Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Butterflies, Mermaids and Cats

Here are three more leaves for the collection.

The butterfly was actually the first leaf painting I completed for the kids at the school. The Butterfly was a request from Amy. She wasn't particular about what type or colour. She just wanted a butterfly.

The cat was painted for one of the Sophie's. I took her a couple of sketches and she liked the kitten in the teacup more than the one in a basket wearing a straw hat.

The other Sophie's brief was, a brown haired mermaid with a blue tail swimming under water. She needed to have a starfish in her hair and a shell bikini top.

...... ......

All three girls were delighted with their leaves.

Preliminary sketches.
I only have one more leaf to do now from the original group of students who brought me leaves and asked for paintings. That is a surfboard with a tiki on it and a palm tree for Roan, the only boy in the group.
I think there is a bit of a theme going on here. Butterflies, kittens, fairies, and mermaids for the girls and a surfboard for the boy. I might have to extend the project and ask a few more of the male students to request a painting. Just to see how the trend of what boys like compared to what girls like, progresses.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What could be better than pudding? A Magic Pudding

I can't tell you how many times I have driven past the turn off to the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum in Faulconbridge and vowed to stop and take a look one day. I met Norman's adopted daughter, Margaret some years ago and had the chance to look at some of her father's original painting she had at her house.
On Thursday, my wife and I stopped in at the gallery on our way to Sydney.
The first thing you see, as you walk up the path to the gallery is the Magic Pudding himself standing on the verandah. Lindsay's 1918 children's book creation, The Magic Pudding, is one of Australia's most loved children's stories despite the fact it is a rather violent and politically incorrect tale.

Promotional statues made for the animated film of The Magic Pudding, and watercolour illustration.

Norman Lindsay (1879-1969), was an artist, cartoonist, and writer. He was prolific in pen and ink drawing, etching, woodcuts, paintings and sculpture. Lindsay left home when he was sixteen to live with his brother in Melbourne. In 1901 he moved north to make his permanent home in the Blue Mountains, working for the Bulletin in an association that lasted almost to his death. His work was often deemed blasphemous but his works are still widely admired and collected.

The gallery itself is full of examples of Lindsay's artwork, from his quirky cat drawings to huge oil paintings, model boats to ethereal watercolours and the multitude of etchings and sketches he created for the Bulletin.
One of the most interesting aspects of the gallery is the garden and grounds of the property and the amazing concrete sculptures he created.

I was left with one overwhelming impression after my visit to the gallery. Norman Lindsay, if he were a child today, would certainly be classified as hyperactive. He would have to have been to complete such a wide and extensive collection of creative works.

The sculpture above stands outside of Lindsay's painting studio.

So, if you find yourself in the Blue Mountain's, take the time to drop in and experience the world of Norman Lindsay.

Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum
14 Norman Lindsay Crescent
Faulconbridge New South Wales 2776

Email: info@normanlindsay.com.au
Tel: (+61 2) 4751 1067


Monday, July 6, 2009

2nd Leaf - Fairies

I have just finished the second of the five leaves for the Year 5 students. I won’t repeat the full brief for this painting here; it is listed in the last blog post. Basically, Alanna wanted three fairies in a garden on her leaf.

The only part of the brief I couldn’t manage was the baskets full of picked flowers they were supposed to be carrying. The baskets would have ended up about 1mm tall. She did however approve the preliminary sketches.

Preliminary fairy sketches

Design sketch on leaf shape.

So, this is the final product and I'm fairly certain she is going to like the result.

Time now to start on the Mermaid and the Cat. Actually, for a project that started as an accident - me not paying attention to the kids speaking to me - this is turning out to be quite a lot of fun. Plus it has opened an oportunity for me to design an art for kids workshop and may even turn into a book proposal if I can find the right spin on the idea. There is not quite enough there yet but my brain is working overtime looking for that unique bit of magic.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Leaf Art

Turning fallen leaves into works of art.

Some of the Year 5 children at my local primary school were looking through my artwork portfolio and become incredibly excited about three paintings I did while on holidays a few years ago. I had run out of watercolour paper so the paintings were done in acrylic directly onto dead leaves picked out of the resort's garden. There were two simple little seascapes and a silhouette of a Whistling Kite on a sunset background.

One of the girls asked, "If I find a leaf, can you paint a pictur for me?"

I was a little distracted at that moment and without really thinking about it said, "Yeah, I probably could."

A few minutes later five of the kids had returned with leaves for me to paint.

Now, I have orders for a butterfly, a mermaid, a cat, a surfboard with a tikki on it, and a fairy - actually three pretty fairies in a garden, one with blond hair and a purple dress, one with brown hair and a pink dress and one with black hair and a blue dress, all holding wands in one hand and a basket of cut picked flowers in the other. (It's nice to know exactly what you want) Mind you this is all to be painted onto a gum leaf less than 20cm long so the fairies will end up being about 15mm tall.

I had to call a halt to it there or half the school would have turned up with leaves for me to paint. As it was, there were quite a few disappointed kids. One commented that she wished she could do leaf paintings herself.

Not a bad idea.

The technique is simple enough for children to pick up and you don't need a wealth of artistic tallent to do them. Some very simple designs can be very effective. I started to put together a step-by-step tutorial on leaf art, gearing up to run a workshop for the children interested in learning how to do the paintings themselves.

I soon discovered, it wouldn't take too much more effort to expand the tutorial into a fully fledged how-to ebook. Along with the basic techniques, I'm going to document the process of painting the leaves for my Year 5 kids - from brief, to design, to finished painting - as part of the book.

I have completed the first commissioned leaf, the butterfly and its new owner was ecstatic with the result. Her mum is getting it framed for her so it won't get damaged.

I will post a link to the tutorial, one it is complete.