Anne Lawson Art

A solo exhibition!

Well, in between getting the Fella home from hospital (he is doing very well; thank you for your positive thoughts) and my Mum going into hospital (she is also doing well, but still in hospital and being looked after so well by the nursing staff) I had an offer of a solo exhibition at the Old Auction House in Kyneton.

If you have been following my blog for a while you will know that a solo exhibition has been a goal for a long time. I researched galleries, googled “ways to approach galleries”, worked on a body of work, but was held back by the fear of rejection. What if the gallery said “No. Not good enough”?

Then, as often happens, my fear was bypassed when Rhain, at the Old Auction House, approached me. Her previous booking had fallen through, and had a gap for August. She had seen my work at the recent group show ‘Not your usual canvas’, and popped the question ~ Would I be interested? Would I? You bet!

So in between hospital visits I sorted through my art works, and surprised myself by finding about 17 pieces that I would be happy to show. All trees, so no surprise there!

About half of the pieces are oil pastel trees.

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I have often shown the smaller, A4 versions of these trees, and some are still available in my Etsy shop. You might remember me telling you about my fascination for trees after my trip over the Nullabor Plain. The ones for the exhibition are larger ~ A3 and one is even bigger. I haven’t shown these before as they are too large to send through the post  successfully. Lucky, because they are perfect for the exhibition.

Another group are the watercolour landscapes embellished with sewing. (I call them landscapes because I don’t know where they fit.) Some you have seen before, but they haven’t had wide exposure.

tree painting

Then a couple of single trees, watercolour canopies and stitched branches and trunks.

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The last group are a couple of works created only in watercolour.

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I think they will hang well together, with a consistency of shape, media and certainly theme.

I won’t have time to create anything large from my Police Point residency. Whatever comes from that might be in my next exhibition!!

However, I would like to find time to create some of the panoramas that I began down there. They should be a nice little addition to the collection. Along with the cards I have already made, they will give people a chance to buy something at a lower price.

So, work to do before the beginning of August, but quite do-able, and yes, I have made a list.

If you are going to be around Victoria in August I would love you to be able to see my work in person.

8th August to 2nd September

The Old Auction House

52 – 56 Mollison St

Kyneton

Sewing on paper

Lately I seem to have blogged about non-arty things, although I have been talking about what I have been up to in my newsletter. (If you would like to have my art news delivered to your inbox each fortnight, simply sign up here.) Originally I added “….an update” to the title of this post, thinking I had already told you about my latest obsession ~ sewing on paper ~ but it turns out it is a long time since I have written about my art, and haven’t told you about the sewing much at all.  (See, it pays to subscribe to my newsletter!) So, here goes…

Last year I began sewing again, hand-sewing and machine-sewing, creating trees mainly. All the while there was the little thought at the back of my mind “What it I sew on paper rather than material?”. Those What if …..? questions are the backbone of my creativity. So I did. I began with some experimental pieces that I made exclusively for subscribers. They were a combination of machine and hand sewing. (Some are still available, so let me know if one or more take your fancy.)

I was hooked.

My next “What if….?” was “What if I sew over an existing watercolour painting?”. The composition of an old fig painting had never moved me, so I changed it by sewing over the top of the figs, cutting them out and attaching them to another piece of paper, on which I had sewn the outline of a fig leaf. A much better composition.

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Since then I have sold a capsicum

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a leaf

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a teapot

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and a pumpkin

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There is another pumpkin almost finished

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It is waiting for me to return from my latest series.

About a year ago I was playing around with watercolour representations of the trees on Flinders Island. There were parts of the pieces that I loved, but something didn’t quite work. Nothing to ruin by experimenting with sewing over the top.

This was the first one to go under the sewing machine:

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Definitely a good learning curve there. (At some other time I am going to blog about the things that surprise me when sewing on paper.)

And then the second:

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You can still the glorious watercolour, the way the colours mix together, while the sewing has given the piece movement and flow.

These two photos show the piece at different stages, to give you a sense of how it progressed.

