Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 - looking back on my year

   Coolum Beach Panorama - oil on canvas 610 mm x 1210 mm

A few years ago, I compiled a list for the year summarising my activities for the year. I decided to do one for 2016. (The highlighted text indicates a link to the relevant blog post.)

- Exhibitions: Rotary Art Spectacular 2016; Lethbridge 10,000Botanique 

- I've written 52 Blog posts here on Art Matters - and kept to my plan of posting an average of one per week.

-Recreating Family memories – I painted images from a family album as a  Christmas gift. 

-Red Bubble – my online shop was set up showcasing several products with  images of my work.

-Etsy – new paintings were added throughout the year

-Website makeover – predictably this was a time sink, although it was worthwhile in the  end.

-Experimentation with process videos – ongoing – there's lots to learn...

-Portraits – continued exploration – my Portrait of Dan won a prize at Nundah  Art Exhibition – and experiments with a new surface – Ampersand Claybord 

-Tasmania – a wonderful short, inspiring holiday

-Illustration commission to re-create old photographs for the Highlands House  commemorative booklet.

-Plein air sketching throughout the year – not as often as I would have liked, perhaps something to plan for in 2017.

May your new year be filled with happiness and an abundance of creativity.

Thursday, 22 December 2016


The world is in upheaval. Violence and terror surround us, and peace is very far away.

My wish for you at Christmas, whether you celebrate the holiday or not, is that you are able to carve out a small time to be peaceful and to spend some time with those dear to you.

Please be kind to one another. 


Monday, 5 December 2016

Gifted - an Exhibition at Makers Gallery

Summer in Australia has well and truly arrived, bringing searing temperatures and violent tropical storms. These usually hit in the late afternoon, when black clouds gather and the strong winds begin to blow. 

When I left home on Saturday afternoon to see an exhibition of ceramics at the Makers Gallery, I could see the storm clouds building but I decided to go anyway. 

I was so pleased I did – it is an inspiring collection of work by many artists, one of whom is my friend Martha Zettler. I was too busy chatting and enjoying the artwork to take any photos. 

Here is one of Martha’s pieces which I am lucky enough to own.

Porcelain Vessel - Martha Zettler 
If you're in the Brisbane area the show is well worth a visit and you might even be able to cross some items off your Christmas gift list. The Gallery is open daily until Christmas Eve. 

Here's a link to Makers Gallery Facebook page where you will find details about the exhibition.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Visiting my Paintings

I've written about my paintings being hung in different places, one of which is in the house of a friend. The house is up for sale - the agent is another friend, Mary Di Marco from Madeleine Hicks Real Estate. 

I had seen photos on the agency website but I was eager to see the paintings in situ. I called around on Monday. What a beautiful home! It's light and airy and the rooms are spacious, with amazingly shiny floors which help reflect the light.

I love seeing my work on the walls of people's homes, it's where a painting belongs. These paintings look as though they were painted for the house - the colours couldn't have been better chosen. 

If you're in the Brisbane area and you're looking for a wonderful house in the lovely suburb of Upper Kedron, perhaps this is the house for you? 

Here are some of my photos - and, I confess, the focus is primarily on the paintings...

Still - oil on linen

Magnolias - oil on canvas

Strata - oil on canvas

Bark II - oil on canvas

Red Roses I & II - oil on canvas

 Orchids in a Bucket - oil on canvas

The Cliff - oil on canvas 

Monday, 21 November 2016

New things and old problems

I love technology as much as the next person but sometimes it can make you a little crazy - particularly when you try to fix a problem and a raft of new and different ones appear along the way. It's a bit like a game of dominos - upset one and the whole lot comes crashing down.

My old laptop had given me six year's worth of trouble free service, but as software develops and changes, the old machine just couldn't cope. My computer guy, clever as he is, made it a bit better, and slightly faster, but in the end when I downloaded new design software the laptop refused to play. 

All went well until I tried to install the printer driver - somehow a glitch occurred and I could not shut the machine down. Eventually, I managed to reboot successfully and install the updated driver.

Then I get a message - printer not found. Sigh.
Well, please don't laugh, but somehow the cable had become detached. Once reconnected, everything worked perfectly.
However, something else was beeping intermittently. I couldn't hear where it was coming from, everything seemed connected. Then I noticed the phone plug was loose.
Plugged in the plug.
Beeping stopped.

Just in case you think I'm not painting - here's a small crop of a landscape in progress...

Cullum Panorama cropped - oil on canvas 

Friday, 4 November 2016

Friends helping friends

It's a great feeling when friends show their support for you in tangible ways. Mary Di Marco is one of those. She's a very accomplished Real a estate agent who knows that people are at the heart of her business. However Mary's way of helping people is not confined to the process of selling houses. She's always looking out for other ways to promote others.

