Friday, 1 October 2021

A wake up call

Every now and then you experience something that stops you in your tracks. You think - is this happening to me? - it can’t be - this could be it…


Two weeks ago I had a severe, crushing pain in my chest. It felt as though there was a really heavy weight pressing down on my breastbone. Unrelenting, intense pain.  I was having a heart attack but I didn’t know it. 


Will you recognise your heart attack?




Two weeks ago…


I need to confess that the pain on Thursday afternoon wasn’t the first. I had experienced the crushing pain on both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. On both occasions the pain went away so I carried on as normal. The sensible thing to do when I had the first severe chest pain would have been to phone 000. But because we don’t want to face up to reality/make a fuss/cause trouble/are human we ignore these warning signs. 


Thank goodness I came to my senses on Thursday and phoned 000. The ambulance arrived, hooked me up to the ECG machine, gave me an aspirin, and a spray under my tongue. A cannula was inserted into my hand so they could administer a pain killer which was very welcome!


The paramedics were so efficient and caring as we drove to the emergency department at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. We waited for a short time outside the ED, all the while the paramedics checked that my pain level was manageable.


The Emergency Room


Once inside, everything seemed to move at warp speed. I was having a bit of trouble breathing. 


Someone said “let’s move her to the resuscitation ward” 

Another person said “No beds”

The Cardiac doctor: “We are going to do an Angiogram here and then a stent if needed.”


I was moved on to the treatment table. 


There seemed to be a dozen people in the ward, each doing their part in organising the upcoming procedure. All the while, the cardiologist was explaining exactly what they planned to do. 


Overwhelming and confronting...


“We will try to go into the artery in your wrist so we can use a dye to show up the arteries and to see if any are blocked. If there’s a blockage we will insert a stent to open up the blood vessel.”


And that’s what they did.


My wrist was strapped down so it wouldn’t move during the procedure, and painted with pink antiseptic lotion. 


There was a huge screen - the size of the biggest most extravagant flat screen TV - it showed large images of my heart and blood vessels . I watched the whole time as the probe moved in through the arteries  towards my heart. Then I saw the stent being inserted. 


Once it was over, my doctor showed me before and after photographs of the problem artery. In the “before” photo, the ink dye was visible for just a short distance. The rest of the artery was so blocked that it was invisible. The “after” photo showed the entire length of the now working blood vessel. 


The blockage was in the LAD artery, the Lateral Anterior Descending artery often called The Widow Maker.  Fortunately for me the other arteries were not blocked. They are not in pristine condition but are not blocked. 


A very firm plastic strap was wound around my wrist to put pressure on what was now essentially a hole in my artery, and to stop any bleeding. I was moved to the Cardiac Care Unit. All the while I had been attached to an ECG machine and blood pressure monitor. These remained in place the whole time I was in hospital. The fixed unit was replaced by a portable telemetry unit the following day so I could move around a little. 


Recovery 

Three days later I was moved to the General Cardiac ward, and was discharged five days after being admitted. 


Now I feel so much better than I did two weeks ago and have started some gentle exercise. 


I am really fortunate that I had a chance to face reality, to call for help and to receive excellent medical care. I have to come to terms with daily medication and ongoing lifestyle changes. 


The big bonus is that I am here to tell my story. 


Some thoughts

  • Do not disregard the warning signs - these not always dramatic - the symptoms can be vague and hard to explain.
  • Take action immediately - rather go to the Emergency Department and be told “You are fine, it’s a false alarm”. If you wait it may be too late. 

NOTE: photographs from My Heart, My Life a guide to improve heart health issued by the Heart Foundation, Australia.

N.B. PLEASE CHECK THE EMERGENCY NUMBER FOR YOUR COUNTRY. 




Sunday, 20 June 2021

Lethbridge 20,000 2013 to 2021

On Saturday evening the Lethbridge Gallery celebrated twelve years of hosting the Lethbridge 20,000. I love hearing Breet Lethbridge tell the charming story of how in Europe 20 years ago, he got his big break, and starting his artistic journey. For twelve years he has given back to artists, opening his gallery and holding the annual Lethbridge exhibition, originally The Lethbridge 10,000 , the big prize was increased to 20,000 a couple of years ago. 
The opening event was special since last year the event was confined to a video opening. Since the Lethbridge Gallery has expanded to include the adjoining premises, the Exhibition HD room to breathe making viewing the paintings such an enjoyable experience. 

