Rose Bay at dusk

If you follow me on Pinterest, you will have seen a flurry of activity earlier today on my “Paintings that inspire me” board. Particularly with quite a few Raoul Dufy paintings added to it. And just like that, immediately after adding the images, Pinterest worked its magic. I suddenly had an urge to paint something à la manière de Dufy, and very quickly decided on doing a view of Rose Bay at dusk. During my first two months in Sydney, I lived in Rose Bay and took the ferry to work from there. To walk to the harbour every morning and back in the evening was a true blessing. And therefore, a perfect subject matter.

Rose Bay at dusk

I used watercolour and casein on Arches 300gsm paper. But if you want to know a bit more about the process, well, have I got a treat for you! Below is a little film that documents it all. To make it I used an app called “Miniatures Pro” and set it to take one frame per second. And as for music, it’s Dustin O’Halloran’s Prelude 2. Trusty iMovie glued it all together in style. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did painting and putting it together!


Colour in our surroundings

Maybe it’s the winter, or that I am a sucker easily influenced by brilliant publicity campaigns (i.e., Kate Spade’s use of Tumblr and Pinterest), but brilliant colours seem to cheer me up like nothing these days. I look at the dull and grey skyscrapers in downtown Toronto and all I can think of is how they could be massively improved by adding a dash of colour. I keep on wearing my favourite necklace over and over again and my wandering eyes crave bright colours so badly that they are continuously scanning their surroundings to see where a spash of pink, orange, turquoise, yellow, green or bright blue may lie.

About a couple of years ago, UK hardware store Homebase created an amazing campaign at Carlisle train station. Adding colour to the stairs and bridge above the platforms was only an element of the campaign, though I think it was the best part.

You can see the entire TV commercial here:

The Rainbow Holsteiner stairs in Wuppertal (Germany) are another brilliant example of where colour has improved an otherwise dull surrounding. They’re a creation by artist professor Hort Glasker and the work is called Scala. The (German) words on the stairs describe the relationship between human beings.

Naturally, I couldn’t help myself and painted my own version in casein and marker pen:

Here’s another example of Glasker’s work, this one entitled Campo Santo:

Painting roads in bright colours also works:

NOTE: The source of the Carlisle station pictures is vickitequila’s photostream on Flickr, the image of the Rainbow Holsteiner stairs and that of Campo Santo are from Horst Glasker’s website, and the source for the final image is from {inside} the loop. Unfortunately I don’t know the author of this picture or where it was taken.

The complete spot paintings

I had never really liked Damien Hirst, nor appreciated his “art”. Giant preserved shark in a vitrine? Diamond-studded skull? Nope, not art in my humble opinion. More like a massive piss take, catering to the artistic pretentiousness of the very wealthy who not always have the culture and education that one expects to go hand-in-hand with their wealth. If you are curious to see how the rich and dumb have affected the art world (for the worse), click here to watch Robert Hughes’ brilliant documentary, The Mona Lisa Curse.

The image above is that of one of the many spot paintings by Damien Hirst. I really like everything about them: colours, simplicity, and how they actually match my favourite necklace! Mwaahahahaaaa. [By the way, you can buy it here ;-)]

What I also like is the fact that Hirst only painted five spot paintings, claiming that he “couldn’t be fucking arsed doing it”, and that “the best person who ever painted spots for me was Rachel. She’s brilliant. Absolutely fucking brilliant. The best spot painting you can have by me is one painted by Rachel.” He also apparently told another painting assistant, who was leaving and asked for one of the paintings, to “‘make one of your own.’ And she said, ‘No, I want one of yours.’ But the only difference, between one painted by her and one of mine, is the money.” Not only is the whole story hilarious, but brilliantly honest and made me (a) warm up to Hirst and appreciate his way of producing art by way of a “factory” setup, akin to Andy Warhol’s or a Renaissance studio, and (b) produce a spot painting of my own:

Until March 17th, Gagosian Gallery, who represents Hirst (as well as Lichtenstein, Koons, Warhol, etc.) is holding the exhibition “Damien Hirst: The complete spot paintings 1986-2011” in its eleven gallery locations worldwide. A brilliant feature is that if you are lucky to visit all eleven galleries – and fill in the registration card – while the exhibition is taking place, you receive a signed spot print by Damien Hirst, dedicated personally to you.

NOTE: The images of the original spot paintings by Hirst and the registration card for the spot challenge, are from the Gagosian Gallery website.

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

I seriously cannot get enough of Pinterest, nor of Kate Spade tumblr. Below is another GORGEOUS image I pinned. Unfortunately in this case I don’t know who the author is but the street looks like somewhere in Spain.

And as soon as I pinned it I knew I wanted to do this:

Umbrellas, 60s vibe, hmmm… Initially reminded me of Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg!

But then I remembered that, as much as I liked the film, I wouldn’t say it bursts out colour and happiness. And so, another Jacques Demy film I love came to mind, which is all colour, joy and just FUN really: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.