The compulsion to paint paintings often results in a glut, and unfortunately there are always more than you can display or hang in ones own home. Mary has alleviated this situation in a couple of ways recently.

The first occasion is a large modern home in her portfolio of properties for sale. This house needed a few more paintings to add a little colour. I was happy to oblige with some of mine that were available. 
Here's the link to the house so you can see where my paintings are displayed.

 Still - oil on canvas 1200mm x 915mm

Thanks to Mary's networking skills, the second place where I have some paintings on display is in the office of the State Member for Everton, Mr Tim Mander. Three of my paintings are now brightening up the walls of his office. I like to think of this as a public service to the community- making people happy and bringing them joy as they go about their day.
Deep Ripple -oil on canvas 615mm x 615mm

Bunya Riverside - oil on canvas 1015mm x 1015mm

Sinister Pool - oil on canvas - 3 x 910mm x 610mm 

Tim Mander MP and I with Bunya Riverside.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Planning for 2017

As the days fly by we start thinking about planning for the New Year. With this in mind I have designed some calendars for 2017. There are two calendars, one for your desk and the other a wall calendar. The wall calendar has generously sized squares for making a note of important dates. Both designs feature either a collection of my favourite watercolour paintings and the second has a collection of my landscapes in oils. 

I ordered some of each to see how they would look. The parcel arrived today and I'm very happy with how they turned out, and the colour resolution is good.

If you would like one (and these would make lovely gifts) please let me know in the comments. 
The cost of postage for International orders will depend on your location. 

I have also designed a new calendar for my Red Bubble page. These can be ordered online directly from the website.

Desk Calendar with watercolour paintings

                                                            Calendars for 2017

Desk Calendar - watercolours 

Desk calendar - landscapes in oils

Wall calendar - landscapes in oils

Wall calendar - watercolours 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Home away from Home

For the last few weeks I have been house sitting, looking after a cat (a special cat, a dog (a lovable Boxer who thinks he's a lap dog) and the house too, of course. On Friday I moved back home and it's as though I've been on a long relaxing holiday, even though I've been commuting back to my studio to teach.

The large block next door to my home is in the process of being developed. A number of town houses are to be built. In the process, I am devastated to say, many trees have been felled. The mornings are so much quieter now with the many birds having fled. Fortunately, my garden has grown well in the years that I have been here and with a few new additions, I should be able to screen my new neighbours effectively.

                                                       Proteas - oil on canvas 

I've now been in Australia for almost six years. Today, Monday the 24th October, I will take the final step in my relocation which began in February 2009 when I applied for a visa to move to Australia. I will be taking the pledge to become an Australian citizen.

I will be keeping my South African citizenship as well since both countries allow dual citizenship. My roots and my heart will always remain in the country of my birth. It's been hard to be so far from family and friends, however this has been made easier by the many ways of keeping in touch that we have today. I am so fortunate that I have been made so welcome here in Australia. 

So I truly am, as the title says 'Home away from home' 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Aleksandar's portrait

If you're a regular reader you will know that I have been painting and drawing portraits using the Sktchy app for some time. It's quite addictive and the community of artists is encouraging and supportive. And it's really inspiring because there is so much excellent work so there's always a new technique to learn. 

Recently a sale button has been added where artists were able to make their work for sale. I was invited to add some of my work there as well. And then, yesterday, I opened up the app and discovered that my portrait of Aleksander Prokic had a 'Sold' button. 

Aleksander Prokic - ink 8.25" x 10"

The portrait is in ink - for #Inktober* on 170gsm  Hahnemule paper. I used my Platinum Carbon pen which has the finest nib - essential to create the fine lines for that impressive beard. 

#Inktober* is a drawing initiative started by Jake Parker. 

This is what he says on his website:

"Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.
I created InkTober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and         develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year."

Please note: The paper is more off-white/cream rather than this slightly pink shade...

Friday, 7 October 2016

Botanique Bazaar

Botanique Bazaar will open tomorrow 8th October at 10.00 am in the Richard Randall Studio, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane. The exhibition will run for a week, closing Saturday 15th October at 1.00pm. 
I will be there on Monday afternoon from 12.00pm until 3.00pm if you'd like to visit while I am there.

I have a selection of small watercolours, a small oil and some little fridge magnets - Mushrooms and garlic painted in oils.

In addition there will be a selection of cards printed with images of my paintings that have a botanical theme

Garlic - watercolour on paper

Portobello Mushrooms - watercolour on paper

Garlic II - watercolour on paper 

Lavender - watercolour on paper

Artichoke - watercolour on paper

Poppies in a Blue Vase - watercolour on paper

Sweet Peas - watercolour on paper

FRIDGE MAGNETS - oil on canvas board

And of course you will notice that I completely forgot to take any photographs before the paintings were framed....

