They found it!

by Elizabeth on August 19, 2012 · 3 comments

in Art, Melbourne

If this didn’t make you smile, please turn to the nearest person and have them check your pulse.

Oh, and while you’re waiting for the ambulance check out the other creations of Melbourne illustrator Jake Lawrence, aka Timecowboy!



Item #94 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project is to paint something from my imagination.

I have a lot of painting and drawing challenges on my list, but they’re all pretty focused on drawing things that I can physically see, as realistically as possible.  I decided to give myself an extra challenge and see what my brain could come up with on its own.  I’ve been feeling pretty worried about this, actually!

I think when I set this challenge I intended to paint some sort of scene, not a person.  But last night I had just finished off another painting and I wanted to keep going.  I started pushing paint around on a fresh piece of paper, not even bothering with a charcoal drawing first.  Eventually I decided that the shapes looked like a face and a couple of hours later this little lady was looking back at me.  It’s so fresh that you can still see the wet paint in the photo above.

It was strangely liberating to invent a face without using any reference material.  I’m a little bit surprised that all the little features work together so well, as though this person may exist somewhere.

There are plenty of little things that I would like to fix, but I’ve decided to resist temptation and leave this painting alone for now.  I’d prefer to wonder what her name is, and is she maybe eleven or twelve years old?  Definitely not a teenager yet, I don’t think.  And she probably has a little sister.

I don’t know.  But this challenge is officially complete, and it was really fun to do!


The Life of Fly by Magnus Muhr

by Elizabeth on June 29, 2012 · 1 comment

in Art, Funny Stuff

Finally!  A practical use for all those dead flies that gather on your windowsill.  Are you ready for some arts & crafts with dried up fly corpses?

Wait, where are you going?  Come back!

We all have that one person in our family who is impossible to buy for because they already have everything.  There are two in mine, and this year they’ll both be getting this book: The Life of Fly by Magnus Muhr.

When they’re not buzzing in our ears or ruining our picnics, flies have lives of their own. Until now, their tiny world has remained completely unknown to humankind. In this engaging study, photographer Magnus Muhr carefully documents the world of the common housefly and reveals that when we re not around, flies behave pretty much like we do. Playing golf or soccer, sunbathing, partying, dating, singing, and even fly fishing anything’s possible in the fascinating (if brief) Life of Fly. Featuring the best of Muhr’s spooky yet surprisingly sweet creations, this macabre collection is sure to captivate humans like no fly has done before.

Once you get over the slight ickyness the drawings of Swedish artist Magnus Muhr are kind of brilliant.  It’s not a bad afterlife for these lucky little flies. 

Here are some of my favourites. 


Fly fishing   [link]

Diving board   [link]

Legs   [link]

Vacation   [link]

Weeeiiiiiee   [link]

Sprint   [link]

The pub   [link]


There are plenty more brilliant drawings in his gallery, so check them all out here

Happy Flyday, everyone!  And I do look forward to your emails, PETA.

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A big thank you to Kellie from 74 Lime Lane for sharing this short by Cale Atkinson (she always knows where to find the best stuff).  You can read more about the making of this animation at Cale’s blog.

I love everything about this.


(PS. Sorry that things are so quiet around here.  I’ll be back with a more newsy post soon!)

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I will not make any more boring art

by Elizabeth on May 27, 2012 · 0 comments

in Art, Videos

This is John Baldessari’s life, crammed into six minutes and narrated by Tom Waits.

Take an art break and watch this, it’s great.


Fallen Leaves, from my 101 black & white film photo challenge


Life has felt so out of control lately.

I realised today that for a while now this feeling has become the rule, rather than the exception.  I’m not actually any busier than usual, so why am I always falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day?  How come I hit the “snooze” button on my alarm 3 or 4 times each morning, and still accidentally go back to sleep?  And how come my memory is full of dumb trivia, but I can never remember to take my multivitamin?

When I stop to really think about it, the answer is actually pretty clear:  I’m just not taking very good care of myself.  I’m facing the world each day with brushed teeth and bright lipstick, but too little sleep.  I’m choosing my outfit from the laundry pile instead of a hanger, and filing my mail on the floor of the spare room.

I’m faking it.  I know I’ve said it before, but for me a messy house is the #1 sign that my brain is messy too.

Ivy, from my 101 black & white film photo challenge


Earlier this week something snapped and I spent 2 hours tackling the mess that had accumulated in my house.  I threw out anything that wasn’t nailed down, scrubbed the bathroom until it smelled like bleach, and did 4 loads of laundry – all before Tim got home from work.

I’m realising that the more clothes and stuff I have, the less in control I feel.  And when I lose that control I find myself existing instead of living – just doing the bare minimum, thinking ahead no more than 24 hours.

My brain has been trapped under a heavy fog, and I haven’t felt like my usual self in a while.

