Myths & Legends

ARTWORK OF THE MONTH: Selected drawings available on Ebay. A different selection every month!

NEW SHEET MUSIC: Huete Dances vol. 3 now available for pre-order – ships early December

NOW AVAILABLE: New Zealand Film Locations map: A3 poster * Snowflake Christmas/seasonal card * Queen Galadriel holiday card * Middle Earth New Zealand 2013 photo calendar

TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME MUSIC: Harp sheet music store * Travels in Middle Earth CD
Asni the Harper digital downloads: CD Baby ** Amazon MP3 * iTunes

Also available: Music CDs * Sheet music * Greeting cards * New Zealand photography

In this newsletter:
*** Myths & Legends
*** News and Current Projects
*** Cool Things Friends Do: Laura G. Young
*** Meeting the Real Jane Campion

Myths & Legends

Another gallery opening! The second one in three months! Seems I haven't been doing too badly this year. The Myths and Legends exhibition at Matchbox Studios features works by a selection of Wellington painters, sculptors, crafters, and one photographer: quite a variety of different approaches to how to tell a story with a work of art.

The show runs until 8 December. Pop in if you find yourself on Cuba Street! The gallery is located opposite the Slowboat record store. If you know Cuba Street, you'll know where that is. It sits snuggly between a tattoo parlour and a vintage clothing shop, a couple of blocks closer to posh downtown than Thistle Hall. This is how we measure career progress. ;)

As you can see from the photos, the turnout at the opening last Tuesday was quite satisfactory: all the cool people of Wellington came. Though I must grumble that the only person I knew when I arrived (apart from the rocking gallery staff) - was Sally, my former workmate at IHC (pictured below with bunch of flowers). But then it appears that everyone in Wellington knows Sally.

When I left, I knew a few more people: fellow exhibiting artist Julia Bromley, whose series of fairy tale pictures about White Cat were easily my favourites in the show (and that includes my own work). Storyteller Judith Jones, who came in to tell us a story about squiggly wiggly eel. And very talented photographer Izzie Austin, who took the photos from the opening. Check out her website, too!

Now I only have to actually sell something ... and you can help me with that! :) The three paintings I have in the show are priced at NZ$ 500.00 each, and are available from Matchbox Studios – they welcome enquiries from New Zealand or overseas.

Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios

Myths & Legends opening at Matchbox Studios. Photos © Izzie Austin



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Mermaid Queen Bee Merlin in the Thorn Bush

Myths & Legends at Matchbox Studios:
Mermaid * Queen Bee * Merlin in the Thorn Bush

News & Current Projects

When we did the Metropolis show at Matchbox in September, Caleb, one of the gallery curators, suggested that I should submit my work for their upcoming Myths and Legends show, which he was organizing: obviously, it would be a good fit!

Naturally, it did not make sense to exhibit the same paintings I had in the show in September, again in November. And I didn't really have any older paintings sitting around, that I would still be happy with at this stage: the last major oil on canvas chunk of work I did was the Earthsea series, which I have now exhibited twice. Besides – if I say so myself – I feel my work has really come along a bit in the last two, three years. Thanks, among other things, to the fact that I finally put in some time for formal study. :)

So there was nothing for it, I had to come up with some new paintings for the show, and I had a month or so to do it. This did make me a bit nervous. Normally, my way of working has been that I would conceive some idea which I would then feel an irresistible urge to put down in paint. This time, I had no idea what to paint, but I had a timeframe and a (broad) topic: something very much like a proper commission.

The one parameter that was missing, was quantity and dimensions. I solved that by deciding to use three canvasses of the same not-too-large size, which I found sitting in my storage area. It would be a mini-series, substantial enough to put in the show, but an amount of work that would be doable in the time I had available. So here I was with three blank canvasses, and no very concrete idea of what to paint ...

This is where having a working method comes in really handy. I started doodling, came up with some ideas, discarded some, selected two recent doodles and an older idea which seemed to fit, worked them up into proper sketches, decided on a basic colour scheme, transferred my sketches on the canvas, and coloured them in. Voila! Here I am with three brand new paintings, easily within deadline, and very pleased I am with them, too.

