Summertime ...

NEW IN THE SHOP: Middle Earth New Zealand calendar 2011 *** limited edition art prints *** Greeting card: Wild Chicory
Also available: Music CDs * Sheet music * Greeting cards * New Zealand photography

In this newsletter:
*** ... When the Livin' is Easy
*** News & Current projects
*** Cool Things Friends Do: Anupamas
*** Putangirua Pinnacles photo Essay

Summertime, when the livin' is easy

And all of a sudden, it is summer. Christmas is in the air. On this first day of Advent, I might have decided that I needed to find some organic, unsprayed lemons to make elderblossom syrup from the bag of blossoms I collected the other day, on a bike trip down to the lake. Last time I went down that way, someone was selling their home grown lemons to fund raise for a horse, which was handy because that covered most of the ingredients in one trip (the local supermarket had bags of sugar on offer this week, which was also convenient) - but either they have raised enough money to buy the horse, or run out of lemons.

On this first day of Advent, I therefore got into my car and drove over to Masterton, and the weekly farmer's market. The Masterton farmer's market is rather a tiny affair - and most of the people selling things there ain't farmers. Cheese, olive oil, organic meat, fresh fish, and all manner of potted plants were readily available, but the selection of fruit and vegetables was limited to large punnets of Strawberries (excellent strawberries, admittedly) from the Wee Red Barn, and one other organic veggie stall, which had amongst a few other things, oranges, but no lemons.

When I voiced my disappointment, and frustration at having driven all the way from Featherston to find no lemons, the friendly fellow said "But wait! Maybe I got some in the car." After disappearing for a short while, he then came back all disappointed, and told me he had got a big bag of lemons yesterday from his partner who had a nice big tree, but alas he left them at home. When I asked if I might be able to pick up some directly from the farm, he obligingly wrote down a phone number, and involved me in the usual conversation where I was from. When I insisted I was from Featherston, he listed everyone in his present and former life who was also German, and asked if I knew Merle, one of the (allegedly) three Germans resident in Featherston. I do indeed know Merle, and the other German in Featherston too. Though I tend to think the number might just recently have gone up to five. I find it hard to accept that after barely a year, I already know all the Germans in Featherston.

In the end it proved easier to get some bags of lemons from the Wee Red Barn's roadside stall - the lady who was selling the strawberries pointed me there. She evidently remembered me and my blueberry buying excesses from last summer. (Alas the blueberries aren't quite ripe yet. Though the strawberries really are quite fine.)

White Rock White Rock White Rock

White Rock

That settled, I then went on to browse the second hand furniture stores in Masterton Central, hunting for some dining room drawers, and finding a bookshelf instead. At least unless it turns out to be too fragile to be a bookshelf. It is an interesting piece of furniture design.

Then on to The Warehouse! The Warehouse was having an all weekend Four Weekends til Christmas Everything is Cheaper blowout sale which included 30% off all DVDs. Which means that my Doctor Who collection has just had two vital pieces added to it. Took me nearly two months to hunt down that last 10th Doctor Christmas special ! One's got to see the 10th Doctor die (aka regenerate) before moving on to Season Five. Right? Right. Though I am also assiduously engaged in watching myself through the Tom Baker years - Wellington City Library has an excellent collection, and I get them half price on my spanking new Community Services Card.

I also picked up some half dead strawberry plants from the reduced rack (my aim is to be strawberry self-sufficient within the next two years), several bags of vegetable seeds and garden implements, and on the way out of Masterton was waylaid by a sign that said kumara plants - which was when I finally made the acquaintance of the Masterton garden centre. Fabulous place! I am a bit sore that I didn't find it earlier, but admittedly, it might have been best that way, in view of my purse.

White Rock White Rock White Rock White Rock White Rock

White Rock

On coming home, I had just unpacked my car, put the elderblossom syrup kettle to boil, and was ready to settle down with this newsletter and a well deserved beer, when some expat friends from the Channel Islands (Yup. That's the Channel Islands) dropped by to say hello. I have no idea when was the last time that someone spontaneously dropped by my place to say hello. They'd been over to visit last weekend, and I'd taken them on a tour to White Rock, one of my favourite beauty spots down by the coast. Apparently they were so impressed with the beauties of the region, that they spontaneously decided to look at a house that was up for sale.