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There is another work in progress……I love the watercolour effects of the trees in the original. It seemed to capture the canopy really well. The understory didn’t work; maybe the wrong colour; maybe too many trunks was stopping me from finding my way through. Whatever, it didn’t inspire me, until the sewing stage began. Now I am really liking it. It has a drawing quality about it.

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I think I will leave the canopies of the defined trees, and just work up the part that meets the sky.. I will see how that works, as I am not sure about the edge between the background canopy and the other trees. Perhaps highlights there will help. And I think I will leave the dark green area in the middle.

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The sewing has improved the understory, and I am still working my way around that, trying to keep the ‘taking a line for a walk’ effect.

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It has taken me a while to get to this creative place, a place where I feel confident that I have something to pursue, a direction, to create a series that might be interesting and different. I shall see where it takes me.

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The Exhibition is Open!

Some of you have been following the progress of Beckler’s Botanical Bounty for years, from the first visits to the outback town of Menindee, through my paintings of the plants I found there, to working on things for the Exhibition of our work at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. For those of you who are newer to my blog I will give you a couple of links to bring you up to speed.

A collection of posts about my involvement in the project Beckler’s Botanical Bounty.

The website of out project, which has condensed versions of who we are, what we are doing and who Hermann Beckler was and why he is important.

My newsletter subscribers have seen a little of what I am about to show you in this post. Click here if you would like to get my free, fortnightly newsletter.

Our Opening was Saturday of last week, and I didn’t stop smiling for the whole day!

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I was moved to tears when I first walked into the room of our exhibition. It looked so beautiful! Someone said later that it was like walking into a science book. Another said it was like the environment of the Menindee area ~ you were encouraged to look closer to see the treasures that were hidden in plain sight.

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My first glimpse, and then with lots of people from the Opening…..

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Photos don’t do justice to the paintings. Botanic art requires fine details, often microscopic, to be shown, as these can be the identifying feature. However, the following gallery of photos will give you a taste of what a selection of the 40 paintings are like. (Apologies for the poorly cropped photos.)

But let me be a real show off and give a full photo to my three paintings! (Well, it is my blog!!)

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The Project has had four themes going through it ~ Art, Country, History and Science. We wanted to reflect those themes in the display too. There are four plinths in the centre of the room, each showing artefacts to illustrate the theme.

The actual Opening was great fun. There were about 300 people there, all excited about the Exhibition (but probably not as excited as me!). So many people that our speakers, including Prof. Tim Entwisle, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Victoria and opening speaker, were just heads above the crowd.

As well as the Welcome to Country we had a Smoking Ceremony that cleansed all who laid a gum leaf on the smouldering fire. I felt very blessed to have been involved.

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The catalogue of the Project had taken a lot of time from a lot of people. It was worth it, because now we have a very elegant record of the Project and the paintings in the Exhibition. They sold like hot cakes at the Opening.

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Over 20 artists have been involved since 2010, the beginning of all of this. There has been a range of artistic abilities but it was always our intention that each artist would have the chance to have at least one painting exhibited, and every exhibiting artist is included in the catalogue. So, let me show off some more and post my spread!

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My biographical piece in the catalogue
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The accompanying image of my painting of Cullen pallidum

And finally…..one of the joys of the Opening was that my Mum was able to be there. (You can spot her in a few of the photos!) And my regret that my Dad wasn’t there. Mum is 91 and has always been my strongest supporter, in everything I have done.  She has followed my travels to Menindee and all my art that has flowed from the trips. Today I opened a card she had sent me, and what she wrote shows you why she is such a special person.

Dear Anne,

What an amazing time we all had last week at Ballarat! How proud we are of you! This has been a great journey for you, and we hope, that whatever art road you choose to travel, you have much enjoyment and adventure.

Who knows where your many talents are going to lead you ~ but you do know that your family is behind you always!

Much, much fond love, dearest Anne

Mum

So, if you are any where near to Ballarat, or know of someone who is, the details are

Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: the Flora of Menindee

at the Art Gallery of Ballarat (the link will give you directions)

on now until May 27th

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13 and Market

Remember when I sent off some feather drawings to be put into an online shop? These are a few of the ones I sent. [The numbers were for my benefit, and don’t appear on the originals!]

