added the water colour.

Line drawing of water serpents Ink Bali Journal 2015

Line drawing of water serpents Ink Bali Journal 2015

I had to have a close up of the water lilies in the journal as that pond was such an important part of our trip.  This picture was taken to catch a fleeting glimpse of a the dragon fly, but as such things happen I really liked the composition and decided to use it for my picture.  I took the image onto the next page to add some interest to the journal spread.

Life on the lily pond page Journal spread water colour and ink Bali journal 2015

Life on the lily pond page Journal spread water colour and ink Bali journal 2015

Last of all is another Balinese inspired pattern, it has been a horrendously busy 10 days at work and I just needed the solace of a peaceful repeat pattern. Art is such a wonderful retreat where I can forget the problems of the present and return to my holiday.

Balinese Pattern, water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Balinese Pattern, water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Karen

Temples and Palaces – Bali Journal

Ubud Palace Carving, Ink, graphite and water colour Bali Journal 2015

Ubud Palace Carving, Ink, graphite and water colour Bali Journal 2015

Bali is known as the island of temples and indeed it is easy to think that almost every building in Bali is either a temple or a shop.  On this trip I begun to have a better understanding of the Balinese religion and the role of the temples in every day life.  Every Balinese house has a temple, one at the door to avert evil spirits, and then a little temple complex in the house compound for temples to their ancestors and the particular gods that they worship.  They were sometimes very elaborate or just often just simple, the structure of the temple was not as important as the spirits they contain.

I just loved all the intricate carvings that were everywhere and in particular the juxtaposition of the white stone against the old red bricks of the building.  So many patterns and designs, it was heaven.

Palace Dog,  Water colour

Palace Dog, Water colour Bali Journal 2015

There are many dogs in Bali, some are treasured pets, others are very street wise strays.  The Balinese used to have a terrible problem with stray dogs and rabies, but a concerted effort between the Balinese government and Australian and other international vets have helped to sort out the problem.  Without a specific breeding program the dogs have reverted back to their archetypal form as seen above.  Sort of like a pointy eared Labrador.  (I just learnt that fact from a TV dog show the other day, but 90% of the dogs in Bali were of this type so it made sense to me and I thought I would sound knowledgeable for a moment).  This one had a collar (but no tail) so I presume he was loved by someone in the palace.

By the way this is a drawing by me without any black outlines!!, it was hard to do, but occasionally I just like to prove to myself that I can do it.

Nature Temples Pen and ink Bali Journal 2015

Nature Temples Pen and ink Bali Journal 2015

Here are some of the less ornate temples, these were nature temples near a farm we passed.  The tall brick one is for the male nature spirits and the smaller wooden one is for the female spirits.  My understanding is they were to pray to the old nature spirits to say thank you for letting the farmer use the land and keep on the right side of them.  The Balinese religions combines their old nature spirit worship, Hindu gods and ancestor worship.  A full time job to keep all of them happy, but the island has the most beautiful quality to it, that many people put down to this sincere incorporation of the spiritual into their everyday lives.

Bamboo Bridge Sapu Lidi Resort Ubud Ink and water colour Bali Journal 2015

Bamboo Bridge Sapu Lidi Resort Ubud Ink and water colour Bali Journal 2015

I really struggled with this drawing of a beautiful bamboo bridge, the proportions somehow got completely out of whack, but the feel is something like the original.  Here is also an offering box that are seen outside every house or business every day.  I think the bridge had one because of the cross over of a path and water.

Balinese Pattern water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Balinese Pattern water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Lastly is a pattern page.  Hope you have enjoyed this revisited of the journal.  I still have quite a few pages to go, so I will be back with more.  I am determined to complete this journal, then it will be the first travel journal that is finished.  It is the year for finishing journals, as I have only two more pages to complete my sketch book.  That is really exciting as I have never kept up sketching for that long either.

Karen