Friday, December 31, 2010

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."    Plato

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hiatus. Creative block

For a long time I have not had much to write about. Maybe, however, that in itself is something to write about. I am in the middle of a creative block. I have a number of works that are partly finished but have not touched them for a couple of weeks or so now. At this time of year the duties (or should I say "celebrations") of Christmas tend to take over as well which will make dealing with it worse. It was heartening to have sold a couple of works last week. It is nice to think of my work going into someone's home and hopefully giving them pleasure. I am still, however, finding it impossible to get myself to go into the studio.
It is difficult to climb out of a block period. Some people use random art work including mixed media work, with no object in mind. I think a lot of the problem is a consciusness of having to "get it right". Working towards an exhibition encourages this way of thinking.

This gives a few ideas. Using a different scale and loose mark-making may be the way to go to free up and get "in the groove" again. I do like the idea of pinning large sheets of paper to the wall and drawing large and free with no object other than the enjoyment of the process in mind. I think it was Kokowshka that recommended drawing with the whole body, The sweep of the arm not just the hand. Jackson Pollock is an obvious contemporary example of this. I will use this as a guide and see what happens.
This video isn't really on creative block but interesting anyway.

No images of my work this time. Hopefully with the next post.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tnorala, Northern Territory

Tnorala, Northern Territory. Gouache on paper. 50cm x 70cm

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another outback landscape painting

It is grey outside and has been raining off and on. It is unusual for this time of the year in Tamworth. It would usually being consistently hot by now. Extremes in weather conditions are always in the news. We have experienced floooding and drought here but I can't imagine what it would be like to spend long periods in snow as so many parts of the owrld do. I will be working in Tamworth for about three more weeks then back to Armidale. I am looking forward to the change. I haven't painted since the last rush to get my work to the Walcha Gallery. I now have a body of work ready so couldl put on an exhibition with very little preparation necessary. This is a great position to be in. I am putting here a photo of a painting. It is really a "painting in progress" as I think it needs changing and who knows how much it will change. This can be small additions or it can become unrecognisable as being from the some work. Usually it is the latter as the last stage can often be a quick and gestural attempt to convey the essence of what originally caught my eye. This work also is from the West MacDonnell Ranges and is 50 x 70cm. It is acrylic and gouache on paper.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photos of the MacDonnell Ranges

I just thought I'd put up a few photos of the areas that my paintings have been inspired by. Such a range of beautiful spots I think it will be a long series.

Painting the West MacDonnell Ranges

The Chrismas group show at the Walcha Gallery of Art opened on Friday. Walcha is about an hours drive from Tamworth where I am working at the moment. It was a busy day as at work there were meetings that were pretty heavy going. Sometimes it is hard to achieve the work-life balance necessary to paint with a calm mind. It often seems to be that the house and garden go to pot if I am working towards a show. One day I will be able to "do it all". The exhibition included paintings by Ross Laurie, Angus Nivison, Barbara McKay. There were also sculptures by Stephen King and Myfanwy Gullifer among others. Ross taught me a long time ago and his paintings are about the land he lives on, or is it "in" and are in cheerful colours. When he taught me and he preferred greys and browns. I remember us doing colour charts in which we mixed the different blues and the different greys. We added white to each combination. What resulted was, in the case of the colours that were predominantly blue a beautiful range of subtle silvers. I have put here an example of the other artists work in that show.
Ross Laurie

Angus Nivison

Barbara McKay

Stephen King

Rosalie Rigby

Myfanwy Gullifer

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roma Gorge, Northern Territory. Mixed media on paper

Monday, November 22, 2010

I am just about finished working on some some works on paper based on my Outback trip. These are larger paintings and are in acrylic and gouache. I have rediscovered gouache and love its matte finish and the clarity of its colours. I'm hoping to be able to find somewhere that I can purchase large tubes of paint. The medium used for a painting really does influence the whole look of the work especially the markmaking. The subject matter matter demands its own unique treatment. I usually work in an impasto style where the brushmark is evident. I prefer to use oils but do also work in acrylic. Gouache, however, is a flat, flowing paint so results in flat, uniform areas of colour. I am using gouache with oilstick and charcoal.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Green Hills Oil on canvas 30cm x 30cm
Help! Does anyone know why I getting a different language appear on my posts?

