I love painting in watercolour, but it’s always bothered me that the end result had to go behind glass. Recently, I heard that it could be sealed with a protective wax, which sounded like a good move forward. And then I learnt that it can also be protected with fixative spray. Who knew! What I really wanted, was to mount it on something solid, so I did some online investigating, and found a substrate called Aquabord by Ampersand. A bit more investigating revealed: not much on how to use it. A day or two later though, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, and up came a post by the National Watercolor Society (U.S.A), for a class on how to use Aquabord by Ali Cavanaugh. What a coincidence! I joined the class and bought some Aquabord straight away.

I’m really glad I invested in this class, because Aquabord is a creature all of it’s own, and watercolour behaves differently on it than it does on paper. Of course, I launched into the course in the deep end, by doing a portrait taken from a challenging angle. This portrait was painted from reference photo, not my own, but a Selfy, taken by my very talented granddaughter Sianna.

Sianna. Watercolour on Aquabord

In and Out of Lockdown

In and out of lockdown, then back in again after only four days. It’s a challenge to stay positive when there’s a pandemic prowling the neighbourhood. We’re really blessed to live on a farm so we can walk around, we have personal space, and for the fact that we’re both introverts. But I miss everyone. I miss my family and friends, and even the weirdoes I barely know.

Meanwhile, there’s an art exhibition planned for the local hall at Numulgi this coming weekend, and the organisers have decided to push on and hope that we’re out of lockdown by then. Good on them, and they invited me to exhibit too, so I painted and drew something which was inspired by a dream. The dream came about when I signed up for a Masterclass for Christian Artists this week. So, it all neatly dovetailed together. It’s about being an artist in lockdown, being mindful and appreciative of what I have. I think I will take this theme a bit further, but just in case the exhibition goes ahead on the weekend and I sell this work, I thought I would celebrate it right now.

The Maker. Inks, coloured pencil, graphite and acrylic paint on an offcut of gessoed plywood.

All the art supply places were closed, and I think that even the hardware stores are closed, so I used what I had. Now, hopefully I can find some stuff to hang it with or it might have to be exhibited on a chair!

Creative Ways To Be Creative

During the custard apple harvest season, not a lot of painting gets done. This could be a frustrating situation but it also brings opportunities to be creative with what I do have, which is custard apples! I recently made a Custard Apple Nicecream each day for ten days and uploaded each one to Instagram. And because custard apples are bff’s with all the other fruits, there are so many possibilities.

We’re still in the thick of the pandemic, and in lockdown, so a ten day challenge seemed like a good idea. You know – you have to try to make the most of everything you have, don’t you!

Custard Apple Mixed Berry Nicecream with fresh fruit.

It’s great to think that dessert can be so good for you!

Custard Apple, Nectarine and Plum Nicecream.

I really, really love plums, with a capital L,O,V & E, so it was a happy day when I saw some for sale. I had to buy some to put in this Custard Apple Nicecream.

Custard Apple Nicecream with Choc Chips and Ginger.

Oh, this one! Mmmm …. my favourite! The choc chips and slices of candied ginger gave this one texture and bursts of rich flavours.

Custard Apple and Strawberry Nicecream With Pitaya Unicorn

A unicorn made from a dragonfruit, or pitaya was the inspiration here, and I think it’s an idea to revisit for later. It was a fun and light-hearted approach because I made it on one of those days when lockdown was hard going.

Custard Apple Nicecream with Spirulina

This one was made from custard apple, coconut milk, coconut cream and spirulina to make it blue. It was a day where I longing to go to the beach, but you know – lockdown, so I brought the beach to me!

Custard Apple Nicecream with Avocado & Orange

I wanted to see what it would be like to use avocado with custard apple. On their own, they seemed a bit quiet, but with the addition of their citrus friend, they really came to life. It was like sunshiney happiness in a bowl.

Custard Apple, Banana and Mango Nicecream

It was such an intensely sunny day that I wanted to make the most of it, with lots of colour and flavour, but I possibly went a bit overboard.

Custard Apple, Raspberry and Strawberry Nicecream

This was a tasty one!

Custard Apple and Strawberry Nicecream

This was one of my favourites. Strawberries and custard apples go so well together.

Custard Apple and Choc-orange Nicecream

When I picked the oranges off the tree, I found a four leafed clover. And that, my lovely readers, makes this one the lucky last in this post!

