Christmas is starting to happen … oh that was quick!

I started putting up my Christmas decorations a few weeks ago. I am a big fan of putting up decorations that look good during the daytime, not just at night.

This arrangement hangs at the front of our house.

Decorations shining in the sun, just before the rain pelted down.

These were, sadly, surpassed by neighbours of ours that had REALLY BIG balls on their verandah.

Big balls of Christmas!
Did I mention they also had an epic inflatable Santa too.

Then there are the annual Kambah Sheep photos. These were a bit premature as more tinsel has since been added. I’m not sure if I can get updated photos before the tinsel gets packed away for another year.

Then decorating the ‘tree’, or in this case branches from our gum tree. I had made the decorations from fabric that I had stencilled, part of one of a video I was making for YouTube. The original video was a washout for a number of reasons, but my decision to try and process the video, the week prior to Christmas, using unfamiliar editing software, was perhaps not my best one. (If you would like to check out what turned out to be a ‘bloopers’ video then follow this link).

Home made Christmas decorations on the tree.
Finally I did sit down with a nice cuppa and sketched my tree and decorations on Boxing Day. Please notice that I have also included ‘Mr Blobby’ our lava lamp in the sketch, along with our most recent Christmas decorations – a balloon dog and a box of sushi (and no, I have no idea what relationship these have to the Christmas story either).

So it has been another tempestuous year, I haven’t posted as much as I imagined I would, but I will continue, nonetheless. I hope your holidays go well and that 2022 is a generally better year than this one – fingers crossed. Roll on the New Year.

Gelli Print

I have been doing a lot of gelli printing lately – that’s using acrylic paints on a gel plate – a type of monoprinting. During our most recent lockdown it’s kept me happily away from the street. I have been working on printing onto fabric which is a bit different to printing on paper.

I trained in screen printing at art school which is similar, but not quite the same as gelli printing. While I find gelli printing has some limitations, it also has many pluses. I like that it’s so simple to set up and print and I certainly don’t mind not having to transfer images to my screen (a multi-step process which was my least favourite part of printing).

I am also using up a whole stack of acrylic paints, some better than others. By also using a textile base (a clear paste) with the acrylic paints, these paints are easier to use on fabric and give the fabric a better “hand” that is make it more flexible and feel better after printing.

I am focused on using the simplest of marks and materials for my prints. Most of my fabric is upcycled from clothes or old bed sheets.

I am really happy about the colour combinations I am achieving in my prints, particularly when I make simple two colour prints.

In addition to all this printing I also decided to revive my, somewhat moribund YouTube channel by uploading some introductory videos on printing on fabric with a gelli plate. You can find my channel here.

Are your colour/color pencils lightfast?

This is not a question that I thought I would be asking, except that I recently read an article talking about the low lightfastness rating of many of my favourite Prismacolor pencils. Given how important I think lightfastness is for watercolours it’s somewhat strange that I haven’t considered this as an issue before.

All my Prismacolors

I had a hunt through my pencil box for my Prismacolors and checked them against the lightfastness chart that the company has released. I discovered that just over half of the colours that I own are in the top two lightfastness ratings categories. Phew! Those pencils I can continue to use without worry. The rest are in the bottom three categories. That means I wouldn’t use them for any work that I would be likely to sell, but I can use them on casual projects or for general ‘colouring in’ activities.

What I am confident to use long term.

Presently I am using my pencils to make colour interpretations of photographs of statues taken by the German artist Aglaia Konrad, in her book Schaubuch: Skulptur. (Yep, weird, but so me). As this is an exercise for me and all the drawings are in a sketchbook I will continue with using the lower rates colours, but I won’t replace them.

My colour pencil interpretation of an Aglaia Konrad photo of sculpture fragments in her book Schaubuch: Skulptur

As an aside, when I dived into the depths of the world of colour pencils (I don’t recommend it, it was terrifyingly obsessed), I found out that 4 of my pencils weren’t included on the lightfastness list. It turns out that they are considered ‘rare’ (sadly not rare enough to get me on Antiques Roadshow, or upgrade my lifestyle). They are discontinued colours from a previous incarnation of the company and were made in the late 1980’s. These colours were later discontinued when the company changed hands.

In the end my other half decided to get serious and order a set of lightfast Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 pencils. I have swatched them out below and I am pleasantly surprised by some of the colours this set of 20 includes.

A brief encounter

I am at the end of a very brief encounter with Ikara-Flinders Range National Park and I would desperately love to be giving it more attention.

The southern end of Wilpena Pound with a headcovering of cloud.

We have just spent the second of two full days staying at Wilpena Pound. Tomorrow we leave. The weather has been vile. Cold, rainy and blowing a gale. But, but, but … it’s breathtaking.

The view from Razorback Lookout with a rainbow between showers (PS that funny line in the photo is one of the wires around the lookout).

We have sketched from our car, all of the first day and some of our second day. But my biggest frustration with this experience is finding my own voice because I seem to be painting other people’s paintings.

Australians will have some familiarity with the work of watercolourist Albert Namatjira and possibly with photographer Harold Casneaux, whose image ‘Spirit of Endurance‘, was made only a short distance from where we are staying.

So when I start painting I see Namatjira’s work floating in front of me. It’s a challenge to paint with that over your head. However, the more I  thought about it I realised that I should learn from those artists, before I worry about my own style.

Late afternoon light on Wilpena Pound.

Obviously I just need to get on with it.

Wilpena Pound from Bunyeroo Gorge drive.