Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Art in the new year

Today is the second last day of 2008 - a day to reassess the previous year and look to the future years. It is so easy though to forget the day we are in and live for these two. It is a cliche but always worth a reminder that plans are just that - plans - they are not a reality that we live in. Today - here at the keyboard - is my reality. As I sit here the washing machine rumbles, the sun shines in a clear deep blue sky and the wind rattles the windows. Today is a painting day.

Despite the preceding I have plans for 2009. A new plan is for an exhibition at the end of the year in Brisbane and participation early in 2009 in a group show in Melbourne. It is the second time I have exhibited in Brisbane and the first time in Melbourne so I am looking forward to that very much. Images of the works I will send to Melbourne are here.

I have been thinking lately about Monet's art philosophy. For him his art governed his life. It became more than a "depiction" or a response to his landscape. He didn't demand of himself that he convey a message via his art. He didn't see it as his purpose to embody a concept in his line, colour and forms. These were things placed on his art from the outside by theorists who were placing him in the line of historic movements. The human need for order dictates that we place people, including artists, within an explanation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have been busy with preparations for Christmas. I have just returned recently from a family reunion and am feeling very thankful for the large and caring family I come from. A lot of the relies and friends I haven't seen for several years. We have all changed in many ways but are essentially the same as we always have been. I have so many ideas of directions my work could take. I am looking forward to spending a long stretch of time doing nothing but painting following Christmas. I will do some works based on my current landscape but will do some sketches from my recent European trip. I am preparing for my next trip by checking out accommodation, routes and air fares etc. I will go to London and New York. I am excited at the prospect of seeing the Turners in London and seeing the galleries in New York.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I have been moving house over the last few weeks. As a consequence I haven't gotten to do very much painting at all. This is a shame as a couple of people have been wanting to purchase my work. It is a nice predicament to be in but worrying as it is a lost opportunity. Two of my works are currently showing in the Summer Moments Exhibition at the Art Moment Gallery in Sydney. This exhibition continues until December 24th. One of the works is based the Northern Tablelands where I now live. It is of Wollomombi Gorge. The other is of the dry golden paddocks of the farmland around the area when there is very little rain. Since completing this work the landscape has changed as plentiful rain has turned the area to a range of rich greens.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Have been looking back through the photos I took on my trip to France. Some here of the house we stayed in and some of the town in Provence near in which we stayed. I may do some paintings from this trip but the quaint window-boxed houses have really been done to death. They are so beautiful that they match any picture-postcard image of them. In a painting they would probably look false to those who hadn't seen them in real life. They look so beautifully like a cliche. I completed some pen and wash sketches there but am not sure if I will take them further.

Friday, November 14, 2008

These last few weeks have been taken up with painting, house hunting and caring for sick relatives. The first is the one I most enjoy. I was happy to finally finish a painting to the stage where I was happy with it. Sometimes this happens quickly and the work can be finished in a couple of longish intensive bursts. Other times, as with this one, it can take months of working on it, leaving it, working on it again etc etc. This work I began in early 2008!
I am living in the Northern Tablelands area now. I always paint my immediate environment as I am reacting to the beauty to be found there. On Sunday I drove out to Ebor Falls to see once again this area of the gorge country. I find I need to regularly walk in the bush and sketch the rocks, water, trees and hills. This gives me a store of immediate information. My resulting work has an imediacy that comes from this. Those who understand abstraction can see that a good abstract work originates in keen and particular perception. Interestingly when adding to a couple of images in one of my last posts they were transformed. They do have their own life.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Life has been hectic lately and it is sometimes difficult to find the long stretches of time necessary to get involved fully in my art work. Family and work take up a lot of time as all artists would be aware. To be an artist is to be a juggler and an exercise in passion and commitment. Art work must be as much a priority as the aforementioned ones. Art is an act not a result. I believe that in times where nothing is being produced that appears to be satisfactory at the time that the time spent in the act of artmaking is contributing at some level to the work that is in the end produced. It is not time wasted but rather time of great creativity. It is the thrashing around in the quarry before the building is assembled.

