I have new things/objects in the studio nearly every day/every week (just ask my partner, as our living/working space surely gets compromised) – from finds from my regular op shop visits to collected chance/found objects from local walks and bush/beachcombing. (All beautiful/special pieces of course, especially at the time.) But I thought I’d share some special recent finds/objects now because I simply want to, and because I believe that some of these objects mark a special chapter in my art/life. Some of them might appear small and insignificant/unimpressive to some people but to me, they’re all pretty special and gorgeous. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t underestimate the divine and inspirational value of simple things and random found objects. Read above caption for more. Ciao. ~ N.S.
When I studied art in high school (way back) and in uni for a short while (also many years ago), I was taught by some wonderful art teachers and met some great art friends. However, I do believe that some of my best art education and experience have been out of art school – from everyday life as I’ve realised. I’m lucky to have close and caring/loving family and friends who support, encourage and inspire me. Especially my amazing partner. (I love you bumble.) I’ve also met some great people online and on social media who give constructive feedback on my work. (You know who you are.) All of these people, along with myself taking control of my art life/journey (by making informed and intuitive decisions to the best of my ability) and going with the flow of my life, have created an incomparable/invaluable and enriching/fulfilling informal art education and experience that I’m very happy with and grateful for. (Basically, I’ve learnt to teach myself art by living/being and observing [and making decisions] and with the help from my family and friends.) And for this, I want to say thank you so much to all of my family and friends for helping teach and guide me on my art journey. You’re awesome. 🙏
I’m not knocking formal art education at all. In fact, I’m all for it. My point is this – from the moment that we’re born, we’re forever students/learners in life; from someone or something and whether we’re in school/formal education or not. And some of the people that we meet (on purpose or by chance, some of whom we least expect or not obvious at the time) can sometimes be our best/most important teachers/mentors/guides along the way. So be wise and listen and have an open heart and mind to the infinite possibilities that can come our way every day. Don’t judge or underestimate anyone or anything. Take on board the advice, guidance and wisdom of new/different people and be thankful for the blessings. Life is one big/wonderful education. And the world is our university. Love your life and have faith in your path and that everything will be fine. And be kind and ready/willing to share your knowledge/wisdom too when you can. Just do it. Because life is short.
As I mentioned in my last post, other than my regular paintings, I’m also working on a couple of side projects, specifically two colour based themes – “blue” and “iridescence and rainbows“. For the record, and to make matters even more complicated/exciting, I’ve decided to also add “green and gold” to the mix/mayhem. What am I doing?
One of the reasons why I’m excited about working on a green and gold theme is that the colours are so abundant in the flora world. Especially in Australia. Green and gold is also the national colours of Australia which I’m proud of. 1 It’s Spring here now and as we drive around, the colours of green and gold (or green and yellow) flora is everywhere. From native wattles to fruiting lemon trees, dandelions to tall two toned conifers. Other plants/flora that I have in mind that I want to include in my compositions include pumpkin/squash flowers, Sansevieria, golden chalice vine (Solandra maxima), quinces, bananas, papaya/pawpaw and more. Oh and of course, sunflowers. smile That’s all I can think of for now. Bye for now.
- The national colours of Australia (green and gold) was established by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Ninian Stephen on 19 April 1984 on advice from Prime Minister Bob Hawke. The gold colour represents the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) which is Australia’s national flower. The uniforms of Australia’s national sports teams are usually green and gold. The golden wattle flower and the colours green and gold are also featured on the Coat of arms of Australia. Reference: Wikipedia. ↩
Hello there – it’s been a while I know and I apologies for my absence. I’ve missed several weeks of blogging/posting (for several reasons, including pure procrastination) and I’ve broken my promise of posting every Sunday. (It’s a shame because I was on a roll there for a while.) I’ve been wanting to catch up and I’ve even thought about backdating new blog posts to fill in the missing dates. (It’s my blog and I can do whatever I want.) But I’ve decided to just let it go and move on forward (and to accept the natural flow/order of my life) and to write afresh/anew from here. I do like to be organised and to have routine/structure in place (because it can make life/work so much easier) and I like to have control and order in my life. But sometimes, things are just out of my control – plans/ideas change and new unexpected things/events arise. And by being too strict/rigid to plans/expectations, it can hinder our creative process, spiritual growth and ultimately, happiness. Change is inevitable and it’s wise to be flexible and adaptable to the infinite possibilities/changes that can occur. And for this reason, as from now, I’ll be writing and publishing new blog posts whenever I can/want, and not just on Sundays. 1 Although today is Sunday. smile Believe me – this is quite a break through.
