Monday, 7 October 2019

School Holiday Activity 2

Week 2 of Spring Holiday

Boredom buster freebie

Week 2 is underway and whether you can't wait to get back to school routine or are still loving the lazy mornings, there might be moments when "I'm bored" rings in your ears...

This fun activity is less 'technical' than the last, but every bit as creative. In fact - there's a LOT of fun to be had with this one.

The original sketch for this piece was done as part of a routine of drawing practice: repetition breeds mastery. I offered similar pieces in groups for a limited time in my Etsy store - with the 'catch' being: you didn't know which piece you would receive until it arrived to you. That was a fun way to embrace affordable, original art and also gives this sketch the perfect alignment with this 'Surprise!' themed activity. 

Fold her mouth according to the instructions* and colour her in as you prefer. Her mouth can be given teeth and a tongue, ask a joke, recite a motivational quote or ... you decide!
Alternative versions of the print out include these with the 'enclosed' words: BOO! or 'You are wonderful' :)


 Enjoy - and, as before, I'd love you to share your finished piece/s with me!

x Mel

*Fold the bottom lip up to the top lip - with the straight lines on top of each other (hold the page against a window so you can see through the paper if it helps to line it up). Crease the bottom lip along the straight line and fold down so you can see it. Pull the bottom of the page to open her mouth.

Monday, 30 September 2019

School Holiday Activity 1

End of Spring Term Holiday 

Boredom Buster Freebie

Love 'em or hate 'em: it's holiday time... and the forecast is wet :(

Whether your school holiday quest is to find supervision for your kids while you're working outside the home, or trying to keep the kids busy while you valiantly try to carry on working from home, or just trying to keep the kids busy so they don't have time to kill each other... every little bit of entertainment helps.

This Symmetry Drawing exercise may help soak up a few glorious minutes of quiet, squabble free, pester-less harmony*. Coloured pencils are highly recommended - and if colour matching half-for-half is going to be your mission, you'll be surprised (delighted?) to find greens, purples and blues are important, if non-traditional, colours for her face.

As an aside, this is one of my oil paintings from earlier in the year when I embarked on an exploratory adventure - and an all-time fave. We're on a first name basis with her in this house - her name's Clarissa. She's got a whole bio which you can find via this Instagram post and also features on these bookmarks.

I'm hoping it'll work for you to download and print Clarissa from this blog post and please share the finished masterpieces with me via my social media channels: 
  • Facebook
  • Instagram:
I can't wait to see what your little Picasso's (and/or YOU!) create!!

Happy drawing - and happy holidays!

x Mel

* No guarantees

Friday, 4 January 2019

12 art explorations in 12 months

Welcoming 2019

The arrival of the new year has undoubtedly not slipped past your notice... social media posts around the world abound with people declaring their 'intentions', 'focus/focuses' and resolutions or, a particular trend I've noticed this year, resolving NOT to change at all! Self-love and acceptance is the new black it seems.

I'm all for embracing this time of year as a season of motivation and the sense of a fresh start that a new year brings. So if you want to make changes, I say go for it! There's plenty of places in this grand interconnected web that can help you with ensuring your resolutions are goal-orientated - that are specific, measurable, achievable etc etc. There's even worksheets and templates to get you started, so really there's no excuses and I've 'pinned' some of my favourites on this Pinterest board.

Another approach to the new year-new you situation is to choose a word for the year that becomes your guide. Words I've seen floating around include: growth, harmony, abundance, presence, simplify, balance etc. Advice includes 'letting the word come to you', 'thinking about the person you want to be at the end of the year', 'creating a shortlist and discussing with a friend' etc. Again, I've saved some helpful 'word of the year' blog posts on the Pinterest board.

My own approach to the new year includes cleaning out cupboards and drawers: I see your 'Spring Cleaning' and raise you a 'High Summer Clean' - again: seize that motivation and make it work for you! Even my kids are on the case :)

But the other thing, and the main reason for this blog post (I promise I'm getting to the point!) - is to share my 'One Word'. And that word is....

Now confession time - I'm not usually a resolution setting/word of the year sort of person. But this word came to me - like literally popped into my head. And sat so well, felt so 'right' and seemed to give me the permission I wanted to, well, explore.

So what's that going to look like. As the days (we're up to day 4 since the new year began) have passed since then, my mind has expanded further on what exploring is going to look like. And as it happens there are 12 areas I want to explore in my art and 12 months for the year so that seems awfully convenient. 1 art exploration each month should be manageable/achievable and see me nicely through to the end of the year.

It might be that I fall madly in love with a new technique or medium as the months unfold, so I don't expect to leave these things behind if that's the case. I'm expecting - indeed HOPING - that new ways or doing things/styles/colours etc will become imbibed in my normal practice as I go. Equally, I might try something that just doesn't work for me - perhaps just for now, perhaps ever - but also, that's ok.

