A Memo from the Moon

Allow me to introduce you to the reason I dropped off the face of the earth this year. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that we bought our very first house: “Piper’s Moon”. Since then we’ve had people doing work on the house pretty much constantly as she was in a bit of a state, bless her. So although settlement was in Autumn we didn’t get in until the dead of Winter.

Autumn

Autumn 2

Autumn 3

Autumn 4

Autumn

Bulb planting

Piper s Moon

Winter

Our Road

Winter

Crocus

Spring

We’re on an acre so the garden’s big enough that we can take a little walk through it and it was so exciting to be surprised by something new emerging in the garden each time.

Bulbs

Spring

Bluebells

Now | Summer

The more work we did on the house the worse and worse she looked (think porches ripped up, gouges in weatherboards, mud everywhere, etc), but finally we’re coming out the other end and we’ve gotten around to some of the fun stuff which will make her pretty again, like painting! I cannot express how delighted I am with my glossy black doors!

Verandah

Courtyard

wild flowers

wild flowers 2

Interior Vignettes

Bathroom

Studio

I’m completely in love with my garden and gardening. When I’m in the studio I love it just as much as ever but it’s a constant battle to actually get in there and tear myself away from the garden. I’m currently grieving a little for all my spare time to spend in the garden as I’m prioritising creating as much art as I can for an upcoming thing which I will tell you about another time because this post is already long enough (a bit like this sentence)! All of this is to say that I’m going to start blogging about my garden as well, although it will remain predominantly an art blog.

A New Ink Drawing and WIP

That title is me nonchalantly pretending like I didn’t just disappear off the face of the digital-earth for 5 months. Not coincidentally, the last time I blogged was in July which was also the month we moved into our first home! Yes, I have been a tad preoccupied. I’ve also really missed the ritual of documenting my life and art for the blog. I feel the loss of not having documented the first 5 months of life in our new home. It’s a very seasonal garden and it’s a shame I haven’t photographed our first winter and spring here. Ah well, one can only lament what cannot be undone so much.

2015 Owl Lovers Calendar is Now Available!

Owl art Nellie Windmill

This handsome rogue is my contribution to the 2015 Owl Lovers Calendar which you can download for free over at My Owl Barn. The original concept for this piece was for the owl to be in the form of a playing card with another owl in mirror-image below this one, gripping each other’s talons. I quickly realised however that the aspect ratio of the calendar made this unfeasible. I still really like the idea though and have squirrelled it away in my heaving Evernote of ideas.

Custom Art

work in progress acrylic art

wip illustration art

I’ve been having an absolute romp with this commission painting. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of painting balloons. You can commission your own custom painting from the commission section of the Nellie Windmill Etsy shop.

Work in Progress

wip illustration art

Next time I draw the tiles no smaller than this brush! This piece was for an exhibition for the End of the Line Festival. The exhibition didn’t have a theme per se but we were briefed to paint the painting we’ve always wanted to paint but never had an excuse. I’ve long had an unnatural obsession with chimneys and roofscapes hold a singular magic for me. I’ve always wanted to paint tiled roofs smothered in chimneys but never have for some reason. I’m not sure if I found all that detail a bit intimidating or worried that it might be a bit boring for normal people who don’t harbour a chimney fixation, or maybe I was just busy painting the other things I’m equally enamoured with?

I have more announcements but I don’t want to info dump after 5 months of radio silence so I think I’ll leave those exciting morsels until next time!

Outrageous Art Crush: Mr Finch Textile Art

I’ve never met Mr Finch, the artist behind this magical collection of textile art, but sometimes you come across an artist or author whose work makes you think, “if I could clone people, I would clone this one”. I don’t have this thought every time I come across artwork I fall in love with. Usually, I’m satisfied with the dream of owning one of their creations one day. But every now and then the artwork is so achingly beautiful and weird that I sit in awe, wondering at the mind behind the work.