All in all, after the ranting and polemics of the last two newsletters, I think both you and I deserve a break - so this is it, newsletter lite, a bit of slice of life in the Wairarapa, and (further down) lotsa new photos. Happy season! :)

White Rock White Rock White Rock White Rock

White Rock



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News & Current Projects

Margaret Hiley's website is now properly online and has earned me many a flattering comment. This is what Margaret herself wrote me:

"When I set up my translation and proofreading business, I knew that having a professional-looking website was a must. However, I also wanted it to stand out from the crowd and have a quirky, creative feel to it that would attract my clients, many of whom work in the creative industries themselves. Astrid has created exactly the kind of website I was hoping for. In fact, she obviously realised exactly what I wanted right from our initial consultation, as the first draft she provided me was so fantastic we decided to go ahead with it! Astrid also provided me with valuable feedback on what to include on the site, and kept me up to date on her work throughout the entire design process, so I felt fully included in the creation of the site. The website was finished to deadline, and Astrid even gave it a first publicity push through her own blog and website. If you want a professional, individualised and creative web design service (and who wouldn't!), I wholeheartedly recommend Asni Multimedia!"

After a small detour into print design - a flyer for the Wellington Yoga Centre, since they were so happy with my work on their website - I am not on to my next project: a thorough redesign of Belinda Brown Photography. A somewhat larger and mor ambitious project, in that it will involved substantially more programming than the previous two sites, which were largely design jobs. I am thoroughly looking forward to it! The aim is to get the site done by Christmas - though after a couple of hitches this week, perhaps we need to shift the deadline back a bit. The client is not rushed, which is great! But it will be a good benchmark for myself to try and meet.

The shop has been busy this last month - the Christmas season makes itself felt! A couple of new greeting card motifs are now available. For my Wellington and Wairarapa based readers, I will be having a stall at the Christmas market in the Featherston ANZAC hall, on Saturday 4 December (that's this coming Saturday), where I will be selling my cards, calendars, CDs, art prints, and some pieces of original artwork. Come along and say hello!

This year's Middle Earth New Zealand calendar has already sold almost as many copies as last year's edition - and it isn't even quite yet December! It has been catching on a bit with the locals as well, which is great - last year I sold almost all my copies overseas. As a test pilot, I have decided to make a very minimal print run (10 copies) of another calendar with photographs from the Wairarapa - it is mostly intended for selling at the Christmas market and around the local shops, but I have put it in my online shop as well, so feel free to order one! :D In case it *really* takes off, I might even make some more... though likely, I will be leaving these ambitions for next year.

Don't forget I'm still auctioning my limited edition giclee prints on Ebay ! Your chance to get a copy at substantially less than the regular price. Prints available on Ebay

Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz: Luz y Norte musical Diego Fernandez de Huete: Baroque Dances vol. I Diego Fernandez de Huete: Pasacalles Medieval Tunebook

Asni's sheet music with bright new cover illustrations!

To kick-start my career in illustration, I have taken advantage of the fact that I am also myself a publisher, and have provided cover illustrations for my sheet music books - which have been selling very well this year, and needed reprinting. Four out of the five books now sport shiny new covers - the last one will follow suit once I've sold out my present stack of copies. And yes, you can buy them in my shop!

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a one day course on children's book illustration held by Greytown artist Viv Walker - a very inspiring session, and good opportunity to meet a few of the other local artists. I wrote up a story to illustrate for the occasion (a retelling of a traditional tale from Estonia, not to blow my own horn unduly) - and am looking forward to the quiet summer season to hopefully find a bit of time and flesh it out with illustrations. There might also be an opportunity to collaborate with a local budding writer, and create some illustrations for the book she is working on! I am very much looking for an official "first project", so that would be just great.