Border control, from my 101 black & white film photo challenge


Last night Tim went to a footy game with some of his friends and I had the house to myself.  All to myself!  Now, I love that boy to pieces but the prospect of some selfish Alone Time was like finding a suitcase full of $100 notes on the street.

The universe gave me everything I needed for a perfect night alone – pouring rain, howling wind, a warm puppy and a new Regina Spektor album.  I worked on a painting, played my neglected keyboard (why is my piano 2000km away?) and later on I switched to an old Nick Drake album and let the music wash over my thoughts.

I was happy when Tim texted to say he was on his way home, but those few hours were just so perfect.  There was no TV, no gunfire from the Playstation, nobody to consider but myself.  It gave me time to remember that it’s okay to put my music and art first sometimes, even if there’s still a messy spare room and more laundry to do.

(There was also no boy to make me cups of tea, so thank God Tim eventually came home!)

Why do we need to give ourselves permission to indulge in the things we love?  So much of my energy gets wasted on the professional face I have to present at work, and maintaining a lifestyle that traps me there.  My head is full of rocks, but my time is wasted on the sand.

The truth is, I’m just like that painting up there: everything looks pretty right, but so much of the detail is yet to be figured out.  Just like this painting I have to work on the broader elements, and trust that the features will emerge.

We are both works in progress.  But, at least we have some sort of a plan.

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Last week Chantilly from My Girl Thursday posted this incredible video, and it made me want to drop everything and learn more about the artist.  An hour later I was still drooling over his portfolio and videos, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites here.

But first, a little bit about the artist Neils Shoe Meulman (from his about page):


Niels Shoe Meulman (also known as Shoe) is an internationally known artist and graphic designer. He is born, raised and based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Meulman began tagging ‘Shoe’ in 1979 and became a graffiti legend by the time he was 18. In the eighties he met New York artists like Dondi, Rammellzee, Haze, Quik and Keith Haring. He then formed the Crime Time Kings with Bando from Paris and Mode2 from London. Together they gave graffiti in Europe its own distinctive style.

Niels Shoe Meulman revolutionized the art of writing with Calligraffiti, an art form that fuses calligraphy and graffiti. He launched this movement in 2007 with a successful solo exhibition in Amsterdam. Since then, his Calligraffiti pieces (signed NSM) have been shown in various international exhibitions and are part of several museum collections. His more recent painting style can be described as Abstract Expressionism with a calligraphic origin. – Shoe’s personal site (and one of the cleverest designs I’ve seen) – A collection of Shoe’s works
Unruly Gallery – Shoe’s art for sale, plus a bunch of other great artists


Off Canvas – official short film by Petter Eldin (Beijing 2011)

Pair of shoes, carbon acrylic on linen, 2012


(un)known – carbon acrylic on linen
work in progress photos by Mark Groen


So imagine how dumb I’m feeling for missing his Australian tour by just a few weeks?  I love this promo video he did for the tour.

I have a sudden urge to break out my art supplies and get my hands dirty.


Now that I’ve finished tinkering with my list of 101 Things to do in 1001 Days, I’m excited to start ticking some of those things off!  I Have a number of art related tasks on my list this time around and I wanted to make sure that I started early and enjoyed the process.  And besides, my art classes start up again next week and I was slightly concerned that I had forgotten everything from last year!

The still life scene above was painted on a fairly large piece of canvas board with acrylic paint.  There’s a lot to like about this painting, but I can’t help but stare at the obvious problems with my initial drawing.  I think that’s what always lets me down – I’m so excited to break out the paint that I don’t spend enough time on my sketch.

In any case 1/25 still life scenes complete.


This tree was really just an exercise in playing with a bunch of my art supplies – watercolours, acrylic paint, sumi ink and gesso.  I’m trying to fill an altered book with drawings and being a little more experimental on those pages.  It’s a really fun way to discover which mediums work well together.

24 trees to go!



I’ve also set myself a challenge to take 101 photos with my cute little Fujifilm Instax Mini 25.  This camera is the little brother of Polaroid, and prints out cute credit card sized instant photos.  I’ve had the camera for about a year and for most of that time it was pretty badly neglected.  I’m glad we’re finally spending some quality time together.

I thought that it would take me a long time to churn out 101 photos, but to my surprise I’m almost halfway through in my first month!  Once you get the hang of this camera it’s pretty addictive.  You can see more of my Instax Mini 25 photos here.


I’m really looking forward to beginning another one of my tasks next week when a big box of Ilford black & white film arrives.  I’ve been tracking its progress across the ocean for about a week now and it’s actually in my city now!

I wish I’d been able to purchase the film locally, but to do so would have cost $14 per roll, instead of $3.50 per roll from the US.  Even with 5-day shipping it worked out much cheaper for me to buy it online.  Why do Australian consumers always get the blame for the shift to online shopping when it’s the retailers who won’t compete?


