Friday, December 27, 2013

"Too late"

A bit of morbid Alice in Wonderland art here - this little rabbit skull that I dug up in my garden is either going to be my lucky charm or the death of me. Every time I do a painting that includes the skull someone buys it. Now people are starting to ask "when are you going to do more skull drawings?" Which is great, but I can already see myself becoming "that skull girl". I do like drawing bones a lot because of the archaeology angle, so I'm not complaining. More skulls (I mean, more instances of the same skull) coming up soon! I didn't actually use any paint in this one, it's just pencil, pen and ink, and tea.

In other news, I'm currently in Hillcrest visiting my in-laws; it's an extremely beautiful part of the world so I hope I'll manage to get a bit of work done while I'm here. I'm really feeling kloofs, ferns, waterfalls, moss, forests, lots of green. I hope to get to the sea as well before we leave here - I have a steadily growing mermaid obsession that one of these days is going to come out in my art in a big way...

Monday, December 9, 2013

No words.

If you have none either, but are looking for a good cry (and who isn't, really?), here you are.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Animal, vegetable, mineral

Animal, vegetable, mineral

Another world

Microctenopoma ansorgii

Collection I

Collection II



Impala / lily


Nature morte

Star map I


Monday, September 2, 2013


Look! It exists! It is a thing! My exhibition opens on Thursday, and between you and me I'm almost finished with the pictures for it. Everyone is invited, not that I'm exactly expecting a crowd. I don't really know what to expect, in fact, especially as there is another exhibition opening same time, same place, and I'm worried that some distant aunt or something will think the other artist's (much better) artworks are in fact mine, and embarrassment will ensue.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Help, I'm stuck - artistically, that is

Hey, anyone out there? I'm looking for someone to tell me something that will magically make it all better. Emotionally, artistically - I just can't. I feel like a bike with square wheels. Only in terms of my work, though, in the rest of life and my little day jobs I'm just fine, but I've got so much art stuff I need to do and I can't do it. Can't start, can't finish. Scared of the blank page, scared of a half-done picture. Convinced I'm going to screw it all up most royally, and the longer I wait the worse it gets. Feel like a fraud, like a bad artist, bad person. Help, Internet, anyone. Course I'll get through this, but I don't feel like it now. Decided to throw it out there in the hope of getting an encouraging note from somewhere.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Autumn leaves" miniature

This is a miniature inspired by my biggest and possibly boldest painting. Which I haven't shown you yet. I wonder why? Let me try and figure that one out and perhaps remedy it. Same size as the other miniatures, watercolour with a bit of pencil and ink.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Rain featuring Daleen Roodt

The amazing Daleen Roodt (see this post) has collaborated with Martie Erasmus of New Rain Clothing to produce a Summer 2013 collection that features prints from Daleen's paintings of indigenous orchids. I can't tell you how much I love these dresses, so I'm going to post a few photos from my sneak peek at the lookbook. Also, Martie and Daleen modelled the collection themselves; they are awesome.

That's Martie's email address you see above. Mail her and she'll send you the whole lookbook. There are also some custom options available, so get your orders in before the 26th of July.

Please note: I was not paid in any way or even asked to do this post.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Interested in archaeology? Don't miss your chance!

I'm so excited to show you this - 13-year old me would have been bouncing off the ceiling! Don't-ask-how-old me is still pretty darn excited, and is going to be in charge of one of the trenches.

And you absolutely don't need to be in high school. This course was originally targeted at high school learners - and is thus suitable for absolute beginners - but we've opened it up to anyone who's interested. The project is coming up soon, so get in contact with them and book your place. You do (naturally; unfortunately) have to pay - but it's only R1500 for the full, 7 day course including 5 days of fieldwork.

Interestingly enough, this fort is on a funny little hill that's visible from my house, and I have always, as long as I can remember, wondered what was there. I even had fantasies about being able to fly and flying over the hill to see it. (Somehow the idea of driving there never crossed my mind.) It's also a closed nature reserve, so this is your only chance of seeing the Mystery Hill in person.

So if you want to take part in a serious dig (and meet your favourite blogger ;D), don't hesitate!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Do I dare disturb the universe?"

That couple of lines from "The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (which I adore) was given to us as an essay prompt in English class when I was about 13. My then best friend wrote a story about a child-goddess playing marbles, and that story inspired this little picture an alarming number of years later. Thanks, Sheila, and I still miss you.

