30 November, 2010


to the new home of my blog - here - http://www.shinyhappyart.com/blog/

I've rebuilt my website using Wordpress, so it makes sense to do the blog there too. (And considering I just tried to add an image and blogger wouldn't let me, perhaps I am doing the right thing!)

There's still a lot to learn, it doesn't quite feel like home yet, but come over now and help me settle in.

I've even got a FREE CHRISTMAS IMAGE over there - consider it part of your 'party bag'.

NOTE - I couldn't move the comments from some recent posts across, but thank you to everyone who said lovely things on my baby's anniversary. Every one was sincerely appreciated.

Now, I'll see you on the other side!

26 November, 2010

Animation Friday - get packing!

I'm not sure if this animation will work properly actually - I've built it in Photoshop (my first attempt) - so maybe you'll only see it move through once... if that's what happens I'll come back later and try and fix it. If it doesn't move at all... well, I'll definitely try again later. EDIT - HEY! Thanks Cintia - it works!

Anyway, a lovely lovely lady ordered FIFTY of my charity hankies last week (supporting the Scarlett Kisses Project), and here they are. All packed up and happily jumping into the Express Post bag.

They really are a great 'little' gift. When you want to give something, but the littler and easier-to-post the better. They're $6 and if you go to my new site when it launches this Monday you can order some to jump in a bag and be sent to you!

I wish I could have shown you my makeshift tripod set up (but the camera was in use!). A ridiculous assortment of boxes and New Guinean statues holding down the camera strap as the lense balanced precariously off the edge of the cabinet. Really professional.

So for more nifty (and perhaps more active) animations, come join in at my poppet (where you'll be glad this is not smellamation!).

25 November, 2010


I've had this post in my head for MONTHS, but here I am, with a towel on my head, trying to get it posted before I leave to collect the girls (who had a sleepover at Grandma's last night). It's pretty personal, but somehow it seems appropriate for me to document this memory in this space.

This morning my husband gave me this sweet bouquet of flowers from our garden (they're pretty battered and bruised because it's been pretty wet here this week). Mainly it's all about the gardenias (ah, their perfume!) because today it has been TEN YEARS since I gave birth to my second child, Caitlin, who was born still.

And on the day of her funeral there was one perfect gardenia in our garden.

The quilt we were given in the hospital - THANK YOU GENEROUS QUILTERS - it has a little bit of her cord blood on it, which I'm crazy happy about, and a sweet tiny teddy a friend made for her.
She's moulded our lives for the better in ways we would never have known about, had she been able to stay. I now understand more and love more, but as anyone who has known grief knows, sometimes it sneaks up on you and you have to go with it. She's definitely made me a better, softer, mother.

So thank you Caitlin, darling child of mine.

24 November, 2010

What is the secret?


... to cutting Caramel Slice?

OK, one of you know. I'd like to be in on it thank you.

I've never made this morning-tea-staple before, and I suspect I should have made it in a bigger tin, which would have made it thinner, and I did try dipping the knife blade in hot water (which made a bit of a mess) but really, the thing was cracking up as I approached it with the knife.

Lucky, none of the kids at the music-break-up are going to mind. This isn't Masterchef (although if 'it all comes down to the taste', I'm a winner).

This is what it looked like in the Women's Weekly recipe book that I followed. I didn't add the walnuts because of possible allergies, of course.

Hmmm. Another first world mystery.

On a happier note, I finally got all my figures done and to my lovely accountant. Of course that meant redesigning my whole system and having to print out lovely fresh bookkeeping pages, blank and full of potential. I actually studied accounting at uni, and I think that was always my favourite bit, getting to write neat rows of figures on clean, ruled paper. Probably not enough of a reason for it to be my true calling (obviously). I used to do my figures on the computer, but since having the most recent batch of kids I've regressed to pencil and paper. It's just easier at the moment.

Other things have been happening on the website front and I am announcing HERE that it will all go LIVE next MONDAY. There, it's out there now, so it will happen. I'm also moving my blog across to the wordpress platform my new site has been built on, so I'll let you know the new address soon. Still a few things to figure out there... I can feel my brain expanding, and actually, that feels good.

OK so now, secret keepers, fill me in on the facts!

22 November, 2010

Musical Mural

At the end of each year, the Year 7 kids from our school do some sort of 'service' to the school. Leaving their mark in a positive way.

This year they decided to do a mural on the old 'whitehouse', which is a rundown building that houses the music rooms and second-hand clothes room.

And as I am a Year 7 parent, they asked me to design it, and the Year 7's will finish it in colour.  I got the outlines done today - can't wait to see them finish it off!

And here's another slightly blurry photograph from a memory of today, that makes my heart burst.

I love that kid. And he's not bad either.

18 November, 2010

My Creative Space - hoo hoo

This week I SO wanted to sew a top for S. We've had some hot weather, and I've had this gorgeous owl fabric (from Tessuti) calling my name. (Because S's name means 'wisdom' I'm subtly suggesting a bit of an owl theme for her childhood.)  So last night I stayed up and just did it.