Now, about “iridescence and rainbows”. Would you believe that after just one week of posting that I was going through a blue themed art period, I was tempted to also explore an “iridescence and rainbows” theme for my still life compositions/paintings? I know – so much for a focused/dedicated idea/activity. It’s the story of my life sometimes – one moment, I’m focused on and doing one thing and the next moment, I’m focused on something else. And again, a lot of it is talk and ideas at the moment and not much real/actual action/artworks going on. A wise lady once said to me “an idea is only an idea if it’s just in your head, you need to apply and make it happen or at least write it down.” Well, at least I’m writing it down and slowly making it happen. Here’s to all the thinkers/dreamers and ideas people out there.
So what is iridescence? Wikipedia defines iridescence (also known as goniochromism) as “the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change colour as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes… It is often created by structural coloration (microstructures that interfere with light)”. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a lustrous rainbowlike play of color caused by differential refraction of light waves… that tends to change as the angle of view changes”. Iridescence naturally exists, for example, on soap bubbles, oil slick, butterfly wings, beetle exoskeletons, sea shells, certain minerals, bird/peacock feathers, and as alkali formation on old bottles (as you can see in the photo above). It can also be manufactured, for example, on textiles, lenses of sunglasses and as paints or nail polish. Some decorative objects such as glassware are specially treated or “iridised” to have an “iridescent effect” such as “carnival glass” which I’m currently in awe of.
I’m fascinated and attracted to iridescence and iridescent objects simply/purely because it’s pretty and beautiful. Like many people I believe, I find its magical/mysterious rainbow-esque colours alluring and mesmerizing. Just look at it, how can you not find it attractive? They remind me of rainbows. And I love rainbows because they too are just beautiful – a divine/magical display/performance of a myriad/spectrum of colours. They’re cheerful and hopeful, fabulous and fantastic, and spiritually symbolic. They represent the bright side of life and another mythical and mystical dimension. The world is truly an amazing place. 2
So over the past month, on top of finding blue objects for my blue themed still life compositions, I’ve also been on the lookout for iridescent things and thinking of composition ideas for them. While “iridescent” objects are quite easy to come by, iridescent plants/flowers are not. 3 Although, I do like a challenge and necessity is the mother of invention. So perhaps I can also include other plants/flowers to my compositions, such as rainbow roses and/or dyed Singaporean orchids? We will see. I’m excited about exploring this iridescence and rainbows theme for my paintings. I’m still continuing with the blue theme as a side project from my regular paintings/artworks, and this iridescence and rainbows theme is yet another side project. Furthermore, believe it or not, I have other themes that I want to explore as well, including “Black”, “Green and Gold” and “Pink”. I’ll share more with you later. How excitement. As for now, all the best. 🌈
Meanwhile, Swan was very sick two weeks ago. It started when she unexpectedly had a bad turn – she had a fit and diarrhea and was weak and unable to stand or walk. We don’t know what caused this. She’s been very lucky over her 14 years of life and has survived many traumatic near death experiences. But because she’s an older dog now (and because she’s so thin), it’s more difficult for her to recover and bounce back from such trauma. We carefully/closely nursed her back and thank god, she’s regained normal health. She’s returned to her old self and has got her regular appetite back. We sometimes forget just how old she is. She’s the most beautiful/exceptional dog and we hope she lives with us for many more years to come. She will be under constant close care and a short lead from now on. We love you so much Swanny. heart
- Another good reason to sign up for my Newsletter. ↩
- I recently learned about fogbows and moonbows which are similar to rainbows but are as the names suggests “a bow in fog rather than rain” and “a rainbow produced by moonlight rather than sunlight” respectively. We’ve not seen these in real life together yet and look forward to doing so. I’m happy and proud to say that we’ve seen several double rainbows – ones where an equal-sized lighter/fainter rainbow exists below another (with space in between); and another where a thinner lighter/fainter rainbow is attached to the underside of a larger rainbow (sort of like a mother/father rainbow with a baby rainbow attached to it). I also recently learned that triple and quadruple (and more) rainbows exists, as shared on Instagram. Have a look at this #triplerainbow as an example. How beautiful/wonderful do they look? We’ve not seen more than a double rainbow in real life together yet and I look forward to our rainbow discoveries. Perhaps triple and quadruple rainbows have appeared to us before but we just couldn’t see them clearly/properly? Either way, it’s a blessing to see a rainbow in any form and I look forward to seeing and photographing more rainbows in the future and painting them. As you may know, rainbows can be easily created with water spray from a sprinkler or hose outside. Have fun. ↩
