Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Day in the Studio

Well, today was governed by two things : the weather and the excitement of a new painting under way.

The wind has blown furiously all day, and dog bowls, wheelbarrows and anything else not tied down has been travelling from west to east. Living in such an exposed area leaves us open to winds from all directions, hence our property name, "Hell on the Hill". In good weather, I call it 'Bliss Hill', and say it is more the latter than the former.

The new vegetable seedlings are waiting patiently in their bags, and the garden is only half turned over. The weather stopped that project in its tracks.

So, out to the studio, with the dogs in tow. The two young ones must have seen a snake, and are determinedly hunting all the nooks and crannies in the house yard every time I let them out. I now need to be very vigilant, and keep them close until I have time (and weather) to clear out a lot of undergrowth, and spray my (ordered) snake repellent around.

I love the first day of oils on a new painting. My pallet is chock full of my chosen colours and my design is set out beckoning. The next day has little dibs of leftover paint dragged onto the edge, so I can match or re-use, and it's not nearly as much fun. Usually it has a film of skin over it, so when you sink the pallet knife into it and stir, there are lumps, that need picking out as you paint. Why don't I chuck it out in the evening, you ask? Because I'm stingy, that's why...............

So, here's today's work. I am pretty pleased with it, but the shadow across the iron is irritating me somewhat. I am hoping it will add to the three dimensional effect, so will work on it some more.

I find there is often a stage in my work, where I look at it and feel there are some major issues in there that possibly can't be resolved. But I know now to work on and get through to the other side, and all is well. Hopefully this will be the case.

The paint is laid on very thick now, and will need a few days to dry before I can get back into it.

"Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads.
The wind is passing by."
.... Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back to Work (again)

This started out being basically an artist site, but I am really enjoying putting in day to day reflections. I think I will turn it into a 'dairy' book and print up the pages as they fill up, giving me lots to look back on. The thought of the wondrous Blogger dropping everything in a dark moment, never to resurface from cyberspace, fills me with dread. There's nothing like a hard copy.

So, back to painting. I am not having great success doing small works, but am determined to keep learning. I am a planner, and like to map out what I am doing, fiddle with that in acrylics, and block it all in with oils. Then I leave it on an easel in the studio, hopefully not to present me with too obvious shortcomings as I learn to live with it, and hopefully love it.

I do think about the small paintings a lot, and watch what the experts are doing, but many hit the recycle bin. Some I have done I am pretty pleased with, and that gives me cause for hope.

So, My Flood Painting (see previous posts) ~ after looking at it for a couple of weeks, and letting it dry in the meantime, I have worked over a lot of the water in the foreground. I am still very pleased with what's happening from the fence line up, but the water rushing through lacks some sort of 'direction' (pun not intended). There is not much happening there, so I need to find some coloured perspective lines via the water and pull it all together. I also think the front water turbulence could benefit from some scaling down, i.e. the waves are too big.

Next, I am beginning painting No. 5 for my Coal Creek Exhibition below...............
(see my website: for more details, and finished works)

I have drawn it in roughly with acrylic paint, water and a large brush. The wheel section at the top was challenging to find the circle by eye, but I let it dry, then got a piece of string and a reference point to run it from. I was delighted to discover that it followed my found line almost exactly, except for a small stretch at the top.

I am really looking forward to going on to the next stage. This is the kind of work I love getting my teeth into. I liken it to stitching away at a beautiful embroidery ~ very therapeutic.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. "
.... Harold Whitman

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Miracle of Birth

Well, Meggie has had her three puppies, and I was lucky enough to go back and see them all this morning and take some photos. She is fiercely protective of them and just the best Mum. They are warm, fed and spotlessly clean, and the report is that she hasn't even been out to the loo yet!

Proud daddy Fergus has been mostly left outside, and when he came a bit close this morning to sniff at all the exciting smells, Meggie leaped on him, growling ferociously. Poor little man. Men can be so dispensable!

