Friday, July 31, 2009

Japan Remembered

Yesterday on a throw out table was a book I bought called Ryokan a Japanese Tradition, quite a large book and at just under $20 I grabbed it as it has the most wonderful photos as well as text.
Our last visit to Japan was in 2002 and I got out my sketchbooks and journal of that last trip. We thought we may not ever get back again and certainly not under the circumstances that we had been lucky enough to have.
John was Mayor of our town at that stage and we had set up a relationship with a village called Yatsuka in Okyama Prefecture, partly to do with local Government and school exchanges but also because we are dairy farmers and live in a dairy farming community and there on the Hiruzen High plateau they have a school of dairy farming.
We were homestayed and developed a wondeful relationship with the people, and most of all with the girl who did all our translating, a wonderful opportunity to be part of that community.
We also did a lot of trips on our own, very often to the horror of our hosts.
So after wandering through the book here are a few sketches I did while we were there, I asked to go to a Shinto shrine but was allowed only about half an hour to sketch, one of the downsides of official visits.
The last is Mayor Nagatsuna's Haiku to or about John, I was never quite sure, written probably after a bit much wine on a chopstick cover. I think it was about his and John's friendship but have no coherent translation!
John had written a poem about the area which he read at the official ceremony we were at, translated into Japanese by our ever worried friend. One day I may put it up.
Perhaps one day we will go back but never to have the experiences we had.
todays Haiku is by Joso

A red leaf falling,
into the river,
clings to a green rock.

And finally , on my Back Valley seasons blog, here I have a give away as I have made over a 1000 posts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Across the valley, Inspired Wednesday

This is the view from the top of the house paddock looking north across the valley, ploughed paddocks showing up red.
Weaver of Grass (Pat on my side bar) on her blog has thrown out a challenge to see if we can come up with those who have inspired us.
I find this incredibly difficult as I have so many hats. I suppose in an appreciation of the arts and literature I would first have to say my father, he died the year we were married so 50 years ago, a professor at the university in the field of Botany but one of those who managed to also study arts, the law as well as science.
Books were his passion with painting a close second.
As both my parents painted I didnt. Infact when I married at 19 and lived on a pretty primitive farm I sewed as we had no money and when we had children I made clothes and taught myself to embroider and to smock out of books.
It was as the children grew I started to breed my ponies, all of the Welsh breeds in time, and became a member of that community, which I still belong to, the love of horses probably stemmed from one of my mothers brothers who rode all his life.
Then another phase, my garden Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd, although English were a huge influence on how to go about planning a garden using color and positioning plants and many books later I had a garden that was in the Australian Open Garden Scheme. Not any longer, my back and joints began not to like me so I looked for something to do while I waited for them to recover before going out to weed some more.
Into my life came Joy Martin of Things I like, I met Joy at a doll and teddy bear fair and couldnt believe that people made cloth dolls like the ones I saw in Susan Oroyans books, and so became my love affair with cloth dolls and those who taught them. Patti Culea and Barbara Willis were two very influential teachers, and trips to America to look at the doll scene there in the late 1999 and 2001 were an eye opener.
But some where in amongst all that was the desire to sketch and do more with textiles. I honestly think that Jean Littlejohn and Jan Beaney were the ones who started me sketching, textile artists they are but in the first book of theirs I bought so much depended on sketching as well as the use of threads and texture.
They were followed closely, or even possibly at about the same time by my now friend and mentor Dale Rolleson of The Thread Studio, Dale has been terribly influential in her on line Playways group and by the seductive 'stuff' she sells and tells us about.
My art teacher Lorraine Lewitzka has also been very influential, I dont paint any thing like the way she does but she has taught me a huge amount about how to use watercolor and how to paint in my own style.
Books, well this house is falling apart under the weight of books, but wherever my muse has taken me books have been incredibly important, as I have learnt so much from them when I cannot get to a teacher to show me how.
Last but not least, the area I live in and my wonderfully supportive (at times!) husband, who only complains a bit when I buy another book but always tells me that he loves and appreciates what I do.
And now to finish a wonderfully visual Haiku by Buson.

On the temple's great
bronze bell,
a butterfly sleeps
in the noon sun

I think my trips to Japan have also been a wonderful influence.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

House by the railway line

I have had a very busy day.
John had a hearing test this morning and while he was having it done the ute was parked facing the railway line and the back of this probably 1890 - 1900 house and it had been newly painted and so it got sketched.
Did you know that hearing aids cost between A$6,000 -A $9,000 I cant believe it and have no idea how any one can afford one.
Apparently his hearing could be a lot worse so he will have to go without and I will just have to keep on shouting.
We then headed for Adelaide, primarily to go to a funeral, but we also managed to see my mother and take in fresh flowers. She wasnt terribly awake.
The funeral was good as funerals go, every one says such nice things about one, and she was a lovely person, but I cant help feeling that my children will not be so generous about me!
I really only knew Jan while we were young marrieds and having children around the same time, they moved on and so contact was pretty minimal over the years but it was a shock to find that she had died.
A grey and suitably miserable day. I was lucky to find a seat or I would never have lasted the time as my joints dont like this sort of weather. Incredible who you see at funerals like this as half the original old families from the town were there, many have moved away and many although I knew them as children I didnt recognise any more.
Todays Haiku is by Issa, I am not sure if it has any revelance or not up to you to work that out.

