Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Painting turtles from Vorovoro Island

from w
I'm making an acrylic painting of small turtles running haphazardly towards the sea but they look more like crabs! It's a painting intended for a wedding present (Don't read further V and L!) Here are bits of it - but I was also playing around with what Epson does when you click on 'Illustration'. Is there a little man somewhere who decides which parts to paint over? The other pic is an old one of the same topic - this time with pen, brush and ink. It's also just a part of the pic.

The Bookseller of Kabul - a good read

from w
I spent the last three days reading a book for our bookclub, non-fiction, written by a female journalist who lived with an Afghan family for a few months writing notes on their daily life. What an interesting but very depressing book particularly because the women were treated so badly. It certainly is a balance though to the kind of front page news we get about Afghanistan. Though she changed the names, the 'hero' fronted up after the book was published causing a bit of a kerfuffle.

Here are some comments:
Publishers Weekly
An international bestseller, it will likely stand as one of the best books of reportage of Afghan life after the fall of the Taliban.

Library Journal - Lucille M. Boone
For more than 30 years, Khan risked arrest by selling books and other printed materials. Yet at home, in a cramped, war-battered apartment shared by mother, siblings, wives, children, and nephews, Sultan is a tyrant.... Seirestad presents a vivid, intimate, yet frustrating picture of family life after the Taliban. Her book has been translated into 14 languages and is sure to be of interest to general readers here who are curious about life in Afghanistan.

Kirkus Reviews
A slice of Afghanistan today, rendered with a talent for fine, sobering prose and strange, unnerving settings that recall Ryszard Kapuscinski.

Washington Post Book World admirable, revealing portrait of daily life in a country that Washington claims to have liberated but does not begin to understand. Seierstad writes of individuals but her message is larger....

Boston Globe
... a compelling portrait of a country at a crossroads.

The Washington Post - Mark Hertsgaard
… [Seierstad's] closely observed, affecting account of the family's daily life, and especially of the virtual slavery its females endure, suggests that change will come slowly if at all to Afghanistan … Seierstad writes of individuals, but her message is larger, and no one who reads it will be sanguine about transforming this very traditional culture into a modern democracy anytime soon.

The New York Times Book Review - Richard McGill
Seierstad is a sharp and often lyrical observer of Afghan domestic life. Even in Ingrid Christophersen's slightly stiff translation, ''The Bookseller of Kabul'' reads like a novel and is absorbing reportage....From a strictly literary perspective, ''The Bookseller of Kabul'' is an effective portrait of one rather unhappy Afghan family. It is certainly the most intimate description of an Afghan household ever produced by a Western journalist.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Federer champion of Australian Open

from w
Tennis is the favourite sport in our family (apart from golf I suppose). Our boys played it for many years. I played it when young and Peceli played for a local church team for several years. We watch TV tennis, especially the Australian Open and last night Federer, as expected, won the Australian Open. When he won last year, he was so emotional he cried buckets during his speech. The crowd also cheered on Gonzales from Chile who is a rising star. Great TV entertainment and so well filmed. Good to watch from a loungeroom though friends say there's nothing like being there.

More about the Geelong Carousel

From w
The Geelong Carousel started its life in 19tha century New York, the horss hand-carved Dare horses. The Armitage-Herschell Company manufactured the Carousel in 1892. It came to Australia and was located at the Mordialloc Carnival from 1920 to to 1950s. (Eh? I've been on it then, as we holidayed in Mordiallic one year!) It was finally dismantled and left in a paddock at far away Echuca (on the Murray River), and eventually auctioned and stored at Castlemaine.

A vintage car restorer Rick Furlong bought it and the City of Greater Geelong engaged him to organize the restoration project. It took two years as forty layers of paint were scraped back to reveal the original colours. 24 of the horses are the originals and the two chariots are replicas based on originals in America.

The Carousel is located at the Geelong Watefront these days. There is also a replica of the organ of a Gavioli and Co Band Organ circa 1898 which has its own set of drums and a glockenspiel as part of its mechanics.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Rippleside Park, Western Beach of Corio Bay

from w.
Yesterday we drove to Rippleside Park where the Lions Club were setting up entertainment for families for Australia Day. We turned our backs on the slippery slides and donut sellers and Peceli and I drew near the sea. I drew an anchor and also the view looking back towards the city. I used biro, pastels and a fine black felt-pen. One day Peceli will post some of his pics!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Australia Day and Skandia Yachts

from w
There's plenty of action at the Geelong Watefront this week with a huge yachties festival called Skandia. There have been boat races in Geelong since 1840s. We went down there yesterday, Peceli to draw boats and I wanted to draw the horses at the carousel, but they kept going round and round and I couldn't catch 'em! However there was a static display of carousel horses there also as today there is a book launch. An author has written a children's book about a lost horse. We got a $50 parking fine - didn't know the beachfront had become a metred zone! We might go back today but take more care re the parking!

