An ‘Eeyore Weather’ Day

Week 5: HATEPE

Latitude: -38.856212

Longitude: 176.014326

I fell in love with the quaint cottages all grown topsy-turvy and nestled in close to each other with little lanes almost too narrow to drive down connecting them all. Once again we didn’t have enough time here to paint all I’d like to have a ‘go at’. I’ll have to pop back over the hill another day.



Found a great website telling the history of Hatepe. It describes it perfectly. Have a read here. They definitely got it right. Being the end of Autumn and a grey. blustery kind of day with lots of showers, we didn’t see the fishing, hiking, type activities. In fact, we saw only one fisherman returning from a romp up the river away from the blustery winds, and no one else at all. Wisely, they must have been all bunkered down inside keeping out of the weather’s way.

We were holed up in Claire’s van each painting the view from a different window and being thankful that the rain couldn’t get us. Memories are made this way. Despite the weather, I am really glad we made the effort to go. Out painting new sights with like-minded friends is a great way to spend an ‘Eeyore weather’ day. Much better than staying at home.



Too Hot For LongJohns

Week 4: Waitahanui River

Latitude: -37.83333

Longitide: 176.5999976

It was too hot for longjohns, but who was to know. It had been a cold wind blowing through us all for a few days, like Winter was nearly here. So we came out to sketch all prepared to ward off the cold drafts that seep through your jacket and up between your layers. We had beanies and jackets, vests and longjohns. We were prepared.

But we had prepared for the WRONG season!

This day was an Autumn picture-perfect, glorious sunny day with clear blue skies and virtually no wind at all. We were UNprepared for this surprise gift.

Starting at the river mouth we listened to the rhythmical slosh slosh of the gentle waves. Seagulls standing perfectly still for an age staring out to the far shores. Ducks and swans  enjoying a gentle paddle in the still waters. All of us dotted around sketching the vista before us…


the bar and lake view…


turning 180 in the same spot and sketching the State Highway 1 Bridge over the Bridge pool. 

Doug and Shirley had come to fish just to make sure that we had some people fishing. The recent bad weather had sent everyone back inside and yet, Waitahanui River is renown for it’s Trout fishing, especially Rainbow trout of really good size. To make our drawings authentic to this area we needed some fisherman doing their stuff. It made a good study for us all drawing moving people casting those lines out, the flash of light on the nylon skimming across the water, trying again to reach another eddy. Sadly for them there wasn’t much fishing luck, but they had lots of appreciation for their efforts to help our sketching.


Eventually though we also began to give up one by one as we got soo hot sitting by the river edge with as many layers as was decent already stripped off. One expiring sweetheart came over to say she was leaving as she just had to go home and take her longjohns off. Even the most awesome sketching opportunities and fantastic company need to stop when it’s  too hot for your longjohns. 

Next week we’ll be better prepared… hopefully.

A Great Group of Birds

Latitude -38.71068303 Longitude 176.08646320

Week 3 of #360in365. (week 2 was a public holiday here in NZ, being ANZAC Day)

Our destination was Kaiwaka Point. To be honest none of us have ever heard it called this, but the map had it named and Uncle Google agrees, so who are we to disagree. Kaiwaka Point it is.

Trying to find a spot out of the wind to draw, while still keeping that all important sun…Autumn is really here now… we enjoyed a lovely spot sporting golden Autumn colour in the trees with ducks and swans hiding in the sheltered bay as well.


I love the camaraderie as we all have a go at painting the same scene together. They’re a great group of birds. ‘Nana Wendy’ gives the kids an ‘on the spot’ art lesson. We all have a giggle when she falls off her stool rather less than gracefully. But we do love the gift of joy she brings with her.


After saying ‘Goodbyes’ I go to the next bay to continue sketching as I have a while to kill till my next appointment in town. Picking up my paints to carry on I am suddenly aware of quite a few visitors…the girls have come for tea! Ducks sporting fashionable rust reds with blue bonnets, or demure browns and fawns are waddling right up to my seat…another great group of birds!

