-- 06 February, 2008 --

Art class

Art class
Originally uploaded by ** Robyn **.
The most important thing about this week is that our Monday evening art class starts back up again. Two and a half hours to spend with my Number Two Son (mid twenties), pretending to make art.

We have a new teacher this year. Our old teacher was really out there and inspirational so you can imagine our horror when the new one said that we would be starting with 4 weeks of still life. Then she showed us some books of the work of Richard Diebenkorn, who I have not come across before. Maybe it won't be so bad after all.

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-- 01 October, 2007 --

Same page, new layer

Same page, new layer
Originally uploaded by ** Robyn **.

I love lavender.

At the cottage where The Poet and I have stayed in Berrima, the path from the front gate to the front door has lavender growing down each side. The bushes are so big that they almost touch in the middle so when you walk to the door you carry the fragrance of the lavender into the house on the legs of yours jeans. It has been a long time since we were there and the last time we went we found out that the cottages was up for sale. I really want to go there again.

Being the world's worst gardener, I never thought that I would be able to have my own little patch of lavender. What we laughingly call soil in our yard is really tough clay and very hard to dig into. I did dig into it earlier in the year, though, and committed 3 plants to the soil. They are still alive and, better yet, they are blooming!

I love lavender!

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-- 29 September, 2007 --

Molie pastel ala SuziBluTube

Molie pastel ala SuziBluTube
Originally uploaded by ** Robyn **.

Inspired by SuziBluTube, I have opend a brand new Moleskine to celebrate the beginning of 2 weeks holiday from work. Maybe if I really try, I will draw something in it every day of the holidays.

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-- 24 August, 2005 --

Wine bottle in oil pastels

Sennelier oil pastels
Sennelier Oil Pastel Card 9" by 12"

I have had this pad of Sennelier oil pastel card for a while but I forgot about it and so have never used it. It is a lot thicker than the Ingres pastel paper that I have been using so the oil from the pastels does not seep through the thickness of the card. The thickness also makes it more stable, not buckling or folding when pressure is placed on the sticks. The card is slightly textured which explains the small white dots that are showing through the pigment.

I am not in the habit of using a white surface with either soft pastels or oil pastels so I found this a little disconcerting. I am used to just concentrating on the shapes and shades of the reference and perhaps a slight shadow to 'seat' the objects on the page, leaving the colour of the support to take care of the background. This painting just didn't work without a background so I just had to make something up as I went along. It's not too bad, I think.

I also experience some difficulty with layering of different colours. Some times it seemed to work really well, especially in the open pot on the left. With the jug on the right, the colour in the top layer seemd to just scrap off the pigment underneath. I am not sure why. Next time I will have to remember to take some transparent medium sticks.

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-- 14 October, 2004 --

Blue vase


Back to Monday night art class. The teacher brought out a number of items to set up in a reference, some of which I have seem at least once before. I have drawn the red enamel bowl before but the opalecent blue vase is new. I liked the way the shapes are contrasted and the the colours complemented each other. She had set them on a lime green cloth and I had real trouble 'seeing' the colour of the shadows. I'm not sure that I got it right.

Posted by robynls at 10:14 PM | Comments (2)

-- 14 September, 2004 --

Wrap with Love

I have been a bit quiet lately because I have become somewhat obsessed with the horrible thing that happened in Beslan. I have this aweful memory of a grandmother I heard interviewed. She spoke about her little granddaughter who had spun before her in her very best dress on that dreadful day, saying how perfect that she looked for her first day at school. The grandmother had bought the little girl the most beautiful bunch of flowers and seen her off to school with her mother, the woman's daughter. The poor woman was desperate and I wanted to reach out and hug her. Since then, I have been knitting squares for a rug to send to a project that runs here in Australia called 'Wrap with Love'. I have conjoled many of my colleagues at school to join in so I hope to have enough squares for at least one rug to send off by the end of term, in 2 weeks time.

This is the only thing that I have had time to draw recently and I did it in my Monday night art class. It is oil pastels on an A3 piece of green Canson Mi-Teintes paper.