He had to be satisfied with peeking around at them all from the chair.

"A little child born yesterday
A thing on mother's milk and kisses fed."
... Homer

Exciting Day

Today I had two wonderful events and one pretty OK one.

I have just come in from watching the lunar eclipse in our eastern sky. For a while I thought that light cloud would block the view, but as time went by, we got the 'full Monty'. A glorious shaded red ball hanging high in the sky, still and quiet and mysterious. Now, as I write, the shadow is moving away and a bright band of light is growing across its surface. My camera struggles to get a clear shot; the night time timer makes for blurry pics, but I held it firm against a post, and below are my best efforts.

My daughter rang, very excited, saying she had a chair in her driveway and was watching the entire eclipse.

It reminded me of January's 'Comet McNaught' which hung for days in the southern night
sky, with a long tail suspended above it.

The second one was the birth of my friend Glynnis and Ian's Cavalier X Poodle puppies. I had called in on my way through from town to clip Meggie's tummy's hair off before Friday's due date. Before I even plugged in the clippers, she promptly had a contraction and popped her mucus plug out, a sure sign she was on her way. Then the first pup's fluid sac bulged out, her waters broke, and after a short time the first pup came out, rear end first. We stood by and helped where necessary as she cleaned and fussed around her new baby, then rescued it as the enthusiastic new mum dug up all the bedding, forgetting there was a tiny creature lying there. She did stop long enough to let baby have a drink, so we stopped worrying about her dodgy mothering instincts.

Two hours on, and she hadn't progressed to the next pup, and I had to get home to feed the poodles, but I rang later and pups two and three had arrived, so all was well. I wonder whether there have been more since?

The last event was we had our car put on LPG gas today. The Australian Government has allowed a $2000 rebate on installation. Our last car was on dual fuel and was very economical to run, so we decided to do the same with our next one. Driving it home, it seemed a bit patchy in performance, but the mechanic assures me it should bed down over the next few days and come good. If not, he will adjust accordingly.

"The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn't, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there."
...Monica Baldwin

Monday, August 27, 2007

Warm weather's great, but what about the Snakes?

Although the warmer weather is wonderful, we now have a major problem literally rearing it's head, and that's our snake population is stirring in their burrows.

We are surrounded by tiger snakes, and every year we have a big confrontation, with one on the veranda, or the dogs get bitten. One dog in particular.... and that's our elder statesman poodle, Connor.

Connor has been bitten twice now, almost exactly a year apart, and has lived to tell the tale. Fortunately he is too old to fuss with them much now, but used to actively hunt them. The first time was in the dog run, where the snake must have come in for water. We were out for the day and came home to him drooling and staggering a bit. He had a nasty ear infection at the time, and was being treated for that, but we were a bit unsure as to why he was so unwell, and didn't take him down to the vet until the next morning. He had deteriorated a bit by the time he got there, and they were confused as well. His symptoms could have been a few issues. They took blood and he was diagnosed later that afternoon. The vet ventured that he mustn't have got a heavy dose, but gave him the anti venom treatment anyway.

He struggled for life for the next week, with blood in his urine, muscle breakdown, and all the other classic symptoms. Quite a few times I thought we might lose him. We live half an hour from the vet's, but I went down each day to sit on the floor next to him, and helped him to go outside for a walk when he was able.

It took him a long time to recover and lost a lot of muscle. His cheeks and top of his head were just skin draped over bone, and they still haven't filled over years later.

The next February, I found him down behind the hedge, vomiting and collapsed with shock. I had done a lot of research since the last time, and raced to get the Vitamin C injection I had stored in the fridge. Intensive Vitamin C doses are renowned for snakebite in animals, and it certainly helped Connor. His gums pinked up and he became much more alert. Looking back afterwards, I should have kept going with more shots, but after 5 hours, he slid somewhat and I took him to the vet for more anti venom. Twice is about the limit, and the have allergic reactions which can be more life threatening than none. He did have a reaction to that, but antihistamine was administered and helped a bit.

