Sunday, December 31, 2006

How many posts showing on your blog?

Do you have a very fast internet connection? It must be wonderful for those that are able to have that service provided to them although it does create a problem for the person who does not have access to higher speeds.

I am one of the unlucky ones that use dial-up and often frustrated by extremely slow pages loading on blogs and end up giving up as I just don't have the time to waste when I am so busy. Hopefully within a couple of years it will change with faster internet connections for me to use. For those that do have fast internet connections you need to be aware of how many images are displayed on your blog and how it affects those that do not have a fast internet connection.

Did you know that you can change the amount of posts to be displayed when a visitor happens to click on your blog address? If not I am posting an image here of how I have mine set up for seven posts in blogger. This for me is an ideal amount of posts to show to a dial-up visitor, especially as I do often have an image in each post. Please do consider how many posts it is appropriate for your own blog but also take into consideration that you maybe loosing return visitors if they come from a dial-up connection. Yes they can read your posts in a feed reader but if they are anything like me they also like to occasionally click on the link back to your blog to see how it is truly developing.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Family and celebrations

Tuesday has passed and Wednesday is well on the way with no post done as promised. There will be two celebrations of Christmas for my family, one has passed with another fast approaching on Saturday with my husband’s large family. The grown up children take in turns at hosting the affair with four generations celebrating the festivities together. For my own family along with other siblings there will be a number of hours to travel as my sister in-law is host this year.

It was by way of disappointment with myself that my last commission wasn’t completed prior to the festivities because it would have been so much easier not to have it to worry about. As much as time is scarce for painting, the work that I am doing at the moment is one of my best and realizing this there possibly will be more oil paintings by my own hand in the future. Two more days should have the commission completed then let it sit for awhile to harden before adding a glaze over the surface.

Not sure if I am just getting old or what because I had one glass of wine for Christmas and yet my mind and body feels so hung over. I put it down to life is so fast with so much to fit into it, especially towards the end of the year. I do hope you all are fairing a lot better than myself. Perhaps my mistake was only having one glass of wine….wink!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

To all my visitors to this blog I sincerely do wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Do stay safe over the Festive Season and take care if you are out and about in the traffic.

As I am busy preparing for my family Christmas there won’t be another post until Tuesday.

Until then take care, Cheers!

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Arts & Stuff

When naming this blog Arts & Stuff with Susan Borgas, it became confused with my website because the same name was used. From today my blog will have a new title called Arts & Stuff. Who knows it might end up with another name as the blog grows and evolves with time though will always revolve around my artwork.

If you have visited SnapShots you will know that my daughter also has the Nikon D80 camera. She gave me permission to show you this photo that she took of her dog using the Nikon D80. The movement in this photo it what makes it special. I am sure Ash knows when his photo is being taken because many photos of him are where he is a real poser and a handsome one at that.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Check out my new blog called SnapShots

For those that have been waiting for the launch of my new blog you can find it by clicking on SnapShots. Have a look and see what you think. Show word verification for comments has been left off all my blogs now to make it easier for those that have difficulty using it. Expect to find comment moderated enabled across my blogs because it is easier to be rid of spam before it reaches my comment page.

Searching for codes and putting everything in place SnapShots was and still is an interesting exercise passing the time in the evenings. The Beta Blogger enables the use of Widgets. If you are able to use Widgets the SnapShots button is very easy to install into your blog. You can see the SnapShots button in the column of this blog, which was installed from SnapShots “LINK TO ME” Button.

SnapShots will not always consist of conversations from me but there will be something for you to view on a regular basis. I do hope you enjoy this new journey with me.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Exploring Color

Exploring Color “Revised Edition” written by Nita Leland is a new book in my private library purchased only recently on eBay. If you are looking for a book on how to use and control colour in your work, Exploring Color could be for you irrespective of what medium you use. More information about the Exploring Color book can be found at Nita Lands website

The Exploring Color book has quite an impressive amount of images with clear precise text that is informative for the budding artist through to the professional. Nita also has a blog at Exploring Color & Creativity where she has also reviewed books that may interest you among many other subjects.

