Art Studio and Life #12 featuring artworks and painting

Hello lovely family and friends

BREAKING NEWS: we have two new family members!

ginger cat and tabby and white cat curled up next to each other on a chair

Hobbes and Davy have been adopted from a cat shelter.

I guess they are teenag cats, as Hobbes is 7 months old, and Davy is 6 months old. Our house finally feels like a home! I have had pets my whole life, and living without any for four years has been hard for me and the boys. The Breadwinner was fine without them, but he is really enjoying this naughty pair.

Hobbes was called Shortbread, but trying to find a nickname from that – Shorty or Bread? Plus, my redhead son, who wanted a redhead cat, is a Calvin and Hobbes fan. Davy was called David, but that seems a bit too grown up for him for now. The cats came from different foster homes, but are already practically joined at the hip. They are very curious about any activity in the house and always want to be near a person. Walking from one room to another has become challenging as it entails being orbited by two furry satellites. And when you are trying to get out of the garage without them, cunning is required.

red headed boy lying on the floor playing with a ginger cat and a white and tabby cat
Redheads enjoying each others company

Jack feels the need for some ginger support, because redheads get given a hard time in NZ.

Red hair is so rare in Botswana that Jack was like a celebrity there, which does have its own issues. From when he was a little baby, he had glowing copper coloured hair, and people were always touching his hair, and wanting to pick him up. When he was about four years old, someone asked me if his hair was dyed. I found this very amusing and told our delightful gardener, who started working for us when Jack was just six months old. He said that he too used to think Jack’s hair was dyed, as it was the same colour that our gardener’s hair was when he peroxided it in his fashion-conscious twenties. Eventually he realised that the colour never grew out and was natural.

When we visited Scotland, Jack blended right in. Here in New Zealand, there are almost as many redheads per capita as there are in Scotland, probably from all the Scottish immigrants. Common boy names here are Lachlan, Calum, Cameron and Hamish. Not hard to guess where they all originated from. So, it’s ironic that the redheads here are called by a derogatory name – ‘ranga,’ short for orangutang. I think it originated in Australia.

male orangutang looking forward
not enough respect


Try calling some other subsect of humanity after an ape (or monkey) and see how well that goes down…

Jack copes well with it, and doesn’t mind his mates calling him that, but has had a few run-ins with more aggressive people.

classical art meme of a surprised cat

Leaping from gorgeous redheads to art:

What does creating a painting actually entail?

  1. The first stage of a painting is getting the concept, which I can’t show you because it happens in my head.
  2. Buying the canvas.
  3. Priming the canvas with a thin wash of Burnt Sienna mixed with turpentine.
  4. Creating a PowerPoint slide of it.
  5. Sizing up and drawing the image (maths involved!)
  6. Covering the back of the drawing with blue pastel, and tracing it onto the pre-primed canvas.
  7. Mixing colour
work in progress painting an orca

8. Blocking in the first layer of paint.

underpainting of an orca and a glass with a splash of water

9. The beginning/blocked in/dogs dinner stage of a painting

painting of water splashing out of a glass

10. Painting on a second layer of paint starting from the top and working downwards, to avoid smudging.

painting of an orca jumping out of a black glass splashing water

11. Refining the water and glass.

underpainting of cherries

12. Blocking in the cherries

A surreal oil on canvas painting of light maroon background with a darkly grey tinted highball glass with an orca leaping up from the water, creating a splashing plume of water, with droplets on a table top. To the left of the glass are two maroon-coloured cherries attached by their stems.

13. Adding final layers to every part of the painting that need it.

painting of an orca jumping out of a black waterglass hung on the wall above a white sofa

14. Adding D rings and wire, and hanging it on the wall.

Orcas often swim around Wellington, and a little while ago, a visiting family pod lost a young adventurous orca who got separated from his mother and trapped in a rock pool. He was rescued and moved to a seawater pool, cared for day and night by a crew of willing rescue workers and volunteers who fed him and kept him company, actually staying in the water with him round the clock. Respect. While they did that, other rescue crews searched up and down the coast for his family pod, hoping to reunite them. He was named Toa, which is Māori for “warrior” and became deeply loved for his friendly personality. Sadly, he died almost two weeks later, leaving his carers heartbroken. This is a tribute to the Warrior and his people.

Long may Orcas swim in our seas! (even if they get annoyed and try to wreck boats)

XX Barbie


  1. Francis Podmore

    Another lovely missage (:-)) Especially seeing the stages of the painting..(:-))
    On orca was reported near Edinburgh recently.
    SO GLAD you have two lovely pusses.

    • Barbara Podmore

      We are really enjoying them!