Posted by robynls at 8:38 PM | Comments (0)

-- 05 September, 2004 --

Me and my shadow

It has been a long fortnight. I thought that we would get away with winter and not be laid low with some horrible bug but it was not to be. Number Two Son brought it home from work and gave it to me and I gave it to The Poet and 'round and 'round and 'round it goes. It saps all of the energy and creativity from the body and leaves you feeling wretched. Trouble is that there are so many people away at work that I don't have the heart to make it one more, so I go and then get cross because I have to take extra classes for those who are not burdened by the Proddy Work Ethic.

This is the first piece of art that I have made in almost two weeks. It is a reponse to one of the references provided for the Wet Canvas Weekend Drawing Event. It appealed to me because it reminded me of the type of painting that Madelaine S does. She is the teacher in the watercolour class that I used to take at Kurringai Art Centre. I have done mine using oil pastels on the smoother side of a piece of blue Canson Mi-Teintes paper. The paper is only A4 size so I found the detail of the children difficult, which may or may not be a good thing since I think that faces might be difficult due to my lack of practice.

Posted by robynls at 3:52 PM | Comments (2)

-- 23 August, 2004 --

EDM Challenge #1 - Oily walking boots


I am besotted with van Gogh so when I pull these boots out to act as my models for my Arts Centre lesson, I can pretend that I might one day grow up to become a mad suicidal genius. This time I painted them using oil pastels - a variety of brands - on Canson Mi-Teintes paper in a sort of sandy colour. Not sure of the dimensions but the sheet is larger than A4. I thought that I should have done some sort of background or shadow to try to ground the boots on the paper but the teacher said to just leave it. She felt that they are sitting on the page fine as they are. Whatever, I am quite pleased with this finished product.

Posted by robynls at 11:32 PM | Comments (6)

-- 17 August, 2004 --

Stripes and folds


This is the result of this week's Monday night art class. Stripes AND folds both in the same setup! AHHHHH! It has ended up more of a sketch than a finished piece of art and will probaby stay that way.

Posted by robynls at 7:55 AM | Comments (0)

-- 14 August, 2004 --

Mapel leaves TOPP

This image was part of an activity that runs on the Wet Canvas Oil Pastels forum. It is called TOPP for Tuesday Oil Pastel Painting and works pretty much like the WDE in that you have to choose a reference and then upload what you have done after 2 hours. The difference is that it is restricted to oil pastels only.

After the specified 2 hours I had only worked about a third of the painting so I posted what I had and then kept going. I usually try to work over the whole surface from the beginning, putting down an underpainting and then working each layer completely as I go. On this occasion, though, I started on one side and worked my way across. I think that the problem with this that I learnt stuff as I worked and the look of the leaves changed as the painting progressed. This can be seen in the way I tried to show the veins of the leaves. Those on the right have lines made using an oil pencil while those on the left are more OP.

I used mainly Sennelier OPs and Walnut Hollow oil pencils. I don't know what the paper is. I bought a sample pack of pastel paper from Dick Blick's. Most had the name of the paper written on the back but this piece didn't. It was white and a little heavier than Canson MT paper.

Posted by robynls at 2:48 PM | Comments (1)

-- 12 August, 2004 --

Something new and different

sunflowers.JPGOne of the truly good parts about being new to a medium is that you are totally unaware of the limitations of working with it so you are more likely to push the boundaries. This was the case with this picture.

I am right into working with oil pastels at the moment. The Senneliers that I bought from the Eckersley's 'Pastel Extravaganza!' sale have grabbed me. They are like painting with many coloured lipsticks. Along with some sample boxes of a variety of oil pastel brands, I also bought some velour paper from Dick Blick's web site. So ... now I have these two new things at hand and a burning desire to try them both. Why not try them together? After all, the velour paper is supposed to be for pastel work.

Maya said to me, when I showed her the paper 'You aren't going to use oil pastels on that are you?'. Yes, why not? She had set up a still life with some artificial sunflowers in a dark brown wicker basket ... just the right thing for the green velour paper I had chosen ... get started smearing the OPs onto the support ... is feels great. Gradually the picture starts to take shape and the layers go on. Every time I think that I have good coverage, I stop to look and the little fibres on the paper begin to stand up again, giving it a soft hazy look. I add some more layers and the same thing happens. It takes a lot more layers than ordinary paper before the surface begins to loose its tooth. I had great fun.

