Tuesday 31 December 2019

Looking back on 2019 and a decade too...

Once again it’s time for reflection, not only on the past year but also the last ten years. During the middle of 2008 my focus turned to Australia when I decided to emigrate. Bureaucracy moves slowly so it wasn’t until August 2010 that my visa was approved. 

Bunya Riverside - oil on canvas 1000 mm x 1000 mm

Most of 2010 was occupied with getting ready to move - selling my house, decluttering, and packing up in preparation for a new life in a new country. The decision to move was motivated in part by the resolve to be a full time artist. I set up a website and started a blog - Art Matters. Writing has become a most enjoyable and therapeutic activity. I’m pleased that over the years I have maintained regular posting about my work and life in Brisbane.

Classes at my Hamilton Road Studio were established in July 2011 and continue to be my main income source thanks to support from loyal students. Teaching painting led me to write my first book Colour - A Practical Approach. The first draft was completed in September 2017 but it took  another year to re-write and edit. The completed book was published by Blurb in September 2018. 

Over the years a number of commissions have been fulfilling and challenging. These included paintings for Maverick Travel and Deja Bru cafe. A local business Tradesmen on Time purchased these paintings for their office - Two paintings going to a new home.

This year I have been fortunate to have a wonderful commision to create paintings for Milk Cafe Ashgrove.  This post has all the paintings - More paintings for Milk

Each year I have been fortunate to have had work selected for both the Lethbridge 10,000 and the Rotary Art Spectacular. In addition, I took part in two exhibitions at Percolater Gallery with the cARTwheel Collaborative group. The 2016 Nundah Art Exhibition proved to be a highlight for me. I was awarded the Grand Prize for Riverside Trees.

I regard myself as immensely fortunate - the last ten years have been exciting, extremely challenging but so fulfilling - here's to the next ten.

Riverside Trees  - oil on Linen

And the years in review...

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Nine years later

Yesterday, nine years ago I landed in Brisbane to start a new adventure in Australia. The years have been eventful. When I arrived after packing up all my possessions to be shipped in a container halfway across the world, my daughter and her family were packing up their rental house in preparation for the move into their newly built home. So it was back to bubble wrap and boxes. We moved a few days before Christmas. 

The rain started shortly after my arrival and didn’t stop, culminating in the floods in January 2011. Friends said I brought the rain. In any case, Brisbane was flooded and this brought much hardship to many residents. Luckily, we were safe from flooding and were able to help out less fortunate friends. 

My planning for my new life in Brisbane included exploring a number of activities - visiting the art galleries; discovering the art supply stores; planning to meet up with Brisbane art groups; and exploring the scenic areas around the city. 

I did manage one short visit to GOMA but by the new year the galleries were completely flooded, and precious artworks were moved to higher storage. Both GOMA and the Queensland Art Gallery remained closed for some months. The city was in survival mode.

My Studio

All this upheaval forced me to change my plans and simply be patient.  Fortunately, I was staying with my daughter and her family and I could take my time to get to know the city. 

I remained there for six months then moved into my own home in July, 2011. That same week I started art classes, having converted my garage into a very workable studio.  

The Studio is on the small size but it serves the purpose. Extra lighting and an essential air conditioner make the space comfortable. I would like a larger area to allow more room for each artist. However, the size restriction ensures that the classes remain small and intimate. A maximum of six allows each person to follow their own projects and to work in a number of different mediums. If there were to be a dozen or more then the classes would of necessity have to be more structured and formal, giving less scope for individual experimentation.

I have been fortunate that teaching has afforded me economic independance as well as providing me the opportunity to make wonderful friends.

Student Reviews

This lovely email came from an artist...

Good morning Carol, Just wanted to pop you an email to tell you about my experiences at your studio.

When I started art classes at your Studio 5 years ago I hoped that your classes would re-ignite my interest in painting.  I had dabbled with painting in high school and a few classes when my children were young but had not pursued it any further than that.  I have learnt so much from you….. I love that each student in your class is encouraged to pursue their own ‘style’.  

I love that we, as a group, encourage and learn from each other. I enjoy the little talks or mini lectures you give on a different style or artist and how your classes are not just about the actual painting but also about the ‘love of art’. So good for the soul. 

When I started 5 years ago I had hoped to achieve certain things.  I have done this and more.  I thank you for sharing your knowledge with me ....

Another wrote this in an email to me after her painting was accepted for the Rotary Art Spectacular Exhibition:

Hi Carol
I’m so excited just to have my art accepted. Your mentorship over the years has been invaluable Thanks Carol and looking forward to my projects for next term."
And one more recent email:

I would like to also thank you for making the art classes so interesting and giving us, especially me, the confidence to have a go. I feel like I am finally getting into the hang of this painting thing and actually liking what I am doing. 
I did of bit more work on the sand grasses and actually forwarded a copy to family and friends, instead of just hiding it away. Big step for me.
Thank you.