Where these ideas came from? The first I came up with was the Mermaid: I think I decided on this topic simply because it would fit well on the dimensions of the canvas I'd selected. There might be a hint in her of Yemanjá, Mother of Water: a topic I've been meaning to paint for a little while. So here she is, doing what mermaids do, rescuing a drowning sailor. Perhaps.

Queen Bee relates to a mysterious character who crops up here and there in African and Brazilian popular music: I've written about it in another newsletter some while ago. The fact that I've spent the time I was not painting this month, over course work for my horticulture certificate, might also have something to do with it ... so here is my take on the flower fairy.

On another level, she is also a nod to Lisbeth Salander, aka Wasp (not Bee, but hey). As I wrote in my last newsletter, I have finally discovered Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, and since this story has kept my mind occupied these last two months, it's not surprising that it spilled over into my artwork somehow. Rather than a literal illustration of the story – which is what I would normally have been driven to do – I went for something more oblique, an interpretation of the main characters perhaps.

If Lisbeth is diminutive, belligerent, protective Queen Bee, then patient, persistent Mikael Blomkvist must be Merlin in the Thorn Bush: this is an elaboration of an older sketch. The story goes that the famous wizard Merlin fell in love with the beautiful Viviane, who may have been a fairy. He taught her some of his magic, and she promptly used it to imprison him in a Whitethorn bush in the forest of Broceliande, so that her lover would not get away from her and she could visit him when she pleased. So there he is, patiently waiting for a sign of hope from his fair lady.

The three paintings are priced at NZ$ 500.00 each, and are available from Matchbox Studios – if you are interested in any of the paintings, please contact me, or Matchbox Studios directly. They welcome enquiries from overseas.

ARTWORK OF THE MONTH: If your budget doesn't accommodate a $500 artwork, check out the miniature oil paintings I have on offer on Ebay this month: Angels, to go with the season. These are one-of-a-kind original paintings on a 5 x 7 inch / 12.5 x 18 cm canvas. They ship easily to all parts of the world, and are small enough to fit in your handbag, for some extra heavenly protection – or perhaps just everyday art appreciation. They'd be quite perfect as a unique Christmas present for a loved one, too. View my Ebay listings here.

Miniature Angel by Astrid Nielsch Miniature Angel by Astrid Nielsch Miniature Angel by Astrid Nielsch Miniature Angel by Astrid Nielsch Miniature Angel by Astrid Nielsch

Artwork of the Month: five miniature angels, now available on Ebay

The other thing I have done this month, is to complete my edition of Diego Fernandez de Huete's harp music from the Compendio numeroso en cifra para harpa (Toledo, 1702/1704). This is the third part of the first volume (1702), and contains a selection of instrumental variations and short dance pieces, at a more technically advanced level than the previous two volumes. The piece de resistance is a Batallas, which runs to quite some length and is a real show piece for any virtuoso harpist! Plus, it seems to me I can discern some of the rhythmical patterns which we now associate firmly with Latin American harp music.

The volume is now available for pre-order, I plan to get it printed next week, and ready to ship by the second week of December. With a bit of luck, it will still be in time to sit under your Christmas tree – or that of a harper in your life! Please go here to put in your order.

Take the opportunity to take a look around in my shop! There may be other sheet music books you fancy – or a harp music CD, or perhaps some tracks for download! There are also Christmas cards with artwork by Your's Truly, the Galadriel's Farewell poster, and my map of New Zealand film locations.

Would you like to give someone a harp for Christmas? My Martin Haycock Gothic harp is still up for sale. The harp is suitable for medieval and renaissance repertory, or anything else anyone may want to play on it, which requires a range of 3 1/2 octaves, G - c'''. Asking price: € 1990 / US$ 2550 / NZ$ 3000, or best offer. Please Email me for more information.

