Art · Mixed-media · Nature

Dragonflies and Butterflies

This small mixed-media canvas was made with beads, ribbons, papers, fibres, pressed flowers, fabric, and teabag papers for the dragonfly’s wings. Although dragonflies aren’t around until summer, I wanted to make something light and cheerful as spring arrives in our little corner of the world.

We’ve had a lot of rain this past week, which the trees and the plants are loving, as we’ve had a fairly dry winter. Trees are in blossom, buds are forming, and signs of new spring growth are all around. We’ve even spotted a few monarch butterflies making an early appearance this year.

I hope you’re having a good spring or autumn wherever you are in the world!

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Art · Art journal · Mixed-media · Nature

Tui

One of our most beloved native birds, here in New Zealand, is the tui. A medium-sized bird, a little larger than a blackbird, the tui has an interesting and varied repertoire of sounds, which include melodious ringing notes interspersed with coughs and grunts. They can also mimic the sounds of other birds. Tui live in native forests and rural areas, but can also be found in suburban parks and gardens that have flowering and fruiting trees. They are honeyeaters and love feeding from the nectar of flowering gums, kowhai, pohutukawa, flax and fuchsia.

When we go for walks, we often hear the whoosh of their wingbeats as they fly between trees. They are easy to spot with their white throat tufts and the iridescent blue and green sheen of their feathers in the sunlight.

Below are a few pictures that my husband has taken on our walks. They really show the beauty of these birds. The bottom two photos are of a tui that was feeding on nectar from the flowers of a kowhai tree, which I used as inspiration for my art journal page.

Art · Floriography · Flowers · Mixed-media · Nature · Uncategorized

More Floriography

Here are a few more pages from my floriography book.

I found this little forget-me-not poem in one of the old books of poetry I picked up for a dollar from the school book fair, and thought it was perfect for adding to my page with forget-me-nots from my garden.

This is a page that I did in my art journal a while ago.

I have collected a few books over the years on ‘The Language of Flowers’ and find it interesting that most of the flower meanings have remained consistent over time, their interpretations drawn from myth and history. However, there are a few that differ from book to book. It would be interesting to get hold of an original one from the Victorian era to compare with the modern books.

I love that Olive Dunn, in her book ‘Delights of Floral Language,’ has started her own floral language list with no sinister meanings, as she found some of the meanings repellent in the old books.

I believe that flowers speak to us with their colour, beauty, uniqueness, and their life force, touching each of us in different ways. I think that all flowers are beautiful, but I know that, for me, certain flowers evoke a particular emotion or bring to mind certain words. I am drawn to them by their colour, associations, or folklore, and the joy that they add to my life. I’m sure that if each of us were to compile our own personal ‘language of flowers’ list, they might make for some interesting reading and comparisons!

 

 

Art · Art journal · Mixed-media

The Skylark and the Rainbow

I recently signed up for the online mixed-media workshop 21 Secrets: The Great Outdoors, one of the many fabulous workshops run by Dirty Footprints Studio. It is a self-paced course that you can dip into whenever you have some free time in which eleven artists, each with with their own unique style, demonstrate fun projects. I am enjoying spending time with each of the artists, learning new techniques and gaining inspiration, and all centred around my favourite subject of nature.

One of my favourite workshops so far has been Laly Mille’s art journaling lesson The Poetic Botanist. A couple of weeks ago I went to the annual book sale at one of our local high schools and picked up some old, falling apart poetry books for a dollar each. The pages were perfect to use on my journal layout. Slipped inside one of the books was an old sheet of notepaper with a wonderful image of a rose, the exact sort of image I had been looking for to use as the focal image on my page.

My journal page was created with collaged book pages and sheet music, image transfers from old botanical books, paint, ink, washi tape, and a pressed rose from my mother’s garden.

I picked out random words from the collaged book pages, as well as some from my box of words, and wrote a little story that I journaled around the layout. Some of it is partially hidden, so I have typed it out below.

The Skylark and the Rainbow

Once upon a time a free-spirited skylark saw a rainbow in the sky and, forgetting the lessons of nature, he believed he could reach it.

Singing away, he felt the summer breeze on his wings as happiness carried him on his journey.

The higher he flew, the more distant the rainbow grew until it faded away into the parting clouds, replaced by rays of golden sunshine.

When the rainbow was gone, the skylark returned home, not feeling sadness at his failure to reach it, but instead remembering the little moments of joy that had filled his heart and soul as he made the journey towards the colourful ribbon in the sky.

Have a happy day on your journey towards your rainbow!

Art · Mixed-media · Nature

Painting at the Beach

For several years now, I have enjoyed watching the English TV show Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year. Each week, contestants, consisting mainly of amateur painters, with a few professionals, are taken to a different outdoor location and given a few hours to paint the landscape as they interpret it, whether it be a castle, a bridge, a river, or even a field of lavender. There is always such a diverse range of styles and mediums, and many of the final paintings are amazing. I have often thought what fun it would be to pack up a bag of art materials and go somewhere quiet to just sit and paint.

A few days ago, my husband had a day off work and we decided to take a drive out to Waimarama Beach, a 40 minute trip in the car. After days of sweltering temperatures in the 30s, it had dropped to the low 20s and was much more pleasant for spending time outdoors. We packed a few art essentials – watercolour paints, brushes, pencil and eraser, a little container of water, a rag, and some watercolour paper. Also, of course, some snacks for nourishment.

Being a week day, the beach was deserted and we had the whole shore to ourselves, apart from a couple of other people walking their dogs.

The rock sticking out of the water is Bare Island. It provides a safe haven and breeding site for blue penguins.

Finn had a wonderful time chasing sticks, digging in the sand and running in and out of the lapping water.

beach6

We found a log that was perfect for sitting on and we draped a towel over it to provide some shelter from the sun for Finn.

I painted what I saw, then, when I got home, I added a few paper embellishments to break up the expanses of sand, sea, and sky. I took the liberty of adding a lighthouse to Bare Island because, well, it just looked like it needed one.

It was a fun day. Although I could never compete with the talent of the Landscape Artist of the Year contestants, I have a unique piece of art to add to Finn’s scrapbook album, along with the photos, to remember the day by.

While watching the Landscape Artist of the Year shows, I was particularly inspired by one of the contestants, Helen Hallows, whose mixed media art combines paint, collage, and stitching. You can see her art on her website here. Helen has published a set of four charming little books, one for each season, that are filled with her nature-inspired art and her thoughts on nature. They are lovely little books that I pick up often to browse through and be inspired.