It’s been a very busy few months with lots of good things going on but not much painting. Now that things have settled down a bit I’ve used these last few weeks to refamiliarise myself with my art materials and explore the gorgeousness that is Euphorbia. We have this plant growing in great abundance in our side garden – it glows in the late afternoon sun and I can’t resist bringing a little to decorate my desk. It has the most fantastic shapes and details as well as a wonderful limey green that I’m completely in love with.
Last week I had a chance to draw up some quick colouring sheets for my little botanic garden. The sheets were a great hit with kids visiting our Paint the Gardens event – they swooped on the colouring table with such energy – I was totally delighted! Some folks look down their artistic noses at the idea of colouring – as if it’s “busy work” but the sheer enjoyment of choosing and applying colours to a design holds plenty of appeal – I saw it in action. The only busyness was the sheer number of children who spent time at the table on the day! In some of the designs I deliberately left spaces and it was very sweet to see butterflies and beetles and birds being added – all with no direction from any grown up. It’s a lovely, easy to do, social activity, with kids chatting away while they worked at their chosen sheet. The pure happiness in all this has helped carry me through a heavy duty week of work. I’m hoping to do some colouring of my own over Easter! Best to you all.
I’ve made two of the sheets into PDFs, link below – please feel free to download and colour! The top one is is made up flowers and the second is inspired by Kniphofia (red hot pokers) growing in the gardens. Download PDFs to print – Colouring 1 Loraine Callow Colouring 2 Loraine Callow
John Steinbeck has been sitting in the top corner on my computer screen all through my year of mourning and into 2015, quietly keeping me company as I try new things that make me feel like a novice. Things make my brain stretch and hurt, things that make me feel old and inept, things that make me feel that I may never know how to paint again or use the fantastically elaborate and sophisticated programs that promise so much design delight.
Steinbeck has been here as learning makes me feel hopeful and clever and good for having persisted and not succumbing to fear. He’s been here, steady and wise as I’ve begun to paint and draw and design and with me as slowly the fog of sadness has lifted and the joy of being a learner has taken its place.
I’ve learned that there is peace and solace to be had in paint and pencil and pixels and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s taken a whole year to hear what Steinbeck had to say to me.
So in my imperfect hand, with ink at the end of my imperfect brush, I pay a perfect tribute to you Mr Steinbeck.
Autumn has arrived here in my little corner of Australia and with it comes the morning sun at a slightly different angle – an angle that brings the distinct feeling of seasonal change and registers both the ending of something and the starting of something. It’s a bittersweet combination of melancholy and anticipation for the season ahead. In the meantime I’m full of gladness and deep appreciation that I’m blessed with flowers and a garden. I hope you are enjoying the season wherever you are!
Here’s a A5 sized hand lettering piece I did last year for a little friend’s birthday. It’s done on 300gms/90lb rough water paper using Sakura Mircron Pen and Koh-I-Noor Brilliant Watercolour – you can see how inky and deep the colours are! They look remarkably flat and not that interesting in the pans themselves but they are very punchy on paper! I’m delighted to say my 10 year old friend was very happy with her leafy name and has it on the door of her room. 🙂
Wax crayons have long been a favorite of mine. These beeswax crayons from Stockmar, used widely by Steiner schools, have a lovely smooth consistency and rich, saturated colour. They aren’t cheap but I think they represent great value – they are fabulously sturdy and great for wax resist projects. These little tree doodles were done with the square crayons on scraps of paper – the thin strips of paper seemed to lend themselves to rows of trees!
The leaves and trunks are painted with Koh-I-Noor water colours from the Czech Republic in the Brilliant Set – these are intense, dye based paints that behave a little differently to regular watercolours but are great fun to paint with if you love really deep, inky colours. You can get them in a traditional paintbox format or in a handy circular stack. I like the white/cream plastic surround on the paintbox or stack – some come with a black surround that makes identifying the deep colours hard to do! If you’re wanting to buy these make sure you choose the “Brilliant” set. Enjoy!
I have a high need for novelty, I admit that. The time lapse capabilities of my iPad provides for my need of new tricky goodness and also gives me fresh eyes. Making these inky magnolia fruiting body sketches felt like a lot of fun. The ink is unpredictable straight out of the dropper – it’s both kind of liberating and frustrating in almost equal measure. Liberating because you don’t know what the ink will do and unnerving because it doesn’t behave the way you think it might – blowing bubbles everywhere, the ink runs out just when you find your line, fine scratchy lines appear then another splodge happens. It’s strangely wonderful and when you relax into the unpredictability it’s very freeing. The ink is Daler Rowney Acrylic Artists Ink in black – once it’s on the paper in quantity it takes a good while to dry and seems to sit on the surface of the paper beautifully. I’m thinking of buying a bunch of medical pipettes to make bigger images with more ink – I see a ink filled turkey baster in my artistic future…it’s going to get messy!
Sometimes it has to rain. After a deluge in the night this morning started cool and cloudy – an excuse to stay off the beach and play with paint… what a wonderful morning it turned out to be. By virtue of painting in a semi public place (our camp site) I had chats with three or four fellow campers who dropped by and a fantastic, longer conversation with a very talented artist who camps just across the way from us.
Then it was on to experiment with blowing inky water colour around the page – the results of this kind of artplay are beautifully random and exciting, the paint shoots off to make tendrils of colour across the snowy paper surface. It’s fun to try out puffing gently and more vigorously and to send the paint in different directions – the technique can leave you a little lightheaded!