Thursday 30 July 2015

Connecting with Collectors

In December I spent a few weeks at the beach - watching people; staring at the sea; sketching and taking photographs. Over the last few months, these experiences have resulted in a few paintings.

Sometimes when you paint a subject that touches you; when it is something that strikes a chord within you; something that makes you want to share the experience; you wonder if you will be able to get the message across to the viewer. You know how you felt when you first connected with the scene that inspired you - but how can this be expressed?

This week I had confirmation that one such connection had been made. I received a message from a buyer who had recently purchased "Watching". I asked permission to tell her story so here it is...

She said:
"I have received your "Watching" painting in the mail today. I absolutely love it!!...Thank you!! When I first viewed it in the Rotary Online Gallery I had tears rolling down my face as it reminded me of my darling Granny at the beach - same stance and hat! I turned 40 this year & was going to buy an art piece to mark the occasion. When I saw this, 'Watching' had to be it! Thank you so much."

Watching - oil on canvas 915mm x 610mm ©2015 Carol Lee Beckx

There's more about the holiday in this post Inspiration from Coolum Beach
and this post discusses saying goodbye to favourite paintings: Artist and Viewer and more sketches from Coolum here: Sketching as the year draws to a close.

Thursday 23 July 2015

A Gold Coast Escape

Last week, on the spur of the moment,  I decided to take a couple of days off. Friends on the Gold Coast are always very welcoming and provided very comfortable accommodation.
The weather in Queensland has been colder than is usual for winter, and some places have even had snow. While I was there, the days were sunny but the wind was rather icy so it was important to stay in a sheltered spot. 

I explored Paradise Point and did a bit of sketching while listening to music from the nearby market.  I decided to re-visit a previous favourite place for lunch. Madam Tojo's Coffee Palace has a fascinating collection of books, shop dummy's, red roses, draped fabrics and feathers, all creating an eclectic quirky atmosphere. 

It's definitely a 'slow food' place - if you want fast food you're invited to move off elsewhere, so it's the perfect place to sit and sketch. No one is going to hurry you along and want your table for someone else. I decided on the special and it was delicious. My modus operandi when sketching my meal is to do a rapid sketch of the elements of the dish - sometimes in ink, sometimes in graphite; take a couple of photos for reference, and then enjoy the meal. Definitely no cold food for me! Then afterwards I can take my time with the sketch, adding ink and watercolours. I had forgotten my white gel pen so details of the chalk board menu were added at home later.

Slow Roasted Pumpkin, Baby Spinach, Poached Egg, crispy Bacon with Peperonota
ink and watercolour 

On Monday, a friend and I went further down the coast, stopping along the way at Kirra Beach and driving on to Currumbin. Here the Currumbin Victory Surf Lifesavers Club provided a warm and cosy place to enjoy the view, a coffee and share a slice of cheesecake. The clubhouse with huge windows facing the sea meant that I could do a sketch of the sea and the rocks below, while staying warm and comfortable. 

View from Currumbin Victory Surf Life Savers Club - ink and watercolour 

The tide was low and the sun was bright. A meandering stream of silver curled its way through the sandbanks and back to the sea - I know this will be inspiration for a painting or two.

On Tuesday morning I had time to be a tourist. I decided to have a ride on the new tram which runs from the Gold Coast University Hospital down to Broadbeach. On the way down I had my eye open for suitable sketching opportunities as well as a spot that would be sheltered from the icy wind. Cavill Avenue tram stop looked the most interesting so I returned from Broadbeach and alighted there. The Clock Hotel, its intricate clock tower all the bells was an obvious choice. Baritalia café situated directly next to the hotel provides both a sunny position as well as coffee and lunch.

Clock Hotel - ink and watercolour  Carol Lee Beckx 

I often wonder what people think when I'm searching for a good place to draw. I sit at one table - check the view - no good - get up and move to another table - better but not great- ah - third time lucky, a perfect view of the facade of the hotel and a good sunny position. 

After I had completed the drawing of the Clock Hotel I decided I had time for lunch. I wasn't intending to draw my meal but when it arrived it looked so delicious, and begged to be sketched. 

Ravioli Fritti at Baritalia - ink and watercolour ©2015 Carol Lee Beckx

And my Ravioli Fritti tasted as good as it looked. 

It was a lovely escape to the Gold Coast. A complete album of my sketches can be found on here my Flickr site.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Holiday Workshops

The Studio has been a place of creativity during the short winter school holiday break. Workshops with a number of different topics have been held - an introduction to oils, experimenting with watercolour and playing with ink. 

Participants have enjoyed trying new mediums and techniques, and the emphasis has been on playing rather than producing a perfect artwork.  All too often we set ourselves such high expectations that all too frequently we find the result disappointing. I'm reminded of this video where Ira Glass talks about creativity - it's good to watch it again. 

Introduction to Oils
The workshops are a good way to explore an unknown medium without incurring the cost of buying all the equipment. The oils workshop included all the necessary paints, supports, mediums and brushes. After the workshop, I wasn't surprised to find that most of the artists are now working in oils. Perhaps my love of the medium is infectious! 

Strata - oil on canvas 760mm x 760mm ©2015 Carol Lee Beckx

Playing with Ink 
I have been collecting various inks - both those suitable for use in fountain pens as well as some acrylic inks. Previously I have used the FW acrylic inks made by Daler Rowney and my newest acquisitions are some made by Schmincke. These are intended for use with an airbrush but are wonderful when used with a dip pen. The Speedball range of calligraphy and poster nibs encourage bold use of line, as well as a fearless approach to randomly created lines - these nibs tend to be slightly uncontrollable!

Painting 'Bootcamp'
The last workshop was more of a painting 'Bootcamp'. The artists came to the studio to paint for three days running, leaving other responsibilities behind for a while. A couple of them were new to working in oils so this was an ideal opportunity to work on technique and become familiar with the medium. I must confess that I worked them quite hard and I think they were rather shattered at the end of the three days! 

Now, all too soon, the holidays are over and the regular weekly classes have started. Most days are fully enrolled but there is space available on Thursdays and Saturdays this term. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about the Studio or if you would like to attend a future workshop.

Friday 3 July 2015

Finding Inspiration

When I was writing the previous post about the Lethbridge 10,000 and the current theme of my paintings, I realised something. I realised that somehow, surreptitiously, I had become a landscape painter.

I hadn't been in Australia for very long, maybe six or eight months, when I drove up the coast to Mooloolaba to have a look. Previously, rocks had featured in a number of paintings and I wanted to find something here in Australia to kick start a new series. The day seemed fine when I set off but when I arrived it was cloudy and gloomy. I took a lot of photos of the pounding sea and the rocks. 

Then I wandered into a gallery - The Gallery Beneath and chatted to the owner. I explained to her that I had come up from Brisbane, having recently arrived in Australia, looking for inspiration. 

She turned to me and said: 
"You can't look for inspiration, you've got to feel it here," holding her hand over her heart.

Her words took me by surprise and I almost felt chastised, as though my explorative outing was in some way false. And perhaps it was. The couple of paintings I did from those photographs were not very good at all. I needed to do more than take some photographs to understand a place.

Riverside Trees - oil on linen 

Her words have stayed with me and I've thought about them often - she was absolutely correct. I really needed to be here longer, to live in the country and to let the special places find me rather than the other way around.

When I look at the paintings done over the last few years - Riverside Trees, Windarra Reflections,  and Bunya Riverside and  I see that the landscape has become part of me and that inspiration has found me after all.