Saturday, 19 April 2014

Knitting Spam

I have been wanting to knit a picture (rather than just words) for a long time, so after I finished designing the graph for my can of Spam I couldn't wait to get started on the actual knitting.

Hmm.  Intarsia (picture) knitting is not so much fun; various colours carried within the same row can mean quite a tangle at the back.  I had forgotten that part.  (Seasoned knitters may note that the navy yarn carried across two rows of the top part of the bun is actually a mistake.)

In case you're wondering, my intention is to make this into a cushion.  One day.

Friday, 18 April 2014

How I make things unnecessarily hard for myself (Part 1)

For May's Gardening Australia "The Big Picture" illustration I decided to paint on wood again, but to give it a pink undercoat first, rather than the usual white.  I thought it might give an interesting, warm effect.
The effect is debatable but when I scanned the picture into Photoshop it meant that there was an ENORMOUS amount of cutting out to do (just look at that leafy tree on the right!).

I believe that the cutting took as long as the painting.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A huge honour.

Recently I had the huge honour of painting a few portraits for Andrea from Stampel, and her equally lovely sister Jen.
Above: Their late mother Marilyn, based on an old black and white photograph.  When Andrea and her sister were little, their mother painted flowers on their windcheaters using puff paint.  Andrea still owns her windcheater and suggested that I use her mother's flower painting style as inspiration, which I think was a brilliant idea.
Marilyn in her later years, below.

And last but not least, Andrea's late mother in law, Janet.  I greatly enjoyed painting these portraits, and feel incredibly honoured that the sisters asked me to bring back a little of these beautiful women who were so such a huge part of their lives (and Andrea's husband's).  While I was painting them, I grew very fond of them as well.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Thank you Finders Keepers

Thank you very much to The Finders Keepers for featuring my work in your blog recently.  When I scrolled through I thought some of my answers were a bit naff but I did enjoy seeing the scarf above again.  Long gone to a lovely lady, but still one of my favourites.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Mr Hockney is a winner!

Mr Hockney is very pleased to announce that he has won the Frankie Prize in the inaugural Reginald Portrait Prize for Softies, brainchild of the wonderful Sue Halliday and hosted by the Melbourne CAE.  It is my absolute belief that any of the finalists could have won a further prize.  They were all fantastic and so incredibly varied that judging them must have been a very difficult task indeed (Have a look at the Reginald site for full catalogues of entries and finalists).  The overall winner was an exquisitely detailed Bjork by Dainy Sawatsky.  I had a fantastic time at the prize ceremony on Friday evening.  It was wonderful to meet the finalists, and MOST wonderful to meet the incredibly talented and very sweet Ms Cat Rabbit.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

A couple of milestones.

When I first opened my Etsy shop back in October 2009, I was excited and terrified when I made my first sale -- a black moustache mirror to a young lady in the U.S.  Would it break in transit?  Would she be happy with it?

A couple of weeks ago my Etsy sales clocked up to 500: something I never, ever imagined would happen.  Thank you so much to anyone out there reading this who has ever bought anything from my shop, whether it be a greeting card, downloadable knitting pattern, wooden clock or a whole bunch of original paintings!  

And then another milestone this week!  I have been on Instagram for six months.  To have 1005 followers in such a short time feels kind of amazing and ridiculous at the same time, but I think it says more about Instagram than it does about me.  For anyone out there considering joining (hello Saskia...?!) here's some evidence that it's the way to go. 
There's lots of talk that blogs are dying.  I still love working on my blog and reading other people's (though I find that I have less time to lately).  Posting on this platform takes much more thought and effort than a quick snapshot and a couple of sentences on Instagram.  It also works a lot better as a whole.  After all what we call 'blogs' started out being called 'web-logs' or diaries and that is exactly what mine will continue to be.  For my sake as well as for my readers'.  

(And -- thank you for reading.)

