Friday, 22 April 2016

New Camera (at last) ...

Whoohoo!

Finally I've bought a new camera.  Bet you all thought I'd never do it. All those years of procrastinating... lol.

Got a Canon EOS 760D.

As it's a new camera out I was able to get an introductory deal. Got the camera body, a remote control, a camera bag and a EF-S 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 IS lens.

The deal was $250 cheaper than buying it all separately.
Kept my zoom lens because it's compatible but I did lash out for two extra lenses.

Got a Tamron Ultrawide 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 for landscape photos and a Tamron Macro SP90mm F/2.8 lens for when you just have to take a real close up of something special.

I added an extra battery, a 64gig memory card as well as filters for each lens. The nice salegirl gave me an extra discount of $200 because I spent so much money .... *snicker*

I won't be using the camera bag - too small to fit all my lenses in but I already had a very large bag so they will all fit in very nicely.

Mind you it now weighs a ton so I expect I will gain some extra muscle on my flabby arms ... rotfl.

I can hardly wait until I go away to have a really good play with it. I'll probably keep the local inhabitants amused as I swap lenses back and forth.

Stay tuned for masses of photographs of rocks, waves, sand and trees ... lol.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Portrait Workshop ....

Well the portrait workshop is over and done.I really enjoyed myself.There were only18 other people there so it was a nice number.

The presenter was fabulous. She, Kristin Hardiman, was down-to-earth and very approachable. Because there were a number of people there who had never lifted a paintbrush she decided it was best to start with the basics. She knew those of us who painted regularly wouldn't mind. I don't think anyone who paints would mind refreshing their knowledge.

We were given 8 colours - warm cool of red, yellow and blue plus white and black.  It reminded me of my father. I learnt to paint using the 3 primaries and white. I can remember pleading with my father to let me have other colours but he stuck to his guns...lol.

It was fun to see some of the newbies puzzle when she told them every colour could be made from those 3 primaries.

For those who hadn't learnt she showed them how to mix skin tones then we all had to make various tones. After that was discussing proportions, golden radio and composition.

Next job was for each of us to sketch out our portrait pics - there really wasn't enough time to do things properly. Then it was time to slap on the paint. We just had to do as much as we could in the time we had left.

Each of us had been told to bring along a photograph to work from. I'd chosen a very interesting portrait of an elderly Irani man.  I liked all the wrinkles and the pose. Rather than a person facing the camera he was caught unawares.

The only downside was it that we were to use acrylics - I rarely use them for some reason.  Think it's because they dry on the palette too quickly and you can't work them on the canvas either. Give me my watercolours any day ... lol.

Even though we were there for hours there just wasn't enough time to complete the piece. The first hour and half was just listening to Kristin, then the second to third was the mixing stuff and other details. 

It didn't leave much time for the actual painting stage. I managed to get the base on but it still needs a few hours work. As you can see there are only the bones in it. Think we only had an hour or so to do the actual painting part of the workshop, by the time we had breaks etc.

Anyway it confirmed that I really dislike acrylics. Maybe one day I'll do the same portrait in watercolours and actually finish it.

Ah it's so nice not to see any stupid comments on my blog ...

Sshh ... at the same time last week as I treated that person as spam I added their ID and email address to my website, emails and other social media platforms as spam so I don't have to worry about getting any messages through them either.

Since then their comments, emails, etc will forever float down into the great Internet garbage bin without me ever laying eyes on them....lol.  Peace at last.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Comments, Climate, Catnip ... and The Doctor

I've changed the way people can post comments. From now on all comments will be moderated. I have already marked one person's ID as spam which means it is automatically deleted and thankfully I never see it.  I hope I don't have to do it to anyone else.

I enjoy reading your comments but not when they become tiresome.

I just checked the weather forecast hoping we are finally heading for some cool autumn days. Unfortunately there are none on the horizon.

In fact the temps are going up again!

Last month (March) was the hottest on record for Australia and the way things are going it looks like April might do the same.

I wonder what the weather will be like when I go away in May?

Not much good looking at the average temps because they seem to be getting thrown in the rubbish bin.

At least I'll have the Tasman Sea at my doorstep, just hope I get one day of wind and rough surf to photograph.

When I work on my laptop I've found that Cali usually joins me. I have an old baby blanket alongside that she likes to sleep on. Occasionally Mr Spot will lie there too although he'd much rather sit on my lap.

