Monday, October 26, 2009

Shades of Autumn

Benefits of being stalled in Washington is getting to experience autumn for the first time in several years. Amazing colours everywhere (enhanced by great sunglasses!) - dark reds, dusky pinks, brilliant oranges, acid yellows, purples and many shades of green from lime to darkest evergreens.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Room with a View

Its been a long time since I have posted anything - usual hiatus between postings when I am without my art materials. We are on the move - leaving Islamabad, Pakistan in early August and are currently in the States before going on to our new post.

The extended stay in the States sent me out to the art store to buy some supplies for something to do.

The view from our hotel room is of a street lined with trees and high rise buildings. The sun strikes the buildings on the right side of the street late in the afternoon, with shadows cast across the street from the trees.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recommended Show

Landscape with a Modern Edge
Group Show

Opening Reception at the Newberry Gallery in Santa Monica

Saturday Evening, Oct 17, 2009
7 - 10 pm

Hefferlin, Fort Apache Reservation, 2009, oil on archival board

Melissa Hefferlin
Robin Purcell
William Wray
Daud Akhriev
Michael Newberry
Cathey Cadieux
David Scherrer

Landscape with a Modern Edge is a show of paintings, watercolors, photos, and pastels by contemporary artists expressing their unique visions through rethinking the landscape. Fresh color harmonies, modern subject matter, and inventive compositions are the themes guiding the selection for the show.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Little Owl

One of the few pleasures here has been the gardens - not only the beautiful trees and bamboo but also the birds that live there. There are dozens of kites (types of eagle/hawk) to be seen daily circling lazily in the sky or perched along the roof, the brilliant lime green parrots who seem to always be in pairs when in flight or up to a dozen at a time perched in the trees. Some tiny little black feathered birds who sing with amazing volume for such a little creature. Crows by the millions and enough to invoke memories of "The Birds". In the spring there were what appeared to be a flock of butterflies - what is the grouping for butterflies? - that turned out to be miniature birds (measuring about an inch in height) by the dozen, flitting between shrubs.

And this little owl that we discovered on one of our after lunch strolls around the gardens. Today I finally remembered to bring in my camera and he posed nicely for me. My lens really wasn't up to the job but even so these came out better than I hoped considering. This little man lives high in a hollow in a tree with his wife and family and usually stands guard against the tree, his feathers so perfectly camouflaging him against the bark that you can only really see him if he moves his head or blinks his big eyes. On tiptoes he might just measure 6 inches!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I haven't posted anything for months - been in a hiatus. Working on tweaking a number of pieces by "warping the negative space" and finding the method extremely interesting.

The Backboard is one piece that I have produced - somewhat more graphic than my previous pieces. I was drawn to the shadows and shapes here more than anything.

We are back to that time of year with another move looming - 22 days till we get out of here and I can't wait. The summer has been very hot with temperatures ranging from 100 to 116 degrees. The monsoon was supposed to arrive last week and as yet has not shown itself. Its like nature is waiting for it to arrive - all the trees are stressed beyond belief, the leaves are curling and grass has shriveled and burnt ochre in the sun. News from India is of only 25% of the normal rainfall and the fear is that the rain just wont get here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Vertical Limits - Charcoal

I've been rather tied up with a lot of stuff lately but have been working away slowly at this charcoal - a version of Vertical Limits that I did in pastels when we were in Saudi Arabia. Its been nice getting back to the subtlety of tonal values.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Seeing Red

Still playing with the red paper and reflections in the glass topped table. Using red paper has been a real test for me, pushes your way of thinking way of center and away from what you thought stood true.

I've just ordered some other coloured papers and it will be interesting to see how they are to work with. I am particularly looking forward to using the green.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Shadowy Corners

pastel on paper
I have been in an artistic ditch for a while but hoping that is past now and that I am back into the groove.
This was quite fun to do and I limited myself just to catching the way the light fell and not letting myself get too caught up in the extraneous details outside of the light.
The time off since my last post has given me space to think about artwork in general. Some decisions made about what I am aiming for and my enjoyment in creating which I was in danger of losing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red Paper

I haven't posted for quite a while - suffering with daily headaches has dammed my artistic flow somewhat.