Trying not to move too suddenly I surreptitiously take a few photos so I can paint these girls in to my sketch later, though they seemed so eager to stay and chat that I think I could have drawn them from life quite easily. Maybe next time…



Hasn’t it Been A While

Well, hasn’t it been a while since I’ve written on my blog. I wish I could say I have been sunning myself in Tahiti…don’t we all?…but, instead we have shifted into a wonderful little ‘do-er upper-er’. With no fences on some sides and rotten fences on others, we have been running since the moment we got here. It’s also a down-sizing event as there are no children left at home now. I didn’t realize how hard it is to part with ‘stuff’ until committing to this venture. To start with every room and the garage too where bulging at the seams and as the year has progressed I have worked my way from room to room culling and re-culling. It’s still a work in progress.

As for art, I spent the last year of shifting and culling, teaching a range of art classes while my own creativity languished in a corner. This present year has seen my studio space begin to emerge and with it a few fun ventures back into creative land including a new adventure that began today.

Having bought our own little piece of paradise I decided it was time to learn about my new backyard. I know it’s the biggest freshwater lake in Australasia but I’ve never circumnavigated it, and would love to explore more. So, full of zeal and craziness I have committed to sketching my way around the entire lake in one year. Our new adventure is called #360in365.

A few brave souls have expressed interest at coming along with me as they are able which will be really nice to have their company and encouragement…I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew, but, hey, it wouldn’t be the first time!!!

So, today we started here at home with a visit to Huka Falls. Nothing like starting big where you have people looking over your shoulder all morning…sorry, Claire…and a subject that is quite difficult. Perhaps we should have gone the other way around the lake…too late now. The rain held off beautifully till our first sketch was done and then we sat in the car to sketch the local kiosk. Busloads of tourists from every country were bustling around and providing us with entertainment as we tried to get them quickly down on paper.

Didn’t take long though and being true women we got talking with both the art and the tourists falling off our radar. Nothing quite like a good chinwag to get you all connected and satisfied with life.

So, until next week’s adventure, here’s my sketches from today. Enjoy.


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Pakira Marae Opening in Waitahanui

A special day was dawning so in the dark  we all gathered outside waiting to be welcomed in. The call went out and slowly the crowd moved through. We filed along with them expectant. Ipads and camera flashes illuminating the dark along with fire drums emitting both light and heat. The drone overhead capturing the moments for everyone. Such a variety of people…plenty of colour amidst the sea of black clothes.

Arriving at the door of the meeting house we followed the example of those before and took our shoes off carrying them with us to avoid the incredible confusion that would occur if a thousand shoes were left at the door and you had to try and retrieve a matching pair afterwards (that appealed to my messed up brain and I saw a cartoon emerging 🙂 )


I was amazed standing in the line outside as to how many people reached up and touched the carving over the door. Inside was even more so. Admiration abounding for  the artwork and carvings with lots of ooh’s and aahs and affectionate touching of the works. Imagine going into the Louvre and touching the paintings? It wouldn’t be allowed and yet here it was pretty standard practice. A tactile people, maybe?


Finding a corner out of the road of the masses I had a go at capturing the scene in front of me. I may have no reason to come back here and I want to remember the insides well. Panels interspersed the woven walls with a panel for Ratana and another in the centre top. A big carved statue was on the floor in the middle.  A simple design, but very effective.


People gathered outside and through the wharekai (Foodhouse or kitchen). SO many catchups and conversations. People greeting each other with the traditional hongi and a kiss. There were soooo many scenes and interesting people that I would have loved to sketch but I need to do more work on honing my ‘fast’ skills…30 seconds or less is a pretty hard call.

After breakfast at the local community hall there was a Haka Powhiri.  Good, loud and fierce. Then inside again for speeches and song.  After a few speeches, a man in a blue suit stood and began to sing. A beautiful voice and right on key. Many joined him and some with harmonies. Then after he had spoken the Ratana Brass Band played a hymn very tastefully.


For a little Pakeha (white) girl who grew up with virtually no Maori contact, I am constantly surprised on our return to the Land of the Long White Cloud, at how strong the Maori culture is now. Although English was spoken today, the Maori language was much more prevalent. I heard parents talking to their kids in Maori, greetings in Maori… ‘morena’ is my new word for the day…speeches and singing totally in Maori. They have a respect for the elderly common to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders we previously lived with.  Today was an opportunity to show respect to my fellow Waitahanui community. …to give them honour. May they enjoy their new marae.