I bought some catnip for them both. Cali wasn't impressed. Gave it one sniff then walked away. Spotty, on the other hand, found it wonderful. After rubbing himself in it he climbed up and tried crawling onto my computer.

Then he jumped down and rolled in it some more before suddenly falling asleep. It was really funny. I'll just have to make sure I hid the catnip from him ... lol.

Younger son and family went to the Royal Easter show - look at what they bought me as an Easter gift!

I am a great Doctor Who fan - have so many bits and pieces as well as my TARDIS door to the studio. They have bought me goodies before like a TARDIS cookie box that plays the theme when you open the lid and a bobble-headed 10th Doctor.

Winter time I have my 4th Doctor really long scarf to keep me warm when I go out...lol.

Wish I could get my hands on a life sized Dalek... still dreaming.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Cabins and Cameras and Commas ...

Well I've booked my week at Easts Beach - looking forward to painting all day and writing all nights   ... lol. Heading there in May.

The cabin I booked sleeps 5 and the shower looks as if all five could fit in at once ... lol.

The place looks really roomy and nice and clean. Even has a BBQ on the covered verandah.

I'll take one day to head up to the rainforest to photograph and maybe get in a sketch or two.

I've been there before and when I went I saw a few lyrebirds, even managed to get a blurred photo of one.

Hopefully this time if I do see one I'll be able to take a decent shot.

On that note I'm still umming and arring about buying a new camera.

Think I'll have to take a drive to Penrith - to Camera House and see what they have and what prices. Still leaning toward another Canon, mainly to EOS 70D because I mainly take landscapes/seascapes and after talking with several people it looks the best one.

There is a new 80D coming out but from what I've read and talked about it wouldn't do me any better and it's about $800 dearer - I can use the two lenses I have on any EOS. That would mean if I go for the 70D I could buy the camera body then splurge out on another lens. Maybe a macro or a wide angle or both!

Unfortunately the hottie in the pic doesn't come with the camera .... rotfl.

My inspiration for the hero in the MS
Time will tell if I buy it before I go away - my EOS 400D still has a lot of life left in it.

Going through my latest MS, have around 87000 words written. Its the story and an Artist and a Sculptor.

Now it's time to re-read and edit. Time to add bits, take bits away and tidy it up then I can send it to my beta reader before I do the final tweaks and polishes.

I've turned on the 'speech' ability in Word 2013 and am listening to it talk while I make any corrects when I hear something that doesn't sound right.

Every author has a crutch - sometimes it's a word they use too much or a phrase. For me it's Absolute Constructions. So when I go through the MS I have to make sure I don't have them close together or use too many.  

That was one of the things that pissed me off with the last editor - she picked up the missing words and spelling mistakes. She did find the extra commas but not all the grammatical errors which I think are really important if you want a story that flows.

So it was up to me to find where I'd used passive voice, too many/too close absolute constructions, incorrect tense. I even found a dangling modifier that she should have picked up as well as a head hop that somehow slipped in. 

On top of that I've sent off my short story to the new editor I've employed. Thankfully this new editor is also an author so he will know exactly what to look for. I really confident this time.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Ski Flying ...

I've got hooked on watching mens' Ski Jumping and Ski Flying. Last night the season ended so I'll probably have withdrawal symptoms for a while but at least I'll get to bed at a decent hour.

I've sat on the edge of my seat watching them fly, amazed at the distances they cover.

Early in the season I found myself favouring the oldest competitor - Japanese flyer Noriaki Kasai. He actually holds the record for the most individual starts - 501 and this has been his 27th season.
 He won silver at the 2014 Olympics.  He also holds the record for the longest jump for over 35s - 240.5m (789 ft).

So I really wanted him to have a podium finish. He did a few 3rds during the season but not enough to get him onto the podium at the end. Still he finished 8th overall, 5th in Ski Flying, Japan took 5th in the Nations Cup and he took 7th in the Four Hills Tournament.

The season was all Peter Prevc - he blew me away.  He actually got 1139.4 points which was the most ever. He also became the first flyer to win the title  3 years in a row.

He took #1 in everything except the Nations Cup where Slovenia came in 2nd behind Norway.

So now I have to find a new obsession to watch ... or else just catch up with the thousands of books I have and need to read ... lol

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Toys, Painting and Publishing ...

New toys ....

Discovered these great blocks!

Each tin has 6 coloured blocks - one is 6 graphite blocks and the other six charcoal.  They are made by Derwent and each blocks is 6cm x 2cm x 2cm. 

