Sunday, March 30, 2008

More Art

I've now decided to set up one of my websites purely showcasing my art some of which will be for sale. Those changes will happen over the coming weeks and as I get round to completing more canvases. These won't need framing as they're stretched on frames with the sides neatly painted so they'll look fab from any direction.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Art and other Bruises

Today I decided to bite the bullet and with a little encouragement from he who might be obeyed (occasionally) I'm going to enter my first community art show. If nothing else it will provide me with a little more exposure in Brisbane and if I'm lucky I might even sell another piece.

The closing date is still some way off in August, which means I have a fair amount of time to consider what I might do. I already have a couple of ideas and as all entrants are limited to two pieces I might do one fairly large piece and then a set of two if that's allowed. Anyway am now awaiting the entry form and details in the mail before I set anything in stone.

Went to the library again this morning on the way to the Art store, gee I seem to be living in both these places lately. So many books and materials and so little time.

Raided the Art section in the library again and came home with another armful of books. Also decided that I can get two things done at once if instead of reading I'd just get an audio book out to listen to. Last week I had Elizabeth Adlers "Summer in Tuscany" a total of 8 CD's, took me a few days to get though them, as one really does need to concentrate to get the whole story. This was my first audio book, I rather enjoyed it and it certainly made me want to visit to Tuscany again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yep...It's a Dogs Life - Too tired to Party

His royal highness is way to tired to party this morning. After waking us up at 5.45am with his usual tap at the door wanting to be let in, which I did, he then proceeded to keep reminding us it was time to get up. I think this is all a ploy at getting back at me I was awake when you were asleep! I expect though it was the long walk before breakfast that did him in.

Oh well the party games can wait till later in the day. He seemed pretty happy with his new toy though, a chase stick, even put it down beside his bowl whilst he had a breakfast of Salmon and Dill biscuits and his fav cheese on toast. The biscuits were a hit by the way and so far he's managed to polish off four. The rest I've put in a press seal bag to keep fresh. I hope they last till the weekend.

Anyway here's the recipe I promised, am sure they'll go down a treat with with any fur baby.

Rem's Salmon and Dill Wholewheat Biscuits.

210g tin Red Salamon undrained
1 teaspoon each of dried Dill and Parsley or if you prefer use fresh or paste.
3 teaspoons each Sesame and Linseed (used a coffee grinder to grind the seeds down)
3 eggs (I removed the shell, but the original recipe said to include the shell)
2 cups wholemeal self raising flour

Put the undrained salmon, dill, parsley and seeds into a food processor along with the eggs, blend till smooth, then gradually add the flour and continue blending until
a dough forms.

Remove from the processor, the mixture should be firm and not sticky. Press out on a floured board until about 1cm thick, flour your chosen cutter and cut out shapes. You can then press any remain mixture together and continue cutting shapes.

Bake on a greased and floured tray for 20 mins at 180 degrees or 170 if using a fan forced oven, then turn tray and reposition and cook a further 10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Little Guy's Birthday

I've been a bit lazy over Easter, hence the reason for my non posting. Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things later this week, after I finish all my chores, thank goodness its a short week.

Am now off to bake Rem some Salmon and Dill biscuits for his 1st Birthday tomorrow. Searched everywhere for a fish shaped biscuit cutter and in the process found one the shape of a bone as well. If the biscuits are a hit I'll post the recipe here too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Just continuing on from yesterdays post thought I might pop a few pics of Stradbroke Island up here. These were either taken during a camping trip on Flinders Beach or during a stay at a holiday home which we rented along with other family members.

The first one is the view from our beach campsite on Flinders Beach at Sunrise, such a wonderful view to wake up to. It was slightly chilly and from memory was around April 2006. I snapped it with my tiny 3.5mb Nikon Coolpix camera.

There are around 250 different species of birds on the island too. An inquisitive little guy a "Major Mitchell Parrot" had obviously found himself a home in this gum at Amity Point. The more pics I took of him, the more he posed from me.
I love the contrast of colours with the hot pink of the parrot again the vivid blue sky and grey-white of the tree.

Above is a pic of "Main Beach" on the Island. As you can see it goes for km's. Its great for 4 wheel driving (you do need a permit)and you're always bound to find a spot for a picnic lunch.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Capital idea with muddy beginnings (Gov Gibbs Landing)

In the 1840's the people of Brisbane insisted that their town should be the capital. Many of the squatters, objected to Brisbane being the capital on the grounds that it was some distance from Moreton Bay and that wool and other produce would have to be shipped down the Brisbane river at considerable cost.