- Here’s an interesting article on why iridescent flowers are not so dramatic. So far, from my online research, iridescent plants that I know of include Begonia pavonina (Peacock Begonia), Begonia rex-cultorum and Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus). ↩
It’s official. I’m going through a blue period. I’ve decided to experiment and explore the colour blue in detail in my art. I’ll be working/collecting blue objects like a satin bowerbird. And I’ll be arranging/painting my still life compositions with a blue theme/palette. It all started when I wanted to try a monochromatic composition. At first, I thought about pink. Because pink is pretty. And there’s so many pink flowers around. Then I thought about red. Because it’s the first colour of the spectrum. But I’m not very good at following orders/rules. Then all of the other colours of the rainbow popped into my mind. And black and white. And fluorescent. (How fabulous would that be?!) But blue stood out. And it made sense. Because we both love blue. And we already have a few blue things in the house. The universe was aligning us on a blue path. Blue was everywhere. And so blue it is. And here we are. Blue has become the centre of my attention over the past week.
Many great artists have appreciated the colour blue. And produced many beautiful blue works. Including Picasso, Van Gogh and O’Keeffe. Some of my favourite artists. And to name a few. I look forward to following in their footsteps. Picasso produced powerful/emotional blue paintings during his blue period. Van Gogh used blue freely/intensely with his expressive brushstrokes. For example, in ‘The Starry Night’. And O’Keeffe used blue beautifully/poetically in many of her ethereal works. Recently, I’ve been inspired by the works of Australian still life artist Criss Canning. I first discovered her works on Instagram. I love all of her detailed/luscious oil paintings. Including her wonderful monochromatic works. She’s one of my favourite Australian still life artists atm. And a great inspiration. (Thank you Criss!) Along with Margaret Preston. And more. Do view Criss Canning’s works when you can. They’re just absolutely exquisite! 1
Blue is such a beautiful colour. I do love it in all of its myriad shades. It can be cool and calming. Deep and emotional. It doesn’t always have to be sad. It can also be bright/happy. Just look up at the sky. And out to the sea. It’s the colour of our planet. And blue looks great – in the house or out. And it’s easy to wear. I’m not sure how long my blue art period will last for. Maybe one year, maybe two. Maybe just one painting. But I’m going to give it go. I might also experiment with all of the other colours of the rainbow one day. But we’ll wait and see – one step/colour at a time. Let’s see how blue pans out first. Anyhow, a blue period seems like a fun/exciting idea to explore. It’s a side project. And I’ll keep you updated on its progress. I still have other ‘normal’ paintings that I need to complete and new ones that I want to start. And I’ll continue to work on them. So please keep your commission inquiries coming. Do you like blue? Excuse me while I try on my denim jacket. smile
- Read about other blue highlights in art history here. Also, don’t forget about the upcoming ‘O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism’ exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1 July – 2 October 2017). The exhibition is the largest survey of O’Keeffe’s work to visit Australia. We are going to this Cynthia and Pet. ↩
It’s Autumn and other than the evidently cooler/wetter change, it’s also Magnolia grandiflora season on the east coast of Australia. They’re such wonderful/beautiful plants not to mention ornamental/decorative, symbolic and popular. They make great landscaping trees and can often be found as the centrepiece in front gardens or lining the side of streets/roads if you drive around town or the suburbs. If you get a chance to visit the beautiful town of Berry, you’ll see them flourishing/blooming in full glory atm in the heart of town.
They’re not an Aussie native. But some cultivars such as ‘Little Gem’ have certainly been welcomed with open/loving arms. And they appear to grow/fit in so well in our environment. They’re native to the Southeastern United States where they grow as large trees. They have glossy green and copper leaves and grand/giant fragrant white blooms. The perfume of the flowers is deliciously intoxicating with heady notes of lemon/citrus and other. Simply stunning! I dream of having an old/tall Magnolia grandiflora tree growing in the yard one day, with perhaps a swing and/or cubby. How fab would that be? They’re definitely one of my favourite plants/flowers atm. I adore the flowers so much that I’ve written a haiku poem about them, from a Sydneysider’s perspective. I hope you like it. Have a happy/safe and productive week all. smile
Magnolia grandiflora – Haiku
March moon, morning moth
White wings work witching wonder
Magic, mystery, mum.
