Category Archives: My Art
Today I want to tell you a bit more about my art and photographs that are available on Fine Art America.
Over the years, I’ve taken thousands of photos. Literally. Our 14 day trip to Thailand resulted in nearly 3,500 photos. While a lot of photos are tourist snaps, I did manage to get a few that looked great from an artist’s perspective.
My trip last year to Venice, Burano and Paris resulted in 6,000 photos. Thank goodness for digital cameras and memory cards! I must admit, Burano is a photographer’s paradise. Everywhere you look, the sheer visual beauty of the island threatens to overwhelm you.
I am a visual person. I love colours, patterns, textures, and interesting compositions. I can happily freak out at the sight of a unique drain cover with interesting patterns… much to the bemusement of passersby. While I take many photos, only a select few had strong enough compositions to make it to my online gallery. If there was even the smallest corner of the photo that did not please me, it didn’t make the cut.
While I am very proud of the successful attempts, I am more astonished at the lucky shots I got in a few cases. Just walking along and randomly taking photos, it becomes marvelous to review them all a few months later…. and to find “the perfect shot” in between all the junk ones. I think it takes the stress out of sitting in one position for hours at a time, hoping to get a good photo at the end of the day. I also have Fibromyalgia, so sitting still for long periods of time just causes a lot of extra pain. Win-win, as far as I’m concerned.
I’m also a sucker for gorgeous flowers. Their velvety petals and fresh scent are an absolute delight. I don’t buy fresh cut flowers often, as I prefer to see them in their natural state. Living in Dubai’s harsh climate, however, means that not many flowers will grow here successfully. I have a hard time walking past a florist shop without getting sucked into the door!
The Fine Art America website has thousands of images for sale in various formats: framed, unframed, metal prints, greeting cards, even cellphone covers, throw pillows and bedding. It also allows me to sell my paintings and mixed media artworks in print form, without having to sell the original. I like having my art around my house and I am a bit possessive of them too. Other artists will understand this parental instinct to protect my little creations.
I have sold a few prints of my Jacaranda photo and more recently, someone purchased it in the form of greeting cards. It warms my heart to think that someone liked my little photo enough to put it on their wall; and even liked it enough print it on greeting cards to send to loved ones. In this modern day of virtual greetings, a simple old-fashioned card is such a unique item. Whilst all purchasers on Fine Art America remain anonymous, I would still like to say “Thank you, may my art bring you much joy and happiness”.
If you have a few minutes with nothing to do; feel free to take a look at my other photographs and art. Click on any photo above and you will be taken to my gallery, where you can view more images. Feel free to leave any comments, or to share online.
I do hope all the links work, let me know if there is a problem!
On 19 October 2012 I attended the 24 Hour Sew-a-Thon for Breast Cancer charity event hosted by Craftland at Town Centre in Dubai. Before my scheduled time slot, I had a quick supper at Cafe Ceramique and painted this very expressive wall-climbing frog.
It was difficult to get all the details right with the thick, misshapen brushes they provide, but I was quite happy with my efforts. It was difficult to imagine the finished product as I was working. The staff reminded me to paint at least 3 coats on each section to ensure that the final colour would be rich and solid, otherwise it would come out looking like watercolour paints.
I had hoped the detailing on the back would show up well – it took a long time to draw on with the little squeeze bottles. The bottles themselves were very small, some of them were too thick and some would make an air bubble just as I was getting somewhere with the line work.
Painting done, I reported for duty at the charity event, worked from 8pm until 10pm and was able to help finish off the last pieces of the day. The next day (the second half of the 24 hour session), I worked from just after 7pm until 10pm. Like last year, I met some amazing ladies and even a few guys who were inspired to come and help with the assembly, stitching and filling of the under-arm cushions and drainage bag totes. These bags and cushions are distributed to breast cancer surgery patients to help with their post-operative care.
One week later, Lumpy came back from his firing at the kiln and this is what he looked like:
What a transformation!
