Category Archives: My Art

Art Experiments: Natural Pigments Plus…


Art experiment in progress. My apologies for ignoring this blog, but I’ve been learning as well as teaching myself new things. I’ve been side-tracked from blog writing. It has been an interesting time of working out and documenting what works with natural pigments and what to avoid when I make art.

This test work of a Trobriand (PNG) grass skirt has been painted and (poured on) with tea, coffee, turmeric, David Smith watercolours, watercolour ground on watercolour canvas. I’ve not used watercolour canvas before; it is quite soft and drinks less water than paper. I hope you like it.

We started our Creative Writing Workshop three weeks ago and this week tutor Isabel D’ Avila Winter gave us a fun exercise. Basically it teaches the technique of how to write a story by making connections. Class members chose and exchanged two words, a noun and an abstract noun and in ten minutes we free wrote whatever story that came into our heads in connection with those two words. Try it with your friends or a pal sometimes. You just don’t know what you can come up with. I had the words “happiness” and “feather” – which has probably led me to painting a grass skirt. For those of you that understand Papua New Guinea culture, you’ll know what I’m talking about – singsing. You can find more on singsing and related subjects in my previous posts and once I clean up the copy from the two-noun exercise, I’ll post it here.

Hanuabada Outskirts Watercolour Completed


 

Hanuabada Outskirts watercolour is completed. I have decided not to put in any more houses. It was interesting when painting and looking at the original reference picture below (taken by My Place Allen) that I discovered people inside some of the houses. Apart from the lady in the foreground, I captured a man sitting under the clothesline in the background, but I left out a few people in the middle houses. Yes…this could be a story.

All the my art shown on this blog are for sale. We offer both originals and limited edition prints. I also paint commissions. If you are interested, email joycelinleahy@gmail.com

 

Outskirts Hanuabada – Watercolour Painting


Hanuabada Village outskirts, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

I have been wanting to paint these houses on stilts for a long time. Several villages in PNG have houses on stilts including Hanuabada, the largest village in the capital.

Although the area I am studying is quite large, I singled out a few houses on the outskirts that villagers painted with some of my favourite colours.

I hope to finish the painting this weekend.

Tell me of you like these work in progress shots.

 

Kalam Warrior – Watercolour


A serious moment for this young Kalam warrior, from Simbai, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. Kalam people are famous for the exquisite green fruit beetle headdresses.

 

Feather Challenge – Watercolour


Hi Tribalmystic friends and family,

I am painting more watercolours and that’s why I’ve been silent on this blog. It feels like I’m telling a story in a different way and this is very fulfilling. I have a few assignments to finish but I wanted to share one of these ‘stories’. Here I am working through an artwork of a young woman from Simbu, Papua New Guinea. I love her headdress and feathers.  Birds are interesting and amazing creatures, but when you paint so many bird feathers, it is quite challenging. And because I love lorikeets and have raised them – there  is the guilt …of the dead birds, but there’s another story – culture, nature conflict…

Anyway, I think I have almost got the Kina shells right, but the challenge of the feathers takes time. It also gives me more pleasure to learn and practice. Google Papua New Guinea culture if you want to see some real headdresses of fantastic colours, shapes and feathers.

I hope you like Meri Simbu II. I painted Meri Simbu the first six years ago and due to her popularity, it was no surprise when a client asked me for a new version. Meri Simbu II is about 800+mmx1200+ big, so I have to do small sections and pay attention to the details at the same time. The first Meri Simbu was no larger than an A4 paper size.

I will be back to stories soon. Thank you for continuing to visit the Tribalmystic blog and thank you to all those who have emailed personally me and for the birthday wishes for today.

 

 

Lapun Man Simbu – Old man from Simbu – Art


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This is a work in progress. Old man from Simbu, Papua New Guinea is a painting challenge to myself to paint larger (work) with better light and skin tone. I love the traditional dresses and particularly the headdresses from Simbu, a highlands province that is very rich in culture. I painted a young woman from Simbu a few years ago and was asked, why haven’t I painted a male from the same area. Good question. I had never thought of it. So I picked up the brush, filled the re-cycled jars with water…and, am still working on the old man from Simbu.

I found this exercise exhilarating because to get the painted black face separated from his normal brown skin and give him a background – all in dark colours was tricky. I hope you like him.