Friday, 4 April 2014

New Craft at The Vic Market

Hello!  I will be taking part in Craft Victoria's inaugural New Craft market at the Queen Victoria Market this Sunday April 6.  We will be in Shed A near the corner of Victoria and Peel Streets.  It promises to be a fun day.  Please come and say hi!  More details here.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A very special Easter scarf for The Boroughs

I had a great deal of fun working on this folk art inspired Easter scarf design for Alasdair at Five Boroughs in Brunswick East.  The scarf will form a limited edition wrapper for a small number of especially made Easter eggs. Talk about luxurious! I am very much looking forward to getting my own, for more reasons than one.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Three ladies and one gentleman

FINALLY -- new cards.  They are in my shop.  Have a fine weekend.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


This was designed as an i-pad cover but it's a wee bit small.  It measures 23.5 x 21cm (9.2 x 8.2 inches) and the plastic toothed zipper opens to 22 cm wide (8.6 inches).  Sooooo, it would comfortably fit an i-pad mini + a few more of your precious items.  I also think it would make a pretty clutch.
Why knit a great big "GET LOVE," you ask?  I reckon it's what we're all trying to do whenever we turn on our computers, i-pads or smart phones.  Any messages?  Emails?  Any 'likes' on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram?  We are constantly hungry.

If you really like it, it's in my Etsy shop.  It's at a good price too for a hand made item, just because it's a bit small to be used in the way that I intended.
This is the back: it's made of a colourful vintage woven wool.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Ada the Acrobat and her trusty horse, Harriet

This arm belonged to a man who lived the early 20th century. He was in love with Ada the Acrobat, whom he had seen performing in the circus when it came to the little town where he lived. Time did not dim his love, or his memory of Ada jumping through a ring of fire on her trusty horse, Harriet.

....Actually it's a wooden clock, and it's in my Etsy shop.  But you probably realised that.  
Or maybe not.

Friday, 14 March 2014

An illustration for Gardening Australia magazine

I am an avid though average gardener, and find Gardening Australia a treat to watch.  So I was extremely chuffed to be asked to contribute an illustration to the "Big Picture" article which appears on the inside back page of its magazine each month.  This little man was painted using acrylic on wood, then scanned and cut out with the pen tool in Photoshop.  I like to make things hard for myself, as regular readers of this blog will know.  Wait until you see the illustration for next month's issue: I think that cutting it out in Photoshop took longer than the painting. Thankfully, the sketching part for the second month was not as fraught with nerves as it was for the above illustration, and went relatively quickly and smoothly.

Sketching is the hardest part, I reckon.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Around the place this week

Above and below: I like to paint the 'cold' (i.e. boring) parts of a volcano first.

 Then I get to do the fun part above : the heat, the explosion, the BOOF!

Above: one of my favourite book covers EVER: Anton Chekhov's Kashtanka, illustrated by William Stobbs.

 Above: Good night messy studio!
My new (old) cardigan above makes me wish that the weather was as autumnal as these rather large mushrooms in my neglected front yard would have us believe, below:
They are about 12-15 cm in diameter and I swear that they sprung up overnight.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

David Hockney as an embroidered doll

Here above is my entry for the Reginald CAE Portrait Prize for Softies.  Yes indeed it IS meant to be Mr David Hockney, below, though I am not sure that I have succeeded in evoking the great man.  I am quite happy with certain details: the embroidered stripes on the shirt, the knitted and stitched tie, the real pockets and the embroidered paint stains on the pants. But I am not a doll maker, and am definitely not used to thinking of a figure as a series of what are essentially three dimensional tubes.
It was quite a lesson*.

Above: I decided to make the back a bit more interesting for myself, so I based it on an abstracted figure from Mr Hockney's own vast oeuvre, below.
The painting is from David Hockney, My Early Years, 1988.  I will credit it properly when I have access to the book again.

* One of the reasons why David Hockney IS so great, in my opinion, is that he still enjoys experimenting with different media (his i-pad paintings, for example, are brilliant). I should try and channel a bit more of his spirit.  Maybe we all could?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Around the place this week....

 Above: Yesterday morning I used my fountain pen to draw a page of different plant shapes, in preparation for a nice freelance project.
 Above: my acrylic on wood girl hanger + a fantastic illustration from the 70s by E. Schongut.
Above: Sometimes the back of one's work can look more interesting than the front.

 Above: a nice anthropomorphic symbol found in the nut shop on Lygon Street North.
Above: my acrylic on wood "banks" biding their time before the heater is switched back on in a month or so....
Above: a fantastic vintage fabric which I purchased from Etsy and received this week.  More here.