Monday 10 October 2022

Inktober 2022

All of a sudden it’s October and time for Inktober. There is an official prompt list that is adhered to by many artists, however I have not found these lists to be particularly inspiring - maybe I just don’t like being told what to do!

My Thursday class has a couple of artists who are keen to do some intensive drawing using various mediums. I found a some seed pods from the Streiltzia Regina in the garden. This plant is also called the Crane flower or Bird of Paradise. As each petal of the flower dries, it withers into fascinating forms and after a while the black seeds with a fringe of bright orange can be seen. 

This became my inspiration for some Inktober drawings. I have used a few different fountain pens and varied the inks as well. 

My daily park through local bush lands provides interesting leaves and pods. 


Since re-discovering fountain pens for sketching and buying a Lamy Safari in 2011 (I have always had at least one pen for writing)I now have a rather large collection. 

Pens used for these Inktober drawings include a TWSBI F, a TWSIBI B and a Sailor Fude 55 deg nib. The latter is used for oriental calligraphy and has a bent nib which creates lovely line variations. 

Inks include De Artramentis Urban Sienna, Pelikan Smokey Quartz, and Standard Bindery Canyon Walk. 

Monday 19 September 2022

Chiharu Shiota - The Soul Trembles

A wonderful exhibition at GOMA, Brisbane is coming to an end soon, so you should take to opportunity to enjoy while you can. 

Chiharu Shiota  is a Japanese performance and installation artist. She explores the perception of space to explore ideas around the body and flesh.

The Soul Trembles is a visual feast. I’m going to let the photographs of the installations speak. 

Across the River 


The Burnt Piano

A Question of Perspective 

Inside/ Outside

Exploring Acrylic Ink

When you’ve been painting as long as I have, you collect art materials -  a lot of art materials. Visiting an art supply store is the best therapy. The lure of shiny new paints, brushes, sketchbooks, pens and pencils is very hard to resist. If you have seen my studio you would have seen evidence of this - many, many brushes, boxes of drawing tools, paints and sketchbooks. 

Many years ago, I attended a workshop which stipulated an extensive supply list which included a number of acrylic inks. After the workshop was over, I realised that the inks had been just a whim of the tutor - none had been used during the workshop! Now and again I’ve enjoyed using the inks, but since the workshop I had not done a deep dive into their possibilities.

A couple of years ago, I came across the work of Missy Dunaway. Here’s a link to her website . She uses acrylic inks almost exclusively in a Moleskine sketchbook as a wonderful visual diary of her travels. 

Take a look at her Instagram page - it’s so inspirational. Now here was an opportunity to explore the inks more thoroughly. I took part in a couple of online courses that she offered through through Creative Bug and more recently a course offered in conjunction with Moleskine called The Travelling Artist. 

Now here was an opportunity to explore the inks more thoroughly.I took part in a couple of online courses that she offered through through Creative Bug and more recently a course offered in conjunction with Moleskine called The Travelling Artist. This type of work aligned with my current preoccupation with working smaller, and, more importantly the course was scheduled at a civilised hour for Australia. (Most online offerings take place as 2 or 3am AEDT!)

The 3 tutorials were two hours each over a period of three months - plenty of time to practice in between sessions.
Acrylic ink provides a flexibility not present in watercolour - colours can be layered multiple times, allowing one to edit and alter frequently.
I am, by nature, quite an impatient painter. I tend to paint and then rapidly move on to the next shiny thing. Missy’s approach is to continue refining and adjusting her painting far longer achieving wonderful detail. So this is a good practice for me, to push through and work on the detail. 

Windarra stream - acrylic ink on watercolour paper 

The Country Lane -  acrylic ink in Moleskine sketchbook 

Coastal Landscape - Tasmania - acrylic ink in Moleskine sketchbook 


Mt Wellington Tasmania acrylic ink in Moleskine sketchbook 

Wednesday 14 September 2022

The end of an era.

I woke up on the morning of 9th September to the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II the previous afternoon. 

She came to the throne when I was barely 2 years old. While watching programmes about her life and long reign I am also watching the events which took place during my life, new technologies, the fashions, music and historical events. 

Such a lot has happened over the years. 

Monday 5 September 2022

Walking every day - shinrin-yoku

A walk in the forest or  “forest bathing” is both a fitness exercise and a mindfulness practice. 

The term shinrin-yoku emerged in the 1980s in Japan. The purpose was two-fold, to offer an anti-dote to technology and to inspire residents to reconnect with the country’s forests. There are places where you can take part in guided meditative excursions, or you can do as I do and just take yourself off to somewhere outside and walk. 

Wonderful fragrant Jasmine - a pity you can smell the perfume.

After I had a heart attack last September, yes, it will be a year next week, I was tasked with improving my approach to my health and cardia health in particular. I decided right away that rather than approach a 3 times per week regime I would rather make the exercise a daily schedule. 

So far this has been a successful. When you have a plan to walk Monday, Wednesday and Friday and when then it pours with rain on Wednesday and you don’t walk it’s all too easy to postpone. You discover later it’s been a week since you walked. You make a promise that you’ll start again on Monday, but Monday dawns and there’s something else you have to do so no walk happens.

If you walk every day, whether it’s raining, windy or very hot you don’t give yourself a chance to make excuses. 

A huge bonus for me is that, living in Brisbane, there are many walking trails in the numerous bush reserves near my home. Each has a slightly different feel - some steep and challenging, some more easy going. Many are shady so even in the hot summer months there is somewhere to escape the sun.

A second big bonus is that there are so many beautiful sights to enjoy each time you venture out.
If you follow my Instagram you’ll see frequent photos from my daily walks - wonderful trees, shadows on the path, reflections in a stream - there’s something new each time. 