My congratulations to all the most deserving winners - wonderful inspiring work. All the paintings can be viewed here.

I first entered the Exhibition in 2013 and have been extremely fortunate to have been selected as a gallery finalist six times, and as an online finalist three times. 






This year The Wind Scatters the Golden Leaves is a gallery finalist.



 The Wind Scatters the Golden Leaves - oil on canvas 610 mm x 610 mm
All the paintings can be viewed here

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

#30Faces30Days wrap up

A week into June and the 30Faces30Days challenge seems ages ago. It was such a busy, exciting and inspiring experience. There was a video tutorial each day, with some of the first tutors appearing again for a second session. 

Since each tutorial was almost an hour long, and each portrait could take anything from  an hour to a few hours to complete this entailed a considerable amount of time dedicated to the challenge. 





The videos were posted at the Sktchy Art School website, available from 6.00 am (Brisbane time).. using]The Mighty Network is available for both IOS and Android users,  an advantage since the Sktchy app is only iOS. I would watch some of the video and if I had time do some work on the portrait. The reference photos grade been previously posted on the Art school site so we were able to do a preliminary sketch. 

Sometimes the tutor would start in a different way, such as using the reference photo selecting sections to use in the final work. We learned how work with multiple layers (trying not to get confused) and how to experiment with the many interesting facets of the Procreate app. 

Such a lot to learn and absorb - I know I will need to go back, take one tutor at a time and really master each particular approach and technique.

What is digital painting? How do you do this? 

These are questions put to me recently by a friend when talking about the challenge. She was complimenting me on the portraits I had been posting on Instagram and Facebook. When I said that these were all done digitally using the procreate drawing app, she couldn’t picture how this was done.  Then I realised that for the last few years I have been dabbling in an art form foreign to many. 

Essntially one is drawing or painting on digital device using a stylus or even one's finger.
There are any number of apps that allow one to draw and paint digitally. 

Procreate
Procreate is in a league of its own. The wonderful talent behind Procreate are based in Tasmania. Their business model is unique in this age of subscription based and in app purchases. It’s a ONE TIME PURCHASE - and that includes EVERY NEW UPDATE - FOREVER! 

Then as if this isn’t enough, the choice of brushes native to the app is vast. (All the tools are called ‘brushes’ even though you might be drawing with a charcoal or crayon ‘brush’)
As with Photoshop, layers are available so each section of the painting can be drawn on separately, and when combined make the finished work. 

Procreate records each stroke that you make to create a timelapse. This allows one to view the process of the painting. There of few of these portraits on my Instagram page which will give you an idea of how the painting evolves. Here is one of them.

 

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Exhibition at Cafe Lagarto Samford

This week an exciting opportunity presented itself - an exhibition at Cafe Lagarto, Samford. The following day, I met with the lovely Cafe owner to view the space. The Cafe is part of the Lifestyle Centre on the Mount Glorious Road just outside Samford. A cottage across the pathway from the main area of the Cafe has become additional space for the cage patrons allowing good social distancing and as a wonderful bonus, a charming gallery space. 

A welcome bonus is that the 2021 Samford Arts Trail, with perfect timing, opens this weekend and runs for the month of June.

My paintings are hanging one of the three rooms, alongside two other artists, a painter and a photographer. 
I’ve kept to a floral theme, in keeping with the cottage atmosphere of the building. All paintings are for sale. 
During the course of the exhibition, I'll be adding more photos and videos to my Instagram page. In the meantime, here are a few of the paintings:




King Protea  - oil on canvas 700 mm x 700 mm



King Protea - above the fireplace 



Cilla’s Flowers - oil on canvas 460 mm x 610 mm

Proteas with a jug - oil and cold wax on panel 405 mm x 405 mm



Dragon Vase with Magnolias - oil on canvas 610 mm x 610 mm

Monday, 17 May 2021

#30Faces30Days in Procreate with Sktchy

I posted my first ink drawing in April 2015, having heard about Sktchy through my friend Joan Martin.