Well, the shop, 13 and Market is open for business! Yay! Another place to buy my feathers. These ones are unique to 13 and Market, [however, there are other ink feathers available in my Etsy shop].

I was curious to see how Nikki was going to display the feathers. On Etsy I can put each feather separately, with five photos and individual descriptions. That wasn’t possible on 13 and Market, so I love the way she shows each feather and allows you to zoom in on details.

Jump over to the new store and have a look. There are the most amazing moose heads for sale too!

Feather drawing giveaway

It’s definitely time for a giveaway! Let me explain why….

There are things happening in my art world that has spurred me on to change the name of my Etsy shop. I am not ready yet to tell you what is happening, but I am excited. But I can tell you about the name change, and then let you know how you can have a chance to win my feather drawing.

When I left teaching I thought I would spend my time making art embellished handbags. So I set up my Etsy shop to sell the bags, and called myself anne4bags. I really wanted just plain annebags but there was a shop called that. While I was creating with material and beads and embroidery I was still going to botanic art classes, following my interest there. As time passed the shop morphed into my art work rather than bags, but the name stayed the same.

I have been pondering the change for a while, thinking about sold art works that were linked to the old name. I realised that it had to happen, that there are more reasons to change than to not. The biggest reason is that the name anne4bags does not reflect anything about the work that I currently do.

So, after doing a small amount research I decided to go simple. Let me introduce you to

AnneLawsonArt

[Etsy won’t let me put in spaces between the words and Facebook demands the spaces! Strange old world.]

It’s time to give the shop a little makeover, working on the photos, tweaking some older descriptions and checking out the tags. Other than that there is the same high quality, original art work available at very reasonable prices. Click here if you would like to have a look.

To celebrate the name change I have decided to have a feather drawing giveaway. This is the feather you will win

Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson

These feathers, created in ink, are very popular, and I enjoy drawing them. The rhythm of the parallel lines is quite soothing. This one is on Arches watercolour paper. This is a good quality, acid free paper. It is an A5 size, 15 x 21 cm or 5.8 x 8.2 inches and the drawing sits horizontally.

To have a chance of winning is very simple……leave a comment below, about anything you like. Just make sure that you leave it on this post by Sunday 15th November. I will write the names of the commenters on slips of paper and ask the Fella to draw one out. I am quite happy to send it anywhere in the world, so don’t be shy. 🙂

Melaleucas and negative spaces

No surprises to know that there is another series of melaleucas. I created these with soluble graphite and ink. I have shown you how to draw with soluble graphite, when I was drawing oyster shells.

This time I wanted the drama of the black and white, with the details being added in with ink.

Part of the enjoyment in creating these was using the negative spaces between the branches. Negative space is the shape created between images in the art work and are an important compositional tool. Thinking about how two objects relate to each other on the page is thinking about negative space, the space between them.

In these drawings the background was the important beginning. The shapes of the trunk, branches and canopy were created out of the background. In essence the lines that I drew to create them were really the line on the background rather than the object (the trunk, branch etc.). I incorporated that line into the scribble of the background and smoothed it out when I added the water. They were quite stark, black and white drawings before I added in the ink details.

Seeing negative spaces also helps to reduce the complexity of an object. If you look closely at the underside of the melaleuca canopies you can see how I have inked in the darker areas between the little branches. Because I have observed these canopies and because I understand tone I know what spaces to create to make the branches come forward. Sometimes too there is just the hint of a branch, built up by the negative spaces.

Another advantage of drawing the negative spaces is that it quietens your brain. We have all had the experience of drawing something only to have our inner critic, the left side of our brain, say “That doesn’t look like an eye/elephant/apple [add in your own object].” That’s the point when many people give up drawing, believing that they can’t do it. Their dominant, rational, left side of the brain has taken over.

Negative spaces are abstract shapes, shapes that the left side of the brain doesn’t recognise as anything in particular. Drawing abstracts quietens the left down and allows the right, creative side to come to play. Instead of drawing an elephant trunk draw the abstract shapes around the trunk, mouth and tusk. It may not be perfect, but you have given yourself time to work out if you are enjoying what you are doing.

Happy drawing!

