Monday, December 19, 2011

Hooray for Aperture Priority!

And HOORAY for tripods!

I've had my Canon Digital SLR 400D AGES! Its embarrassing how long its taken me to figure out some really basic things with it. I bought a little Canon Powershot 320 back in 2003 (for about $1,000 LOL) and I have had the best time with it - so easy, literally point n shoot, and I have had many great photos from it. I figured upgrading to the DSLR would be easy enough. Well for this untrained puppy, it was very very humbling.

BUT! After a LOT of reading, I am finally experimenting again. When lighting conditions are good, the camera is excellent. But inside my house can be tricky with the DSLR. The old powershot was a very faithful servant to capuring the light exactly as it was - but the SLR seems a lot more sensitive, and if the natural light available was slightly low, it would want to default to using the flash. Annoying! I'd been experimenting with the Apeture Priority mode to try and let as much light in as possible, but was still having mediocre results. Until I decided to use a tripod. What a world of difference.

Anyway I was excited about this photo because this nook in my home is actually quite a dark spot. But with the DSLR set on the largest aperture (i.e. the lowest f-stop, a concept it took me a while to absorb!) I managed to get this snap that I'm really happy with. I think I'm about to start taking pictures of all sorts of inanimate things. So be warned.

Like this phone, that was given to me by one of the Directors of the firm I work for, after I declared over a cup of tea that I "really wanted an old bakelite phone". He said he had one in his shed that I could have. And then he said "I've got a box full of rabbit traps you can have too"! I graciously declined that offer!

Hey how's my form - 2 posts in that same month. Unheard of.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Things

As usual, I've been busy doing just about everything but blogging. But today, just for a change, I actually took a couple of pics of things I've been working on, and I'd like to share them.

First up, my little niece Ivy turns 10 tomorrow. Amazing. She can get away with wearing just about any colour but I thought I'd do something cute in black. Why are black kid's clothes such a rarity? They are PERFECT for hiding the spills! I bought the tshirt and embellished it with the little bird. I really must do a tutorial on that one day, its super easy and the tshirt was $5 from Big W. Makes for a very economical gift! The gathering on the skirt was a little more time consuming than I expected, but I thought it came up very cute. Can't wait to see her wearing it.
I've had that curtain cable from IKEA attached to the wall in my studio for a while now. I thought it would be a great place to hang things to be photographed, but it in between photos it has become a place to hang pattern pieces, and lovely things. Like the lino print (on the right) from my talented and gorgeous friend Janine who I hope to collaborate more day.

Here is a detail of the little bird...

So. I've been LOVING my weekly art class, and am taking a punt here that my Dad doesn't read my blog. Because I'm about to post a picture of his Christmas present. He loves Australian birds, and I love blue things. It only seemed logical to draw him a splendid fairy wren. How exquisite are these little birds? And I was very happy with my 2nd ever attempt at a pastel "painting". I even got commissioned to do another one for someone who saw this in our local student art show. FLATTERED!

And just for fun here is my lovely furry girl Isis, who just happened to take time out from eating grass to let me take this snap of her. And if she ever does something bad to a splendid fairy wren, or any other Australian native bird for that matter, she will be banished to the inside of my house. Forever. Can something really be "banished" indoors?

Oh, and here is a very scary snap of my garage which I am quietly trying to transform into a space where I can do some silk screening. More about that later. Not a small task by any stretch of the imagination. It's pretty gross in there. I've found myself reading articles about how to deal with "rising damp". Short answer: You can't. Unless you're prepared to rebuild your house. Which at the moment, I'm not! Surely its something that can be tackled temporarily with some exit mold, a bit of ventilation and a coat of paint?!? Sigh!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Creative Outlets

Well after a VERY ordinary Mother's Day Market way back in May, and a tax return that had me wondering what was the point of slaving away til all hours caught up in the throws of production...I decided to pull back, regroup, realign my creative energies and try something different.

The biggest news I have is that I started going to art class, thanks to a gentle but gigantic nudge in the right direction from my fabulistic sis-in-law, Snizza, who insisted we go together. I was petrified. It threw me so far out of my comfort zone it wasn't funny. For someone who had been drawing stick people and daisies for years, I was about to discover a whole new world of inspiration.

Now, traditional art is not reaaaaally my thing. I appreciate it, I respect it....but the idea of doing a still life of fruit or a hat kind of bores me. Give me colour! Big bold graphics! Draw a vase with some flowers? You're kidding me, right? Well I pushed all those feelings aside in the interest of actually LEARNING some new techniques, and I was so excited with what I discovered. I can actually draw! A bit. I'm random and rusty but there is definitely something going on in there somewhere.

SO. Here is my "tonal study" of some bottles. It was the first time I'd ever picked up a stick of charcoal. It was FUN!

Then it was time for a still life with pastels. Did you hear that? STILL LIFE! Woah things got a bit wonky with this one...and it was the first time I'd ever attempted using pastels too. I found them wildy confusing, yet strangely exhilerating!

Being a bit crazy about fashion photography I thought I'd try and draw a few fabulous looking models, with charcoal (I'm loving how TEMPORARY charcoal is: hmmm that line is in the wrong place....just give it a rub and its gone! I spent the entire first drawing class not knowing this LOL!)

I Iove her hair. The bend in her left leg is totally in the wrong spot tho. Funny how you can hone in on these things after not looking at it for a while.