Painting wise, I've been doing a bit of cleaning up the studio, and found several half finished projects which now line my wall along with the three or four images I started last year. It looks like at least some of next year's painting efforts will be tying up some loose ends! I also have an entirely new project in mind, and am currently reading my way through a stack of books on the fascinating subject of Time. Blame the Doctor... :P

In other news, The Royal Hotel Featherston now exhibits a couple of my paintings! They were looking for artists to bring in their work to replace their Tui ads, and I happily jumped at the opportunity. The images on display are Maui invents surfing, and A Far Green Country... and yes, they're also for sale. Next time you come through Featherston, stop by, have a delicious meal from the team behind "Guten Appetit Catering" (Aha! That brings the number of Germans in Featherston up to at least four!) - the paintings are prominently displayed in the entry hall. :)

Meanwhile, I am carrying on with my life drawing classes. Remember that newsletter where I complained about the racial bias in the "Earthsea" book cover illustrations? So far, in our life drawing classes, the models have been 100% caucasian. How is an illustrator to develop their skills in characterizing people, if there is so little diversity in life drawing models? Well, either the universe has heard my prayer, or someone's thought along the same lines - the last couple of months we had a couple of non-caucasians model for us, and they bring with them not only slightly different proportions, but a whole different body language. Point made!

female nude, 10 minute pose male nude, 20 minute pose girl with glasses, 5 minute poses Asian girl, 5 minute poses female nude, 5 minute pose

Life drawing: a selecion of standing poses



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A Walk in the Rain by Anupamas Alternate Reality by Anupamas Bride by Anupamas Excitement by Anupamas

Photos © Anupamas :: anupamas.deviantart.com

Cool Things Friends Do: Anupamas

One of the most prolific artists I have on my watchlist over at DeviantArt, is a young photographer from Kerala, southern India, who goes by the alias Anupamas. I hardly know anything about her - neither her real name, or where exactly she resides - but her images consistently end up in my "favourites" gallery whenever she posts a new batch.

Some of it certainly has to do with the fact that I've always wanted to visit India (one ambition I have yet to fulfil!), and her photos offer such a fascinating glimpse of landscapes and people, a culture and a way of life that is so very different from my own.

Waiting for a Buyer by Anupamas We Float through our Lives by Anupamas A Peek at the Science Lab by Anupamas Steel Shop by Anupamas

Photos © Anupamas :: anupamas.deviantart.com

But the appeal of her images definitely does not stop at cheap exoticism. She has a wonderful eye for light, the way it bounces off surfaces and materials, and the web of shadows it creates. She makes abstract pieces of art from the most mundane and commonplace objects. And she has a marvellously quirky way of portraying the people that surround her.

My Way to Guiness Book by Anupamas Bangle by Anupamas Williams Om by Anupamas Flower Tower by Anupamas

Photos © Anupamas :: anupamas.deviantart.com

She always has a story to tell with her images - be it the idiosyncracies of people at the beach, the sensual overdrive of an Indian street, the traditions of a local festival, the fierce beauty of the south Indian landscape, or something entirely more spiritual. Go on and have a look!

Paddy Fields by Anupamas Sweeeet by Anupamas Xmas Town by Anupamas

Photos © Anupamas :: anupamas.deviantart.com



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Putangirua Pinnacles Putangirua Pinnacles Putangirua Pinnacles

Putangirua Pinnacles

Putangirua Pinnacles Photo Essay

The Wairarapa features quite a varied abundance of strange geological formations. One of the most striking are the Putangirua Pinnacles, down by the coast only a good hour's drive from my home.

Putangirua Pinnacles Putangirua Pinnacles Putangirua Pinnacles

Putangirua Pinnacles

I had been planning to go there and update my photo collection - the last time I went, I still had my old camera, which does not quite compare to what I have available now. I'd settled on a day, hoping for good weather, but it dawned rainy, windy and cold, with a Southerly howling in.

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Putangirua Pinnacles

Still, towards afternoon there was a bit of fitful sun, so I decided to not let the weather deter me - in fact, I made a bit of a gamble. It might be a wasted trip for taking photos, but if the sun did come through, it might make for some stunning light effects! Much better, in fact, than plain old blue sky sunshine.

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Putangirua Pinnacles

A gamble that worked! As you can see from this collection of photographs. Time and again, I am amazed at the fantastical, Gaudi-like structures that are a result, not of human ingenuity, but of wind, water and erosion. Who needs cathedrals, when nature is such a fabulous architect!

Arohanui, from Asni



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Putangirua Pinnacles Putangirua Pinnacles Putangirua Pinnacles Putangirua Pinnacles Putangirua Pinnacles

Putangirua Pinnacles