This vet was much more practised at diagnosing snake bite. She took some blood and left it for 7 minutes, saying if it hadn't clotted by then, it was definitely that. His eyes were also very dilated, and stayed that way when she shone the light in.

He spent two days in hospital and came home weakened again, but we were experts by then.

Connor couldn't stand long enough for a drink

I recommended to all our friends with dogs to have a vial of liquid Vitamin C in their fridge and a syringe. It keeps for about 2 years. Mine is older than that, so I had better get down to the vet and get some more.

We also use Shoosnake, a herbal snake repellent, which we spray around the runs and wood piles and anywhere they might like to hide. It has lovely pungent smell, with cloves and geranium and citronella. I really love it and walk around sniffing it when I have some on my hands. Hopefully the snakes don't.

I have also looked at electronic ones, where you insert a solar panel driven probe into the ground and it creates a vibration that snakes don't like. They're fairly expensive, but so is anti venom and vet care, I suppose. I will do more research to see if they work.

See the complete story of Connor's trials and tribulations at

Last year, I had a personal confrontation with one on the veranda, where there was only me, the snake, the dogs and a hoe. The snake came last in our battle to the death, but my little heart was pumping hard after that one. Snakes are protected, and I really would be more than happy to cohabit with them, but my dogs come first.

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster."
...Isaac Asimov

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Spring is Sprung!

Spring has come a week early, and I am feeling a great anticipation as the season kicks into full gear. We have worked hard this past year to become as self sufficient as possible, and have planted fruit and nut trees, berries, a veggie garden, installed lamb producing ewes, and a bee hive.

Two years of our vegetable garden has made us poor customers at the green grocers, and as the fruit trees become more established, we will wander off, never to return (hardly). We lived on our potato crop for 4 months, and I hope to get a larger plot in this season. Every success or failure teaches us a new lesson. I left the rocket, lettuces, parsley, potatoes and silverbeet to go to seed, and we are feasting on new plants already. I discovered that if you just lop off the top of the silverbeet, it will begin anew, and we have one plant that is now in it's third season.

Our first 'bush budgie' (blow fly) came into the house this morning, and I'm not so sure about being happy about that. We forget about having to shut the door quickly to keep these fat black, noisy menaces out.

We are letting our ewes into the house yard to eat the deep grass behind the dog run .... under supervision, of course. Normally, the poodles love to chase them, which is a pretty scary event , so they are safely locked away in their secure area with a bone each, and the fat ladies happily munch grass at them through the weld mesh. Their first lambs will be due in a month, and three are starting to 'belly up'.

I wandered down the slopes to our small 'forest', where the forget-me-nots love to seed, and the trees meet in a canopy overhead. Our bees live at the top of the slope, and are out in full flight out pollinating our almond and fruit trees. I pondered on how glorious nature is in the perfection of the blossoms.

Our bees will be thinking about swarming soon, as we haven't disturbed them since we got them over a year ago, but we have another box which we will install next weekend, and then get in and have a look at the old hive for the queen. We went to a Bee Keeping Day last year and learned about how to split the hive. This is all new to us, but we bought 'Beekeeping for Dummies", which is a terrific book, full of information. Where would we be without our 'Dummies' books?

"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Seaview Morning

Sometimes the light is just right, and this morning it was. There was some cloud cover which seemed to make the colours richer. The shadows are not too stark, but there is plenty of contrast for interest. I was going out to photograph a particularly beautiful area on a nearby road, but time got away again and the light changed, and my feeling of well being.

I was fondly waving my beloved off for a weekend boys-own motorcycle sojourn and took a heavy fall onto the gravel! Needless to say, he continued riding on oblivious of my distress, and I lay there pondering on how youngsters fall all the time and get up and go on. Oldies like me need a week and counselling to recover .........