Artists have a thirst for resource material that doesn’t come only in books. With 100,000 new blogs per day the resource is there though not always easy to find. Technorati does a good job at making it easier with many tags listed on their site. If you continue watching this space another blog is nearly ready to be launched in the next few days by yours truly in the hope that it will be of some value to my visitors so stay tuned, it just might be a blog you will enjoy.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Three Column Template

With the column on this blog so long I wish for Beta Blogger to provide a three column template. Researching on the internet when times allows me hasn’t been all that successful. There are three column templates to be found but found when testing them on beta blogger that I will need to tweak the html code for my blogs; taking time I don’t have to spare.

Why do I want one a three column template? It will make my blog more user friendly with less scrolling for my visitors to check out what this site is all about.

If you have a blog or considering signing up for one and would like to use a three column template, make a wish at Features and Suggestions. It is very easy and you don’t have to sign up to make your wish. The image below will show you other choices you can make as well. The three column template wish will have to be typed into the box at the bottom. I do encourage you to make a wish for the blogger community because my research has shown me that they are crying out for a three column template.

features and suggestions

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Monday, December 11, 2006


A Favicon are something that I have always enjoyed seeing listed in my bookmarks directory as they make it so easy to find a link address that I am looking for. There is plenty of information on the internet telling us how to make Favicons for our website. I only found out recently from Beta Blogger For Dummies how to add a Favicon to Blogger. If you want to do the same go and visit Beta Blogger For Dummies and I would suggest grabbing their blogspot RSS feed or bookmark it for future reference as this blog has a wealth of hints for anyone that works with Blogger.

I have made and loaded up two animated Favicons, one for this blog as well as Little Paintings. I really think Favicons are a good idea to use as they are like a trademark for your sites making you more visible for your visitors, especially return visitors who want to bookmark your site or blog. I did find I had to re-save my links in my bookmarks for the Favicon to show up and you may need to do the same.

I used Fireworks to design my image using a 96 pixel square. Once happy with my design it was time to save it as a jpeg file. I used the online free Favicon generator at Favicon from Pics website to make my animated Favicon. The website also makes a Favicon that isn't animated. I use Photobucket to host my Favicons then following Beta Blogger For Dummies blog to the letter, the Favicons were loaded up to my two blogs.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Two more Squidoo Lenses

I have listed two more Squidoo Lenses in the side bar of this blog. I had put together Selling Art Online some time ago. The Optimizing Website and Blog visibility Lens is very new. As usual I will update the links on my Lenses as I find the website that I think are worthy to do so.

If you know of a website that you think is suitable, send it via my email address for me to consider, which you will also find in the side bar.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pencil Sculptures

Thought I would shock my visitors by posting for the second time day.

I just came across this website that makes sculptures from coloured pencils. This link will take you to the website. Jennifer Maestre Pencil Sculptures

I would hate to be the one to break one of the points off.

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Popular Posts

I like to keep up with statistics with my blog and decided to post once per week my ten most popular posts. Look in the column at the left and you will see them.

If you are curious about what people find interesting on my blog, I am going to update the data whenever possible on a Sunday; starting on the 17th of December.

These statistics are collected from Statcounter and Google Analytics.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Reference photo and watercolour painting

I have great respect for artist that chooses to create artworks how they want rather than what the purest think how it should be done. Maybe even the old masters would have been more forward with how they approached their creative work if it wasn’t for this disapproving sector of the art world.

Well I for one do paint from reference photos and want to share some of my personal ideas with you.

When developing a painting from a reference photo, aim for it to be a piece of artwork that comes from you rather than just a copy of an image. In other words be creative with what you do. In saying this though you may need to consider what a client wants, then decide if you want to go ahead with the painting if they expect a "copy" of the photo.

