Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bauermalerei (German)painting project

There are some wonderful examples of Traditional folk painting that I hope to see when I visit Germany later in the year. But I will have to content myself with painting some of this wonderful art form myself.

Today I started and completed this quick and easy project. It uses only 4 colours and shading and highlighting is done by means of lighter and darker strokes with the liner brush.

This means no more battling with retarder mediums ( of those who use acrylics).
The patterns can be quite busy, and the borders can even be decorated with the palette colours and strokes overlayed on top.

The tulip was the first folk art flower and represents the Holy trinity with its three petals. One of these flowers I designed myself, and the others I borrowed from a Bauermalerei project book by Lia. ( It is a definitive text for decorative artists)

The interior of the frame could be decorated by addition of a mirror, or photograph, but I chose to make it a blackboard memo board for my daughter.

Red Earth and variants mixed with Warm white
Warm white
Burnt Umber
Antique green or grey green
Accent dots - Yellow Oxide

Does it appeal to everyone? Maybe that is something to ponder about?
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Decorative painting project - Pansies

It was time for another family 21st party and I always try to give them something memorable. Something that is personal and lasts, and something to ponder about!!! So I had one day to complete it, so what could I do? After much pondering in the wood stash, I found a really lovely turned powder bowl, that miraculously had already been base coated. What luck?
Base layer of flowers. Leaves complete

I looked at it and saw pansies, so that is what I painted. Quick and easy but the finished item would hopefully be elegant!!

Pretty Pansies Project

Started with blended leaves.

I use JO sonja's colours but you can use any acrylic colours you choose.

1. Paint base colour outlining sections with a comma stroke in Hookers green and raw sienna ( Raw sienna is a good toner that, if mixed with all the colours you use, will tie the whole project together.)
2. Begin highlighting by using a lighter green, toner plus dash of yellow or warm white to lighten, but not too dramatically.
When you paint over the previous comma stroke, don't completely cover it, simply shorten the stroke so that the base colour is still seen underneath.
3. Highlight again with another shorter stroke, either by adding more yellow or warm white. Keep the brush fairly dry when doing this final highlight.

4. Add vein with a liner brush using a combination of mid to dark greens. Also outline the leaves haphazardly, that is hit and miss. Dont' make the outline so constricting that it goes completely around. Leave gaps here and there and your eye will fill in the rest of the detail. You will find this looks more natural and gives you areas of light and dark.

5. Glaze with Red violet, and this is quite a watery mix. I glaze only one side of the leaf to create a natural shadow.

Lid complete - just have to rub some gold around the edge

Pansie are a yellow mix, pink mix and blue. I used Raw sienna as a toner with all these colours. Paint the petals in strokes curling towards the centre. Edge with Warm white on your liner brush and roll the paint off the brush here and there for a turnback of the leaf.

Centres and stamens are a black colour, I mixed blue and green together to get a browny black and then small yellow or red strokes, and two small warm white comma strokes for the stamens.

Don't forget the calyxs of the flowers too, for the three flowers that are reversed.

Voila, would any twenty one year old girl be disappointed with this as a present from ones Aunt? Well I hope not!!!
Something to ponder about...
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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nordic Reading Challenge - Book Review of Unspoken by Marie Jungstedt

Unspoken by Mari Jungstedt opens with the expectation of a crime about to be committed and when the deceased body is finally found, it is obvious it is a particularly vicious crime. Outwardly it appears to be an open and shut case of an alcoholic ex- press photographer, who is robbed and murdered for his recent winnings, but is this just what it is supposed to look like.  Set in the picturesque and historic villages of Gotland, an island off the coast of Sweden, this novel is the first one I read by this author yet the second in the series ( the first one being Unseen from 2006). I do wonder why she is not more widely known as her writing is pretty good, the level of intrigue  average to above average and there is no way one would suspect the killer until the closing chapters. However, some Crime readers May find this unappealing, particularly those who sometimes get "shat off" with a lack of clues to work who the identity of the killer.

Intertwined in the crime is Jungstedt's tragic story of a teenage girl, the child of a single alcoholic mother, and her personal and lonely story.  One can empathize with the plight of this girl and how her vulnerability allows her to become a victim. When she too is found dead, Detective Knutas is convinced that the murders are linked. But are the readers?

