Saturday, 31 May 2014

A Fantastic Opportunity - Art With Cary McAulay (and a small giveaway!)

Last night I had a last minute, fantastic opportunity to be involved with my eldest Son's school youth group. Why is that so fantastic you ask? Well ... because it was an acrylic painting night! I went along, hopeful that there might have been one spot free, and there was!

The night was a proper art class, that was lead by famous Australian artist 'Cary McAulay'. If you've not heard of him before, or seen any of his incredible work, you can check out all of his artworks here.

“No Matter who you are today… if you call yourself an artist – you are at all times standing on the shoulders of the giants that walked the earth before you…. even Rubens, Giotto, Dali, Homer, Monet and yes even Picasso, also stood upon the shoulders of giants!”….originality? that’s when you manage to climb up over the ears and onto that shiny bald head and while slipping around to get a better footing, you realize that it is all about belief in yourself!! heh heh I only get there in my dreams ! that’s because in them – I CAN FLY!” - Cary McAulay.

Cary is a fantastic teacher, breaking down the process of the painting for the year 7 & 8's into 7 easy to remember steps. He is a genuine Aussie bloke who has a passion for art, and a gift for teaching it. He's very modest and ready to assist young artists (or artists of any age) and answer their questions. 

I was able to have a quick chat with Cary before the class began and I asked him the following questions ...

Q: "How long have you been painting for? 
A: "Oh I'd say, since kindergarten, but professionally since 1980"

Q: "Do you only use acrylics or other mediums as well?"
A: "No I use acrylics and oils"

Q: "Which one is your favourite medium to use?"
A: "Oh I couldn't pick, I like them both as much as the other"

Q: "Are you self-taught or have you had lessons"
A: "A bit of both really"

This is the painting that we were taught how to paint step by step by Cary ... 
Isn't it amazing?
The master artist Cary McAulay at work.

A very talented, genuine bloke.

Here's the photo's that I took at each of the seven stages of the painting ...

1.  Finding the horizon line and marking it out.

2.  Creating the sky starting from a darker blue then working to a lighter blue down to the horizon. This stage is also where we added clouds.

3.  Adding the greens and yellows of the ocean and defining the shape of the wave.
This layer is the 'background' of the water.

4.  This is the stage where we added the foam to the crest of the breaker, 
making it crisp white with 'swirling' texture to add to the foam effect.

5.  Blocking out the white in the sail boats and grouping them in an appealing composition.
The white block out is to ensure that when we painted over the top of the sails with the patterns and other colours, that they will stand out effectively.

6.  Adding the reflection from the sky into the water, the white reflections of the breaker wave and little glitters of white on the tops of the waves.
7.  This is my finished painting. In this step I added the patterns to the sails of the boats,
and fixed up places here and there. We added foam sprays to the edges of the wave and small little wave crests out a little bit further

This is my eldest Son and I with our finished artworks! It was such a great night together!
My Son's piece turned out really well, he is a very talented artist!

While I am happy with my finished piece, like every artist, I can see the areas that I don't like. I would have done the waves smoother for sure. I think that's the one thing that really is bugging me! 

Cary told us all that our piece is not finished until we say it's finished, that we reserve the right to change our piece, go back to it and re-work it if we're wanting to ... maybe I will with the waves, I'm not sure yet.

My Son listening to the 'Introduction'.

I learnt so many new techniques that are able to be used when creating other artworks as well. I never knew how to paint water, and now I can practise what Cary taught until I have more of a grasp on this technique.

I have actually found one of my original photographs on my computer that I love, and I'm going to attempt to paint that one using the same advice and techniques learnt from Cary. 

His teaching is clear, inspiring and motivating. With the approach that he takes, it makes it easier to end up with a half decent artwork!

I'm so grateful for this opportunity and that my Son's school organised such a brilliant youth group activity! My Son learnt so many new things as well, and he's thinking of attempting the photo I've picked to paint next too! (I may even get my other three children involved too!)

It's not only original art and art prints that Cary sells, he has a great range of products like throw pillows (which I just love!) and Calendars. To purchase any of his range, go to his shop here.

So, now all that's left to do, is name my artwork. Cary has named his piece (can't quite remember the name though!) and I'm wanting to give mine it's own name ... I was thinking maybe 'The Race Is On', or 'Ocean Adventure'. What do you think? 

Leave a comment bellow if you have any suggestions for the name, and I'll pick the name I like best as the winner! The prize will be a colour copy print of my artwork! So get busy commenting! I'll announce the winner in a couple of weeks!

If you're wanting to contact Cary you can email him at

Cary, thank you for the time and effort you put into teaching these young students your techniques. Your passion is obvious, your talent outstanding, and we had a great night. Thank you to my Son's school for arranging this great event for our children, and thank you Son for not being embarrassed to have mum come along!