My mother-in-law bought it from the gallery, for which I am most grateful! This was another polarising picture like my lighthouse one; some people loved it, some people hated it. The lighthouse picture, incidentally, was bought some time after I posted it, by a guy with a compulsion to buy lighthouse-related things. As a mentor of mine once said, every picture has a buyer out there, someone who will love it. You just have to keep putting it out there until that person finds it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

"Archaeology - Lagomorpha"

This little drawing of a rabbit skull is inspired by my friend Karin who is writing a thesis on hare bones. The materials are pen, pencil, tea, dirt, salt and paper cutting. The original is only 6x8 cm, as it was done for a miniatures exhibition. The gallery guys liked it a lot, and hopefully I'm going to have a sort of mini-exhibition in September! I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Out of the Attic: Morpho butterfly

This is one of my favourite OOTAs, but sadly it doesn't scan as well as I would have liked! That's because it's another of the very mixed media pieces that I can't resist doing. This one is oil pastel / pencil / ink. The oil pastel is heavily diluted with turpentine to make something that feels a lot like watercolour but doesn't buckle the paper. Pencil over that goes on very dark and looks great - I used it for the shadows on the flowers. It wasn't quite dark enough for the black bits of the wings, though, so those are permanent marker. Looks wonderfully black in person, but scans a bit too matte in comparison with the other media.

The white and coppery markings in the black are also ink, this time those lovely Pentel rollerballs. Remember Milky Pens and then all the spinoffs? My aunt once gave me a giant pack of them, but once they ran out I couldn't afford more. And now I can't seem to find them anywhere - lots of other brands, but not the Pentel. And I only trust Pentel.

The angle of the butterfly looks a bit awkward, doesn't it? I copied this wholesale from a (not-online) photo - if it is your photo, drop me a note so I can credit you! These days I'm very particular about working only from my own photos, or stock from people with generous terms and conditions, or adapting things into unrecognisability. (Is that even a word? If it isn't, it should be.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pink hair - success!

Well, it worked! Not without a couple of scares though. First, my husband looked at me like I was crazy when I said I was going to sleep with the dye in. He said, isn't that going to damage your hair? I said, who knows? It's only the ends, right? He said, it's like half your hair. Look on the internet to see what they say.

So I looked on the internet, and everyone was like HALF AN HOUR AT MOST OR YOUR HAIR WILL DISINTEGRATE LIKE THE BAD GUY IN INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE! All right, they didn't actually use the Indy reference, and thus their advice was not worthy of being listened to. So instead I took it out of the plastic bag and tugged on the ends, and they were kind of crispy but it was a "you have sugary cooldrink in your hair" kind of crispy and not a "your hair is turning into powder" kind of crispy. So I put the plastic bag back on and went to sleep.

The second scare was when I was sleeping, I dreamed I woke up and washed my hair and all the dye came out and it was no different from before, and I was all AAARGH THAT SUCKS and then I woke up again and realised it had just been a dream, so then I went and washed it out for real this time, and conditioned it, and dried it in the sun, and now it looks like this:

I am exceedingly happy with the way it's turned out. My husband likes it, my mother is amused/shocked, my father amused/indifferent, and I've got one non-family compliment so far. Can't wait to see what people think at the gallery, since I am in possibly the only field where pink hair will enhance my professional image.

Action shot (I can't model):

Oh, by the way, what do you guys (anyone out there!) think of the etiquette of posting photos? Narcissistic to show my face? Creepy not to? Are outfit posts irredeemably shallow, as I've been thinking of starting to do them occasionally?  Help me out here, please!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pink hair! In which I destroy my hair in several ways so you don't have to.

I've been thinking about this for a long, long time, and today is the day that I'm finally going to try it. I want to dye the ends of my hair pink. And I'm going to do it myself, using only random household materials like hydrogen peroxide, food colouring, powder cooldrink and, um, swimming pool chlorine.

Please note that I have really long and healthy hair, because I never do anything to it. I'm going to be dyeing the ends only, so if anything goes horribly wrong then I can just cut them off. I wouldn't be messing around with unknown chemical processes if they were going to go anywhere near my actual scalp, or if I couldn't afford to lose a bit of length if I decide that I hate it and the only remedy is to cut my losses and run.

Why do I want to dye my hair pink? Well, I have really long hair (did I tell you that yet?) And I want to do something really dramatic to it. But cutting it all off is just out. Like, I really don't like those makeover TV shows, and I really don't like the fact that whenever they come across some poor unfortunate soul with long hair, they immediately leap on her and chop it all off, usually making it sound as if long hair is some kind of dreadful psychological issue that she needs to overcome.