C’mon, slow down and smell the roses. In the case of this week’s floral arrangement, it’s Callistemon (aka bottlebrush). Callistemon flowers actually have a very light/subtle fragrance (something faintly florally sweet). It’s the leaves when crushed that give out the best perfume – an intoxicating citrus/lemony scent, akin to eucalyptus. Anyhow, you get my message/point – stop, slow down and take the time to appreciate/enjoy life’s simple pleasures and its natural beauty/wonder.
It seems to me that modern life is running at a ridiculously fast speed (especially in the city and online). It can be crazy fast/hectic and competitive out there in the urban jungle/metropolis and world wide web. There’s a lot of noise and plenty on offer. People want more, want to do more, be more and achieve more (myself included at times, I confess) but often to the detriment of our well being and with negative consequences. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. It can be a healthy appetite. But it can also be an insatiable/dangerous one too. The fantasy of a perfect happiness/utopia could be a forever unreachable mirage.
The key to happiness is to be content with what we currently have and where we’re at. Have a clear vision of what we want from life and take realistic steps to getting there. Don’t move too fast or be too harsh on ourselves if we slip or don’t achieve them immediately. Nobody is perfect and remember that tomorrow is another day to try again. Consistent hard work with balance will get us there soon enough.
Don’t be fooled by or jealous of what others have. Often, underneath the façade is a different story. Happiness is subjective and relative and peace is what we create of it. If we want something, continually work hard for it. It is that simple. And remember to slow down and take the time to enjoy the journey as well. It’s the simple and small things that matter. Who am I saying this to? Probably just reiterating it to myself. Om. smile
Happy Mardi Gras (on Saturday the 4th) Sydneysiders and family and friends (and visitors alike). Hope you had a happy/joyful and fun/safe weekend/celebration, filled with much love, inspiration and enlightenment. We barely left the house and humbly/modestly celebrated the day with good music/movies, food and drinks indoors (mainly because of the bad weather/heavy rain atm). It was a pretty low key event for us but hey, that’s what we did.
Autumn has arrived and it’s been an unusually/extremely wet week on the east coast of NSW. Our neck of the woods has been marked with constant showers, spells of heavy/thunderous rain, and the occasional glimpse of clear sky. We spent the majority of the week indoors, but when the rain paused for a short while, I managed to sneak outside to gather some local native coastal banksia for a floral arrangement. I hope you like it. Have a safe and fabulous week ahead everyone/all. Lots of love. smile
Meet ‘Monkey’ 🐵, our new Monstera deliciosa leaf cutting, complete with its one solitary root (hidden in the jar).
I’ve noticed Monstera deliciosa before – as unusual/interesting large leafy house plants with personality that blended in well with its perforated camouflage green. They often hanged out in the background, either decorative indoors or sprawled out in old gardens. And that’s about it.
Then my interests in plants grew, and the allure of Monstera deliciosa caught my eye/attention even more. Its strangeness and beauty grabbed me. Like many people I guess, I fell under its mysterious spell.
Understandably so, if strange and unusual plants are your thing. Its distinctive traits are its large luscious holey heart shaped leaves, proud hooded creamy white flowers and rod shaped, honeycomb scaled edible/delicious fruits that taste like candy. It’s also easy to care for and has a lust for life. Its other names include ‘Swiss cheese plant’ and ‘fruit salad plant’.
I appreciate/love Monstera deliciosa so much that it’s risen to become one of my new/current favourite plants (along with probably 100 others, haha). I’ve dreamed and hoped and planned to have one of our own.
To me, plants are like people (some with big personalities) and I’ve even thought of a name for our new to be Monstera deliciosa plant/baby – ‘Monkey’. After Monkey Magic. You know, Monstera, Monkey.
And then, last Monday (ha!), I worked up the courage to finally go and ask the people next door if I could get a cutting from the impressive Monstera deliciosa plant that I noticed one day living in their yard.