Happy creating everyone!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Encouraging Your Children To Be Creative

One of the things that I love (and I mean really love!) seeing is my four children sitting quietly (Ha! did I say quietly?!) at the kitchen table, pen in hand, drawing pictures from their incredible imaginations! It thrills my heart!

 It's probably true that they have inherited a part of their creative genes from myself and therefore it does come somewhat naturally to them. But before you say, "I'm not creative so my kids aren't going to be either," there has been things that I've deliberately put into place in our home that has helped to encourage (not force) their creativity and give them easy access to the supplies they need. 

If you're wanting to encourage your kids in this way too, and you're not sure where to start, then the following suggestions could work for your family like they have mine.

Here's a list of the practical things that I've done:

  • Created a designated 'art box' that is sitting in the dinning room, near the table. It's full of pencils, crayons, pens, rubbers, paints, glue sticks, safety scissors, etc. It is very easily accessible (during their free time) but it's also the responsibility of the children to keep it in order. They know I don't mind it getting untidy while they're busy creating, but they must be the ones to re-organise it, making sure that everything goes in there properly when they're done.

  • I invested in some 'learn to draw books' for their birthdays when they were on special. These have been fantastic in teaching them about the techniques of drawing. They also help inspire them when they're a bit stuck with what to draw.

  • I filled a cookie jar with good quality felt pens (good quality isn't essential ... I'm just fussy!!) and crayons so that they are in easy reach of little arty fingers!
  • We brought them visual art diaries when they were in between four and five years old (previous to that it was just loose paper) so that firstly, it eliminated the paper everywhere which was beginning to drive me nuts!, and also because it gives them their own 'space' to let their imaginations run free! I also get to keep these journals to look back on (and sometimes giggle at) in years to come!
  • I have hung them on the fridge or put them in my special 'mummy box' so they see their work is precious.

  • Sending their artworks to family has served a two fold purpose; firstly they learn to bless others and give them something to please them, and they appreciate the simple, kind comments in return.

Here's what I do 'verbally' to encourage them:

  • Talk them through some techniques and demonstrate how to achieve the result that they're after
  • Remind them that it's o.k. to make mistakes 

  • I make comments like, "You're such a great artist!" and "That's a great artwork!" and I find this encourages them a lot.
  • When they ask, "Mummy does this look good?", if there's something that's not quite right, I'll gently suggest some changes they could make to improve (but not every time), but I always add positives to it. I want to be honest and give them some help, but I really desire them to also keep the uniqueness about their art and not attempt to change their styles either. I'm not wanting to crush their efforts.

  • When they become discouraged by something not working like they want it to, I just remind them that it's fine to make mistakes and learn from them, they just need to keep going and not give up.
It may sound like art is something that's a 'must do' in our home, but it's not. My kids have seen me creating since their birth and it's something they've willingly wanted to be involved in themselves. It's at least every second day that there's something being created by one or all of them. Is that the same at your house too?!

I think the best thing that has helped to encourage my children to be creative is for me to enjoy their development. It's really wonderful seeing them go from creating people where the arms and legs stick out from the head itself (which are so cute!), to a person with a much more recognizable form! 

I have loved not pushing them to achieve, to change, to 'work harder' or 'be perfect' at it ... they are just kids! Me loving their creativity, acknowledging their 'masterpieces', and enjoying where they're individually at is priceless for them and for me too. 

When art is something that makes you relax, is fun, and is without in-achievable expectations, it becomes such a beautiful blessing and something that our kids will want to stick at (hopefully) all their lives.

What are some ways that you encourage your kids to be creative? Do you do any of the things I've mentioned above with your little ones? Are you wanting to try any of these for your children?

I hope you have a beautiful week, enjoying the creativity of your little ones ... I think I'll be buying my almost five year old his first art journal today!

(Linking up with the inspiring bloggers at CreateWithJoy)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Art Of Self Teaching

There are many creative outlets that I enjoy, and for a while a few years ago, I was feeling restricted by a tight budget and not being able to attend 'professional classes' regularly. 

I remember my parents allowing and paying for me to go to after school art lessons where we were taught some techniques in chalk pastel drawings and a little in oil paintings. When we just had two children, I attended with a friend a pastel portrait class for a few weeks but (I can't even remember why) we never completed it. I took art in school, but a lot of the learning was 'learn as you go'.

So for the biggest part of my creative journey, I've been self taught. Pretty much everything I've learnt about photography I've taught myself. The same for acrylics and water colours (what I'm practicing now).

Why am I sharing this you ask?

Because you need to know that there's no hard and fast rule to learning. 

If you're wanting to learn something new, then just begin! There's absolutely no need to be limited if you can't have lessons. You're actually free-er to explore and develop your own style when you teach yourself. There's countless amounts of free resources available to teach you what you're wanting to know.

