Sunday 30 May 2010

VARNISH - I love you, I hate you!'s been quite a cold day thanks to the icy breeze outside.....definitely cardigan/jumper weather. I've been wearing my ugg boots all day. 

I've been getting a little painting done over the past couple of weeks.  I can't show you just yet as they are Pay It Forward gifts but I can show you this little canvas.  It WAS meant to be for one of my Pay It Forward recipients until I went and ruined it.  I had already given it a couple of coats of varnish but, as is typical with me, I just can't leave well enough alone and I decided to give it another coat just for safe measure....BIG MISTAKE!  That final coat seemed to develop a few little white particles within the varnish layer as it dried.  I have a love/hate relationship with varnish.  For the most part it works great while other times it's a disaster.  Do you have a favourite, fool-proof varnish you like to use for your artwork?

 I can certainly use it for display in my own home as I'm used to my own cast-offs but I just wouldn't feel right gifting it to someone else.  So, now I'm working on a totally different design for this particular Pay It Forward recipient.  Maybe it's just as well because there was something about this piece I just wasn't happy with.  I don't think I like the brush marks showing through from the foundation layer either but that might be just me. It was a difficult piece to photograph for some reason so it looks much better in reality than it does in the photo.

~ Shine on me ~
acrylics on 5"x7" gallery wrapped canvas
© Serena Lewis

ADDED NOTE - This picture was taken before the varnish application. I generally use either Jo Sonja Satin Polyurethane water-based, brush-on varnish OR I use Krylon Matte 1311 Spray varnish.  For the most part, I LOVE working with these varnishes. Nine times out of ten, they work great with no probs.  Sometimes, I find that certain Matisse paints will react to the Jo Sonja varnish so I tend to use the spray varnish when I've used Matisse paints as was the case with this particular piece.  In this case, I think it's been the  spray application somehow...maybe too far away from the piece?  Or maybe I didn't shake the can enough before spraying....not really sure.  I may try spraying it again to see if it makes any difference.

I'm feeling much better now as the asthma seems to have settled down a lot.  The turfing job was delayed until tomorrow due to the rainy days we had last week.  Hopefully, the airborne dirt won't kick start another asthma attack but I'll be keeping all the windows and doors closed just to be on the safe side.

I hope you've all been enjoying a lovely weekend!

~ love, light and peace to you all ~

Monday 24 May 2010


For this week's photo theme, I had big plans to check out some signs around the suburbs in search of one that was perhaps humorous or odd but, unfortunately, that wasn't to be because I was still too sick to put  any real effort into it.   However, as luck would have it, not far from here I did spot a SIGN OF AUTUMN!!!   I was quite chuffed because signs of autumn are quite rare in this neck of the woods.  There is the odd deciduous tree here and there but evergreens definitely seem to rule the roost.  The early signs of winter creeping in this past week worked its magic and, lo and behold.....a glorious feast of autumn colour presented itself to me.  YAY!  Thankfully, my camera is always at the ready in my bag so I pulled up in the car and snapped a pic while Aaron picked up a couple of the leaves for me to sketch and photograph. 

Click on any image to enlarge for closer detail

I think it's a Japanese Maple tree
...notice the bird on the wire?

Thanks for all the well wishes on my bout with asthma.   I'm keeping those hot teas coming....thanks for the tip, Julie.  I actually love my hot drinks all year round and they certainly do help to keep me happy especially when I'm not well. I've been staying indoors as much as possible and keeping nice and warm.  Yes, winter officially starts here on June 1st!  

I hope you're enjoying nice weather wherever you are.

~ Love, light and Peace ~

Thursday 20 May 2010

From my sketchbook

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all enjoying a lovely week.

On the rental front - We finally had a win with the landlord!   After numerous emails back and forth, pleading our case for compensation, he finally agreed to our original proposal of leaving the rent at the current amount we already pay for the new 12 month tenancy agreement.  He has also organised to have the back and part of the front lawns re-turfed which will be started on Monday. YAY!

On the home-front - I've been dealing with bronchial asthma since last Wednesday. Winter has certainly made an early appearance this year and brought with it a cold snap with much lower temperatures than would be normal for this time of year and the cold air has been the trigger for this latest asthma attack. I love our sub-tropical winters so I'm not complaining about that, however, I'm not liking my asthma right now as it's been quite debilitating for me with it sapping all my energy. I'm sure that the scraping and clearing of the old lawn and laying of top soil this Monday will play even more havoc with my health when dirt and dust becomes airborne....but it has to be done.

With being sick, I haven't been able to do too much in the way of art but
I did manage a couple of pages in my sketchbooks.