Can't wait to try them out. I've set up some paper on my easel and going to work through each colour/type. I'll let you know my findings if you're interested.


We Will Remember Them
I've booked in for a portrait class with Kristin Hardiman. She is a very famous Australia artist who specialises in equine, portrait and landscape works mainly in Oils.

I've only been painting portraits for about 5 or 6 years and most are animal so any tips I can get will be most welcome.

My Life Studies sketch club has finished for the term - Easter and then the school holidays mean I have to wait until May for it to begin again.

I'll try and work on some of the sketches I've done and see if I can build up some paintings. I'll also use some to test out the new toys ... lol.

I've finished my short story for the second anthology with 6 other authors. Now I need to find an editor. Last book I wasn't at all impressed with the editor I used - too many mistakes snuck through that I fortunately found before it was published.

So now I'm on the lookout for one that doesn't charge an arm and a leg. Some want up to or over $100 per 1k - my story is 30k so that's a lot of cash. Trying to find a cheaper one that doesn't skip half the mistakes ... ;) It's expensive enough when you self-publish so it's important to try and keep costs down.

At least my other books are done through my publishers and their editors are great.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Klutz ....

I've always known what a klutz I am - if something can be dropped, knocked, walked into, destroyed then I am the one who'll probably do it unintentionally. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll agree.

Anyway back to my tale - as you know each Saturday I work with a nude model. Because I prefer to paint my studies naturally I have a jar of water in front of me. Each week I tell myself to remember I have a jar of water and to be careful. Each week I somehow manage to listen.

So this week - stop for a 15 minute break to give the model, David, a chance to stretch out his kinks and to have a drink. Made myself a cup of Chinese White tea (you know the tea you drink black ...lol). Anyway drank about 3/4 and set it on the little table I use in the hired studio.

So back to work.

David does a couple of 10 minute poses then he'll do some 30 minute one. So I'm working on the 10 minute one - completely absorbed in what I'm doing .... yep you guessed it I imagine.

I go to dip my paintbrush in my tea instead of the water. Tried to do a fancy save but instead managed to send the rest of my tea flying. All over the table, all over the floor near me. Spent the 10 minutes wiping and washing up instead of painting.

I'm sure next time I have a cuppa I'll either finish it or else put it somewhere safe - like in the next room!

My other fear is singing out loud.

I plug my earphones into my iPod and let it rip. At home I always have music blasting out when I paint or write. My iPod goes on first thing in the morning and it gets turned off when my computer does at night. I plug it into a set of speakers hanging on the wall in the studio.

So anyway back to Saturdays when I go out to paint. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not at home and not burst into terrible out of tune singing...

I know I'd be banned if anyone heard me 'sing'.... lol

Who else out there in blog land is clumsy? Who else has to constantly remind themselves not to trip, walk into things, not drop stuff.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Bath Time


They say you should save water and shower with a friend ....

So Fozzie had a bath with a friend the other day.

Pippi is scared of baths - just like Fozz - so my lovely groomer decided to try them both together.

Fozz looked at Pippi as if to say "Don't cry. I"ll look after you mate."

Now I'm not really sure which one of them cried the most but at least when it was all over they both looked pretty spiffy.

Look at the difference in size!  Pippi is full grown and Fozz is a labradoodle so he has plenty of poodle in him.

Fozzie got shaved down in December to help him
cope with the heat - he is slowly getting his long curly coat back. By the colder weather he'll be all thick and warm again.

Pippi looked twice his size after the blow-dry ... all primped and read for action.

It was all too exhausting - Fozz had to catch up on this sleep when he came inside after it.

It's his birthday this month - 11 years old - so I guess we can understand the need to rest after such a tiring ordeal ... lol

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

IKEA and Lindt Chocolates ....

So I took a trip to IKEA - now that it's only 8 minutes away I can indulge in wandering through their marketplace whenever the urge takes me.  I wanted a new wooden chopping board and found an enormous one there for only $19.

Also bought a smaller one to put the kettle on. So after wandering around and buying a few items I left IKEA and headed down the road.

Now almost opposite IKEA is the new Lindt chocolate factory outlet shop.  I figured I'd better go in and do a little research on chocolate flavours.

It's a real smorgasbord of delights.

Oh where to start!!!

The hardest part wasn't starting it was stopping!  With every item they make just sitting there begging to be bought it's almost impossible to walk in and ignore them.