If my grumbling wife
were still alive
I just might
enjoy tonight's moon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not a painting

But an assemblage not finished but just put down to see what it looked like.
Tomorrow we go to Adelaide to a funeral, but also to go and see if I can get a chuck for my dremel so that I can finally bore some holes to hold it all together.
A bit of found drift wood, a found spark plug and washer while wandering around the sheds and a precious bit of copper sheet. I think it will go together nicely, then I am not sure what I will do with it!
Just something I have wanted to play with for ages.
My Haiku for today is another by Basho and reminds me of the many beautiful old weathered shinto shrines we visited on our visits to Japan, always set back against a hill if possible with the most beautiful old trees around them.
Over the ruins
of a shrine,
A chestnut tree
still lifts its candles.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lake Alexandrina from Pt Sturt

This is my take on the lake and the sandbars that we saw yesterday, after comparisons with last year it is quite upsetting.
Today I have been sewing and watching a bit of football and wandering around the garden in between showers.
Today's Haiku, just because I like it is by Onitsura and reminds me of my dear friend Yoshiko who has many kimonos that she uses in tea ceremony, the last I heard she was not quite a tea ceremony master but she had many lovely and very valuable kimonos. Oh and we are both married, not sure about lovers.
Even I who have
no lover...
I love this time
of new Kimonos

Saturday, July 25, 2009


While I am in the mood to paint I decided that I need to do some skies. I am not at all good at clouds so tend to avoid them. This was taken from a spectacular sky I took photos of, not the way the photo looked at all. Oh well I will try again.
John took me for another 'airing' today so we went back over to see Lake Alexandrina and over to Point Sturt and around to Hindmarsh Island and Goolwa and then a coffee at the favorite coffee place in Victor and sat drinking that while watching a rather distant mother southern right whale and her calf cavorting in the bay around Olivers reef, unfortunatly our southern rights are not as spectacular to watch as many of the other whales, perhaps because they are pretty big, oh and the name? Because they were the right whales to kill for their blubber.
So at last I have seen some this season apparently we have had lots and this is the best season for a while, usually not in our bay but around at Middleton.
I took photos for my other blog but I think all you will see is a very distant blob, I havent checked the photos yet.
I am having fun looking up my Haiku, I must look for some more books. Todays is by Kyoroku.
Even in castles
I have felt
The searching breath
of the wintry wind.
Oh and Weaver I cant find the one you asked about but I will do a search.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dull day

This is taken from a photo I took while I could still walk. It is a little odd in that Granite Island was almost straight behind the pond of water that I was taking a photo of.
I was trying to do clouds but I dont think they have shown up terribly well.

A friend came out to visit today for a while which has made me much more full of enthusiasm.
I have also worked out how to get the links and the followers on my Back Valley Seasons blog (see the side bar) to work. Still too terrified to try the bit about relating to linking to some one elses blog by typing in here but I will eventually have a go at that as well, doing what I have done has been a major effort!
I have been good today and tried not to do too much standing, easier said than done but where the ligament attaches to the bone has been pretty sore all day today and I was told it was swollen by my physio and to be a bit less active.
Huh in this house I walk long distances!
My Haiku for today is by Basho
Since no bells resound
in this town,
What do people do
on spring evenings?
I really like Basho and I love Haiku, when we were in Japan the Mayor of the village and John used to write Haiku, John in English, the Mayor in Japanese and our translator had to make head or tail of them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Three succulents

I have an extensive collection of succulents that come into the sun room in winter and liven the place up. At the farmers market there is a girl who tempts me every second week with new delights. Another collection I suppose.
I have had one of those days, in which everything I was going to do has not worked out, cant find things that I should be able to lay my hands on have gone heaven knows where.
It poured with rain this morning we had a very short sharp and hard thunderstorm in the early hours of the morning and now the sun is out.
So I sat in the sun room in the sun for a few minutes and sketched these.
Pen and pencil in my small A6 sketchbook.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Young Crow

I think his beak may be a bit long, terribly hard to draw because he wouldnt stay still, we have had a lot of wind and he is terribly early and young to be out of the nest but the parents were guarding him and he could fly up to a low branch of a tree so I think he will be alright.
Did far too much house cleaning yesterday and having a down day today, the knee does not like me.