#Grateful for this opportunity

Kindness in Rotorua

They offered and I accepted. And thus, we got to spend a day together travelling over to Rotorua for my appointment at the hospital.

This was only Miss C’s 2nd trip to New Zealand, and her first to the North Island. I knew that she was seeing more of the country by taking me over but how exciting was it really for two girls in their early 20’s to take one of their mothers for her hospital visit? I felt kinda guilty for taking away their precious time together, especially as they had been planning this visit for such a long time.

Instead of worrying I decided to make the most of the day as best I could. It’s true that we didn’t race down the luge at frightening speeds together, Hang glide across the lake, or zip through the forest canopy on a harness, which I know they would have LOVED! But, we had lots of laughs as we chatted about this and that, had lunch at the Lakeside Cafe and enjoyed the glistening sunshine on a lovely day at the end of Winter.


I would have loved to have stopped here and there to do my sketching on location but there was only so much I could ask of them, so instead they happily drove round the roundabout a few times until I had a photo I could sketch from later. Fun can come in many forms 🙂 The clock tower in Rotorua is an icon of the area.


All still feeling adventurous, we hived over the hill to the Blue and Green Lakes. It has been years since I have been up there. And, although Miss C was looking at all those hills and wanting desperately to go and conquer them, Miss J kept the laughter and silliness going to keep her from being too bored with our little dilly dallies around the lake edges. We are really blessed here in New Zealand to have such beautiful scenery all year round.


We hived over yet another hill on our return home to the Wai-O-tapu geothermal area. Watching that mud plop and steam was fascinating. You found yourself kind of mesmerized as you anticipated the next plop, or how high it would go. Miss C got a lesson on how the geothermal works in our area (once a teacher…always a teacher. I just couldn’t help myself 😦  She was polite enough to be enthralled.)

I was really grateful to these girls for the day. Their kindness in being so willing to drive me over to save me pain. Their enthusiasm for the activities we did do, albeit not at their energy or ability levels. They thought of someone else other than themselves and in this day and age you don’t always see too much of that quality. Thank you Miss J and Miss C for the day. It was appreciated greatly.


#usksymposium From Afar

Instagram is full of them.

It’s all over my Facebook.

They’ve been on WGN news.

And I gotta say that seeing these urban sketchers everyday, all day, is paying off and getting me all inspired. But, as beautiful as Chicago is, why go there when this place I call home is SO amazing?! It might not be strictly ‘urban’ sketching all the time, but it is sketching our lives here…can we help it that our natural beauty is so gob-smackingly incredible?!


So, a few art friends joined me and we went out on our first sketching morning. We met at 2Mile Bay Coffee Shop and enjoyed coffee, gourmet pizza and sketching. It’s full of interesting boating memorabilia and not so many people due to the cold SouthWesterlies blowing across the lake at the moment, which was perfect as some in the group were feeling a little awkward drawing in front of the public for the first time.cof

Our sketches might not have been earth shattering  masterpieces but we began, we embraced the experience and we enjoyed each other. Our little piece of paradise was being imprinted on our brains and appreciated.

Cottage in Waitahanui for Liz Steel lessons

I came home #grateful for these gals who were willing to brave something new with me (new for us, anyways). Inspiration is still flowing so it will happen again. It’s so easy in your home town to miss the beauty for the daily dailies that bog us down. This week we got to look around and appreciate.

Thanks #usksymposium for the inspiration all the way down here in lil ‘ol New Zealand.

2MileBay Coffee Shop

Firstborn Mama Moments

It’s a long time since I held that precious bundle in my arms and we looked into each other’s eyes. There’s been a lot of water go under the bridge since then.

Over the years there have been times when I have felt akin to Pooh Bear and his friends from 100 Acre Woods as they raced their ‘Pooh Sticks’ under the bridge. Sometimes ecstatic like Roo, at other times covering my eyes and holding my breath just as Piglet did. I have had mothering moments where I felt as positive as Rabbit and then as despondent as Pooh. And then there were the Eeyore moments…when something happened that was a total surprise and you had no idea what to do with it and we all needed to help each other to get out. The joys of parenting!!!

How we have all grown! But none so much as that gorgeous firstborn of ours.