By this time the squatters had established their own newspaper, the "Moreton Bay Free Press" at Ipswich which they considered to be the capital. They also attempted to build a rival port at Cleveland on Moreton Bay.

From Ipswich they built a road direct to Cleveland, but in March 1842 Sir George Gibbs, Governor of New South Wales, visited Moreton Bay on the ship "Shamrock" in order to settle the question of where the capital should be.

It is said that there was some official prejudice against Brisbane because of its penal associations and its remoteness from the sea, so the Colonial Secretary in Sydney directed that a new site should be chosen.

Gov. George landed at Cleveland when the tide was out and had the misfortune to sink deep into muddy ooze as he stepped ashore. This unfortunate accident, which apparently annoyed the pompous Governor somewhat marked the end of any thoughts that Cleveland would be the site of a port.

Gibbs chose Brisbane instead. Pastoralists weren't discouraged in the least by this and persisted in their attempts to develop Cleveland, by building a sawmill, a wool store, and a shipbuilding yard.

For a time the town was the social and political centre of the squatters and their supporters. However in 1854 Cleveland became unpopular as a port following the wreck of a ship nearby and the loss of another by fire.

Bibliography - Carina State School's 75th Jubilee Book 1917-1992

The above is a little background on my next watercolour pencil piece, which I painted last Sunday from a park at Cleveland on Moreton Bay. It is the actual site of Gov Gibbs landing.

As you can probably make out, not much has changed today there's still plenty of mud at low tide. Also it wasn't a particularly clear day, lots of ominious looking grey cloud, with the sun trying to peer through on occasion. It was indeed amazing to watch colours change as I drew. The little muddy island of trees to the right, went from dark forest green to almost lime green as the clouds moved around whilst here and there bits of silver grey sea turned to sparkling turquoise.

Closer to the shore are a few mangroves where the mud takes on a reddish tinge, the soil around many of Moreton Bays communities is a brilliant red, very fertile and still supporting vegetable and flower farms.

ED: Forgot to mention that the rising landmass in the background is North Stradbroke Island which is 32 kilometres long, 11 kilometres at its widest cross-section. The island has become a great tourist destination and is probably the most accessible island in Moreton Bay.

Point Lookout, Amity and Dunwich are the three main settlements on 'Straddie' as it is colloquially known. It has a total permanent population of more than 3,500.
Point Lookout is also the major tourist centre and was named by Captain James Cook on his discovery voyage to the east coast of Australia in 1770.

At "Straddie" visitors can enjoy world class beaches, famous for fishing and surfing, watch humpback whales on their Northern migration, scuba dive nearby rocky reefs or simply soak up the laid back island lifestyle. It also has some wonderful beach camping sites that are dog friendly.

To get to "Straddie" you can either catch a water taxi or the car ferry from Cleveland.

Friday, March 14, 2008

First attempt at Watercolour pencil and Ink

One afternoon a couple of weekends ago, on our way back from Point Cartwright after a walk to the point and along the beach, back up the hill past the lighthouse and down the boardwalk and then lunch in the park, we decided to take a detour and travel back via the beaches at Caloundra.

We've done this a few times, so by the time we hit Moffat Beach at Caloundra its usually afternoon tea time. We park in the car park and carry our chairs and esky over to the edge of the green nature strip that overlooks the sea. Its a great spot on a summer afternoon, usually breezy with lots of activity on the beach below.

I sat for a while gazing at the landscape to the left and then to the right of me.
Decided that it was a bit too hazy to the left and settled down to draw the headland to the right. I used a superfine Indian Ink Pen on 300gsm rough and then proceeded to colour in with Derwent Aquatone (reasonably expensive) and Faber-Castell (really cheap)watercolour pencils. This is my experimental piece as its the first time I've tried this medium and I wanted to see how each of these brands of pencils would perform and interact with one another.

The Aquatone pencils are solid watercolour sticks wrapped in protective paper, no real need to sharpen unless you want a point, so its just a matter of tearing the paper back. The colours are strong and vibrant, right up my alley.

The Faber-Castell pencils are also nice to work with and as far as I'm concerned just a vibrant. These pencils do need to be sharpened as the colour is contained inside wood, just like a normal pencil.