I put the finished picture up onto Wet Canvas to get the opinions of my new friends. 'Can you use velour paper with OPs?' respond some of the less experienced - like me. It certainly looks like it, I respond. The wiser heads say 'Sure', although they do say that it is more usual to draw horses, dogs and cats rather than flowers because of the furry texture. Maybe I will try a rose next time.

Posted by robynls at 1:31 PM | Comments (0)

-- 08 August, 2004 --

Wet Canvas WDE 7 August


The Weekend Drawing Event on the Wet Canvas art site for this weekend has been a series of landscape photographs that the host took during a trip to British Columbia. I find landscapes scary because of all of the 'stuff'. Add this to the new oil pastels and we end up with an inferiorty complex of mammoth size. This has been compounded by reading an art mag in front of the telly last night. All of those publication perfect pictures make me think that I should be taking up knitting instead of banging my head against a brick wall!

At the beginning of this term the visiting speaker to our staff meeting was a psychologist named Joann Deak. One of the things that she talked about was the different ways that people process information. She described a continuum with 'trees' at one end and 'forests' at the other. It was another slant on convergent and divergent thinking but basically she said that the 'trees' are big on the details of a process while the 'forests' see the big picture but have little patience with the details. I think that I am an extreme 'forest' because anything with lots of nit-picky little details throws me into a spin. I think that that is why I prefer to draw simple things like shells or faces but landscape or cityscapes are too complicated.

This painting was done with oil pastels (Sennelier and Holbein) on Cotman 300gms watercolour paper. I prepared the paper with a blue graded watercolour wash which I covered with a glaze of clear Colourfix Primer. It was intended for the clouds class in the Oil Pastel forum on Wet Canvas but, when I saw the photos for this WDE, I decided to use it for that instead.

Posted by robynls at 5:13 PM | Comments (2)

-- 31 July, 2004 --

White ain't white

whiterose.JPG whiterose2.JPG

After showing off my lighthouse painting on Wet Canvas I received a comment from one of the generous mentors there that I should not use white because white isn't white - well, almost never. She pointed me to some references in the image library there of lots of white things - eggs and cats and lace and roses. I picked a rose and tried.

My first attempt was not the most wonderful thing that I have ever drawn. I think that it would be something that Mum could look at and say 'I told you so!'. My friend on Wet Canvas was much gentler and made some suggestions. With darker paper and permission to use just a LITTLE bit of white, I tried again. Much better, me thinks! My inner critic might be a little quieter for a moment or two.

Posted by robynls at 5:17 PM | Comments (1)

-- 27 July, 2004 --

Playing hookey

lighthouse3.JPGI skipped art class last night. It was cold, I was tied and Number Two Son, who is my drawing mate, has gone away on holidays for the week. I think that I must have already been feeling seedy because, after a terrible night's sleep, or rather, lack of sleep, I ended up with a migraine headache this morning. I was in serious danger of throwing my heart up so I stayed at home. I don't really like taking sick days but I just couldn't do it today.

When I started to feel a bit better, I looked on Wet Canvas to see what was going on. The Oil Pastel forum has a weekly challenge called "Pastel and a Movie" in which you are supposed to choose a reference and then spend only 2 hours on a drawing. Last week I sort of cheated by putting up the picture that I did in art class. It does, after all, only take 2 hours. Taking some time out today to draw was a great way of relaxing a bit of the headache away.

This morning the FedEx man arrived with an order from Dick Blick's that contained a beautiful box of Sennelier Oil Pastels and some velour paper. I am saving the paper for some other time but I used the OPs on a sheet of Canson charcoal grey paper for this drawing. I find them heaps easier to use than the Faber Castells that I have been using up until now. The Faber Castells are quite dry and hard while the Senneliers are almost like drawing with lipsticks. Maybe I need to use different paper for the Faber Castells.

This scan of the drawing of the lighthouse is as it was after two hours as per the challenge. I began with a drawing using a light grey soft pastel pencil, then did an under shading using the OPs, followed by a second layer of OP which I blended using the end of my finger. Because of the soft texture of the Sennelier OPs they blend very easily with just the heat from my finger. It probably needs a little more work but I am happy with this as a first effort with a new medium.