This week has seen her accept a new job position in another city. Delighted for the new adventures ahead of her. Impressed with how she has learnt from the present ‘adventures’. Adversity has forged values in her that make her parents smile.


She has always been a BRILLIANT organiser, but I have watched her learn to think of others in the organising. Proud of the way she has grown. This week I braved a new haircut and she came for support and took photos, laughed and encouraged me on. Thank you for thinking selflessly of me.


We finished the week by taking her to our favourite restaurant to celebrate her new adventure and we talked for two solid hours about the things that have passed under the bridge. She asked her dad to pray for her. We laughed. We cried…they never have enough tissues in fancy restaurants. We celebrated her and were thankful for this time when she has been back under our roof. We acknowledged the growth in ALL of us.



#Grateful for all the Firstborn Mama moments and the story we have written together.


#Grateful for time to celebrate just three this weekend. He watched sports reviews. She did Sudoku and I drew at a local cafe…all quiet.


#Grateful for opportunities to find the positive…such as enjoying the raindrops on my glasses making it almost impossible to see. Just a different perspective!

What have you had happen in your week? Are there things to be thankful for? A new way to look at it? Feel free to post below.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

A week of bitter winds, hail and snow.

Not a week I wanted to walk the dog. How come my dog doesn’t know it’s cold and stay in front of the fire like other dogs? She even still wanted to swim, but I drew the line at that…well, the two coldest days, anyway. Those pleading eyes won out and I braced myself hard against the winds. Please don’t tell her but I felt better after each walk…much better than sitting inside all day. #Grateful for her gentle insistence.


My Ugg boots and I became best friends this week. Warm extremities help in warding off the cold and my darling dearest’s thoughtful gift was appreciated all over again.


Daughter’s boyfriend came to enjoy the snow. The wonder of it falling fresh was not lost on him and increased our own joy at this magical time of year.


My darling dearest worked from home for two days and I got to enjoy him at the end of the table working hard. It was too irresistable not to draw. #Grateful for his work ethics and devotion to us. I got a goodie!

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Then once the storm had cleared that dog took daughter #2 and I for a walk. We took the camera to have some creative fun along the way and happened on a little European Goldfinch clinging to a Toitoi stalk on the edge of the lake. Thinking he would fly away we took a photo from a distance and then crept further and further forward with not a flinch from him. With each step closer we took another photo in case this was our last and he would surely fly away. Just a foot away behind a large rock she got great close-ups showing all his lovely bright colours. He didn’t fly even when the dog came within inches. All puffed up and looking a tad worse for wear we decided to move him to a more sheltered position. He hopped onto the finger offered as if he had done it all his life and we carried him up to behind the rocks amongst the thistles and grass. Immediately he turned his head into his feathers for a sleep. Maybe the storm had been just too much for the little fellow. Such opportunities to engage closely with free birds don’t come along every day. #Grateful for this special moment.



Winter has a special set of joys. This week was no exception. Dean martin had it right when he sang ‘Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’. We sang right along with him. Do you have something that makes you thankful in Winter? Do you like the snow? Add you ‘winter thankfuls’  below to the list.




I am Gr8ful.

Gr8ful for all the love I have been shown this week past.

It started with a dinner date with my darling dearest just for two at our favourite restaurant. Plateau has been an absolute winner every time we have been there. Love the ambiance. Love the flavours. Love the company.



Then the week progressed with all the kids coming home to celebrate with me. Each one had thought of something special to do for Mum that she would really appreciate. One had organised to bring their guitars and at night we played and sang till my fingers were sore.

Another bought two books that we could read together.




Someone brought a fun game down and we played and laughed until midnight doing the highland fling and all kinds of other crazy stuff.

Everyone took Mum shopping.

Each took a turn to have a ‘D&M’ at some point.

They walked the beach with me and the dog.

Another fixed my bike.



My darling dearest had a much thought about ‘surprise’ gift he had secretly worked on.

‘Happy Birthday’ was sung in every eating house we entered, down the street, and in the car. We had three part harmonies and operatic versions, along with great out-of-tune gusto and laughter following




I was hugged, loved and honoured.


And when my heart was so full I thought it would burst they all went home to their places leaving in their wake a VERY Gr8ful Mama.

Thank you, Family.