I found a book of recycled brown paper so used pages to add pencil, pastel and pen. I had another go at the ferris wheel, this time remembering to put in the huge supports. The other pic is of a yacht which took off as I was sketching it. Smorgies restaurant is in the background. I have trouble with pastel - can't get details so have to tinker with a black pen! I changed the colour of the horse by using Photoedit negative.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Some interesting art blogs and mendhi hand painting

from w
When searching the web for mendhi hand decoration I came across an American artist who is inspired by mendhi patterns and she incorporates them into paintings such as one example here. Mendhi is decoration on the skin, mainly hands and feet, using henna and is a custom for Indian women, and also in Afghanistan and I presume other Middle Eastern countries. Samples of Heather Robinson's paintings can be found here.

Here is another interesting website. This website is about collages.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Three days of rain and what a difference

from w
During the past week we have had three days of fairly solid rain and already the grass is tinged with green. I checked our lemon, orange, and tiny mandarin trees and the leaves have opened out. They had been almost closed up, yellowing and brown. What a difference the rain has made. The birds are noisy again. However some of our trees still have masses of brown leaves so time will tell if they survive.

On Sunday I had to lead the prayers of the people (as the guy on roster was moving house and stressed a bit) and I talked first about rain and drought. My view isn't that God gives rain but doesn't give drought. I think it's all part of the seasons and cycles and even in drought we can learn a bit about patience and compassion anyway. People were cheerful and when they sang 'Morning has broken' with the line 'Sweet the rain's new fall' they really meant it!

We are still on Level 4 water restrictions and a water man said the rain won't make a lot of difference in the water catchment areas yet.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Patterns from erosion

from w
Because so much land in Australia has been bulldozed to grow wheat etc. it is interesting to find some small spaces that are left natural with erosion, gullies and dead tree stumps. This is from Anakie not far from where there was a bushfire last week.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Movies with inter-racial themes

from w
I watched - (bits of, in between tennis) an old 1961 film called 'Majority of One' with Alec Guiness as a Japanese man and the theme was an inter-racial romance with a Jewish American woman, but how staid and polite everyone was! About the same time there was a film with Harry Belafonte 'Island in the Sun'. Later on inter-racial themes like this were numerous such as 'Guess who's coming to dinner' and the films based on Marguerite Duras's stories - 'Hiroshima mon Amour' and 'The Lover'. Even later on inter-racial romances were barely noticed as such, e.g. 'The Bodyguard'. An excellent Australian film 'Japanese Story' can be added to the list.

Do these kind of films shock some people today though?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Painted stone at Narana

from w
I made some drawings during a visit to Narana Aboriginal cultural centre one day and this week added some watercolour. This is part of the garden in front of one of the meeting rooms.

Reunion of former art students

from w
A reunion of former art students

'So are you still painting?' I ask. Some are, but many have shifted into other areas of creativity, leisure activities or work.

One woman said to me, 'An hour ago I had been thinking I'll have a peek and if they're trim and terrific, I'll turn around and go home and have a hissy fit!'

One guy said, 'I really was thinking about not coming. What do we have in common these days? It's fifty years! But I do want to see a few blokes that I used to fight with. After being together for three years, most of us went out to teach in country schools all over the state.'

The reunion of former art students had brought together about sixteen people to the mezzanine lounge of the Victoria Hotel in Melbourne and the bar wasn't going to be open for hours. It was a sizzling hot day and we were all thirsty. Someone took off to buy bottles of Solo and such to bring back. Someone said 'Well a hundred years ago the Vic used to be a non-alcohol place. Perhaps it's reverted!'

I had been double-minded about participating - after all this time, wasn't it a bit late? But I did want to know that my friends of that time had had a good life since. We were probably all grandmothers and grandfathers now and would I recognize them?

Well, the faces were a bit different. Once beautiful thick black hair was now white. Some figures had fleshed out, though some were taut and terrific. There was instant recognition for some and hugs and lots of shouting. One guy said that we women sounded like the Serbs and Croatians at the tennis. (There had been a brawl a couple of days ago at the Melbourne Tennis.) One woman looked like my memory of her mother - we had once been neighbours - she looked serene and growing older with beauty. Another was as cute and feisty as ever. One who had a bountiful personality was still the same, and she had come all the way from Sydney. The demeanour of people was much the same, mostly confident, kind, passionate, excitable.

Some had brought photos of those earlier times and told stories of the year of the Melbourne Olympics, incidents at Prahran Tech, Melbourne Tech, Melbourne Uni. (we did get moved around those three years). Some things were not said -how naïve we had been, how some of us had been unsure, country kids, excited to be in the city to see art galleries for the first time. Some had gone on for further studies or into different but related fields - industrial art, jewelry, textile design, book illustration, though many had stayed with teaching for many years. Some brought photos of their children and families, including a beautiful ballerina in China.

