Non, je ne regrette rien

happy with undercoat beginning…

This morning I photographed my first layer of a big drawing (380 x 505 mm) after a week of laying on the under-colour in Sennelier oil pastels.

A couple of hours later…  Uh oh – I’m not feeling the love.

Scuttled.

And…that’s it.  No regrets.

A few hours later:  In hindsight, every work which is labour intensive needs to be believed in.  It is a huge effort but it will be worth it.  In this case, I didn’t have quite enough belief (or enthusiasm) in the piece for all the effort I knew I was going to have to put into it.  That’s probably the primary reason I let it go.

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Wait

“Wait”
pastels and pencils
240 x 255 mm. May 2018

Have you ever waited at traffic signals after dark and observed how surrounding colours change depending on whether the signal is red or green?  In “Wait” the colours of île de la Cité are also made bright by a boat’s high beam illuminating the arches under Pont d’Arcole.  (We can’t see the boat but we know it is there.)

Here is a deep dark “Walk” (partner of “Wait”).  Notice how light from the signal casts a different glow on the sky in each of the two drawings.

A much lower key “Walk” than “Wait” as the green walking man gives off lower light than the red standing man.

In recent posts I have been showing the oil pastel under-painting (before coloured pencil is layered on top).  In  comparing the under-painting stages of these two drawings (drawn several months apart) I see that this primary stage is now richer and more consolidated than it was in mid 2017.   It is fascinating to chart the evolution of a new idea.

oil pastel undercoat of “Wait” (May 2018)

oil pastel undercoat of “Walk” (August 2017)

Next time you are sitting in your car waiting for the lights to change, or standing at a pedestrian crossing after dark, observe the colours as the lights go through their paces.   (Trust me, it is more entertaining than merely being impatient.)

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The Liberation of Art

“The Liberation of Art”
oil pastels and coloured pencils – 290 x 420 mm. April 2018

One of my favourite Paris spots is in Saint Germain des Près where rue de Seine forks one way and rue de l’Échaudé forks the other.  I returned there on my last trip and was delighted to find a blue neon sign in the window of Galerie Lumas saying “The Liberation of Art”.   What a subject!  All I had to do was decide on my composition and wait for passers-by.

Soon enough I had my people (and dog).  They’d do very well!

On the left of the composition is a corner of Galerie L. de Puybaudet and on the right, Galerie Lumas – 42 and 40 rue de Seine respectively.

What IS the liberation of art?  Perhaps the couple are discussing this very question as they stroll on a peaceful October morning past the galleries.

The undercoat of the drawing in Sennelier oil pastels, before coloured pencils were applied.

Past drawings of rue de Seine and rue de ‘Échaudé in coloured pencils –

“Paris en hiver” 2011

“Matin” 2011

“Quiet” 2013

“Rue de l’Échaudé” 2014

“de bonne heure” 2012

“Rhapsody in Blue” 2014

 

 

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Bay Watch

On the South Island coast I’m on the alert for local fauna.  My first sighting is a sea lion flinging an octopus about in Blueskin Bay.  That dark shape in the water is the sea lion’s head, octopus dangling from mouth.  (If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can make it out.)

Next morning I see the sea lion again.  This time breakfast is flounder (so I’m told).

…down the hatch it goes…

On the Otago coastline between Oamaru and Dunedin is an outcrop of rocks called Shag Point.  There, all year round, you can see a colony of New Zealand fur seals.  On this day it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale.  I can’t step out of the car without getting soaked so I take these photos from my car window.

At the turn off to Shag Point is a cottage.  Wow!  What an outlook.  Location Location!!

The next day we return to Shag Point as the rain has stopped.  I take a five minute walk from the car park and look down over the cliff.  Can you make out the seals on the rocks?  (It can be hard to tell a seal from a rock.)

This must be the nursery.

…and this is surely Father.  “Wake Up Father“.

After a few days in Otago we find ourselves back in Canterbury.  We stay in this heavenly homestead near Little River (not far from Christchurch).  The house was built in 1900.  We feel we are in a Katherine Mansfield short story.

I am always drawn back to Birdlings Flat, a beach entirely made up of stones.  A group of South Island pied oystercatchers make their way along the beach.

A black-backed gull ruffles his feathers.

Red-billed gulls rest and think about what to do next.  (My aim is to photograph without disturbing the birds, which I succeed in doing.)

The surf continuously pounds this southern-facing coastline.  I lie in the stones and watch the white-fronted terns as they preen themselves…

…call to one another…

…fly in…

…and fly out.

In the lagoon behind the beach a solitary white heron sounds an alarm.  Is it me he is worried about?  There is quite a body of water between us.

But still he flies away.  (Perhaps he always meant to fly away and it is nothing to do with me.  I hope so.)

Driving over the hills of Banks Peninsula we encounter a flock of sheep.  The farmer looks like Jed Clampett.

The view from the top of the hill is outstanding.  That must be Akaroa on the far side.

I suggest to Matthew he might like to check out some Barry’s Bay cheese.  While he is sampling the famous cheeses I hop across the road to photograph the birds.

A paradise shelduck forages during low tide.

On a small island in the bay birds not of a feather stick together.

Toi toi.