Yellow bird small Mr Finch Textile Art

Bumbee small Mr Finch

Cobweb in a case Mr Finch

Large Textile moth on hand small2 Mr Finch

Moth and coach small Mr Finch

Moths large small Mr Finch

Mr Finch Mushrooms

Mr Finch Rabbit

Orange mushroom small Mr Finch

Photo moth circle Mr Finch

Tea making spider small Mr Finch

Toadstoools 33 Mr Finch

Toadstool finished small 624x962 Mr Finch

Weeping wolf small new Mr Finch

Mr Finch Textile Artist

Mr Finch’s website

Mr Finch on Facebook

Mr Finch on Etsy

Mr Finch on Tumblr

WIP Snippet: Toned Ground

I realise this is a very unsexy image to share and yet… there’s just something about it. There’s something delicious about grabbing a blank canvas, choosing a yummy colour and transforming your white canvas into a solid colour. I love seeing them like this.

wip work in progress toned ground

To get art nerdy on you, this is what’s called a toned ground. Usually when working in acrylics I work from dark to light so my toned ground has always been black or darkest brown. With this latest batch of paintings I’m trying a lot of new things however and one of those things is not working from dark to light so I got to play with different colours for my toned ground, which was fun. It’s funny how much delight simple things like this give me. I enjoy them more than I have any call to.

Got 5 Minutes? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Acrylics to Begin Your First Painting

You could begin painting your first ever acrylic painting without knowing anything of course, like I did. You may even prefer to go that route and, if that’s the case, then all power to you. In hindsight however, these are the three main tips for beginners that would have made my painting sessions go more smoothly, had I known them.

Beginner Acrylic Painting

  1. The viscosity of the paint straight out of the tube is probably not what you want to work with, unless you want your painting to be very structural (that is, thick and textured and holding of the brush strokes). When I was a complete noob, I couldn’t work out why I couldn’t get good coverage – the paint was so thick it would drag across the canvas only covering the raised parts of the weave leaving the recessed parts un-painted unless I really scrubbed with the brush. It seemed like I must have been doing something wrong, I just couldn’t work out what. How hard can it be? Paint comes out of tube, paint goes on canvas, right? I also couldn’t achieve a uniform, level coverage without brushstrokes and ridges, again because the paint was so thick.

    The solution? There are many but the simplest thing to do is dilute your acrylics with water – but by no more than 30% or it won’t bind effectively to your substrate. If you need it even thinner than this mix your acrylic with airbrush medium. You’ll probably notice in art supply shops that acrylic can come in a “fluid” variety. This is paint that has been pre-thinned for you. Some artists suggest you buy one of each of your colours in heavy-bodied and fluid form but it’s a lot more economical to just thin your own paints.

  2. Acrylic dries fast! If I wanted to blend and blend and blend till my heart’s content I would paint in oils. As it is I still have to take measures to prevent my acrylic drying before I’m ready. I mix in a little bit of acrylic glaze with my paints and put a dollop on top to prevent them skinning over. I use a wet palette, which is just a damp sponge with palette paper on top. This then sits in a plastic container with a lid that I close between sessions. I’m also careful to not work the paint on the canvas for too long or bad, horrible things happen (I’m not always successful in this endeavour). If you do need a bit more time once the paint is on the canvas you can spray it with a mister and continue working. This will obviously change the consistency of the paint though. Finally, this may go without saying but don’t have your palette sitting in direct sunlight on a hot day.

  3. You might not know this yet but brush choice is intimidating! If you don’t think about it too much and just grab a bunch you will survive the crippling analysis paralysis. I advocate this in the beginning. Eventually however you will begin to wonder and ask questions like “why do some brushes have long handles and others short, or “what’s a hog hair or bristle brush”, and then my friend, it’s the rabbit hole for you.

    The good news is that because acrylics can be used like watercolours or oils (or as themselves) you can use any of the vast array of brushes you see in the art store! You won’t know what type of brushes you need until you work out how you like to paint anyway so I’d recommend buying a set of soft bristled brushes and a set of stiff bristled brushes – just touch them to work out which is which. If I’d had a set of stiff bristled brushes around from the start I would have worked out that they were what I should be using a lot sooner. Don’t worry too much at this stage about anything else, just have a play.

Now get cracking! Any other burning questions? Just pop in a comment below.