To me, This was a bit of a leap of faith and if I could level a criticism at this book it would be that I would like some more clues in order to make the leap myself, rather than have Knutas autocratically directing the audience.

I loved the descriptive element of the wintry landscape and the visuals the characters give you of their world. I do wish that I had read this series in order so that the main character's personal stories would have held more meaning. The journalist who uncovers important clues, is having an affair with a married woman, and although their story and part in the book is believable, it did become somewhat melodramatic, howeverit could be said that this is a true comment and completely indicative of modern society and the all too often failure of marriages.
To sum up:
The good:  Descriptive elements of scene and empathy I felt for Fanny's tragic story
The Bad:   Sudden and late appearance of any clues to determine the killer
The Ugly:  Leap of Faith that the murders were connected

Add to this the sad fact that there are many more Fanny's out there who thank goodness don't met a foul end, but are left to live out their miserable lonely and desparately unhappy lives. And that unfortunately is Something dark to ponder about....

If you are interested in signing up, go to Nordic challenge 2011 post sign up  at the Notes for the North blog.

Books I have read so far this year:

Stieg Larsson trilogy - parts 2 and 3
Karin Fossum - Black Seconds

Camilla Lackberg - The Preacher
Camilla Lackberg - The Stonecutter
Camilla Lackberg - The Gallows Bird
Jo Nesbø - The Redbreast
Arnaldur Indridason - Hypothermia
Andrea Heiberg - Next Stop: Sejer Island
Mari Jungstedt - Unspoken

Currently reading: Jo Nesbø  - Nemesis


Karin Altvegen - Shame
Camilla Lackberg - The Hidden Child
Jo Nesbø - The Redeemer


Friday, September 2, 2011

Bills' Fabulous Adventures: Maddie on Straddie - Part II

Part 2 of our Straddie Adventure. 

You can take an organized tour of Stradbroke Island run by a very experienced and expensive tour company that takes all day and costs about $100 per head, including lunch.  My eleventh hour call to the Stradbroke Island Tourist Bureau revealed that although this was the quietest weekend on the island, that tour was booked out. Many places are closed during May, but as luck would have it, a local tour guide called Bill, will take you anywhere you want to go, show you the island, all for $35 Adult and $20 per child of any school age. A bargain, I'd say. No lunch included mind. Fine by me.

As we had no private transport on the island, we asked if Bill could pick us up at the nearby point Lookout shops where we had walked to. 'No problem' Bill said. Bill, a local lad and old 'surfie,' who works for the Sand mining company on Straddie, must not have regular clients, as he appears to have given himself a bit of a 'spruce up' just prior to our tour, as there was still hair clippings evident on his collar. With a cheery greeting, Bill informed us that we did have to go back and pick up another guest from our hostel, Mr Owen Wilson.... ooh! a celebrity! Bill couldn't wait. Bit disappointed to find out it was not THE Owen Wilson, but a slighter version with a Kiwi accent from Hamilton.

Bill driving at Stradbroke island beach 4WD track
Bill first took us along the beach near our hostel, at Adder Rock telling us that it was named after the Death Adders so prevalent there! "Not to worry," Bill said, "Step either side of a Death Adder and you won't know about it. But step on it, and you will soon know!"I felt a bit scared for the people in tents at the Adder Rock campsite but they were taking the cheap option! Perhaps this was the origin for Bill's penchant buzzwords to make one smile for the camera...."Say Snakes" he said when snapping our picture!

Freshwater streams running out to sea, forming gutters.
Driving on most beaches is allowed at Stradbroke Island, but you do have to be careful and a speed limit is now imposed upon drivers. Some fools would go hell for leather along the beach, not only endangering swimmers and sunbathers,  but also blissfully unaware of the fresh water gutters that run our to sea at various points along the beach. Despite being a veteran at 4WD beach driving, Bill reduced to a crawl when negotiating these little traps.