On Amazing Stories, as promised, I have put together a feature for Halloween: costumes and carved pumpkins! It amazes me, the amount of creativity and hard work some people put into these things. Well worth commemorating with a blog post. The first blog in November is an interview with up-and-coming fantasy artist and children's book illustrator Iris Compiet, fresh back from her stint at IlluXcon. Then this week, I've taken my readers on a trippy Trip to Shangri-La – which turns out to lie in Fractal land. Visit my author page, with a list of all my blog posts on Amazing Stories.

Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden Everything blossoms in Asni's garden

Everything blossoms in Asni's garden.

The assignments for my horticulture certificate this month involved collecting and identifying a rather large number of horticultural plants – trees, shrubs, climbers, annuals, herbaceous perennials, and bulbs. Hence the garden photos this month look a tad scientific. Best season of the year to do this! The spring bulbs are a bit over by now (but fortunately I've been in the habit of taking photos of my garden regularly for the past three years) – but everything else is blossoming in ample profusion.

My roses are getting more lush every year. The passionfruit vine has been putting forth one of their gorgeous blossoms after the other for about a month now, and I can spot the first fruit ripening. The feijoa trees are blossoming properly for the first time – that's the exotic looking tufty red blossom there. Hopefully this means Ill be harvesting some feijoa fruit this year. What's the point of planting things one can't eat, if the ones you can eat look so gorgeous.

I've kept myself busy digging more vegetable beds, and since about October, I have never run out of fresh things from the garden. In the last few weeks, it's been kale on the menu. I used to hate every food involving cooked cabbage or kale with a vengeance, when I was younger. But now that I'm growing my own, I'm beginning to find it really quite tasty! I've been eating Kohlrouladen all week. Who would have thought that I would ever cook or eat this particular traditional North German dish out of my own free will.

A profusion of ice plants A profusion of ice plants A profusion of ice plants A profusion of ice plants A profusion of ice plants A profusion of ice plants A profusion of ice plants

A profusion of ice plants



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Cool Things Friends Do: Laura G. Young

Laura is an artist colleague and friend from Colorado, who, like myself, is currently busy turning her long standing hobby into a proper job. She stopped by in Wellington last summer, so she counts among those select long-time online friends whom I have also met in "Real Life".

Laura has a couple of exhibitions coming up – if you are from her neck of the woods (and I know a few of you, dear cherished readers, are), do go and check them out! You can find the details further down. Her first illustrated book has been published last year, and is available on Amazon.

I've asked Laura a few questions about her work, here is the interview:

"My name is Laura G. Young, and I'm both a painter and an illustrator. My work tends to center around birds, particularly in their natural environment but also as encountered in folktales and children's stories."

"Believe it or not, I think I owe a lot of my fascination to painting to Bob Ross, of “happy trees” fame. I must've watched every episode as a child! Also, I had a Prang watercolor set that I used quite a lot."

"I don't have an art degree, but over the last decade I've become quite involved with various artist's organizations, workshops, and exhibitions. I'm also a big believer in books, online forums and instructional videos. As an experienced illustrator once told me, most clients don't care where or even if you went to school – they just care if you're capable of good, solid artwork."

"I really enjoy illustrating the “old school” way: pen and ink over watercolor. Of course I could work digitally if needed, but there's something to be said about the unpredictability and challenge of creating images as they were done over a century ago. Somehow, I feel that having a high element of risk makes me a better picture-maker."

"My latest illustration work can be seen in C.J. Berry's AVES series. The first book, AVES: The Age of Engagement came out just last year. It's about an anthropomorphic society of birds led by Principalis, the last of the ivory-billed woodpeckers. Things are going well until a devious council member, Tyto the barn owl, takes over in a sort of military coup and so now all the birds must deal with the terrible changes that come under his rule. What Tyto hasn't counted on, though, is that Principalis already has determined who the next leader will be: a small, seemingly insignificant bird who will restore the legacy of the Avian Way."

"I've been painting en plein air with some friends for several years now, which is just a fancy way to say we paint outside instead of in the studio. It's perhaps the best training for getting better at representational art, because you have to work very, very quickly! The sun moves, you see, and so all your shadows move, as well. Also, there's the weather, bugs, and onlookers to contend with. But it's definitely worth all the hassle, especially because working in direct sunlight aids my impaired vision. That, and it's more fun to paint with others."

