Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Cara's Picks - Week 41: Bookshop

I'm delighted to be on picks this week, as bookshops are one of my favourite places! It was so wonderful to visit all your bookshops and experience the delightful world within. A space of paper, words, pictures, learning and creativity. Ahhh bliss. Thank you for all your contributions, it was difficult to select only a few of the wondrous homage to bookshops you have created this week.

Katrina Cobb
Jutta Berend
Colin Rowe
Goldie Chelmsford
Kim Phelan
Margaret Dewar
Alex Pick
Lex McKay

Chava Berele
Suzi Jean Templer

Amanda Hunt
Luciana Borghi
Deborah Drake-Norris

Monday, 16 October 2017

Meet Louise De Masi — Special Guest

Louise De Masi

Tell us a little of your beginnings and journey as an artist:

Art was always my favourite subject at school, but back in the early '80s when I graduated high school, there weren’t many jobs for artists, and I had no idea how to pursue a career in art, so I turned my back on it.

However, my love of drawing and painting never went away, and when I was in my 30s, I went to an art studio and enrolled in an acrylic painting class. The owner of the studio noticed my ability and asked if I’d be interested in teaching. That led me to teach acrylic painting classes for about 8 years.

I took up watercolour painting six years ago, shortly after I finished a teaching degree at university. I had given out my resume to some of the schools around my home, and while I waited for the phone to ring for some teaching work, I taught myself how to paint in watercolour. I’m so glad I did because painting in acrylic paint no longer gave me any joy and I stopped painting for a while. Watercolour restored my painting passion.

I taught in schools for five years, and I would paint on weekends when I had time. Half way through 2014, my husband got a job in Sydney, so we moved there temporarily. Instead of approaching schools in Sydney for teaching work, I decided to start painting full-time. I’ve been working on my painting career since then; it’s early days yet. I was reading that it takes five to ten years of full time practice for your work to mature, and years and years to succeed. I know the road ahead will be bumpy, but I am determined and self-disciplined, and I am enjoying the journey.

Antique Rose

Why are you drawn to watercolour and how did you learn this medium?

Watercolour is such a beautiful medium to use. I love to use it for so many different reasons. It’s quick. You can get instant colour on your paper quickly and easily—just wet the paper and drop in the colour. The transparency of the paint allows your painting to glow with light. The effects you can create with watercolour are unmatched by other mediums. It allows you to be expressive or, if you’re like me, you can create highly detailed paintings.

With each painting, I walk the line between competency and total lack of control. It’s an exciting medium to use, and I will be forever under its spell.

I taught myself to use watercolour mainly by looking at other artists’ work that I admire and lots and lots of practice.


How would you describe your style? We’d love to compare an early painting with a more recent one!

I love detail. I know watercolour is more of an expressive medium than other mediums to use, but it’s the detail that draws me in. I tend to paint loose at the beginning of the painting. I build the painting up with lots of washes, and in the final stages, I add all the detail. Lately, I’ve been adding some deliberate blooms to my paintings, and I’ve been playing with different types of backgrounds to add interest.

I use a lot of water when I work. Even though I like to show detail in my paintings, I still like watercolour to look like watercolour.

Early Kookaburra

Later Kookaburra

In your experience, what are the pros and cons of being a full-time artist and do you ever get creative block?

The greatest part about being a full-time artist is that I get to pursue my passion every day.

Painting gets me up out of bed and keeps me up late at night. I sometimes work 14 hour days, and I’m happy to do it. It doesn’t feel like I’m working most of the time. Being at home is another plus. I have scoliosis and I suffer from back pain. Working from home means I can sit down whenever I want and take a break.

The cons of being a full-time artist are many. You have to have some sort of other income so you can pay the bills. You not only have to be an artist, you have to be a marketing manager and a salesman. You have to spend as much, or more, time promoting your work as you do producing it. Art supplies are expensive, and your days can be lonely.

I rarely get creative block, quite the opposite in fact. I have so many ideas and so many things I want to paint that there are just not enough hours in the day to do it all.


What are your preferred art materials?

My favourite paper is Arches. I use both hot and cold pressed.

I use Winsor and Newton and Daniel Smith watercolour paints, and my favourite brushes are Da Vinci.


You offer watercolour painting classes on Skillshare and have just launched your own online school, which is very exciting! Can you tell us more about these classes and what they offer?

I’m very excited about my online classes. Skillshare approached me late last year and asked me if I’d be interested in making some online classes. I’d never heard of Skillshare and teaching online wasn’t even on my radar at the time, but I decided that I’d give it a go in the new year.

