My primary medium for creating art is to paint or draw with pastels, soft chalk-like chunks or sticks of colour. Pastels are a medium that I have been learning to use well for several years and there is still so much to learn. Lately I have been experimenting with my mark making, a way of adding texture and interest to my artwork. It has been a fun yet challenging process, requiring me to resist falling back on old habits of softening edges, blending clouds and overworking the detail. Colour is also something I have been playing with, some of my paintings have no more than five colours in them but this one definitely features more colour.
The source photo for this painting was taken in the Mt Aspiring National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. Initially it was a crisp and clear Autumn day but the weather soon changed and the clouds set in, bringing the occasional shower of rain making the track towards the Rob Roy glacier slippery and a little nerve wracking at times.
New Zealand, Scotland and animals continue to be a great source of inspiration for me. I will be attempting to do more portraits this year, people portraits that is so stay tuned if you want to see how I progress.
I’ve spent the last few months debating whether to start a business focused on offering animal lovers a choice of pastel pet portraits and photographic portraits. The business idea is a possible alternative to full-time work or a side hustle that could supplement part-time employment whilst building up a client base. The latter certainly sounds more sensible.
Either way, one decision I have to make is to decide on a business name. Do I use my full name, a variation of my name, expand on the use of Two Black Dogs or even come up with something completely different? Two Black Dogs is my handle on Twitter and Instagram as well as being the title of this blog so I would need to have separate social media accounts regardless of what I decide. In researching existing businesses that focus on either pet photography or pet portraits there appears to be a mix of businesses using the artist’s name and those with names that reflect the genre of their art.
My reason for considering the expansion of the use of Two Black Dogs is the same reason for starting this blog, my black dogs Maxi and Bundy. Their antics, those big, brown eyes and my obsession with them inspired me to do pastel pet portraits, and being a crazy dog mum who volunteers in a shelter gave me a focus for my photography. Whilst the name is meaningful to me I realise it may not be meaningful to potential clients, which is often the argument for not using an individual’s name. It is all doing my head in and that is without even starting the business…what hope do I have?
Blogging has been part of my life for just over seven years and in that time I have dipped in and out of the Weekly Photo Challenge. My blogging is sporadic at best, however, the weekly challenge helped me find the motivation to hit the keyboard and share so I will be sad to see it end.
Although I will still continue to post photos and share stories I fear that I may struggle to find my feet without a bit of a push. Until then please enjoy my farewell to the Weekly Photo Challenge with a few of my favourite photos.
A while ago I wrote about finding balance. There was too much going on in my head and too many things I wanted to do, something had to give. Your feedback helped, I prioritised the things that were important to me as well as being ones I could realistically accomplish. My health is important, at 45 and with a family history of bowel and breast cancer, I am becoming more aware of what I eat. Although I haven’t gone the whole hog in quitting sugar I have reduced my intake and I’m eating more whole foods rather than reaching for what is convenient. This has been a relatively easy step to take and experimenting with new recipes has been fun, plus it makes me feel better.
I put ‘The Artist’s Way’ and ‘The Barefoot Investor’ aside for now, although with a restructure looming at work I may need the finance advice more than anything else on my bookshelf. The weekly online photography course with David duChemin has also taken a bit of a back seat but not because I’m not interested, I’m just a little distracted and finding it hard to focus (pardon the pun). What I am doing is following David’s advice from the first week of the course which was to care deeply about your subject or be deeply curious. It wasn’t difficult to think of something that I care deeply about and as a result, I have been taking my camera to the shelter each weekend and photographing some of the dogs. In doing this, I am becoming more familiar with my camera and thinking about the end goal rather than just taking aim and shooting. Not all dogs make it easy, there are plenty of missed opportunities, blurry faces and lots of close-ups of their nose or chest as they jump up at me while taking the shot.
Art class, like volunteering, is non-negotiable. It is 2-3 hours a week where I can focus on drawing and hang out with like-minded people. Art helps shift my brain from worrying about the pettiness of a toxic workspace to thinking about the shade of blue needed to make those hills recede into the background. My trolley of art materials is fully loaded and I have finished one surprise pet illustration and have two landscapes on the go, and potential commissions waiting in the wings. Hubby and Bundy make the most of the peace and quiet by sharing the floor space in front of the television for a weekly dose of rugby league.