Tuesday 30 August 2022

Portraits in Procreate

I’ve been drawing digitally for a number of years now. Starting off with the iPad Air and a convention stylus - difficult and clumsy. An upgrade in 2018 meant that I could use an Apple Pencil which is a game-changer. Then two years ago I treated myself to an iPad Pro. The large screen size is luxurious to say the least. One of the major advantages is that one can work with drawing and image side by side. 

My skills have improved considerably due to making use of the numerous tutorials offered by Sktchy - or Museum as its now known. Taking part in a #30Faces30Days challenge is like a drawing boot camp. 

I’ve done couple now and it’s great fun to keep up with other artists drawing a portrait every day for a month. When a new challenge was offered in June I signed up. 

Each day a different artist presents a tutorial covering their favourite techniques. This year all the drawings would be done using Procreate. Ten artists each did three portraits, each video is  roughly an hour long- some even longer, then one has to draw the portrait so the time commitment is considerable. The major of using a digital medium is that it’s portable, one can draw literally anywhere and there’s no clean up!

SIDE NOTE - What is Procreate?

Wikipedia says:

Procreate is a raster graphics editor app for digital painting developed and published by Savage Interactive for iOS and iPadOS. Designed in response to the artistic possibilities of the iPad, it was launched on the App Store in 2011. 

Well, I don’t know about you but that doesn’t tell me much…

Procreate says the something similar in a more creative way:

At the risk of stating the obvious I’m going to try and explain. Essentially Procreate a way of drawing digitally using an iPad and stylus - namely the Apple Pencil. The many brushes create marks that mimic analogue tools - pencils, pens, crayons, different paint strokes in fact an almost endless number since each brush can be modified to suit your own style. 
By adding layers, one can add a textured paper or colour, insert images or photos. On my Instagram page I have added a portrait and time lapse so you can see how the image develops.
The time lapse shrinks the drawing time of 4 hours 12 minutes to 30 seconds! 

Here are a few favourites from the June challenge. Other portraits done for the challenge can be seen on my Instagram profile. 

Friday 12 August 2022

Windarra Forest Walk - finding inspiration

A few weeks ago I was house sitting for my daughter. (Actually I was cat-sitting). I took a walk down a track that I had first explored in 2011 soon after arriving in Brisbane. The track is very different now. It’s much more established with wider paths. Some sections now have concrete stabilising the track where water runoff has caused damage. The trees, once small saplings, now tower over the path. The stream is almost hidden. 

It seemed like a strange, new, place. Nothing was recognisable.Then I caught a glimpse of water and remembered the image that inspired a number of paintings.

I caught sight of the bridge, reflected in the stream. 

The stream as it is today

The stream in 2011

Often you take a photograph because something in the scene speaks to you but it can be a while before that initial inspiration takes shape. It’s almost as though the idea and image need time to incubate, waiting for the right moment to be given life. So it was with the images which inspired the painting, Windarra Reflections.

This is what I wrote in 2013 - 

I took the photograph of the creek on Windarra Estate some time ago. It's been there, waiting to become a painting. Excited        by the light on the water and the patterns of the reflected reeds, I wanted the painting to convey the light, colour and a little mystery. 

This one was selected for the Lethbridge Small Scale Exhibition in 2015 and later exhibited it along with others at a group exhibition at the then Percolater Gallery in Paddington. (The gallery is now Lethbridge Gallery)

Windarra Reflections - oil on canvas 600 mm x 500 mm

I returned to the same image for Reeds Rise from Water. The title comes from From the poem by Samuel Menashe 

I selected a small crop of the original photograph and began the painting with loose bright colour and drips of paint. Most of these remained in the completed painting

Reeds Rise From Water 760 mm x 760 mm oil on canvas

Recently I pulled out some Daler Rowney FW Acrylic inks some of which I had purchased for a workshop many years ago. I also purchased a basic set of Liquitex inks - primary colours, black, white and burnt umber. 

For inspiration I returned to my Windarra stream image and used the inks for this painting. Acrylic ink is extremely forgiving. The layers add vibrancy, cover mistakes and are really fun to use. 

Windarra Reflections  II - acrylic ink on watercolour paper 320 mm x 400mm

Monday 1 August 2022

Poor neglected blog!

I realised that it’s been six months since I published a post here on Art Matters. 

When I began the blog back in 2010, shortly before I emigrated to Australia, the custom in the world of blogging was to post on a daily basis. I decided then that I would only write when I had something to say, rather than be obliged to write a daily post. 

The blog landscape has changed somewhat since then. Blogging has been superseded by Instagram. Now Tik-Tok has become the new big thing.  (I’m not there in case you go looking)

I post most frequently on Instagram and connect the posts there directly to my Facebook page. However the big issue with Instagram is that artists are at the mercy of the ghastly algorithm, the bullying push to noisy reels, and constant advertising. One sees fewer and fewer posts from people one follows. Currently there’s something of a rebellion going on with people complaining loudly about the current state of affairs at Instagram. The changes have resulted in many asking for fewer videos and more photos  - in other words, wanting the old Instagram back. I’m not sure that anyone at Meta cares or will actually do anything to revert to what everyone clearly wants. 

I love that this blog is mine and I can write what I like, and publish when I like. The trick, however is getting anyone to see the posts.

So I plan to write a little more often including photos that I hope you will enjoy. I’ll still be posting links to Art Matters on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter - much as I would like not to rely on these currently there aren’t any other options.

I’d love if you would please share a link with your friends. 

Camila - muse from Sktchy. Digital painting using Procreate