I fell in love with some pastels that Michael Newberry did on red paper and as I had some in store its been kind of lurking out there that I might play with this a little. This is my first attempt. It was really hard to think of red as being my darkest colour when the objects I was using had no red in them at all. Definitely a new way of thinking. I really liked the way this came together and the abstract forms in the composition.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rear View Mirror

Core of a Rose, graphite on paper, 4" x 4"

Its funny how when you look back at work you did years ago a lot of it makes you cringe but other pieces still feel right. This piece leaped out at me recently because I have been thinking about abstracts and expressionism increasingly. I have to admit I am now really enjoying colour but monochrome still has a real magic for me - especially in photography.

Determined to get back to some serious work over the next couple of days after suffering a block in my creative urge.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Had a great time early one morning when I arrived at work taking photos of these pansies. I think pansies are the most endearing flowers, they seem to have little faces. Pansies are typically only about 4 - 8 inches tall which meant grovelling at ground level on very heavily dew-laden grass (I had muddy knees all day!). Fortunately not many people arrive at work as early as I do or I would have been very embarrassed! The last picture was an accident but I love the way it came out - extremely overexposed. It's almost like a watercolour. The second last is the same flower at the correct exposure. Now I would like to try and get this sort of effect on purpose.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jeanette in Watercolour

My second try at Jeanette in watercolour (the first while I was happy with the my application of paint was not quite right proportionally) - I am a total novice with this medium and find its unpredictablity both delightful and confounding at the same time. This is only my third portrait in watercolour (the first is here) if you include my first attempt on this particular one and I'm quite pleased with how I am getting on with the medium.

I'd love to have a go at pours as mentioned by Billie Crain and demonstrated by Nick Simmons. One thing that really appeals to me about this kind of use of the medium is the freedom and dynamic quality to painting. I find myself leaning more and more to a more expressionistic way of painting.

Happy to say that I sold "Strawberry Cheesecake" this week. Interesting that I had just had some notecards printed and was showing them to a colleague and she bought the painting from seeing it on a notecard. A marketing technique?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


As promised some spring photos - didn't spend much time taking these, would have liked to have much longer but was lucky enough to catch the bumble bee making his rounds. The blossom is just about to come out on the citrus trees so there will be more pictures of that when it opens. I need to take a telephoto lens in too because there is one tree that I can't get close enough to take photos of the flowers but with the telephoto lens I might be able to get some closer shots.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


March's offering to the portrait group to which I belong is a portrait of Jeanette, wonderful and talented artist, printmaker and maker of delicious jewellery. Not sure how much more I will do to this, maybe a little tweaking. Seeing it here I wonder if I have her nose at the right angle. Trying to decide if I might experiment a little and try a watercolour version.

Spring is well underway here in Pakistan - I'm taking my camera with me tomorrow to take pictures of the lovely flowers and blossom that is bursting out all over. I even have sweet peas flowering in my garden which seems very odd to me as in England they are a summer flower. The bottle brush trees are starting to bloom and I expect that next week they will be totally covered in flowers.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Finding a Path

7ft x 4ft, ink on paper

February was a bad month for me - shoulder injury stopped me in my creative tracks and I have been finding it hard to get back in the groove now that I have some mobility back. I am determined though that March will see me back in full production and experimenting with new ideas, direction and projects.

One thing that came to me in the quiet moments this month was that I was in danger of forgetting why I was doing art - and that is because I love it and its fun. I really don't want to lose the fun of it and I think I need to get the play and experimentation back to get the joy back.

Robin Neudorfer has been feeding me sites that have lots on how to get the creative mojo flowing (thank you Robin) and many have amused me as they are me to a T.

Here are a couple of them - worth a read if you are in not leaping out of bed in the morning ready to be creative.