So a photo of a view from out veranda had to suffice. Nursing a bruised and skinned knee, I staggered out later to the studio and this painting came into being.

The steepness of the terrain still carries good pasture for grazing, and the slopes become 'stepped' by the cattle feet.

This painting is 8" X 10", oil on canvas board, and is available for sale @ $100. unframed. Please email '' for details.

"Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere."
.... Blaise Pascal

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Aerial Spraying

There is a lot of activity and noise in our airspace this morning, with a plane spraying the emerging weeds in the surrounding paddocks. Our countryside is so steep that it can't be done via the ground, so each year the planes come through and bomb the area, then come back another time to spread super-phosphate fertiliser. The Strzelecki Ranges have had major infestations of Ragwort in the past, so early each season the farmers must get on top of the new plants. It is sad to be pumping herbicide into our beautiful hills, but the alternative would probably be worse.

All our fruit trees, vegetable garden and growing flower garden are all popping buds with spring coming. The pilot has been warned to give our garden a wide berth, so I hope he heeds it.

I'll be glad when it's over. I can smell the spray odour in the air, the sheep are frightened. The plane roars dangerously low over the house, and we resist the instinct to duck. If we get a pilot we know, he deliberately bombs us, then waggles his wings as he passes. The pilot up there today crashed his plane last season, so it's not all 'plane' sailing.

My partner, Durwin's father used to be a aerial crop duster, and the family's nearby property has the air strip that they all use.

"An optimist is the human personification of Spring" .... Susan J. Bissonette

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Early 2002

I began to trawl through the bike books and internet, reading up about soft tails, Dyna's, shockers, heights and weights. I talked to our local gurus who serviced the Heritage and knew HEAPS, both being high performers as race riders. One had a Dyna Superglide Sport bike, and swore it was the best thing ever, giving me the rundown about cornering, smooth ride, adjustable front forks, etc, etc, etc. So I got a bit hooked.

Finally my Mum's money came through, and off we went to town, going to three dealerships and mooning over different models. I was originally a bit keen on the look of the Deuce, because of all the glorious chrome, but the ride wasn't as good, and it was a few thousand more than I had.

We ended up at Harley City, out in Brunswick, and feeling a bit hungry, we decided to grab a burger at the Biker Cafe next door before looking at bikes. As we went past the dealership window, there was a dangerous looking black FXDX on a stand in the window. My jaw just dropped at it's dark beauty, as my partner dragged me on to the cafe.

I jammed the food down my throat in super fast time, and dragged HIM back to the window. We went inside and looked at other bikes, but I was totally hooked on the Dyna. Having cash to negotiate with made a good deal easy, and we signed the papers and made arrangements to pick up the bike in a few days, when it was registered, etc.

Three days later my man rode it most of the way home, and handed it over for me to ride on the flats before I climbed the hills. It was very different from my small bike, but I remember my heart in my mouth as I tested it ever so gently. It felt great, and I could feel it's power rumbling away beneath me.

So, I began to climb up to the hills, with my man patiently cruising along behind me.

But, it wasn't as plain sailing as we had hoped....................

I came to the end of the bitumen, ready to do the 5 km gravel stretch to our driveway. Looking for my escort to catch up with me, I pulled up on the gravel road to wait for him. My feet stumbled a little on the stones, and my bike began to lean. I desperately tried to pull it up to vertical, but the huge 600lb weight just wouldn't co-operate. I could feel my eyes and muscles bulging with the effort, but it was too late; the bike had reached the point of no return, and fell heavily to the ground, crunching the gravel under it as it went. My man was watching helplessly as he clambered out of the car to help, but no good; it was all over.

We both stood looking helplessly at each other, not knowing what to say. It was an horrific moment.

We mustered our combined determination together, and he lifted it and rode it home for me. My Yamaha was only 300lbs, and I never thought about what a huge difference there would be between the two.

