30 Days of Unfurling - Day 30: Ending on a High!

Well I made it! Day 30 of 30 Days of Unfurling. I'll admit it's been harder than I thought showing up every day and writing a blog post but I'm so glad I stuck with it and I'm super grateful for everyone that came along for the ride with me.

Towards the end of the 30 days I started getting a bit frustrated with myself, thinking that I'd invested too much time in the blog at the expense of my painting practice. But today, I went into the studio and I was able to put into place so much of what I've learned in the past 30 days. Throughout this post, I've linked to other blog posts so you can also see the connections I've made.

I continued working on several new abstract pieces using this more intentional approach that I've been craving. I'll admit that there are times when I just throw paint at the canvas and hope for the best and usually I get there in the end but there's a lot of circling involved. Not that I want to hurry the process but sometimes I do feel like I could avoid a bit of painting heartache if I had more intention at the beginning. I'm not talking about a fixed plan, just some helpful parameters.

The starting point with these paintings was to think about the words 'flow' and 'cluster'. I also set out with a particular colour palette in mind. I'm using a colour palette that I've used before and one that has plenty of opportunities to create contrast.

Choosing a colour palette from the outset allowed me to really focus on the words and the techniques I wanted to use to explore the words. I've still got more layers to add to these but I am excited about the progress.

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As I was working, new ideas came to me and I worked with those ideas rather than pushing them aside. For example, I felt like adding gold leaf rather than the gold paint I was originally thinking of. Actually if I am totally honest (which is the point of this unfurling series), my daughter begged me to use gold leaf because she loves any painting with gold leaf in it!

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I have to agree with her, gold leaf does add that something special to a painting.

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It can be a bit fiddly and I always end up with it all through my house and garden but it's fun. You might also notice that I am working on a variety of surfaces. Gallery wrapped canvases, canvas board and a birch wood panel. While I am working on a variety of sizes and surfaces, I am hoping to unify them with a common colour palette so that they can be hung together as an eclectic cluster (there's that word again). I'm continuing to start my paintings with a base coat, except the wood panel where I want some of the wood to shine through. I've used different colours in the base coats but all from the colour palette that I chose initially.

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One of the benefits of choosing my colour palette in advance for these paintings is that it freed me up to concentrate more on composition. Thinking about the possible structure of a painting, can really help to avoid so much of that 'circling' phase. Although sometimes the composition doesn't come together and then of course you just try something else. Here you can see a few different compositions taking shape:

I call this a patchwork painting but I it's more commonly known as a grid.

I call this a patchwork painting but I it's more commonly known as a grid.

This one is heading towards being an L shaped composition. There are many compositions based on the shape of letters, particularly T, H, S and Z.

This one is heading towards being an L shaped composition. There are many compositions based on the shape of letters, particularly T, H, S and Z.

The early stages of what I call a 'Nest' painting. AKA a radial or circular composition.

The early stages of what I call a 'Nest' painting. AKA a radial or circular composition.

I used Golden Fluid Acrylic and Golden Hi-Flow Acrylic to create drips and flow within several of the paintings. In the little painting above, I am not completely committed to a composition as yet, possibly circular or it could be a patchwork. I do want to tone that yellow down as it's too bright for my taste. I used a fan brush to create those delicate lines over the cobalt blue and I've never used that type of mark in a painting so that was a cool new discovery.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio to finish these paintings and that's a good sign that I am getting my painting mojo back! Once I've finished these minis, I'd like to see if any of the paintings might suit a big canvas or wood panel. Working small is such a great way to test out ideas. It's proving to be a great way to overcome creative block!

This post is getting quite long, I think I am delaying the inevitable, but the time has come. It's time to say goodbye and thank you for being a part of my 30 Days of Unfurling. It's not really a goodbye though because I am going to be continuing with my blog but it will be a post 1-2 times per week rather than daily. For now though, shine on creative friends Xx

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30 Days of Unfurling - Day 29: A Starting Point

I managed to get into the studio for a short spell today and I couldn't help myself, I had to try out the idea I thought of yesterday i.e. using a  word as a starting point for a painting. I chose to work with the word 'Flow' and also the word 'Cluster'.

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With flow, I was focusing on how I could create fluidity in a painting. Drips, washes, loose layers and gentle movement.

With cluster, I was thinking about how I could group elements together in a painting and create a focal point.

I didn't have long in the studio but I started to dance around with these ideas and it felt good! What I loved about it is that it encouraged me to focus in on one main technique. I often struggle with trying to include every idea and technique I've ever come across in the one painting. This exercise is not about that at all. It's about really honing in on one idea and making that the hero of the painting.

I'm really gutted because I don't have photos of the pieces of art that I worked on today. I might do a sneaky update of this post in the morning to add in photos. Yes, that seems like a good idea.