Of course, when I asked S to put it on so I could take a photo, she insisted on heading straight out to the ride-on mower for the shots. Hmmmm. Interesting choice.

And modelling in general meant an particular stance.

I love this pattern. It's from this pattern book, and it has just enough little details to be special. There was a time when I wouldn't attempt anything with 'extras' like pleats and frills, but now I'm keen to make really special things that will be treasured and worn because I just love seeing my kids wearing them.

Head over to kootooyoo for more of today's creative spaces.

16 November, 2010

It's time

It's that time of year again - I was trying to put it off until the end of term, but I couldn't wait. I needed to find what day a date in February 2011 was.

So I caved and put up the first 2/3 of 2011. It's a blank slate. Gorgeous. Clean. Full of potential.

(It comes as one big page, but I need to cut it so I can open the pantry - although hey, that would be one diet that I haven't tried yet...)

Can I tell you how much I LOVE my REMO Tempus Fugit Wall Planner? If you've been following me for over a year, you probably already know.

It's a year at a glance. It has our regular phone numbers in the margins. It means I don't miss tuckshop baking, dentist appointments and birthday parties. It's concise and to the point. And I can see everything with a phone in one hand and a baby in the other.

Get REMO Tempus Fugit WallPlanner 2011 from REMO General StoreClick on this little square image if you want to see for yourself. They're about $17 I think. Have I mentioned that I love mine?

Taking that photo of the pantry door, made me notice the round, black remnants of the 'child-proof' lock thing we tried to keep the girls out with. Hmmm. Didn't last long actually.

Similar story on the fridge...

And on this kitchen cupboard (where we store the dry pet food - which has some sort of bizarre attraction to my kids)...

And this contraption on the TV cabinet does virtually nothing...

So, in response to Amber Dusick's question about how much parenting gear is enough,  I can say that we've tried a lot of it, but either the kids are too smart, or the locks are too weak, but really, we may as well not have anything. I know that one day soon I'll notice that the baby's over the constantly-poaching-yogurts-from-the-fridge activity that is her favourite at the moment.

And that will be a very special day.

One thing I can say worked though, are these door locks (door knob covers - not quite sure what they're called, but we got ours from Target).

They stop the little girls getting into the boys rooms (and up onto their bunks) even when they're tall enough to reach the handle. Adults can open the door by holding in the red buttons to grip the doorknob. Saved us putting on locks, and has kept the girls safe. Love them.

And that's my community service tip for the day. What child safety gadgets have worked for you?

15 November, 2010

Monday's Art Tip 10 - Grid is not a dirty word

Now, please, I want to stress that portraiture isn't my main thing, but I do like to try my hand at it from time to time, particularly when it comes to my kids.

They grow so fast (that's the truest cliche) and spending some time really studying their features, and creating a sketch of them, as they were, today, is a beautiful luxury. I think it's the studying that interests me the most. Noticing the curve of a brow, the tweak at the corner of a mouth, the flutter of an eyelash... gorgeous.

Anyway, hopefully you've had a go at sketching a flower or a similar 'unopinionated' object after last week's Art Tip, and now you're ready to have a go at a face.

My idea here is to study your subject in this sketching exercise, and that will set you up nicely to try an acrylic version of the portrait next week.

So, here's a little technique for you. It's not 'loose' or particularly artistic, but it's a great way to build skills for a beginner, or revisit proportions for more experienced artists.

Firstly, choose a photo with good light and shade. I stood my daughter with a light on one side of her face, then took the photo.

I imported the photo into Picnik, reduced the size, then went to 'sandbox effects', applied 'adjustable threshold' until I was happy with the contrast, and then applied 'posterize' before resaving it. (I'd usually do similar steps to this in Photoshop, but as Picnik is a free online resource, I thought it best to do this demo with it.)

Now, the easiest thing for a beginner is to print and draw at the same size, so that's what I did. I applied a grid to the image, lightly pencilled the grid on my sketch pad, and started drawing in the shapes, square to square. Remember to do this bit UPSIDE DOWN, so that your brain's thinking 'shape', not 'eye' or 'mouth'.

Then, inspired by the sketchbooks of the amazing Alisa Burke, I sketched over the pencil lines with a ballpoint pen. Crosshatching lightly seems to work for me here.

I then turned it right side up, to check it,

gently rubbed out the pencil grid lines, and then lightly coloured it with watercolour - I used plenty of water because I wanted it to be subtle (it was on 300gsm watercolour paper, so it didn't buckle too badly - be careful with water if you're using a lighter weight paper), blotting with a rag when the colour was too dark.

Just look at those paints. They're a Winsor and Newton field box, and that's my maiden name in the cover - and I've been married almost 15 years... a great buy!

And that's it - done!