Bill likes to collect things during his tours/fishing expeditions along the beaches of Straddie. A series of strange artifacts adorned his truck's dashboard. "Have a look at this, what dya reckon it is?" Bill said in his laconic Aussie drawl.  This pinky white lump stunk like a rotten fish, and Bill revealed it was the horn of a snapper fish, the lump on its head. He had found it washed up, and thought it interesting to collect. (Yuk!)  "Once I caught a $5 note on my fishing line" he told us. Then there was also exhibit B: the swim bladder of a porcupine fish. Yet another item looked like some king of porous black rock wrapped up in an old stained beanie tucked into the sun shield of the car. We had to guess what that was, as well.......Bill gave us a hint that it was used in expensive French perfume.  Being completely stumped he divulged, "It's the gall bladder of a sperm whale", Bill declared. It is called Agoris and apparently fetches over $250.00AUD???  Well, trust the French.

Bill likes to give us an insight into local customs.... "Look, No hands!" he declared as the car travelled along ruts caused by previous vehicles essentially steering itself!

Surf was not "UP" today, but the weather was clear and beautiful and we could see all the way over to nearby Moreton Island. ( A ferry travels between Stradbroke and Moreton at Amity, where we were now headed. (see pic below) This was also the stretch  of water where one can hand-feed friendly dolphins  who scout around fisherman in their small craft looking for any unwanted fish.

Amity jetty where Moreton Island ferry departs once a week.
 Amity is a sleepy village and beach with plenty of cheap cabins and campsites and Bill tells me a great fishing spot. Downside: No surf, not that I mind that so much as the sharks. It is not normally a beach with shark nets, and in 2010 a girl was mortally attacked by a shark. She managed to crawl out of the water and alert other swimmers, but died later from blood loss. So be aware! Please note that since then, they have erected a screened in shark proof swimmers area so that children and family can swim safely.

With binoculars one can see all the way to the skyscrapers of the Gold Coast and Brisbane city from Amity beach and even south to Mt Warning.


Elegant Cormorants are often seen on Straddie's Flinders beach.... as are Sea eagles, and Bills' friend 'Stumpy', the seagull with one leg, the reason for which eluded even Bill. are the local celebrities - the Koala, which whilst still threatened due to the fact that it is an island population, is not in immediate danger. If fact, the island protects it from a lot of the diseases so prevalent in mainland populations.

Bats congregate behind the Stradbroke Island hotel at Point Lookout,  and Kangaroos come down to the beach at sunset. Some have even been seen swimming in the surf!!! Incredible. Surfing Kangaroos, who would have thought it possible. Maybe they use their tail like a fin on a surfboard?

Curlews, Magpies were spotted as were Rainbow lorikeets which were of course, in abundance, enjoying the nectar of the local flora, but what you won't find is a dingo. Dingoes are found on Moreton Island ( the purest breed of dingo and dog in the world!) but on Straddie you only have foxes which came across to the island during the '74 floods ( and perhaps the 2010 ones as well) purportedly from the swellings of the Logan river.

Baited hooks are used to attract sharks out in the open water, on the basis that it will keep sharks away from the divers and swimmers... I don't really have a lot of confidence in this theory. The buoys that hold these hooks can be seen from Gorge Walk or Straddie Hotel verandah.


The headland at Point Lookout is home to a variety of plants that have specially adapted to the harsh windy and salty conditions, such as Kangaroo Grass, Midjim Berry, Pigface, and Beach Bean, (whose bean like seed pods remain viable even after drifting long distances in the sea.)  Asparagus fern is a lovely plant in the garden of a suburban home, but at Straddie it is a pest that has taken over 60% of the headland area and needs to be eradicated. Spraying the weed is one solution whilst a few dedicated volunteers are attempting to regenerate the area with native species. Near the weather station located at the top of a grassy track near the Gorge walk at Point Lookout, signs alerted visitors to this ever present problem.

Dunwich & its historic Cemetery

Dunwich has 10,000 years of Aboriginal history and there is a strong culture here today. Its cemeteries is one of the oldest in Queensland, first being used in 1850 when an immigrant ship, aptly named "Emigrant" quarantined itself at the Dunwich quarantine station due to an outbreak of 'typhus ' on board. Two Doctors and 26 immigrants died as a result, and are buried here.

Dunwich itself is also the location of the schools. Whilst the primary school has a thriving population of 500, the high school might have some racial tension, as there are only 15 pupils enrolled there. Most students catch the ferry over to the mainland schools each day.