Get off your butt - 16 ways to get motivated when you are in a slump

7 tried and true ways to stifle your creativity

I have one lovely thing to keep me going for the next few months and that is being part of a sketchbook exchange. I am really excited to be a part of this with 8 other artists from around the world. More of that in days to come, I am sure.

The Road not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

...Robert Frost

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Herbaceous Borders

4" x 4", coloured pencil

Friday, February 20, 2009

Painting the Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge is a cantilever bridge that stretches over the Firth of Forth in Scotland. The story goes that painting it is never-ending - as soon as one coat is finished the maintenance crew goes back to the beginning and starts all over again. I begin to feel the same way about this painting. The back wall is still too warm, I need to cool it down to push it back especially on the right side.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Doodling through Recovery

Doodling, nothing serious. Been out for the count in a drug induced stupor for over a week. Trying not to overdo it and set back shoulder recovery.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lake Reflection

I've been considering ordering new canvases or panels - can't decide between the two. I have to start thinking about this long before I run out because or the time it takes for things to arrive. The question then raised some others in my mind. What sizes to order? Typically I paint on square or pretty normally proportioned canvases. But I am also drawn to oddly proportioned canvases - the long and skinny ones. I have come to the conclusion that the subject dictates the proportions of the canvas/panel that you use. I do wonder if more experienced artists have a permanent collection of differing sized panels and canvases - what sort of expense does that entail? I daresay its much easier when you have a ready source and can just buy a few at a time but with delays in postage I really have to buy at least a couple of dozen at once. I know I said that already - the postage delay thing.

So panels or canvas? I really like the boing factor of canvas, the spring back. But I do begin to think that I would be better off working on panels at least for smaller pieces. I have studied what is available on the market and am somewhat swamped by the choices - wood panels, gessoboard, linen covered panels, cotton canvas covered - both wooden and hardboard - the choices are endless! In my student days we used hardboard, nailed to a wooden cradle, sanded lightly with a fine sandpaper and primed with acrylic paint. One artist that I have been studying lately uses unprimed canvas and she stretches them over hardboard after the painting is completed. And Bonnard used to stick unstretched canvas on the walls and painted a number of pieces at one time (his methods are very interesting and worth reading about). I still haven't come to a conclusion about what to do. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Old Seascape

Seascape, acrylic on panel (seriously old piece!)

I may not be creating but I have got down to a number of things on my admin list (getting good at one hand typing!).
Ordered business cards with image on one side and name, website and email address on the other.
Also postcards and greeting cards.

A number of people have suggested I try left-handed work (I am very right-handed) and as I am going to have some extra time. Might turn out that I work better that way. Doodled an apple this afternoon in CP, discovered that I can't even draw a straight line , so "colouring" was decidedly outside the lines! I think abstract might work a little better! MRI results were severe bruising, ordered to rest it completely. Hopefully will be a fast recovery.

THANK YOU to everyone for your good wishes.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


No art today - I've done something excruciatingly painful to my shoulder (the right one, my painting arm of course!) and now have my arm in a sling. I'd like to say that it was doing something extraordinary, but it wasn't - just taking laundry out of the washing machine. My husband says I should try painting with my left hand. Who knows what that will look like! Maybe I will start a whole new trend!

Lots of time to read now, catch up with blogs. And no excuse on not doing computer based work like ordering business cards, postcards and the like. Though typing one hand is a little tedious.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Captive Light

pastel on paper

I was struck by the shadows from the bars at the windows. The light that came through the glass was much cooler than the light that came through the open door.

Linda Blondheim gave me this blog award - Big smile! I really enjoy Linda's blog. Her honesty about her art experiences is without any pretense. She shares her experiences and problems with such generosity. Thank you Linda!

I'm supposed to tell you 7 things I love

1. I love artists who willingly share their experiences so others can learn.
2. I love chocolate.
3. I love my family - across the world, from England to the USA, Australia to Iraq.
4. I love this glorious planet with its amazing sights and colours.
5. I love the seaside - empty beaches with rolling waves.
6. I love to create.
7. I love to a good cup of tea.