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Working with False Starts

In my previous post I talked about taking Roz Stendhal's online course By Design. 
Even though I've been trying to be very conscious of the layout of a page, sometimes you just rush in without much thought.

This was the case on Monday when I was meeting a friend for coffee. The cafè had a lovely outdoor garden with colourful umbrellas. I started drawing, in ink, and after a few lines realised that the drawing was just not going to work. With a sigh, I turned the page and started to capture the Cafe's signage - better but not great.

Now I really hate to waste a page and moreover the scratchy lines in my sketchbook would make me want to rip out the page - also something I never do.
So it was gouache to the rescue. Once this paint layer was dry, I drew a portrait using a Sktchy reference in ink - page saved. 

Sebastian Grzywa - Gouache and ink in Canson Ebony sketchbook 

Now I really hate to waste a page and moreover the scratchy lines in my sketchbook would make me want to rip out the page - also something I never do. 
So it was gouache to the rescue. Once this paint layer was dry I drew a portrait using a reference from the Sktchy app in ink - page saved.

Story Bridge form Mowbray Park - Sumi Ink in Canson Ebony Sketchbook

Riverside Tree - Sumi ink in Canson Ebony Sketchbook 

Sketching with Friends

Last weekend I joined the Brisbane Painting and Drawing Meetup at Mowbray Park for some sketching. We had a lovely relaxing time next to the river with views across the river to the Story Bridge and city.

Sumi Ink drawing

I tried Sumi ink for the first time and drew with a wooden skewer - it was fun to be totally out of control of the drawing tool - and there were some unexpected, rather pleasant results.

Spoon Deli Cafe 

We went across the road for some lunch, and as I arrived before the others sat down inside and started to draw the interior. The group vote was rather to sit outside so once again I had an abandoned drawing. While waiting for lunch I added some of the interior shelving but then got chatting and that was much more interesting! 

Later while going through my sketchbook I wondered what to do about the page - the ink drawing of the pendant lights and shelving looked sad. I Googled the Cafè and found a photo of their logo. I was able to add this and a quote from the blackboard to the page - another save. 

Spoon Deli Cafè - watercolour and ink in The Perfect Sketchbook

Friday, 23 September 2016

By Design - creating the intentional page

When I plan a painting I am always very conscious of the composition. Design is at the forefront. In my sketchbooks I have tended to be more haphazard. I dive into the sketch often without much planning. That's changing rapidly. I signed up for Roz Stendhal's online course By Design - creating the intentional page. Any of you who have taken a class with Riz will know that she is a gifted teacher. The course covers everything you need to learn about designing and working with books.

Questions & Answers
If any of you have taken a course with Roz you will know that you will always get more than you anticipate. Her approach is so comprehensive. Her answers go beyond the superficial and force you to look further, explore all options making you think of every small detail.

I am learning so much from looking at other artist's posts; from their commentary about their intentions for the page; for the comments of other artists and of course comments and suggestions from Roz herself. 

When I visited Tasmania in July I began to keep a combination sketchbook/journal because I wanted to document my time in both words and sketches. I'm continuing this process now and I'm trying to put the course information into practice.

Sketchbook Pages

New Lavender in my garden - ink and watercolour in Canson Ebony sketchbook 16.5" x 6"

Lady Godiva - Ink and watercolour in The Perfect Sketchbook 14" x 10"

Remembering 9/11 -  Canson Ebony sketchbook 8" x 6"

The Gunshop Cafe`-  ink and watercolour in Canson Ebony sketchbook 16.5" x 6"

Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Prize for Portraiture

Last night at the Nundah Village Art Show my portrait of Daniel received Second Prize in the Portraiture category. I had a giggle when I saw the painting displayed since the sash for the prize is almost larger than the portrait!

Portrait of a Boy - watercolour on Ampersand Claybord 250mm x 250mm 

In a recent post I discuss working on this portrait - you can read it here.

More about the process of commissioning a portrait is on the Commissioned Portraits page

Friday, 9 September 2016

Nundah Village Art Show

Nundah Village Art Show

I will have four paintings on show this weekend at the Nundah Village Art Show. The art can be viewed on Saturday and Sunday at the Northside Honda Workshop, Wood Street Nundah.

The workshop is transformed into a Gallery space for the weekend. The Norris Motor Group are the sponsors for the generous prizes offered in the different categories of art work.

The Soirée is an excellent opportunity to view a wide diversity of art, meet the artists and perhaps purchase a special piece. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

TBT - a favourite painting

Today I thought I would dip into the archives. This is still a favourite painting of mine - I have it hanging in my bedroom. The format fits perfectly above the headboard. 

