Get Positive, Throw Caution to the Wind

This blog draft has been hanging around for a while and today I thought I might just do what it recommends!

It’s been a while between blogs and my biggest fan recently asked me what’s been happening! I told her I’m not sure whether to continue or not. Is “it” about the process of making art or composing blog posts? I tend towards making art and not blogs really. We’ll see.

Anyway, to the subject at hand.

Is it always a good idea to throw caution to the wind?

Is it much different to being out of control?

Perhaps you knowingly venture into these new areas. You explore them with more purpose and thought. They aren’t just foisted upon you, directionless, aimless and far too wide ranging to be of real use. I’ve heard it said that exploration with limits is more productive and beneficial.


In favour of the case for throwing caution to the wind the following examples are offered.


Some new toys arrived, two rubbery wedges! Ideas for using them on Google seemed samey and unexciting, so I decided to just slap some paint down on the paper and move it about with them. To allow for maximum chance of some form of success I used a big sheet of paper. It means you can happily scrape and spread paint with large arm movements. It seemed to be using a lot of paint though, but I kept going as some rather lovely marks were happening. My soluble graphite crayon and a spiral stamp got a look in during the creative fenzy too!


It soon became obvious that you need to stop before you make a big muddy mess. Several large pieces of paper later it suddenly dawned on me … I had no idea what to do with them next. “Think about it” I thought …… Nope, no ideas were forthcoming. So, I set out with some white paint on my brush to follow wherever the lines and forms within the image took me. The exercise revealed a landscape and I thought “Ok, I can work with this!”


Throughout my art adventure there have been several memorable points where I seemingly threw caution to the wind. One of the earliest, I think, would be trying a new style of sketching. I’ve previously referred to it in Drivepast Sketching – Our Journey Begins and it was well worth the experiment. From very early on I “knew” that it was going to lead me somewhere new. There was no indication of where, but I could feel it.


This is what turned up, sometime later (below). It’s a mingling of the sketches with things that happened elsewhere in my art. It turned these sketches into something more, something different. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t decided to sketch differently.

Can you see how these feed into the wedgy piece I painted later (above)?


Another early experiment uncovered a way to compose images using the markings on Richea Pandanifolia leaves. (It’s a native plant here in Tasmania and grows at higher, colder altitudes. Look it up and you’ll see why I like it.) Well, this wasn’t an experiment as such initially, more of a stumbling! I had lots of photos of these leaves and I’d spread them out to find what I liked best. The process was a jumble of photos on the table, all overlapping and arranged randomly. Could some of these be compositions to use? Or, could the idea be explored to find compositions? Or both? It was a completely new idea for me and, I think, the first radical move away from traditional landscapes.


I tried it and really enjoyed the process of finding compositions, creating the art and, luckily, I liked my creations. Another similar coloured pencil painting, “Richea Pandanifolia in Focus” features in the first issue of Studio News.

The painting below, “The Landscape Within” is a further development of the theme. I’m wondering now if this idea will come back and take me on another journey. The markings on these leaves are very abstract. Mmmm…..!


Back to the wedges. Putting paint directly onto the painting surface from the tube often results in too much paint to handle. What to do? Oh well, scrape it off? No, it’ll turn to mud! What to do with it then? Why not just slap another sheet of paper on top of it, like a Rorschach image, and see what happens? So I did. It was so insignificant at the time that I didn’t take photos, but this is the result. A little thought, turning it upside down, more mark making and finding the skyline and “Veil” was there. It won an award and sold earlier this year!


Sketchbooks are another place for experimentation and play. You can do whatever you like and no one ever needs to see it. Recently, on a trip away, I decided to sketch as quickly and as minimally as possible. On the same trip I decided to do sketches one on top of the other. Whether these will lead anywhere remains to be seen.


Not to forget the case against.

It’s not always pretty folks and it can be soul destroying, if you let it. There have been many times when experiments have led to abandoning ideas and pieces of paper in the bin, or even in the fire! Some might be kept for collage fodder or for working over later. Sometimes, though, binning a piece is the most sensible way to go. Best if you never see it again!


As far as reuse goes. Often, when you come to reuse these abandoned pieces you are far more likely to “throw caution to the wind” and have a really good go at it.

We just turned the case against into an arguement for telling ourselves, “what the heck” and going with the flow! “Genesis” (below) is a result of just that.


Throwing caution to the wind can be easier in some circumstances than others. It also depends on your mood, but I reckon it’s a habit worth developing. You never know where it will lead and as I’ve found, even your worst pieces can be used to get you into that free state of happy playful creativity.

I wish you heaps of happy and successful creating!

If you would like to view the work I have available please go to Bluethumb.