Friday, November 19, 2010


I'm not sure why but the beginnings of some blogs and the ends seem to come out in an Arabic-looking script. Some words are and some not. The mysteries of the magic machine on my lap.
I have a busy weekend ahead finishing off three works on paper based on the Northern Territory trip that I took a while ago. They are to go in a group exhibition that opens at Walcha Gallery next Friday evening. Walcha is a small artistic town. The town itself has many public sculptures by local sculptors. Above are some of the sculptures.There are also some well known painters in the area. The Gallery has opened quite recently.
I am also putting here a link to a friend's original jewellery site. Here are a few of her beautiful pieces. She makes silver and found object art. She is a sculptor and in her jewellery she uses beaten silver, beads and

Monday, November 15, 2010

I have had to put in a new water pump this morning. All of a sudden yesterday there was no water. Luckily I wasn't in the shower at the time. As I live out of town the house water all comes from my two tanks. Bore water is used to water the garden but is too high in calcium to use in the house. We have had such a lot of rain that the tanks are full. This is so different to a few years ago when I had to buy a couple of truckloads of water. Then it was a case of choosing which plants to keep alive by watering with buckets. Now it is raining every few days and last Wednesday we had 60ml overnight and the causeway at the bottom of my road was too full to drive through. I have lived here for about eight years now and have never seen our road cut. La Nina? I have a tin roof on my house and at the moment I am listening to the rain on it and looking out to the range of hills across the valley. My house has a wide veranday looking towards the hills and I seem to spend a lot of time out there and have painted it a number of times. I have moved all my potplants to the corner of the verandah to catch the rain. I have some herbs, some Jasmine, an ornamental grape vines and pots of native plants. The birds are loving the rain too. Three of my potplants are in coconute-fibre lined hanging baskets. The birds have used this to build their nests. I have made it very easy for them. We have finches, cockatoos, galahs and sometimes King Parrots. Every evening about four to five kangaroos come down beside the house. We also have magpies - two of them are on the verandah railing looking at me now. The young squark constantly for food.These are some images of paintings I did from my verandah a few years ago.
The paintings here were done when we were in a drought period "the worst draught in 100 years" it was said.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Glen Helen Gorge, Northern Territory
Oil on canvas 30cm x 30cm
This is one of the paintings that came from my trip to the outback. I have started a series of these. I have completed a couple of small canvases and am now working on some larger works on paper

Friday 5 November.
It was announced today at the Art Gallery of New South Wales that Suzanne Archer is the winner of the 2010 Dobell Prize for Drawing for her work Derangement.
Suzanne Archer was awarded $25,000 for winning Australia’s most important prize for drawing. This year there were 635 entries, of which 45 are included in the exhibition.

The subject of the winning drawing is a self-portrait of the artist in her studio. At either side of the central form of her face are some of the objects she has gathered there: a desiccated kangaroo and a sculpture of a horse’s head the artist made from wood found in the nearby bush. It is part of a larger body of work that has arisen from drawings Archer made of animals at the Veterinary Science laboratories at Sydney University in 2004, as well as of skulls and bones collected near her bush studio, and from a developing awareness arising out of her relationship with these animal remains, of her own mortality.

Suzanne Archer is a senior painter, sculptor, printmaker and teacher who has lived and worked at Wedderburn in the south-west Sydney region since the late 1980s. Born in 1945 in Surrey, England, she studied at Sutton School of Art prior to migrating to Australia in 1965. She has exhibited widely since the mid ’60s, was granted residencies in New York and Paris in 1978-79 and has won numerous awards, including a fellowship from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council in 1993 and the Wynne Prize in 1994. She has been a Dobell Prize finalist three times (in 2000, 2002 and 2009).

The Dobell Prize for Drawing, initiated by the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, is an acquisitive prize, first awarded in 1993.

This year’s judge was Alun Leach-Jones. Alun is a Sydney painter, draughtsman, sculptor and printmaker.