12 months - 12 Explorations

The explorations fall conveniently into groupings that can be assigned headings such as 'Medium' or 'Subject' but I won't necessarily tackle them in this order.
  1. Oil paints - I 'inherited' some oil paint tubes a while back and have even added a couple of new ones and specific oil brushes to my arsenal since then... last year I was definitely going to bust them out but all of a sudden the year was over (how does that even happen??), so 2019 had better be the year it actually happens! And afterall, who doesn't love an oil portrait??
  2. Watercolour paints - my previous experience with watercolours has been for very different pieces of art. Admittedly, I'm nervous about this one as I perceive watercolours as very 'unforgiving' - at least with acrylics/oils you can paint over any mistakes. But I'm looking forward to getting some beautiful blooms and layering happening.
  3. Multi-medium - I was going to include pastels as a stand alone exploration, but think I'll given them an honourable mention under 'multi-medium' as I can see them more being used as accents in a piece - which may or may not also include collage as an additional area of exploration ;)
  4. Screen printing - should park this one alongside block printing/monoprinting - but thinking that the screen printing could end up being used both stand alone and as part of a multimedium piece.
  5. Jigsaw cutouts - have jigsaw, will cut. And then paint. 'Nuff said.
  6. Work vertical - this will be an interesting challenge as I tend to work with thin watery layers towards the completion of a piece - which is either going to mean embracing gravity/dribbles or working with thicker layers. I'm actually quite a fan of dribbles in other people's art so watch this space...
  7. Block printing/monoprinting - again a technique I've dabbled with, though only barely, so looking forward to giving myself permission to really indulge. I adore the lino cut/block print work of artists like Sarah Golden and Richelle Bergen. I'm interested to see if I can find my own style to suit this technique.
  8. Multiple figures/faces - most (all?) of my figurative work so far has been of a single person - and then barely ever a whole person - so working multiple figures into a single piece of art will be a fun(?) challenge.
  9. Torsos - I've dabbled with torsos thus far - which have been well received. Indeed the piece I probably got the most positive feedback on in 2018 was this one. She was small, but she was mighty.
  10. Scale - I spent a lot of 2018 working small... small baby, small paintings. (Could be a life motto.) I'm thinking it's time to supersize. Afterall, baby is somewhat of a giant these days.
  11. Offer prints - fairly self-explanatory. Although some work to be done on figuring out whether to do a print run, or print-to-order. Also: where to print, what to print and what to print on (not all paper is created equal). This may not become a regular thing but will be an interesting exercise to work through.
  12. Colour - I tend to work with a fairly subdued and familiar colour palette so for some reason I'm thinking turquoise and candy pink for this exploration. (Not together.) By the time I get 'round to this those thoughts might have changed.
So as 2019 gets underway, I'm intending to share my journey with you. I'll invite your feedback on my endeavours and look forward to your thoughts as I go. Are you an artist that could tackle any of these 'explorations' in your own work? Be sure to tag me if you do so I can see what you're up to and support your journey in return!

What a year it will be. And the only question now is: where to start!!?

x Mel

Friday, 23 November 2018


Original portrait art: face and eye paintings

The Penny Drops is your hub for haunting, mesmerising original New Zealand art. 
  • Eyes that meet your gaze, 
  • Faces with evocative contour and shadow, and 
  • Unexpected pops of colour.
Found in memorable one-of-a-kind paintings by Southland (New Zealand) based artist Mel McKenzie.

Where to find me:

Inject some art into your daily scroll via my Facebook page.
Keep up to date with regular Instagram eye candy.
Become a collector of original art for your home via my Etsy store.
Browse through art, interiors and general style inspiration with me on Pinterest.

Lovely to have you along on this journey :)

x Mel

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Our Farmhouse

Chasing the light

This week our home - and its post-renovation photos - were shared on Habitat by Resene's website.

We moved into the family home on the farm, in the depths of a Southland winter, nearly four years ago and at the time 8.5 months pregnant with baby number 3.

The farmhouse had already been significantly updated from its original state by my in-laws, with a new kitchen, bathroom, extensive decking and more contemporary wall colours (paint and paper).

The brief

Our growing family desired a forth bedroom, a second bathroom, an office, central heating, a new roof, a better connection with an enlarged back garden and, perhaps most importantly, more light.

Here are just a few photos of the renovated farmhouse - and because I'm a habitual rearrange-er, things already look different to when these photos were taken - so maybe that's a blog post for another day...

Welcome to our home

An existing foyer now doubles as a piano room and the new double doors with glass better connect the interior of the house to the entrance.

The new bedroom used to be part of an open plan living area. We closed it in, squeezed in the world's smallest ensuite and enjoy the first rays of the sun across the valley each morning.

Laminate wood flooring was a no brainer for us after having carpet under the dining table in previous homes: kids + food + carpet = mess.

We dub this 'The Library'. A massive built in cabinet has loads of storage underneath for kids toys and big shelves for books and other treasures.

Look at all the light! The window seat - especially with the bi-folding windows thrown open - are a favourite place to spend an afternoon reading. This part of the house was an extension. It grabs all the afternoon sun and gives us so much space.

The completed farmhouse is a dream to live in and worth all the time, money and chilly winter days.

See the full blog post on the Habitat blog here:

x Mel

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Nursery design made simple

Congratulations: you're pregnant!

You've just peed on The Stick. 2 lines have appeared.

There's so much to do:
  1. Find a midwife. 
  2. Work out how to discreetly not drink that wine until you're ready to tell people. 
  3. The Pregnancy Announcement. 
  4. Figure out if you can eat that cheese. 
  5. Figure out if there's anything you can eat that won't make you vomit.
  6. Buy maternity clothes.
  7. Decide whether to find out the sex. 
  8. Pee.
  9. Choose a name - or two depending on #7
  10. The Gender Reveal - or not, also depending on #7
  11. Antenatal classes.
  12. Pee.
  13. Write a birth plan.
  14. Waddle.
  15. Pack the hospital bag.
  16. Pee.
  17. Labour.
You could be forgiven for ranking nursery design way down the list. Afterall, the baby's not going to care for a (long) while.

How to Design a Nursery

Fortunately, nursery design is as simple as choosing 'The One Piece'. 
Just one. 
The trick is, you have to fall in love with it.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The hanging basket's moment in the sun

'World famous' in Aotearoa

The latest issue of New Zealand's hugely popular Your Home and Garden magazine has hit the stands and arrived in the mailboxes of subscribers (of which I am one).

Being about as far away from the distribution point as it's possible to get, I was one of the last to receive the mag... but so worth the wait!