Here's some free resources that I use:

  • You tube tutorials (there are tutorials for anything and everything these days ... help yourself!)
  • The library (our library has old books they sell for gold coin donation, some of which are fantastic!)
  • Other artists/musicians/writers work etc 
  • DVD tutorial lessons
  • Internet articles/websites/blogs
  • Friends who are willing to give you some tips and advice
  • practicing all these new ideas/techniques without the need to get it right straight away.

Don't get discouraged if your progress is slow, it would be even slower if you did nothing at all! Little by little you will begin to see an advancement in your skills and techniques. You will begin to define what your style is and what you love about your unique art! Enjoy the process along the way, it's all part of the experience!

Start small, no matter how small. This is where I find a practise journal is a priceless tool! You can explore anything and everything without the expectation of perfection.

Your creativity is important and the world needs what you've got to offer. 

Don't give up on who you've been made to be. 

Keep learning any way you can ... you'll be so glad you did!

(You can find me on Pinterest and also on FaceBook at InkJoy)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Why I Became A Photographer

Nearly thirteen years ago, my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world, a little boy. We fell in love. Having now the most adorable subject in the world, I picked up my camera and began snapping his every move, pose, expression and milestone.

This photograph of me was taken by my lovely young friend May of 'From May's Desk '

I found the enjoyment I experienced with photography during high school was still within me and I quickly became addicted.

Initially, photography was a way to capture my beautiful children's lives, and it still is, but it's progressed to an interest in nature photography and some still life photography as well.

Photography, to me, is a tool in which we capture memories, moments and beauty that we don't want to forget. 

The process of photography is thrilling; there are many times where I'm driving and long to stop the car to capture a picturesque landscape, a broken down barn, a shimmering creek, cattle grazing on a luscious green hill, a dead tree.

I can sum up my love of photography with just one word - beauty.

I love being surrounded by beauty, looking for beauty, creating beauty and capturing beauty.

What was it that made you become a photographer?

Monday, 12 May 2014

My All Time Essential Art Supplies

I've found that I have a habit of reaching for the same art supplies each time that I create something. Are you like that? I know that sometimes I try to use different things, or not use a particular thing, and I always end up with it back in my fingers! I just can't help myself! 

The other day I was wanting to do another page in my confirmation journal, and I was stuck with what to do. I was looking at my supplies in front of me and came up with the idea of sketching these as a record of what I most frequently use.

It was very relaxing and enjoyable actually ... I went on to do another page about what photography means to me (I'll save that for another post though!) This is something you should try if you're stuck in a bit of a 'no idea what to create' stage too! It really will help you to think of other pieces to create as you go along.

Do you want to see it? 

I drew each Supply by using the supply itself. E.g. I painted the travelling water colours with the water colour paints in the tray. I coloured the circles in the Bic Markers and Sharpie Pens with the colours that I have them in.

The acrylic paint tube is painted with acrylic paint, the charcoal is charcoal, the oil pastel is oil pastel and so on ...

I really enjoy using palette knives with acrylic paints, in fact I rarely use a brush with them. I use brushes with water colours, but just love the texture and ease that comes with using a palette knife with acrylics.

I don't think I would be able to function artistically without my stabilo black pen! It's definitely an essential for outlining or just pen sketching. 

 Do you use any of these products yourself? Are there any other new art products you could share with me? Be sure to let me know if you've created your own 'Essential Art Supplies Page' ... I would love to see it! 

Have a fantastic week!

Friday, 9 May 2014

My Inspiration Sources

Inspiration for creativity is absolutely everywhere.

I love the quote that says "Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it" - Confucius

This is so true. We spend so much time rushing and hurrying that we really need to consider taking time to slow; to reflect, to relax, to take in the beauty that is all around us and at the ready for us to draw inspiration from.

Want to know some ways to be inspired?!

Well here's a list of the things that I 'go to' when needing some new creative ideas and direction ...

  • reading books on being an artist or being creative
  • looking at and studying nature
  • visits to libraries and book shops (way too tempting!)
  • technique books
  • pinterest (slightly addicted)
  • seeing the amazing work of other artists
  • conversations about art and creativity with like minded people
  • purchasing new supplies (hold me back!)
  • visiting art galleries/museums
  • online webpages/blogs
  • grabbing my camera and just beginning to snap at anything and everything!
  • looking through old journals and notebooks to see if anything 'sparks' any new ideas
  • knowing that everyday is a chance to learn, enjoy, create and be inspired.

So what gets you so inspired to pick up your paint brush, your guitar, your wooden spoon or your pen?

Feel free to add your 'go to's' to my list ... I'd love to hear how you are inspired!

"Inspiration comes to us slowly and quietly ... prime it with a little solitude" - Brenda Ueland.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Anyone Love Pinterest?!