Building a Strong Character

Can you build a strong character without adversity? I don’t know. Do you need good role models while you’re growing up? Probably. How about a good mentor: important or not important? I think ….. yes, important. I’ve found some of my most important role models and mentors in the least likely places.
My current work refers to character building, illustrating qualities I see and portraying them visually. At the moment, we are still living in the constraints of the pandemic, so I am doing more self portraits and family members because I’m mostly at home, and not seeing many other people.

Self Portrait. “Being Resilient and Golden”. I feel privileged to live on a farm during the pandemic, with the freedom and space to walk around without wearing a mask. My favourite time for walking is in the late afternoon when the sun is getting low, and everything is golden. I have become more circumspect over the past year and a half, since lockdowns and quarantines began. We went straight from drought and bushfires into a pandemic, and many people are suffering. I wonder how long it will be before we say “what pandemic was that?” And yet, despite the adversity in the world, there are also many more people who are becoming creative in new ways, and making different connections because of the enforced social isolation. People are resilient, and that is good to see.
“Anika, warrior. Strength and grace.” This is my daughter, and these are some of her qualities. She also has compassion, patience, kindness, but anyone crossing her will come off second best.


So busy! In the last post, I was enjoying a bit of pre-hectic-harvest-time bliss, but that was short lived. Now it’s all business. Well, nearly. It’s important to appreciate what you’ve got because it’s all over so quickly and everything in life moves to either a memory or photograph. My artistic outlet at the moment, is to take photographs of my surroundings and the custard apples. There is some wonderful and precious time for date night, lighting fires and walking through the orchard at sunset. These are a few of my favourite things!

All you need for a romantic winter date night dessert, is a custard apple and two spoons. Plus your love, of course.
We have a driveway across the front of the farm, and it is a thing of joy to watch the sun go down.

A few days ago, we watched Venus set. That was pretty special. Just as it reached the horizon, it did a little dance and popped up and down a couple of times before finally dropping down, out of view.

Custard apple served with sunshine.

I think it’s always good to celebrate life, by appreciating what you have around you. There is so much beauty everywhere. Sometimes you collect it, harvest it or make it yourself, but sometimes it’s in your surroundings. Already there, just waiting for you to notice.

Lazy May Days

May is often busy, with the custard apple harvest in full swing. But today, a-may-zingly, I am all caught up. My husband was out picking fruit all day long, but I just frittered away my time, which is one of my favourite things to do. Time well spent is to simply enjoy the luxury of time! Do I feel guilty? Well, I hadn’t felt any twinges of remorse until I asked myself that question. No, I have decided I’m not going to waste time by feeling guilty about that. I had a great day. I even collected some flowers to garnish my custard apple snack, and by garnish I mean Garnish with a capital G!

How do you like your custard apples? I like to celebrate mine, and with Mother’s Day tomorrow, it seems like the right thing to do
Some harvest love. What a beautiful time of year.

Painting With Gemstones

Do gemstones and crystals have healing powers or do they just sit there looking pretty? I don’t know, so I bought some watercolour paints made from real gemstones to try to find out. They weren’t cheap, but you know – crushed gemstones! I spent a very nice day painting with my new gemmy/ chrystally paints. I’ve gotta say Amethyst- oh, oh, oh. Love, love, love! It shimmers, it sparkles, and amazingly, it actually sits on the paper without falling off. I’m probably not going to use it for botanical works or portraits. But for abstracts, it’s the bees knees. I’m very impressed with the sodalite too. It is very similar to Payne’s grey and it granulates beautifully.

I tried a variety of watercolour papers, and some were better than others at supporting the paint and preserving that beautiful translucent quality that most of us want from watercolours.

The other paints I chose were: lapis lazuli, green apatite, rhodonite, green diopside, tiger’s eye, sodalite and kingman green turquoise. These are all from the Daniel Smith Primatek range. The colours all work together, and have a vintage look.

This one has rhodonite (pink), green apatite and green diopside, sodalite (grey black) and a thick swirl of amethyst (so dark purple that it nearly looks black).
Sodalite, amethyst and tiger eye are the three friends which are collaborating here. I think this one is my favourite.
All eight gemstones are working busily together here. At first, I wasn’t all that thrilled with it, but it keeps me coming back for another look and another. The overall feeling is busy, but there are parts of it that I love. And sometimes an energetic painting is just what we need.

