Studio Update

Getting back down to work in the studio is always a bit challenging after time spent rushing around doing other things. I’ve had a lot going on and have a lot coming up apart from painting, between July and November. Last week I held the first of my kindergarten seminars for teachers,on how to teach art to preschoolers, the pitfalls and things to do about them.

This is a very intensive 2-3 hour course which I will talk about in a later blog post.

Now, back to the studio – progress is slowly being made.  I am doing a series of very intuitive works at the moment, as I feel at an end with the dresses and that aspect of the Mythic Journey. You will however see elements of the dress series creeping into the current work.  A new emergence seems to be the inclusion of figures, which keep appearing. I am however wrestling with the colour palette – I’d like to do something with colours similar to those that Ben McLaughlin uses, (see below),he’s such a master of subtle complementaries….. however as far as the work is concerned – well  ‘that just aint happening!!’

Studio,Ben Mclaughlin

Ben McLaughlin


My current works are informed by a growing awareness of the interconnectedness of the energy webs which surround all of us and the planet.  There is a saying that ‘every thing is energy’ – well it’s not just a saying – it’s the reality of the world we live in. I am intrigued and fascinated with energy flow – as in the dancer and the dance. And in fact that’s partly where the dress paintings came from.  

So there is a continuing desire to represent this energy – the dance of life and the webs and veils of illusion that separate us in so many ways. Therefore the current works speak to an unfolding of this understanding.  It’s incredibly challenging to paint in this way, as you only have the vaguest idea of what you are actually trying to do.

I keep wanting to run back to my safe landscapes – however I feel the great Creator pushing gently at me  – no rush – ( just get on with it for heaven’s sake!).  I have completed two smaller works so far and if you get my Collectors Newsletter you will have seen them already.

Studio,A Little Bird Whispered In My Ear,Kadira Jennings

A Little Bird Whispered In My Ear, Oil and Acrylic on canvas 18″x 18″ $650

Above is the first painting in this series and below is the second.

Whispers on the Wind Oil and Acrylic on canvas 24"x 22"  $900

Whispers on the Wind Oil and Acrylic on canvas 24″x 22″ $900


This Week’s Question: What themes run through your own life and work, regardless of whether you are an artist or not.? What do you keep returning to and why?

Next Weeks Post:  Student versus Artist Quality materials – the age old debate?


Maiden Sleeps I

Maiden Sleeps I

derived from this original part of the secrets painting.

Maiden Sleeps I

Secrets Inspiration

I played with it for a while and developed it into this….

Maiden Sleeps I Development - Kadira Jennings

Maiden Sleeps I Development

This is obviously an improvement.  However the painting still seemed to be very closed in on itself.  There was more work to do, however I wasn’t sure just what that might be.  So I left it for several days – turned to the wall. Got it out again and felt rather like Eeyore – ‘Its no better from this side,’ he says, shaking his head sadly.

Maiden Sleeps I - Eeyore

Eeyore floats to the other side

So after several turnings of the painting finally my other side of the river then looked like this…


Maiden Sleeps  I

And indeed – this time it was better. At this point I had something to work with. After a few tweaks it resolved into the painting you see above.

Look For Next Thursday’s Post: ’Secrets’ series continues with The ‘West Wind’

Next Monday’s Post: Kid’s Art

Posted by : Kadira Jennings

Photo Credits: Eeyore – Illustration by Ernest H Shepard

***!!!!HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!***

Well here we are at the tag end of another year again.  If you are reading this, then I guess the world didn’t end on Sat 21 Dec and we can all look forward to another wonderfully creative year. To acknowledge and celebrate the creativity of my students I am going to share some of the wonderful  work they have done with me in the past year.

Bessie - Steve (Oils)

Bessie – Steve (Oils)

They are all to be commended on their perseverance and commitment to their art.  Creativity is seldom easy and we often have to fight for our right to nurture our creative spirit, as others often view it as an indulgence rather than an essential part of who  we are.  The other thing about that is that when you pursue your creativity, it makes others uncomfortable, because they aren’t honouring their own creativity. So congratulations to everyone who has nurtured their own creativity this last year!

Sunset – Ash (Acrylics)








Courtney – Humming Bird (Pastel)






Jess - Pen & Ink Study

Jess – Pen & Ink Study





Elise – Kapati Coast (Pastel)



Summer Scents - Deborah (Oils)

Summer Scents – Deborah (Oils)


Faith – Tonal Study (Oils



Skull Study - Rewa (Charcoal)

Skull Study – Rewa (Charcoal)











Jo – Pencil Drawing

Lee – Pelican (Pen & Ink)






Kandinsky Tree - Louis (Acrylics)

Kandinsky Tree – Louis (Acrylics)



Lorraine - Poppies (Oils)

Lorraine – Poppies (Oils)






Lorraine O’Day – My Dog (pastels)






Pumpkin - Merran (Water Colour)

Pumpkin – Merran (Water Colour)













These are just a few of the wonderful works from my students this year. It should be noted that while these works are all original works by the students, some of them are copies of other photographers and artists and are intended as learning exercises only. Thank you all for allowing me to work with you and guide you on your creative journeys.

Grace - Chay

Grace – Chay

I wish all of you, students and readers, an amazingly creative year in 2013 and trust that you will continue to grow and expand your creative horizons all year.

















This is a topic I have revisited many times over the life of the Blog. However today I want to focus on something that you may have discounted as being of little value in terms of helping you to move creatively. This is, considering exploring a new medium.

Like all other artists, I too have had my periods of being creatively blocked.  Some of these periods have lasted a short time maybe a day or two and others have lasted to some degree or other over a period of years.  What do you do when the joy goes out of creating? How do you find that lost spark again.