I have been asked for a small painting of the area I live in. I have a large one that has been on the go for a while now. I have been asked to put work in an exhibition in Sydney later in the year. All very exciting. The weather is changing here and the icy winds of winter are clearing for clear blue skies. The blossoms have gone, the bulbs are flowering and spring is clear and beautiful. There is plenty of inspiration in this New England landscape.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I have just arrived home from my trip to France and Italy. I spent most of my time in France with the last week being a whistle-stop trip to Italy. I spent a week in Paris before spending two weeks in a house in the country in Provence. The time in Provence was the highlight for me. We were in an old farmhouse just outside the little town of Eyguiere. Using this as a base we took trips to Arles, Van Gogh's town, Aix-e-Provence and many neighbouring villages with their open-air cafes, rugged limestone backdrops and local small markets. Aix-en-Provence claims Cezanne as their own. A highlight for me in particular was seeing Cezanne's Mont St Victoire. Mont SV was Monet's haystack being painted by him again and again. The mountain dominates the skyline of Aix where he was born and spent most of his life.

I am putting here a few preliminary images from my trip to the Flinders last year. It was a dry but beautiful time. The flowers that usually colour the area in October were very few and far between. The drought had taken hold here as it had over vast areas of Australia

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Next week I am going to France and Italy for the first time. I am very excited at the prospect of seeing "in the flesh" the works of art I have read and heard so much about. To stand before the Burghers of Calais, The Thinker or The Kiss. It will be amazing. As a painter I am especially interested in the graphic arts. I will visit all the famous museums and galleries in Paris. I will have two weeks in the south of France so will have time to go to Arle, Avignon, Antibes. I particularly want to see the work of Monet and Cezanne. The first influences my own art with his mysterious and subtle blends of colour. Cezanne had a true honesty and simplicity in his work. He honours structure and composition. To see his Mont St Victoire will be a privilege.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Images from my Flinders trip

I took many photos on my trip last year to the Flinders Ranges. Here are a few that, along with drawings, inspired the current series of paintings

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Have been finishing and continuing work on a number of works based on a trip to the Flinders Ranges. The rugged rock lines jutting out from the soil and vegetation were striking. Hans Heysen walked through the area drawing and painting as he went. The Heysen Trail runs from the top of the Flinders down to the Fleurieu Peninsula. He summarised what struck me most about the Flinders country. He said that here "the bones of the country are laid bare". His two main inspirations in terms of landscape motifs were the Australian gum tree and the Flinders landscape. The landscape of the Flinders brings the visitor up against the enormity of primeval forces. My own works use texture and overlaying washes to emulate the ruggedness and exposed rock.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Have been sorting through images of my work. Am sending some works to a New York exhibition next year.
Why is it that we need to exhibit? Is it to communicate? Art is an activity - an activity in which the artist is at his/her most reclusive - and yet backing up instinct and bonding with the medium in this act is a lifetime of reason, emotion, intelligence and idiocy. We wrestle alone and helpless. We paint by walking into the studio each day and picking up and using the brush.
"When you start on a long journey, trees are trees, water is water, and mountains are mountains. After you have gone some distance, trees are no longer trees, water no longer water, mountains no longer mountains. But after you have travelled a great distance, trees are once again trees, water is once again water, mountains are once again mountains." Zen teaching.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"When my daughter was about seven years old she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college - that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said "You mean they forget?" - Howard Ikemoto

Bayles, David and Orland, Ted, Art and fear: observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking, Capra Press, Saint Paul, 2002.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My artwork began with working in fibre working from a studio at Salamanca Place in Hobart. I was born in Canberra and have since lived in Melbourne, Hobart and Northern New South Wales. From living in Hobart with it's blue skies and lush green hills I moved to Armidale, then to Moree and then to the country outside Tamworth. Now I am living in the country just outside of Armidale again. It will be interesting to see new artwork originating once again from this rocky country. I began painting as this art form seemed to best reflect the land. The land and it's use was a dominant element in my new rural environment. The granite and eucalypt colours of the Armidale area contrast with the Deep browns of the Black Soil Plains and the worn, rounded yellow hills of the dry Tamworth countryside. The colours of the land reflect the underlying geography, the farming use of the land and the effects of the climate on vegetation.