I had to learn how to film myself painting and how to edit my videos and add narration. I have five watercolour classes on Skillshare, and I’m working on my sixth now. I have nearly 900 students, and I have received very positive feedback on the classes.

Watercolour can be a difficult medium to use, and I try to simplify the process in my classes. I walk my students step-by-step through various paintings that I have completed, and I provide a reference photo and a line drawing so they can paint along with me. I think a lot of people who first start painting in watercolour have difficulty getting their water-to-paint ratio correct. They either have too much or too little water on their paper or in their brush. Understanding that is the first biggest hurdle to overcome.

My classes have been very successful, so about a month ago I decided to open my own school as well. I have one class in my online school, and I have finished filming my second class. It’s in the editing stages at the moment. Students can pay for the individual classes they want to do in my online school, rather than sign up for a subscription. I’m excited about the journey ahead!

You can visit Louise’s online school here, and her Skillshare classes here.

Yellow Rose

Do you have artists who give you inspiration?

I love the bird paintings of Karl Martens. They are absolutely beautiful. He grew up watching and painting birds. He works with giant Japanese and Chinese paint brushes for his bigger paintings, and they force him to lose control. He uses lots of water, and he makes use of salt to show greater depth. I hope that one day I will master watercolour the way he has.

Pink Roses

What are you currently working on and what will we see next from you?

I’m currently working on a painting of a waratah. I’ve been working on it for 10 days now. It is highly detailed and it’s probably my most difficult painting to date. I’m working on the leaves now, and I’m anxious to finish it because I have other paintings I want to start.

Most of my paintings have a plain white background because I like a simple contemporary look, but I plan to start entering paintings in competitions next year and I feel that I need to begin including some backgrounds and filling in all of the paper. So I think you will start to see more of my paintings with backgrounds. I’ll be painting lots of flowers and leaves.

Waratah work in progress

You can see an image of Louise’s completed Waratah painting here.

What advice can you offer people wanting to learn or improve their watercolour painting skills?

Oh, that’s easy. Take some of my classes!

Use the best materials you can afford. Good quality paper is essential. Don’t be afraid to use water.


Follow Louise online:

Online School:

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Kirsty's Picks — Week 40: ROPE

Who knew that rope could be so beautiful and conjure up so many feelings! I have breathed salty sea air, fed my fear of heights, tugged with all my might, held on for dear life, and felt constricted, connected and set free this week. Oh, the power of illustration! Thanks so much for a fabulously creative week. Kirsty x

Sarina Dickson

Suzanne Pritchard  

Sebastian Weller

Anne L-y So

Anya Kopotilova

Brooke Reedlunn

Cara King

Claire D'Arcy

Clara Cook

Danny Zemp

Jo Bone

Jutta Berend

Katja Landowski-Mertes‎

Katrina Cobb

Lisa Jones

Luciana Borghi

Peter Hinton

Peter Papamanolis

Sarah Hedley

Shani Nottingham

Monday, 9 October 2017

Meet Jutta Berend — Challenge Member

Jutta Berend

Where do you live? Tell us about your family:

I live in Hamburg, Germany, with my husband and two small daughters (3 1/2 years, 11 months.) We live in a flat and dream about one day being able to buy a small house.


Have you formally trained as an artist or illustrator? Describe your art background/journey:

Although I wanted to, I have not been formally trained as an artist.

I have always created. Since my earliest childhood, I have looked for ways to express myself. I sewed stuffed animals, drew, painted, sculpted and even modelled little figures out of candle wax when nothing else was available. My family valued my talent and encouraged me in everything. Yet I felt that I was never good enough.

After school, I wanted to study art but was rejected by the universities I applied to. I tried for two years and then decided to let it go and get a job instead. I stopped drawing almost entirely for years! The job that I learned is also quite creative—building models of food, packages and plants for advertisement—but it is just not as fulfilling as I had hoped.

Our parents raised us believing that work should not only be to earn money and survive. You need to find your purpose in life—something that defines you and makes you happy—and, if possible, make a living of it. Of course, it didn't always work out for them, being parents of three children, but they are both published authors. Daddy is very busy, holding public readings almost every week, and Mum is her own boss, running two businesses of her own.

With such awesome role models, my purpose in life is clear: creating for a living. Becoming a mother put everything into perspective. Not having any free time of my own anymore, I cannot imagine going back to doing work I don't really like and wasting my time being unhappy. Luckily, my husband earns enough for now, and supports me on my way to becoming me again!


Are you a full-time artist or do you have to juggle your creative projects with other responsibilities?