[These drawings are all available in my Etsy shop. Three or four of them would make a stunning series. Click here to go to see them in the shop and find out more details. Would like some but don’t want to go through Etsy? Contact me in the comments or at

annebags@optusnet.com.au

We can work it out!]

My secret plan isn’t happening this time :(

I mentioned that I had a secret plan, that I wasn’t telling because there was a chance that I would chicken out. It is not happening, but not because I am a chicken.

The Incinerator Gallery had a call out for artists interested in exhibiting there. And I was. That was my plan. If I am to be serious about my art ~ and I do want to be ~ then the next step is to exhibit. It means that the work I am doing, that is coming out of my time on Flinders Island, has to be of a quality to exhibit. It has to be technically good as well as having that something that will capture an audience’s attention.

I have never been here before. You can understand the confidence needed to say “This is my work. It says something interesting about the world and you need to have it in your gallery.” It’s a risk, and I am not a natural risk taker. So, applying for the exhibition was going to be like jumping off the high diving board. (It makes my heart flutter just thinking about it!) There was always the small chance that I would chicken out and metaphorically climb down the ladder rather than jumping.

However, the decision was taken from me. Sensibly I went to the Gallery to look at the spaces they were offering. Neither were suitable. One was an area with little wall space and would be great if I was a sculptor. The other was an outside space; even less suitable to my works on paper!

There are other spaces and one comes up in August. So that’s one option. There will be others, I know that. So, for now, more melaleucas of a professional standard!

Melaleucas

As you can see, I have been obsessed  fascinated with the melaleucas on Flinders Island. I have even learnt how to spell “melaleuca”. 🙂 You may know them as paperbarks, as their bark peels away like sheets of paper. I think this variety is a swamp paperbark.

I did many sketches when I was there, doing my Artist in Residency at Mountain Seas.

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Image copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

It is a move away from my detailed botanic work and I have enjoyed discovering how to capture the form in paint. Easy to do with pencil and graphite, as you can see in the gallery above; not so easy for me to do as soft watercolour washes.

I also loved the tangled undergrowth, using masking fluid to build up the depth. I will tell you my process in a future post.

I don’t think I have finished with the melaleucas yet, but I am conscious that I need to move onto other elements of my time there. At the moment I am playing with paintings of  individual trees, using soluble graphite and negative spaces. My evening project is to work up a tapestry. Thanks to my friend Liz, who has given me lots of inspiration and advice. Again, I am just playing with this, thinking about what works and what doesn’t. I would love to get any feedback on anything you see here.

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Copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

Also, I have some other plans, secret plans for the moment, just in case I chicken out. I hope I won’t. My new motto is “Be brave and the rest will follow”, so wish me some courage!

Flinders Island, here I come!

Soon I will be off to Flinders Island, to stay at Mountain Seas Resort for an Artist in Residence stint. [In my mind it is more of an Artist Retreat.]

Doesn’t this sound idyllic?

Mountain Seas is contiguous to 40,000 acres of national park. We have private trails accessing tall trees, fresh water streams, waterfalls and sculptural granite boulders. The walk to the highest peak of Strzelecki Mountain begins one km from the property.
The beaches, two kilometers from Mountain Seas, are among the best in the world. The white sandy beaches of Fotheringate and Trousers Point are featured in magazines such as Australian Geographic.

I really don’t know a lot more about what to expect. Conversations with my Mum have gone something like….

Mum: Will there be other artists there too?

Me: Ummmm….

Mum: Will you have to give classes?

Me: Ohh, I think I will have a workshop, but it’s not really clear yet.

Mum: Do you have a studio?

Me: Ahhhhh, ummmm….

Mum: What will you be doing?

Me: painting……

Me: Ask me these questions when I get back and I will have all the answers!

Mum: I am so excited for you. Just enjoy every minute!

I have been thinking about what to take. We are flying on a small plane, so weight is an issue, 21 kg, including hand luggage.

Not much thought has gone into the clothes — warm, waterproof, comfortable — although the Fella has organised me into getting a pair of new boots. A little more thought has gone into books and technical things, like checking up on internet connections [pretty basic].

No surprises to know that more thought and preparation has gone into my art supplies. Part of my problem, as you can see from the conversation with Mum, is that I don’t know what I will be doing. Well, I sort of do, but only very broadly. So I am not sure what materials I will need. Paper has been the biggest thing to nut out. Paints, brushes, pencils etc are light weight — an extra brush will not make a difference.

This is what I have decided on for paper supplies. I think that mostly I will be collecting  visual information. For that I need sketchbooks I can take out walking. I also think I will be playing around with washes and effects. For that I need slightly larger paper, but only of moderate quality. So I have made a range of sketchbooks of different sizes and papers.

Three sketchbooks are made of Art Spectrum’s “Draw and Wash” paper. It is not watercolour paper, but is designed for dry and wet media. It is lovely to work with in a sketchbook. I have made a couple of small ones because I fancy creating small botanical stories.

The next sketchbook is made of the same paper, but I have bound four signatures together, 24 pages. It doesn’t have a front cover, only the back that you can see in the photo. The cover is made from an old painting on 600gsm paper. It is quite rigid and will give me a firm drawing surface when I am sketching outside.

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The final sketchbook is made of better quality watercolour paper, Arches, 300 gsm. It has five signatures and I have alternated signatures made from smooth and medium/rough paper. It has a front and back cover, again the 600gsm watercolour paper. The painting is of tree bark. I quite like the way I have spaced the stitching on this one. In fact, this sketchbook looks and feels really good!

Lastly, a couple of other odds and ends. I found this interesting tracing paper in the art shop. I use tracing paper quite a bit, and am interested in overlaying this paper onto other work. Creating little maps? X-ray vision?

And a viewer to help me with composition. I am finding it difficult to get the proportions of things right at the moment. I think my view finder will help, especially with landscapes.

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Also, I have been doing research into plants on the Island. I have found a list of the flora, and I have investigated some that may be found in the area where I will be. I may not find them, and they probably won’t be in flower, but I feel that I have some idea of what I will be looking at.

More things need to be organised, but I am on track. And who knows, I may be able to squeeze in an extra woolly jumper!

It’s tea time!

I am so pleased that my Little Sketchbooks have been embraced by you. I have sent off some and they are winging their way around the globe. They have been sent to Wales and North Carolina, Northern Queensland and Melbourne, Washington and central Victoria. I am delighted to give people an opportunity to be creative, and follow their passions. It brings a smile to my face.

On a different art note……You may remember a page I showed you from my current sketchbook, a page of some teapots from my collection. If you don’t remember here it is again.

I really like the way this spreads across the page. It was a conscious composition.(Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
I really like the way this spreads across the page. It was a conscious composition.(Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)

Well, I received some very favourable comments about it. You are such a supportive group of friends, and I truly thank you for that. The delightful Alys from Gardening Nirvana made this comment

I fell in love with your teapot study. I’ve always loved teapots. Any chance of making those up into some art cards?

and that got me thinking. Not cards, but small studies on A5 paper. I have had great fun with the washes, and as watercolour is a continual learning experience, have learnt so much about water on paper and in brushes. I am also learning about leaving some of the paper unpainted, so that the white comes through as a highlight. The trick is to remember to leave it. I wouldn’t be the first watercolour painter to paint over the white area that had been reserved as a highlight. 🙂

The first studies are of a little teapot I bought in Hong Kong many years ago. I loved the contrast between the smooth body and the knobbly bamboo-like handle. The knob on the lid reminds me of a little grub! It is the one on the right hand of the sketch. In real life it is a dark grey terracotta, so you can see that I have taken many liberties with the colour, both in the following paintings as well as in the sketchbook.

(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
Rosy pink teapot (Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)

The next ones are modelled on the blue and white pot in the middle of the sketchbook page. I may add some of the pattern in a future one. But, then again, maybe not! It was a present from my sister, as she knew that I love Asian inspired teapots. The different facets have given me interesting areas to play with.

(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
Aubergine and gold tea pot (Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
Aubergine and gold tea pot (Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

If you click on any of the photos you will be taken to my Etsy store. Then you can look at the description and price. If you are interested in buying, you can go through the shop, or contact me directly: annebags@optusnet.com.au