I've never painted with straight watercolour mainly because I'm one of those artists who likes to see a strong outline and vibrant colour which is why I prefer acrylics. I don't think I can achieve those requirements with just water colour although I'm sure it can be done with the correct technique and a good teacher. Such is my reason to try out Watercolour pencils with Ink.

I'm reasonably pleased with how my first attempt turned out, it took me about two hours to complete, not bad for a quick sketch and swash of colour. I do think however the sky could have been better, there appears to be too many stops and starts and so the colour doesn't follow on and blend as I think it should. It would have best been done with a broken piece of pencil used side on like chalk to give a more even finish and leaving some of the paper white to give the impression of clouds.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Colour Purple or is it?

So how do you mix Purple?

Anyone who has even had an art class will answer by mixing Blue and Red together.
Sounds simple enough doesn't it? However some research reveals a story about purple that spans back into the history of ancient china and involves a buried Terracotta army.

In 1974, a province in China was suffering a drought, so farmers began digging an irrigation well, the fact is that they didn't find water, but what is now widely considered the Eight Wonder of the World. What they discovered below the earth were more than 8,000 life sized warriors, horses and other figures made to accompany and protect Qin Hi Huang, the very first Emperor of China on his journey into the afterlife.

Many of us have seen pics of the warriors in their natural Terracotta colour, but they weren't always this colour apparently. Two thousand years ago, the warriors were actually brightly coloured, no two the same.

One of the colours found on these model warriors, supposedly the highest ranking of the officers, was known as Han Purple. It seems this presented an interesting conundrum to archaeologists, in that Purple pigment was rarely found on ancient artefact's.

Han Purple has since been found scientifically to fade in acid, so colorless particles found in pigments containing Han Blue and Han Purple may be particles which were originally purple but which faded after burial in acidic conditions.

Blue and Purple are not colours found in surface soils and would therefore not have been created using earth. Blue pigments only began to appear in history when mining began and even then they were extremely rare, as was the case with Lapis Lazuli. A blue stone which was once powdered and mixed with oil to create the pigment named Ultramarine meaning "Beyond the sea" and which is often seen in the beautiful blue Renaissance paintings of the 1600's.

The original source for Lapis lies in the valley of the Kokcha River, at Sar-e-sang meaning "Place of Stones" which is in the province of Badakshan in north-eastern Afghanistan. Marco Polo mentioned these mines in 1271 and he noted that the stones were processed to make colour, although Ultramarine has been made synthetically since 1828. Lapis came to Europe via Venice, which was the main trading port between Europe and the East. Today it is still mined by hand and when the stones are brought to the mine surface, they are sorted into three general categories being "Rang-i-ob" meaning "Colour of Water", "Rang-i-sabz" meaning "Green" and "Surpar" meaning "Red Feather". Surpar is considered the highest quality of Lapis, because it has a deep blue-violet tone.

Good Lapis is very rare and very expensive although a new source in Chile has provided a good alternative to the that found in Afghanistan and at a slightly cheaper price. The Egyptians held Lapis in high esteem, it was as precious as gold and as a consequence they were often used together in jewellery and still are today.
Purple has always been associated with royalty, power and wealth.

So how did Ancient China mix up the colour purple?
A bit of detective work reveals that it was indeed synthetic. This means that Chinese artisans were performing synthetic inorganic chemistry more than 2700 years ago.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fur babies

We've had a house guest the last four days, or rather Rem has. His litter mate Peppa Hammond has been visiting whilst her folks were interstate. Needless to say Rem is way too busy catching up on sleep to do anything with me today. He's exhausted from playing ball, chase, frizbee, tug, swimming and walking. Presently he's asleep on the mat behind my chair. Well at least he's graced me with his company if nothing else.

Peppa is a gorgeous little Black and White girl from Bojak Border Collies, full of beans and very clever. Her mum Lilly, a shy black and white border was secretly pregnant and gave birth to her and her two sibblings the same day Rem was born to Maggie. Maggie had eight or nine pups, so Lilly helped look after them along with her three. At the time we really didn't know that Peppa would go to a couple who lived close by and it was by chance that we all signed up for Puppy school with the same dog trainer. That's how we all met.

Peppa can Spin and do a Figure 8 through and around legs. She is also very food orientated and would come sit in the kitchen when ever I was preparing meals during her visit. Jet our previous collie has a lot of the same traits as Peppa. Rem is way too laid back and acts like the protective Uncle. He watches everything from a short distance, rarely ever barks, without first being asked to "Speak". I often wonder what's going on in his head, whilst he's soaking up all the action.