There’s nothing quite like a real book

by Elizabeth on January 14, 2012 · 0 comments

in Art, Cool stuff, Videos

After organizing our bookshelf almost a year ago (, my wife and I (Sean Ohlenkamp) decided to take it to the next level. We spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking, and animating books at Type bookstore in Toronto (883 Queen Street West, (416) 366-8973). 

Everything you see here can be purchased at Type Books.

Grayson Matthews ( generously composed the beautiful, custom music.

But none of it could have been done without all the volunteer hands who shelved and reshelved books all night, every night.


This is absolutely magical.  Thanks to Sophie of Her Library Adventures for sharing this!


Mixed media

by Elizabeth on December 5, 2011 · 0 comments

in Art, Photo Posts


The theme of Day 23 in the 30 Day Photo Challenge is creativity and until a few minutes ago there was a great big post that accompanied my photo.  Creativity is a subject that is very close to my heart, and something that I’m trying to find my way back to after a creative slump that lasted a few years.

The post I deleted talked a lot about what happens to a musician when she moves cities and leaves her network (and piano) behind.  It was a little bit mopey.  You’ll have to believe me, because it’s gone now.

I think it’s healthier to focus on the ways that my creativity is being nurtured.  My drawing & painting classes at the Melbourne Studio of Art have obviously inspired me greatly this year, and also equipped me with some of the skills that I’ve needed in order to get my ideas onto a page.  After 15 weeks of classes I’m drawing things that I thought beyond my reach, and when I’m not drawing with a pencil I often find myself drawing with my eyes.  These classes have really taught me to see everyday things differently and even my dreams have become more vivid and colourful.

My classes have also taught me that I might have found a way to redirect the frustration that I feel with being away from music, and turn it into something good.  When I came home from work today I grabbed a book that I’ve been altering and sketching in, and I threw a bunch of art supplies at the pages until I came up with something pretty from my imagination.  It felt good to do something fun and messy, and not worry too much about the rules.

I guess that’s why I was a jazz musician.

The A4 pages above were made from gesso, striped paper bags, acrylic paint, aquamarkers, sumi ink (and then more gesso!).  As you can see from the photo below a lot of those supplies ended up on me instead of in the book.



Art journaling supplies

by Elizabeth on November 26, 2011 · 1 comment

in Art, Paper Journaling

You guys already know that I’m pretty evangelical about the art classes that I’ve been taking at the Melbourne Studio of Artover the past few months.  Sometime soon I want to write about all of the things that I learned in our life drawing class today, but tonight I thought I’d share an unintentional side effect of these classes on another part of my life.

At different times in my life I’ve been addicted to my paper journals.  They used to be purely for writing in and recording the stuff I was thinking and doing, but over time I started to be a little more creative with my little books.  I started to use them as albums for the ephemera of daily life that accompanied my stories, and sometimes even created paper collages that represented my day rather than writing about it.

I’m really proud of some of the creative stuff in those journals, but I’ve always felt too intimidated to actually draw in them.  Now that I have a couple of months of drawing & painting classes under my belt I’ve been dying to fill my journals with paint and ink and COLOUR and there doesn’t seem to be an off switch!

So while I’m busy learning how to draw from real life in my Saturday classes, I’m also thinking a lot about drawing from imagination for myself.  With that has come a bit of an obsession with new art supplies that my favourite art journaling heros are using, such as Peerless watercolours and Aquamarkers and Aquash pens.  They’re all things that can easily be thrown in my bag and used on the run, and since colour pretty much rules my life I am completely hooked.

When I saw that today’s theme for the 30 Day Photo Challenge was Purchased I knew that I had to share some of my newest discoveries.

Art supplies are my crack cocaine, and fortunately for me they’re much better for my complexion.


Day 14 in the 30 Day Photo Challenge is Purchased.

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So here’s the thing.

by Elizabeth on November 22, 2011 · 0 comments

in Art, Life, Photo Posts


I have possibly bitten off more than I can chew.

In addition to having a fulltime job (which, by the way, is totally breaking my brain at the moment) I seem to have committed myself to about a thousand other things.  I’m studying for a Diploma through work, taking a Saturday art class, and I’m also signed up for two e-courses which are running concurrently for the next couple of months.  I’m doing NaBloPoMo and the 30 Day Photo Challenge, and since I’m a terrible perfectionist I’m trying to do everything as well as I possibly can.

(Oh, plus that little thing called Christmas that’s coming up!  We’re hosting dinner for 10, and gearing up for having house guests for 3 weeks.  Lots to do!)