Right now, I am a full time mother and housewife, which leaves little time for creating. When my little one starts day-care early next year, I hope to be able to get work as a freelance illustrator. I'm only getting started with that and don't know how it will go.

Meanwhile, I am also a freelance dummy-builder*, working on-and-off with marketing-related companies or at film sets for commercials. That part is really fun! But my heart lies with drawing, and if one day I am in a position to choose, I would go with illustration.

*Dummies are mock-ups of real products, packages or groceries. The ice-cream or chocolates you see in commercials are rarely the real thing; rather, they are made of plastic and carefully designed to look just right in the picture.

Dummy example

Where is your favourite place to create and illustrate? Describe your routine:

Right now, the only time I can really sit down and draw is when the kids are asleep. That amounts to one to three hours an evening. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, the little lady takes a nap during the day, but she is really not very fond of sleeping.

So once they are tucked in and quiet, I drop everything and settle down on the couch (sometimes my desk, but mostly the couch) with my precious Wacom tablet and escape the busy mum-life.

I dream of one day having my own studio or, at least, a study or something—there is no room in our flat for that. And, of course, more time during the day to really get some art done; I'm not much of a late night worker.

Having space and time for watercolour painting would be nice, too.

Jutta's workspace

How would you describe your style? Do you have a favourite medium or subject matter?

The most important thing for me is that my paintings have to be done quickly. For one thing, I don't have a lot of time to create, but I am also really impatient and probably pretty lazy! So digital painting is THE thing for me. (I work on a Cintiq Companion 2 with Sketchbook Pro.) If I had to make space on some table, get out my art supplies, clean brushes and clean up afterwards etc., every time I want to paint, I would never even start with anything. I also lose interest pretty quickly. If I have an idea, I want to get it done as fast as I can while it is still ‘alive’. If I overwork my stuff, it loses its liveliness and becomes boring—to me, at least.

Family life is a huge source of inspiration for me. Kids never run out of ways to amaze and surprise me. Also, the love for them is the strongest feeling I have ever experienced.

In my drawings and paintings, I try to transport feelings and create atmospheres, capturing things that have actually happened or that I dream about. It really is the same as when I was a kid and dreamed myself into the stories I read. Only now I try to create a passage for other people to join me on that journey.

Princess from work in progress

How did you hear about the Challenge and when did you join?

I stumbled across this wonderful Challenge at the end of 2016, and I actively started to participate in January 2017. It was really only luck, and I am really thankful that I found you.

Week 24 2017: Multiculturalism

What do you love about the Challenge? What have you learned?

Joining the Challenge was everything, really! I had been drawing and painting before, occasionally posting something on Facebook, but no one ever really bothered with it.

The best part about the Challenge is the love and support everyone gives each other. Being part of such a lively and supporting community feels like coming home. This place of art and creativity, inspiration and love, actually, has given me a real boost—both personally and with my art. The constant challenge to create, along with the feedback we receive, help us all grow, I think.

I really feel I have made some friends here, and I hope to meet some of you guys in person one day.

Week 21 2017: Red

What is the favourite illustration you have done for the Challenge so far?

That would be the GARDEN theme. For me, my illustration that week was really important because it kind of defined my style. It turned out almost exactly like I imagined, which is really rare. I worked several days on that piece and it always felt right. The feedback I got from all of you was just amazing! Things fell into place; It felt right to me and judging by the positive feedback, it felt right to others as well. I had found a way of transporting feelings that people understood and actually liked!

Week 6 2017: Garden

Do you have illustrators or artists who give you inspiration?

I get inspired by a lot of people and adore their work, even if I could not do something like that, ever. I have always liked the watercolours of Horst Jansen and Janosch, and the art of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Pascal Campion is one of my favourite digital illustrators.

What are your creative goals?

I really, really want to illustrate children's books and create memories that hopefully last a lifetime. Books I read and looked at as a child still come back to me as an adult, and I take inspiration from them for my own art. I want to make people feel the magic of a story the way I felt when I was a child.

My big life goal is quite selfish: being able to create all day long, and never lose the love for what I do.


Tell us something that we don’t know about you:

I am a twin.

I love the crunch of crisp autumn leaves under my feet, and I have been known to step out of my way if I spot a really crunchy one.

I cannot whistle.

I am addicted to chocolate and black tea.

I LOVE breakfast! It is my favourite meal and I couldn't go without it. (I'm talking about eating breakfast, not the cutting, mashing, feeding, wiping and picking up involved when eating with small children.)

Follow Jutta online:

Facebook page: