Embroidery on marbled fabric

Kehaar on marbling2A week of rain…it just pours and pours. Nowhere we can really go on days like these, and not much we can do on a dark, gloomy boat. I sat in the crepuscular shadows and stitched a tiny sailboat against a roiling sea of marbled green and blue canvas. It captures the feeling of being alone on a wild sea, perfectly…

Kehaar on marbling1We marble our own fabric; this is a piece we made for an exhibition in early 2014. It was then that I figured out one good way of combining marbled fabric with hand embroidery…rather than try and tackle the intricacies of the marbling patterns, themselves, I try to see the print as an environment for some small motif…a hut on an island, a cat hunting a rabbit in tall grass, gold fish in a lily pond… It works well, and I love doing these small designs, as the embroidery is finished in a few hours, very satisfying to start and complete a project on a single day!

Kris requested this piece; he wants to frame it and hang it next to his chart table. The sailboat is just under 5 cm. (2 in.) high. Worked in split stitch, couching,satin, and french knots.

Monument of Hope

Hope Monument ParkI came to sit in the park and playground of the Monument to Hope in Bartica, a couple of times. There was never anyone there, it was a good place to be alone and sketch. The monument itself was not very sketchable…a grey granit obelisk, erected in memory of the men and women who died when a boat full of escaped convicts arrived in the town at dark and robbed several of the gold-buying businesses.

The swing set was more interesting, though probably not very exotic. I’ve been having some trouble with this whole “travel sketching” idea, to be honest. Because we have been to some exotic places, I guess I felt that I owe it to my sketchbook to document the unusual, the novel, the never-seen-before. Naturally. When else will I get a chance to see these things? But, sorting through the files on my external drives, I came across this little PDF booklet, Start To Draw Your Life, again, by Michael Nobbs, and felt a twinge of longing for the days when I would draw my running shoes, a coffee cup, a tea strainer…nothing fancy, just getting lost in the drawing…

Because something in me loves the overlooked, ordinary, everyday things about life, and let’s face it, even up a river in a jungle, most days are just ordinary days…when you do the laundry, or sit on deck with a paperback novel, or cook oatmeal for breakfast. And if you did a tally of time spent “having adventures” and time spent doing everyday chores, you’d find that we spend probably 70% of our time just plodding along, doing the countless little things that make up a life. And why not paint that? It is as authentic and legitimate a subject as jungle vines and vernacular architecture.

It’s easier, too, to find a subject and paint it, if it’s around the home. Thing is, I love to do the drawing, I love adding colour. I don’t care what the subject is, in the end, I just love the doing. If I have to wait until I am somewhere unusual, or doing something exciting, before I can pull out my sketchbook, I won’t get to draw and paint as often. And that’s frustrating.

So, I know I’m in Guyana, living in a boat on the river, surrounded by howler monkeys and a dawn chorus of hornbills and parrots, but folks, sometimes my sketchbook posts will feature things from my kitchen, or stuff on my desk. And that’s fine, too.

Jungle Boogie

Reality can be so much stranger than fiction.

baganara 05-12 004

Take this unidentified jungle fruit that Kris picked up on one of his exploratory walks around the island next to which we are moored. The thing is unbelievable.

The size of a grapefruit, it smells faintly of crushed flowers. The bright orange pulp in the center is wet and sticky, and carries numerous little oval seeds. The fruit, a smooth white ball when unripe, splits open into 15 clean segments, each one tipped with a black unguis. It’s like a glowing jewel protected by fierce talons. Something out of a sci-fi movie.

jungle boogie postcard

These watercolour postcards of the fruit are very different from my collection of safe little floral sprigs and predictable foliage, no? Simultaneously more authentic, and yet improbably fantastic. Surreal.

jungle book postcardWe went for a row around Baganara Island and took some pictures. Baganara Island flowers6

Baganara Island jungle08Baganara Island flowers8The variety of trees, all growing together on one small island, was wonderful to behold…so many different kinds of leaves, seed pods, flowers, all growing willy-nilly. We didn’t see any animals (we were probably making too much noise, or it was the wrong time of day) but have been told by the people on Baganara Island that there are howler monkeys, sloths, toucans, yellow-headed vultures, and labba on the island. We’ll definitely go exploring the island on foot over the coming weeks, hoping to catch sight of some of these creatures!between islands1

Baganara Island jungle05table roots3

I was calling it ‘jungle’, but we have since realised that all this dense wilderness—the towering trees, these massive buttress tree roots—around us is already secondary-growth forest.table roots2

When Kris went hitchhiking for three days into the interior of the country (he was trying to reach Kaieteur, and got to within 10 miles of the famous waterfall, but had to turn back because the boatmen at the last outpost wanted US$200 to take him that small distance. One way. Well, it’s $250 to take a small plane out there and back, so he’s decided to book a flight, instead.) the roads took him past jungle where the trees were three times the height of the ones we see growing around Bartica. Aerial roots as thick as a man’s leg hung down in dense curtains from the tops of these giants, and dozens of other trees had taken root in these aerial tangles, so that swaying groves of trees were thriving in mid-air. If you stepped a few metres to either side of the potholed logging and mining roads, the light among the trees faded, and the snarl of jungle stretched away in perpetual gloom. That there are still places like this in the world!

