Category Archives: My Paintings Stories

Last Day Of Summer

 

Today is the last day of Summer in Australia but reality seems to be parting ways with our old Roman calendar with today’s temperature approaching 40 degrees Celsius in the Perth Hills.  Nevertheless it’s a way of marking time and impressing on me how fast time has passed lately!

Progress has been slow on The Beer Belly Tree despite the errant air-conditioner being fixed.  I did however complete a commission for a father and baby daughter portrait.  It was the first time I’ve done a portrait of people I’ve never met and I found it unsettling to attempt to bring humans to life from a small photograph.  Happily the commissioner was very happy with the result – phew!

Father and Daughter - By Helen Lock

Father and Daughter – By Helen Lock

Maybe I’ll have more projects reach fruition during Autumn and enjoy taking in my harvest.  I think I need to take heed of this pearl of wisdom from Pablo Picasso:

“All human beings are born with the same creative potential. Most people squander theirs away on a million superfluous things. I expend mine on one thing and one thing only: my art.”
Pablo Picasso

🙂
Helen

Geewillinkinwinkings – It’s Monday Already – and February 2014!#$@!

Time is an illusion

said Albert Einstein.  This gives me comfort as I wonder how come January has been and gone already!  Gone before I started my New Year Resolutions, gone before I finished even one painting, gone!

At least I did start a painting.  When going for a walk a tree will sometimes catch my attention and stop me in my tracks as it makes me aware of its individuality, its own brand of beauty and its character.  There is one such tree in the reserve behind our home.  It’s a  Jarrah tree that bears the scars of a long life with a belly that suggests a full and indulgent one.  I fancy that it’s raising a glass and saying ‘Cheers!’ as I walk by and have nicknamed it ‘The Beer Belly Tree’.

The Beer Belly Tree

The Beer Belly Tree

The painting (1m by .75m) will be one of a series so I’m painting it out of context but realistically (in acrylics) so that those that have seen the tree may recognize it – I have no idea why I want to do so!

This is the progress by the end of January:

The Beer Belly In Progress

The Beer Belly In Progress

I’ve many reasons and excuses for not getting further – one is the level of detail messes with my brain!

Beer Belly Detail

Beer Belly Detail

Some other reasons for lack of progress: the extreme heat during January; a dysfunctional air-conditioner in the studio and the catastrophic bush fire on Sunday January 12th – a day that topped 46 degrees Celsius in the Perth Hills.  The fire devastated 650 hectares and destroyed over 50 homes, two in the west of our suburb, most in the suburb to our West.  It’s heart rendering to see the damage and feel the pain of the bush – fauna and flora – and the people directly affected.  We had to evacuate but were spared the trauma of losing our home where so many memories are stored.  We’ve learned from the experience and will be better prepared if there’s a next time.

As for the bush, it has seen fire before and has also learned from the experience.  Successful flora have adapted to survive and regenerate after fire. I think the Beer Belly Tree is a survivor of a past fire as its base is as black as charcoal in parts.

Despite the awfulness of the inferno on January 12 and its aftermath, I was struck by the beautiful colours and shapes of the blackened tree trunks and the crispy, burnt orange leaves as I drove by a stretch of incinerated bush the other day – and smiled to see the blackened stumps of grass trees already pushing up young, green spiky leaves.

As artist Joseph Beuys said:

I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time.

Time for me to go.
🙂
Helen

Is This An Illusion?

If art was not an illusion would it be a photograph or is that also an illusion?  My head hurts already!

Art has to be an illusion (to me at least) as my sort of art, drawing and painting, is a 2-dimensional representation of a 3-dimension visual world.  The end result may be a close rendition of reality but it is always the artist’s view of it.

What maybe surprising is that these thoughts resulted from discovering that a variety of Kangaroo Paws on our block is a hybrid, so maybe these plants only give an illusion of nativeness.  If a hybrid is produced within Australia from Australian natives does the hybrid get a classification of ‘native’?

I think I prefer to do rather than think (is that a tautology?)!  Here’s the result of my doing ‘Kanga Burgundy” in the Wildflowers at Balligar design theme in pen and watercolour:

Kanga Burgundy / Bush Elegance

Kanga Burgundy / Bush Elegance

Kanga Burgundy is also known as Bush Elegance – and its inelegant name Anigozanthos Rambueleg.  This evergreen, perennial Kangaroo Paw reaches to 40cms tall with beautiful dark purple-red flowers from Spring to Autumn.  Its regal colours and looks belie its tough nature and ability to survive in dry, sunny positions, bringing us back to illusion and onto Albert Einstein who proclaimed:

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a rather persistent one.