My observations of painting from a reference image may help those that prefer to work this way. If you have any ideas that can be of help please add them to the comments section of this topic.

  • Gain experience from Plein-air painting and learn to draw. It will give you a much better understanding of how to handle the reference photo.
  • Best if painting from own reference photo.
  • Never use a photo that has copyright.
  • Do a sketch from the photo taking note if perspective needs to be fixed, as often point and shoot cameras do distort an image. This is why you need to have some drawing experience.
  • Take note of colours when capturing the photo, as often the reference image will be different. There is no reason why you also can't be creative with colour.
  • Be aware shadows have a lot of varied colour throughout them, not a dark area of black or blue as often is the case in photos.
  • Painting from a well calibrated computer monitor is often a better experience to paint from than a printed off photo.
  • Same as Plein-air, leave out unnecessary detail.
  • Move, remove, shrink, make taller or even add a tree in a landscape to improve the overall design. Trees are not the only items to consider, as there are many changes that can be made.
  • Take many photos of the area to help remind you what it was about the scene that inspired you in the first place to create a piece of artwork. This is where digital photos are good, as there are no unnecessary developing costs if you make use of a computer monitor.
  • Don’t just copy, have fun and be creative.

Those artist that use reference images, we are in good company.

Some of the old masters that used reference photos are:
  • Edgar Degas
  • Paul Cezanne
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Vincent Van Gosh
  • Toulouse Lautrec

There maybe more and would be interested to know who they are?

Yesterdays post I said that I would post a photo and a watercolour painting from that reference material. I had a lot of fun playing around with my paints in the comfort of my studio when I painted this one.


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Painting from Photos vs Plein-air

I have always read with great interest the argument of painting from photos vs Plein-air. I always say what works for one does not necessary work for another.

The bulk of my work is from photos that I have taken myself of the Flinders Ranges region. I will consider a commission from a photo taken by a client but do prefer my own. I would never paint a landscape that I am not familiar with, especially an area that I have never visited. Photos to me are a tool to remind me of what I saw.

Most of my work comes from my photos simply because I cannot afford the time away from the farm or the money spent on accommodation to work throughout the Flinders Ranges. This is not an excuse; it is just the way it is.

I do love to sketch and paint Plein-air. My early days of painting consisted of quite a bit of painting outdoors in my local area. Personally I think that it is a must to have these skills to get the best from your photographs.

Often in the past I used to feel guilty about using photos. I think that comes from reading so much from artist that have never gained knowledge how to handle painting from a photograph themselves, don’t want change or just plain think it is bad bad bad!!! The guilt is now gone, I do what I do and tough if someone says it is wrong. :D

Painting from an image on a computer monitor works well for me. Sometimes I will have three photos stitched together so that I am reminded of the vastness of the area that I am painting. It is from those three photos that I pick out the most interesting views/essentials, concentrate them and sketch them onto paper to work out if it will work or not. More often than not, the colours and atmosphere I use are from my memory of the scene when witnessing it at an earlier time rather than the photo that I had taken at that particular time. A commissioned work though is worked similar to a photograph unless the client gives me creative freedom to do as I want.

I am lousy at sharing my images that I work from along with the painting though will post an photo with a watercolour painting tomorrow, which will show you what a bit of creative license can do when working from a photograph.

Want to know what others are saying on this subject?

Dion from Art News Blog posted a story on Art & Perception about painting from photographs. There is further reading with many comments posted after Dion's story.

Wikipenia - Plein-air

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Skilled Truckie

Our farm isn’t really set up to have B Double semi trailers come in to collect our sheep for market. It takes a skilled Truckie to maneuver his large rig in a small area.

I didn’t think of it until the sheep had been loaded to grab some photos. To load the sheep the semi was backed right up to the opening of our shearing shed.

Normally a semi picks up our sheep but this is the second time a B Double has come in on the farm so plans are now in place to make a new track behind our barn. This will mean the driver will come onto the property through one gate and exit through another without having to make any tight turns.