So of course I didn't.

The staff were very friendly and helpful.  I had selected a few handfuls of the round Lindt Lindor balls - they have small and medium sized bags for you to fill up. When I took them to the counter the nice man told me if I was to purchase an empty box (there are 2 sizes) I could actually stuff more in because they didn't go by weight.

Naturally I bought 2 boxes - one of each size.

Turns out by buying them that way I saved almost $40 ... the guy weighed them and gave me the price. So if you are going to indulge and like me can't stop at a couple of handfuls consider buying one or two of the empty boxes. I have to tell you I stuff them in so well ..... lol.

On top of the Lindor balls, they had bars of chocolate, boxes of pralines, chocolates and seasonal boxes and gifts (like Xmas stuff or Easter).

I also bought some drinking chocolate - little flakes of pure indulgence.

Now all those chocolates weren't just for me in case you're wondering but my pantry does have some yummy things in it now. (In case you think the larger box looks a bit empty that's because my DIL and I had to sample all the new flavours before I remembered to take a photo).

Had to take a picture of a couple of blocks plus some unbelievably delicious orange thins -they are to die for - on my new wooden board just to show the size of the chopping block.

Just might have to take a trip there again soon - maybe in the April school holidays when my grandson comes for a week, I think he would absolutely love seeing all that chocolate .... ;)

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Life Studies gear ...

Thoroughly enjoying my Life Studies club.

My very favourite female model is still posing which made me very happy when I went last Saturday and discovered she was to be the model for the day.

The week before we had a male model - a new one for me. I found his poses to be very interesting. They were very challenging. Spoke to him between sessions and after and he told me he's only been posing for 3 years. He also added that he likes to think of poses that will be interesting to the artist - he was damn right with that.

From where I had set up two of his poses meant he was foreshortened and that's always a real headache trying to get them down looking anatomically correct.

Once we hit the 5 minute poses I switch over to water colour. I find it a good medium to work with especially for this. I don't sketch an outline I just let the paint go as it will.

Last time I was in the club I made my own watercolour book and decided to do the same again this time around.  I still haven't been able to find an A4 book with 300gsm pages. You can buy pads with a few sheets in them but I want something that will last me at least 2 terms.

When I made it beforewith only 200gsm and it just wasn't thick enough, the paper tended to buckle. This time it's 300gsm.

I've packed some soft pastels in a container to take next week. I find pastels excellent for skin tones. I did a series of self-studies a few years back and love the translucent effect you get with soft pastels.

So now my burgeoning bag is bursting at the seams - I've also added a pastel pad. I have to carry all my pads and sketch book in a tote while all my gear is in my bag.

 On the subject of my bag - I bought a fabulous real leather laptop bag specifically to use for art. It's perfect to fit everything in. I love it. Expensive but well worth the cost.

I've actually ordered a large overnight leather bag from the same place. Should get it by the end of the month.  I'll use it when I go away in May and of course I'll be taking all my painting gear as well as my Surface Pro to write on.

So that's my plan - just have to execute it .... lol

Friday, 19 February 2016

Coloured Pencils ...

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know as well as being an author, I am first and foremost an artist.

Not only am I an artist but I am addicted to art supplies - paintbrushes, paints, charcoal, pencils ... you name it I have to have it, usually in multiple quantities.

A look at a small part of SOME of my paintbrush collection gives you an idea of my addiction.

Anyway a few years back I decided to start using coloured pencils so I snagged myself a bargain and got 120 Prismacolor pencils on Ebay. That kind of started the coloured pencil obsession. I already had a full set of Derwent Inktense watercolour pencils so I could add these to my ever growing collection.

So over a few years I've added to my supply of them as you can see (that pic is only part of them...lol)

Now last week I saw someone was selling 120 Prismacolor pencils for half price!

Now some places out here sell them for as much as $430 and the average price is around $300-400 so when I saw the price I started coveting them. I mean ... $180 for pencils worth over double that!

Anyway this morning my lovely delivery man handed me a large package - I raced inside and tore it open.

Mmm pencils.

Mmm pretty coloured pencils.

Mmm pretty, pretty coloured pencils.

After I got over the initial hit of seeing and touching them, I took their picture (as you do).

Let's face it. Aren't they pretty?

So many colours. I just know they are going to love living here with all my hundreds of other coloured pencils .... *snicker*

Hello. My name is Suzy and I have an addiction ..... hahaha