I'll be back tomorrow

Xx

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 27: Allowing Things to be Easy

Today was a welcome return to painting outdoors. We are getting bursts of Spring sunshine and it's glorious! My painting companion, Spencer, is enjoying the sun too. The days are getting longer and that means more daylight for painting. Although, today it was tempting to just lay out in the sun and read my book! I think we all have days like that.

I'm nearing the end of my 30 day blogging adventure and I'm feeling quite tired. Most of my blog posts have been written at night and my bed-time has been pushing out later and later. So today I had a rest and recover day. I made the conscious choice to go with whatever felt easy. Initially, what felt easy was not doing any art at all so I made myself a cup of tea, lay down on my sun lounger and started a new book (for any fiction lovers out there, in case you were wondering, I've just started reading 'I Let You Go' by Clare Mackintosh).

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Then I thought about what else would be easy and rejuvenating and I knew it had to be watercolour. I find the loose fluidity of watercolour so cleansing. I picked up an old stacked pebble painting and started adding in more pebble shapes to fill the whole page. Once again, I was drawing on symbolism that soothes me. Pebbles for me are very grounding and I return to them again and again, particularly when I feel a bit out of sorts. I'll probably add more patterns to the new pebbles I have added into this painting one day. Although chances are this painting will get tossed in my watercolour basket and may not get touched again for months or even years!

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I also returned to another type of painting that sits within my comfort zone - watercolour fantasy landscapes. I never have a plan with these, I just start with loose shapes and ususally those shapes start to look a little like something - rolling hills, a running stream. little trees and from there my imagination takes over and they become little imaginary worlds.

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Here is another one. I didn't actually want the sky to be filled in with green dots but I spilt something on the top and that was my attempt at recovering the painting. I do like those little rainbow mountains in the background. Even if I'm not totally happy with a painting, I can usually find something good in it! Watercolour isn't all that forgiving so I have quite a lot of paintings that don't cut the mustard but were fun to make. I often end up cutting them up for collage.

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Today was a lazy painting day. There are some days when you are in a good place for exploring new territory and making brave choices and there are other days when you just need to go with what's easy. Returning to a style of painting that you feel comfortable with is a great way to boost your confidence and lift your spirits. I'm feeling much better for it and I have a feeling that I'll be ready to tackle some more adventurous painting tomorrow.

See you then Xx

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 26: Don't Forget to Play

Sometimes I feel pressured to make good art. Art that will be well received. Art that fits neatly into a series or looks pretty in my Instagram feed. I've been feeling that a bit lately as I work on my new series. I'm already building up an expectation around it, wanting it to be my best work. Wanting it to be cohesive and well developed. All very good things to aspire to ... but,  it's also important that I don't forget to play!

My son is five years old and I only have to look at him to be inspired. He doesn't conform to the rules. In fact the way he plays is fascinating. He never plays with any of his toys in the way they were intended. He pulls them apart, combines them in different ways, adds in random household objects and builds completely new and exciting things. Toys that no one else has. Toys that his imagination can run wild with. Isn't that fabulous?

I was reminded of the importance of play today as I looked back on the work I did on my 'Gypsy Trail' series. It wasn't really a series, is was more of an approach to how I worked. I called it 'Gypsy Trail' as a way of encouraging myself to be free-spirited and adventurous. To dance with different ideas and celebrate the diversity that exists within us and within this world.

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Most of my gypsy trail paintings were either in my sketchbook or on loose sheets of watercolour paper. The small scale made it easy for me to paint in various locations and because in my mind it was always just a sketchbook, I found myself so much more at ease with whatever happened on each page. I was able to let go of perfectionism and get back to that place of child-like curiosity.

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I want to go back there!!! Writing this post has inspired me. I have an unopened Moleskine sketchbook in my studio waiting to explore new terrain with me. I will still keep working on my series but with my sketchbook close to hand.

With my 'Gypsy Trail' work I gave myself complete freedom but there is also value in playing within parameters. For example, you could choose a theme or a colour palette and play within those constraints. That can have great benefits. It's a bit like if you can't leave your home (perhaps you are snowed in or there is flooding) and you are forced to come up with ways to keep yourself entertained. After a while you are going to get pretty creative!

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Either way, I think a sketchbook is the most wonderful tool for play. Yesterday I talked about feeling like there was a missing piece in the work I was doing. I have a feeling the missing piece might be a sketchbook to play in.

I'll leave you with a couple of flip through videos from my 'Gypsy Trail' sketchbook. Hopefully I will have some pages from my new sketchbook to share soon but in the meantime enjoy this little trip down memory lane. See you tomorrow for Day 27 of my 30 Days of Unfurling Xx

 

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 25: Exploring Abstraction

Well I was gearing up for a big studio day, but I had a VIP kindergarten lunch to go to so that cut short my plans. Had to laugh because the kindy rang me to remind me to come over, I live across the road and I think they know that I often get swept up in the studio. I'm always running over last minute with paint all over me.