My top tips for beginners to try sketching someone you love -

  1. Don't go too big yet, and perhaps only do their face - or even their hand - that way the shapes are large enough for you to get right on the grid. And make the grid boxes as small as you need them to be. Remember, you're just doing the shapes, one square at a time.
  2. Don't be too hard on yourself. Just as the drawing is a record of what you saw that day, it's also a record of how experienced you were at drawing on that day. If you know you can do better, or would like to do better, that's fine. Date it, and you've got yourself a benchmark.
  3. Once done, take a photo and give either the original or the photo to your subject (it's totally up to you). I'm going to put this sketch in my daughter's 'precious things box'. So it may be years before she sees it, and it'll be a nice surprise for both of us. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.

Hope that's been interesting, and next week we'll try it on canvas!

If you have any questions or comments about this process, I'd love to hear/answer them. Go on now, sketch someone you love.

14 November, 2010

So my kids like Harry Potter (and ok, so do I)

So if you need something to do, check out the great posters you can make here.

13 November, 2010


 After yesterday's rant, I think this could be my new "Happy Place". We've been planning an extension, but one look at this and I think we could be back to the drawing board.

 What would be your perfect 'creation' space?

12 November, 2010

Animation Friday - a Backdrop and some background

Ah, it feels like it's been a big week - and even though it's been more 'at home' than last week, I think the sense of being stuck in the quicksand that is 'housework' gets to me more than anything.

The girls are both interesting and delightful at the moment, and that seems to come hand-in-hand with 'creative destruction', 'culinary destruction' and of course, 'wanton destruction'.

So every time I manage to achieve one thing (like hanging a load of washing on the line or oh, putting breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, earth-shattering stuff), I turn around to find:
  • an entire collection of straws pulled out of a basket and distributed through the toys, or 
  • the dog's water found behind the tree (where I thought it would be a secret between myself and the dog) now tipped on a freshly-dressed-to-go-out toddler, or 
  • a baby who's managed to climb from a bed to a chest of drawers, and is now hanging from a wall-mounted shelf (no photo for obvious reasons)
- honestly, even by the fourth, they're still coming up with things I haven't got solutions for.

And I know I'm not Robinson Crusoe here.

The house is so FULL of stuff, I'd love to cull, but simply keeping up with the day-to-day is all I can manage at the moment. Ah! Remind me of all this when the kids are bigger and I complain about being busy, ok!

So what am I doing typing a post instead of doing the other stuff on my list? 

At least I can feel there is something that I have done today that is finished, won't be undone as swiftly as it was done, and that I've been in contact with other adults. And that may be the reason why I blog!

Today's very quick animation is from Wednesday's painting of a photography backdrop. I like the way you can see the light change through the day. I started at about 11 in the morning (it took that long to move the furniture, get the paint and set up!) and finished close to 5pm (the kids ended up having dinner at Mum's that night - thanks Mum!).

gif animation creator

Visit Cintia at mypoppet for more animations.

Until next time... I've got a few things I need to get done around here...

11 November, 2010

My Creative Space - it's HUGE!

I've been painting a backdrop for a photographer friend, and it's not a neat process (or a lonely one, obviously,  can see 3 phone handsets in this photo!). I used my Ezibuy catalogues as drip catchers - now I can't buy anything out of them - it's a lack-of-self-control thing, the fact that it's not safe keeping them intact.

This is the end product on the dining room floor.

The rest of the house is stacked with chairs and tables. You'd swear we were moving.

Can I also tell you that this glue is fantastic.Better than Aquadhere.

I used it to glue the two pieces of primed canvas together for this project, and I also used it when I covered my desk in fabric a few months ago (you can see a bit of that desk in this photo, actually).

And I've just realised that I've photographed the French side of the label - there's English on the other side - but that's not quite as exotic, is it? Must be channelling my inner Nathalie!

Now go and get inspired at the home of the Creative Space - kootooyoo!

10 November, 2010

The Wonderful Whimsical Wace Day

You may have noticed (or not!) that I wasn't around here much last week.

I was on the committee for our school Race Day, which I'm happy to say was a huge success.

My main responsibility was Graphic Design, so I had to make sure this year's Wonderland theme was carried through on all our printed materials.

and some other very talented committee members worked their butts off to create these fantastic marquee decorations.

The amazing 'Miss Whimsy' sculpture was by acclaimed artist (and parent), Joy Heylen.

We sold 380 tickets, so the place was pretty packed.

There were promotional "Alice" characters and even a stiltwalker!

Love this photo from the night of one of my friends (Mavis Monsoon, anyone?) in the crowd.

There were some horses, and for one race they actually started right in front of our marquee, which was fantastic.

Still to discover how close we came to the amount needed for the interactive whiteboards we were gunning for... but am sure we will be close!

Great event, but happy to be moving onto the other things on my list now.

I started volunteering for SANDS about 9 years ago, and now as a regular committee member for things like this I have to say the friendships and experience and skills I have gained from being involved have been enormous. And I've also realised how much in the world only gets done because of volunteers. Incredible.

It stuns me just as much as the fact that you can TRULY BELIEVE that a baby is asleep, and yet somehow a tiny 'pop' from your ankle as you attempt to leave the room somehow wakes her from deep slumber to emit a terrifying scream.

Someone should do a study about that. Any volunteers?
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