Along one stretch of road, their Bedford truck passed a couple of Amerindian men, walking along. Wearing jeans and wristwatches, but bare-chested, each one carried a hunting bow and small bundle of arrows.

The mind does somersaults in excitement.

Spangled Jerboa

The jerboa is a hopping desert rodent found throughout Northern Africa and Asia east to northern China and Manchuria. They tend to live in hot deserts, their big feet keep them from sinking into the soft sand as they hop. My little guy is a bit of a disco bunny, too…instead of fur (in a desert? So last century!) he’s got a spangled hide of little winking sequins that sparkle in the desert sun.

Again, available on Society6 as a-this-and-a-that and what-have-you.

Click here for my Society6 shop

Shopping for disco desert mice or not, I hope you enjoy the image; he’s a sweetie and I loved painting this one. The original is in another artist-friend’s collection, now.

The Pack Alpaca

Pack Alpaca on Society6Another of my critters from the Dream Menagerie exhibition of 2014…the Pack Alpaca, with a zippered pocket to carry your stuff as you hike through the Andes of southern Peru…

Pack Alpaca on Society6Again, available in the Society6 shop, as art prints. canvas prints, bag, throw pillow, and clock. Hah. I hate selling my own stuff, I feel so pushy!

Then again, I have to be honest and admit that I like this one so much, I may order a bag for myself! It’s weird when you find yourself lusting after your own design and ordering it from someone else…with a little bit of stitching, I may even be able to put a real pocket where that zipper is, that would be really fun!

The original sold last year, so unless I buy or print this design, I’ll never ee my little llama again!

The Armoured Wombat : Society6

Tha Armoured Wombat toteI’ll be adding the animals from last year’s Dream Menagerie to my Society6 shop, too.

Here’s the first one, Panzer Wombat…as though this little living tank of a marsupial needed to get any tougher! Wombats are like cannonballs with eyes and a furry nose. With the added protection of a Galapagos tortoise’s shell, he’s invincible! A superhero, nay, a god, among wombats…

Available as an art print, framed or un~, print on stretched canvas, a mug, a clock, a throw pillow, and a tote bag (I followed the file instructions, but the smaller tote bags chopped off his nose! AARGGH! Pictured is the 18″ bag, where he gets to keep his nose. I will fix this, in a day or two, I promise.)

Oh, yeah, I forgot, my SOCIETY6 SHOP is HERE. Hee.

Society6 : free worldwide shipping

Casa das Flores on Society6FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING TODAY
available for most things in my Society6 shop

CLICK HERE

I’ve added cushions, tote bags, and wall clocks to the main Casa das Flores design…perfect for the summer holidays!

Casa das Flores tote bags on Society6Also, I’ve put some of my beloved’s quirky black-and-white ink drawings in the shop, available as small or medium prints.

Candle Poet on Society6His style is very different to mine, as you can see! Themes are cycling, sailing, the author and the love/hate relationship with his muse, and general weirdness…

Cycling in The Outback on Society6

I’ll be uploading many more of his drawings to the Society6 shop over the next couple of weeks (travel is expensive, we didn’t have much money to begin with, so we will be mining all the creative works we can dig up!)

A new design for Society6 (at last!)

Casa das Flores

I think my craving for old colonial buildings in Brazil is finally mellowing. I am spending less time running around trying to draw them all, and more time being inspired by my own sketches, using them as a springboard for more imaginative works.
Casa das Flores (detail)
In this one I imagined a three-storey building as a vase for giant flowers and foliage.
Casa das Flores (detail)The original painting was made with watercolours, gouache, and a sepia drawing pen on Arches HP paper. At first I really meant to colour the house as brightly as the flowers, using this sketch of Theatro Santa Roza as my guide, but after drawing the building in pen, saw that an almost black-and-white house provided better contrast.
Theatro Santa Roza

I can always try again: the ideas that I didn’t use in this painting will probably turn up in the next, and in the ones after that…
studies and thumbnails (Casa das Flores)This is available as an Art Print on paper and canvas in my SOCIETY6 shop. I will try to have the design available as bags, throw pillows, phone cases, and other products, before the end of the week.

Casa das Flores art print on Society6