Monday, 8 October 2012

From my brush

My mother used to lament, “I can never find any pens, they’re all in Vicki’s room!”

It’s true. From a young age, I was always doodling, sketching, drawing. If a pen happened to be in my presence, I would use it to draw something or other, mostly dogs and horses - especially their eyes. And so, they would gravitate back to my room.
Pens were my friends. Art was my solace.

Throughout school, I enjoyed creating art with all the mediums presented to us. Charcoal, pastels (chalk and oil), watercolours, acrylics, various mixed media, including fabric.

 fabric painted owls

For a short term in high school, we explored clay. I fell in love with the wonderfully earthy, tactile, sticky ‘mud’ that allowed me to lose myself and form whatever came from deep within. It hooked me and I loved it.
I remember sitting quietly, totally absorbed. And before I knew it, I had sculpted a horse head. I was indeed very proud of myself. The hundreds of horses I sketched came through my hands into 3D!
After it had been fired, and before I could take it home, my sculpt was stolen. Gone, but my first clay art not forgotten.

Repeated requests to my mother to buy clay and take my interest further were denied – “too messy and a waste of time, do something useful… and cleaner” she told me time and again.
Sadly, I placed my new found love for this medium on a high shelf. I had to say goodbye to my new friend… ‘til we'd meet again.

Fast forward to years later, in another time and place - my “Secret Hollow”. I began to study the birds around our property. And then, began to paint them. Mostly on native wood to complement them. Native birds on native wood.

Most of my work was sold to international tourists through a gift shop within a premier location in our beautiful country-coastal town. I often wondered what far off places my little birds flew to.
The brilliant violet-blue Splendid Blue (fairy) Wrens were most popular. These dear little birds were so loved in our little corner of South Western Australia.
The forest surrounding our cottage was home to many families of wrens. I enjoyed listening to their trilling little calls so much whilst we lived there.
It seemed perfectly natural to paint them. A kind of homage.

  Sacred Kingfisher

I painted most birds on wood pieces about 7.5cm by 10cm (3” x 4”). So, they were pretty small. At the time, I loved working in miniature.

spot the odd one out... a bandicoot!

I was also asked to paint lace bobbins for the local lace guild – and that’s tiny work!
Seriously, I don’t think my eyes would be up to painting that small anymore. But, it certainly was fun at the time. I challenged myself to see how small I actually could paint without losing detail. One of my trusty tiny brushes had only a few hairs in the ferrule!
 three photos of lace bobbin segmented to show an inch high Red-Winged Wren

I would also paint birds on clocks – a favourite, along with decorative plates.

Red Breasted Robins

I also painted portraits of animals. Many were at the request of dog clubs.

As an animal lover, I had a lot of joy painting them. And it was always so rewarding to hear the appreciative comments on how I captured their companions’ likeness.

I did get some odd requests for animals or birds cut out as doorstops. And, a carousel horse was a favourite project!

 commissions for a professional knife maker 

Hickory Dickory

I don’t paint a lot these days. Instead, an old 'friend' from long ago reawakened the memory of a dusty shelf, and reminded me that, “it's time to go on a different journey”. There were new paths to explore.

More on that in a future post.

*Apologies for the poor resolution in some images. They are scans of photos taken way back with my old camera – before the digital age :)


  1. i thought there were no words for the last post.
    i am speechless with delight.
    well . . . as speechless as i ever get. lol.
    such exquisite creatures.
    starting with the owl and the stars behind his little self. you captured light!
    and it just kept getting better and better.
    and such loss.
    first your stolen horse. then your mom stealing away the budding artist in you who wanted to work with clay.
    thank goodness you re-found that gift.
    can't wait to see more and more!
    and the pictures came out wonderfully well . . .
    digital or not!
    lovin' you dear little artist in oz,
    lovin' you.

    1. Thanks Tam. Your wonderful words of support mean a lot to me :)

  2. hahahaha! confession time here.
    i actually came by to take another walk in the beautiful park of last post.
    and found this wonderful new one.
    now i'm going back and take that virtual walk.
    it will give me something to picture when i'm on
    my own real walk here today. :)

    1. Hope you had a lovely walk - both real and virtual. :)

  3. stopping back by to enjoy the pictures again.
    i swear . . . the one of the robins is even better than
    anything audubon ever did! they are beautiful.
    hope you're sculpting in clay to your heart's content right now!

    1. Thank you sweetie! And, yes, I've been playin' with the clay :)

  4. help !!! i don't know how to get to your etsy shop!
    i'm not seeing it here. ??
    i'm missing how to do it somehow.

    1. It's OK - it's me not putting the Etsy button on here yet - will do soon, promise :)

  5. Just LOVE seeing about your abundant creativity, Vicki! You have a magical way of capturing the spirit of animals...especially birds--they are sooo charming! :o) Those lace bobbins are so cuter--very clever! I look forward to seeing more. :o) Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

    1. Thanks Tracy! I love birds so much and find them inspirational. They are such free little spirits. And I could listen to birdsong all day - especially blackbirds.

      Hope you have a lovely weekend creating :)

  6. I am lost in admiration! I wonder where your creative clay-play will take you?

    1. Thank you! I certainly am enjoying the journey, where ever it takes me, I'm so happy to be along :)


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