In 1886, a Benevolent Institution was built at Dunwich to house the old, the infirm, the disabled, and the inebriated, and for a short time, lepers. It was closed in 1947 and the remaining inmates moved to Eventide at Sandgate. Up to 9000 graves, mostly unmarked are present in the cemetery which overlooks the passage of water and ferry jetty to the mainland. A very peaceful place and one in which my Danish great great grandmother lived and died. She was here until 1922, and lived to the ripe old age of 93, some feat for those times. Remnants of the Dining Hall remain. Some relics and history, including the Coffin stand can be viewed at the Dunwich museum. For current opening hours, please check their site.

Bill told us that the old people loved living at the Benevolent Asylum, although I have also read that in the early days, conditions were harsh, and they were forced to construct their own mattress out of straw. Males and Females were housed in separate dormitories, and there was a common hall were entertainment was provided.

Going off road now we enter the forested area of Stradbroke, where the trails are just sandy paths, through Banksia heath, only just wide enough for the car to get through. It required careful driving along this section as there would often be deep holes filled with tea tree stained water and soft sand underneath. ( Just as well we had an expert driver and a 4WD vehicle).

Xanthorrhea, or Grass tree, known also as Gin, are prevalent here. They have a special mycorrhizal relationship with an enzyme in the soil so that transplanting them is impossible unless you take a good quantity of sand from around their roots with them. If the enzyme is not present, the plant dies. They are extremely slow growing but prized in landscaping and gardens for their unique splendour. The Grass tree's trunks are incredibly fire resistant and when the whole of Stradbroke island burnt some years back in a deliberately lit fire, the grass trees, simply regrew their top green string like foliage and continued on undaunted.

Sand Mining
This industry is the biggest on Straddie and provided for much of the island's employment besides tourism. They mine the sand for silica to make glass. Rutile is a by product which is an ingredient in house paints replacing lead dioxide. Zircon is also used as a glaze for tiles and of course, false diamonds and comes from Rutile.  The Sand mining has had a controversial past, but steps by the company to make it more environmentally responsible and friendly have quietened these voices substantially.

A national park has been declared on the eastern side of the island and Bill told us he wasn't sure the politicians knew that the area they declared a new National park had already been sand mined and rehabilitated long ago.

Brown Lake
Antiseptic Melaleucas at Brown Lake
Bills next stop was at Brown Lake, a freshwater lake 1 km long. The tea trees that fringe the lake give it is characteristic colour and name. There were quite a few swimmers in the lake when we were there, although it was a little chilly. Apparently, tea tree or Melaleuca oil from the tree makes not only a good hair and breath tonic but is also a great antiseptic, and this is believed to be the reason why the Aboriginal women of the island would come here to give birth.

Brown Lake

32 Mile Beach

Owen Wilson at 30 mile beach

Our last and final stop on Bill's Adventure tours, was Main beach. A vast length of straight surf beach,  32 kilometres long. The saddest thing was to see this phenomenon of natural beauty which is on the ocean side of Stradbroke, littered with plastic every metre of its length. Plastic drink bottles being the main offender. I heard a statistic that every day 3.5 million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans, or washed there. I can see that this is more likely an underestimate as time goes on. We must find a way to introduce compostable plastic, as this avoids the toxins in fish and sea birds and marine animals and improves the aesthetics of our beaches.

Shark bite plastic refuse
The white bottle pictured here was interesting for the fact that it contained a beautiful imprint of a shark bite. Bill told us that for some reason sharks are attracted to white. So throw away that white swimsuit if you want to go swimming here. 


The Good: The price and length of tour

I kind of liked Bill Fabulous Adventure Tours and am so glad I did not take the squeaky clean version. In four hours, I learnt more about Stradbroke Island and got to see the kinder side of the Island people.

The Bad: Four hours might be a bit long for some people ( not me )

The Ugly: the stinky snapper fish head on the dashboard

What would Bill be doing today? Does he have more clients to entertain with his pearls of wisdom? I wonder if he has 'gone fishing?' or having  a 'gander' for the ever present whales that can be seen migrating to warmer waters in order to give birth from June to November. Where ever he is, it will be sunny and relaxed, I can assure you.

For more information about Bill's tour contact the Stradbroke Island Tourist Office, a division of Redlands council. or click here Stradbroke Island tourism