Louisa Giffard

Three Colours Challenge

I’ve been very busy this year with paid work, and haven’t had much of an opportunity to work on my own practice. But recently, I was relaxing by watching some painting videos and came across a challenge: paint a picture using only three randomly selected tubes of watercolour.
Kasey Golden, the original artist, has a flatter, more stylised style, but I tend to paint pieces veering more towards realism, so I wondered what it would look like using a similar limited colour palette.

First, I painted an outline using ink, before I knew what my colour palette was going to be. I went for a landscape – based on a photograph that I’d taken 3 years ago. I’m always looking for visual information when I’m walking around, whether at home or travelling. I never know when I’m going to want to use it as the starting point for an artwork.

I originally intended to use two colours, but the first two randomly selected colours I pulled out of my bag were viridian (a blueish-green) and turquoise. I thought that would be too similar for the basis of a picture, but with a third colour, burnt sienna, I was able to mix a whole range of colours.

My image, with my mixed paints. They don’t photograph very well – sorry!
My first layer of colour

It was very difficult to see what some of the hues actually were when they were still wet.
I then got very involved in painting grass. Several days later, I was finally finished.

I’m extremely happy with how this turned out – with the beautiful range of harmonious colours I was able to get from just turquoise, viridian and burnt sienna – and I’m curious to see how it would look if I were to do another randomly coloured picture without relying on a black outline to hold the picture together.


Fabrics large and small!

I’m excited to say that I’ve been working on more fabric designs and now they’re available to purchase!

If you go to my Spoonflower right now you’ll also find that designs mentioned in my Kristiinankaupunki post are now available! In addition to those older designs, I also have some new ones.

ALSO – for those who don’t sew, you can also purchase my designs as ready-made homewares like sheets, tea towels and curtains on Roostery! Roostery is a Spoonflower site and all of their products have the names of chicken breeds, which in and of itself is extremely sweet. Fancy some curtains with giant berries on them? You can get them!


Rhubarb repeat

These cheerful bright rhubarb plants are available as fabric at Spoonflower and as a variety of products on redbubble!


White horses in a fantastical forest

Spoonflower for these horses, and Redbubble


A design of leafhoppers

I’ve had requests for more entomological designs and I found out about these wonderful creatures called leafhoppers. They’re like tiny, exquisitely coloured cicadas, and they come in a variety of fantastic patterns.

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the leafhopper pattern is available in both large and small sizes

I’ve decided to try something new with my upcoming fabric designs. For this design of leafhoppers (a relative of cicadas), I’m offering it in both a large (actual size of painting) and small size! My little hand is for scale because I didn’t think to have a ruler with me when I took a photo of the samples 🙂

They are also available on Redbubble, in large


My Rubus design, painted last year

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Rubus now available in a large size

Remember my Rubus design? I’m now printing it in a large size! Since it’s a very small painting in real life (that little thimbleberry is the size of my thumbnail) you get a loose, painterly look at a larger size, but I think it’s still very effective!

If anyone makes anything with my fabrics, or buys any of my homewares or products, I’d love to see the results!

Further Finland! Houses and sunsets

You might recall some of the striking photographs I uploaded of my time in Kristiinankaupunki. Well, I’ve continued to be inspired by my travel photographs, and have made some further paintings and drawings!


The Bothnian sea!

sunset housessmall

View from the attic window

sunset house blue & yellow

strange, twilight summer sunsets

These last three images are experiments in paint. I am a self-taught watercolour painter. As a consequence, there are several techniques I never quite learned how to do. Large scale washes and cloudy skies are one of those things. I figured it was time to try and get this technique down pat, using my photographs of the nordic summer as my inspiration.


houses of kristinestad painted in gouache

I don’t paint with gouache very much but I felt the flat colour worked very well to capture these little wooden houses. They’re such brilliant colours! I made this design available on Redbubble and on Spoonflower, so if you want to have curtains with little houses all over them, it’s within your reach!


a rushing river, rendered in ink

I had a lot of fun with the challenge of drawing this turbulent river, and its surrounding rocks and puddles with dip pens and a bottle of ultramarine ink.


A forest stove, woodblock


Another forest stove, etching

These last two images are prints that I developed when I was in Kristinestad, but wasn’t able to print properly. When I had the chance I ran them through the press at Megalo and they came out great!



I was lucky enough to spend June of this year in Kristinestad, Finland, as an artist in residence. It was an incredible, special place. Kristinestad is the only town in Finland to have never burned down, and so it’s full of cute wooden houses from as far back as the 1700s, all more or less intact, on the shores of the Bothnian sea, with the forest a short walking distance away.


