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

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.

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.

Every Girl Needs a Dragon

My mother recently gave me a little coffee set that her grandfather bought in an antique shop. I don’t know how old it is, where it was made, or where the antique shop was. But it inspired my imagination, art and dreams and I drew a lot of dragons when I was in high school because of this coffee set.

My own dragon came to me in a dream. It had iridescent goldish, silverish, rainbowish scales and was slightly wet because it had been resting in the river nearby. It told me it’s name, and that it would always be there if I needed – just think or call and it would be there in a flash. There was advice and warning attached – that the tasks I gave it would directly affect it’s nature and personality as it grew in size and strength. I felt such profound love for my dragon in the dream. There was an instant bond, and I woke up knowing that my dragon was a trusted friend. My logical mind interpreted the dragon as inner strength and instincts. We can stay with that explanation.

It’s been a long time since dragons featured in my art, but when I was drawing this portrait (which is for a gift), I realized that all girls need a dragon to keep them safe and strong. They also need another companion to symbolize character. The girl in this picture has integrity, courage, diligence and kindness so I’ve given her a bee.

Anyhow, I finished this one early this morning. It’s about being on the cusp of adulthood at the end of 2020. It’s called Jade With Her Bee and Dragon.

Jade With Her Bee and Dragon.