Monday, November 29, 2010

How to make a rainbow butterfly cake

With the expectation to do something great for my daughter's first birthday cake, I decided Iwanted to do a butterfly. Later I decided I wanted it to be a rainbow cake. So researching online I found some examples and here is my example of how to make a rainbow butterfly cake. (it helps to have a tin shaped in a butterfly as I did so you don't have to figure out how to cut the shape and how many cakes to cook and in what size tin).

What you will need:
  • Two (moist) Vanilla packet cake mixes (I choose Betty Crocker)
  • Ingredients required on packet (ie eggs, water, oil etc)
  • Food colouring
  • Tin
  • Bowls and spoons to divide mix
  • Lollies and chocolate for decoration
  • Icing (frosting came with cake mixes)
  1. Follow packet cake mix instructions to mix cake. I made cake in two separate bowls as I didn't have 1 bowl large enough.
  2. Get out bowls and spoons. Scoop cake mix into bowls. Choose amount of cake mix in relation to colour process. For instance, lightest colours to have the most cake mix and darkest colours to have the least. This is because the dark colours will dominant. Also, pour in lightest colour or most cake mix first. 
1. Divide cake batter into bowls
2. Add food colouring

3. Because my bowls for the colouring weren't big enough, one colour bowl was enough for one half of the butterfly.
4. Layer colours in a pattern if you wish

4. Pour the remaining colour in
3. Pour first colour into tin
6. Add layer 3

5. Layer next colour on top
7. Add layer 4

7. Add layer 4

8. Add remaining layers in decorative pattern
Trying to be artistic

Now its play time! When I had finished with all the batter I needed (remember to leave a minimum of about 2cm from the top of tin to allow for cooking), I decided to play a little with the left off coloured batter. It was a very fun, creative and liberating process to dripple and swirl the cake mix. A great idea to do with the kids and a good excuse to bake ;)
Abstract art: Playing with dyed cake batter
Abstract art: Painting with dyed cake batter

Cooking Cooking Cooking. Add lined tray below in case of overspill 

Whola! Cooked cake. Chop off it's top (or is that its bottom?)
 Decorate and celebrate!   

* I also made some butterfly cupcakes with jam and fresh cream to accompany the cake 

This blog with the demo was my inspiration (not the recipe but how to go about it)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How to Paint: Hints and Tips

This post is going to be an ongoing list of hints and tips related to painting I will share as I too come across helpful ideas. Leave a comment if you would like to add yours too.
  • If you spray the canvas first with water (a water atomiser rather than any old sprayer as the water droplets are finer) for gessoing, underpainting, blocking in or whatever application, the water helps spread the paint without thinning or diluting it too much
  • Use a medium/s to help the painting process, these really do make a difference. Whether it is for slowing down the drying process or thinnly applying the paint.
  • Use old Yellow Pages (Phone Books) to assist the clean up process for wiping oil brushes or even scraping and cleaning the palette. The less painting going down the sink the better for your plumbing and the environment.
This is just to start with, stay tuned as I add more...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to plan an art exhibition: To do/Check List

Are you thinking of having your own solo show, and want a guide to help you plan your timeline? I have compiled a sequence of tasks to be completed and when from my experience from working as a committee member in an artist run initiative, student exhibition participation and my first solo exhibition experience.


Generally most exhibitions are planed between 1 to 2 years depending on the Gallery location. Some exhibitions can be executed in a short timeframe of 6-12months or less. This timeline for planning an exhibition is based on approximately a 12month timeframe with room for flexibility. I am using the example of my own first small solo exhibition.

Countdown to exhibition…

12months plus to go 
   Start establishing your idea and theme. Do this by brainstorming or mind mapping. 
   Research your ideas. Create Thumbnail sketches. 
   Research potential galleries 
   Research potential funding sources 
   Draft up a budget (source quotes for; gallery hire space, materials, photography,  invitations, postage, catering, courier/delivery if required 
   Apply for gallery space 
   Apply for funding

12months to go 
   Further research, investigation and exploration of ideas. 
   Start sourcing materials (i.e. canvases, paints). 
   Begin painting if you are ready. Even if it is just priming (Gesso) the canvas ready

9months to go 
   Start working on paintings if you haven’t already done so. Have 2-3 being worked on at the same time so while one is drying another one could be worked on.

3months to go 
   Design and draft invitations
o   Have a general idea of invitation design. Consult a graphic designer if required to draft up invitation designs. Or if you’re doing it yourself, start thinking about it.

2months to go 
   Finalise invitation ready for printers 
   Start sourcing contacts for mailout if you haven’t already. It is a big job.
o   Tip: Create an Excel spreadsheet as you can merge your information into Word later and print no fuss on sticky labels. This helps save heaps of time and you don’t get hand cramps then!

6weeks to go 
   Send invite to printers. Allow 2-3weeks buffer for corrections and changes, the printing process and their level of busyness 
   Write an artist statement 
   Update your website with information on your upcoming exhibition

4weeks to go 
   Complete final touch ups and changes to artwork. Start varnishing completed paintings if you haven’t already done so. 
   Start drafting artwork details for price list 
   Start writing exhibition statements (brief blurbs on each artwork about inspiration, technique, subject matter etc) if required

3weeks to go 
   Organise catering.
o   Depending on your launch date (if it is the date of the install or a week later as typically the case) allow for 4weeks notice to caterer of; budget, food requests, estimated number of attendance, time etc. 

Package invitations for mailout. Add invite, business card.

2weeks to go 
   Ideally be finished painting. Get artworks ready to hang 
   Update your website and other online social networking sites with photos of your artwork and information about the exhibition.