I did get a bit of time in the studio so I kept working on my new 'Feels Like Home' series. I still feel like I am searching for the missing link with this series but if I keep playing and trying out new things, eventually I'll find my way with it.

I have to admit it was one of those days where my best work might have been the paint palette itself. Sigh ... I really love those colours, soft greens, greys, oranges and ochre. Must file that sheet away for future reference. I often do that, I keep paint palettes that I like to inspire me later.

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I ran out of room on my desk today, so I sprawled out on the floor. I'm thinking it might be for time to re-organise the studio. The way I have it now isn't quite working for me. It's not a huge space but I am sure I could use it better.

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Plenty of layering today and not a botanical image in sight. I'm leaning into a more abstract style here. Playing with colour, line, shape and form without any imagery.

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Working this way has reignited my passion for mixed media. I pulled out some supplies I haven't used in a while to experiment with different marks and textures.

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I got a bit carried away on this piece but there are parts that I really love and I am considering cropping it to create a more pleasing composition. One of the reason I love working on paper. Often I start big knowing that while I started with one painting, I might end up with two or three by the time I've finished.

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So this Is where I ended up today. There's already quite a few pieces underway for my new series. Not all of them will make the cut, well actually they will, the pieces that don't get included n the series will get cut up into collage snippets for another little project I have in mind. For some reason, I am guessing that the collage side project will probably end up being my favourite part. I wrote another post about side projects, so if you haven't read that you might want to check it out.

For me though, it's time to rest my sleepy head. Back tomorrow Xx

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 24: First Layer Painting Video

If you saw yesterday's post, you will know that my favourite way to start a painting at the moment is with a layer of all over colour. Sometimes I use one flat colour. Recently, I had so much fun starting a canvas with a rich dark blue base. When I added other colours over the top in the second layer, they really popped.

Other times I will use a combination of colours as that can be more interesting than working with just one colour but I do encourage you to try both methods.

Here's a video to give you a better idea. I'll be honest I haven't watched this video many times because it has me in it and I'm still getting used to that!

I hope you enjoyed the video. I'm keeping this post super short because I've got a big studio day planned for tomorrow and I need to get to bed early and start this week on a good note!

See you tomorrow Xx

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 23: It's All About the Base

Over the years, I've experimented with many different ways of approaching a blank canvas.

There was the drippy phase. The only problem was that I'd get paralysed by the beauty of the drips. I would struggle to cover the drips up yet the paint would be very thin and to me the canvas wouldn't feel finished.

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I started combining drips with loose marks but I still kept getting struck, not knowing how to make the painting look finished. While It would sometimes look good in a photograph, in real life it just didn't feel lush and vibrant.

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Then I discovered there was a simple solution. What if I started with a flat all-over colour? What if before I start doing those yummy drips and marks I built up a rich base? A good foundation. A solid ground. This has now become my favourite way to start a painting. It's so easy and such a great way to get over the fear of a blank canvas. All you do is grab a big brush, some paint and away you go. There's no need for perfection here because this layer is going to get covered up with more layers. All I try and do is get a fairly even coat all over the canvas. Sometimes I paint the whole canvas with one colour or as in the photo below I might mix a couple of colours together.

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Recently, my go-to product for this layer has been Derivan Matisse Background Paint. It's a coloured low-tooth gesso. Even though I use pre-gessoed canvases, I find adding this extra layer of primer really makes a difference. It's such a lovely surface to paint on and it's affordable too. This way you can save your more expensive paint for the final layers.

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Of course there is no right way to start a painting and it's only through experimenting that you discover what works for you. I am certainly not ruling out starting canvases in other ways. In-fact one day I'd like to try starting a canvas with a full layer of collage. But for now I am enjoying this way and that's good enough for me!

Back tomorrow Xx

 

 

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 22: Making Time for Art

This past few weeks have been really busy on the home front. The amount of school and kindergarten events has been unusually high. I haven't been all that productive in the studio and I can feel myself getting a bit annoyed and stressed about it. But I know that instead of getting frustrated, I really need to adjust my expectations and makes some changes to the way I work. It's only going to get even more hectic in the lead up to Christmas, so I think now is the time to be realistic and adapt accordingly!

So what I've done is I've taken a good look at what time I have available. I don't have another job anymore so art is my main thing but that being said, I do have one child that isn't yet at school and I do almost all the housework and taking kids to sport etc. so my days are pretty full.