Well, we assessed the damage. The fuel tank had a small dent from where the indicator was pushed into it. The pipes were scratched, and some minor marks here and there. The matt black mirrors were scratched, but could be sanded back and resprayed easily. It could have been worse, but it could have been better.

We hid from the public for a few days and I felt like going under the bed to suck my thumb. Those who came to view it were only shown the 'good side'.

Then I told my self it was my bike, and the marks would be part of its history. I got back on it and rode the hell out of it. I had some great slash cut pipes put on, and some chrome tizz which gave it a really classy 'gal's look'. It now rumbled like a real Harley, and the ladies would come over and say how they loved the bike, and good on me for riding it. The blokes would look vaguely threatened and one twerp told me I "should be riding a skirtster". I asked him about his bike, and he didn't even have one!

I was still not legal to ride a 1450cc bike, but I kept a low profile, and luckily I never had my license looked at in the 9 months until I was. It was certainly a relief to finally get onto a full license and no longer feel worried if I saw the police.

We rode everywhere, and the power was huge. For a time, I would give it squirt too soon after a turn, and the back would fishtail alarmingly, but I soon learned to get it straight before getting on the throttle. I'm sure riders behind me thought I would surely crash, but I didn't. I did have some truly life threatening moments; one where a car stopped in front of me from 100kms to zero in the middle of the road, and I was forced to do a big brake, fishtailing
and smoking the rear tyre. Her fault, but she certainly could have killed me, as I nearly ended up in her car boot.

We rode thousands of kilometers to outback Broken Hill, Dubbo, Canberra, and numerous bikes shows and trips up and down the highways. We rode in the rain, thunderstorms, hail, frost, mist. My boots have been full of water, with it squelching between my toes as I changed gears. My hands have been so cold, I could barely operate the controls. My beautiful Harley has never missed a beat and still goes like new now at 52,000 kms. I have dropped it from a standstill since, but with little damage, and I still have all the original marks. My small dent in the tank is likened to the thumbprint you sometimes see on a horse's neck, and my fabulous 'black steed' wears it with pride.

A very good rider told me early on that I should always pay attention to coming to a safe stop, and making sure my bike is balanced and steady before I do anything else. That always comes into my head as I come to an intersection, or pull up to park it. It works.

It was surprising the number of men who 'fessed up when I said I had dropped it. Most people have done just that, it seems, at some stage or another, and had kept it under wraps. It was strangely liberating for us all to come clean. They are expensive, heavy, awkward bikes, and difficult to ride, but what fun they are!

I spent a long time not being able to do a tight U-turn, and was always intimidated when we took a wrong turn. My brain would tell me it was too tight; I would hit the gutter, etc, etc. I do try not to get into such situations, but have also learned to manoeuvre the bike with more skill and care. My man also watches me, and moves it for me if I find myself in a difficult situation. It is such a heavy bike for a woman, but as long as the rubber's on the ground we're OK.

I have found spending all my inheritance on my Harley has bought me a life I never dreamt of having, laughs I never would have had, unbelievable exhilaration, pride at achieving something many would love. My mother was a difficult woman, who suffered from mental illness for many years, and I looked out for her in her last 23 years of life. Having my Harley turned out to be a wonderful reward for a very difficult time.

"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive -- the risk to be alive and express what we really are."
....Don Miguel Ruez

Monday, August 20, 2007

Learning to Ride at 51

I had very little to do with motorcycles before 1998. My partner finally bought his Harley Heritage after many years of yearning after one. I climbed on the back and we joined clubs, spending many happy hours seeing Victoria and New South Wales. We joked about me getting my license, but I wasn't really serious, and when others asked me I had a foolish moment and finally said yes.

So, I was sort of verbally committed, but never really thought about the reality of having lessons and getting a bike myself. I didn't even know where the brakes, throttle, or gears were.

Eventually I lashed out and bought a 250cc Yamaha V-Star (see photo) and trundled off for lessons to get my L-Plates. I was the only woman there, and a granny to boot, and most were young bucks who already knew how to ride. I fell off and fumbled and finally had to go for my Ls twice, but I could really ride on the road!

