Unafraid (word prompts)

“The main inhibitor for creativity is just being scared…. You’re afraid that your ideas aren’t good enough. If you can get over that hump where you don’t care whether your ideas are any good or not, then you can be successful.” James Kochalka

The following six-word stories were prompted by the Page Flutter Six-Word Story Challenge. I’m also posting a few of my favourites over on Instagram.

28. She can. Of course she can.

29. She was unafraid… and dangerously optimistic.

30. School’s out! Now life’s lessons begin.

31. Writers gonna write, prompted or not.

1. Reputation shmeputation. It’s actions that matter.

2. Leap? I’m happy with baby steps.

3. Foolhardy, he was clearly not responsible.

[May/June prompts: she can…, unafraid, school’s out!, (no prompt), the lion, leap, daredevil.]

P.S. The background image is a detail of one of the new little paintings which I wrote about in my previous post.

Everything you can imagine is real

An Answer to Prayer, detail – mixed media on canvas

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso

‘An Answer to Prayer’ is my latest painting: an abstract initially inspired by, of all things, fridge poetry.* But the words were just the starting point. This painting has taken me on quite a journey. I’ve ventured way outside my comfort zone. Way, way outside. I have painted abstracts before but this was an entirely different experience and I’ve ended up with something that doesn’t look like anything I’ve painted before. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re experimenting. I would call it an imagined landscape rather than an imaginary one. It’s surreal and personal and creating it has made me see Picasso’s words in a new light.

*Fridge poetry is made from magnetic word sets that can be arranged and rearranged on a fridge door, providing endless hours of fun and amusement. I posted photographs of some of my favourites on Facebook a few years ago. This painting was inspired by one of those poems and was transferred to the canvas using the same technique as ‘Time’.

An Answer to Prayer – mixed media on canvas, 305 x 610 mm, 2017. Sold.
An Answer to Prayer, another view

Experiment time

Time, detail – mixed media on canvas, 200 x 200 mm, 2017

Time has its own unique sound.
I’ve heard the talking hours.

I have been experimenting with transferring printed poetry on to canvas. I printed the poem on paper using a standard inkjet printer and transferred it to the canvas using acrylic gel medium. It’s a technique that works surprisingly well. Once dry, the paper is removed by dampening it with water and rubbing it off very carefully. This is the tricky part because there is always a danger of removing the printed image along with the paper. I then painted around the words to create a sort of arty version of the original blackout poem.

I added touches of yellow ochre and some light blue and gave it a slightly mad but subtle texture. It’s still mostly black though. In fact it’s so black that I had to take the canvas outside to get a decent photograph. I think the leafy autumn backdrop rather suits the poem (below).

My next experiment is going to be a ‘fridge poetry’ painting. And whatever image that sentence just conjured up for you… it’s not going to look anything like that.

Time – mixed media on canvas, 200 x 200 mm, 2017

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.


“I invent nothing, I rediscover.” Auguste Rodin

Dandelion study — ink on paper, digitally edited, 2015
Dandelion study — ink on paper, digitally edited, 2015
Dandelion reference photograph, 2014
Dandelion reference photograph, 2014
Dandelion sketch — ink on paper, 2015
Dandelion sketch — ink on paper, 2015

Time warp (pen vs earthquake)

Pen vs earthquake #7 – Jubilee Clock Tower, 2014
Pen vs earthquake #7 – Jubilee Clock Tower, 2014

This coming Sunday will be the fourth anniversary of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that rocked Christchurch (22nd February 2011). Four years on and we are still the City of Orange Road Cones. One sign of progress is the restoration of the Jubilee Clock Tower ― the road cones are now gone and the clock is no longer frozen in time!

Jubilee Clock Tower, 2014
Jubilee Clock Tower, 2014
Other pen vs earthquake updates:

The deconstructed band rotunda Retour is still in a sorry state. I have no idea what they plan to do with the dome that has been salvaged.

As far as I know, Christchurch resident Peter Croft is still planning to restore Shand’s Emporium but progress has been slow, apparently due to new city council rules and regulations.
Update: Shand’s Emporium touches down on Manchester Street, Christchurch. June 2015

The Octagon is being repaired and earthquake strengthened, and work is finally underway on Mona Vale Homestead. If all goes according to plan, Mona Vale will re-open in June 2016.

My pen vs earthquake sketches are originally from a student project. Ben Heine’s ingenious Pencil Vs Camera images inspired the series.

Not so sure

Beat book cover, detail — student project — mixed media, 2011
Beat book cover, detail — student project — mixed media, 2011

“…it’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent than it is to do important things that are not urgent (like thinking) and it’s also easier to do little things we know we can do than to start on big things that we’re not so sure about.” John Cleese

I’m raiding the vaults to find images to illustrate some of my favourite quotes ― and there are plenty more where this came from.