Did manage to do a couple of things on my list today and am going to do another one as soon as I finish this post. Nice to feel some of my weekend tasks are accomplished. Of course the ironing is yet to be done. I've taken to listing my tasks in the smallest steps that way I don't feel that I have failed to do something because I didn't complete the whole thing. Baby steps make miracles!

Friday, February 06, 2009

People Sketches and Sketching

Some sketches of people. I have to admit that I tend towards pictures that don't have any people in them. But I do quite enjoy sketching people - especially when they have their backs to me! I'm a people watcher, nothing like sitting in busy places like airports and city centers watching people hustling and bustling about.

Someone gave me this photo they had taken of me sketching out in the gardens. bad repro as my scanner is not connected and I had to take a photo of the photo!

Weekend tomorrow and lots of work planned.
1. Hoping to play with the new pastels and do some painting too - plein air if the sun is shining.
2. Need to order some panels (decisions to be made over which sort to get - input welcomed) and a wet canvas carrier too.
3. Admin time too - no escaping that.
4. Also need to think about a sketchbook for the sketchbook exchange I have joined. To make a homemade one or to buy one? Another question!

That will do for a start.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Other Loves

I've been blog reading today instead of creating - that and designing my new house and tidying my "studio".
I'm taking Katherine's "thinking is work" to heart. I've a number of ideas going on in my mind and I'm trying to decide how to bring them to fruition.

This bamboo grows in the lower part of the compound at work. I am a keen gardener (job of my dreams would be to be a landscape gardener in the style of Diarmuid Gavin - the Brit readers of this may know him). And bamboo is one of my favourite plants, it is incredibly sculptural and can add structure while retaining an untameable quality. It grows like a weed (preferably plant it in a container sunk into the ground to contain its roots) - and comes in many shapes, colours and sizes. There are two different ones here that I have seen - one that is yellow and has green stripes on it that look like paint dribbles . And this one which grows to about 50ft high and was so fat that I could not encircle one stem with both hands!

Another love of mine is needlework. I have been sewing as long as I have been painting. I remember making dolls clothes when I was 6 using the scraps from a dress my mother made me. I also embroider and have long wanted to learn long and short embroidery. I started this iris on a scrap piece of fabric. Now of course I wish I had done it on something better! Still its good practice. You use several colours of 6 strand embroidery silk and start with 2 strands of one colour and then when you move to the next you use one strand of your first colour and one strand of your second. And then the next shade will be two strands of your second and so it goes until you have a very subtle change of colours like shading with paint.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New Pastels

Half of my birthday present arrived today - yes I know its late but better late than never. A lovely box of hard pastels. I just love the way these colours all look in the box. Now I have to figure out how to use them! I've read some interesting techniques lately and I want to experiment a little an see how they work for me. Not sure if what I want to do will work with Mi Teintes paper I'm going to have fun playing! Also received a couple of new colours to add to my oil paint collection - mineral violet and quinacridone gold.

Transport for getting around work - if you are too lazy to walk!

There was a feeling of spring in the air here today. Though there was a slight ground frost this morning by lunchtime it was lovely and sunny and wonderfully warm without being too hot. Its amazing how nice weather can put a smile on your face. Several locals were out gathering firewood. There is a lot of development near work and they were out collecting up the chopped down branches and piling them into huge mounds and tying them onto the back racks of their bicycles. Down by the river people were out doing their washing and draping the wet clothes over the branches of trees that lean over the water. Cars were lined up being washed. The batting nets were up and cricket practice was in full swing - I've never seen two or three games being played in such a small area! I wonder if the outfielders get muddled as to which ball they are supposed to be playing with! On our street business was as usual - a policemen praying on the pavement, his washing draped on the guy ropes of his tent. Neighbours sitting on their haunches, drinking tea and passing the time of day. Boys kicking a football on the street, guards leaning against the walls, their weapons slung over their shoulders.
all artwork is copyright of Anita Murphy 2006/2007/2008/2009