I remember the first time I took my bike out, and how terrified I was. My partner followed me at a distance as I teetered around quiet country roads with my heart in my mouth. But I was off!

I dropped it a few times in the first few weeks, but learned to ride by going everywhere, even shopping, notching up 8500 kms in months. Our driveway is impossibly steep, intimidating some car drivers, and the only way I could get out on the road was to find some way to negotiate it. Going up wasn't too bad, as I could gun it and pull up strongly. Going down was another issue, and seemed like I was riding straight off a cliff. I had to put the brakes on, clutch in, and one foot on the ground as I inched down.

The gravel road was the next hurdle, and had areas of deep sand, so great care had to be taken not to slide out before I reached the bitumen. Riding in the dark was really frightening, and I remember riding close behind the big Harley, following his headlights and turns in the steep, dark, winding road. I remember one night being so frozen with fear, I thought my heart would stop, not being able to see where I was going.

But it all passed without injury, though each ride would be punctuated with at least one risky event, making me very aware of our fragility on the road.

I went for my full license and got it, so got out and rode and rode and rode. Finally, I became frustrated with the lack of power of the little Yamaha, and began to look around to see what I might get next. My P-plate rules said no big bikes until the first year was over, but that didn't stop me. My old Mum passed on and I inherited enough money from her will to get my big Harley.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Princess

Do you love me because I'm beautiful, or am I am beautiful because you love me?
....Oscar Hammerstein II

Lily came to us in 2001 as a meltingly beautiful 8 week old, with a pure white coat and eyes as big as saucers. I just couldn't stop looking at her, she was so lovely, and vulnerable. She frightened easily and would leave a trail of 'poodle piddle' across the floor and under the bed, when someone strange came into the house.

It took a long time for her to get her nerve, and even as an adult she would skirt visitors, barking to warn them she was watching them for any wrong move, and would deal with them accordingly.

After observing them for a time, she would then decide whether to approach or not. Some people she would never trust and allow into her inner sanctum, and others, she would put her long legs up to their shoulders and solemnly sniff their faces. That was an honour and only accorded to special people and earned her the name of 'the Princess'.

When our new pup Zara came, Lily bashed her up regularly, just to get her to heel. Every few days I would have to rush outside to rescue the poor frightened pup, screaming loudly as she was thrown on her back in the gravel, and given a heavy dose of 'doggy discipline'.

Finally, they have found some peace together, and they race at breakneck speed around the yard, with Zara now equally as fast as Lil, and I can finally relax and let them enjoy each other.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Couch Potato

We don't allow our dogs on the furniture. Living in the country means there are often muddy or sandy feet, and it's hard enough to keep the floors clean without obsessive washing and drying of paws, let alone our nice leather couches.

Our Lily has developed a sneaky habit of waiting until we go to bed, and then bedding down on one of our recliners. Mostly she is so careful that I would not know, but every now and again, a cushion is dislodged onto the floor, or a throw rug is scrunched down. Sometimes I hear her hurried dismount as I come around the corner.

As we prepare for sleep I now put a tray onto each chair to dissuade her, and it usually works, but I often feel her eying me, knowing I am onto her nighttime habits.

Very occasionally, she makes a serious error of judgement, and gets up during the day. This painting is of one such moment when I caught her. Her eyes not wanting to meet mine show her discomfort at being sprung. But she looks very tucked in and comfortable. Needless to say, I had to keep the standards up and she was hustled off the chair as soon as I snapped her picture.

"From the dog's point of view, his master is an elongated and abnormally cunning dog."
.......Mabel Louise Robinson

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rita 'the Egg Beater'

We bought a small poodle around 1981, and called her Rita, which quickly expanded to Rita the Egg Beater, or Rita the Meter Maid, depending on our mood. She was a Silver Beige, a reasonably rare colouring, and came to us as a tiny apricot shaded through grey. As she matured, she paled off to a beige with dark tips..... a very attractive little girl. Sadly, we got her very young, at about 5 weeks, from a breeder who didn't care for her babies, and was full of worms, and then Parvovirus.