A pukeko takes me and my camera in her stride.

…and the next day we fly back to Australia.

 

 

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Night Moves

“Night Moves”
oil pastels and coloured pencils. 240 x 350 mm.
April 2018

“We weren’t in love oh no far from it” (Bob Seger sings in “Night Moves“).   Nor am I in love with Moulin Rouge  but I certainly am captivated by her lit-up sails and their effect on Place Blanche.  “I used her, she used me but neither one cared/we were getting our share“.  She gives me art, I give her publicity (not that she needs any from me)!!

“Night Moves” is a partner to “Irresistible Blanche”.  They are the same size and will hang side by side when exhibited in September.

For those of you interested in my technique using oil pastels as undercoat to coloured pencils, below is the drawing when the oil pastel/undercoat stage was completed.  At this point I was ready to begin layering coloured pencils on top.  You can read about this technique in my post Brush and Pencil or in the April 2018 issue of Ann Kullberg’s Color –  https://annkullberg.com/collections/color-magazine-all-issues

You could say the cake was the oil pastel and the icing the coloured pencils.  Cake + icing = delicious!

 

 

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A box of birds

“A box of birds” means happiness.

One morning two weeks ago my sister-in-law Clare, Matthew and I sit outside at Blueskin Nurseries Café in Waitati.  Clare suggests taking us to Orokonui Ecosanctuary just up the hill as we all love birds.  The sparrows watching us think this is a good idea.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary is an ecological island wildlife reserve developed by the Otago Natural History Trust in the Orokonui Valley, 20 km north of Dunedin.  The 307 ha nature reserve was surrounded by a predator fence in 2007.  The forest is being restored to its former glory by keeping pests out, revegetating and bringing back species that were locally extinct. 

The first birds we see are takahe.  These flightless birds were for a long time thought to be extinct.  What a joy to see a species of bird for the first time ever.  Here is the chick!

The following three photos show one of the parents feeding this chick.  Look how they use their legs, scooping up grass.

New Zealand forests are too often eerily quiet as populations of songbirds have been decimated by introduced predators over the decades.  But the forest at Orokonui is an absolute symphony of song.  No words of mine can describe what it is like to hear this orchestra of birdsong.   Here are some of the musicians.   First – the tui whose loud song is interspersed with clicks and rattles…

The melodious bellbird or korimako…who is belting out a tune while I photograph.

I have written a post about a New Zealand parrot called the kea, but here is a parrot I had never seen before called the kaka.  These gregarious birds are extremely entertaining to watch as they get up to their various antics.  I want to capture the red under-carriage during flight but they are too fast for me.

The brave little robin likes to come very close to us because she is after the insects we disturb as we walk along.

A bird who evades my camera most of the time because he is so quick is the fantail.  This bird flits and teases as he pursues flying insects.  Only when he ever-so-briefly perches do I have any hope of a photo.

How I love the tomtit – a tiny bird with enormous presence.

Even when we can’t see any birds at any particular moment, we can always listen to their music.

…and enjoy the scenery…

When our excursion is over we descend back down the hill to Waitati.

A pony walks over to be patted.

A spoonbill flies across Blueskin Bay.

The day is a box of birds.

Happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

It doesn’t matter what the weather turns on in New Zealand.   Blue sky and sunshine can be delightful but clouds add drama to a landscape.  My first post of photos from a two week trip in March celebrates the beauty of autumnal weather in Aotearoa – The land of the long white cloud.

High on the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch with Matthew – husband and travel companion.

From Christchurch we travel to Waitati, near Dunedin.  Here is Blueskin Bay.

Blueskin Bay patterns – land, water and sky.

Matthew and our sister-in-law, Clare, walk ahead of me.  Huge tides mean that later, all this expanse of sand will be covered with water.

Residents of Blueskin Bay in a haze of morning mist and sea spray.

The weather closes in as we explore the Otago coast.

A southerly cold-front blasts the South Island and temperatures plummet.

Next day, on the trip from coast to mountains, I take this photo out of the car window as we drive in the rain.

Pine Cottage, our accommodation at Lake Pukaki (near Mt Cook). Matthew would like it to be known that it is 4 degrees C.

Sheep, snow and clouds on the high country sheep station where we stay.

The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo.

Matthew in his soul place; Mackenzie Country.  The clouds part a little for Aoraki Mount Cook.

Matthew on the braided river-bed where icy water flows from glacial melt of Tasman Glacier.

The milky-coloured water contains ‘flour’ – particles of rock ground down by glacial action.  Above, the clouds seem to be a boiling mass.

A rainbow over the Rakaia River at Coleridge.

Just us at Lake Coleridge.

Into the eye of the sun, Lake Coleridge.

“That’s a bright flag”, says Matthew as he drives. Simultaneously I am photographing the scene from the passenger seat.

“A drive to the end of somewhere”, is Matthew’s description of our wanderings.

Mountains framed by clouds – revealing, concealing.

A cloud’s attraction to a mountain…one so ethereal, the other so solid.  Opposites attract.

“Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air / and feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way…”  Joni Mitchell

The weather wasn’t totally inclement.  There was sun – and there were birds (OH! THE BIRDS!!).  So more photographic essays will follow shortly.

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