The name of the flower is

I looked and looked and finally found the name of the South African bulb, actually it is a corm and it is not a crocosma as many suggested, I grow them and they are flowering in late summer not winter. This is the yellower form of Chasmanthe aethiopica, it could well have changed its name but that is what my old bulb book tells me it is. It says it is frost tender but it has never succumbed to frost with me and definetly wants to take over. It is either burnt orange or yellow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vase of yellow flowers

They look a bit more orange in this scan but the yellow is very pale and didnt show up. I cant remember the name of the flowers but anything that flowers in the depths of winter are a bonus.
I think they are a South African bulb, which is now rather a menace here as they tend to escape, so much of our potential weeds are South African as the sailing ships tended to fill their holds with soil as ballast when they got to Cape Town.
Of course a lot of our Australian plants are now looked upon as pests in other parts of the world.
The vase colour isnt right either as it is a lovely celadon glazed vase a friend of mine who is a brilliant potter, Rob Thompson in Sydney gave me in the years when we were all skiing together.
My knee is improving, I walked down to the stables this morning to look at a new pony that has arrived and I am now washing and doing all the mundane Monday chores that I hate.
I had hoped we would go to see the Waterhouse Prize showing this evening, as we are Waterhouse members (which is a social and fund raising part of our South Australian Museum) but John has meetings all day and I wasnt prepared to spend all day in Adelaide and then stand for a couple of hours so with any luck we will go tomorrow and I will also see my mother.
Can any one out there expalin in simple terms how I get to link other blogs in the body of my blog? Others seem to do it but so far I havent worked out how.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sketchbook fun

I keep on doing too much and then having to sit for a while and there is usually a sketchbook handy. The blue owl was done while seeing what an ordinary childs crayon would do as a resist to watered down quink ink, and this was the result.
All I can say is that it was fun to do. perhaps I am going back into second childhood already!
The girls face is one of many I do, pick up a magazine and try to get a reasonable resemblance. Sh e is rather sweet and maybe used for something, I dont know what.
I have finally finished going through Robyn's artpropelled blogspot, see Robyn in the side bar. She is a South African wood carver and what she does is wonderful but her blog I find quite inspirational and and a wonderful insight into another country. Like me she is a collector but she does things with her collections.
I was inspired tonight to find a box with divisions in it and get it oiled, tomorrow I may get some sort of collection into it. Not sure if the kangaroo skull will fit but there are many other things, from old keys to bottle tops and feathers, cowrie shells and rocks.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ruined farmhouse near Mannum

There are a lot of these deserted and falling down farmhouses in the Mallee and around the river. Times are hard in those areas but at least this one was built of stone, they decay quietly and with a certain charm but the ones made of timber and galvanised iron only manage to look unsightly.
Even the trees around this one were dead and yet there was a brilliant view over the river.
I have been going back over some of my older posts and in some instances think I have gone backwards in my sketching from those early ones, unfortunately I seem to be saying mostly the same things, wet and cold and muddy or no rain. I do hope that this summer I am complaining about too much rain!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I did this while my mother slept.
I have been to Adelaide today to see her, had lunch with a friend and collected a small wardrobe.
Quite enough for me and my knee.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Canoe tree

This old river red gum had a canoe taken from it by the local aboriginal tribe many many years ago.
There are two near here on the River Finnis, well there are probably more but two are near the road. I dont think the trees usually died when a canoe was cut as they only took out the bark and there are many live canoe trees still around.
I have had very little time to paint but we saw this when we went up to Mannum yesterday, when John took me for an airing!!

Friday, July 10, 2009


I have done too much and the knee is rebelling so I am listening to Neil Diamond up high and trying to do something that doesnt involve walking.
The collage thing I am doing has made me a bit depressed so I thought I would cheer myself up drawing this little collection of Mexican tin cut outs that I have collected on my two visits to Dan Diego old town.
Why dont I get more for heavens sake, they are not expensive and they are light and I love them .
Any one out there who would send me any?
Only joking.
At least they have lightened my mood, and made me remember a lovely day and a lovely time in California.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Inktense pencils

Still house bound so I have been playing with some of the stuff I have, I hadnt really played much with these Derwent pencils but last night I drew the shape, not quite sure what, went from a daisy to a sea creature.
The first photo is of the plain colouring in and the second is after I had added water.
I have been told I can use these with my textile stuff so I will try that soon as well.
They are very intense colour and not what I would use all the time.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Poppy seedheads

The poppies in the garden had gone to seed months ago but there were still a few tangled in tall grass in the back garden, the seed heads are used a lot in various mediums and I did these thinking I would like to embroider them.
If you go to my back valley seasons. blog (on the side bar) you will see that I have been playing around with collage, it will be quite a lot of fun to do in the next few weeks and is something I have never been terribly confident in doing.

Monday, July 06, 2009


We lost a very favorite old mare last night, she had to be put down after a bad bout of colic so I didnt get anything up yesterday and today I still dont feel like much.
This is all I could produce, going back through some books on how to use my pen and these are a couple of the rocks I have in the house, I am always collecting rocks.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Folded umbrellas

With my limited mobility at the moment small things please.
I was allowed to go to the farmers market this morning but it was damp and so no where to sit for a while and sketch but we had coffee afterwards at the Anchorage and these huge black umbrellas that I love to sit under in the summer were folded and looked like giant bats.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Two images

I went back to the water color pencils today, having had an upset stomach for half of last night I didnt feel like much and I could manage the pencils in bed.
This is the original quick sketch I did of the path at Kings Beach. The first is just the pencils and crayons and the second is after I had added water. What a difference.
I think my stomach has settled and I am up and about now but maybe those lovely oysters we had last night just didnt agree with me, normally I can eat them for ever, perhaps one was going off but they tasted ok and their shells were closed when we opened them, they shoudnt have been fresher.