We had some worrying times as our cute fluffy baby fought for her life, but we won, and once the crisis was over, she thrived and grew into an energetic happy puppy, much loved by her family.

She was so vibrant that her Egg Beater name stuck, and her noisy enthusiasm for EVERYTHING made her well known in the neighborhood. If she needed to go in the car, the yapping was overwhelming, and taking her for a walk was somewhat embarrassing, but she never bit anyone and loved whoever was around at the time.

We had two litters of 6 puppies each from her. The first were multi coloured, which gave hint to her mixed colour parentage, and the second were all a glorious apricot.

She lived to the ripe old age of 16, still having loud opinions about everything, and maintained her beautiful lush coat until the end.

Here's to Rita!

'Happiness is a warm puppy' .... Charles M. Schulz

I love to do pen and wash, and have been meaning to get back in to this medium for a long while. I get a bi-weekly newsletter from Robert Genn from the , where he offers his moments of artistic wisdom for we passionate slaves locked away in our studios. Quite often I can get a charge out of his pearls of wisdom. This week, he talks about getting out there and using up your last bit of wet paint, or playing with a new idea and having no attachment to the the result. This way, we can pull something unplanned and good out of that fleeting moment.

Sooo, I practised up with some used paper on the other side, and then started afresh. Rita is the result.

This unframed drawing is for sale @ $35, measures around 6" X 6" on quality 'rough' watercolour paper, in Art Spectrum acrylic ink. Please email for details.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lovely Lily

Having three wonderful standard poodles, and being an artist means I must paint them occasionally, so Lily is the subject today. She always poses for photos with a very pained expression, and it is rare I get her looking happily at the camera. This one was taken with some yummy food on offer, so she forgot her self-consciousness and looked straight at me. Being a white dog, and living in the country, she is rarely tidy, so when she is freshly washed and clipped, I snap away to remind me how beautiful she is on her 'grubby' days.

She is a truly magnificent lady, now 6 years old. I bought her with a view to having some puppies, but she came to me at 8 weeks old with an horrific infection that took 6 months to resolve. I tried twice to have her mated, but no luck. She has just finished her latest heat 3 days ago, and I will bite the bullet now and have her spayed. I couldn't bring myself to before, because I always harboured a tiny dream that we would get a litter. She's getting a bit long in the tooth for puppies now.

This painting is 8" X 10", Oil on canvas board
and is for sale @ $100.
Interested? Please email me at
This painting is now SOLD

"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."
....... Christopher Morley

Monday, August 13, 2007


I have never done landscapes. I have always found them somewhat empty and boring. I always liked to have something happening in them ... animals, people, trains, boats, whatever. What does that say about me?

I live in such a beautiful place, and look out on spectacular landscapes every day, so I am trying hard to get going on some, and get really interested enough to keep going. I look at other works and try to find what it is about them that inspires me.

The internet is such a distraction, with so many talented people doing wonderful work, it can also confuse and dilute ideas.

BUT, I have started some small landscapes today, and post one here which I am very pleased with .............

This is a view from a property belonging to our friends.
It is 8" X 10", Oil on canvas board.
It is for sale @ $100 unframed.
Please email if you are interested.

Note: my flood painting is drying ready for its next coat.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
...... Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Gippsland Flood Painting 2

Day 2 - I have worked in a dramatic muddy blue sky, wanting it to look wet and dark. My reference was taken at night, but I have made it more of a dusk. I am pleased with the skyline, yards and distant water. The gate needs more work, looking a little messy right now. It was a gamble to just block in the water behind to leave the original lines, but I am not sure of its success yet. The rush of the water is very challenging, especially the cresting at middle left. I love painting water, and have done many reflections and seas, but I am trying to remember the lack of light, the muddy colours. Looking deep into my reference, there are eddies at the fence lines, where the water has hit submerged matter and run up and over, or through. It's very wet now paintwise, so may take a day or two to dry enough to get back in.