Tuesday 3 December 2019

The very best brushes - Rosemary & Co

Whenever I do an order for brushes from Rosemary & Co I say to myself “I do not need another brush” it doesn’t work very well and the resolve is easily broken. 

A few of my favourites... (friends might notice that I put my Ardmore ceramics to good use - and I might add that when I bought these many years ago they were much more affordable!)

And there’s more...

The last order was no different. I have come to like the Red Sable Blend Brushes very much. The mixture provides just the right amount of paint-holding capacity along with some firmness in the bristles. They aren’t as soft as the all sable ones and have the added advantage of being cost effective. My favourites are the Designer pointed rounds which are tapered to a much longer point allowing the artist to ‘draw’ with the brush. The Sable Blend dagger is a very versatile brush allowing for very expressive brush strokes.

I am trying a brush design that I have previously only had in synthetic fibres - a Sable and Ox hair One stroke. It’s quite firm but holds a lot of paint. 

Then there is a very new brush set, the Snowdrop brushes designed for the artist Vladislav Yeliseyev to his particular requirements. The brushes come either as individual round brushes in a range of sizes or as a set comprising three pointed rounds and the wonderful Snowdrop Swordliner - this one was a very special surprise inclusion in my order so I could test the brush.

This brush has a long taper and takes some time to master - lots of practice is clearly needed to use it the way Vladislav Yeliseyev does in his masterful watercolours.  The balance of the handle makes this brush a joy to use - perfectly designed to allow free flowing lines to be created. 

Watercolour abstract using the Snowdrop swordliner. 

Friday 15 November 2019

2020 Calendars

I have made calendars using my paintings for a number of years now. Last year I had a technical glitch (mainly self-made, I confess) where the dates on the wall calendars were all wrong - actually the wrong year! 

So this year I decided that I would not design one. I even went to the extent of buying a calendar from GOMA. Students coming to the Studio will know how much I rely on the wall calendar to try to keep track of people away and makeup lessons. There is a good space on each date to keep track of appointments and birthdays.

However, I really like having a desk calendar so when I’m working at the computer the dates are right there, and I do like the design I have used. 

So I got busy and added image to the calendar design.It was an easy step to add the images to the format for a wall calendar as well so the Desk calendar and Wall calendar are both designed and ready.

I will be printing these to order so if you would like one please let me know. 

Desk Calendar

Wall Calendar 

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Inktober 2019

Frustrations with technology

Third time lucky. I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, halfway through Inktober. Life got in the way and I forgot to finish it. Then yesterday I resumed writing while out having coffee using an app Blog Touch. Usually the app works well but the app crashed and suddenly the page was blank - no text and no images - just the heading!!!

Foolishly I hadn’t done a draft in iPages and copied it over but had written directly in the app. I’m not taking any chances today.

Inktober 2019

So back to Inktober 2019. I decided ahead of the challenge that I would go rogue and not try to adhere to any of the official prompts but to create my own theme. I wanted to use this time of daily drawing to explore paintings done previously to see if the images would lend themselves to a new series.

I returned to the original images used for the paintings and did a series of ink drawings, experimenting with composition and values. 

Riverside Trees - and below the original painting in oils.I really like the sparse, clean look of this drawing - the white space is very relaxing and quite a contrast to the original painting Riverside Trees which has very saturated colour. 

Pumula Rocks is one of a series painted when I did a Professional Process Course in South Africa. Revisiting the photographs of these rocks gave me inspiration for a few Inktober drawings.

This drawing was done in ink on grey gesso with fountain pens and a dip pen with white ink. 

And another in the Pumula Rocks series...

Bunya Riverside - ink detail above and oil on canvas below

Nymphaea -  Water lilies were the inspiration for a couple of paintings so it was natural when I wanted a break from monochrome to use coloured ballpoint pens for this drawing.

The positive aspect of being in charge of one’s own prompts is that some days an simple Notan drawing is sufficient to lay the basis for a later abstract series. My plan is to use these as a kick start for small watercolour abstract paintings. Now that I have rekindled the daily drawing habit it makes sense to continue and expand the practice.

The sizes of the images are all over the place - those that were uploaded in Blog touch refuse to be resized in Blogger and I don't want to tempt fate and loose the whole post AGAIN if I try to correct the sizing in Blog Touch!

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Sktchy Retrospective

The Sktchy online community is one of the best - everyone is so supportive, generous with encouragement as well as sharing tips and techniques. One artist posted a collection of her portraits starting with her very first ever and then one from each subsequent year. She invited us to do the same. It’s really interesting to see the development of the artists and their wide range of styles and techniques. 