This post isn’t about seeing the error of my ways, though.  I thrive on having too much to do, especially when so many of the things on my “to do” list are fuelling my creative juices!  Tonight I came home from work with a heavy head cold, desperate to fall into a coma for 12 hours.  But instead I did a little watercolour drawing, I took my photo for the 30 Day Photo Challenge (which, I’ll admit, is just a snapshot this time) and wrote this blog post so that I didn’t miss any of my deadlines.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up wishing that I’d gone to bed early, but I’ll also be happy that I did something towards all of my little creative endeavours.

(You know.  Once I’ve had my first two cups of coffee.)


A quick and dirty snapshot of The view from my (living room) window for Day 10 of the 30 Day Photo Challenge.

And… goodnight!



Saturday has to be my favourite day of the week.

It always begins with an extra couple of hours sleep, and when I finally open my eyes a certain boy normally brings me a coffee or two.  Only when I am sufficiently caffeinated do I crawl out from underneath the covers.

It’s pretty great being me, on a Saturday.

Saturday also means it’s time for my art class at Melbourne Studio of Art, and that always puts a smile on my face!  Today we had a painting class with Michael Gray and learned all about analogous colours (ie colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel).  Michael set up a bunch of still life scenes with objects that matched their backdrop colour, so we spent a lot of time on our colour mixing to make all the subtle differences in tone.  We did this same exercise the last time I took this class, and although this was only my second time using oil paints I think I did better this time around.


The time really, really flew this week!  With an extra half an hour I think I could have added a lot of detail to my scene, especially to the shadows and the green leafy bits on the eggplant.  I wanted to do a lot more blending and tidy up my lines, but on the whole I’m happy with the way it turned out.

And besides, that famous Leonardo da Vinci quote gets stuck in my mind when I start to think about this stuff: Art is never finished, only abandoned.  

(No wonder they named a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle after that guy!)


It’s Day 7 of the 30 Day Photo Challenge, and today’s theme was Self Portrait.

(I’m so sorry.  All complaints will be forwarded on to Gemma.)


DIY mugs with Porcelaine paints

by Elizabeth on November 17, 2011 · 4 comments

in Art

Source: Amanda from Wit & Whistle


You might remember me mentioning this cute DIY from Wit & Whistle last month.  I thought it would make a really cute Christmas present for a few of my friends, and so I quickly ordered a couple of colours of Porcelaine paints for myself!  I’ve been really excited to try them out.

Unfortunately I’ve had a bit of trouble finding mugs that will happily sit for 45 minutes in my oven.  The paint is set by baking, and I guess not many mugs are designed with that kind of treatment in mind.  I didn’t want to put too much time into a mug only to have it crack so I’ve been trying to find some plain mugs that are actually labeled as being oven safe.

I had liked the thought of finding a matching pair at an op shop but so far the planets haven’t aligned.  Off to the shops, I suppose!

In the meantime I’ve been practising drawing and writing with my little paints.  And since the theme of today’s 30 Day Photo Challenge is Your Handwriting I thought I’d share my latest scribble!


The pretty hand-dyed doilies in this photo arrived in the mail today from Melissa Goodsell.  I can’t decide whether they’ll end up in my Christmas wrapping or my art journals.

Probably both!



Shiny Happy Art by Anna Bartlett

by Elizabeth on November 12, 2011 · 1 comment

in Art, Australia, Online Shopping

About a hundred years ago I lived in a beautiful city in regional QLD called Toowoomba.  It was a pretty fantastic place to grow up when I was a kid, and I have a lot of awesome memories from those years.  One of the things I remember about it was the strong folk art and handmade culture that flourished there.

I came across Toowoomba artist Anna Bartlett by chance last month and had lots of fun poking around her shop, Shiny Happy Art.  I was immediately drawn to this sweet little robin fabric panel, and quickly added it to my cart despite having no idea what I was going to do with it!

It arrived after just a couple of days, beautifully packaged with a cute hand-drawn picture drawn on the envelope.  Adorable.  In fact, I had to convince the receptionist at work to part with it so that I could see what was inside!



There’s something extra special about receiving a package directly from the artist, especially when it’s personalised in this way!  Anna also  included a note with my order, suggesting that I might like to stitch around the robin to bring out his little feet.

A month later I still haven’t decided what my little birdy will become, but someday he’s probably going to be a cute little cushion or a bag.  For now I’m just admiring him from afar until inspiration strikes.

Did I mention that this little guy is only $12?


There’s plenty of other beautiful things to see at Shiny Happy Art.  These are my top picks.

Original art: Mid Century I and Antique I, $146

Robin Red Breast and Blue Wren hankies, $14

Robin Red Breast teatowel, $24

Blue Wren and Robin Red Breast parlour cushions, $35
(These are my favourites!)


I know sometimes it isn’t easy to be sure, so I thought I should mention that I wasn’t asked to write this post.

I’m just all about sharing the pretties with you guys!

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