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Who Moved the Goal Posts?

When is creative work finished? It’s a question that is almost as frustrating as asking what the meaning of life is!

In an attempt to figure it out, we’ll follow five stages of “Vestige” as it goes from the “oh my goodness” stage to “ok, I see what’s needed” and on to completion

There are some creative pursuits where you know the finish point when you begin. They generally don’t tend to allow for much initiative or alteration along the way. Things like knitting to a pattern or building a house for instance. The creativity tends to happen prior to beginning the actual work. Thus, once you begin creating the “creation” you have a plan showing exactly where you need to head in order for your project to end successfully. Art, as in fine art, is not always like that.

As you can see there definitely wasn’t a plan for “Vestige”! Drastic measures were necessary after the above bout of intuitive play!

In the past my art was always planned, as mentioned previously, but now it is freer, led by what happens from minute to minute. It’s a great way to work. There’s more freedom, experimentation, questioning, playing and dreaming. However, it does mean that the “finished” stage can either jump out at you unexpectedly or, on the other hand, remain so elusive as to almost drive you mad!

Some artists, myself included, will often say that their art is telling them what it wants. What this really means is that we can either see what is needed, or we can’t. In which case the work gets done or we wait for “something” to occur to us. Often, the wait is long and tedious, as it was with “Vestige”! If you look closely around the upper left central area of the above photo you will see a small patch of light green. That patch could have inadvertently been covered in the painting frenzy but it remained visible to “tell me something”. You can see what I did with the idea in the finished painting below.

Since starting to work this way it has been difficult to accept that one piece in a series might be finished very quickly while another will test my patience severely, like “Vestige” did.

This piece “Hushed” is a collage on canvas and was finished right after the first piece of paper went on. (A large piece of tissue that I had prepared as part of a collage paper making session.) I stood there unsure, thinking it looked done, but I hadn’t done enough work, had I? It shouldn’t feel finished yet, should it?

It’s sister piece (above) which you’ve seen before remained “unfinished”. It didn’t feel done and sat around taunting me for a few weeks. How could I make it feel “finished”?

I didn’t want to overwork it but at the same time it felt like something was needed. Should it be left aside for later review or succumb to the changes that were lurking in my mind. The fact that the changes didn’t feel “solid” made me hesitate. I wasn’t even sure which way was up!

Eventually, a decision was made to add some collage to the sides of the canvas and reassess things after that. It didn’t alter the face of the canvas, but the sides now look finished!

There’s still uncertainty over this one. Maybe it might tell me it’s title and all will come together and make sense!

New Art Listings

Recently added on Bluethumb. Click the image to see more.

“Feeling Frosty” 40cm square

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When “It” Strikes You Down

It can happen any time these days!  Viruses are lurking everywhere!  Not the digital kind, the ones that actually affect our physical health.  The effects they have on our art can seem far worse than those on our health!  At least to us artists anyway.

You don’t have the energy to do much but your mind is still inspired and rearing to go.  Often there will be little things you can do as you laze around lamely awaiting your emergence “on the other side”…. ways to maintain contact with your art spirit. 

During down periods there are several, not so innovative, ways to keep going regardless.  Well, some of the time at least.  Things that help maintain the art spirit while the body navigates the virus.

Sketching is one thing that only requires the amount of time and energy you are prepared to give.  There are a few scattered about here from a trip made while accompanied by “it”.

Another thought that emerged was books.  (There are plenty on the shelves!)  So, bearing the current state of art affairs in mind they presented themselves for selection.  My art life is several decades long and the shelves are many.  There’s a lot of already covered material in there, but plenty of new stuff too.  Mind you, I’m never one to shy away from going back to basics.

This is what jumped out.

Colour:  It’s been on the “get better at this” list for years, so out came a few books to sift through for interesting stuff.  I’ll just admit first up that there won’t be any formal colour mixing exercises happening!

“Colour Choices, Making Color Sense Out of Colour Theory”, Stephen Quiller – I might try using pure colours with semi neutrals! There’s a section on inner vision where he says “each painting and each inner vision must follow its own course”.  Does that mean I can just throw paint about?

“Color Harmony in Your Paintings”, Margaret Kessler – It seems I’m interested in intensity at present.  There’s also some planning stuff here that makes sense if you aren’t up to flying by the seat of your pants!  Maybe there is a happy place somewhere in between planning and complete freedom?

“Confident Color” and “Exploring Color Workshop”, Nita Leyland – These two books are similar.  They both look at various palettes and how to use them.  My favourite parts were those dealing with contrasts and unifying colour and design.

Content:  More particularly emotional, personal content, which is what I think is needed in abstract art. 

