A Happy 10th Annaversary post (NOT a retrospective)

a colourful, stylised photo of Anna and The Husband

Instead of my annual review of the year that’s been, I thought I would post a sneaky peek at what is on the horizon. The plan is as scary as it is exciting…

Some of you may be aware that I have spent most of the last 12 months working on music and writing songs (which goes quite a long way to explaining why there is no art retrospective this year). I will (I promise) be getting back to the painting but, for now, I’m perfectly happy exploring the rabbit hole that I’ve jumped down.

I am planning a sister site to The Art Cave* where I will keep track, so to speak, of the music side of things. There will also be music videos ~ which I have just started to learn how to create and edit ~ and I will be sharing the behind-the-scenes arty side of all of that here, using stills from the videos and also, eventually, album cover art too. It really is a special kind of happy place to be putting some of my songs together with some of the art I’ve created over the years.

*[Update: instead of having separate websites for art and music, I have decided to simplify things and keep them both on this website ~ so say “goodbye” to ‘The Art Cave’ and “hello” to ‘Anna Cull ~ Art & Music’.]

colourful, stylised photograph-art of Anna and The Husband
A promo image for ‘Anna and The Husband’ ~ don’t look for us just yet (we are, ourselves, still a WIP)

One of the video edits looked so surprisingly good that we plan to use a still frame as a promo image (above). It’s a combination of not-especially-good-quality video footage taken on a phone which I edited in Blender (and not in Affinity Photo or Adobe Photoshop as one might expect) with my 2012 ‘Sun Shadow’ artwork in the background. But more about that later… I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Hands up anyone who has heard of Blender? I discovered it while looking for software to create a simple art animation that could be projected onto a wall. While Blender certainly can do things like that, it’s really a bit like using artist-quality oils to paint the side of a house ~ you can but why would you? Blender is a free, open-source 3D computer graphics software suite used in creating animated films, visual effects, art, computer games etc. It is not an easy application to learn. It is not intuitive. My previous experience with graphic design software did not help much at all (my oldest digital art files are dated 1/1/1970 but I suspect that should actually be 1999). Even though Blender suffers from ‘design by committee’ making it, at times, unnecessarily complicated, it is still absolutely fantastic and I am slowly, slowly finding my way around it.

Fortunately there are a lot of resources available for anyone wanting to teach themselves Blender. In fact there are so many, it’s hard to know where to begin. My research took me to a lot of different YouTube channels as I searched for something appropriate for an absolute beginner. The first tutorial I tried was Blender Guru’s famous donut tutorial but I found it frustrating because although it was teaching me some of what the software was about, it wasn’t teaching me what I was most wanting to know right now. So I tried a different approach and searched for cool-looking video tutorials that were not necessarily just for beginners…

Abstract Loop #1 is my first Blender animation ~ my thanks to Nik Kottmann for his tutorial (link below)

You can view all three of these animations on my newly created Moving Pictures page. Check out the Blender Daily tutorial for more info about this particular animated loop.

Organic SciFi Loop #1 is my second Blender animation ~ my thanks to Nathan Duck for his tutorial (link below)

My second animation tutorial was even more fun than the first. Visit the original Ducky 3D tutorial to find out about the process of making this organic sci-fi loop.

There are also a surprising number of free, quality videos available online for commercial use ~ but I feel like that is a whole ‘nother chapter which I will save for another day. Stay tuned and I will be posting updates on my music journey as well as any paintings which may happen during the meanwhile.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. I did return to and eventually complete the 16-part donut tutorial and I learnt a lot. Thank you Andrew Price a.k.a. Blender Guru.

The year that was (and my ninth Annaversary post)

a nine-grid square of Anna Cull's art from the last year

It is time once again for my annual retrospective. Here is a collection of nine favourite paintings from the last year ~ three birds, a port, a rainbow, a river, a few fuchsias, and lots of clouds and trees. Of course other things also happened. There were the colouring-in pages that I created at the start of the pandemic (when painting was the last thing I felt like doing but I had to do something). I also gave my blog and profile picture a bit of a makeover, created a Portfolio page, and made a new range of arty little fridge magnets. But, really, when it comes to art, if I’m not putting paint on canvas, I’m not happy. Six months went by e.v.e.r. s.o. s.l.o.w.l.y. and then ~ for no particular reason that I can recall ~ I started painting again. Putting together a collection for this anniversary post, it seems to me that I may have made up for the lost time : )

Head in the Clouds

acrylic painting of a New Zealand landscape with clouds by Anna Cull
‘Head in the Clouds’ acrylic on canvas, 500 x 500 mm, 2021. Available.

Don’t ask me where this is. It’s not important. It was late summer, early in the morning. The air was damp and the mountains were obscured by low cloud. We didn’t mind; there was beauty around every corner and we weren’t in a hurry. As the clouds began to lift and catch the light, the mood began to shift and the river tumbled on as if this had been nothing extraordinary.

Reference photo ~ somewhere in the South Island
‘Head in the Clouds’ detail
‘Head in the Clouds’ detail

A Little Further Down The Road

‘A Little Further Down the Road’ — acrylic on unstretched canvas, 255 x 255 mm, 2020

This little landscape was inspired by a detail of my coloured-in Port Chalmers colouring page ~ now completely reimagined. 

I really didn’t like my first attempt (see previous post). It wasn’t fun to paint and I didn’t feel connected to the end result. So I stopped painting from the reference and started looking at what was in front of me on the canvas… exploring shapes and colours and remembering how it felt when we first came upon this view back in 2017. And I had a ball.

I was at the point of deciding whether or not to paint the house in the foreground a brighter red when my husband walked in and said “it’s finished” 🎨 …and so it is.

Onward and upward (and possibly sideways)

The inspiration for this painting came from a detail of my coloured-in Port Chalmers colouring page but I have been struggling with how I want to paint it. If nothing else, it has been useful as a background for a great quote by Rob Bell (my painting study WIPs are included below).

study work-in-progress
study abandoned

It looks better on screen than it does in real life and even though it is what I set out to paint, I really do not like it. What worked as digital art simply has nothing to offer as a painting. It feels very ‘meh’ to me. Which is great. Because now I know what not to do. Meanwhile I have already painted a second version of this little landscape and it is COMPLETELY different, but I’ll write more about that in the next post : )


“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

Mary Oliver

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Another little slideshow, this time showing the progress of my ‘Akaroa’ illustration/colouring page, painted by hand on the computer. Yes, it took ages.

Both the coloured version and the colouring page are available as printable instant downloads on Etsy (as is ‘Port Chalmers’). And… on to the next one…