Portrait Progress: Rachael & Jason

Last year I painted two portraits. I remember thinking that I might get one done per month, apart from the month I went overseas and December. Well, that proved a little optimistic. Still, I would like to get more than two done a year.

This year I’m aiming to have two going at the same time and get four done in a year. So I’m staying at art classes for the full day, not just the morning. I rarely managed to get any writing done on the afternoon of a painting day last year, so I may as well keep painting. But in case I get sick of working on one portrait all day, I have another on hand to switch to.

At our New Year party I asked around and found a willing victim: Rachael. I told her to think about where she’d like to be in her portrait. A few days later I tweeted about having a bath full of balloons leftover from the party, and she tweeted back that this would be an awesome setting. So we had a photo shoot:

trudi_shooting rachael

After considering a close up of her face surrounded by balloons, or a painting that showed she was in a bath full of balloons, I went for the latter. The smaller the head is the harder it is to get detail in, so I chose a large canvas. After sketching in the details in red I decided to paint the sides and bath silver then, like in Cat’s portrait, leave some of this underpainting showing. Here’s an early shot:

rachael progress 1

The next week I worked on balloons:

rachael progress 2

Having done two portraits of women and starting another, I wanted a male subject for the second one. Jason, a horror writer friend, was up for it. He chose the Polly Cocktail Lounge in Fitzroy, with its furnishing in rich colours and boudoir-like atmosphere.

I chose a smaller canvas than I did for Rachael’s portrait and underpainted with gold and green (the green is looking rather blue here):

jason progress 1

Then I got stuck into the clothing. I so love painting clothing:

jason progress 2

It would be great if I had these finished by the middle of the year. Which means I should start thinking about arranging photos shoots for two new subjects for the second half. I have one willing male subject from NSW that I have to arrange a photo shoot with, and a female one who put her hand up last time I asked around, so I’ll have to see if I can make those happen.

Happy Camper

Last weekend we went camping. Since I’m supposed to stay off my feet for six months or more, when everyone went walking on the Saturday I stayed in the camp site. But that was fine with me, because a hundred metres or so away were some impressive views. I took my homemade ponchard box and did two paintings, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon.

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creativefidget299

While having lunch, I spotted a goanna snooping around the edges of the camp site.

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I took a lot of pics, but the goanna managed to hide behind things most of the time. Later, while I was sitting quietly reading and having a cuppa, I had company again. I stayed put, and to my amazement he/she came right up to my chair. I had my iPhone on me, so I took a video, but my attempts to embed it on this page haven’t worked, unfortunately.

The walkers came back a few minutes later, and with some frantic signalling I got them to approach quietly so as to not frighten off the goanna. Much snapping of photos followed – probably much better ones than I took with my iPhone.

On the way to and from the campsite we drove past a lot of bushfire damage:

Along country roads:
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BillyGoatCamp04

A plantation:
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Even along the main highway:
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And the coal mine was still alight:
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Japanese Ink Painting

A long time ago I read a book about Sumi-e – Japanese Ink Painting – and wanted to try it. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Possibly I had no idea where to get the tools from. After seeing some calligraphy supply shops in Tokyo I found myself thinking a little set or kit would be a fantastic souvenir. Something I could use later.

So when I found this little miniature calligraphy set in a temple souvenir shop I had to have it. There was an even smaller one that I lusted after, but this one has a tiny water dropper and the pretty box. (I have to admit, I was tempted to buy both.)

After watching an instructional YouTube video, I gave it a go while watching tv one night. I chose a subject sitting right in front of me.

I used a little scrap of thick watercolour paper. Now I’m thinking a little poem or quote about a cat might make this a lovely bookmark.

2014 Art & Craft

So, looking ahead, what do I see in my arty-crafty-diy future?

More portraits
It took only a few hours to finish Cat’s portrait – close enough to say I did two portraits in 2013. Just two, however. I’d like to increase that and I think the key is to work on two at once. I’ve got to get around to pinning subjects down so I can take reference photos.

Photo albums
I really need to get on top of these. I have trips back as far as 2011 that I haven’t made albums for. I’d like to set up an easy way to do it and start making a regular yearly ‘everything else’ album.

Refashioning & Sewing
It’s currently my biggest to-do list. I want to make use of my new-ish customised dress model, too.

Weaving
I’m doing a mini tapestry weaving course in a few weeks and I’ve arranged to fly up to Canberra at the end of the month to teach a friend how to use a 2nd hand 4-shaft loom she bought last year. And now that the ruanna is off the loom it’s free for a new project.

Papercraft & Printing
My new Silhouette cutter is calling, as is the stamp making kit that I bought for it.

Jewellery
I’ve had a metal clay kit for over a year now. Well past time I tried it!

Machine Knitting
The Bond and Passap have been neglected for some time, and not for lack of yarn. I don’t want to forget how to use them!

So I’ve already lined up two new crafts to try (tapestry weaving and metal clay) and a big project (photo albums). There’s plenty of sewing to do and urge to not let established crafts languish. So business as usual, really!

