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 🙂
A while ago I shared photos of our house and the rooms we were renovating, we’ve been living with dust and stepping over boxes for some time now but I’m happy to say that it is almost over. I underestimated how much headspace renovating would consume and the time it would take to arrange to get things done such as plumbing, tiling and plastering. There has been frustration and tears, at times it all seemed too overwhelming and I wondered if we were ever going to move out of the spare room.
My parents spent a week with us in order to help get some of the work done, while Mum was busy packing up my office, washing walls and cleaning windows, Dad and I were painting walls. Over a 3 day weekend we achieved quite a bit, however our hearts sank when we found what appeared to be termite damage in two bedrooms. Termites and wet rot had worked together to disintegrate the baseplate in 3 walls, it meant that we couldn’t paint those rooms and the flooring could not be laid either. Thankfully Fred, our termite inspection man was available to check everything and confirm that there were no living termites, the activity was old and we just needed to replace the timber baseplate and install new gyprock on the walls. It has slowed us down a little, I was hoping to have things back to normal by the end of September however it might not be possible, thank goodness Dad was here as he was able to tell us exactly what we needed to get done and in what order. It is very handy having a Dad who has worked in the building industry for most of his life and Mum has always been a hard worker, we could never have gotten this far without them 🙂
I’ve learned one thing from this experience, DIY is not for me (although painting is ok) and there is no way that I would ever consider auditioning for one of those reality tv shows like “The Block”. Anyway, enough talking, here are a few photos of our almost complete rooms.
No more carpet and a new bedroom suite. Finally a grown up bedroom, if you overlook the puppy dog cushion. The flooring consists of timber look vinyl planks.
Ensuite minus the shower screen and mixer tap for the hand basin.
The contrasting shelves were a lovely surprise from the builder.
So much bench space! Still need to move the fridge to its rightful place and get a couple of bar stools.
New appliances, a tinted mirror splashback and plenty of storage
A galley kitchen, lots more space to move and plenty of storage and bench space.
A while back I shared some photos I took of a sweet little Tawny Frogmouth that paid us a visit. Like the subjects of several other photos I have taken, the Tawny Frogmouth now features in my latest pastel illustration.
Melbourne Walks provides walking tours around Melbourne and recently I was lucky to be part of a walking tour exploring the lane ways to discover fantastic street art. The tour guide, whose name escapes me, have us a fascinating insight into the history of the movement and the different styles used by artists, from stencils to found objects, paint and mosaics. The weather wasn’t the best for being outdoors however the rain did make the artwork shine.
If ever you go to Melbourne I highly recommend going on one of these walking tours and if you need a break after all the walking there are plenty of cafés and bars where you can find nourishment.
Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most popular and well known beaches, located in eastern Sydney, Bondi is accessible by bus and train and during the summer the beach is jam-packed with locals, tourists and back packers all eager to develop their tans and do a spot of people watching. When I lived in Sydney I rarely went to Bondi, our local beach was at Cronulla and ratio of sand to people was alot higher so there was always plenty of room to move.
Bondi is currently a landing point for people wanting to experience Sculpture by the Sea, but once you’ve finished checking out the amazing 3D art forms there is still plenty of art to see along Bondi’s esplanade. Not wanting to swim or fuss around with membership requirements, My Dad and I bypassed Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club and headed to the strip of cafes and shops opposite the beach, we enjoyed a tasty lunch served with a smile at the Lamrock Cafe, around the corner from one amazing piece of street art done by Mr G. Mr G is known for his paintings and illustrations of dogs and I had been following his ‘dogathon‘ of paintings for quite sometime prompting me to ask the waitress about the location of a particular mural he painted titled Happy Staffys.
When asked why he painted dogs, Mr G replied:
Because dogs are bloody awesome, that’s why.
I couldn’t agree more so I left Dad sitting in the shade of a tree while I went in search of the Happy Staffys and discovered some other amazing street art.
This year I promised myself that there would be no study of boring, work related subjects and plenty of time to draw, paint and take photographs. When I was in school I was always drawing, with charcoal, pen or pencils and it was fun but then I went to Uni and started working and my love for art only extended as far as visiting art exhibitions and taking the occasional photograph. Thanks to my Mum and the joy of gift vouchers I have participated in art classes on and off since 2000, the classes have helped me rebuild confidence in my ability to draw and there is always something to learn in terms of technique and using different mediums.
Now I attend Tuesday night classes, a couple of hours of doing my own thing and when I need assistance or guidance there is always someone to provide it. For four weeks my focus has been on ‘relearning’ how to use pastels by copying a painting from an art book, the paper I used wasn’t ideal, but I’m quite happy with the result – would like to know what you think, constructive criticism is welcome!
My art teacher has recommended taking additional pastel classes with an Australian Master Pastellist, she lives locally so I have signed up to spend a term learning from her. I’ll still go to my Tuesday night class, they’re very relaxing, therapeutic even and I can always use the time to apply what I have learned from the pastel classes. With so much energy and time devoted to art this year, perhaps all my family will receive original artwork this Christmas.