I hope I don't choke up your internet connections with the photos in this post. I do feel they tell the story of the skills of this driver.

Moving forward away from the shearing shed where the sheep were loaded.

Backing up......

and backing up some more..... my son is quick to tell the the driver when to stop before hitting the shearing shed.

Forward once more.
New track will continue on in the direction that the semi truck is facing now. A gate will be put in the fence that is there now.

Backing up around the side of the shearing shed.

Forward once more....

right around now....

Facing the way the B Double came in on the property.

Time to make a mile!

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Lightening Strike

What could have been a nasty situation with fire was a strike out instead when lightening hit a tree on the family farm. I have since heard via the two way radio that the storm had left spot fires from strikes as the storm moved further East. There was also a strike between a house and shed in Booleroo Centre, my closes town to where I live.

As I type this the storm is building up again.

My husband actually saw the lightening hit the tree and can’t understand why it never started a fire as the tree lit up like a Christmas tree with a fireball exploding up and out. Periodically Malcolm and our son Shaun check the tree and surrounding area to make sure no spot fires start up.

The photo above shows the distance where I was still finding timber that had exploded away from the tree.

The bare branch that can be seen in this photo shows how it is stripped of bark and limbs. We can only find a fraction of the missing timber that has been ripped apart from that trunk on the tree and of cause that is a concern as we don’t know if there are any hot embers lying around the stubble paddock.

If you click on the image for a larger photo you should then be able to see the farm dog is trying to help out as well..... no I don't mean she is watering the tree...Chuckle.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Australian Artist, Sir Hans Heysen

A few days ago I had the opportunity to travel on a bus to Hahndorf in South Australia to visit one of Australia’s greatest artists, Sir Hans Heysen.

I have always been a huge admirer of his landscape paintings and wasn’t really aware of his other works until I made this trip. His oil Still Life paintings just blew me away. He stopped painting these when his daughter Nora took up Still Life painting, presumably for their work not to be compared. Hans’s graphite and charcoal drawings are something that I can only ever hope to aspire too. They are rendered by a true master.

The Heysen’s family home was purchased in 1912 where he remained until his death in 1968 at the age of 90. Hans and his wife Sallie had eight children. “The Cedars” as his home was named, had extensions added to it as his family increased.

While the tour was being conducted we were told that photos were not allowed to be taken inside the house. The house is like walking back into time. One lady that traveled on the same bus as me asked do I feel something about the room that we were in. I knew straight away what she meant with a spiritual feeling permeating me as if there was a tangible presence to the whole house. It was partially noticeable in the master bedroom where more than one birth and death had occurred. The strong sense of history was very real in this home. This probably comes from the many Paintings, drawings, prints and books that remain on view along with the solid wood furniture and Persian rugs scatter throughout the house.

Before I move on there is a Still Life called Zinnias and Autumn Fruit that I viewed over the mantle piece. This work Hans painted is nearly as wide as the large chimney that it hangs on. The painting was never for sale as it was a gift to his wife. Anna Pavlova, a visiting Russian Ballet dancer saw this painting and offered Hans a blank cheque for it. Anna was quite insistent that she buy the painting and “put out” that Hans would not sell her this painting. He offered to paint her a similar still-life though not an exact copy, which he did. When the painting was delivered to the Russian dancer she returned it saying that if she couldn’t have the painting that she wanted she would have no painting at all. That painting Anna didn’t want was soon purchased by another buyer and became one of Hans best.

Hans studio also had the same feel as the house though with a much more open airy sense due to the massive glass window at the end of his studio. The enormous window was imported from overseas and traveled from Adelaide by horse and cart, which would have been a feat on it own but did arrive safely. The glass has a frosted look about it so that there was a defused light into the studio. The studio was left as if Hans himself had just finished a day of painting. You can see by the wear on the large Persian rug where Hans worked in two areas at his larger than life easel by moving it into a different position as the light moved. Once more photos could not be taken but do regret not taking a photo of the window from outside.