"Some of my plein air work can currently be seen in the Denver Public Library's 7th floor gallery until the end of the year, and there's a really big end-of-the-year twelve artist show, entitled, Chasing Light coming up from December 4th through the 7th at the Carnegie building in Fort Collins, Colorado. There will be a good sampling of much of my work in that show -- paintings and illustrations. "

Cottonwood: Morning by Laura G. Young Sheep Mountain by Laura G. Young Long's Peak by Laura G. Young

Plein air oil paintings – © Laura G. Young

What special challenges do you experience on account of your colour blindness?
"Oh, I could write a book about that! Here's the simple version: I am one of the rare, one-in-a-million females who happens to be colorblind. Due to winning the genetic lottery, I have great difficulty telling apart certain parts of the spectrum, especially in the red and green wavelengths. As a little girl, I used to depict rainbows using just three colors, and I used to think that the big boxes of 64 crayons had the exact same crayons as the boxes with 16, but with “extras” that had different names printed on them so kids wouldn't get bored."

"As to how I'm able to paint? I take lots of notes on mixing, ask a ton of questions, and always keep my paints clearly labeled and in the same exact location on my palette. However despite all these precautions, I still sometimes end up with pink trees or green rocks. It takes a good sense of humor and a lot of patience when painting colorblind, but it CAN be done."



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Meeting the Real Jane Campion

Just when I feel like I have dug myself into an intellectual hole at the butt end of the world, there comes along Jane Campion and offers a series of talks. Free of charge, everyone invited, just sign up on Facebook. Cool!

The event was advertised as a series of three Masterclasses for aspiring film makers of various levels of experience. I went to the beginner's session: to be sure, my ambitions to be a filmmaker have been simmering at a pretty background level for the past several years – I'm quite busy enough being a painter and illustrator, thank you very much – but I still harbour the hope somewhere on the back burner, that one day I will find the time to put all those fancy video production and animation skills I learned at Natcoll to good use, and make something with moving images – perhaps an animated version of some illustration work, with music. In any case, I wasn't going to miss out on a chance to meet and hear the real Jane Campion in person!

I don't know what the other two sessions for more experienced film makers were like, but the first session pretty much came down to a cozy chat. Everyone was supposed to bring along a question they wanted to ask Jane Campion, and write it on a piece of paper, which was then drawn out of a hat (or not). What the heck question would I ask Jane Campion, that I could write on a slip of paper and have drawn out of a hat? I left that to the other people in the audience.

It was a good system though: the questions were a starting point to discuss some broader issues, and although there was a fair share of starting-out creative angst (which is a developmental stage I am now well and truly past), some good and interesting points were raised. It gave me a lot to think about. About what I do and why I'm doing it. Which is never a bad thing, to keep check on once in a while.

Castlepoint afternoon Castlepoint afternoon Castlepoint afternoon Castlepoint afternoon Castlepoint afternoon Castlepoint afternoon Castlepoint afternoon Castlepoint afternoon Castlepoint afternoon

Castlepoint afternoon

And what a blessing! The talk was all about how to make art – how the creative process works – and not a word about how to make money. Other than "do the best work you can and hang in there", which is really the single best piece of advice anyone can give to a young (or even an old) artist, which is precisely what all those culture enthusiastic Wellington businessheads simply don't GET. You can't fake it. You have to put in the work before you make the money, and some people never will.

But the good news is, if you do things with conviction and persistence, someone eventually is bound to take notice. That's because there really aren't all that many people who are truly willing to go those hard yards. That is all there is to it. Full stop. I've come to that conclusion all by myself by now (with a little help from my friends), but thanks Jane Campion for confirming it for me, from a position of considerable authority.

Oh and btw – dear Jane, Ada should most definitely, positively, absolutely NOT have drowned. Don't even think about it. It would have totally spoilt a fairly good film.

Arohanui, from Asni



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Castlepoint lighthouse Castlepoint lighthouse Castlepoint lighthouse Castlepoint lighthouse Castlepoint lighthouse

Castlepoint lighthouse