My first trip to Europe

15 years ago I travelled to Europe and the United Kingdom for the first time, taking with me my old Pentax SLR and about 35 rolls of film – colour and black and white. It was my first foray overseas alone and it was both scary and exciting, Europe had been a dream for me since I was in high school and studying art. The photographs I took still give me joy and bring back happy memories.

With friends in Brighton, UK

The Italian Gardens, London

The fascinating architecture of Chester, UK

Enjoying a local snack in Volendam, The Netherlands

Berchtesgaden Cemetery

Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna

Coloured houses of Burano, Venice

Michelangelo’s David, Florence

Island of Capri

Fat cat of Eze, France

Stray dog of Pompeii

Town of Beaune, France

Pont Neuf Paris

Me and the Arc de Triomphe

 

Homeward bound

The passing of a close family friend called me home this past week. Our family has known Eric and his family for almost forty years, having met them when our family moved to a small country town when I was about six years old. Eric was heavily involved in a variety of community activities and events, including the local football club and the billy cart derby (reincarnated in recent years as the Billycart Classic) and he was a popular, well known character throughout the area. One of my first paying jobs was washing old wine bottles for Eric’s ‘Murrumbidgee Wines’ business, the water in the barrels was always cold and up to our armpits, the smell of bleach filled our nostrils and even worse was the smell of old, wine and mould. Just when we thought that we had finished washing and rinsing bottles Eric would alert us to another pallet of bottles behind the shed.

As a teen I knew I wouldn’t stay in the one place forever, even though my childhood afforded me the freedom to explore the countryside on horseback and on foot without a care in the world. The desire to go to university took me away from home, returning for long weekends and semester breaks. There were always a few constants when returning home, my family, the starry skies, the local swimming hole and friends such as Eric, his wife and daughters. Eric’s daughters are still among my closest friends, our paths don’t always cross frequently yet when we meet it is as though we have never been apart and there is always lots of laughter when we recall our childhood and the antics of our families. Every Christmas morning we would gather in Eric’s garage and driveway for a breakfast feast to rival the best hotels, fresh summer fruits, bacon, eggs and hash browns all washed down with champagne and a dose of story telling from the night before.

At such a sad time it can be hard to remember all the good moments shared, and there were plenty. Each morning I was home I wandered an old familiar path for my morning walk and remembered the good and the funny things about Eric, and was thankful for growing up in a small country town.

Rest in peace Eric, thank you for the wonderful memories and for giving me two beautiful friends x

The blue girl

2014 was going to be the year of the portrait for me, not having done one for many years I was keen to apply my developing pastel skills and complete at least one portrait this year. It was a little nerve wracking, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and had lost confidence in my illustration skills over the years (hence the art lessons) however recent success with portraits of my dogs had given me a boost.

The girl in the portrait is the child of a friend, a happy child with very pale, translucent looking skin. In order to capture the translucence and innocence I started with a blue wash and then built up the pastel, trying to steer clear of creating too much contrast in her features because it has a tendency to make a young child look much older. It took several weeks to complete, class is only once a week and I don’t do any drawing at home which slows me down immensely.

Pastel portrait of a child

Portrait of a child

The end result is that she looks a little blue, but I quite like it and am happy with how it has turned out and hope that the parents will be too.