1week to go 
   Email contacts and media with invitations and artist statement of upcoming exhibition opening and launch 
   Post mail out of invitation in time for launch (usually 2weeks before launch, however 3-4weeks depending on your art scene) 
   Get installation bag ready (artist statement, exhibition statement, price list, extra picture hanging equipment for emergencies) 
   Touch base with caterers. Pay deposit or complete payment


Week 1 
   Get launch night bag ready (DL price lists, extra invitations, business cards, receipt book, pen, guestbook) 
   Send reminder emails of upcoming launch -1 week away.



Download the above information from this document exhibition timeline countdown 

Click the image below to see a visual chart of the exhibition process timeline

This table highlights possible timeframes to complete tasks as outlines above.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

eScapism exhibition: first solo

For the past 14months I have been working on my first solo exhibition, eScapism. From September 2009 I submitted the application, to applying for a grant, than researching for a few months, than working on multiple paintings at once for about 8months and the last 2months focused on the 'business' side of things. 

eScapism is a series of bold contemporary realism paintings of scenery depicting tropical far north Queensland, specifically Cairns, Australia. From the mundane and ordinary everyday life subjects to the picturesque beauty of lush greenery rainforests. The exhibition was on show at a local artist run initiative Cell Art Space from 6th November 2010 to 4th December 2010. The launch was 12th November. This exhibition was proudly supported by the Cairns Regional Council's Arts and Cultural Funding Grant.
Visit my website here to see all 12 paintings I created for the show and read more about the concept behind it.

Studio Time. About midway working on a painting.


Me in my exhibition

View from outside the space

Launch night

Launch night

Launch Night

Exhibition at night

Having fun with Mixed Media

Just before I finished my paintings for my first solo show, I was in need of some creative TLC (Tender Loving Care). I needed some fun creative 'me-time'. So I went back to my roots, what I like to do for play and experiment, and dabbled in some mixed media.

Difficulty: Very Beginner

  • Acrylic Paint
  • Roller
  • Newspaper
  • Brushes
  • Palette Knife
  • Printing Objects (stamps, containers (dish), milk container tops)
  • Palette
  • Paper Towel
  • Paper (Watercolour) or Canvas Sheets or Canvas
Here in this image you can see I have my set up. I have rolled some paint on my palette and put down a base or underpainting. Next I roll another top colour and use my rubber stamp. See the rim around my painted paper on the newspaper is the excess stamped paint. This makes a lovely effect too.
Work wet-in-wet if you choose or wait to dry.

Here is the next layer. I used the ceramic white dish rim to create the half circle by twisting only some of it in the paint. I used the green milk cap for another circle

Here I used a thin liner brush with black paint to freely paint an image. I tried not to have a preconceived idea as I wanted a flowing and unrestricted image to to shape and then I just went with it (so opposite to my working method of everything is planned).

Here is another fun piece. I tried to compose the image by only using the black from pure strength to diluted wash to create the image.

Last I had an idea of wanting to do a bookmark. So I went along with the rose theme as this was very fitting for the size format.

Once dry, I laminated it and hole-punched the top and feed a ribbon through...whoola! A bookmark.

Keyring Taggies

Since having a baby and discovery the many toys available, but also discovering many crafty people out there make soft sewn toys...I stumbled across the Crinkle Taggie Blankets (see earlier post of one I completed )

While juggling my baby on my hip, with just keys and purse in hand when I am just quickly ducking into the shops etc, often my baby likes to play with my keys or purse. As I try not to let her play with either as she sucks on my alarm and could hurt herself with the keys, and soaks my purse fabric, I was trying to think of something to add to my keys she could play with, that was baby friendly...

So I came up with a Keyring Taggie.

Keyring Taggie Mark I
My concept was to have something flexible and 'chewable' as babies like munching and putting things in their mouths. So I painted a piece of watercolour card, cut to size to fit a business card size laminating pouch. Stuck it in when it was dry and laminated it. Hole-punched one end for the keyring and hole-punched the opposite end in a few places and feed some ribbon through and let it dangle (as they LOVE playing with ribbon).

After 'testing' a number of times, the laminated pouch did not stay 'stuck' as the watercolour card was too thick so the edges didn't seal properly, and the handling and sucking from bub unstuck the double sided card. Also, the holepunches through just the laminate didn't hole with the tugging on the ribbon.

Left: Laminated painted paper. Right: Finshed -Hole-punched with ribbon

Back to the drawing board...

Keyring Taggie Mark II
So after some time I was trying to think of another solution...I decided just to do a keyring taggie with just ribbon. So I just various some pieces of ribbon, cut and knotted to metal key ring and attached to keys. So far no problems.

Whimsical Painting: Bird Tree

This image is (C.) Copyright by Chrissy Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

 Acrylic, 100x100cm. 

Just after I have completed my first solo exhibition paintings, and working in a more detailed realistic and precise manner with planning...I decided I wanted to do something simple, relaxed and fun! Something sooo totally different to my working process and style. 

So here is my whimsical piece. The idea of a simple blue graduated background, with a silhouetted tree with birds and cages. This has a hidden symbolic meaning of caged and freed birds. Inspired by the Hong Kong Bird Markets, many trees are filled with birds in cages, some cages have a number of birds. One cage in this painting is open and the bird or birds have flown free. 

Still deciding whether or not to add some dabs of colour for flowers or leave it simple like it is? 

What do you think? Leave a comment? Flowers or no flowers?

Well after a week or so I decided to do what I was always going to do to it...add splotches of flowers.  I did this by getting a paint spatula and just smeering blobs of paint on. I like the effect.
This image is (C.) Copyright by Chrissy Dwyer. All Rights Reserved