Photo of a match


I have been stuck in the blocks backwater for some time. Well I was until recently, and I want to share with you how I got myself out of it.  My main medium for many years now has been Oils.  I love Oils, and everything about them, so I never really considered changing to do anything else.  However I have spent the last many months not doing a great deal at all. There are a couple of half finished paintings hanging around the studio that seemed like a good idea at the time, yet now I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm to get them finished.  And of course every time I go in there, they stare at me accusingly as if to say, ‘Well get on with it. Why haven’t you finished us?’  All of which is very disconcerting and makes me hightail it out of there as fast as I can!

Thinking about this I have come to the conclusion that there were several reasons for my stuckness – and here they are –

  • I had got to the end of my inspiration for that subject matter and painting technique, which I had played with through several paintings. This goes for both these unfinished paintings even though they are vastly different in subject and technique.
  • I was struggling to find time to actually get into the studio in the last 10 months due to a life style change – suddenly an instant family appeared with a new partner and my 7yr old granddaughter also becoming a permnant fixture in my life.
  • I had lost touch with my creative spark and had reached the point of wondering if it would ever return.

So what took me out of it in the end?

  • During a visit to the NSW Art Gallery, I found and bought a book on watercolours by Shirley Trevena which I really loved.
  • I began teaching some new watercolour students and decided to redo all my watercolour sample exercises for them, which I had originally done years ago.
  • As I played around with my student’s exercises I began to appreciate and study Shirley’s book a lot more intently.  I was drawn to her work because of the brilliant colour and wonderfully loose painting style she has along with a great gift for stunning compositions. Also I began appreciating the subtlety of colour layering which can be achieved relatively quickly with watercolours, compared to oils.  Layering has appeared in my work in many different forms over the years,  so I was suddenly excited again, to be exploring this new aspect of something that has always fascinated me.
  • The other thing that worked for me with this is that I have a space in my office now with my watercolours permanently set up and I can just fit in a brush stroke or two whenever I get the chance. It makes it so much easier for me to create.
  • As you can see it was not any one thing that created this shift, but a series of events that led me to find my way again.   I was drawn to Shirley’s book, but if I hadn’t bought it this sequence of events might have either never happened, or taken much longer.  It is interesting because at the time I bought the book I was really thinking it would be good for some of my more advanced students and the furthest thing from my mind was for me to explore watercolour painting further.
Still Life - After Shirley Trevena

Still Life – After Shirley Trevena

Also don’t be afraid to copy the work of artists you admire, as I have here.  Assimilate their techniques and the things you love about their work and then begin applying them to your own original compositions. Copying ‘The Masters’ is a time honoured tradition in the art world.  All our learning is built on the shoulders of the artists that have gone before us.  Use what they know as there is much we can learn from them.

In conclusion, I would suggest that you follow those inner urges, like my visit to the art gallery bookshop because you never know where it’s going to lead you.  The creative journey is not a straightforward one, it involves many twists and turns and what we sometimes think are blind alleys, miraculously turn out to be fascinatingly fortuitous event in the end.

This Weeks Question: If you are feeling blocked, what is some small sideways step that you might take in order to still be moving forward on your creative journey?


Pix Credit: Ronnieb

A word all visual artists will come across at some point is the word palette.This can be a little confusing in the beginning as it has two very distinct meanings, which are:
Palette: A board, typically with a hole for the thumb, which an artist can hold while painting and on which colors are mixed.

Palette: The range of colors used in a particular painting or by a particular artist: a limited palette. (definitions from Free online dictionary )

This post takes a look at the first definition and analyzes the best type of Palette for paint mixing. The answer to this question will of course vary depending on which medium you are currently using. There are however some common characteristics that you will need to look for regardless of your medium, so lets begin with those.

a. you need a place to put the paints

b. a firm surface to mix the paint on

c. a means to access the palette

d. an easy way to clean the palette.

So let’s have a look at these things and how different mediums have different requirements and what solutions there are.

One of the first questions a beginner will always ask is what size palette should I get and left to their own devices they will invariably come back with the cheapest, smallest one the person in the art shop could find to sell them. My answer to this question is always get the biggest you can find or afford as even though you may begin painting with few colours and not need much space, you will very quickly outgrow a small palette.

So lets look at how we solve these problems medium by medium. This week we will take a look at what is needed for oil painting.


  • The best palette traditionally was a wooden one, with a hole in one end for the thumb. It was seasoned with linseed oil to protect the wood and if you kept it well oiled and cleaned it after each use, it was easy to clean.It also had the advantage of being a mid tone in terms of the colour you were mixing, which helps with the accuracy of your tonal colour mixing.
  • Now there are a variety of palettes available on the market. Some have a white laminated top, which arguably matches the white tone of your canvas and therefore makes tonal matching easier when you are miking paint. This however is not very helpful if you under-paint your works. I find the white actually makes it some what more difficult and these type of palettes don’t seem to be much easier to clean than the traditional wooden ones.
  • Another option that some artists use is a sheet of heavy glass. Obviously this won’t have a hole for holding it in the traditional manner, which means you then need something to rest the palette on. I find a bar stool is good for this, being just the right height.  However because the glass is transparent, it means you can put a sheet of paper of any colour underneath it and this gives you a much greater flexibility for ease of getting your tones right.
  • Also available today are disposable paper palettes, which come in a couple of sizes and are great if you are travelling or just really want a no mess cleanup. The other thing you can do with them is keep the tear offs and once dry put them in a loose leaf binder and slowly compile your own colour mixing record book.  This can come in really handy later on, particularly if you put notes on the page reminding yourself which colours you used.

Artists Palette


Next week: I look at water colour and acrylic palettes.

This Week’s Question: What type of palette are you using and is it the best one for your current medium of choice?

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