We had matured nicely I concluded - at least those who had come to the reunion - mostly at the stage of retiring or finding alternative part-time work or voluntary stuff, activism, sport.

Those who were missing? Well, at least four had died. One was a recluse. One knew about the reunion but he was unwell. Some had other commitments or found out too late to change them. Many were unreachable and not even named on Google, and because most of the women had changed their names upon marriage, they were hard to track down. Some were in distant places.

Many had gone overseas as soon as their three year teaching bond had concluded. I had gone to Fiji then and lost the art student network. This was a very long time ago.

In those days we did not have HECs (Higher Education cost or something) to pay upfront or later, like the university students have today. In our time, we were actually paid during training - about 11 pounds a week plus board. It was the time of the baby boom, late 50s, when they really needed teachers in the high schools so gave out numerous scholarships and bursaries.

We shared contact details and resolved to meet in January next year. Meanwhile we would attempt to trace and contact the rest of the former art students - some would perhaps like to reconnect and others maybe not. But next time we will find a hotel lounge that does have a bar open in the afternoon or at least can supply us with coffee and cake!

Power blackout in Geelong - four hours

from w.
I was online yesterday about 4 p.m. and the computer shut down. Peceli yelled out - hey, what did you do, as he was watching cricket or tennis on the TV nd the fan stopped also. It was so hot. I went outside and noticed the traffic lights were out so it wasn't just us.

For four hours we had no power in our house, and luckily I found my little battery-radio and got updates and reasons for the trouble. The bushfires had caused the trouble up near Benalla and one-third of our state of Victoria was out! Much of Melbourne also! In the city shops it was a bit chaotic - shops were in in darkness, cash registers would not work, lifts got stuck I suppose, and most people just ran for the exits and sunlight and some thought it was a bomb or terrorist attack. You see, our govt has been harking on - be alert, be alarmed - so much that people jump to conclusions.

Well, eighty sets of traffic lights were out in Geelong and it was 'give way to the right' rule I expect. Icecream shops gave away huge melting icecreams and people wandered back to cars and traffic jams or to the nearby beach.

There is a carousel down at the Waterfront and it was still merrily going round and round - apparently on their own auxiliary power.

By 8.15 the fan started purring and we again had power.

It made me think about what happens to our relatives in Suva who often have blackouts and also dry taps every other day.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fiji palm tree - variations

from w
I posted something about the Fiji palm tree - the masei on the babasiga blog but here are some variations from the picture I first made. I used photo-edit to find different colour combinations, shapes, textures.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tree worn by the tide

from w
Some time ago I made a drawing of a dead tree worn away by the tide. I found it again and experimented with it using Photo-edit.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Dragon tree revisited in Geelong Botanic Gardens

Yesterday we drove back to the Geelong Botanic Gardens to do some more sketching and collect data for some future paintings. I discovered that there were at least three young Dragon Trees not far from the old Dragon Tree that was planted in the 1850s and moved in recent years to be part of the 21st Century garden where it is now propped up.

One hot evening we both drew the scene overlooking Eastern Beach so here are some scans from a picture I made of the view overlooking the swimming pools. Hey, a stingray was found in the main pool the other day! The sharkproof fence only keeps out 'large' predators!

The scanner did strange things with some of my pictures - maybe the paper was too big, causing shadows, and also I used 'illustration' instead of 'photo'.

Some interesting art web sites

I found these sites to be interesting for those concerned with developing their art work.
John Wolseley paintings
art journals – mainly collage
art student’s blog from Queensland
Stela Barreto art blog
from w.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A book of poems from Croatia

from w
I received a welcome gift in the post this week - a book of poems all the way from Croatia. A few years ago we were together in a writing group and Maria Banko's poems often were about homesickness for her country of origin. Her husband went back first, and then she followed. She has published five little books of poems and this is the latest.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mangroves - pastel and a spray of varnish

from w
The varnish in a spray can isn't quite like the fixative I used to use and the kerosene, or perhaps turps, was a bit too powerful and altered the pastels a bit. Anyway a drawing - A3 size - of mangroves in felt pen was altered a bit with pastels. The paper was a pale orange to start with. I wanted it to be a kind of allover pattern rather than have a special focus on one spot in the picture.

Any suggestions of a better kind of spray to 'set' the pastels so that they don't smudge?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sorrento Beach from a ferry

from W
Here are two pictures - scanned from one painting of Sorrento Beach. I was on a ferry from Queenscliff across the Rip to Sorrento and I did a quick sketch with a felt-pen. I painted it later on.
A few of my drawings/paintings are on our other blog babasiga.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Eastern Beach on a hot night

from w

We drove to Eastern Gardens overlooking the beach last night because it was so hot at home. Lots of cars and people about. A new feature is a gigantic ferris wheel which had psychedelic colours moving about once it gets dark.

I picked up a few seagull feathers also.
The drawing (in two parts here) was made with a biro, then turned into sepia with Picasa.