Monday, 23 June 2014

Dreamworks Animation

It's been a cold and windy day in Melbourne today.  It is mid-winter so no surprise!  I took the train into the centre of the city and scuttled quickly across the road from Flinders Street Station to the ACMI exhibition space in Federation Square, which was showing Dreamworks Animation.  
It was a delightful exhibition from Dreamworks charting all the processes involved in the production of a present day animated film.  It's all a long way from the original hand-drawn cartoons, although there is still a lot of initial drawing and sculpting of the characters, until they emerge as rounded and believable individuals, human or animal!  Then the computers take over with the quite extraordinary results that we all flock to see at the cinema.
 Can you spot Gromit in Wallace's greenhouse?
I turned my hand to creating waves!  How could I resist?  My efforts didn't last long because I began to feel seasick!!!!
To help with realistic movement, the animators work with film of actors enacting the part.
I took a ride on the back of a dragon!  Glad I sat down otherwise I think I would have fallen off/over!
 There was an interesting insight into how characters were defined by using colour.
It was great fun.  I spent a couple of hours walking round with a smile on my face!  

So now I am going to get back to the real world and watching some of Day One of Wimbledon!  

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The longest day

It's 21 June, the longest day in the northern hemisphere.  Apart from a short snooze a little while ago, for me it’s been a very long day indeed.  I got up at 6.35 am on Thursday, 19 June.  The sun was shining as Tilly and I stepped out on to the drive at the start of our early morning walk round the block.  Just beyond our garden boundary stood a young deer, gazing at us.  We looked at each other for several moments.  The deer was not frightened.  I turned to look down the drive in the other direction and when I looked back, it had gone.  Moments like that are magical, made even more so by the speed with which the animal disappears.  You are left wondering whether it had been there at all.  These elegant animals melt away into the undergrowth of the wood like spirits.

Our walk produced some lovely things to see.  It never disappoints, starting with a speckled wood brown butterfly on the drive.
 This is the field which was sown on St Patrick's Day.  
By some miracle the road verge cutter kindly left this glorious clump of poppies.  
 And here is exactly WHY the wild flowers along our road verges should be allowed to bloom - buzzy bees.  Two of them in this photo, loving the poppies.
We saw four hares on our walk.  One, sitting on its own, started and ran off across to the other side of the field and, for the sheer joy of living, suddenly accelerated and then kicked its long back legs in air, to the right and then to the left.  Delightful - and it made me laugh out loud!  

I love the shadows cast by the stamens in this wild rose.  The hedgerows are full of roses at the moment,
including the delicious appley-smelling brier or Eglantine rose.  It has a smaller flower of a stronger pink.  

After breakfast I watered the plants on the terrace.  We have been enjoying some lovely hot sunshine and the pots were beginning to look a bit parched.  I also sprayed the hose along the lavender hedge, trying to dislodge lots of cuckoo spit and the green grubs inside.  They were back an hour or so later!  As I stood in the sun, hose in hand, enjoying my plants and the promise they hold, the chap working to fix the bathroom next door came outside to give his two greyhounds a run in the garden.  He said “You don’t look like a woman whose going to Australia today”, and I suppose I didn’t!  But I needed that time to calm the inner feelings of trepidation.  I am journeying on my own for the first time, and now, many hours later, I am sitting at Gate A15 in Dubai International Airport.  I have travelled here from Glasgow, arriving early in the morning, thrown from the aircraft into the perfume-ladened atmosphere of one of the airport terminals.  I walked through the craziness of all the glamorous duty free shopping opportunities to catch the shuttle train to another terminal for my onward flight to Melbourne.  It’s all a world away from watching deer and hares skittering in the sun at home. 

I have another 13 or 14 hour flight in a couple of hours.  It’s an awful long way, but I’ve freshened up in duty free with a couple of squirts of the perfume I put on before leaving home, and taken my seat in the departure lounge.  You can’t get to the other side of the world without spending a bit of time in transit!  I can’t wait to see our son in Melbourne, and the little princess.  She probably won’t recognize me because as far as she is concerned Mr Gaucho and I live in a computer.  The doorbell sounds like the Skype ringtone.

Friday, 13 June 2014

A very hectic time

I have rather neglected therunningwave recently.  Apart from the occasional rant about verge cutting and talking about dog walks I haven't written much.  The verge cutting is still very much on my agenda.  I've reached the point where I barely want to drive through our beautiful East Lothian countryside, especially the immediate locality, because the farmers continue to butcher the roadside verges and the wild flowers.  But that's another story and I must not digress.