I pressed the bell and a kind woman approached the door. I politely asked and she said ‘yes’, and that she would let her husband know that she gave me permission to do so. I couldn’t help but notice that she had a perfect mole beautifully centred on her forehead which reminded me of Mother Buddha.
The original mother Monstera deliciosa plant in the yard is a massive coil/entanglement of vines, leaves and roots around an old short large dead tree stump. It beared many fruits and one perfect flower blooming/flaunting just above my eye level. I wanted to pick it but failed. I realised that my own cutting will also bear flowers and fruits one day, and I needed to be patient and not upset.
Trying to get a leaf cutting was not easy. I came prepared with scissors but the stems/vines were too thick/tough to cut. I tried to pull/snap the end of stems but to no avail. (Thankfully so, because if I had I might have walked away with embarrassingly way too much.) And then, after looking and circling the plant about 5 times and almost ready to give up, I saw one good/large sized leaf at the end of a vine. I grabbed it at the base and bent it back and it snapped off, along with just one (would you believe it!) small fragile root dangling on the base of the stem. I thought bugger this, finally, it will have to do. I showed the lady my cutting and thanked her again before walking back home. I mentioned to her that its name is Monkey, and she had a smile/chuckle.
I returned home and showed my partner my find who was impressed. He advised me to plant it immediately and give it some water and fertiliser. But instead, I decided to put it in a jar with water so that it could grow more roots first (as I’ve read online) and I can take some photos of it. I did add some diluted seaweed fertiliser to the water, which I wasn’t certain of. I placed it on the table in the lounge room as a wonderful centrepiece.
A few days later – even though the leaf still looked vibrant green and fine, when I lifted it out from the jar, I noticed that the one hopeful root it had looked a little rotten/mangy and no new roots had yet developed (a little too early, I agree). I also noticed some browning on the stem where I believe a new leaf/growth would develop from. It was clear that its health was deteriorating and I needed to do something fast.
So after taking some photos (above), I planted it in a pot and gave it water and shelter. Touch wood it will survive and resurrect itself and grow strong/beautiful for us. If not, then that’s ok because we can always try again another time. Will keep you posted on Monkey’s progress. To be continued. Peace out.
Admittedly, the highlight/main event of the past week for us was Valentine’s day (on the 14th). At our age, we’re happy to not make a big hoo-ha/fuss of it, but we do like to recognise/celebrate it one way or another, whether big or small. Strangely enough, this year the big V day for us was also marked with drama, adventure and humility.
Usually, the words ‘happy Valentine’s day’ with a kiss first thing in the morning, followed with a coffee/tea and/or breakfast/toasts in bed, and/or a flower/flowers is all that’s necessary to celebrate the day of love, don’t you think? The words ‘I love you’ is what’s most important.
This time around, we were fortunate enough to get out of the house and go for a quick country drive (one of our favourite pastimes) down the south coast. The weather was slightly overcast with a little drizzle but pleasant enough still. We managed to make a pit stop at the op shop for yours truly to have a browse and find some knick-knacky stuff and secondhand jewellery/beads for a new art/creative project that I’m working on. We then picked up some food/drinks supplies along the way and continued on our journey. We enjoyed creamy/ambrosial Clyde River rock oysters.
We made it to the town of Narooma at dusk. After a very bizarre and unfortunate/offensive kafuffle/encounter with the owner/staff at the first motel we checked in, we were lucky to find and safely check in at The Tree Motel instead. The staff there were friendly/welcoming and we spent the night relaxing/eating in front of the telly. We were a little shaken/disappointed by what had happened to us earlier.
The following morning, the weather was perfect. It was fine/sunny, the sky was beautiful beachside blue, lightly brushed with patches of white clouds. After chatting with the staff at the motel and admiring/photographing the magnificent tree in the garden, we leisurely headed back home. We visited a few touristy spots in the town, meandered through picturesque country/rural backroads, and stopped by at beautiful/scenic beaches where we searched and found some beautiful stones/rocks. We safely arrived home late at night, and fell into deep sleep the minute we went to bed.
So this year, despite some unfortunate/unfriendly events beyond our control, our Valentine’s day (and the rest of the week) was also one filled with love/joy and happiness. We decided to rise above the shit and made the day our own. It was a day to remember (to say the least) and one we will learn from – not everyone will agree with us. We were very lucky to have spent it together (and with Swan) which is all that we could ask for. Hope you had a good/happy Valentine’s day too. And remember, always look on the bright side of life. smile heart