A day free of classes is a wonderful excuse to find a new place to walk and explore. Nylah is always keen.

We’ve been in our new house for just over 2 months now so today we decided to go south…well, Nylah didn’t decide. She’s the dog and happily goes where ever I choose.

Over the hill, through the forest and the first village we came to was Hatepe. You’d miss it entirely if you blinked on the main road. But, tucked away in that small spot are lots of homes tucked in close to each other down little lanes and all within spitting distance of the lakefront. The Hinemaiaia River flows into Lake Taupo at the northern end.


It was a cold and blustery day with high winds coming in from the south but we managed to enjoy our exploration as we walked the beach and found some tracks through the bush (a welcome reprieve from the buffeting wind).

Finding a table and bench at one end I decided to do a sketch. (Need to add some bulldog clips to my bag of tricks to help hold the pages down against the wind) and Nylah snuggled in behind to catch a drop of sun as she waited patiently.


By the time I was done my fingers were pretty cold ( my hands were grateful for the fingerless gloves I did have) and the wind was starting to really bite even through my jacket. Time to move on. I love exploring new places and today was no exception. Not even the wind stopped it being a great outing. #Grateful for this beautiful place.


The Best Job ever!

It’s true.

I REALLY do have the best job EVER!!!!!

That’s if you can call it a job, cause most of the time I find it just pure pleasure, and today was no exception.

We had decided a couple of days before that we were going to do it, so we jumped out of bed early to beat the heat and the crowds (good call, I might add)

What an awesome day with the weather man smiling at our pleasure and throwing in PERFECT weather just to top it off.

And at the top I got to ‘work’.


I did some en plein air sketching. Why would you want to waste all that beauty?!


So perched out on a rock I wiled away a couple of hours as other climbers came and went. Taking it all in…the colours…golden summer paddocks… deep green of pine forests…purples of ranges and mountains in the distance(still with some snow)…the light yellow band around horizon to bright blue cloudless skies above…the grey of Taupo town next to a shimmering expanse of lake…

and my favourite for the day, the bright colours of the bush on Mt. Tauhara itself. Looking down on the trees, instead of the usual view from the bottom, showed us a variety of bright greens, almost seagreen blues and best of all, a brilliant yellow that seemed to glow all over. Just WOW!

New Zealand is a beautiful country.




Sun-Filled Days of Summer

In between the storms rolling through you have to make the most of every sunny day. This week has been no exception. So, the dogs and I spent the afternoon at the beach on Lake Taupo, while the storm brewed further south. The wind was excellent at whipping up some waves that were pretty impressive for  a lake. Lots of kids were trying out their body-surfing skills, and Nylah (our water dog) was not being deterred by the size of the waves either. She knows how to leap into them and ride her way back in.

This sketch is very simple and quick. I do like the distance achieved through the colours, but it probably isn’t my favourite.


I thought I had worn her out. Fat chance! Her and the pup romped up and down and all over. Yet a  whole beach to play on and why do they choose to dig directly at my feet? I ended up very precariously balanced on my stool with sketch pad and waterpots balancing on my knee, as my feet kept getting moved further and further apart as these two kept digging a bigger and bigger hole. They shook water all over my sketchpad, then sand followed. We might have a bit of training to do for next time 🙂 They really do know how to enjoy themselves though, and I was grateful for the  light-hearted afternoon enjoying the sunshine.

Although they are very accommodating dogs, they did not oblige me with staying in the same position long enough for me to sketch them. Playing was much more inviting! So, this is where taking a few snapshots on the ever-present phone works great. Drawing came later when we were home and they were sleeping at my feet.


Another blessing that comes from this more settled part of summer is that the farmers around Taupo are in the full swing of hay-making, and as each paddock is cleared my sinus get freer from the dreaded grass allergies that give me a bit of grief. Very grateful for these round bales.

I enjoyed the simplicity of painting these haybales. Then using a non-waterproof pen for the grass in the foreground made an easy way to blend, show movement and depth and all with a few quick scribbles.


Sun-filled days just scream “Ice-cream!”, and so Daughter #2 and I went for a wander that saw us pass the dairy (corner store) and treat ourselves to some creamy  Summer pleasures. The strength of the summer sun and shadows go hand in hand and so when I noticed our shadows I knew instantly that it would be today’s grateful drawing. Simple yet effective at communicating the idea.


Roses, too, love the sunshine. A friend came round and had picked me one of her Monet roses. A very striking yellow rose with bright pink splashes through out. Or is it a bright pink rose with stripes of yellow? She said “it was by an artist and for an artist.” How could I not be grateful for this beauty sitting on my kitchen table. And, yes, it had a beautiful perfume as well.

I did this in washes of yellow and pink and then highlighted the pink even further using watercolour pencils. Roses are always fiddly when done in watercolour because each wash on each petal must dry before the next is applied. But, hey, it was a Monet, so it deserved the effort.


Yesterday, I noted that the weather report is predicting more settled weather for the later part of summer. Definitely in for that and I am sure the dogs are too. So there may be more sunny grateful sketches coming…Bring it on!



New Toys

New toys in the art studio are SOOO exciting! And this trip to the art store saw me bringing home a set of Winsor and Newton watercolour markers.

Hamilton is a town around the river and so there always seems to be a bridge waiting to be drawn.