You may, or may not, have seen it on the news but 16 year old Australian, Jessica Watson, arrived back in Australia on Saturday after nearly seven months at sea.  She was attempting to break a record for being the youngest person to sail around the world, non-stop and unassisted. We watched the coverage on TV and it was quite emotional.
Watercolour and Micron pen in A5 sketchbook

......and another EveryDayMatters challenge notched off
Coloured pencil and Micron pen in A5 sketchbook

It looks like we could be in for some rain here.....
what's the weather like in your neck of the woods?

~  Love, light and peace ~

Tuesday 18 May 2010

PHOTO MONDAY - My workspace

The photo theme for this week - MY WORKSPACE

Back in November of last year, I made the decision to move my art studio out of the garage. At that time, the garage was in total chaos anyways because we were being treated for our first termite infestation and, after some discussion with Michelle one day, we decided that we could turn my art workspace into a much needed bedroom for Reece. There is a ten year gap in age between Aaron and Reece and them sharing was no longer a workable option so, with Michelle's help, over the next couple of months I did A LOT of clearing out and freecycling of things I had stored in the garage. It wasn't easy saying goodbye to a lot of art magazines and wood pieces I had collected over the years but it had to be done and Michelle encouraged me to sever the ties.....although I did hang on to some of my favourites.  Surprisingly, I haven't even missed any of the stuff I parted with.

So, my then studio space went from this -

to this - Reece's bedroom

It took a lot of moving and arranging but I finally squeezed the necessities from the art studio pictured above to a space directly beside our lounge-room. I still have some art supplies stored in cupboards in the garage but I only access them when I'm topping up the supplies in my new workspace. The newer workspace is smaller than the one I had set up in the garage but I actually like it much better. It encourages me to be more organised, I no longer feel isolated from the kids when I'm working, and it is a much better spot for natural lighting with the large window right beside my art table.  The kitchen is close at hand too so I have easier access to tea or coffee.....definitely a bonus! ' new painting area...
well new to me since December-

The shelves below hold paints, mediums, brushes, art books and sketchbooks.
Despite all the ones I freecycled, I still have more art magazines and books stored in the garage.

The second workspace desk, pictured below, is butted up against the couch and faces into the lounge-room.

I mostly sit at this desk when I'm working in my sketchbooks or journals.
Aaron often sits here and works in his sketchbooks too.

The desks are positioned back to back

I LOVE to spend time in this workspace.

Feel free to post a link to pictures of your own workspace.
I'm looking forward to seeing the workspaces of my fellow photo group members too.

~ Love, light and peace ~

Thursday 13 May 2010

ONE DOWN - five to go

I was so happy to hear that my Pay It Forward gift was well received by Jane of Loopy Lou's Adventures into Handicrafts. Jane does the most exquisite needlework and her blog is well worth checking out.

I painted a close-up of an Anemone flower for Jane because it was her Mum's favourite flower. I included some extra goodies in the package....just because. 
Matisse acrylics on 5"x5" gallery-wrapped canvas
© Serena Lewis
I have two more Pay It Forward gifts finished and ready for mailing and I've made a start on the rest. It has been so much fun participating in this challenge.

~ Love, light and peace ~

Tuesday 11 May 2010

PHOTO MONDAY - Something Mum/Mother

Firstly, I would like to thank all my wonderful readers for the support they have given me over all the dramas we've been having with this rental property.  Negotiations are still's truly like trying to get blood out of stone.


As Mother's Day was on Sunday, I chose - Something Mum/Mother - for this week's photo theme.

First thing Sunday morning, I was treated to some hand-made gifties from Aaron.
Purples and turquoise was the colour scheme he went with - he knows me so well.

Bradley bought me Season 7 - Parts 1 & 2 of the Little House on the Prairie series. YAY!
(I forgot to take a pic, sorry Brad)

Beau, Reece and Sarina, Michelle and Alex chipped in to buy me a foot spa AND a hand-held massager. I've been dealing with painful feet over the past couple of months so the kids thought this would help. I've already tried out the foot spa and it was so nice and relaxing....just what my feet need, I'm sure.

Mum and Dad came for lunch on Sunday too so I snapped a pic of my Mum.

I had a wonderful Mother's Day and it was great to have my kids and parents here to celebrate with.
How was your Mother's Day?

~ Love, light and peace ~

Sunday 9 May 2010

I am thankful for......& book review

Hi everyone,

It's 7:30 AM on Mother's Day as I type this post.  The sky is clear, the sun is out so it looks like we are going to be in for a beautiful day.  My parents and all my kids will be here for lunch later on and I'm so looking forward to it.  Time with my family is the best Mother's Day gift of all.   I hope you all enjoy a meaningful, happy and loving Mother's Day too.  I'll post more about mine tomorrow.

Yesterday, I managed a little time to notch up another EveryDayMatters challenge
Click on image to enlarge


by Sue Monk Kidd

On back of cover:  Lily has grown up believing she accidentally killed her mother when she was just four years old. Now, at fourteen, she yearns for forgiveness and a mother's love. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh and unyielding father, she has only one friend, Rosaleen, a black servant.