Alun Leach-Jones comments: the work is expressive, darkly poetic and full of drama. There is an ambiguous narrative, alive with vivid and sinister images that are depictive, symbolic and metaphoric. The subject of drawing is drawing itself. Suzanne Archer’s winning work clearly shows her awareness of this profound aspect of the art of drawing – regardless of its apparent subject matter.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I went down to Sydney to see the Paths to Abstraction exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This consisted of "140-plus works by some of the most influential artists of the modern era, including Whistler, Cézanne, Monet, Seurat, Vuillard, Bonnard, Gauguin, Matisse, Derain, Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Klee, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Hans Arp and Sophie Taüber-Arp" It was exciting to see such a collection of well-known artists work.

I went down for the weekend. On the Sunday I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the S.H. Ervin Gallery. Primavera was showing at the MCA which is an exhibition of artists under the age of 35 years.

The exhibition at the S. H. Ervin Gallery was of Australian women artists. "Slow Burn- A century of Australian women artists from a private collection. Slow Burn traces the history of women artists in Australia and the development of a remarkable private collection over a 15 year period. The evolution of the collection was guided by the late art dealer, Eva Breuer. This exhibition presents ninety three Australian women artists ranging from the delicate pastels of Janet Cumbrae Stewart to the modernist prints of Margaret Preston through to the bio-techno sculptures of Patricia Piccinini. The works in the exhibition demonstrate the skill and versatility of women artists over the past hundred years."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spring is here at last. Today we have clear blue skies, the birds are singing and the view goes for miles. We have had rain every few days so everywhere is green and lush. The trees are in blossom and the flowers are out. It is a beautiful time to be alive. Work has been demanding but today is one of my precious days doing nothing but painting. I am enjoying using oil paints. I also am thinking of doing a large drawing based on the West MacDonnell Ranges using charcoal and inks.

This is a quick basic sketch from my trip.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Glen Helen Gorge. Gouache on paperI have taken down my paintings from the exhibition in Armidale. I am really enjoying not having the pressure of working towards an exhibition. After a fair break I am starting back this weekend into my painting. I will do some works from the Northern Territory and go up the hill at the back of my home and do some en plein air paint sketches. This is a small gouache from my trip away.

I am looking forward to going to Sydney in a couple of weeks to see the Abstraction exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW. I am going to see work in private galleries as well.
Art Gallery of NSW: "Discover the work of the most influential artists of the modern era and how they changed the course of art forever.
Experimenting with colour and form, these artists explored exciting new ways of seeing and imagining.
This major exhibition of over 150 paintings, drawings and prints reveals how abstract art emerged around the world.
On loan from 59 of the most prestigious art collections in the world including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Museu Picasso Barcelona, Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Tate Modern and National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Art Gallery of NSW "

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A lovely gallery in the pretty town of Walcha. The current exhibition is of Barbara Mackay's paintings. Adjoining the gallery is a beautiful guest house. Walcha is a town where a number of prominent artists live and is on the Northern Tablelands adjacent to Apsley Gorge and National Park.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The view from here. John Olsen. On Youtube

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

After a break to gather my thoughts and get ready to work again things are starting to flow again. My exhibition is up at the moment at the New England Regional Art museum and I am happy with how it has gone. I am happy with the way it looks hung and so far have sold enough to cover my costs. There is a week to go before I take it down. I will then place some works in a couple of galleries. It has been very relaxing not having the pressure of exhibitions in the offing. Hopefully the next year can be spent painting, exploring and "playing".

From my trip to the outback I have brought back many inspirations and ideas of new work. These will be based on the importance of the rock structures as the "bones of the land" (Heysen). The sketches I did while in the MacDonnell Ranges were realistic in the shapes and colours of the fault lines and pitted red sandstone but the resulting paintings may be abstract. The shapes outback are stark, beautifully coloured and awe-inspiring. The problem would be to paint a painting that is not a cliche, that is not a "been there done that". Some images showing the abstract nauture of the landscape

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm really looking forward to a trip to the outback soon. I leave on Friday for two weeks. I am hoping to do some gouache and pen and ink works. If I can I may do some larger acrylic works. Oil painting would be too messy and so can be done later in the studio based on memories, sketches and photographs. I will be staying at Glen Helen just west of Alice Springs and making day trips.
I now have a Facebook page at