Pink Roses with Mirrors - oil on canvas 510mm x 1020mm

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Portraits on a new surface

I had read about Ampersand artists boards and seen many examples of artwork done on the different surfaces. I was impressed with how good they seemed to be. Recently when I saw that  my local art shop Art Shed Brisbane, had started stocking Ampersand artists boards, I was eager to experiment.


I was given a couple of sample sizes and bought some of the Aquabord and Claybord. I was particularly keen to try watercolour on the Claybord since I am fascinated by Ali Cavanaugh's amazing portraits. 

Well, it's easier said than done. The clay surface is as smooth as silk. It adds a wonderful translucency to the layer of paint. It's forgiving because offending brushstrokes can be wiped off leaving the surface clean. However, if you're hasty, everything you've painted will come off too. Adding a too-wet brush to an already painted area will lift off all that's below! I know that I have a very long way to go to achieve a result that I will satisfy me.

Here are a couple of portraits on Claybord:


Portrait of Daniel - watercolour on Ampersand Claybord 250mm x 250mm 

Portrait of Tamara Lara from Sktchy - watercolour on Ampersand Claybord 175mm x 125mm

I've used a couple of timber panels lately. The rigid surface is quite different to the bounce and spring of stretched canvas. The lack of woven texture is also very different. A firm support is ideal for working in impasto since there's less chance of the the thick paint layer cracking. This can easily happen on flexible canvas.

Next on my experimentation list is using oils on Claybord as I think that the results on the smooth surface will be interesting.

The Aquabord has more tooth and texture, more suitable for watercolour, for which of course it has been designed. I need work with it more so that I investigate the properties of the surface properly. And really, at the end of the day, am I making life difficult for myself ? I should just stick to watercolour paper for watercolour!

And here's the framed portrait - from Bizarre Frames in Newmarket, Brisbane. The lovely people there are always happy to help with my odd requests. As usual, I forgot to photograph the painting in the frame minus the glass so there are a coupe of strange highlights. I managed not to include a reflection of myself, though!


Sunday, 14 August 2016

River Reflections

Some days you know that if you don't pick up a brush and smoosh some oils around you're going to go crazy. This was me two weeks ago. The new canvas I had in stock was too big - over the maximum size for a show - and much as I love visiting the Art shop I really wanted to paint and couldn't bear to spend time in the car going to buy another. Pity there isn't an app for immediate canvas delivery like one does with pizza! 

I hunted in my painting storage room and found a canvas that I had painted as part of a colour workshop aeons ago. It was the right format and size and I loved the colours. A little recycling was the plan. After dusting off the surface I gave the canvas a rubbing down with painting medium to make the surface receptive to the new paint. 

No drawing, just paint directly on to the canvas. After painting for a short while I decided to set up my iPhone so I could use Hyperlapse to record the process. In between I photographed the painting. Looking at the work on my screens helps to see if the painting is going in the right direction. Here is the video of the process. When I returned to the work after a break, I completely forgot to set up the camera so the last part hasn't been filmed.

It was good to get back to working in oils and with colour too. I love my job. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen some snippets of this work in progress. I've also added some crops which show, (sort of) the whole painting if you go over to my page. I rather enjoy seeing small crops of a painting - the abstractness of the detail is appealing. 

River Reflections - oil on canvas 600mm x 760mm

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Red Bubble - some lovely products

Red Bubble is a great site for artists wanting to use their images in a broader context. Images of your art can enhance a variety of products from mobile phone cases to throw cushions, greeting cards, cups and spiral notebooks. New designs are added frequently with many styles of clothing also on offer. 

I thought I would include a couple of screenshots so you can see some of the items on offer. I've used many of my paintings as designs for these.

Before promoting the products, I purchased some of the range to check the quality. My iPhone case has proved to be durable and looks good. The cards, in various sizes, come with an envelope. The more you buy, the bigger the discount. I also bought a throw pillow with the artichoke design and am so pleased with the quality of both printing and fabric.

Please note: the prices shown are in AUD$ and do not include postage. 
If you sign up for the newsletter you will receive a discount on your order. often certain products are promoted with extra discount offered.

The unique and colourful iPhone Cases & Skins on Redbubble have custom cuts and independent designs for these phones iPhone SE, 6S/6, 6S/6 Plus, 5S/5, 5C or 4S/4.

In addition there are designs for Samsung Galaxy phones.

I ordered the design shown first which is from the painting Nymphaea. My iPhone case has proved to be durable, minimal scratches on the case and moreover looks very good.

Throw Cushion covers - please note that the cushion can be ordered separately.