To get a better idea of how I spend my week, I recently converted to using an online calendar. I use Gmail so I have gone with the Google Calendar and Google Keep. I'm pretty old-school, more of a notebook and pen kind of girl but I have to say that I won't ever go back to a paper diary/calendar. There are too many handy features like being able to add in recurring activities, set reminders and sync it across your devices. I've been using the to-do list feature in Google Calendar for tasks that have to be done whereas I am using Google Keep, another list keeping app, as a place to store ideas such as blog post topics, marketing techniques, books to read etc.

With a better idea of what time I have available, the next question is, how best to use it? I've created a few broad categories for how I could use time.

(1) Painting on big canvases in the studio.

(2) Small paintings that can be done at the kitchen table.

(3) Admin work e.g. updating website, responding to queries and marketing.

(4) Household chores (argh, there is no getting away from it so best to factor some time in).

(5) Self-care e.g. walking dog, having a bath and reading.

Now it is a matching game. What time best suits what activity? This sounds like it is going to be some kind of magic formula. I highly doubt it! I think it's worth a try though.

So the first match up is pretty easy. I have two days a week when my son is at kindergarten so that's the best time for me to get in my studio and have a good chunk of time working on my larger canvas paintings.

On the other days when my son is home, we often have activities in the morning but then in the afternoon there are pockets of time where I could do either small paintings or admin work. I'd really love to do a new series of abstract paintings on wooden panels so this could be the time for that. I was looking back at old work and I was a bit taken with these 'nest' inspired paintings I did. Would love to jump back into these. Or perhaps it's time for a new sketchbook!

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Then there's the afternoons when both my kids are home. I am quickly realising that this time is best left for things not related to art. It's a good time to do chores. I can unpack a dishwasher while getting the kids a snack or sort laundry while my daughter does her homework. It's also a time where I often sneak in a bit of self-care. A chapter of my book or even just a little flick through Instagram.

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My son also does a half day at kindergarten on a Friday morning. I am always a bit torn about how to use this time. Often it is tempting to go shopping without any kids in tow, even if it is just to do the groceries! Recently I loved spending a morning writing blog posts and journaling at a local café. I'm thinking this might be the way forward.

With the evenings, usually I relax with a book or watching a series on Netflix. I'm not into painting at night. I doodle with watercolour from time to time but for any other kind of painting I really need natural light. In fact I am a big fan of daylight in general. I'm not an early riser though, nor am I a night owl. I am a very regular get up at 7ish go to bed at 11ish person. This month I've been up a bit later as I have been blogging at night. And while I am missing my fix of books and TV, it has made me realise that there is this parcel of time when the house is quiet that is quite useful. I wouldn't want to use it every night but I think that a few nights a week of business administration could be really helpful and it would mean I could use more of my daylight hours for painting.

As far as household chores go, since being at home full-time with my business, I've changed my approach. I used to have a 'cleaning day' but now I am doing a bit each day and keeping up with it a lot better. I'm really trying to do things like throw a load of washing on everyday. My husband will laugh if he reads this because I am notorious for the whole house running out of socks and underwear. I swear I have changed but I'll be honest it is early days!

Finally there is the weekends. Well if you read my post on embracing boundaries, you will know that I am endeavouring to do less art stuff on the weekends and instead to focus more on spending time with my kids. I think though I would like to do some art projects with my kids so that could be a bit of a compromise! Otherwise though, with summer on it's way, I think we'll be hitting the beach.

Well that's it for today, I've run out of steam! I'm still testing the waters as far as organising my time so I might have to re-visit this topic in a month or two to see if any of my strategies are working!

See you tomorrow. I 'm aiming for some short and sweet blog posts over the weekend and then I'll be back with a bang for the final week of 30 days of Unfurling! Xx

 

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30 Days of Unfurling - Day 21: Painting a Series

Today I spent a few hours in the studio playing around with ideas for my latest series of abstract paintings. If you have been following along with my 30 day blogging adventure, you will have read about how I am working on a series inspired by what it feels like to be home. If not, you can read all about it here.

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I'm in the early stages and I am still not completely sure what the series will look like. Today I was working on a big canvas (see above), yesterday I was experimenting with a small mixed media piece on birch wood panel (see below).

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For this series, I really want to dig deep and develop a cohesive body of work so I've come up with the following list of things I could do to help me:

  • Get out a piece of paper and write whatever comes to my mind when I think of the phrase 'Feels Like Home'. See what messages and symbols come through when I just sit with the idea for a bit.
  • Take photographs from around the home and use these as reference images. I've already begun this and you can see some of the photos here.
  • Explore what colour palettes remind me of home. Choose what will be the main colours for the whole series.
  • Use a different medium to describe my home to someone else e.g. it could be in a song lyric or a poem.
  • Use Pinterest to create boards where I can collect things that relate to my home and/or feelings of home.
  • Consider what size and medium I'd like to use for the series.
  • Create inspiration swatches or thumbnail sketches of colours/marks/compositions etc to help when painting the series.
  • Write an evaluation checklist - i.e. a list of questions to ask myself when each painting in the series is complete. You can see one of my previous checklists in this post.