Gerald’s book takes you on an indepth study of how to access emotional content in landscape painting.  However there’s a lot there that you can interpret from an abstract perspective.  I wonder, can it be applied retrospectively.  That is after I’ve had my frenzied play sessions!  The key takeaway seems to be – really feel what you’re trying to communicate.

Abstraction:  Just doing it is ok, but that can feel a bit shallow or unskilled, even when backed up by your past art experience.  This book takes you through the principles and elements of composition as they relate specifically to abstract painting.  It’s an indepth look at how to go about learning to paint abstracts.

There are sections on working from reality to abstraction and the other way around.  Rolina writes that, with abstract painting, there are two places to start:  content with no relationship to reality and content that is related to reality.  She talks about “stock in trade” which is your store of visual information (visual memory).  It allows you to work from your imagination while having a solid background to draw upon.  I’ve definitely felt a lack in that regard before!  Is that why it feels like I’m winging it sometimes?

Videos:  You don’t even need the energy to hold a book and turn pages!  But, be warned it can go on forever!  However, there are gems to be found, which is why down time helps.

Ok, so I have a secret yearning for printing.  I like the vitality and fun feel of FroyleArts videos (gelli printing, art journaling etc) (still from the video shown above). The ideas are yet to be used, but they’re there!  Plus she cheers you up when you’re feeling unwell!

(Still from the Ryan Jensen video, link below)

I stumbled upon “Art School Live with Eric Rhoads” and this video featuring Ryan Jensen.  Loved it!  It’s not short (about 50 min) but he has some great advice to offer.  How can anyone paint such paintings so nonchalantly?  He really does make it sound and look easy! 

Free workshops:  You can just watch if you choose.

Judy Woods’ stARTs course  Judy runs a free taster which I have participated in previously.  This time I wanted to look at it more from my own perspective.  You know, change a few bits and pieces.  But … enter a virus, which turned it into more of a watching exercise where I generated ideas to try later.  I did, however manage to do some of what was on offer while adding my own touch.  It certainly encouraged ideas and I’m looking forward to working more on the “starts” that were made.  I think the stARTs course sounds great, but, just not for me at the moment.

These two images (above and below) are stalled at the second stage of proceedings while the other brownish one (above) is still at stage one.

When I look back at all this perusing, I feel like good use was made of the down time.  There’s quite a bit to explore as a result!

Now, all we need is recovery with plenty of energy and action.

New listing on Bluethumb.

Exploration in Blue and Yellow” 40cm square

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Sending Your Work Out Into The World

Things get busy when there are exhibitions lurking about!  It’s been a busy time preparing work for several exhibitions, as well as getting the four small paintings below ready to go to Miss Bond, a lovely shop in the Salamanca Arts Centre here in Hobart.

“Tryst”, “Around and About”, “Rendezvoux” and “Orbit” all 20cm x 20cm square

I really enjoy painting these little paintings.  They’re so crisp and playful.

On another playful note, here are three of them on display at Miss Bond accompanied by shadows and reflections.

These two paintings (below) have been dropped off for the bi-annual Clarence Open Art Exhibition which is on from 2 to 24 July 2022. It’s held at Rosny Farm Art Centre and Rosny Barn in Rosny Park.

“Veil” 60cm wide x 70cm high

Just before publishing this “Studio News” I visited the Exhibition. While I was standing near “Veil” a collector arrived with one of the exhibition organisers to place a red “sold” dot under it! I wonder, what are the chances of a sale happening with the artist there on a casual visit and standing not far away from the painting?!

Back to business ….. To facilitate the hanging of “Party at the Gorge I needed a large cradled panel.  I’m pleased to say that I was able to pull off that minor feat of carpentry with help from a friend and my husband.

“Party at The Gorge” 67cm wide x 70cm high

At one of the art get togethers that I attend, we recently had a covid variety Cancer Council fund-raiser. Usually, it’s a morning tea for all the various groups that frequent the Centre but, as we all know, covid changes things.

This year it was decided to have everyone work, in their groups, on specially chosen master works by artists like Picasso, Vermeer etc. We were all given an outline copy of the artwork to work on in whatever way we chose. You can see some of the results below. Our room sure looked brighter when they were all put up. For the privilege of this experience, we each made a donation, and supplied ourselves with morning tea.

It was a great idea, something different, and very interesting to see the variety of approaches that were taken. Mine is a mixture of collage and paint (below). It’s after one of Picasso’s Weeping Woman paintings. Others used materials from their area of expertise, such as fabric and wool. One was entirely collage, another completely monochrome, everyone’s choices varied greatly. It really got some creative juices flowing. Lots of fun! Some “Weeping Women” looked positively distraught, others less so.