Birds Frolicking: Watercolour


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Painting in negative first or negative painting was a skill I accidentally discovered when I painted this watercolour. It happened during my early years of painting watercolour in 2008. This work slowly took form as I tried to figure out how to leave almost half of the paper in white to reveal the pelicans.  All I needed to do was give the birds the water and some background. YouTube makes it so easy these days. You can also learn to paint in the negative very quickly on Pinterest.

I gave this painting away as a gift to a dear friend, but it was an important work of technique discovery for me. It is also a study that I would like to paint again some day.

 

Kau Kau Cuttings – Watercolour


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Kaukau Cuttings. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

My mother and I have been planting Kaukau or sweet potato cuttings. We hope, we will soon stop buying the good kaukau at Coles for $9 per kilogramme. The cheaper – $6 per kg kaukau, is tasteless, so we took the expensive one and tried to grow it.

It was natural to have kaukau on my mind when I painted my first watercolour this year. Women is Papua New Guinea, especially in the highlands, share kaukau cuttings and this is how they transport the leaves – in bilums. Sometimes they would be given the cuttings by friends and family members. Other times they bring the cuttings from the garden home to plant near their houses.

In fact, it weren’t for my mother being in Brisbane, I wouldn’t plant kaukau because it is too much work. The soil is too dry and if rain does grow the tuber; hare, possums, rats and who knows what else, eat the leaves. Often the animals dug for the tubers as well. This time we used bamboo stakes and placed a net around the garden. My mother was determined.

I had to give in to this planting, because my mother would not give up. And now, I’m glad I went along with her. We planted two species, one was our favourite Hawaiian kaukau from Coles.  Another kaukau called wan mun (one month) was given to us by my friend Marina. That term wan mun meant literally in one month we would eat the tuber. That has not happened yet. I’m not surprised because the conditions here are tough.

We are still waiting for the one month kaukau to bear and it is now three months. The Hawaiian sweet potato is white skinned and purple inside. I chopped the tips off and grew them in a drum until the shoots were strong enough to transfer to the garden. It was a long process.

Kaukau Cuttings II. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

Unlike the women I had painted and their gardens, the kaukau in our garden seemed to take forever to grow. I remember growing it in the humid Lae (PNG) climate. Six months gone in Brisbane, and we now start to see the kaukau leaves spread and grow rapidly. I stuck my fingers under soil to see whether there were really any tubers – and there are. I was inspired to really bring these tubers to harvest. I will post some pictures here at harvest time. I don’t know when that is.

“We have to wait for a few more months”, my mother said. This was because, she said the hot summer and then hail storms last year killed off all the leaves and then the surviving tubers re-grew new shoots. We cut the stems and planted more. Now my son has this crazy idea we could build a larger garden to grow more. (I don’t think so...I muttered under my breath).

I hope you enjoy my watercolours and I will keep you posted on the sweet potatoes.

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Women & Kaukau Cuttings II. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

 

 

Art – Graphite Drawing and Drinking


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JK.Leahy graphite drawing: Travelling Hammock. 2016.

This art I made from graphite or pencil drawing has a lot of softness from smudging with water. I used an old toothbrush and my hands. I gave new life, a Papua New Guinean scenery in the background to the mother and baby, I had previously drawn. Since this part of the drawing process was taken, I added a pig pen in front of the first hut and more details to the foreground.

At this point in making the artwork, I had stopped working because ten minutes earlier, I accidentally drank a whole cup of graphite water, thinking it was my drinking water. I was thirsty, but not that thirsty. It just so happened that my older son Nathan had set the cup of my drinking water next to the cup I was washing the graphite in.I did not know what I drank; I was too absorbed in the work even when I thought the ‘water’ did taste funny. Ten minutes later, I became so thirsty again so  when I reached out for the cup – I noticed the difference and went outside thinking I would throw up.

In a slight panic, my younger son Chris rang 000 here in Brisbane and then got put through to the “poison centre” and was told, “your mum will be ok”. I was told to drink plenty of water and milk.

Well mum is ok. Apart from a very dry throat and mouth for a few hours, I felt alright.

I am guessing that drinking water contaminated with medium must be a very common mistake for many people who make art. Feel free to share what you have eaten or drank that you shouldn’t have – like your art material.