Art Studio and Life #13 featuring artworks and painting

Hello lovely family and friends

We are kicking off today with rugby, which is appropriate seeing as how I am writing to you from the home of the All Blacks. The boys of my household have been watching the current Super Rugby series, and I sit in the lounge with them and look up occasionally from my book when they get extra excited. One of the things about rugby that amazes me is the way they seem to pretend that they are not injured. They can have a broken nose, a black eye, blood trickling down their neck, or their ear looking like a cushion, but they are prepared to thrust their heads back into a scrum under someone’s armpit.

Another thing that amazes me is when you see someone with the ball brought down by a tackle, and then three or four other people (weighing 200kg each) throw themselves on top of the tackler and tacklee. After a variable amount of time, they all climb off, and all of them are actually able to walk away. If just one of those people landed on me, I would need a stretcher, or, at least, a wheelchair to enable me to get off the field. Whenever I see a painful looking tackle, I remember hearing of a little girl watching a match and asking “If they want the ball, why don’t they just ask nicely for it?” I know, right?

Within a week or so of arriving in Wellington, we went to look at high schools for our sons. After being shown around one posh college, we wandered down to the field where a rugby game was in progress. Various parents stood on the edges of the muddy field, cheering their youth on. My three boys watched the game closely, while I enjoyed myself watching a nearby mother. She seemed rather small to be the parent of one of the massive players, but she made up for her size with vigour. She kept jumping up and down, and shouting ferociously at the referee “Ref, who paid yer?” She also kept shouting “Hut um! Hut um!” It took me a while to figure out that what she was actually saying was “Hit him!” Perhaps having a tough cookie like that for a mother helps to shape you into the kind of person who is able to keep playing with half your ear hanging off.

I’m thankful that my daily life is spent in more peaceful pursuits.

I walk downstairs to work. Like rugby players, I do have to do some dodging – the cats gallop downstairs with me and do their best to get into my studio, while I do my best to put my coffee and myself in, while keeping them out. Lest you think I am hard-hearted and unnatural to exclude them, I have my reasons – hair stuck on paint is a nightmare to remove, and they do their best to get into the dust (and cat hair) free plastic tent I have set up in which to dry newly varnished paintings. The lure of the forbidden! Terry Pratchett said that if there was a button hidden the top of a mountaintop somewhere, with a sign on it saying “WARNING! DO NOT PRESS BUTTON OR THE WORLD WILL END!” a queue would form up, and my cats would definitely race to the front of the line.  
 Once I am safely in, and cats firmly out, I then put on my paint-stained clothes, pray, drink coffee and begin… 

When starting a painting I mix colour and then

1.) paint the lightest light

2.) paint the darkest dark

3.) start to paint mid-tones

4.) Paint the easiest (and most gorgeous) colour – French Ultramarine

5.) Paint the bubbles – darks and lights

6.) Fill in more darks. I don’t use black as it looks flat and dull. I use Indigo, or if I want it to look black, I mix Indigo and Burnt Umber. I use top quality Winsor & Newton Artists Oil Colours, so if the colour is wrong, I know it is my fault, not the paint.

7.) First block in is done, phew!

8.) I then tape over the lemon and bird areas.

9.) Then more and more layers and blending. This was tough as there is such a contrast between the white and blue. Painting a layer, leaving it to dry for some days, painting another layer, leaving it to dry, and another… This took a LONG time. There are no short cuts, you just have to keep going until it is satisfactory. Satisfactory, not perfect. As Yoda might say “There is no perfect.”

10.) Repaint the bubbles and remove the tape – the long haul is over! Extra fun bits to come!

And you might ask, what do Davy and Hobbes do after I have cruelly ejected them from my studio?

When they are tired of wrestling over and under the furniture, biting and kicking each other’s heads (somewhat like rugby players), they curl up for a refreshing five hour nap. 

So, in the weekend ahead –
May your team do well!
May no one try to bite or kick your head!
May you have refreshing naps!

XX Barbie


  1. Jean Rhoades

    I so agree with you about rugby, Barbie! After most of my life in NZ I can still only watch short bursts of a game and most of those are punctuated with, “Why are they doing that? What does the breakdown mean? etc etc”
    The building of that painting is fascinating and quite unexpected. Lovely!

    • Barbara Podmore

      Thanks Jean, reading a book does help while watching rugby, and I try not to ask my longsuffering family “Why…?” too often.
      I’m glad you like seeing the painting process. I do enjoy looking at how other artists paint, as everyone does it differently.

  2. Loraine

    How do manage to tape the area precisely… I would really be interested in this technique..

    Do you draw the outline first in crayon ?

    • Barbara Podmore

      Hi Loraine
      I just use masking tape and cut fiddly little bits – it’s quite a process! If you do watercolours, there is a very useful thing called masking fluid, which you can paint over a white area, and then rub off later, but I don’t think you can put it over a painted area. I am not aware of a similar oil paint product. What medium are you using?
      I draw first on paper, so that I can make corrections without messing on my canvas. I then tape it up to a light source, such as a window and rub either blue or green pastel on the back. I then put it on my canvas and trace it on. I’ll try to take some process photos of my next painting to show you.

  3. Bruce

    Great to see progress on various fronts – involving steps forwards and back, dodging various obstacles. Sounds like rugby! Keep going :-))

    • Barbara Podmore

      I will, so long as no one throws a ball at me…