I’ve had a forced break from art for a couple of weeks but I’m back in the saddle now.

There are more paintings to prepare for coming exhibitions, cradled panels to be constructed and new works to begin. An artist’s work is never done. That is, if you can call it work!

New art on Bluethumb.

Only one listing since the last Studio News but I have more to finalise. Another job for the list!

“Within the Boundary” 40cm x 40cm square

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Two Ways You Can Influence Yourself

During a recent break from social media I thought about what my free time was bringing to my creativity.  A wandering mind is a curious thing.

This photo and the compilation image of four sketches below it are from a recent wander at Mt Field National Park. Lots of inspiration and influence up there!

The first thing I noticed about my social media break was that all the stuff I didn’t see wasn’t influencing my art.  Fair observation I guess, even if rather obvious!

The good thing about that observational gem is that I found myself being influenced by my own work.  (It’s a never ending circular type phenomenon …. if you let it happen.)  I was forced to think more within myself.  Solutions and ideas weren’t available at the click of a button, nor were they offering themselves uninvited on my screen.

Images such as the one below provide real life influences. These Pencil Pines (Athrotaxis cupressoides) are listed as vulnerable because their population is decreasing.  I love their form.  Even the dead ones are inspiring. Look at how those plants in the foreground are hugging the rock.  There’s a feeling of desperation.)

Something else I do is encourage or allow inspiring “what if?” thoughts to turn up.  They’re related to my art on the whole and often provide me with an exciting new direction to explore.  Sometimes, it’s just an intuitive feeling that “something” is going to come, soon, if I just let it happen. With more free time the “what ifs” began to turn up more often.

What if I throw down some collage before I start my plein air sketch?  So I chose some collage paper I thought was suitable and glued it down.  The “what if” became a “wonder if”. I wonder if this idea will take me somewhere new?

What if I draw as I’m walking along the beach? Literally …. because there’s little to trip over! And, what if I overlap the drawings? “Salty” the duck was doing her own “what if”. She was foraging for food in the wet sand at the waterline.

What if by the end of my break away from looking at the screen, I am able to breakaway from some of the stuff that often keeps my art predictable?  (From my point of view at least.)  What if it feels more authentically mine?

A “what if?” is by nature something new that you haven’t thought of or done before.  So, presumably, it could lead you somewhere you haven’t been yet.

Amazing how more time and quiet, subconscious, consideration can put a spark in your thoughts and your art! 

New Work

Here are several new pieces that have been listed for sale on Bluethumb. Click the images for more information.

“Verdant” 68cm wide x 71cm high
“Romp” 71cm wide x 68cm high
“On the Face of It” 66cm wide x 67cm high
“Forces at Play” 98cm wide x 68cm high

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Out There

One of my clear memories is a sort of feeling of release and relaxed bliss.  At some point I seem to fill up with awe at what surrounds me and the fact that I am able to be there.  There’s usually a big sigh and a feeling of peaceful contentment to follow.  Joy!

What is this rambling on about?

It’s how I sometimes feel when out in the wild landscape.  Here, in Tasmania we have some wonderful bushwalks that take us out among the mountains, rivers, a multitude of various types of landscapes.  It’s where I love to be!  Even better if there’s time to sketch (an artists’ equivalent of smelling the roses!).  You may have seen the photos in the last Studio News.

These works are the beginnings of a new series – “Out There.”  It’s a broad theme which leaves my options wide open.  What will develop as I find my way around the ideas? Where will it lead?  Perhaps, in future series things will narrow down a bit and be more specific.

(This first layer could be titled “Into the Blue”! (I got carried away using my new painting wedge.) There’s a lesson there, but I’m not sure what it is? It’s either go slow, or don’t? Things can work out either way it seems.)

These photos show the first layer for two of the paintings.

(This one is more random!)

Where to next? Sky shapes were used to define the mountain range. Later, more white was added to the sky.

There was an urge to draw into them rather than add too much more paint. So, out came the Neocolour II crayons that have been sitting about for ages awaiting this precise moment! (They haven’t inspired me much before, so we’ll see how this goes.)

(This is the painting from above after I had a little play with the Neocolours.)

There are five of these long ones (70×30cm) in the group. They’re great to just wander up to, make a few marks and wander off again. That’s one of the benefits of drawing materials … ease of use!

Is this one done yet?

New Work

“Genesis” is now available on Bluethumb.

“Genesis” 54.5cm wide x 56.5cm high

Until next time and ….. as the sign someone was holding up in our street this week said …… “Keep your chin up”!