Enough!

🙂
Helen

I’m A Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins?!

‘You’r a cotton headed ninny muggins’ is an insult with various meanings – in my case I think the “someone who feels like they can’t do something right” meaning fits best.

What brought this to mind is identifying a cluster of ground hugging, tiny yellow blooms as ‘Conostylis Setigra‘, better known (as far as I’m concerned) as ‘Bristly Cottonhead’.

Bristly Cottonhead Cropped

Bristly Cottonhead At Balligar 🙂

This is my attempt at capturing the modest Cottonhead in the style of my pen and watercolour series depicting wildflowers at ‘Balligar’ – our home.

Conostylis Setigera

Bristly Cottonhead By Helen Lock

This tufted, evergreen perennial is endemic to the south west of Western Australia.  It flowers between late winter and late spring and actually likes hot, overhead sun and extended dry periods.  It also tolerates high winds and light frost!

The long hairs on the leaves gave this Cottonhead its Bristly name – hard to depict in a series designed to be reminiscent of leadlight designs.  I’m just a cotton-headed ninny muggins!

Hooroo
🙂
Helen

Fauna With The Flora

A bush garden full of blooms is bound to attract bees and ours did – swarms of them.  How wonderful that our environment supports so many bees even though some may be European Honey Bees, which are considered more deadly than spiders, rather than native ones!  This one was determined to be the centre of attention on a Native Fuschia flower this Spring:

Grevillea Wilsonii

Native Fuschia Of Balligar

Native Fushcia (Grevillea Wilsonii) is a shrub endemic to the South West of Western Australia growing to about 1.5 metres high.  It bears brilliant, eye-catching flowers from late Winter to early Summer.

I wonder if watching this bee made me a Balligar Batcher Bee Watcher?!

“Oh, the jobs people work at! Out west near Hawtch-Hawtch there’s a Hawtch-Hawtcher bee watcher, his job is to watch. Is to keep both his eyes on the lazy town bee, a bee that is watched will work harder you see. So he watched and he watched, but in spite of his watch that bee didn’t work any harder not mawtch. So then somebody said “Our old bee-watching man just isn’t bee watching as hard as he can, he ought to be watched by another Hawtch-Hawtcher! The thing that we need is a bee-watcher-watcher!”. Well, the bee-watcher-watcher watched the bee-watcher. He didn’t watch well so another Hawtch-Hawtcher had to come in as a watch-watcher-watcher! And now all the Hawtchers who live in Hawtch-Hawtch are watching on watch watcher watchering watch, watch watching the watcher who’s watching that bee. You’re not a Hawtch-Watcher you’re lucky you see!” – Dr Seuss

🙂
Helen

Mistaken Identity

At first I titled this coloured pencil painting ‘Bottlebrush” but

Not A Bottlebrush

Kunzea Baxteri

discovered that is is a Kunzea.  One has to look closely to see the differences though!  Kunzea leaves tend to be smaller than those of Callistemons and the five sepals and petals are deciduous in the Kunzea and persistent in Callistemons.  They are closely related.  Here is a photo of each taken in our garden this Spring.

Not A Bottlebrush

Kunzea Baxteri

Bottlebrush

Callistemon

The Kunzea is endemic to the south west of Western Australia and occurs on granite outcrops and hills – so this Kunzea Baxteri is right at home at our place!

I’m enjoying the education I’m getting as a by product of painting and posting.

I’m also awed and appreciative of the free resources available to us on the internet. (Just follow the links in this post if you need convincing.) I remember it used to cost thousands in old money to own an encyclopedia!  It is just one of the reasons I support ‘net neutrality

🙂
Helen

Blue Stars

I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of stars makes me dream

– Vincent Van Gogh

I was lucky to find Blue Stars (Chamaescilla Corymbosa) appear in our bush garden this Spring and this pen and watercolour painting followed:

Blue Stars Of Balligar

Blue Stars Of Balligar

I love the way the seed pods look heart-shaped from certain angles.

Blue Stars are also called Blue Squill or Mudrurt.  It is a tuberous perennial that grows to 10 – 15 cms high with grass-like leaves.

My research to identify this plant educated me about Blue Stars of the astronomical kind and I couldn’t help but draw parallels between them and the intense, short life of Vincent Van Gogh and his dramatic death!

Blue Stars are very large and compact, burning their fuel very quickly so are very hot and extremely bright.  They die in a spectacular way – they explode! Find out more http://www.kidsastronomy.com/stars/blue_giant_star.html

BFN
🙂
Helen