 Here are a few portraits from the past five years that I have been part of Sktchy. 

This portrait using graphite combined with watercolour is a favourite. I have
also used the image as a collage element in another painting - see below.

This Mixed Media painting incorporates a couple of portraits, stencils and collage.

As I scrolled through my gallery of portraits I came across all the ones that had been chosen as Sktchy “Picks” over the years. ‘Picks’ are chosen as featured portraits and are rewarded with a star. 

These three portraits show the dramatic use of vibrant watercolour with ink - the combination works really well. 

Sunday 1 September 2019

Nundah Village Art Exhibition

The annual Nundah Art Exhibition will be on  Saturday and Sunday 7th - 8th September. The Nundah Now Village Street Festival is held on Sunday from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm with live music, street entertainers as well as the usual street stalls.

It’s a great show in an unusual venue - the Northside Honda workshop. A few vehicles are raised up out of the way on hoists, and screens are set up to display the paintings. There is always a wide variety of excellent work. As a bonus, the opening soiree on Saturday evening  is a lot of fun.  

I will have four paintings on the show. 

The Wind Scatters the golden leaves - oil on canvas 610 mm x 610 mm. 

Wild weather - Tasman Peninsula - oil and cold wax on panel 610 mm x 610 mm

Still Beautiful  - watercolour on paper 

Proteas with a jug - oil and cold wax on paper.

Saturday 24 August 2019

Nine years later

Nine years seems to be a long time, but, honestly the last nine have gone by in a flash. On 24th August 2010, I wrote the first post for Art Matters. Today’s post is something of an anniversary celebration. 

The posts haven’t always been regular but I have kept to my original aim - I would publish when I had something to say, and in that I am pleased with the way the blog has evolved.

Wild Weather, Tasman Peninsula - 610 mm x 610 mm oil and cold wax on panel 

The first post - A new beginningmarked the beginning of a new stage in my life as I prepared to emigrate to Australia. My words went out into cyberspace and I had no idea if anyone noticed or if they even read the posts. For quite a while there was no response, and no comments. To be honest, in the beginning I had no clue about how to find the blog analytics to see how many readers there had been! Eventually, in September, a couple of comments started to appear. There was someone out there after all.

Even though the reader numbers were modest, I persevered and continued to document the packing up of my old life and preparation for a new life in a new country. The blog proved to be good therapy for these rather scary times. Over the years I've enjoyed writing the posts. It's been a vehicle where I can show and document my work.

During the first years I had to be patient and wait for the phone to ring or a query arrive in my inbox. Now I am in the pleasurable situation where work and opportunities come to me

My life in Brisbane is full and happy. I have a group of wonderful artists attending classes in my Studio. I have had some success with paintings, commissions and art exhibition entries.

Frequently I sit back and reflect on just how amazing my life is here. Hard as it was to leave family and friends behind in South Africa, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have enjoyed in Australia.

Riverside Trees - oil on linen 

This painting was the winner of the Grand Prize at the Nundah Village Art Show in September 2015.

A couple of years later, this portrait came second at the same show. It’s a special feeling to have one’s work honoured in the way.

Dan - watercolour on Ampersand clayboard. 

Frequently I sit back and reflect on just how amazing my life is here. Hard as it was to leave family and friends behind in South Africa, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have enjoyed in Australia.

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Digital Portraits

Since the beginning of the year I have been trying to draw portraits more often. One of the easiest ways to make this happen is to do them digitally using the Procreate app. It’s so convenient to pick up an Apple Pencil and draw a few lines while waiting for something. And the clean up afterwards - well there’s none! 

Last year I upgraded my iPad Air to the  iPad 2018 and this, combined with the Apple Pencil, really is a game-changer. Previously I had been using a Jot Pro stylus which was alright but still quite difficult to use. When I look at some of these earlier portraits I can see the struggle. 

I also took a couple of online courses through Sktchy with Lisa Fillion. This improved my ability use Procreate more extensively and with more confidence. I enjoy the way I can now add textured paper to the background, move elements of the drawing around and just have a lot of fun. 

My first portrait was posted on the 18th April 2015. To date, I have completed 308 portraits.
Joan Martin was the first person to draw my attention to the app. It took me a while to “get it” but once I hooked I didn’t look back. Thanks, Joan.

Sktchy chooses portraits that they like to be featured as a “Pick” so when one of my early Procreate portraits was chosen I was thrilled. 

The Sktchy community is one of the most supportive online groups. The muses are provide a never-ending source of inspiration and my fellow artists are generous with support and encouragement. 

Monday 22 July 2019

Back in the day - one small step...