 

Sktchy is an online community that fosters creativity with a particular focus on portraiture. Members upload photographs that are used as inspiration. It’s also a friendly supportive place to creations. The artwork is displayed alongside the inspiration post - revealed with a swipe to the right. 

In the beginning my portraits were all analogue, using ink and watercolour, as well as some in oil and a few in acrylic. I had one of the smaller iPads and used an Idonit stylus - one step up from the stubby black finger like cheapie stylus which covered most of the line one was drawing. Frustrating to say the least!

I started adding digital elements about August of that year as seen in this work with text added:


#WAXTIP 

and this digital collage:


#WAXCOLLAGE


In April 2018 my digital progress made a dramatic leap forward with the release of a smaller, more affordable iPad that supported an Apple Pencil. It was definitely a game changer to have a drawing tool that was touch sensitive and very responsive. 

I have done a number of online classes with Sktchy, with various artists who have contributed so much to my knowledge of digital art, and Procreate in particular - it’s the best art app by far. 

This brings me to the beginning of May and the start of #30Faces30Days. This online challenge features a daily full length video tutorial using a muse selected by the tutor and concentrating on their own unique style. Each day brings new approaches and ways of working in Procreate. It’s excellent value for money. I decided at the beginning that even if the days style/approach was not my ‘jam’ I would endeavour to complete something using the tutor’s techniques. 

So May is all about Procreate and a portrait every day. I’m very pleased that so far I have kept up and have finished a portrait every day. 
Here are the portraits up to Day 15.










Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Term 2 in the Studio

The weather is changing and the temperatures start to drop after the heat of summer. It’s my favourite time of the year - I always feel much more energetic.
The Easter break seemed to go so quickly and all of a sudden the first class of the second term starts this evening.





I have just updated the Art Class page on this blog. We are all enjoying the creative time spent face to face while still observing a COVIDSAFE protocol. 


We are all enjoying the face to face creativity. A couple of artists have opted to continue to join via Zoom and this is working smoothly. Should you wish to remain isolated, there is still the option to continue using Zoom concurrently with a physical class, where the student can login to the class and take part online.

We usually start each class with some discussion about a particular theme or artist using a PDF which scan be shared blithe in the Studio as well as on Zoom. Learning to assess and critique other artist’s work aids in developing an editing eye for one’s own art.


The core of my teaching approach is to foster each artist’s individual creativity, so the emphasis is on personal creative projects. In the Studio in Hamilton Road each artist explores their own themes. This may take the form of a series of drawings, a painting in watercolour, oils, or acrylics.

During each class there will be some demonstration of technique as well as individually mentored tuition.


The weekly class timetable remains the same.


The weekly class timetable remains the same.

Term 2 2021

Wednesday 12th April to Saturday 26th June


Weekly classes

Wednesday 6.00 pm - 8.30 pm
Thursday    9.00 am - 12.00pm
Friday        9.00 am - 12.00 pm
Saturday    8.00 am - 11.00 am 


There are some vacancies in each class so if you have been thinking of enrolling in classes at the Studio now is a good time to do so. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me should you have any questions. 







Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Catching up with drawing every day.

I realised that almost two months have passed since I wrote about my 2021 project of drawing every day. Since then I have had mixed success. There are days with regular drawing and documenting the drawings, then at other times days go by with no work photographed. 

There’s been a mix of digital and analogue; a mix of media - ink, water soluble graphite, watercolour and charcoal. Some days I have a long extended drawing session, other days it’s a quick scribble, and I’m actually fine with that, it’s how life is. 

Subject matter has ranged from flowers and objects used for some of the classes in the Studio to a series of figure studies using photographic references. The figure drawings have been done with water soluble graphite pencils and a water brush or ink and water brush. This allows for a quick tonal drawing using easily portable materials. I like using the Derwent Sketching pencils which come in Light, Medium and Dark wash. 

There are also a number of Sktchy portraits done using Procreate. When drawing digitally, I aim for a result that has the look of an analogue drawing or painting rather than being obviously digital. I also make a concerted effort to limit the number of brushes used in a single work. This way I get to know the individual characteristics of that brush. 