Posted by robynls at 5:54 PM | Comments (0)

-- 19 July, 2004 --

Art class

jug.JPGI went back to work today so I don't think that my entries in my blog will come as often as they have been since I began. It's a shame how work gets in the way of the fun things of life.

Since today is Monday, it is Art class night, which also began the new term too. I took along the oil pastels and the work that I had done so far with them to get some input from Maya. She had a quick look at what I had done so far but, since we had a number of new students in the class, she spent most of the class getting them going and let the old hands to do our thing.

She set up a still life with an enamel coffee pot and some lemons. I used the Faber Castell oil pastels on a pad of oil paper. I blended the background with turps but left the coffee pot and the lemon as they were. I used some of the techniques that I learnt yesterday on the Wet Canvas exercise using complementary colours for the shadows. It's a bit hard to work out which is the ideal tint of the complimentary to use with each of the pastels, particularly when I had overlaid a cyan on a green to get the colour of the pot.

I'm reasonably happy with the coffee pot but the lemon is the pits!

Posted by robynls at 10:34 PM | Comments (1)

-- 18 July, 2004 --

Shadows and folds exercise

I found a very useful web site called Wet Canvas that has all sorts of discussion forums on art. I subscribed and then joined a forum on oil pastels. The current exercise that the group is working on is to do with using contrasting colours to produce shadow of objects and folds. They are using photographs of eggs on fabric as references. Still being new to this medium, I chose to do just one egg against a background of red fabric. I still have a long way to go with depicting fold in material. I am not sure what it is but the idea of folds freezes me in much the same way as the thought of streetscapes does.

I got some mineral turps yesterday and used it to blend the oil pastels on 300gm Montval watercolour paper. I have found that scanning a painting and then looking at it in the computer screen seems to highlight all of the bits that need work eg the spot on the egg where light is supposed to reflect back from the fabric is dodgy.


After receiving some very interesting feedback from the moderator on the Wet Canvas Oil Pastel forum, I made a second version of the exercise. The instructions had said that the shadows should be done using a carefully chosen complementary colour of the fabric. This time I used green for the shadows instead of the blue that was used in the first version. The large shadow of the egg was feathered so that it is darker close to the egg and lighter further away and, finally, the green used for the shadows is also reflected on the darker shadows of the egg.

Posted by robynls at 1:54 PM | Comments (1)

-- 16 July, 2004 --

Oils ain't easy.

I put aside the Staedtler pen today to go back to the oil pastels that I tried a couple of days ago. I also went back to a familiar subject - shoes. At least the shoes stand still so that you can draw them and if you make a bit of an error with the shape, they don't complain too much. I was leafing through a book of Van Gogh's work this morning. Shoes and boots were one of his regular subjects.

The oil pastels are not as easy to handle as soft pastels. The ones that I used for this picture are Faber Castell. I don't think that they are water soluable like the Micador ones that I used before. The support is a pad of oil paper that is meant for oil paints. The box of pastels says that you should be able to merge the colours using your fingers but on this surface it didn't work. I have also discovered that the lighter colours don't overlay one darker colours in the same way that soft pastels do.

Posted by robynls at 7:41 PM | Comments (1)

-- 13 July, 2004 --

New Art Materials

oilpast1.JPG Many of the people in my art class are using oil paints since this is the favoured medium of our teacher. I haven't ever really wanted to use this medium since I really enjoy using pastels and pastel pencils. On Sunday, however, I came across a box of 25 Micador Oil Pastels in Office Works so I thought that I would give these a try. One of the interesting things about them is that they are water soluable so I can use a water brush to spread the pigment about on the page. So this is my first effort with the crayons.

Since they are cylindrical and I am too mean to shave them down to a point, I found it a bit difficult to position the pigment initially. I would also like to have a greater range of colours to choose from as I don't seem to have the knack of getting the colours to mix on the page, but I don't really want to spend any more money on them until I am a bit more comfortable with their use.

Anyway, it's a start and the cup of chai tea that was in the cup I draw was really nice, too.

Posted by robynls at 7:15 PM | Comments (3)