At the time of his death it was instructed by Hans himself that all unsigned works were to be burnt. His family respected that and the big burn did happen, which in same ways saddened me as so much history literally went up in smoke.

The surrounding gardens are a delight to investigate. Hans never farmed his property; instead he planted his beloved gum trees throughout the land. This property still remains in the care of his family.

Even though the day was overcast and drizzly, I was please to get the opportunity to take a few photos in and around the Heysen grounds.

The Heysen Home


Car Shed

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Where has the moisture gone

It is hard to believe that by the old Aussie measurement we had a little over sixty points of rain yesterday, with the moisture disappearing quickly because it is soaked up greedily by the parched earth. Yes the drought that is happening in Australia is affecting our family farm as well. What there is of harvest is nearly finished; what was a good start to the season the rain is just too late now.

Farming families learn to roll with the punches if they want to survive in their business as we have for two generations. The third generation is now home to work the farm. It is an exciting time with a very positive attitude towards the future. The rain will come again as it has yesterday. Hopefully a bit more often than it has over the last few months and a must to fall at the right time. It would be lovely to have a tap at the bottom of the sky to switch on and off as needed but then again the rubber washers to stop the tap leak would just be to expensive to buy…wink.

This photo was taken on the way home from the evening walk with my husband. The remains of this water at the edge of the rubble road will soon be gone; though there is still more moisture forecasted for tomorrow and that is another day where we will look to the skies as we have for so many times over the last few months.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Emu and his eight chicks

This is a common sight to see dad wondering around the Wilpena Resort lawns feeding his chicks. Any tourist staying in these units in the background would have hardly believed there eyes with a treat like this right at their back door.

Like the Kangaroos the Emu has to be respected. If threatened, the Emu will kick out swiftly with their powerful legs. Thankfully the Emus that visit the resort and camping area are comfortable around humans and cause no problems, but just in case keeping ones distance is a good idea.

Link for Emu:

Wikipedia for Emu

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Kangaroo wanting Breakfast

On the morning that my husband and I were packing up the caravan to travel back home from Wilpena Pound, this lady thought she could join us for breakfast. She also had a Joey about half grown that was exploring near our van. It isn’t unusual for the mum to have a Joey in her pouch at the same time as a young one on the hop.

Even though this kangaroo was very friendly; most are not and don’t like to be near humans. Many kangaroos in the camp grounds often can be seen foraging for food that has been dropped by the tourists or begging for food from a holiday-maker, which is discouraged as these animals are in fact wild and human food is not good for them plus without warning the animal can inflict damage to a human body. In saying this though I had to laugh one morning when I saw a circle of campers facing a campfire having breakfast, including a kangaroo. Not something one sees everyday.

Links that you may find interesting are:
Wilpena Pound
Kangaroos, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Spring is in the air

There was plenty of wildlife at Wilpena Pound during my stay with more photos yet to come.

This pair of Dragon Lizards were how can I put it……a little frisky towards each other. This photo isn’t “adults only” but does show them having a cuddle after a courtship dance.

I didn’t hang around after these snaps were taken, as the mosquitoes where driving me nuts and had to get away from the area.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pastel Paintings

My commission work is progressing along with the farm bookwork completed as well. With a bit of luck I will now be able to concentrate on updating my blog more often instead of so sporadic as I have been since I have been home from up North.

My three completed pastel works while away as artist in residence are below. I also have a fourth one not completed. I will finish that one as a “Work in Progress” on my blog when the commissioned work is done.

While sitting here typing away I remembered painting a watercolour when I first arrived home; it was done to help me wind down from my trip away and must say I enjoyed every brush stroke. I will post that one at a later time…… so until then check out the paintings below by clicking on the thumbnails to see a larger view.

I would like to say a big hello to those that I chatted with while at Wilpena, it is friendly people like you that made my stay much more special. Cheers!!!

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