I am very glad I chose 2 shades of pink, it added some interest to his body. The gray was also a nice balance to help even out the contrast with the black. All in all, I think Lumpy would look great on some large tropical leaf in a jungle!
I love how the spots on the legs turned out:
Although I was a bit disappointed with the pink details on his back that ran together instead of staying as distinct as the white details:
Some lessons were learned for next time:
One, take my own brushes.
Two, have some idea beforehand of what I want to achieve and take some visual inspiration with me (another object, photograph or even cool printed fabric).
Three, don’t rush the design. Relax, drink a coffee, and enjoy creative time well spent.
This little Elnita was my 18th birthday gift. At the time, I remember being very upset at not getting something with a bigger engine and room for 4 passengers! However, she has served me well over many years. I have made curtains, belly dance costumes, table cloths and the odd bit of art sewing. I found that the space between the casing and the needle was too narrow for bigger projects and I wished really hard for a bigger quilting machine. The bigger machines, however, were completely out of my budget.
Fast forward to January 2012 and I enrolled at Craft Land (a sewing and needle craft shop in Town Centre, Dubai) for a class on free motion quilting. This was during the Dubai Shopping Festival, which happens every January. As I was preparing for the class, my eye wandered over to the machines and then I saw this beauty:
The discount was amazing and I persuaded my long-suffering husband to buy her for me for our 3 anniversaries: 20 years ago we met, 20 years ago we started dating and 16 years ago we were married. I also saw an overlocker at a bargain price and, well, you never know when you need to shorten a dress or finish off a project with a proper seam, so both machines came home with me.
I finished my free motion quilting class and decided to do the beginners, intermediate and advanced quilting classes as well (in the proper order, this time!). I tried quilting many years ago, without any assistance or classes, and it was a total disaster. You cannot teach yourself everything from books.
My new Mega Quilter worked like a fighter jet – fast, smooth and absolutely elegant. There was only one catch: she could only do straight stitching. My little old Elnita could not cope with anything bigger than a handkerchief anymore, so I started looking out for other options.
Craft Land had a quilt show in May 2012 where I entered my Dora quilt, I will talk about this in my next post. At the quilt show, they had make and take tables, where people could try out the Brother sewing machines. After the show, these demo machines were being sold off at a discount. I had seen some ladies at the quilting classes use the Brother machines and I liked the versatility of stitches and ease with which they learnt on these machines. Luckily for me, there was a Brother Innovis 600 among the demo models and I persuaded my (by now) very long-suffering husband that I needed to buy this machine too!
Having used this machine for a few months now, I can say that it is dreadfully SLOW compared to my Mega Quilter. It is like having two cars to drive each day, a sports car and a cheap bottom-of-the-range car. It requires a whole different mindset to not mess up anything when using these machines. With the Mega Quilter, I need to go softly on the pedal and feed the fabric at high speeds. With the Brother, I just about press the pedal through the floor and still sit and wait for it to stitch. The elaborate stitches would require some finesse, but the straight stitch should be faster. My other gripe with this machine, is with the quarter-inch foot. It curves outward from the front to the back, making it very difficult to judge where exactly the right width is located, with the result that my stitching feels as if I am constantly pulling the fabric left and right in order to hit the spot. It does redeem itself with the memory function: save your stitch design, length and width and then you don’t have to reset the machine in between changing stitches. Lastly, she also weighs much less than the Mega Quilter – and I attend classes and clinics at Craft Land on a regular basis, so my back is much happier carrying the Brother!
My daughters want to sew too, but since they are 3 and 5, they are incapable of working with the big machines. I found this mini Janome sewing machine at our electronics shop and bought two of them (one for each girl) that they can use while growing up. It has straight stitch and zigzag, but different lengths. There is no adjuster button for the stitches. The foot pedal is very small and perfect for the little ones. This is much better than a toy sewing machine, which is cheaply made and won’t even stitch properly for more than a few tries before breaking. And it only weighs 5 pounds (2 kg), so I can easily take one with me if I travel somewhere and want to do some light sewing.