I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into this series. But for now I really must get to bed. I always seem to be blogging late at night. Maybe one day, I'll get in early and write a morning post.

See you again tomorrow Xx

 

 

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 20: Mindfulness and Art

Mindfulness, it's a word you hear a lot these days but the concept has been around for a very long time. It is simply about being aware of what is happening right now. Not being distracted by thoughts of the past or future, bringing your attention to the present moment.

So what is the connection between mindfulness and art?

In my work I see the connection as really important. My best work definitely occurs when I surrender to the process. When I get into a state of high awareness about what I am doing. When I allow my senses to relish in the painting experience.

I often get that feeling that it's just me and my paints. All my worries seem to fall away and I feel this incredible freedom.

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Now it doesn't happen to me everytime I paint, often distractions or negative self-talk get in the way. But I do know that my best painting experience occurs when I am able to let go of this noise and instead tune into the things that lift me up ...

The lyrics of the song playing in the background.
The smell of my art supplies mixed with the essential oils and candles that I love.
The dappled light coming through my studio door.
The purr of my cat, snuggled up on my chair.
The sensation of the paint as I scrape, smoosh and drip it over the canvas.
The awakening of my body. How good it feels to stretch it out? Perhaps I'll just put the paintbrush down and dance for a minute or two because I feel so alive and it feels like the most natural thing to do in the world.
I feel so grateful to just be here right now, today, nothing else matters.

Ah, it feels so good.

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This to me is the pinnacle of painting. Sure I get a rush when I sell a painting or my work gets featured on a popular blog. And I do understand that artists need to earn a living and we certainly shouldn't feel guilty about that.

But it's not enough. For me there has to be those moments of dancing in my studio without a care in the world. If I'm not having those moments it's time to check in and make some changes so I can get back to a healthy practice that combines mindfulness with art.

See you tomorrow, thank you so much for being here Xx

 

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 19: Why I'm Blogging Everyday

Oh I knew this day would arrive. I'm really tired and I don't feel like writing a blog post at all! Yesterday I was buzzing with ideas and today I don't have the energy to implement them. But I am here and I'll tell you why.

Commitment and follow through is absolutely essential if you are running a creative business. You can have the most amazing ideas but if you can't do the work, if you can't show up when you don't feel like it, those ideas aren't going to flourish.

I remember when I started painting and my husband told me about this thing called Instagram. He said to me 'you should be sharing your work on here'. I took a look at it and initially I wasn't all that bothered. But then he mentioned it a few more times, so I created an account and posted a few things. I was pretty happy with myself but then he broke the news to me, he said 'you really need to post something everyday'. I was flabbergasted, I couldn't imagine having the discipline or the content to share on a daily basis. It seemed completely out of the realm of possibility for me.

Fortunately, I have a persistent husband and he kept asking me 'have you done your post today?' Before I knew it I'd been posting daily for a few weeks, then it was months, and now I think I am coming up to my 2 year anniversary. I've missed a few days here and there but on the whole I have developed a habit. One that has been very helpful for me as far as building connections and enabling me to share my work.

What I learned from this is that you absolutely can build a habit. This really excited me and it continues to motivate me because now I know that if I push through that initial resistance and discomfort, eventually if you want something and can see the value in it, you can get to a point where it becomes second nature.

So I don't know where I am heading with my blog, but I do know that I want writing to feature in my future. And I also know that the only way to get better at writing is to write on a regular basis. In other words I need to build a writing habit. So here I am on Day 19 writing this post when I'd rather be in bed but I am doing it because developing my voice through writing is important to me and I want to create a habit that supports that. And you know what, I'm nearly done. See that wasn't so hard!

And because I'm a visual person and there needs to be a photograph, here is a studio shot from today. I only had about 45 minutes in the studio so I worked on a mixed media (watercolour + acrylic + stablio pencil) textile-inspired painting. I'm continuing to experiment with pieces of art inspired by things that make me feel like I'm home. More on the development of this series soon but for now I am signing off for the day.

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Back tomorrow, hopefully feeling a bit fresher Xx

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 18: Creating a Life You Love

Today was a sweet and happy day. I was reminded of how lucky I am to be living this creative life. You need days like this, because some days I feel completely the opposite and question why I left the security of a day job. But not today.

This morning I dropped my car off to have a faulty airbag replaced. It was an excuse to walk to a café and spend a couple of hours with yummy food, coffee and my notebook. I am saving up to buy a laptop so I can do more work from different locations but for today there was something super satisfying about pulling out my notebook and scrawling my ideas the old fashioned way.