I also realised that when a few days went by without a dedicated drawing being done it was when I was busy with all the animal mother and baby watercolours, so I wasn’t being a slouch!

So here are some of the drawings for February and March. 












Monday, 15 March 2021

A new commission

I received a different type of commission recently. My daughter asked for my help in decorating a special album for a friend’s Baby Shower. It was especially important to be able to customise the book. There are a variety of memory books on sale, however the drawback with most of these is that the layout is quite prescriptive, set out according to someone else’s idea of what to remember. And what happens in real life with a new baby, the enthusiasm to record all this information tends to wane and the book is often abandoned incomplete. When you have a blank canvas you can add whatever you wish and aren’t faced with incomplete pages. 

The family of the mother-to be lives in South Africa and with the current state of the world, they were unable to travel for the big event. A way to include messages from people far away was the answer.
The plan included blank cards for guests, both here and abroad, that could have messages added, either handwritten or printed. These, together with photos, would be added to the album. Illustrations of animal mothers with their babies would be the finishing touch.

The planned nursery theme is African animals. On assessing the paper in the book - a crisp white, and quite different to most watercolour papers, the solution was to print the illustrations on the same card as the messages. This had the additional advantage of keeping the originals available to be framed and displayed in the nursery. 

I got busy finding suitable images for the watercolour illustrations. Now that the Baby Shower has been held I can reveal the paintings. This is the best photo for an artist to see - someone’s face when they see your work for the first time.























And you’ve guessed correctly - it’s a boy! 

Coming soon - Red Bubble products

A few of these images have been added to products on my Red Bubble page. You’ll be able to purchase a variety of products including cups, phone cases, kids clothing, tote bags and many others. 

Coming soon - Bespoke Baby Books

A new listing for your own bespoke Baby Book is coming soon to my Etsy Shop.




Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Back in the Studio

Hamilton Road Studio

It’s such a good feeling to be back in the Studio, working creatively face to face. And how we missed this!



Strelitzia pod - ink on paper 

The classes are back to the regular weekly schedule with classes in the Hamilton Raod Studio on Wednesday evening, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings. Thanks to technology, anyone wishing to remain isolated can do so. Last week we managed to combine, successfully, a Studio class with a Zoom attendee, some everyone was accommodated. 

There are updated details, fees, terms and conditions are on the Hamilton Road Studio Art Classes page here on the Blog as well as on my website. 

There are a few vacancies on all days with the exception of Saturday. If you are interested please contact me either via a comment here or by email at 
info@carolleebeckx.com 

Monday, 1 February 2021

Drawing every day

Last year I watched as Debbie Mackinnon started a project to draw every day. She kept to this resolve. Every. Single. Day. 366 days. A remarkable achievement indeed. 
She has just had a successful exhibition at Incinerator Gallery in Sydney showcasing the results. 
These drawing prompted me to follow her example this year. 

So we are one month down in 2021 and I have 31 drawings done. I decided at the outset that I would start small and do a very quick drawing every day. Apart from a couple of days when I got sidetracked with re-opening the Studio, I kept to the schedule. (I have since made up the days missed!)

I used a relatively small sketchbook 19cm x 19cm so that I could do something easy and undemanding. Deciding that done was better than perfect.
The small format is somewhat restrictive so I foresee that I will branch out and experiment with larger paper and a use variety of media.











Thursday, 14 January 2021

Portraits done during 2020

I have had an iPad for a couple of years now but when I decided to treat myself (actually a necessary business expense after all) to the 12.9” iPad Pro, I began to appreciate the freedom and creativity that came with the increased real estate. To have enough space to draw and view my reference at the same time, I could make the most of the new Procreate 5x. 

The inspiration for my portraits comes from the generosity of muses on Sktchy. I have also benefitted from courses on Procreate with Lisa Fillion. She has a new bumper course which includes all previous portrait courses in one mega course - well worth the outlay. 













Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Pet portraits

We love our pets. In fact, we are rather obsessed with our furry friends. Pets become much loved members of the family. They are pampered with every luxury. We take countless photos of them and the hashtags #pets #dogs #cats  #puppies #kittens are perhaps the most prolifically used on social media. 

