Art action and adventures


This blog focuses on my studio practice. How I go about my art, what I use and the challenges I encounter. My initial aim is that it offers some insight into the life of a practicing artist and some useful tips for other creatives. In hindsight I think it may help me more that others. The self reflection about what you do can uncover some sloppy habits and manic moments. Maybe it’s my self therapy? As an artist we spend a lot of time in our heads. This blog will expose my thoughts, focus points and revelations. I can’t guarantee it will all be pretty or insightful but I’m inviting you to join the ride anyway … strap yourself in for a seat on THE GINGERNUT EXPRESS!


Getting out there can really fast track your progress

This year I promised myself I would make more effort to get out in the art community. Making new connections, supporting your artists friends and going to see new exhibits can all really fast track your progress. Learning to see and improve your art progress doesn’t always happen when the brush is loaded. I know how valuable it can be to step away from the canvas and immerse yourself in the real world. Sometimes when you stop trying to focus so much, looking at another artist’s work or exhibition can help you resolve the struggles you have been having with your own work. Teaching others is another way to build up your art resolve. I know too, that if I learnt to listen just a bit harder to the advice I give others in their art making I could be such a better painter!


Wonderful workshops @ Bathurst

Super big thanks to all my fabulous students who attended my full week workshop at the Artscene Summer School at the Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. Absolutely impressed by all the efforts students made to embrace new ways to think and produce their art. And the results stand for themselves. One of my favourite things about teaching is getting others to believe in their potential and to uncover their unique take on creating. Thank you to all the ladies who made my job so much easier by offering their encouragement and enthusiasm.

Below is just a little snippet of what went down.

If you want a piece of this action I have another workshop happening at the Winter School. It’s called EASY WAYS TO EXPRESSIVE ART & ABSTRACTION
24 – 30 JUNE 2018
Contact Artscene to reserve a place now!


So for all the creator’s out their make sure you get out and about. Next month Sydney is hosting its ART MONTH. There will be lot’s on show to help you expand your visions so you have no excuse!


My favourite art products


I used to use Winsor and Newton’s Liquin and now I have converted to Gamblin’s Galkyd Gel. It is beautiful to use and comes in a tube which is so much easier than fighting to get the lid of liquin!  Galkyd Gel increases transparency of oil colours and creates impasto. It helps accentuate brush strokes and speeds up drying time.


The Masters as my mentors … what Cézanne taught me…

Self portrait 1895 and The Mont Sainte-Victoire, Seen from Lauves, 1905 by Paul Cézanne.

Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) is a great artist to look at for understanding the difficulty in getting others to see a new way. Whilst many an art history book with label him as ‘the father of modern painting’, they tend to not dwell on how hard he worked in order to improve his craft. Alas it is this area that I always find interesting and enlightening.

Cézanne taught that persistence and diligence is the only way to go:

He taught me that progress is not always a straight path. That just because one person says no doesn’t mean you have to accept it…
His father wanted him to be a lawyer or banker, like himself, but he failed his law exams in 1857. He was turned down for a place at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he enrolled at Académie Suisse briefly in 1861, returning again in 1862.

He taught me to always look to the master artists for clues to improve your own art.
Largely self-taught as an artist, Cézanne registered as a copyist at the Louvre, to learn from ‘past masters’. It was to aid his own understanding of art, copying works by Peter Paul Rubens, Fra Bartolommeo, Poussin, Raphael and many others, including his favourite, Delacroix, all in Cézanne’s unique style.  He created around 400 copies. Even when he was in the middle of a portrait sitting, he would race out, down to the Louvre to go and seek out master works in order to help himself solve problems in his own paintings.

He taught me that progress is not always a quick path. Work hard and keep focussed!
Cézanne painted so slowly that he had to use wax fruit in his still life set ups to prevent rotting fruit! Cézanne was his own harshest critic, he didn’t have his first solo show until he was 56!

Table, Napkin, and Fruit (A Corner of the Table) Painted 1895-1900, yes five years!



“All this blue and green in the new works may be very restful but it’s making me sleepy!”
Every morning I have to remind Kristine to get away from the computer and load up that brush. She keeps asking my opinion but it doesn’t really matter as long as she is painting in the studio I have done my job. 
Sketch, the inhouse art critic  >••<
Sketch critiquing new work in progress. 

What do cats see?

I keep forgetting that Sketch can’t see colours like me. A cat’s vision is similar to a human who is colour blind. They can see shades of blue and green, but reds and pinks can be confusing. These may appear more green, while purple can look like another shade of blue. It makes me a little sad that Sketch doesn’t get to see the same richness of hues and saturation of colours that I can. Cats are also nearsighted, so they are not so good at noticing objects in the distance.

While they are not so good with fine detail or rich colour, they have a superior ability to see in the dark.  They can see using roughly one-sixth the amount light that humans need.

They have a  structure behind the retina, called the tapetum. This acts like a mirror, reflecting light that passes between the rods and the cones back to the photoreceptors and giving them another chance to pick up the small amount of light available at night. It’s a bit like turning on high beam to help you see in the dark, and that’s what makes cats’ eyes glow in the dark.

Click here for more images on how they see >> 



To those lovely folks who have heard me bang on about some of these topics before I send my apologies. It is sure to happen again as I bang on a lot.


The Gingernut Express is a monthly blog, written and produced by Visual Artist and Arts Educator, Kristine Ballard on
© Kristine Ballard 2018