2013

Last year was one of flood and drought, when it came to creating and craft. Mostly that was because I also had intensive periods of work and travel that left little time for crafting, then relaxed stretches where I could dedicate weekends and evenings to creativity.

January:
The year started with Bagapalooza, a big bag review and refashion project.

I also made a whole lot of plans to sort out my photo collection… and that’s as far as that went.

February:
The AKL got a bit of action, as I wove up a few things out of oddments of yarn:

And snuck in a little forbidden knitting with rocket needles and velvet fabric cut into a long strip:

And whipped up some jewellery:

March:
Time to dust off the Bond Sweater Machine:

After picking up a free old Bond machine I made The Mega Bond:

April:
More Bonding:

Until I had to clear the table for some sewing:

May:
I made map coasters:

And tried out a few more methods in the inkle book:

And tried some embroidery:

And started the Fast Diet.

June:
The beginning of a new obsession, perhaps:

I made an envelope clutch for a themed party:

July:
I dabbled in cross-stitch:

But for most of July I was in the crafty doldrums.

August:
Got my act together. Started tackling the problem of the back of the house falling off. Solution: better engineered verandah. Bonus shade panels and new balustrade. (Completed in November.)
I finished a portrait:

And decided to tackle six to-do list categories over six weekends, and some projects I could do while watching tv.
I started with jewellery:

Moved on to tackle accessories and clothing refasions:

Plus dyeing:

September:
Some simple quilting:

I made a bag out of a painting and another out of an upholstery sample:

I tried solar dyeing, and made gifts to take overseas:

I finished weaving a scarf and wove another, and did more inkling:

It was also the month for learning I had a small heart condition, osteopenia and confirmation I’ve reached menopause. Or peri-menopause. Whatever. But I’d lost 4kg on the Fast Diet, so I was feeling pretty healthy.

October:
I spent most of October overseas.

November:
Craft Day on the first weekend back kick-started my crafty brain.
I made a necklace:

Badges:

And framed some cats I’d stitched over the winter:

I got the cards done early:

Though we only used a few, as we didn’t find the time for the write & mail part.

December:
I ended the year stitching:

I also went camping and painted ‘in plein air’:

I made a cover for the day bed:

And made a door mat for Dad:

And I finally finished weaving the paua shell ruanna after a year and a half on the loom:

I stitched a heart, and a pair of eyes:

Then we went to Japan!

All in all a good creative year. The craft category challenge proved very effective, so I might do that again in future. Half of the garments I made on the Bond I’ve decided need frogging or adjustment, however, and it wasn’t a great year for weaving. But I seem to have found a replacement for knitting with embroidery. I’m not as obsessed, though. Yet.

In Plein Air

Another “Do you remember this?” moment: aaaages ago, with Paul’s help, I made this ponchard box:

Well, three and a half years later I finally got around to using it. We went camping with friends a few weekends ago at Bear Gully, a little seaside camping spot in Victoria. I plonked myself on a stool on the beach on two of the days and was happy to find the box works perfectly – especially the all-important storage of paintings inside the lid.

The weather was very different. On the first day it was overcast but dry:

On the second the sun was out, but fortunately it wasn’t too hot:

Painting ‘in plein air’ was challenging and satisfying, but not exactly social. Which is why it took me so long to try the box. You really need a situation in which your friends/family/other half are happily otherwise occupied and don’t mind your attention being focussed elsewhere. Or else go with other painters.

One Finished, One Begun

I’ve finished Sam’s portrait:

The smaller test painting is on the right

I’m now letting it sit on the mantlepiece for a while to see if anything starts to bother me. Like with writing, sometimes it takes a while to stop being precious and pleased with yourself to see the flaws.

In the meantime, I’ve started another:

Don’t be alarmed, it’s underpainting

Cat, a fellow writer who was visiting from Sydney on the weekend. Being a graphic designer and artist as well, she had scouted out a great location before I’d got there. Just as with Sam, the last photo was the best.

Progress Shot

I might not have a lot of craft mojo happening right now, except for a bit of embroidery while watching tv, but my painting mojo is going just fine.

I’ve been working on this portrait all year so far. Technically, it’s my second painting. I did a smaller version as a warm up after a long break from oils, and to work out an approach. There’s a tattoo, tshirt design and wall art still to be added.

Painting portraits is something I’ve wanted to do since I painted one of my ex many years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of it before we split up, but I got such a feeling of satisfaction and fun from it that I wanted to do more.

But it takes confidence and courage to ask someone if you can paint their image. I haven’t had that until recently. In fact, this one will be finished soon, so I need to start looking for someone to be my second subject.

Portraiture might be a good Plan B for future middle-aged me. There’s a lot of uncertainty in publishing and bookselling right now. Nobody can predict what it will look like in five years, let alone ten. If it all goes belly up then, thinking in the terms of my last post, having an identity as an artist would soften the loss of an identity as a writer.

I also like the fact that, unlike with books, an original painting still has more value than copies. And the incentive to copy portraits is… well, unless it’s a portrait of a celebrity, only close friends and family of the subject might be tempted. Sure, people can paint fakes, but I’m never going to be famous enough that anyone would bother.