It's hard to photograph now, with the wet paint, and the light reflection.

"Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed."
...Vaclav Havel

Interpreting the recent Gippsland Floods

'Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale has invited artists to submit works interpreting the recent Gippsland floods. Selected works will be on display at the Sale Entertainment Centre from 2 November to 18 November as part of the 2007 Water Water Festival.'

I contacted the organiser of this event to enquire what was expected, and after a couple of positive emails back and forth, I have begun a painting to enter. I thought I might post a photo or two while it is under construction.

The reference photos were taken by my partner, who had been there counselling affected farmers, and assessing the flood damage for eligibility for Government assistance. One picture in particular caught my eye, because it was taken at night and captured all the drama of rushing water and submerged farmland.

I roughed out my painting on a large canvas (610 X 920), in acrylic background colours, and emailed the result to the organiser. She was delighted, and said it was just what they were looking for. I have begun to block in some oils, but will show that next..........

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
....Carl Sagan

Monday, August 6, 2007

Back to Work

Well, my regular small paintings were a diversion, but I have fallen by the wayside a little, which doesn't say much for my self discipline. Perhaps 6 months ago I promised myself that I would stay focussed on just one goal, which was to get a body of work together in preparation for my next solo show. I found I was fussing over small ones, and not working on my major paintings. And I do love what I am doing there.

So, that's where I am. My fourth one is nearing completion, and I may post stages of construction of the next. Please go to for a peek at the last 3 major works, with the 4th in the pipeline , and if you like those, come back and watch construction of the 5th.

You see things; and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
....George Bernard Shaw

View from the 'Hill.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Life Drawing

Our fortnightly life drawing group was pared down to a minimum this week, with one other artist, the model and I, so we spent up some of the kitty to pay her.

The repaired heater was working beautifully, the icy wind was howling outside, the parrots feeding on the deck, and the Raga Dolls Orchestra sounding particularly nice on the CD Player. What more could we ask?

I will take a photo of my best drawing and list it soon.

"There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun."
.... Pablo Picasso

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Sunset Lost

There was an amazing sunset this evening, with showers in the distance, and holes in the clouds that let great spotlights of orange light pour onto the land far below. My first instinct was to rush for the camera, and was heading inside to get it when I realised the old poodle had disappeared through the gate I had left open. Worse still, the crazy black teenager Zara had taken off after him. I could see them far down the road and heading around the corner. Screeching like a demented banshee, I took off down the driveway after them, regretting as I sometimes do, that I hadn't taught 'madam' to come when I called. She rarely gets out, you see.

She was having a wonderful time, with the smells of bunnies in the grass, and the wind blowing through her curls, bringing yet more wonderful aromas.

I grabbed a lead and put it on Lily, the white girl (who is on heat!), and took off after them, hoping my shouting wouldn't alarm our distant neighbours.

The old dog's advanced age and heart condition was catching up with him; he decided not to visit where he used to and turned towards home, probably because I was sounding dangerously serious, or seriously dangerous.

The crazy teenager kept on her wild adventure, leaping through the long wet grass, nose to the ground. She threatened to crawl under the fence to chase the sheep, but my hysterical "No!" turned her back. On and on she went until I got the car and chased her up the road, where finally she gave up and we came home, with me trying hard not to snarl at her. Better to praise than to punish.

Needless to say, my beautiful sunset was gone forever.

About dogs.........

"I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren't certain we knew better. They fight for honor at the first challenge, make love with no moral restraint, and they do not for all their marvelous instincts appear to know about death. Being such wonderfully uncomplicated beings, they need us to do their worrying. "

... George Bird Evans, Troubles with Bird Dogs

Pensive moment