I've been busy taking some iPhone photos today ... just because I wanted to! The session only lasted for about 15 minutes, but it's better than not doing anything creative at all today! 

If you're not already aware, Embrace Create Enjoy is on Pinterest . Pinterest is absolutely amazing! I would love you to pop over and have a look at the pins I have there and follow along!

I have a love of quotes and words. I also love photography. So, I was inspired to combine all those little iPhone images that I captured today and some quotes that I wrote all together! Perfect combination! I added them to my Pinterest account on a board named 'Quotes' (original I know), so I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them!

Creativity can be something as small and simple as quotes on a photograph. There's no right or wrong when it comes to how you express your creativity. Just as long as you are doing what you love. I would love to 'meet' you and be inspired by your art, your cooking, your photographs ... whatever it is that you enjoy and would love to share! Comment below and leave your blog address so I can come see what you've been up to!

Thanks, and make sure you enjoy yourself this week!

Monday, 5 May 2014

A New Toy!

The other day I bought a second-hand Canon EOS 3000 camera.

I'm so excited by this purchase!

I studied photography in grade 10 and 11 at high school and we only had film camera's 'back then'. I loved the challenge of producing a beautiful quality photograph without seeing the end result before development.

Something that I live by is we never reach a stage where we've stopped learning and so with this camera I know that I'm going to really enjoy a new learning challenge all over again! Whatever your creative abilities and interests are, there is always greater understanding that you/we can gain from practise, challenging ourselves and seizing learning opportunities.

I've purchased some film (24exp)and now I just have to wait aaalllll the way to pay day, to purchase the two rather expensive lithium batteries needed! (good things come to ...) But that outlay is minimal especially considering the camera itself was an absolute bargain at just $25! (The seller informed me that it's over $700 worth!) I figure it's a worthwhile investment as far as camera expenses goes.

So, I'm giving the 'old fashioned way' a go again and I'm looking forward to being able to show you some of the results (provided they actually turn out half decent!)

Do you own this camera or similar? Any tips or suggestions for me? Thanks!

Have fun enjoying your creativity!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Manual DSLR Camera Fun and A Great Book!

I have been having the most fun experimenting and practicing with my DSLR. It's only been every now and then that I have ventured out on that limb of 'manual photography', normally I stay in my comfort zone with the settings on 'automatic'.

I borrowed this amazing book from the library called 'Photographing Your Children - A Handbook of Style and Instruction' by Jen Altman, you can purchase this book from Amazon here. I've read a few photography books now, and this is, by far one of the best I've ever sunk my teeth into. 

It's basic, clear communication makes it so much easier to understand the sometimes rather complicated key terms that photographers use. To top it off, it has visual inspiration from the photos taken by Jen which are stunningly beautiful and great idea prompters. I haven't even finished reading the book yet and I've learnt so much already. If you're a photographer, no matter what stage you're at, or what 'subject' you choose for your photography, you need to get this book!

I've fiddled with the ISO, the f-stop, the White Balance and the Shutter Speed and had the camera on Manual Focus mode and Direct Manual Focus. It has been amazing.

Jen talks about how once you get out of 'auto mode' you'll be addicted. My first thought? 'Yeah right; how could it possibly be any different?' Well, she was right, and I'm hooked! It's such an incredible sense of achievement to not just let the camera do most of the work for you. You're taking it one step, one big step further, and controlling everything.

Obviously I still have to practice a lot and still have so much to learn about photography across the board, but I'm developing my skills and working out difficult things as I go along ... one of the incredible joys of self teaching!

I took some horrible photos and then some (in my opinion) beautiful ones. Especially the ones of my beautiful boy and little kitty 'Ollie' ... they both make great subjects! 

The chapters cover this Info:

  1. The Basics of Photography
  2. Why Light Is So Important
  3. Composing Portraits
  4. Photographing Infants
  5. Photographing Toddlers and Young Children
  6. Through the Eyes of Love
  7. What's Next?
  8. Resources

Here's some of the images that I snapped over a couple of hours throughout the day; both inside and outside. I really love the detail that manual photography captures, as well as the beautiful depth of field in each one. 

f/13   ISO - 800   70mm

f/13   ISO - 100   60mm

f/5.6   ISO - 100   60mm

f/5.6   ISO - 400   50mm

f/5.6   ISO - 100   70mm

f/5.6   ISO - 100   70mm

f/5.6   ISO - 200   60mm

f/5.6   ISO - 200   60mm

f/5.6   ISO - 200   60mm

f?5.6   ISO - 400   50mm
So what do you think?! I'm really excited to keep on experimenting and snapping away at pretty much anything and everything that is beautiful! 

Do you prefer manual or auto when it comes to your camera settings? 

I hope you enjoy being creative this week ... I know I will!