It’s the story of  a pair of artistic twin sisters, born in the sign of Gemini, who live Rochefort. The film takes place over the course of a weekend when the fair comes to town. The wonderful music composed by Michel Legrand with Jacques Demy’s lyrics can linger in your head for hours, thus making you extremely happy and bubbly during that time. It’s like a happy pill! The colourful design throughout the film, cinematography and choreography just add to this burst of sheer joy of the senses.

The cast is also top notch: Catherine Deneuve and her sister Francoise Dorleac (who tragically died in car accident shortly after completing the film) play the twins. Gene Kelly (who was 55 when he played Andy in the film and is still incredibly young and athletic and overwhelmingly attractive), George Chakiris (who can forget him as Bernardo in West Side Story?) and Grover Dale bring a foreign element to an overall French cast.

I could talk about the film for aaaaaaaaaaaaages but it’s best you watch it – and later on agree with me, of course 😉








NOTE: The picture of the umbrellas above was taken from Kate Spade Tumblr, via one of my Pinterest boards. The poster of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg is via Cinephiliaque  and the images of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort are via Lark About.

Kate Spade

It’s fair to say that until this past weekend, 2012 hadn’t had the most artsy of starts for me. I was very little inspired and the thought of drawing, yet alone painting, was just daunting. When I tried to overcome this, well, let’s just say I recycled a lot of paper. ANYWAY, through the beauty of Pinterest I discovered the wonderful Kate Spade Tumblr! At first I thought it was this lovely tumblr with inspiring pictures of all things pretty and colourful and divine, but then I found out there is ACTUALLY a brand behind it! And they do clothes, and accessories and everything and it BLEW ME AWAY.

One of my favourite adverts on TV – Sony Bravia – encapsulates how I see Kate Spade: over a backdrop of New York City (because Kate Spade is VERY NYC), colourful rabbits made of Plasticine (simple yet incredibly effective, like KS’s lines), jump around, covering the city in bright colours (colour being a staple in KS) and with the brilliant, happy and somewhat nostalgic tune by the Stones playing in the background (KS is very 1960s inspired).

This is one of the MANY pictures I’ve seen on Kate Spade tumblr. Taken by Tim Walker, the idea is a simple yet brilliantly colourful one: balloons coming out of windows. LOVES IT. Loves it soo much I did my own version of it:

I am now obviously addicted to Kate Spade tumblr and have discovered other tumblrs along the way. My addiction to colour and how it can make the ordinary fun and cheerful and inspiring has only just begun!

NOTE: The photograph by Tim Walker was taken from Suz and the city, via one of my Pinterest boards.

And the muse finally came to the rescue…

…on Friday night, by inspiring me to paint a still life. I’m not overly impressed by the final result, hence the filter on my camera and the distance: the picture looks a lot better if far away. HOWEVER, the fact that I started something like this, using casein, which I’m still trying to master, is a positive step forward. Also, when one has been away from brushes and pencils for some time, the first work produced is pretty rubbish.  Notice my new drawing table put to use? Back ache from sitting in an interrogation-mark posture be gone!

Any time that I go to the Workroom, an amazing gush of creativity blows me away. On Saturday I did the Sew a Man’s Tie course, which I cannot recommend enough. Plus, we all know how much it sucks to give presents to men at Christmas, and this has saved my sweet ass this holiday. Not even kidding. Ties are so versatile, they make an excellent “A”…

And look at the detail on the back, I’m so friggin proud of myself…

Best part is that it even looks great on!

I know for a fact that no man receiving any of the 3 ties I’ve almost finished looks at this blog. Even if I bribed with free vouchers to Home Depot/Hardware – or Leroy Merlin, the Spanish equivalent – to be downloaded from this site, they still wouldn’t even come close. So it’s safe to post these pics here just a mere couple of days before Christmas 😉

Speaking of the season to be jolly, I will be enjoying the holiday season with family and friends and away from my random blog world. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2012!

Beacon Hill

I foresee this as one of many posts about Boston… Although I briefly mentioned my visit here, one small post is definitely not enough. In a nutshell, I fell head over heels in love with the city. Such elegance, amazing history, architecture, setting, food (I ate 2 lobsters in one go, mmm…), shopping, people… I could go on and on, so for the purposes of this post, I’ll talk about Beacon Hill.

Beacon Hill is a neighbourhood just north of Boston Common and famous for many reasons: distinctive red brick Georgian architecture, history and notable residents, both past and present. Louisa May Alcott lived in number 10 Louisburg Square:

John Kerry also lives in Louisburg Square:

Wikipedia tells me that Uma Thurman, Carly Simon, Michael Crichton and Sylvia Plath are also among Beacon Hill’s notable residents. Who wouldn’t want to live in one of these houses?

One of the key sites within Beacon Hill is Acorn Street. Famous because of its cobblestone pavement, it is apparently one of the most photographed streets in America:

Naturally, I HAD to do a painting of one of these lovely houses. Instead of doing it in my usual watercolour, I recently discovered casein thanks to this amazing book by Stephen Quiller. It talks in depth about the various watermedia (watercolour, acrylic, gouache and casein) and the latter just fascinates me. After buying the colours mentioned in the book yesterday, as soon as I got home I began to test this wonder media and here’s the result: