Early Nancy – First of the Spring flowers

Early Nancy  Coloured pencil and ink

Early Nancy Coloured pencil and ink

The weather has been beautiful for the last few days and I have been out enjoying it as much as possible.  Loads of wild flowers blooming and I have been working in the garden getting more garden beds ready for the spring growth.

Here is my latest flower portrait, I have decided to call them portraits as it is how I tend to draw and think of my flowers.  I like to show these little flowers with all their beauty and charm.  They are not botanically correct, though I do try for a reasonable amount of accuracy.  They are portraits with an emphasis on what makes them amazing to me.  With this Early Nancy it is the shape and ‘twiningness’ of their leaves and the vibrancy of the little circlet of purple on every petal that I like.

I have made a few in progress shots of the steps I take to share with you.

Pencil and initial ink outline Early Nancy

Pencil and initial ink outline Early Nancy

First I do an initial pencil sketch and then I will trace it and transfer it to the good paper, which in this case is Somerset rough press in a beige/sand colour about 300gsm. I like the toned paper as it makes the white petals pop.

Early Nancy - Ink layer

Early Nancy – Ink layer

Next I use my sennelier inks to block in the colours.  Having the ink underneath really makes the pencils glow.  I used to use acrylic, but the transparency of the inks make a difference and the paper still manages to glow through both the ink and the pencil.  The ink also makes it quicker with the pencils, as I don’t like any of the white showing through of the paper and it covers much quicker.

Early Nancy - Coloured Pencil and Ink

Early Nancy – Coloured Pencil and Ink

Finally the coloured pencil layer and once all that is finished I will go over with black ink to redo the outline.  After much trial and error and more dead fine-liner pens then I care to mention, I use a dip pen for this outline.  The wax in the pencils will clog a pen very quickly and that is the end of it.  I use a wider nib in my dip pen so I can get a range of widths in my lines which create more movement or interest in the drawing.

Rosie is growing so fast, almost daily I can notice changes.  She is three months now so no longer a little puppy.  She is learning fast and has settled into our family so well.  She is so gentle with Mum, who is getting very frail now, they just love each other as you can see.

Rosie curled up in her bed

Rosie curled up in her bed

Rosie and Hannah

Rosie and Hannah

Grandma and Rosie, best of friends

Grandma and Rosie, best of friends

I will leave you with some more photos of the wildflowers that I have taken in the last few days.  Karen

Early Nancy 'Wurmbea dioica'

Early Nancy ‘Wurmbea dioica’

Happy Wanderer 'Hardenbergia violacea'

Happy Wanderer ‘Hardenbergia violacea’

Greenhood Orchid

Greenhood Orchid

Buttercup 'Rununculus lappaceus'

Buttercup ‘Rununculus lappaceus’

The Start of Spring Flowers

Chocolate Lily Coloured Pencils and Ink

Winter is still with us and it has been a very wet and cold one this year, I can’t wait for it to warm up and to have some sun again.  You know that spring is just around the corner though as the first spring wild flowers are starting to appear.  I love this time of year and my walks in the bush are so exciting as I scan the ground trying to find the first of the orchids to bloom.

It should be a good year for the wild flowers as there has been plenty of rain. For the first time I have spotted a Greenhood orchid, so hard to spot in fact, that when I went back to take another photo, I couldn’t find it again even though it was right beside the path.  There are lots of Scented Sundew flowers this year, they are such a big flower for a tiny, little plant.

Green Greenhood Orchid

Scented Sundew flower

 

It has been a long time since I have done a big, coloured pencil, flower drawing and it was lots of fun to do one again.  In celebration and in anticipation of this years wild flower season, I have drawn one of last years Chocolate Lilies.    I am going to do a series of the local wild flowers, so there will be more to come.

The new puppy is settling in very well and Hannah has decided she really is alright and they play together most of the day.  Hannah is going to be a lot fitter than she was, as well as happier to have a little mate. Though it will only be a couple more weeks until she is bigger than Hannah.

Rosie and Hannah watching me to see if I am going to come out and play with them.

Rosie and Hannah watching me to see if I am going to come out and play with them.

 

We have  some more household members and are proud owners of four chickens.  We decided on some good old fashioned names for our girls, Madge, Mabel, Violet and Dot. Can’t tell them apart yet but I am sure we will get to know them better soon.  I haven’t got a good photo of them yet, but I will be drawing them as well.

Karen

Meet Rosie our New Puppy

Rosie amongst the pot plants. Water colour and ink


We have a new addition to our family, a little, red, border collie named Rosie.  She is a little bundle of joy and trouble and has stolen all our hearts.  Well perhaps not our older dog Hannah, but they are getting along ok and will be good friends in time.        
My neice’s dog came to visit and he was so wonderfully gentle with her, for such a boisterous boy.  She is only nine weeks old, but is able to hold her own with the older dogs.

I have been busy with the garden and working on the house, so haven’t been doing as much art as I had hoped, but as we settle into our new routines I hope to be doing more.  

Here are some puppy photos for you to enjoy.

Karen

Hannah and Rosie


Rosie playing peek-a-boo from under the coach

Playing with Max when he came for a visit

Late Autumn Sun

Winter sun, Ink and water colour journal page

Late Autumn sun, Ink and water colour journal page

The sun streams into my cottage at this time of year and it is just wonderful to sit on the coach in the sun and look out onto my new garden.  I tried to catch the look of the sunshine through the french doors as it filtered through the dark, red, grape-vine leaves.  As I sit and look at this picture again I am torn, it is close to the feeling I wanted, but not yet there.  I have fiddled with it a bit, but will have to walk away now as more will ruin what I have gained so far.