I chose the gemstones for their colour, without knowing about their symbolism. At the time of choosing the paints, I wrote down that I would like something with healing properties, something to help me get along with some people who were being difficult, and something to lift my mood. I have to say that after a day painting with all these beauties, I felt happier and more calm. I do actually feel healthier than I did then. And I found a way to navigate the situation with the difficult people.

Was it the gemstones? Indirectly, maybe-probably. I spent a whole day being mindful (concentrating on my paintings) and relaxed. That’s gotta help, doesn’t it!

So now…. time to look up the symbolism. What do they represent? Let’s ask Google……

Amethyst – relieves stress, balances mood, dispels fear, anger, rage and anxiety. Promotes dreams, sobriety, wisdom, sincerity, wisdom. Nice!

Lapis Lazuli – royal prescence, truth and integrity, powerful and mysterious, boosts the immune system, alleviates insomnia and vertigo. Promotes honesty, dignity, friendship and sociability.

Sodalite – promotes order and calmness, rational thought, emotional balance, self esteem, truth and intuition. Calms panic attacks. Oh, good – I almost had one recently. Not a fun thing at all. Yes, sodalite looks like a good choice for the times.

Turquoise – promotes calm, also calms panic attacks. Interesting. Alleviates symptoms of rheumatism, gout, stomach problems and viral infections. Hmmm, I’ll have to find out what rheumatism actually is. Later. Oh – here’s a good thing…. invites you to figure out what is working for you and what isn’t! Gentle and comforting. Good for dissolving feelings of self pity and martyrdom. Yep, don’t want to waste time in self pity – that doesn’t help anything or anybody.

Apatite – energises, nourishes, promotes physical healing, new beginnings, can assist in attracting money. Enhances creativity and intellect. Another good choice.

Diopside – promotes love and forgiveness, creative vision and awareness, good for feminine health and kidneys.

Rhodonite – promotes compassion, nurtures love, wound healing, well-being.

Tiger’s Eye – promotes mental clarity, problem solving, dispelling fear and anxiety, courage and bravery, protection.

All in all, I think they were generally good choices for where I’m at in my life. I wonder if the ones I didn’t buy were equally as fabulous. I’m going to call the results “inconclusive”, and do some more paintings.

Weaving Into Autumn

Autumn. It’s a beautiful time of year here in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, but it makes me feel a bit restless. I have to learn new creative skills or start a new projects to help balance that uncomfortable feeling. Recently, I went to a weaving workshop with my friend Claire, who is also my neighbour. We spent the day learning how to use natural fibres and grasses.

Basketly Beginnings. Raffia seems to be the easiest fibre to use for the binding. Blanket stitch and whip stitch are the the two types of construction methods here.
The small blue and green basket in front is made entirely from raffia. The larger green basket is made from iris leaves stitched with raffia. And the creamy coloured basket has Bangalow Palm for the sides.
I thought they would make good baskets for my custard apples now that it’s harvest time. I can see that I’ll have to make bigger baskets if I want to hold more than one or two pieces of fruit.

It’s very restful and meditative to weave a basket this way. I think many problems could be solved by taking up basket weaving.

Ornithographica – Magpies

Magpies keep coming up in my imagery lately. I think it’s because I’ve finally realized that I’m an ordinary, generic human in much the same way that magpies are ordinary, generic birds.

They are all distinct individuals who blend and blur into their species, with an occasional reason for being noticed. Like, maybe they sing beautifully, swoop a news reporter, cohabit with another species or have some other reason for being noticed, loved or feared. I saw a bird yesterday that looks like a magpie but with the markings of a currawong. I hope I see it again.

Lately I’ve been leaving some clear space with the main figure off to the side, as a metaphor for “giving myself some space”.

Ornothographica. Self Portrait With Magpies.


Sometimes I go to bed wondering what stories my dreams will tell me. Sometimes I enjoy the entertainment and other times I learn what the dream is telling me. In one dream, I was a magpie and I flew up, up, up then turned on the momentum, then swooped down as fast as I could. It was so much fun. The dream itself was great, and it’s left me wondering what it all means. While I’m thinking about that, I painted a watercolour and added the magpies digitally. They were from an earlier drawing/painting which I had scanned.

Magpie Dream.