Life can take you on some strange paths sometimes, but even I could not have foreseen that 2012 would be the year of the sewing machine in our house, or rather, FIVE sewing machines!
Years ago, I purchased a few packets of air dry clay. Never had a chance to use them though. It is hard to spend a few hours of daylight time playing with clay, uninterrupted, with two little children and their fast hands flying about your workplace. Then I saw this pretty sculpture at my friend’s house. Such smooth lines and elegant simplicity, I can almost hear her snobbish words dripping sarcastically from those trout lips!
The Lady with the Lips inspired me to finally scrape together my courage and a few nights ago, I opened one of the packets. It was actually still workable, remarkable for something I bought almost 9 years ago! The terracotta clay by Jovi was in fact, almost too soft for my liking. It flopped about a bit. Obviously, I will have to experiment more with armature and other delightful support mechanisms.
Here is my first attempt at a face:
I think this looks more like a death mask of someone very old and very ill, lol, but at least I managed to get some of the propertions right. The clay was drying out very fast and I had a lot of little dried bits sticking to the main portion when I worked with it. I kept a stiff bristle brush in a little bowl of water and every so often, I’d brush over the face to keep the clay moist. I had a lot of fun modelling the nose. Especially as I was scheduled to have septoplasty done on Thursday, 10 November. Fortunately for me, the surgery was successful and my nose hopefully looks a lot better than the death mask’s nose!
I had half a packet of clay left and could not decide what to sculpt with it. It was getting late, my hands were icky with dry clay and I’d had enough of the floppy stuff. So I looked at my crumbly fist and decided to give a go of copying it. Here’s my “fist of clay”:
It was a very interesting experience to try and capture the angles of the finger bones and the knuckles. I think I managed to get the finger lengths right. The clay was too soft to make a hand resting on a wrist, it just kept on collapsing. So, I decided not to fight it and just let it rest on the base as it wanted to. They are curing right now. The weather has cooled down and the humidity is stable. I hope they don’t crack too much in the drying process.
Last night, while surfing the internet, I checked out Dubizzle, a local second-hand online site like eBay. I don’t often look at the books for sale, as the odds of finding something really interesting, are very low. Imagine my surprise then, when I saw these babies for sale.
Do you remember paging through encyclopedias way back in the day, before schools had computers and internet access? It was the only way to find out ANYTHING remotely interesting. Some days I would just grab the next one in line and start paging through it, cover to cover, and absorb all kinds of weird information. It helped that I was a library prefect and was allowed to sit and work in the library if my class teacher was absent. Luckily, I was a girl, so no-one really teased me about it.
After negotiating a fair price with the lady selling them, I picked them up this morning. So, what am I going to do with them?
Firstly, the blue is the same blue tone of my leather lounge suite. Now I have 30 spines, 30 front covers and 30 back covers in the perfect shade of blue, to assemble and collage into an installation. I’m thinking maybe a low-relief work in a box frame, or maybe a stand-alone sculptural piece.
An artist whose work I really like, is Brian Dettmer. Go check out the photos of his pieces on www.briandettmer.com. He excavates images and text in thick, old books and creates wonderfully abstract sculptures with the books. I don’t really have the patience to try to recreate one of his works, but one day I’d like to try his techniques for myself.
Another fabulous book artist is Daniel Essig. Visit his site and explore some of the fabulous sculptures made of books, with books, and containing books, www.danielessig.com. I really like assemblage, but don’t have the proper welding equipment to really get into metalwork.
Secondly, I have some crafty ideas that are also floating around in my head. I could cut off all the spines and mount them on a false panel, thereby creating the look of matching blue volumes, but hiding my real books behind it. My art books are very colorful and don’t blend in very well in my blue/gray/silver/white colour scheme in the living room. Hmm, as I write down these colours, I guess you could call my colour scheme “stormy ocean and deserted beach on a cloudy day”, which is my favourite time to sit and watch the waves.