When racial tension explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is compelled to act.  Fugitives from justice, the pair follow a trail left by the woman who died ten years before.  Finding sanctuary in the home of three bee-keeping sisters, Lily starts a journey as much about her understanding the world, as about the mystery surrounding her mother.

My own thoughts:  I first discovered this book in a book review on another blog and felt it was a must-have for my collection.  It did not disappoint and I will be checking out other book titles by this same author too.  From the very get-go, I was swept up in this young girl's life and I fell in love with the bee-keeping sisters and their friends.   I would definitely recommend this beautifully written book to anyone. It was heartfelt, raw and emotional and, be warned, have the tissues handy because a few times I found myself crying to the point where I had to remove my glasses to wipe away the flow of tears.  I'm looking forward to getting the DVD.

I am now off to get ready and prepare food for the day ahead.

Again, I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Mother's Day.

Love, light and peace

Thursday 6 May 2010

the saga continues.......

I'm about at my wit's end here!

You all know the drama we've had to deal with during this tenancy since september last year, right?

Not one but two termite infestations, one of which we are still being treated for
and will then have to endure major internal repair work when the treatment is finished.
The garage was turned upside-down for six weeks with the first termite drama and repair job.
We also had to live with the horrible swamp-like conditions in our backyard 
which became a mass of stinky slime and sludge for two months, 
not to mention the large population of cane-toad tadpoles that thrived in those conditions.

Okay, to the owner's credit,
the drainage installation for the backyard finally went ahead
and was installed and completed last Tuesday.

what our yard looked like for a whole day

  BELOW is what our backyard, and part of the front yard, looks like now.
Bear in mind that the pictures below ARE the completed job.

part of front yard from a roadside perspective

part of front yard from top level perspective

our side backyard

the area of backyard behind the house

Cody can't be given free reign of the backyard now and must be leashed to keep him on the grassy area otherwise he'd get filthy.  The plumber stated that top soil and turf was the owner's responsibility so, i forwarded these photos to the Property Manager asking what the next step would be because, as it stands, only one quarter of our backyard is accessible.  The rest is this mix of shale, clay and a little bit of dirt. The response from the property manager - "I don't understand what you want me to do just because you can't access some of your yard.  The owner did the drainage installation at your request."

   I replied and quite bluntly told her that top soil and turf in areas as needed would be the next obvious step!

We are still waiting to hear if they are going to approve our request for compensation in the form of rent reduction being for ALL the major problems we have dealt with since September last year. It  has not been pleasant living with termites or swamp-like conditions.

We have been advised by several sources that we have every right to ask for compensation. The ridiculous part to all of this is that the compensation we are asking for only amounts to a $10 difference in our rent each week which is only $520 over the span of twelve months.  It's not even two weeks rent!

I sent off another email to the Property Manager this morning outlining all our grievances yet again and she did reply and apologise for not getting back to me. Hopefully, we will hear some positive news soon but, in light of all this, we are seriously considering moving when the current lease runs out in July.  The irony is that, if they were offering this place to new tenants, they would have to offer it at a reduced rent because of all its issues anyway, plus the owner would be charged a new 'to let' fee from the real estate agent on top of advertising costs.  He would LOSE even more money going that way. 


I'm sorry this post was on such a sour note but I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall over this situation.   

Yesterday, I mailed off one of the Pay It Forward gifts I've been working on.
  It's making its way to merry England.....minus the note card.

I made a very quick note about it in my journal.

On that note, I wish you all a pleasant day!

~ Love, light and peace ~

Tuesday 4 May 2010

PHOTO MONDAY - What's on my bedside table

I get to choose the weekly themes for the month of May and, for this week, I chose the theme 

What's on my bedside table.

Click on any image to enlarge

Well, as you can see from the pic below, my bedside table is quite crowded and, sometimes, I will even squeeze in a mug of hot green tea.  Now, let me see, I have a white metal hold-all where I keep my Lucas Pawpaw Ointment (used as a lip balm), remote controls for TV, VCR & DVD, pens, thermometer, nail scissors and emery board.  I do have a small TV, VCR, & DVD player in my room but I rarely watch TV or movies in my room at night.....they are there.....just in case.  Also, my water bottle which I keep filled with tap water.  The second phone extension.  My mobile phone. My clock radio.  My reading glasses for the book of the moment and, of course, tissues.

I love to read in bed at night
as you can probably tell by the overloaded shelves of my bedside table
and, quite often, I will have piles of books or sketchbooks and pencils on the floor just by my bed.

I thought I'd play with the Colour Accent option on my camera for the pic below

Care to post  a pic of what's on your bedside table?

~ Love, light and peace ~