Check out the photo of him with his protective paw on her. He uses his paws a lot and has done so since he was a tiny pup. I never ever saw Jet do that. When I throw the Frizbee to Rem, he races after it, waits for it to land, and then folds it over in half with his paw and picks it up with his mouth. Peppa was even doing that by the end of her stay. At first she tried to pick it up whilst it was flat on the ground and was having some difficulty, but watching Rem seemed to clue her in.

I promised Cathy and Russell that I'd try to teach her to "Speak". I found it a little difficult at first, because she kept jumping up every time I gave the command and hand signal. Cathy had warned me that she does this whenever she hears a strange noise from one of them. In the end I kept asking Rem to speak which he did and eventually Peppa copied him. So that indeed goes to prove that dogs do learn from watching one another.

A funny little story from the weekend.... I was tidying up the palm fonds on Friday afternoon as I knew that these two holy terrors would no doubt by the end of the weekend pull them off the drying heap and out into the garden. We tend to stockpile the fonds till they're dry and then put them through a palm shredder as they make good garden mulch.

Peppa was helping me take a few to the bin, spinning around and racing about the garden with them, Rem was obviously peeved with this, because usually I scold him for dragging palms fonds about the yard, so he doesn't do it much anymore. He's sitting beside me watching Peppa spin about with the the palm in her mouth, and then gives me a couple of nudges on the leg in quick succession as if to say " Well look at Peppa, how come I'm not allowed to do that?" I just burst out laughing, gave him a little cuddle and said "Its ok we're putting them in the bin, you can go help her bring them out." which he did.

Ever watchful Uncle Remy

Photos courtesy of Russell and Cathy Hammond

Friday, March 7, 2008

Beads etc... 2008 Designer of the Year Competition

If you've not been lucky enough to view the entries in the Australian Beads etc... 2008 Designer of the Year competition, the winners and place getter's have now been published in issue 16. The top 50 entries can be viewed at

You can vote for your fav up until 30th May, 2008, if you can see them that is. Note that voting is open world wide, but only Australian residents are eligible to win prizes.

The pics were postage size when I checked at the beginning of the week, but word has it that some maintenance is to be done on the site to allow the thumbnails to be enlarged.

No, I didn't enter in case you're wondering.

Broken Links - Designs to Love Gallery

Seems the link to my "Designs to Love" Gallery isn't working. I've emailed the administrator, the problem appears to be at their end so hopefully it'll be fixed soon.

In the mean time you can still access the site above, go to the "members" tab and search for me by entering bstoopman in the seach function.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Orient - Mixed Media

Thought I'd write a post about my latest painting which was commissioned for a newly renovated apartment decked out in Black, Red and White.

My brief was for something abstract in Black, Red and Foil - both Gold and Silver, other than that I was left to my own devices.

I decided on a series of three or a Triptych as these are known. Each canvas is around 93cm high x 46cm wide also I wanted to include some texture as the paintings are to be hung on smooth white plasterboard wall. I ended up using Matisse Impasto and a palette knife to create the texture which I then proceeded to paint in vibrant red Atelier acrylic. I then decided the red texture needed a little more definition, so the peaks were dry brushed with a little Carbon Black. I like the effect that its created. This particular Atelier paint tends to stay open a lot longer than my usual acrylic paint and as yet, I've not used it to paint anything other than abstract art. So am dying to give a scene a try.... perhaps next week.

I ended up naming the series "Orient", mainly because in its abstract kind of way it reminds me of a Geisha girl, who becomes a blur or whirl by the third piece. In the first of the series you can make out a side on view of the head/hair and the highly decorated Kimono which was created using torn Gold and Silver Foil. There are also some leaves floating on the breeze, on two of the paintings, these were drawn on using an Indian Ink Pitt pen, so indeed, it is a mixed media piece.

The interesting thing with this series is that it could be hung in any direction, ie up or down and moved around within the series to give the owner and its on-lookers a little more to ponder on... who knows what else could be found in there.

I do so hope the customer likes it, because I really enjoyed creating it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Some very sad news

Am very sad to have to write this post. Yesterday I found Izzy Liz had died out in the garden near the pool, not really sure how it happened, but her little body was limp and lifeless, her eyes shut tight.

I will really miss all her crazy little antics and the fact that she'll now longer be around to sit on the back of my chair when I'm out on the veranda.

RIP Miss Izz, you will always be remembered with great fondness.