Yesterday was my last day at the Leith School of Art.  :o(  
I really don't know where the last (academic) year has gone.  It has certainly flown by.  I have learnt a huge amount, and I know very well that I would not be able to produce the kind of images I have been working on over the past few months without the wonderful tuition and guidance of my two tutors.  I am feeling rather guilty as I have finished two weeks early because of my imminent trip to Australia next Thursday, so I am missing helping out with all the practicalities of staging the end of year exhibition.  We spent some time yesterday trying to find a safe place to store my huge drawing, to keep it out of the way of all the busyness (sp?) of the next couple of weeks.  It has ended up being taped to a wall in the upstairs corridor!
Feeling all bowled out I thought I would just have a bit of play for my last day of term.  So I drew a poppy.  I was hoping to pick some in the garden to take in to the school, but the heavy rain over last weekend has wrecked all the lovely fat buds and they have just fallen to pieces, so I had to settle for a photograph I had taken a couple of weekends ago.  Looking at the photo below I can see things that need fiddling with, but it was fun to do, and I enjoyed my last day at the school.  I will miss everyone.  We have agreed to meet up for exhibitions in Edinburgh and become art students who lunch!  Looking forward to that!
So now I am down in Melrose in the Scottish Borders, for the Borders Book Festival.  Last night was good fun.  Here's a snatch of my evening :

Lynda la Plante on a table on my left hand side, book signing, Jennifer Saunders at the other end of the same continuous table on my right hand side, book signing with Rory Bremner lolling around next to her.  One lady takes a Lynda la Plante book to its author and shows her the back page, which has been signed by Jennifer Saunders "Who the bloody hell is Lynda la Plante?" - a crazy few minutes!!!  And that's why I love it here so much!

A busy weekend coming up and no doubt more mad moments! 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

That's it!

I've got one more day at the art school, next week, and my year at Leith will be over.  I can't believe how quickly the time has gone.  This time last year it wasn't even on my horizon and now it's almost done and dusted. 

Today I finished drawing my last ancient Egyptian pot.  It's a sizeable piece of work, bigger than AO, and I am very delighted that it's going into the end of year exhibition.  I thought it would be too large and greedy for space, so I really quite pleased and feel like I've finished on a high note!   :o) 
A big, big thank you to my two terrific tutors, Kittie Jones and Matt Storstein.  They have taught me so much and it's been a joy.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

An interesting journey

Last September I began a one day (a week) painting and drawing course at the Leith School of Art (see my post  The academic year is nearly over and I have reached the point where I have to write a few words to sit alongside a piece of my work, which will appear in the end of year show in mid-June. I won't be there to enjoy the exhibition as I will be in Australia, visiting my son and his family, but the statement I must put together is a really important part of the whole process.  I think it must encapsulate, in relatively few words, what the year has yielded in terms of my initial ambition and ultimate achievement.

We started off the year, last September, by spending time in Port Seton.  The brooding presence of the two chimneys of Cockenzie Power Station featured in a lot of work.  Some fellow students are still working on those images.  This is my piece.  Looking at it now I can see how much I have learnt since then.  It's looking pretty rough!
We also went to the Museum of Scotland which is full of treasures and wondrous things to draw, but I became hijacked by one of the lobbies!  Overall I spent several days in this lobby and at the art school, resulting in a few pictures of various sizes.  However, the one I like the most is the first one, which I did in pastel, in my sketchbook.
During the first half of the Spring term I had artist's block.  Nothing gelled and ideas were not forthcoming, so I drew a cabbage, and then at home some garlic and various other ingredients which I thought might make a good minestrone.  
Then my Monday art class tutor took our group to the museum again.  I avoided the lobbies this time!  I went and spent some time with the Egyptian pots.  They became my salvation.  The display cabinets provided lighting which was constant, quiet, casting beautiful shadows and I have been fiddling around with the pots ever since.  I work from very grainy photographs which give just enough information, but not enough to be dictatorial.  
The drawing below is work in progress.  The photograph to the left is A4, so this piece is a mega departure for me.  I have never worked on anything this size so it is quite an adventure.  I am looking forward to getting back to it later this week, and I will let you know how I get on after that!