I had an absolutely wonderful time going about the town and photographing all the beautiful old buildings in the never-ending summer light. The locals were also very welcoming, and were very excited to show me and the other artists their houses, the forests and the surrounding towns.

Before I left I was still working on the repeat textile patterns I’d started exploring around a year ago. The locals were delighted with my most recent design, Nuthatch Forest.


Nuthatches are “Pähkinänakeli” in Finnish, “Nöttvacka” in Swedish, which comes in handy when you’re in a bilingual town

(The nuthatches are also available on my Redbubble)

The first design I did in Finland was a design of tiled stoves in a little rainbow forest, drawing on the ubiquity of the masonry stove in rural Finland, and the wonderful varied forest landscape that fuels the stoves. It’s also now available as a fabric design!rainbowstovessmallIMG_6467

Masonry stove

A typical Finnish stove in a restored wooden house

Inspired further by the forests, and the light, I did a few smaller drawings, experimenting with technique. The first little landscape was drawn entirely with six different colours of pencil; the second, with six colours of pen. Kristinestadsketchbook

While it can be hard work, I like the effect created by the layering of different simple colours to create a complex range of hues and tones. On my return, I drew a picture of the river Aura in Turku, using five colours of ink and a nib pen, and I love the richness of the result. turkuriversmall

I’m often very frightened to do small drawings in my sketchbook. As a perfectionist, I wonder whether what I’m drawing will be any good, and I feel that people will leaf through, expecting finished masterpieces. When creating art it can be extremely stifling to be constantly worried about whether or not you’re creating a great work whenever you put pencil, pen or brush to paper. I need to remind myself that it’s more important to keep creating than to worry about the worthiness of my work before I’ve even made it. I put these most recent works on my Redbubble because I’m proud of them.

Finally, I created another textile design – jackdaws, in a field of flowers! 


Kristinestad has two things. First, a lot of jackdaws. These small squeaking birds are called Naakka in Finnish and I found them extremely endearing. Second, Kristinestad has a lot of flowers – not only in the kukkakaupat (flower shops), but also growing wild in the forest, in thick carpets of the most thrilling and vibrant purples, pinks and blues. IMG_6886

I loved the kukat, and I loved the naakat. Therefore, I felt I needed to combine the two of them into a repeat pattern. EDIT: My kukkanaakat are now available as fabric!

I had a wonderful time in Kristinestad, and I hope everyone reading this can go to this beautiful town one day too.

Birds, birds and whales

Last year I took part in a contest called Create Art History, held by the State Library of Victoria, held in partnership with Redbubble. The library provided inspiration material from their collection, and the task was to reinterpret the material into something new. I selected this image, called Sea Creatures, by Isaac Commelin  Sea creatures (Isaac Commelin) - State Library Victoria.jpg

Inspired by the sea creatures massing around the ships, as well as the engraving style, I decided on an elaborate ink drawing I called Leviathans. leviathans smallUnfortunately I failed to place in the competition (which seemed more focussed on photoshopping/image manipulation than my typical style of working) but I’m proud of the design anyway. It’s available on Redbubble for all those fans of whales out there.

Next, a design celebrating Australia’s diverse range of black and white birds – the Australian Raven, the Currawong, Australian Magpie, Magpie-Lark or peewee, and the White-Winged Chough

black and white birdsnbg

As a contrast to my slow careful nib drawing, this design was done quickly with ink and brush. It’s available on Redbubble

bird colour wheel nbgcrop.pngFinally, a bird colour wheel! I love the diverse and fabulous range of plumage colours in the natural world, and decided to…well, a bird colour wheel is relatively self-explanatory. The most difficult thing was curating the bird species. It turns out it’s fairly difficult to find bird species that are near-uniformly one bright saturated colour all over – but I found some appropriate species eventually! All the birds are painted in watercolour. This design is also available on redbubble.


Textiles: a new domain

Do you like any of the fabrics shown below? You can purchase them on Spoonflower, as anything from gauze to denim to polar fleece, as well as wallpaper and wrapping paper!

This title might seem odd to those of you who know me in person. While not a lot of my textile-related work gets displayed on the website, I’ve been sewing for years, including going to trade school to learn professional sewing and patternmaking techniques. I also did a little screen printing on fabric during my degree. But recently I’ve started really getting into thinking about not just designing and sewing garments, but designing the prints on the fabric themselves.