As you can see the markers are highly pigmented making for really vivid paintings. I started with a pack of six colours, so the palette is a bit limited. However, they do blend really well when the individual colours are placed next to each other. As the paint tended to dry quite quickly, I found I had to be thinking ahead, have the water ready for immediate application and needed quite a bit of water. In saying that, though, I must clarify that very little ink was actually needed in the first place…a little went a long way… and initially using too much ink was probably my biggest mistake in this sketch. Overall I am reasonably happy with this first attempt.

The next day we crossed yet another bridge which happened to be lined with these beautiful old-fashioned lights. Too much to resist, so I had another go, but this time trying to gain a little more control.


In this sketch I applied a lot less ink which worked well. I did the lamp first and then moved to the surrounds. This led to discovering that the ink lifts very easily even though already dried. Now  my nice crisp edges on the lamp became a little blurred. Going over the edges with the fine nib end (the markers come with a different nib at each end – fine and brush) helped to rectify this. They are still not as crisp as I would like and so next time I will be careful to not let the water touch beyond the line.

Application of the ink was brilliant when the paper was loaded with water. Really fun to watch explode through the water…might have done it a few times just for the enjoyment factor 🙂 For some areas where I wanted only a little colour and a lot of control I wet the end of the nib first which meant the amount of ink being released was greatly reduced. This worked well.

I can see lots of applications where these markers will be brilliant such as over the top of colour already laid down to give definition and ‘pop’ or really quick sketches on the run. This is definitely only the beginning of my journey with watercolour markers. I will keep you posted.

Have you used them? How did you find them? Do leave a comment below so we can all learn from each others experiences. Learning is invaluable.


Clean Sheets

That day that you make the effort to change the sheets, air the bed well and have it all remade as well as doing lots of other jobs about the place.

By the time you get to climb into bed you are pretty tired and being horizontal is a blessed relief. As you slip your feet down between the sheets you get that tingle of joy (well, I do) as crisp. clean sheets say hi to your skin.

This was my delight as I relished the crackle of these cotton layers enveloping me.

#Grateful for this joy

Ironing It Out

I am NOT a fan of ironing! There, I’ve admitted it. It’s true that things look lovely all pressed and sharp, but the effort and time involved doesn’t balance it out in my books to make it a priority.

The solution to this Martha Stewart dilemma… everyone does their own ironing in our house. If you want it ironed, then YOU iron it! And this goes for hubby as well. I don’t discriminate 🙂

So, when I happened upon his washed and as yet unpressed shirts I decided to be especially kind and give him a love gift. Thankfully, we have a slightly more modern version than the one drawn so it didn’t take quite as much effort and time as Great Grandma would have had to expend.

As I moved systematically through the shirts making each wrinkled corner look fresh and crisp again, I found myself relishing this opportunity to do a little something to ease his burden at this busy time for him. Then it dawned on me that I was being grateful for an opportunity to serve my darling dearest.

I smiled satisfied.



All Dressed Up

We’ve been the proud owners of this little car for two years now and one of the first things I asked for was new hubcaps…it had just one 😦 .

Well, life comes and goes and we come and go with it, and the car has been used by all the kids at various times as they have needed wheels and a few other people as well. It’s been a real blessing to us.

During that time we have done some repairs and some tidying up but those hubcaps somehow just never quite got on the list. Until now!

We smiled together at the two year wait for such a little item.

I smiled at how dressed up she now looked with her new attire.



The Gentleman

  1. 1.
    a chivalrous, courteous, or honourable man.
    Although I am quite capable of getting my bike out of the garage by myself, that chivalrous man keeps doing it for me…His kind favours in my direction. A little love gift each time we go riding together.
    His considerate behaviour has not gone unnoticed.
    #Grateful for this gentleman  who constantly looks for ways to make my life more pleasant. It’s not about the path our lives take but, rather, the tone in which it is walked that makes the difference.

Not Quite Super Woman Enough

A friend had told me that she had done it. I had always wondered but now decided to give it a go.

The day was set.

Family organized…or, at least, warned.

And now that I had committed it was growing…at an alarming rate, which actually means that alarm bells were beginning to ring in my head that there was no way I could accomplish all that was on that fast-growing list.

Prioritize, that’s what I would do, and just do the best I could.

Well, it didn’t take very long for me to realise that I had underestimated the entire job and there was NO WAY I could even do the top priorities which is when that adorable son said he volunteered all the kids to help, including himself.

Of course,a family project always has my darling dearest at the helm steering my ideas away from their natural implosion…(They might be great ideas but I am not always known for practicality or logic…that’s where we make such a fantastic team 🙂 )

Cars, couches and carpets… and all in  eight hours with machine returned.

They worked liked Trojans on their holiday. Furniture moved throughout the house. Vacuuming inside. Vacuuming outside. Carpets all shampooed. Furniture moved back. Washing cars. All upholstery cleaned. Detailing done. Couches all cleaned and smelling like … not daisies exactly, but, very fragrant cleaner. And then, as a grande finale,  the boys even cooked dinner.

I looked around the table so grateful for them all. Grateful that they had made a near disaster into a successful day filled with laughter and good will. (They have learnt well from their Daddy who is brilliant at this.)  Grateful for all their extra muscles and smiles when I berated myself for not being quite Super Woman Enough.Grateful for a very clean house, but, most of all, grateful to be a part of this AWESOME family!


Peas in a Pod

Summer evenings spent watering the garden and enjoying a pod of peas (Okay…a few).

It’s a joy that spells warm summer days and sunshine.