Late autumn sunshine photo reference

Late autumn sunshine photo reference

Here is the photo I used as the reference, although I did crop the image for the drawing.  Even posting this I can see the issues, will I ever get my darks and lights bold enough?  I have spent ages working on colour and I am happy with that, but struggle now with the contrast.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Here is a WIP photo of when I had just started adding colour, part of me thinks I should have stopped there.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Here is another as I struggle with the balance of the drawing, I was not happy with the doors and went back and darkened the background to make the rest pop.

Well it is always great to challenge ourselves and I will give this another try with different sketch later. Always another day, another page in the journal and more winter sun.

Rosella in the rose hedge

Rosella in the rose hedge

Here is a picture of a Rosella just outside the window to cheer us all up, as it is a cold, wet, windy day here today, even the bird is all fluffed up.

Karen

Settling In

Bounty in a mid- century kitchen  Water colour and ink

Bounty in a mid- century kitchen Water colour and ink

It is Sunday night and for the first time (in more time then I care to remember), I am tired after spending time in the garden doing physical activity.  Nothing beats the feeling of putting your feet up at the end of the day after you have really achieved something.

I have been working on three gardens this weekend.  One garden has the straw bales seasoned and it has just been sown with beautiful flower seeds.  I did start planting them out in a careful pattern, but sowing seed is harder then it looks as some where so tiny, so as usual the great plan was thrown over to a more adhoc system.  Another garden has had the straw bales laid out and it will be planted with peas and beans, its seasoning process has begun.  The other garden has been planned and the plants ordered, it will be a 17 metre long rose garden, under-planted with lavender and catmint.   We have chosen mostly old fashioned scented roses going from a deep red, through the pinks to white.  You have no idea how much fun it is to order 19 roses at once.

The double page spread

The double page spread

During the week I stayed at a friend’s house, she is an amazing cook and adores all things mid-century.  I bought her some local produce and she displayed them in her new Lucie Kaas bowls.  This is her picture, but I loved the composition so much I had to draw it.  It shows three things close to her heart, great produce, great design and her kitchen.  What’s not to love.

Karen

A New Start

View From my door May 2016 Pen and water colour pencil

View From my door May 2016 Pen and water colour pencil

The move has occurred and I have begun to settle in and even found enough time from the unpacking to do a quick sketch.  It is so good to be back in Castlemaine full-time, (will almost I still go to Melbourne two days a week for work) and I can finally get to play in my garden.  Lots to do and lots to plan.  Next to my art, creating gardens is my favourite thing and at the rate I move around, creating gardens is what I end up doing, rather than watching them age and mature.

This is the view out of my front door, of the old pepper-corn tree with the bird feeder and elk-horn plant.  The crimson rosellas are frequenting the feeder again as I am able to keep it topped up for them.  It is so lovely to have their flashes of colour in the garden.  There are also blue wrens hopping around and I will be drawing them in upcoming works.

Rosehips May 2016 Pen and water colour Pencil

I like to think of gardening as drawing and designing in 3D, with the added bonus of scent.  The garden will be a major inspiration for my art, so dear readers you will be seeing the creation of the garden along with the creation of the art.

I have done lots of researching on sustainable gardening techniques including permaculture and have found that you can make straw bale gardens.  You use strawbales and start them decomposing and then plant into them.  They will last about 12 months before they break down too much and you use them as mulch.  I am going to use some for the vege patch and others for an annual flower garden.  I will share the results with you.  Lots of pretty flowers with an abundance of gorgeous scent.

Start of the strawbale garden

Start of the strawbale garden

So hopefully I will be making pretty things and getting enough sleep.  The recipe for a happy life.

Karen

Changes

Mum and Hannah  Neocolor and ink

Mum and Hannah Neocolor and ink Lambley Nursery 

It has been 100 days since I last posted and so much has happened in that time.  It is amazing, life goes on pretty much the same for years, then in a few months everything all changes.  I have to admit that the need for change has been building in my life for a few years now, so in some ways these last months have been a good thing as they are sorting out a lot of issues, but did it all have to happen at once!!!  I know these things are sent to test us and make us stronger, but really how strong do we need to be!

Over five years ago I left my house in Castlemaine, came to Melbourne with my mother and moved in with my sister and her two children.  My father had just passed away and Mum was in her eighties and blind so we needed to care for her.  My niece and nephew were at high school and as my sister is a single mother it also gave her some support with raising the kids.

Well five years later my niece has finished her Masters and has a new job, she has moved out of home with her partner and my nephew still at Uni, is moving out as well.  Child raising responsibilities over, we no longer need the big house in the suburbs.  Mum is slowly declining and will need more care than we can provide soon as her memory and sight continues to fail.

Then the companies I (and my sister) work for are in serious trouble, government funding changes and we are no longer viable and two out of the three companies go into liquidation.  So for many months we have not been sure if the next pay day will be the last as we scramble to find a way forward.

As you can imagine everything was up in the air and changes needed to be made.  I will not bore you with the details but after three months of struggle we have a solution.  We are moving back to Castlemaine, thankfully the property never sold and was rented out, I will be working part time and Mum is slowly being transitioned into care up here.

So in the end it will be a great outcome.  Children happy and independent, mother having her care requirements met and my sister and I have ongoing employment and will be sharing the property, which has two houses on a large block.  Loads of time for art and to get serious in selling and a garden to play in.  There is even room for some chooks and a vege patch.  We will move at the end of the month and I am so excited by the possibilities before me.

So I apologies for my lack of communication but am looking forward to sharing my new life with you as I can devote so much more time to my art and sharing it with my friends.

Karen