Saturday, June 25, 2011

The "Archies"

My local town holds its own version of Australia's Archibald Prize - the "Archies".

And I won it with my paper portrait of Josephine! How chuffed am I!

This is the lovely man who sponsors the prize - Robert E. Clark. In the background are some of the other entries.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yellow Box Eucalyptus Tree

I am blessed to live on a beautiful part of Australia's farming land. I look out my office window and see kangaroos, kookaburras, rosellas, swallows, eagles and beautiful cloud formations.

This is a Paper Cut of a particularly magnificent old tree - a yellow box eucalyptus - that shelters both our farmed and native animals.

The cut piece measures 55cm x 36cm. Cut by hand over 2 long nights.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


This portrait was done for my dear friend. It is her grand-daughter who was fatally injured in a car accident on Christmas Eve 2009, when her car rolled and her laptop hit her in the temple.

Please do not carry such loose items in your car - put the under the seat or in the boot.

The original photo had a very mauve cast, which I kept.

18 different coloured papers, 12 layers.

Each work takes the best part of 7 days. 2 - 3 planning the work, making the layers, choosing colours. Another part of a day gathering the papers and canvas. 1 - 2 cutting and another 1 - 2 applying the sealers. As I get more comfortable with the technique however and make sure to keep good records of each face, the time passes easily.

I did use a spray glue on one face, but it is too risky. The different papers absorb the glue at a different rate and have sometimes come partially adrift. I don't want that "fear", so back to the runny glues.

Tami & Sascha

This is my oldest daughter Tami and her husband Sascha, both relaxing after her sister's wedding, mellowed out, half asleep.

One of the things I have learned is to make sure I get the eyes right. So the layers are built around the eyes, rather than the eyes added after. I spend a lot of time planning the layers before I cut anything.

I now have to learn to take better photographs of the finished portraits!

I experimented with this work, taking the features of the faces out of solid black. Tam feels I should keep the paper real, ie not varnish it, as she feels it takes away from the reality of using paper. She may be right.

After I complete each work, it sits on my piano until it goes to the owner. I get so used to having "company" that when the face goes I feel a little lonely. Especially when the faces are so dear to me.

I have a couple of faces to do for friends, but I am also working on using the same technique to make scenes. And my sister wants Robbie Williams to come and live with her - even if only in paper!


Because I was creating this portrait for an exhibition, I took care to use what I had learned with the earlier works to make this as good as I could.

In the photo Jo was wearing a bowler hat, but the photo was so dark and shaded, that it took a lot of thought to work out how to create that realistically. In the end I simply cut a whole hat and head shape, then layered a brim only over that, with a "ribbon" layer along the hat's brim, making sure to cut it in a different direction so the warp of the paper showed as the ribbon. I was really pleased with the result as it had held me up for several days working out how to cut it.

At the exhibition, it was shown with a spotlight shining straight on it and it looked fantastic! Thank you Kalari Winery and Pamela! At the opening Anne Morton, a local artist with international recognition called me an artist. You can imagine how pleased I was.

Jo is a vivacious lady, I am happy I caught that in her portrait.

There is 12 layers in Jo's face and 16 different coloured papers. I used a gloss sealer on this one. I felt because the background is so black, the gloss gave it some extra life.

Judy Garland

In my mad fervour to create faces, I made a Judy Garland for my friend Jo who has a theatrical background, singing and acting for many years until MS confined her to her home.

She and her husband built a straw-bale house, with a mud floor. The most relaxing grounded home I have ever been in. Jo has a studio making her own CD's - if you enjoy beautiful music it's worth a visit.

The photo of the completed design didn't come out so well, so you get my working design here until I can get a better one. 8 layers and 14 different colours.

My mum

This is my mum Kathy. I made this for her 80th birthday from a photo taken at a family wedding.

Often the background colour is easy, sometimes there are several that have potential. Eventually I just feel more comfortable with one colour and the others go. (I used to do the same thing when I was working on a quilt design. Lay all the fabrics on the loungeroom floor, move around and past them for several days and gradually some would have to go, others would leap out and take pride of place, sometimes even changing the whole colour flow taking me back to the start.)

With this portrait, the background was very tricky. I wanted to use a silvery paper which blended really well with the work, but my husband felt the purple made the colouring and her facial features really stand out.

As you can see the purple won!

Mum and dad are very keen gardeners, not often dressed up, so I put little rhinestones on each earring to add to her gorgeousness! 20 different coloured papers, 8 layers.

Elvis again

This is a much simpler version of Elvis - only 4 colours and 4 layers.

I have been trying to decide whether to varnish the portraits or not - probably only with a matt protective layer. With this one I used a semi-gloss and it absorbed into the paper somewhat. A lesson there!

Elvis Presley

I was persuaded to make this portrait for the Elvis Festival held in Parkes every January.

However the portrait turned out to be a lot more complicated than my earlier ones. There was way more shadow and light in the face, with a broken highlight on each side of the face.

It was definitely a learning experience!
8 - 9 layers and 16 different coloured papers.

