The Canberra Churches 2019 Calendar is here!

September 28th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The calendars have arrived from the printer and I am SO pleased with the way they turned out! It feels wonderful to finally be able to hold them in my hands. I hope you like them too.

I had a run of 50 printed and they are now available on my Etsy store – click HERE to get yours.  (if they sell well I’ll get some more printed, drop me a line if you miss out so I know you want one). I ship all over the world, and local pick up can be arranged for Canberra people.

The calendar features 12 of Canberra’s beautiful churches painted in watercolour.

All Australian holidays are marked and the calendar squares are nice and roomy so that you can write in your own batch of birthdays and special events.

The original artworks are also for sale here.

Get your calendar now! They will make fabulous Christmas presents!

7 things I learned working on the church calendar project

September 25th, 2018 § 4 comments § permalink

My Canberra Churches Calendar project is in the home stretch! The file has been sent off to the printers and I am as nervous as an expectant mother fiddling about with things as I wait for my ‘baby’ to arrive. I am super pleased with how the paintings came out and cannot wait to see them all printed up and official!

While I wait I thought I’d share seven things I learned throughout the project:

1. The drawing/painting part is the easy bit — The creative part of the process really is the most fun part, so that makes it relatively easy. The administration and faffing around with computers to compile everything and the self promotion parts are not so much fun. It is the same for any small business, so it comes as no surprise really.

2. The project consumed lots of energy and impacted general sketchbook play and creative development — I only have limited time and energy available to me out side of my day job, so some things had to drop off while I painted churches. I missed working in my sketchbook and trying new things, but at the same time I refined my ability to draw buildings and managed to keep them within a particular, coherent style.

3. I recognised a phase of ugliness in each painting — There was always a part of each piece where I really wasn’t sure that it was going to work. I feared having to start again because I hadn’t quite got the colours right or something just felt off. But I saw the pattern and stuck to my process, and each time something lovely emerged at the other end. They are not all perfect of course, I am neither a camera nor a photocopier after all, so I embraced the wonkiness and celebrated each one.

4. A set palette of paint colours simplified decisions and sped things up — Limiting myself to a particular group of pigments gave a unified feel across all works even though the buildings are so different in their styles and facades. It also meant that I didn’t need to stop and make decisions about which colours to use at the beginning of each piece. I wrote about my palette in this post.

5. Having a project gave me purpose and focus — A public deadline made me keep going and not give up part way through, even though I desperately wanted to at times. I have a habit of starting things and not finishing them. I kept wondering what the next project was and I already have drawers full of UFOs (un-finished objects), so to have made it to the end with a completed product to offer is an achievement I am proud of.

6. There was a part of the project where it really felt like a burden — Creating art is not some romantic notion where things just fall out of one’s head, it takes effort and sometimes that feels like hard work. I got thoroughly sick of drawing church buildings and wanted to switch to drawing flowers or people or anything but bricks and mortar. But I kept going. On the flip side it has made me think about the purpose that art plays in my life too. Am I killing my creativity by wanting to make something to sell? Something to explore at a later date.

7. Things will always go wrong — From the very conception of the project back in February I had planned to use RedBubble to produce the calendars as a print on demand offering so that I wouldn’t have any substantial financial outlay. I sized the original artwork and planned everything around their requirements. Last week I logged in to double check the specifications before I started on the layout and preparation of files to upload, only to discover that RedBubble had decided to stop producing calendars as of August 2018. Ugh. Several hours of frantic searching later and I hadn’t found another print-on-demand option that fit my requirements, so I located a printer that could deliver what I needed as a regular print run. Suffice it to say that I had to bite the bullet and put my money where my mouth is, and the box of calendars will land on my doorstep sometime in the next week and a half! Squee! There were some other technical glitches too and I suspect there will be more challenges before I put this thing to bed, but as always adaptability and flexibility will get me though!

Stay tuned for an announcement of when the calendars are available in my Etsy store. The original paintings will also be for sale. If you would like to be ahead of the game and get an early bird discount to boot, please subscribe to my newsletter by clicking HERE. I promise not to spam you or give your details to any one else ever.

Procrastination, thy name is knitting!

August 22nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Alternate title : an update on the Canberra Churches Calendar.

Why is it that when I get close to a milestone in a project that I choke and do everything in my power to sabotage myself? I don’t think I am alone in this dilemma. There are any number of memes around the interwebs that show writers and artists cleaning out fridges and answering ancient correspondence and the like in an effort to avoid the fact that there is a deadline looming.


I’d like to present the following two photos as evidence of my extremely well developed ability to put off starting what will likely be the last painting for my Canberra Churches Calendar project. In the past three weeks I have finished a scarf I started two winters ago (bottom grey, chevron pattern), finished off the last of that grey yarn with a bias knit cowl in a honeycomb sort of pattern (right side middle), used up an odd ball of pink 8 ply from my stash for a super warm cowl (middle left), tried my hand at lace knitting with a shawlette in a cream 2 ply merino yarn, and then started a brightly coloured patterned scarf in 2 ply yarn (that is not working as well as I had hoped). I have knitted approximately a billion stitches in order to avoid putting paint to paper. Sigh. At least it is crafty… and I have justified this obsession as a change of scenery that will help me paint when I get back to it.

*ahem* *cough*


They’re pretty though… and we are forecast to get snow again next week… so totally useful…………. ok…stop talking now Michelle…….

This is a particularly good piece of procrastination if I do say so myself. Blocking knitwear is stupidly satisfying.