 
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Once I started scrawling, I couldn't stop. It's funny how being in a different environment can really get the creative juices flowing. It's a bit like when you go on holidays and you have all that time to dream and plan. I drafted about five blog posts in the same time that I would normally write one post!

It got me thinking about how part of the joy of being an artist is not only being able to create artwork but also being able to create your own life. Choose our own rituals and rhythms. It's taking me a while to figure out how I work best but I'm starting to find my way. I'm using a digital calendar to block out studio time and admin time. And now I'm thinking of adding one morning a week where I work off-site. As much as I love being at home and truly I do, it's definitely good to get out and about. Also, today I wasn't wearing old paint-stained clothes. I've decided it's good for the self esteem to get dressed nicely at least a couple of times a week!

After I picked up my car, I picked up my husband and we went to another café, this time one where I display my work. Together we hung my latest painting, 'Fragile Beauty'. It always gives me a boost to see a painting in a place where it can be enjoyed. It took me quite a while to get good at finishing my paintings. I'd often lose motivation just at the very end and of course things like painting edges and varnishing paintings just aren't as thrilling as starting a new painting! But I've realised that completion feels good too and it's also a way to keep the perfection monster at bay.

 

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With the painting up, it was time to head home and collect my son from kindergarten! It was a day well spent and one that reminded me that it's not really about creating paintings, it's about creating a life that you love.

Back tomorrow and I've got some great blog posts brewing that I can't wait to share Xx

 

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 17: Books, TV & Podcasts

Well it's Sunday evening and I find myself wondering what I could share on the blog today? I've been continuing to focus on keeping my weekends mostly free from art making. So with that in mind, how about I give you a bit of a wrap up of what other things are keeping me entertained at the moment. What books I am reading, podcasts I'm listening to, which Netflix series I have been obsessed with. So here goes:

Books

Over the last two years I have rekindled my love affair with reading. Things got a bit rocky when my kids were babies but now that they are older I am back reading fiction almost everyday. I don't really have the time to curl up with a book for hours at a time. I'm more of a sneak a chapter in here and there type of reader. Because of that, I have really been getting into modern psychological thrillers. The page turning nature of this genre helps me to keep myself hooked on a book even if I am constantly being interrupted! This winter I read the ones below and I have to admit that while Girl on the Train is probably the most well know, it was my least favourite. The other three are all brilliant with better twists and turns in my opinion.

TV Series

Aah Netflix, what did I do without you? Most nights I try and get all my bits and bobs done by 8:30pm and then I reward myself with an episode of whatever Netflix TV show I am watching. I am by no means a binge watcher, occasionally I'll watch two episodes back to back but mostly I just watch one episode per night. So what do I like to watch? Well, I am pretty obsessed with British TV which you will see is well represented in my recent TV playlist below:

It's hard to pick a favourite but when it comes down to the show I really couldn't wait to see the next episode, it would have to be Happy Valley with the incredible actress Sarah Lancashire. I really loved her in Last Tango in Halifax too but Happy Valley wins because it is so utterly gripping. I'm not sure what has happened to me as I never used to watch cop shows and murder mysteries but now I can't get enough. Broadchurch was another one that had me hooked and the scenery is truly breathtaking. I have just started watching The Fall with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. In fact if I wasn't writing this blog post, that's what I'd be watching now. I've only seen two episodes but it's already creeping me out in the best possible way!

Podcasts

My other favourite way to unwind is by listening to a Podcast. Mostly I listen to podcasts when I am walking my dog. I must admit I am pretty new to the podcast world which means I have years of podcasts to catch up on! At this point, I'm only listening to creative podcasts as I am so fascinated with the lives of other artists and I find them super motivating for my own creative business.

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Here are my favourites so far:

The Creative Superheroes Podcast, Andrea Scher

Artists Helping Artists, Leslie Saeta

The Alchemy of Art, Addie Hirschten

Savvy painter, Antrese Wood

The Creativity Habit, Daphne Cohn

Heroine: Women’s Creative Leadership, Confidence, Wisdom, Majo Molfino

Art for Your Ear, The Jealous Curator

Well that's it for today, I hope you've enjoyed my little wrap up of what has been keeping me entertained during the Winter downunder. I'm always on the lookout for new books, TV shows and podcasts so if you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear!

See you tomorrow Xx

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 16: Inspiration from my Home

Yesterday's blog post really sparked something in me. It made me realise that inspiration can be right under your nose. You don't need to be hiking up a mountain or exploring a rugged coastline to be inspired (though I do really love doing those things).

But I also love being at home. And I have decided that I want to paint a series that explores what it is that makes me feel like I am at home. What colours, textures, patterns and imagery do I choose to surround myself with? This is a bit of departure from my nature inspired work but I think in the end there will still be a connection to nature. Time will tell.

To begin with, I want to gather inspiration from all the things that I have brought into my little world.