Spoonflower fabrics from my shop

Four of my own designs, printed on textiles from Spoonflower

Despite my mutterings that I wouldn’t continue to create repeating patterns traditionally, I’ve become so addicted to the process that I’ve produced several more. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

(By the way, the previously discussed design Galliformes! is now available as fabric on Spoonflower, as shown above)


This design is a watercolour painting of several different species of Rubus, the berry family that includes the raspberry and the cloudberry. I saw many of these beautiful berries in Europe. You can get the design on several products on Redbubble, and also on Spoonflower as a fabric!

fruitdovesgreenfinal.pngfruitdovesyellowfinal.jpgFruit Doves

I’ve always loved the variety of fantastically coloured, unusual birds out there, and fruit doves are particularly wonderful, especially when contrasted with the drab ubiquity of the feral pigeon. This piece was a joy to create – a faster, looser watercolour, less intricate than my berries, and it prints beautifully. Fruit doves twill fabricHere you can see the design printed on twill. You can also get it on Redbubble and Spoonflower!

strychninesmallStrychnine and Oranges

I also began to experiment with the beautiful capabilities of ink. Ink has such a wonderful luminous character, and using ink one can get pure, saturated colours. A while ago I’d had an idea for an exhibition called your fodder is my poison, which would involve a series of images that contrasted food plants with poisonous ones. This design follows from that idea, and depicts a combination of oranges with poisonous strychnine fruits. Available on Redbubble and Spoonflower


This design shows several of Australia’s most notorious feral animals and plants, in luminous rainbow inks. I particularly like the purple glow of the banteng. Available on Redbubble and Spoonflower

poppies.pngInk Pink Poppies 

This design is slightly different because it repeats vertically rather than vertically and horizontally. I was inspired to create this from the wild poppies growing in our garden last year, as well as the brilliant colours of the ink I used. IMG_8080
I ordered this pattern as wrapping paper and it came out beautifully! Available on Redbubble and Spoonflower

I’m very much looking forward to creating new interesting designs this year. I think creating a repeating pattern in woodblocks would be particularly splendid. But in the meantime, I’ve got quite a bit of sewing to be getting on with, and I’m thrilled!

Wood engraving – a new finer art

At the end of last year I had the opportunity to finally learn a skill I’ve been wanting to learn for a very long time – the art of wood engraving. I’ve worked with woodcuts for over 7 years and I love the diversity of mark you can create – from the finest curling line to the crudest gouge, and how the wood can be smooth and forgiving, or full of grain and line and detail.

Wood engraving is different. The marks are smaller, finer, the works often impossibly intricate, printed on very hard wood so fine and dense that even the tiniest scratch or impression will show in the final print. I was excited to see how my style of mark making would translate into this new medium.

The wood engraving class I attended was at Megalo, a Canberra-region print studio I am a member of, taught by Canberra region printmaking artist Peter McLean . I would like to make a general statement about how wonderful it is to be part of a network of other artists. Printmaking can be a very collaborative, supportive medium, requiring artists to share space and communicate with each other. I have always found printmakers to be wonderful people, generous with their time, and I am proud to count myself amongst their number.


We worked with very small maple end-grain blocks, carefully sanding them, coating them in white gouache and drawing an image on them as a guide for our cut lines. For my first engraving I choose to draw a spider. spider engraving

The spider, printed.


The finest lines would print. Here is my second image – Arabell from Horse and Art 

horse engraving

This tiny image is 3.7 by 4.7 cm.

My final image was of a barnacle goose, from my trip to Finland in August 2017. Goose engraving

I carved this image faster than I did with the spider and the horse, so I’m not as happy with the result. However, I am extremely happy with the overall effect of wood engraving, and am looking forward to getting some tools of my own to continue the practice. Small scale works have a lot of advantages, especially if you’re travelling for residencies or have to worry about storing your work, and wood engravings are tiny, intricate and perfect.

Horse and Art 2017

I’ve just been in Europe for 5 weeks! While there, I attended a wonderful, unusual artist’s residency called Horse and Art.

The two program was in a tiny town called Barnag, in rural Hungary, and it emphasised the connection between equestrian arts and visual arts. I got a chance to use my Hungarian language skills, my printmaking skills, and to have a lot of fun working with horses for the first time in my life, having interactions with these beautiful animals that were a far cry from the four standard 2 hour trail rides I’d done in the past.

As a consequence, I did a lot of art. Of horses.


Depicting horses is something I used to do significantly more in the past, before my practice switched to one based more on my own personal observation. I love horses and I love depicting them, but I think I became a little bit worried over the years about avoiding cliche, because horses can be a very cliched subject – think of the painting of the dramatic rearing steed, a herd of galloping horses, or the beautiful pony with flowers in his mane. So I admit that I was a little anxious to resume depicting horses in my work.

I decided to spend time with them, to observe the movement of their bodies, the way the light shone off their coats, the way they moved, the shiver of their muscles and the angles of their moving legs and heads. I created works based on their shifting, contorting bodies.