Fifty years - it really doesn’t seem that long ago. 

On the 20th July 1969 I was in my second year of Art School in South Africa. I was scheduled for a painting lecture but announced to my lecturer that I was going to the Students Union so I could listen to the historic moon landing in the radio. 

Why listen on the radio I hear you say? Remember this was 1969 in South Africa. The Nationlist government with their rigid, Calvinistic approach deemed television to be a threat to its control of the broadcasting media and a threat to the Afrikaans language. BJ Vorster termed TV "The Devil’s Box". Television was not introduced nation wide until the beginning of 1976. We were so isolated from the rest of the world.

So while the rest of the world watched the grainy footage of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon and hear him utter the now iconic words:   “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” I listened to this historic event on the radio. 

(My lecturer came to check up on me to see that I was where I said I would be!). 

Later, we would see footage of the moon landing at the cinema where it would be shown along with other news. Now if something newsworthy happens I can watch it on my phone. Times have indeed changed.

In contrast, Australia played an important role in the broadcast of moon landing to the world. on Saturday night I watched a movie, The Dish, which told the story of the satellite dish in a sheep paddock in Parkes, New South Wales which broadcast the images to the world.

Monday 15 July 2019

De-cluttering is good for the soul.

Each year our complex undergoes a check for termites. It’s a time when I need to wrestle with my storage area under the stairs. Useful as it is to have a place to store “stuff” unfortunately it often, no usually, becomes an area where things are shoved unceremoniously and pile haphazardly on top of other things. It gets to the stage where it becomes a "No Entry Possible" zone. In order for the area to be checked, it needs to be empty so that’s what I have been doing. 

I made a resolution this time to reduce the amount stored here. I planned to de-clutter anything that hasn’t been used since the last inspection. That’s easier said than done, because it’s tempting to fall into the trap of thinking an item might be useful in the future.

Upstairs I have a spare bedroom where I store canvasses. This too, has become crowded and many of the paintings are ones that haven’t worked. A few I have recycled and painted new paintings over the failed first attempt. This is often not good practice since the subsequent layers can be prone to cracking if the “fat over lean” principle is not adhered to. 

Oils can be painted over acrylic but the additional layers need a higher oil content than the underpainting. Acrylic can never be painted on top of oils since the new layers will simply peel off. 

There were a few stretcher frames that were not square or of poor quality. Some of the paintings were those that came in my container. A few paintings I will keep as a record of past themes but there were quite a few that just didn’t make the cut. These got the cut literally when I got busy with the Stanley knife and slashed the canvas to ribbons! 


Now I need to have a Studio sale and find homes for some still in storage. 

Friday 28 June 2019

Lethbridge 20,000 - exhibiting Still Life with Lilies

Still Life with Lilies - oil on canvas 600 mm x 600 mm 

While I was pet sitting for my daughter, I bought these beautiful lilies and had fun photographing them in various locations around her home. I was fascinated by the reflection of the decorative wallpaper in the ornate mirror. I enjoyed painting the details in the wallpaper and the frame - time consuming but the result was worth it.

I am so delighted that this painting has been selected as a finalist in the Lethbridge 20,000 Art Award. It will be exhibited at the Latrobe Terrace Gallery along with other paintings in Group A. Another group of selected paintings will be shown at the Bulimba Gallery. In addition, there are a number of paintings in the online exhibition. My first entry to this show was in 2013 and am so pleased to say that I have had a painting selected every year. 

The exhibition opens this Saturday evening at 6.00 pm when the winners will be announced. 

Address: 136 Latrobe Terrace,
                Paddington QLD 4064
Tues 12pm - 6pm
Thur Fri 9am - 6pm
Sat 10am-5pm
or by appointment

Address: 7/11 Wambool Street, 
                Bulimba QLD 4171
Wed - Sat 10am - 5pm
or by appointment

This award is in its tenth year and is a way for Brett Lethbridge to give back to the art community. Early in his career he had received much needed support in his career as an artist.

Monday 24 June 2019

More sketches for Milk Bar Cafe, Ashgrove

Since my previous post about my sketch becoming a mural at Milk in Ashgrove, I have been very busy painting some watercolours of the delicious treats that are served in the Cafe. These sketches are part of the recent renovations and decorate the windows on the outside of the shopping centre. 

Who doesn’t love Burger and chips ? 

Panoramic view of Ashgrove Avenue windows. 

Harry Street Windows 

Windows near the centre lift 

Raspberry Milkshake

Delicious Mango and Watermelon Frappes 

Green Vegan Smoothie.

Crunchie Milkshake

Double Chocolate milkshakes

When I was at Milk to take these photos I was able to get a shot of the inside mural - this time with no patrons!