I love painting portraits of pets so I was delighted to receive a commission in December to paint a few favourites as Christmas gifts. These portraits are all painted in watercolour on cold press watercolour paper. They were ideally sized to fit into the matt of a ready made 6” x 6” frame, a creating the perfect gift. 

Pet portraits have been commissioned frequently - you can view a few here


I am happy to customise the size and medium to suit, watercolour, watercolour and ink on paper or oils on canvas 
Sometimes the proud owner has been included. One client loved the portrait so much he requested a second one as a gift for the vet who looks after the pet. 

Allow me to introduce Lulu, Sophie, Primrose and Willow.
 


Lulu - watercolour on 300gsm Cold Press watercolour paper - 5” x 5”



Sophie - watercolour on 300gsm Cold Press watercolour paper - 5” x 5”



Primrose - watercolour on 300gsm Cold Press watercolour paper - 5” x 5”



Willow - watercolour on 300gsm Cold Press watercolour paper - 5” x 5”

If you would like to commission a portrait of your favourite pet I would be happy to help. Please contact me by leaving a comment or by email at 
info@carolleebeckx.com

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Taking stock 2020

Where does one begin to take stock of the year that’s drawn it’s last virus-filled gasp?


2020 in Australia started with horrendous bush fires that devastated large parts of the country. Whole towns were obliterated, many people died, and the toll on wild animals, unable to escape the flames, was awful. The road to recovery here is ongoing.


Then we started hearing reports of an outbreak of a corona virus in Wuhan, China, with confirmed cases rising and then reports of deaths. By the end of January the first cases in Australia were reported and by mid-March restrictions were imposed to slow the spread of the virus, now officially called COVID-19. Australia has fared better than many other places, but now suddenly, alarming numbers of new cases have challenged our growing complacency. Movement between states has been halted and put many plans on hold.


The art classes moved out of my little studio. We went online using Zoom. It was surprisingly successful, and although enrolment numbers were small, all who participated enjoyed the time to learn and create together. It became a safe way to remain connected. 


This year my motivation to paint became much harder to find when the usual group exhibitions like the Rotary Spectacular were cancelled. I’d lost the urge to paint in oils, so I started to draw and paint more on paper, working in watercolour and experimenting with acrylic inks. I know that, in time, oils will call me back, but for now I am content to allow myself the freedom to experiment and play a little.


From the beginning of the year I had been using a square Seawhite sketchbook for sketching when out and about. 



Sketching at Ivy and Lark - ink and watercolour 


Since I was now largely confined to my home, I used the sketchbook to plan paintings, working with digital revisions and making notes on planned changes. With the closure of the physical Studio I also felt the need to document the changes in my life as well.



Water lily colour sketches - this painting remains unfinished 


In March I started making notes trying to record what was developing around me. The notes make for depressing reading, especially since months later the news is, if anything, worse not better.




Then the Covid-19 notes were supplanted by other sketches until the tragic, brutal death of George Floyd occurred. This was another terrible milestone in this unique year. In some ways it helped me to honour his life with a drawing.



George Floyd - ballpoint pen in Seawhite sketchbook

After the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg in September I felt the need to do another portrait.




Ruth Bader Ginsberg - 1933 - 2020 Portrait in Procreate


This year I’ve been grateful to have the park across the road from my home, enabling me to walk, to blow away the cobwebs of being cooped up at home. This abstract drawing is inspired by bark.



Digital work using Procreate has been a lifeline this year. I’ve concentrated on portraits, using muses from Sktchy, completing 88 portraits with just a handful in analogue mediums. (I’ll write more on the these portraits in a separate blog post to follow.)


A commission for my son involved the design of a wallpaper for his living room - you can read more about this here:






What lies ahead in 2021? The only thing I know for sure is that we will have to accustom ourselves to a new normal - a COVID-19 normal. The virus will be with us for some time (if indeed it will ever go away completely) in spite of vaccines now becoming available.


I live in hope that I will be able to reopen my Studio to real live artists. Should conditions in Queensland remain as they are with no community infections this could be at the beginning of the first term.