It was around this time I declared drawing faces REALLY intimidated me, so my teacher encouraged me to have a go at "Nikolai". Who is pretty much JUST a face. No hair, no eyebrows. Just a sculpture of an accurately sized human head. Here he is:

Now I should mention that it was the lovely man in my life who decided a few months back that he wanted to start drawing more, and pretty much right away, came up with this:

So I INSISTED he go to art class too. Because obviously, there is a very talented artist lurking beneath his rugged exterior. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

And Merilyn Rice is a wonderfully talented teacher, and an inspiration as a succulent wild woman. I get very excited when I see creative women who have mastered the ever-so-elusive art of making a living from their passion. An art form that continues to elude me....for now!

Oh, and I also got busy madly making costumes for my brother's ridiculous bash he throws for the Aussie Rules Grand Final. My friend and I decided to revisit our uni days and go as our favourite band EVER and...well...lets just say I felt very OLD when a couple of younger people asked who we were....

See? I have been creative, I just haven't been blogging.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gocco Success! HOORAY

Wow. What a highly thrilling moment!
Apparently the problems I was having burning a good screen was a mixture of moisture in the paper, and excess carbon. This was collectively solved by ironing the photocopy (regular iron with no steam) covered with a sheet of baking paper to remove excess carbon. Simple as that. I had two dud prints at the start and I was off to the races. Apologies for ordinary photos with this post. I struggle to get things right with the light in my studio...

I'd read that it was important to be liberal with ink...and I was!

It was SO TRUE about being liberal with ink. I printed about 100 of these without even the slightest hint I was running out of ink.

I ran out of SPACE to put the prints before running out of ink! Guess those Gocco card drying racks might have been a good investment after all! I spent a bit of time worrying about my cat coming to investigate when the tables in my studio looked like this!

What an awesome little unit. I'm so glad I didn't flog it off on ebay when I had ordinary results last year. Want to know more about gocco? Read about it here or there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gocco Long Weekend

I was horrified to note that my last GOCCO experiment was the Queen's Birthday LAST YEAR. Gasp! The good news is that I did purchase some more supplies around Christmas...but have not yet found (made?) time to actually continue my experiments. I couldn't possibly let another YEAR go by without progressing so I decided to use the Queen's Birthday THIS YEAR to dabble once more.
I pitched a cross-continental collaboration with my very talented friend Christina who lives in Canada: a series of quotes (her words and my designs), printed using Gocco, onto postcards. She held up her end of the bargain and gave me lots of inspirational words. My deadline of 31 January 2011 made that awesome WHOOSHING sound as it whipped by. My excuse? I went to the Australian Open! OK that accounts for the week of January 31, the other five months? I got nothin.
SO given I still have not had a decent print from my Gocco, I thought I'd tackle that challenge before pitching my designs to her. One of her suggestions was a series of cards that say simply "hello friend".
So here is what I will print on Monday:

Birdy has no legs coz I plan to draw those later. Cheating with one screen, you see.

And I like this one too:

I am going to try to keep this to one screen too: block around the spider and then draw the thin web strand after.
That is, if I can burn a good master. Fingers crossed!
I'll keep you posted. I promise.
PS Thanks to Lara and Nic for their tips re: Gocco from my last post...A YEAR AGO! Yikes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Holy Hiatus!

How many blog posts have I started with apologies for being a tardy blogger!? Way too many!
ANYWAY I meant to post this pic after the last Muddi Market in Wagga back in December 2010...OOPS! My sis-in-law and I scored these AWESOME vintage skirts made by Janine from Middlemost Clothing.
Seriously. How rockin' is THAT!? Janine has acquired the most succulent stash of vintage fabric and makes them into awesome skirts, dresses and accessories. I love crafty chicks making groovy stuff, especially in areas like the Riverina where all we can do under normal circumstances is drool about this stuff after seeing it online featured by designers doing markets in Melbourne and Byron Bay!

A while back I put together a very inexpensive but highly personalized gift for my crafty little friend Charlotte who turned 7. Hmmmm...more than a while really, because today is her 8th birthday! Anyway I bought a little packet of coloured beads and some clear butterfly beads for the whopping total of $4, removed the rather gaudy packaging and put them in a small cello bag, and then got out the trusty prismacolour pencils and the kraft paper, did a bit of scribbling...and stapled it to the bag to seal it up. Waa Lah! Insta-gift. She loved it.

And Back:

I'm big on packaging to personalize otherwise inexpensive gifts. I made these gifts for 2 little girls last Christmas. Super easy: The felt daisies came from Papoose Felt (their range has the most heavenly colours)...I stitched the button to the circular piece of felt. I then stitched the felt daisy to the hair clips. Then I hot-glue-gunned the button with circular felt to the felt daisy. Done! Soooo quick n easy. And while hot glue guns are not perfect for everything, they sure are perfect for glueing felt together. Works a treat.
I cut two slits in the craft paper to mount the goodies, enter prismacolour pencils and scribbles once again. Another $2 gift!

This one below is a brooch. I made it the same way as the hairclips, i.e. stitched the red felt daisy to a brooch back clip (you can get them at Spotlight) and then hot-glue-gunned (is that a verb?) the button to the daisy. Considering Matilda is not even 1, I thought I had better add some sort of "dont play with pins" disclaimer!