Of course, 30 volumes x 900 odd pages in each volume = a lot of paper I can use for collage. Modern-day stickers are very expensive, as are decoupage papers (which are faux vintage paper designs and elements anyway). This should be enough paper to finish a few little projects! And, as an added bonus, most of the imagery and text date back to 1986 – wonderfully vintage already.
Then again, I may just display them in their natural state, to give the bookcase in the living room a more formal look. But I must admit, that I’m itching to disassemble them and create something wonderfully weird to display.
There you have it. A treasure trove for the price of a regular glass vase at the local Home Center decor store. I love a good bargain!
This is my current large-scale work in progress. I first saw the basic concept painted on 5 canvases in an umber/ocher/sienna color scheme as a finished piece of art, advertised for sale on a second-hand website. I liked the composition very much and decided to recreate it in blue/teal/silver/white on a larger scale. The largest canvas in the middle is 80cm x 60cm.
I first had to join all the canvases together with G-clamps, balanced on 3 big easels, to draw the basic outlines of the bands to the right scale. I chose Cryla Artists’ Acrylic Heavy Body paints in the following colors: Primary Cyan, Prussian Blue Hue, Ivory Black, Pewter, Silver and White. I especially liked the metallic options for added subtlety in the color-mixing.
Then it was a matter of custom-mixing the paint hue for each band, as I went along, to harmonize the overall balance of the piece. Over the course of many weeks, I mixed and painted each band individually, using only solid colors while I worked on the balance and flow over adjoining canvases. It was necessary, in some places, to adjust the tonal balance over adjoining bands to accommodate my color choices.
The original artwork that inspired me (in all the natural brown hues) had highlights and shadow painted with black and tonal adjustments to show movement of the bands flowing over and underneath each other. My vision ultimately includes found objects, ephemera, embroidery, beading and DIY hardware to encompass a variety of emotions, situations and symbols all relating to the Moon and her influence on water.
Water is very fluid and can also carry objects that float. Water also acts as a separate environment for various intricate life-forms. While the human body comprises a large volume of water, it takes on many forms within the body. There are tears, saliva and urine (which consist of the consumption/digestion/excretion chain) and the most obvious and exclusively female water-form of lunar-sympathetic hormonal fluctuations and fertility cycles.
All forms of water on the planet earth are subject to the gravitational pull of the Moon. I hope to explore the various interactions of water-forms and the almost melodic lunar movement in this artwork.
The theme and title that keeps on popping into my head, is “Moonsong and Waterdance”. The Moon sings to entice the water, while the water dances to seduce the Moon. To me, it is a very beautiful and timeless performance that can only be understood if you can respect the potential power caught in a single drop of water, and lose yourself in the intricate minutiae of an entire ocean.
So far, I have almost completed the white central band curving in a U-shape over the middle, 2nd right and far right canvases. I have covered the entire band with dozens of little white buttons. I like the way they feel when I run my hand over the band. They represent various repetitive concepts and objects: teeth, finger nails, white buoys floating in the ocean currents, medication that we swallow to aid with the flow of our emotions and health. I’ll post another photo as soon as I’ve finished that band. My progress has been hampered by the supporting wooden planks on the back of the canvases – it takes longer to get my hand under and around them, to continue with the stitching. Each button is hand-stitched with Nymo beading thread and I find the repetitious motions very soothing and meditative.
I have collected many different hues of blue/teal/silver beads and objects to add to entire piece. I am letting this piece develop organically, and as the Moon or mood strikes me. Therefore, I am not planning too far ahead in terms of design and object choice. I will be reviewing the overall balance of the piece as I complete each band, before I start designing the next one.
Thank you for following me on my journey as an artist and putting up with my mental musings while I flex my creative muscles.