I kind of wish I could say I live in a 100 year old home full of character and quirky little nooks and crannies. I don't though! I live in a 1980's brick veneer home in a cul-de-sac in a coastal suburb in Adelaide. It's the type of home that would fit right in on the set of the TV show 'Neighbours'.

Inside though, it's my haven. There's the jumbled up feature wall that I love to re-arrange with pieces of art and photographs. The chair in the window where I can see the ocean from (only just, but it's there). And then there's all the little details - candles, vases, plants, mugs, books, baskets, throw rugs and more. I love all these things, they make me feel cosy and happy. Let me take you on a little tour.

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Here I am sitting in my favourite spot in our loungeroom. It gets the most beautiful light and it's where you will often find me drinking a cup so tea and reading or writing. Everyone in the house knows that it's my spot.

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When it comes to coffee table books, here are two of my most treasured. The New Bohemians by Justina Blakeney and Gypsy by Sibella Court. And you know what, I actually have the coffee table that's on the front of The New Bohemians. I bought it before I knew about the book!

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Here are just a few little things that I've collected, mostly from thrift shops. How gorgeous are those candle holders with the geometric patterns! I must get a photo of the cabinet that these are sitting on as it's a stunning vintage cabinet. It's where I store my finished small paintings unless I'm displaying them.

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This little vessel was also a thrift shop find. As was the carved wooden box that it is sitting on. All those beautiful etched in patterns. I can just imagine scraping something similar into wet paint.

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I absolutely love mugs from Anthropologie. I bought this one to drink out of but it's huge and quite heavy, so now I use it to store pencils in. If you watch some of my painting videos on Instagram, you'll often see an Anthropologie mug in the mix.

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Here I am again in my spot. The chair I am sitting on has a turquoise floral pattern on it. It was one of my first home purchases when we moved to Adelaide. I was in a turquoise obsessed phase of life and when I saw this chair on sale in the back of a shop, I had to have it. I've used the shape of the flowers in quite a few of my paintings before!

Well that's it for today. Tomorrow I am going to look at other ways I can gather inspiration for this new series that I am working on.

Until then, I hope you have a good day or night, depending on where you are in the world Xx

 

 

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 15: Re-igniting an Old Flame

Today I wasn't really feeling it. I had a window to do some painting but I was feeling really uninspired. I just didn't know where to start. Much of my recent work has been inky botanical paintings such as this one:

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But today, I was craving something different. I still wanted layers of pattern but I didn't want any recognisable imagery. I also wanted a slightly more muted colour palette. When I look around my home and even my wardrobe, the colours are soft and earthy - sage green, terracotta, linen, ochre, dusty pink, forest green ...

More and more I am wanting to see these colours in my work.

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I started pulling out old paintings and unfinished pieces of work and I came across a series that I was working on last year that I never completed. At the time, it didn't feel quite right, I couldn't find the connection with the series so I abandoned it. Strangely though, today when I looked at it, I felt a deep connection.

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The colours and patterns reminded me of all the ceramics, textiles and baskets that I have filled our home with. It gave me a feeling of comfort, you know that feeling that you get when someone says 'I'll just put the kettle on'. I say that all the time because I am one of those people that believes that tea solves most problems!

The paintings reminded me of simple comforts. It wasn't my original inspiration when I started these pieces but that often happens to me. By allowing myself to just sit with these paintings I started to see new things and in doing so I re-ignited a spark.

I am now envisioning this series being about all the things that bring me comfort. A patchwork blanket, a scented candle, a vase of flowers, a mug of hot tea ...

And there you go from feeling blah to hurrah!!! Now my head is buzzing with thoughts and ideas for this new series or perhaps I should say reinvented old series.

I think though it might be time to put the kettle on. More on the blog tomorrow Xx

 

 

 

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 14: Creating Contrast with Colour

If I had to put into words, the most useful thing that I have learned since I started painting, I would have to say, it is that 'Contrast is Key'.

When I started focusing more on having contrast in my paintings, my paintings improved dramatically.

Without contrast a painting fails to make an impression. Our eyes will often skim right over it if there is nothing to grab out attention. Contrast creates interest, it captivates our eyes. It adds that bit of drama or excitement that makes a painting stand out.

Essentially, contrast is about creating areas within a painting that are different to each other.

There are many ways to add contrast but one of the easiest ways is through your choice of colours.

You can create contrast by using complimentary colours on the colour wheel (i.e. blue and orange, red and green, violet and yellow).

Another option is to vary the hue of colours. Using a highly saturated colour against a more muted colour creates a visual pop. Just think of how great bright colours look up against greys.

And then there is value contrast. Value contrast is the degree of variation in a painting between light and dark.

In the early layers of a painting, creating contrast is one of my primary goals. I often start with high contrast because I know that as the painting progresses I can tone it down.