Here’s where the Canberra Churches Calendar is up to. I have painted eleven of the twelve buildings, and whilst I appear to be procrastinating by writing a blog post about procrastination, I have actually finally started the last painting. I am still enjoying the project … but speed bumps are normal and inevitable. It has been a busy couple of months at work, and concentrating on painting just wasn’t happening, so I wasn’t going to push it and make a mess of it. But I am back in the saddle again now – no I have not run out of wool – and may even do a thirteenth painting so that there is something different on the cover of the calendar. I love the way they all look together and am excited about doing the scanning and pre-press work to get it all ready to upload.

I will be doing a series of blog posts with a little history for each of the churches over the next few weeks in the lead up to release day. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so that you have access to the pre-release special pricing that will be available only to newsletter subscribers. There’s a link over on the right-hand side of the page there.

A Quarter of Kindness

April 1st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy Easter everyone! I hope yours is healthier than mine! I have been confined to quarters these past five days. Being a holiday weekend I, of course, got sick. It has been my pattern since I was a child; Mum has photos of me at various holiday destinations, even as a baby, very much unwell.

Easter already. I cannot believe we’re three months into the new year already! I figure its time to have a look at how the kindness thing is going. (you can read the first post about this year’s word here)

20180401 - kindness

So far this year I have discovered that it is much easier to be kind to other people than to be kind to myself. It is easier to advise friends to stop and rest and let the housework slide when they are unwell than it is for me to do the same. It is easier to take food to a friend or to help with someone’s chores, than to ask for or to accept help myself. Why is it that I do not treat myself with the same kindness that I treat others?

I am having to be kind to myself this weekend, this lurgy has really knocked me down. So, I am resting. I have a lovely smelling candle burning, and soft music playing. I have made a cosy nest to give myself the best chance to recover before its time to go back to work on Tuesday. I hope this kindness to myself flows on to when I am well. Acts of preventative kindness!

On other fronts, I have found it consistently difficult to be kind to people on the road. Sure, it’s easy to let people in, to be aware of others on the road etc, but the moment someone cuts me off, or doesn’t see me and tries to run over me when I’m on the motorbike, or sitting right on my bumper in a huge aggressive four-wheel drive … my inner troll is unleashed. 0-100 in 3 seconds. I get very agitated and sweary. If I check myself and react with kindness to people that make me cranky, they are none the wiser and don’t get any benefit from that, I do. But then, I am not doing it so that they can pat me on the back for being lovely. Strange isn’t it that I benefit and they don’t? My blood pressure remains at a healthy level, and some unsuspecting sucker down the road won’t be subjected to another angry driver (me this time). This can only be a good thing. Who knows, the idiot weaving in and out of traffic and gesticulating for no good reason may be on the way to the hospital to be with his dying parent. He could, of course, just be an idiot, but kindness says to err on the side of cutting him some slack, if only for my benefit. Something to continue practising.

20180311 - australian national botanic gardens

Urban sketching at the National Botanic Gardens a few weeks ago – it was very easy to be kind to the lizards that were playing on the rocks beside me as I sketched!

I continue to plod along with my churches of Canberra calendar project – four down eight to go. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date with the anticipated release information. Here are the most recent two.

St Paul’s in Manuka

St Volodymyr’s in Lyneham

Churches of Canberra Calendar

March 12th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

I live in the capital city of Australia — Canberra. It is really not much more than an overgrown country town with a population approaching 400,000. It has changed much in the last ten years and is starting to find its feet as a city, but it’s not really somewhere I’d expect to find a great number of interesting old buildings.

I am learning to love drawing buildings and tend to keep an eye out for subjects when I am moving around the place. In the 35 years or so that I have lived here I had noticed maybe three or four old churches around the place on the usual routes that I drive. I thought perhaps that they might be fun to draw them and set about looking for addresses and details so that I could go and get some photos to work from.

What I discovered surprised and delighted me! Within a few minutes of searching I had discovered somewhere in the vicinity of 18 interesting churches to investigate, and that was not an exhaustive search by any means. I no doubt will have missed some gems. Here is a collage of just a few of the buildings I gathered and photographed a few weeks ago. Stunning, yes?

Canberra is a young city — just over one hundred years old — so I was very surprised to find such a grand number and variety of church buildings. There are of course multitudes of modern church buildings, not to mention the temples of the East and West Asian religions that I didn’t look at. Perhaps they will find a home in future projects. Granted, not all of the buildings I have selected are old, some of the Orthodox religious buildings are relatively new; they are just very appealing to my eye.

It struck me in the process of narrowing down the ones that appealed to me that there was enough variety to create a bigger series of paintings and indeed a calendar. So here we are with he Churches of Canberra calendar project! Between now and the end of October I will be working away at producing at least 13 paintings. Perhaps more, so I have a choice for the final calendar selection. My plan — which may of course be derailed — is to have the calendars available for purchase through my RedBubble store at the beginning of November. Just in time for Christmas!

With the photos in hand I set about creating a master palette to use across all of the paintings so that I have a degree of unity across them all. I practiced colour mixes and narrowed down my choices.

Testing out pens and colour mixes, some will be used a lot, some will be  just the odd touch here and there — the Greek Orthodox churches have brilliantly coloured windows!

My dinner plate may never be the same :) 

I have made a start. The Macedonian Orthodox church in Narrabundah has always been a curiosity for me. I see it from a distance, poking out above the trees, when I drive out towards the industrial part of town to run errands. Up close it looks like a dress with its skirt billowing up. Delightful!

This weekend I am working on the All Saints church in Ainslie, which started life as a mortuary station in Sydney before being transported down here to become a church. Odd history for a church, but the building is beautiful and the large arched window at the front, iconic.

If you are interested in my calendar project, please take a moment to subscribe to my email newsletter so that you can keep up with the updates and release information. This is a brand new list and I don’t intend to write to you terribly often and won’t spam you — I have painting to do — but this is the best way to ensure you get the most up to date information.


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