And don't get me started on the freaky compulsion to straighten people's hair, they seriously act like curls are some sort of mark of Cain. I've literally seen someone write that you have to have straight hair to look "professional". Professional? Seriously? I smell a rat, and it smells like racism. I mean, have you noticed that with any female character in a TV series - if she makes it to the second season, her hair always mysteriously goes dead straight.

...Ahem. Pardon the digression. I just have a lot of feelings about that issue. Getting back to the matter at hand, why pink? I actually think that a sort of blue-green or turquoise will be a better long-term colour for me, but I'm doing this to punctuate my life and tell myself that things are looking up! and pink feels to me like the ultimate feel-good, statement-making, optimistic, exclamation-markish colour. Besides, Art Student Owl says Must Have Pink Hair.

Here are my materials:

Honestly, I wasn't planning to use the chlorine after every search I did for it came up with a lot of people screaming DON'T YOU DARE! The aim was to lighten the hair first with peroxide, and then to dye it with a mixture of more peroxide and food colouring. But after I doused my ends in peroxide and it dried off after half an hour and did precisely nothing, I decided to break out the big guns. As it seemed that the peroxide didn't work so well because my hair is too healthy (#firstworldproblems #humblebrag) I figured that the chlorine might at least damage it enough to absorb the peroxide later. I used about a tablespoon of chlorine in a glass bowl of water (between a half and one litre, I suppose) and didn't put my hands in it, just dipped the ends of my hair. I did it outdoors and made sure the bowl was downwind from my face. I did this twice, and still I don't think the colour is much changed. I dumped the rest of the mixture in the pool after I was done (recycling, guys!) Again, note that all this is going on about 80 centimetres from my scalp. And here's the result:

It doesn't look particularly different from before, but I asked two people and they say it's definitely lighter. Now I could keep on bleaching it and drying it over and over, but that would require patience.

So instead I decide to move right on to the colouring stage. Now, apparently if you are right and virtuous on the internet you only use products designed and marketed at great cost for your specific purpose, and the product that everyone recommends for this purpose is something called Manic Panic. However, if I just started ordering and importing everything I wanted, I would be living in a nest of art materials while not eating anything. Which would not be good. So instead I decided to go the kludge route, and found that this tutorial was very helpful.

I'd also heard that Kool-Aid is supposed to be better than food colouring. Unfortunately, Kool-Aid, like Manic Panic, is not available where I live. So I went and bought a random packet of powder cooldrink called Amila in the hope that it would be similarly virulently coloured. I got the "mixed berries" flavour 'cause I figured it would be sort of purplish.

I mixed some of the Amila powder with two brands of "Rose Pink" food colouring (liquid and gel) and some of the peroxide (That's what "developer" is, when talking about hair colouring) in the glass bowl and squished the ends of my hair about in it. Then I worked the sticky, sugary, peroxidey, red mixture up a bit into the rest of my hair, hoping that it would create a sort of ombre effect. I looked like an advert for Dexter.

After that I tied my hair in a knot, put a plastic bag over it and secured the whole thing with a hair elastic.

And I'm planning to keep it on like that as long as my patience holds out. My hands are currently bright pink and the sensitive bits under the nails hurt from the peroxide, so definitely use gloves if you do the same thing. And tomorrow we'll see how it turns out!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Land art

So far my only attempt at an art form that I love unreservedly when anyone else does it.

It was made in Lower Sabie in the Kruger Park, from fallen coral tree blossoms. Here they are on the tree:

And a wider view.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Out of the Attic: Yellow-naped macaw

This is one of my favourite so-old-I-can't-believe-it pictures, dating back to the era when I still knew how to use chalk pastels properly. "Van Gogh" background and all. I drew him before I got my own baby bird, who is an Illiger's macaw. I had been wanting a Yellow-naped - hence this picture - but stopped at the breeder "just to chat" and they produced this little green Illiger who burrowed under my elbow and stayed there. So that's why I have an Illiger's and not a Yellow-naped. Elbow bird is called Samwise, he's a shy and gentle soul, and I'll have to draw him for you sometime.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Solanum jasminoides on a book page

This is actually my third attempt at this technique, which basically amounts to layering painted tracing paper on pages from a copy of The Little Prince that got eaten by my dog, and then accenting it with cut out bits. The reason I'm showing it to you first though is that I'm not 100% happy with the way it turned out.

The balance between realism and simplification in the Solanum jasminoides isn't quite right, and this makes it look naive instead of stylised, which was what I was going for. I do like the three-dimensionality of it though, and I'm very happy with the cutout birds.