Recent paintings where I've started with strong contrast. You can see how much the orange is popping against the complimentary dark blue.

Recent paintings where I've started with strong contrast. You can see how much the orange is popping against the complimentary dark blue.

Sketchbook page with contrasting cool and warm colours.

Sketchbook page with contrasting cool and warm colours.

In the following excerpt from a painting video, you can see me adding the second layer to a multi-layered abstract acrylic painting. In this layer, my main focus is on getting some dark and light colours down. I'm also inspired by a sketchbook colour study that includes contrasting cool and warm colours.

Here is the video:

 

As I progressed this painting, I added even more layers and in doing so I introduced other ways to add contrast.  Smooth v. rough tectures, organic v. geometric shapes, opaque v. transparent paint and so on. I'll see if I can find another video that demonstrates this but for today I'll leave you thinking about how your colour choices alone can create contrast.

Back again tomorrow Xx

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 12: Finishing Frenzy

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to throw reason out the window and break all the rules!

Today I went into the studio with a plan. I wanted to finish off a painting that I have been tinkering with for ages. Mentally I prepared myself - 'Come on Laura, just a short session, maybe half an hour to tidy up any loose ends, don't make any major changes, just get the job done.'

Can you guess what happened?

Well the thing is I haven't been painting as much lately. I've been tweaking my website, writing this blog and just getting my head around running a business. So I had this pent up energy and when I let myself loose on the canvas this crazy painting lady showed up. You know the one that paints as if her life depends on it. So after a 3 hour finishing frenzy, I stood back and this was the result!

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When I paint like this, I really don't have much recollection how I got to where I got to. You hear people say it's like someone else is doing the painting and I completely understand what they are saying!

I also feel like I have run a marathon. It's the type of painting that gives your whole body a work-out!

I've called the painting 'Fragile Beauty' as in a spontaneous moment I etched the words 'How fragile life is. Fleeting moments of Beauty. They are Always There'. I think these words have come up for me as there has been so much hardship around the world lately, particularly with all the natural disasters going on. I really hope that for those suffering, there are still moments of beauty that lift them up and remind them of the good in the world.

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Without going into 'crazy lady painting mode' I find it hard to stay loose in the final layer. But if I am painting quickly without overthinking, I can keep the painting feeling fresh and I have the courage to do things that I probably wouldn't do if I stepped back to really think about it. Like adding these flowy white branches. They could have been a bit of a disaster but I love how they turned out against the dark background.

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I guess the lesson in all this is that you can go in with intentions but it is also okay to throw caution to the wind and just allow things to happen in a way that couldn't possibly be planned.

Well I think I am going to put my feet up, grab a cup of tea and relax. I need it after that mega painting sesh! Thanks for popping by Xx

30 Days of Unfurling - Day 11: Translating Ideas to a Canvas

I'm always experimenting with new ways to approach a painting. Often I go in with little plan and just respond to what is happening in each layer. Eventually I start to see something or more importantly feel something and the painting evolves in it's own time.

Recently though, I have been starting my paintings with a few parameters. Making deliberate and conscious choices even in the very early layers. Thinking about colour palette and design elements and narrowing the focus from the outset. This is particularly useful for commissioned paintings where it is important to be able to work with a client's needs.

Today, I took it even a step further and made some inspiration swatches for an image that I knew was an important inclusion for a particular painting - a rainbow. You can see below my experiments on paper. These are just small squares, about 12 cm x 12 cm. I spent about 20 minutes just playing around with ideas for creating a loose textured rainbow.

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These mini-paintings are really helpful for taking the next step of translating the idea to the big canvas. Below you can see the beginnings of this rainbow on the canvas, there are more layers and textures to be built up and it will eventually be blended in more with the rest of the painting but it's a starting point and I'll play with it for a bit to see if it sticks, or if not, I'll cover it up and try again!

In a previous studio session I created other inspiration swatches with colours and details that I often use in my work. Below you can see me holding up a swatch that reminds me of a starry night. I am thinking about how maybe I could add something similar into this painting. It's helping me to visualise and translate ideas.

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I find it helpful in the studio to have things to draw on, it's not often the case that I can stand in-front of a blank canvas and a whole painting will just flow out effortlessly. It happens once in a blue moon like that but if I am honest it's not the norm for me, especially when it comes to my larger paintings. My process involves a lot of painting then pondering. When I am pondering I will often flick through sketchbooks or look back at other paintings I have completed to gather ideas. I'm not a super fast painter and I am okay with that. I enjoy the contemplative moments just as much as the energetic bursts.

Even if I don't use the little mini paintings, they are so fun to create. A really great warm-up exercise. I have a short video here where you can see me creating a little rainbow. Doesn't that just make you want to smoosh some paint around, it certainly makes me excited to head back into the studio tomorrow Xx