On the "technical" side, I have been haunting every paper shop within 2 hours of my home and gathering swatches of their papers. My aim is to be able to match each portrait with papers I know I can get easily. Got myself a handy little knife, that has a finger rest so your hand is kind of sitting over the blade, rather than your finger applying all the pressure. Hugely easier to use.

My grand-daughter's Portrait

This is my gorgeous little grand-daughter Amelia Grace. She and her mum, Amber - my second daughter live a long way away and we miss them. I made this for Amber's birthday.

This is my first "living" portrait. Because Meli is a child, her face is unlined and free of wrinkles, shadows and other marks of life, so her portrait was clear and clean to do.

The difficulty was in finding the right paper to show the clarity of her beautiful little face without using white. I ended up getting a gorgeous French Vanilla cardstock that had a touch of flesh colouring.
This is the original photo - you can see how close the portrait is to the original.

12 layers, 16 coloured papers.

A close-up of her face, showing the texture of the cardstock.

I loved creating the coloured layers of her dress.

Frida Kahlo - black & white cross stitch design

I mentioned I do the cross-stitch graphs for my daughter's business. She is a Bespoke Designer, making any and every thing a client requires. Over the years, she has made leather belts, snakeskin cushions, patchwork beards for a photographer's portfolio, the most gorgeous cutwork suede scarves, fabric covered dollshouses and a fabric dress for a chair! All sorts of wonderful things.

Sydney Design calls her "one of Sydney's most respected craft specialists." How cool is that!

Inside Out Magazine calls her one of the top 35 craft designers in Australia. Do I sound like a proud mum or what.

Her Six Week Boutique carries the creative kits she puts together and the current emphasis is on cross-stitch letters - you can use them to create words, quotes, etc.

I did Frida in b & w cross-stitch both as a test to see how it would come out, as a gift for her, and as a saleable thought process for me.

Frida Kahlo

Portrait #2 is Frida Kahlo, the great Mexican artist. I read her biography many years ago and was struck by the massive health issues she suffered and she was compelled to put her pain into the amazing paintings she did. Many were created while she was lying on her back in her sick-bed.

Today, we take a day off for a head-ache.

I made Frida for my eldest daughter, who is the bread-winner for her family, as her husband lives with MS. Although he will have times when he can't feel his fingers and toes, he plays the most beautiful guitar music, singing all genres of music. It has always been an accompaniment to his life.

They can appreciate Frida, I believe. She sits on Tam's office desk.

A close-up. 9 layers and 11 different coloured papers.

A close-up of her shawl. The background paper, with the aged edges was a delight to find as it put the whole image back into Frida's times.

Jesus Christ - my first paper portrait

This is my very first Paper Portrait.

A portrait of Jesus I made for my very dear friend Helen. She tells me the eyes show different emotions at times - I could see sadness.

This is a close-up showing the 8 layers on the face. Altogether there is 11 different coloured papers and it took 5 days to design, cut and finish. The beard was tricky, but I am very pleased with my first effort. I was lucky enough to find an old rubbley-wall paper for the background - just perfect. The canvas size is 30cm x 40cm.

Hi - introducing myself and my work.

I have been a craftswoman for decades. My passion has always been with fabric and fibre - embroidery, cross-stitch, tapestry, patchwork, applique, sewing and for a while, beading and folk art. I taught for many years, made commission work, sold through shops and markets, entered exhibitions, had my work published. I even had a very successful novelty cake decorating and chocolate making business.

Then, through particular circumstances I found myself working for a boss and my passion died. In recent years I have been trying to resurrect it and just could not find the fervour to create - the stitchery remained a hobby only, the fabric work just could not be revived. The only thing I had energy for was photography and Photoshop.

My daughter is Tamara Maynes, and her work has revived many of the old crafts into the modern settings. I help her with any Photoshop work she needs done and in recent times have been making the charts for her cross-stitch designs. That made me more and more interested in finding my craft.

My husband and I have finally decided it is time to sell our farm, get a caravan and go wandering for a couple of years. We have spent many nights working out how to create an income along the way.

I looked through all my boxes of ideas, searching for something I could do in the confines of the van, that could be a market-place and internet seller and would not take much storage space or carry much weight.

At first I thought it was going to be the photography and photo manipulation - I just adore the opportunities my computer offers!

Then I learned how to create Fractals and began turning many into cross-stitch and tapestry designs. My original idea was to work on graphs for the stitch-work and create themed applique patterns, leaning towards difficult expert-only designs.

I spent many months tossing so many ideas around and realized that the best thing I could do was make a list of all the things I loved and then work out how to put them together to create my "thing".

I love paper of all kinds, coloured pens and pencils, graph paper, photographs & pictures, writing and cutting things out. (I had realized that when I was stressed out I would sit and cut out recipes, pictures and ideas for hours!)

I knew Scrapbooking wasn't my thing, I am not a painter or drawer, so the only thing left, as you can see, was paper cutting!

So I did some massive research, reading blogs, notes on Scherenschnitte, Mexican cutting, Chinese cutting, paper architecture and pop-up cards; looking and admiring the work on the galleries of the top paper cutters in the world.

I didn't want to copy, I wanted to find my own work. And I have done.

In December of 2010, I created two Paper Portraits as gifts. I loved every minute of making them and I have found my passion. I hope you enjoy my work.