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Keeping the Momentum

A couple of bushwalks in our Southwest National Park have inspired me with their fantastic scenery.  We walked up Clear Hill and then into Lake Judd a few days later.  They’re opposites scenery wise so there are a variety of influences floating about.

(Amazing conglomerate rockforms on the way up Clear Hill)
(The birth of the Anne River at Lake Judd with the Eliza Plateau behind.  We contemplated the possibility of floating down the river instead of walking back!)

Whilst these photos show the wonderful scenery the aim is not to paint realistically.  Rather, my aim is to bear in mind the visual forms and textures, the feel of the place and my emotional reactions.

(The hills on the way to Lake Judd.  The area was burnt about three years ago.)

Ok, enough of that.  Let’s get started on the painting!

Here are some progress shots of a couple of paintings from a current group of seven. They’re based on memories of the above plus bits and pieces I like about “Switchback” (below).

Somehow, we ended up with two different styles in this group!  (Your guess is as good as mine as to why?!)

This first one was painted over a previous non-starter (below).

(Starting point – I thought it should work well because the palette is the same.)

As you can see in the photo below, the paintings are progressing well.

First, the hill shapes were created, then some scumbling or glazing on parts. A bit of lifting off opened things up. The sky was scumbled with layers of white and blue …. trying to make it interesting and not too flat. Adding some new colour on the hills seemed a good idea and a “lake” began to appear.

(Stage 1)
(Stage 2)

In the version shown above acrylic ink was added to the foreground. It seems a bit too samey though, so, in the next photo (below) you can see I’ve lifted off paint to lighten some areas. Parts of the foreground were darkened to create more contrast. Almost there I think. Just wondering about lightening more areas in the foreground.

(Stage 3)

Now for the other style. It’s a bit more intuitive and abstracty but still with landscape shapes.

I managed to pull this out of the random starting marks!

(Stage 1)

The stage above needed more colour so raw sienna and turquoise inks were added (below) plus I attacked the sky and painted over some of the drips.

(Stage 2)

Then, warm colour was added in some white areas but it’s still not feeling finished. I’m uncomfortable with that light square in the centre even though it’s now smaller. Can that sky do with lightening too?

(Stage 3)

A couple of the paintings in this group are tentatively finished, but there’s a “cooling off” period in case there are things to fine tune. Some paintings say “I’m done” quite quickly while others take their time.

It’s time to think of the next challenge.

You can see all my art on Bluethumb.

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A Series of Resolutions

There are eight works in the On My Marks series and most of them have changed quite a lot from those first marks.

“Switchback”, below, is the most successful I think.  It’s going to be the inspiration for another series shortly.  I like the sky and the variety of marks and shapes that make up the “land”.

Switchback” 25cm wide x 25cm high

Reactions vary when my arty friends see me working.  It’s interesting to see who likes what and sometimes their preferences are predictable.  My favorites are often different again.  Regardless though, I keep plugging away towards some sort of resolution.

Resolution?  It can be at one of several stages.  Things might feel unsatisfying or uncomfortable to varying degrees.  The best result is to be feeling excited and inspired to move forward.  There’s a large range of perceptions between the two extremes of unsatisfied and excited!  The “unsatisfying” paintings are set aside, in “halfway hell”,  to be reviewed sometime in the future.  They might get a touch up if there’s something to improve, or they may end up in the reuse box.

This one has been a challenge.  A problem child that wouldn’t cooperate!  It’s going to “halfway hell” or the collage box.

This fellow feels fairly comfortable. It’s “almost” there. “Almost”, why is that the case and what do we do about it?

The in-between/barely comfortable paintings sit, waiting for alterations or until another conclusion is reached regarding their fate.  Are they done or not?  Not everything can be “exciting”.  They might still be good enough to send out into the world.

The “exciting” ones are listed on the website and entered into suitable exhibitions.  There are only two in this series that feel “exciting” at this stage.  “Switchback” (above, at the start of this Studio News) and “Refuge” below.

Refuge” 25cm wide x 25cm high

“Refuge” is one that felt exciting to varying degrees along the way.  It’s a starter for exhibitions etc.

Bearing in mind the different opinions of others when deciding these things is fraught with danger.  You need to make decisions yourself otherwise you’ll forever feel uncomfortable about what happens with particular pieces.

Putting the doubtful ones aside earlier, rather than later, frees you up to build on what has been successful.  Some would prefer to keep at it, trying to resolve things, but I like to put them aside and move on.  Depending on how far aside they are put, I may review things later and do more!

You can see my available art at Bluethumb.

Images in the website Gallery also link directly to Bluethumb.

Subscribe here to receive fortnightly issues of “Studio News”.

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