Beautiful seeing

Somewhere near Akaroa, 2015
Somewhere near Akaroa, 2015

“Your ability to see is your tools of trade; nothing else matters. Beautiful seeing is the desideratum. Remember, when you hear people say they can see a thing but not do it that they cannot really see it. If they did, they could do it even if they put the paint on with their fingers.” Charles Hawthorne

Challenge accepted.

Decide what to do

Shabby Chic Market Day, Christchurch — original photograph, 2012
Shabby Chic Market Day, Christchurch — original photograph, 2012

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” Elbert Hubbard

Having decided to paint this photograph of bunting flags and sun umbrellas, I played around with colour options and cropped them to fit a square canvas (see below), and I ended up with two versions that I like equally — and so I’m now going to paint both of them.

Yes, I think Mr Hubbard makes a very good point.

WIPs to follow soon.

Market Day colour option 1 (digitally edited)
Market Day colour option 1 (digitally edited)
Market Day colour option 2
Market Day colour option 2 (digitally edited)

Five years and counting (pen vs earthquake)

Pen vs earthquake #6 – Christchurch Art Gallery, 2016
Pen vs earthquake #6 – Christchurch Art Gallery, 2016

Anna Cull Pen vs Earthquake Art Gallery 2016

I’ve finally been into the city to take the last of my ‘pen vs earthquake’ photographs. The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu was closed following the 22nd February 2011 earthquake and only opened its doors to the public again last December. The building may look fragile but it not only survived 2011’s big shake, it was used as Civil Defence HQ for seven months after the event. Most of the repairs to the building are now complete and the new and improved gallery looks better, and shinier, than ever.

The sketch was originally part of a student project in 2011. The art gallery photographs were taken a few days ago. Ben Heine’s ingenious Pencil Vs Camera images inspired the series.

P.S. Five years on and we’re still getting the odd quake ― we had quite a big one on Valentine’s Day, of all days! My thanks to those who contacted me to see if we were okay. Yes, we’re fine. We’re still not in love with earthquakes, but we’re fine.

Bird on a wire

Bird on a wire — digital painting, 2016
Bird on a Wire — digital painting, 2016

I’ve had a bit of fun using Photoshop’s ‘smudge’ and ‘brush’ tools to transform a slightly blurry photograph of a little kingfisher (see below) into a digital painting. It’s an interesting way of working because the photograph provides the colour palette and basic composition, but you still have to know what you’re doing to turn it into a painting (if you have you ever tried using those artistic filters, you will know they’re very frustrating and no substitute for being able to draw). And the best thing about painting in the digital world: no mess and no need to clean up afterwards.


On the road again, WIP/underpainting – acrylic on canvas
On the road again, WIP underpainting — acrylic on canvas

“The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you’re an artist.” David Hockney

I’m not sure I agree with Mr Hockney on this point but I do like the quote… and I did ‘cheat’ a little with this composition by removing the car in the background and changing the colours (see photographs below). I hope to have another WIP ready to show you later in the week.

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Mirror image

Triptych composition sketches
triptych composition sketches

Mirror image of the sketches
mirror image of the sketches

I have finally completed the commission I mentioned in a post about a month ago: an abstract landscape triptych for the owner of a Christchurch hair salon. Sonya (who is a bit of a genius when it comes to cut and colour) is changing the name of her business from ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ to ‘Sign of the Times’ (yes, she is a huge Prince fan) and wanted to mark the occasion with a significant artwork ― ‘significant’ in both senses of the word.

Sonya told me that I could paint whatever I wanted ― the only guidelines were size (to fit a large area above the door), colour (grey and orange, to match the colours in the salon), and for it to include the new business name and symbol. And it had to be a surprise. Sonya didn’t want any WIP images… nothing until it was finished! Oh and it needed to look good in the mirror too. No problem!

I opted for an abstract landscape because I thought that would be a suitable background for the words and symbols. Quite a lot of my inspiration came from the salon’s location near Barrington Park (in the photographs below):

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We did make one final (and fairly major) change to the triptych before calling it ‘finished’ but I can’t show you the paintings until we’ve put them up in the salon and that won’t be until October 1st. Sorry for the long wait. I have, however, just started another painting…

Update: The paintings are now in the salon (a little ahead of schedule). Visit this post to read more…