Have I found balance? Yes, to some degree but there is still more I want to achieve and I’m hoping that the cooler weather will help. The hot and humid weather really wore me down, zapping my energy and my motivation. Thanks again for the helpful advice. Have a great week!
2017 was going to be the year to spend more time on my art and and photography, attend a few workshops and make the effort to ‘just do it’. I even ditched the Master of Marketing I had enrolled in at the end of 2016 because I knew I could not commit to study, do the things I love, stay married and work full time. In November I signed up to do an online photography course with David duChemin which I am slowly progressing through and I recently bought The Artist’s Way because I thought it might be beneficial to my creativity (or lack thereof) once the other program finishes. I have also been looking into the idea of selling some of my work through online shopfronts like Printful or Fine Art America and perhaps offering pet portraits.
That, said I find myself keen to improve my physical and our financial health. On my desk are books supporting those idea’s: Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor, Sarah Wilson’s Simplicious and David Gillespie’s Eat Real Food although I know I have no hope of getting hubby to ease up on his favourite sugary beverage, Rum and Coke.
With all of these potential ‘balls in the air’ the following questions have crossed my mind:
Am I trying to do too much or is it a case of better managing my time?
Can I squeeze more into my weekends and mornings?
Is this perfectly normal and others manage it fine, even with children?
Am I overthinking it?
The question of moving from full time work to part time isn’t an option at this point hence the interest in online shopfronts and the Barefoot Investor. One day I would love to be able to dedicate more hours to my art and photography than I currently can and possibly make a little money to support my habit. The other things I can’t and won’t give up is Hubby (of course), walks with Bundy and my Sunday mornings at the Animal Welfare League. Spending time at the shelter and giving homeless dogs the love and care that they all deserve feeds my soul and makes me happy.
Unlike my previous posts this post has been more of a brain dump, me trying to get my head together and sharing it with you. No doubt it is going to require more processing, hopefully without experiencing analysis paralysis. Have you experienced something similar? Would love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share your answers to my list of questions.
Up before the sun and with a hit of caffeine, Hubby, Bundy and I were ready to head south to Currumbin, host to the 2016 Swell Sculpture Festival. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to experience the festival, fewer crowds and better light for taking photos. Bundy loves the festival, it is his chance to run around on the sand and meet a few new faces (or sniff new butts to put it in dog terms). Alphy the turtle is the big hit this year, as are the huge deck chairs but I really love the dog walker sculpture and the timber freight boxes lying on the sand. With so many sculptures I have decided to break up the photos and share them in two lots, you will see more of the dog walker and other wonderful works of art sometime next week.
The historical city of Florence in Italy is famous for being the home of some of the most magnificent renaissance art and architecture in the world. Visitors to the city don’t have to venture into a museum or gallery to view great examples of renaissance art because you are literally surrounded by it in this UNESCO heritage listed city. However, if you like something a little more 21st century, look around and you will see modern art everywhere you walk. When we were in Florence in 2011 I never really noticed any street art, but in 2015 we saw plenty and the artwork varied greatly in style from cartoonish to realistic. This is a small selection of what can be seen as you walk around the city and as you can see, nowhere was off limits with art painted on metal utility boxes as well as on the walls of buildings.
Today I am hopping on a plane and flying to Edinburgh, Scotland. It has only been 6 months since our last big holiday which makes me feel extremely lucky, holidays like this don’t come along very often. The first and last time I was in Scotland it was 1999, and I was on a tour which stopped overnight in Glasgow and Edinburgh. It was short but sweet and the desire to return has never left. Why Scotland now you may ask? The opportunity to join a painting tour with my art teacher Louise Corke and several other artists came up and it was too good to resist, two weeks of painting and drawing in the Scottish countryside, destination Dairsie Castle and Gardenstown.
The tour starts and finishes in Edinburgh so I’ve tacked on a couple of days at the beginning and end of the trip, time to explore and do a day trip to Glencoe via Loch Ness. The group will also be heading to Northumberland to visit the Unison pastel factory and perhaps pick up a few more beautiful colours, such lovely soft pastels and with any luck I’ll be able to bring a box home without them turning to dust. What I am really hoping to get out of this trip is inspiration for my drawing, with the weather always changing (apparently) it should be relatively easy to get photos that I can use for as a reference for my art for at least twelve months.
Blog posts may or may not happen while I’m in Scotland, but you can follow me on instagram, twoblackdogz, because I can guarantee that there will be many, many photos taken 🙂