Zselyke’s chest and legs


Zselyke in print


Arabell dealing with an itch

I also did a lot of work to do with the environment. Barnag is a beautiful place, rolling fields and spectacular skies, covered in wildflowers, thyme, herbs, and berries. IMG_6555IMG_5781IMG_5898

One of the horses, Arabell, would roll in the field and get covered in stains from the dewberries and blackberries. I was intrigued by the berries, and so I did several works based on Arabell’s interaction with them.


The horse herself


An intaglio print, coloured with berries



arabell and blackberriessmall

hand-coloured version of the same woodcut


Small sketch

I also did some other works involving berries, depicting the other horses.

Finally, something non-horse related. A painting of some of the wonderful wildflowers, following on from my wildflower painting I did in Canada. I did this in a much looser style than I usually work, emphasising the ephemeral nature of these abundant plants.


Painting from life


A bouquet of wildflowers and weeds

It was half the length of my previous residency, but it was a very busy, involved time. I met some wonderful people and had some wonderful interactions with the horses. This is a beautiful part of the world – the Hungarians value horses very much, having a history of equestrian skill going right back to the Huns, and the hosts, Beáta and Marton, have wonderful responsive horses whom they work with in a very natural way (lots of bareback riding, significantly less tack than most other equestrian disciplines.) It didn’t matter that I hadn’t had the experience with horses the other residents had had – I was given the opportunity to learn at the pace I was capable of. Now that I’m back in Australia I’d really like to continue riding, although I’m not sure how yet, given that I don’t have a horse or access to a horse!

Redbubble, Spoonflower, and other forms of accessible art!

I’m really happy to belatedly announce that I now have a Redbubble store!

I’ve had people asking about purchasing prints of my art for a very long time, and I finally got around to creating a Redbubble store! Primarily I was intending to sell prints, especially to international customers (as Redbubble handles the shipping, rather than having to handle exorbitant shipping fees myself) but then I realised the other possibilities for my work. .

Many of the works I’ve previously posted online are available on Redbubble, but I’ve also created a new series of works specially for sale. Here are just some of them.


I catered to Twitter’s arachnophiles and spider scientists with this cute little knitting spider!


Repeating pattern of Japanese windflowers, drawn in highlighter

I began experimenting with creating repeating patterns in traditional media. To be honest, it’s such an arduous process that I’m not sure I should continue, but the effects are so wonderful that I might do more.







There will be more things available on my Redbubble periodically! If you like my art I encourage you to check it out.

The Darkness Torch

If you like the works in this post, they’re available as prints at my new Redbubble store! I’ll do a further post about the launch of my Redbubble next, and more information will be there.

Hello there. It sure has been a long time since I posted.

This year I had an exhibition in May/June, called The Darkness Torch. The theme was an exploration of the differences between working in additive media, and in subtractive media (dark to light vs light to dark, the differences between painting and woodcuts.)

When searching for ideas, I suddenly thought of a pink raven – and how the idea of a raven is so linked to its colour. Would the same bird be recognisable in a different coat of feathers? pinkravensmall

I expanded this into a small series of familiar birds in unexpected colours

black gull small

Black Gull

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White Black Swan

Bower hen small

Bower Hen

Next came a few landscape paintings.

scene with no black small

Scene with No Black


City for Cars

This scene was inspired by a day when I went to go and see a small architecture exhibition at the National Archives. I took a wrong turn and parked my car at the West Block, instead of the East Block. The carpark was deserted, and it got me thinking – how often is a carpark deserted, except for your own car? My Honda Jazz looked so strange and melancholy, alone in the middle of a city designed for cars.



This near-abstraction of a landscape almost killed me to paint.

Also included in the exhibition were some woodcuts I’d created. Two depict horses, as they were pieces created to apply for a horse-themed residency. I’ve always really liked horses, but I turned away from depicting them for several years, as my practice changed to one based more on personal observation and I don’t really have much access to horses. Therefore, I decided I needed to create some more recent horse-based works, to demonstrate that I have an interested in horses in art.
(I got the residency placement by the way, next post will be about my time there.)




Winter Coat

The first of these was done on a wood plate, the second on a piece of plywood. Both have very different textures, and the line created by the chisel works very differently on each one.

Finally, I created a botanical motif based on my walks around the neighbourhood, seeing signs for fuel-reduction burns tethered to plants in the bushland.


This exhibition was the largest I’ve done yet, and the effect of the works on the walls ended up being absolutely wonderful. However, creating the works took a lot out of me, which is why I seem to have fallen off from updating this site a bit. It’s been a rather busy year, and I’m trying to get back into it.

Thanks again,