The Ups and Downs of Drawing

IMG_4071A shag and a pig went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat lined, with red-lead”

Sometimes I feel very connected to where I live and other times I want to get the hell out.  A while back I saw a submission for sculpture installation at the lake.  The lake was my childhood home, the boatshed my happy days. Somehow I feel as an artist I have a deep connection and I sort of owe it to me and the lake to produce something worthwhile.  I have done plenty of research and have my own motifs that appear in paintings and drawings.  I didn’t do the submission – no time, no confidence, no excuse really. This week while driving to work I passed the sculpture that has been erected where I thought I should do something.  I was prepared for the worst. I’m really happy with it. I didn’t do it but someone put their hand up and it feels very right.

Ghost Trees

Ghost Trees

Drawing on stories from the community there is a strength of connection behind the work. I had my own plans and a work that really was about me more than the area, so I am glad there is a work that will tell lots of other stories.

Anyway the drawing is improving. Once again the cormorants surfaced, the boatshed and my struggle to get it out. I may not have built a huge black shaped wing on the foreshore but I feel at peace with a story in art there for others.


Meanwhile I am still drawing more stories from my childhood on the lake.



Torpedo the pig

Torpedo the pig




The Logistics of Bigness

23032010 001I have been in a state of continual poor, poor, pitiful me. No studio. No room. No paint.  Over the past few weeks I have been trying to organise my artself- what’s sold, what’s stored, what’s donated, given away, torn up and lost. It feels never-ending. I’m up to entry 72 and it is one huge drawing – 1.5 m x 2.950 m.  I loved doing this drawing – the setting up. I had a studio then, but it still meant getting an old door across a trestle, rolling out the paper to the length of the door surface. I can’t remember when I last saw it – it must be rolled up in the garage somewhere. It was part of the Roadside Series and looking back one I feel I can come back to.  Each time I drive I see something that could be translated by a piece of dusky charcoal and a fence-painting brush full of gouache.

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Reading sculptor Anne Truitt’s Daybook has resonated with me over the last week. She found herself in the same pitiful spiral of no room. A sculptor must feel this restriction of space so much more, however she decided rather than cry over space deprivation she would use what space she had- the kitchen table- to draw.  I think this is an admiral decision, and good advice to follow – I’ve been doing small kitchen-appropriate drawings and paintings but really they don’t cut the mustard for me.

Here’s a look at a few shots – process and finished works.

Studio Roadside

Juggling Jellyblubbers


One painting leads to another, and another, and another. Velasquez started it, John Olsen changed it, and I melded it into a slippery oozy painterly mess.  Somehow the egg and the jellyfish became a transluscent clue into my painting re-birth.  Jellyfish have emerged in my drawings of the past, they are at the end of the jetty, gliding just below the surface – transparent water, transparent flesh, ungrabbable.

An old sketch- they were there in the past.

An old sketch- they were there in the past.




Velasquez and I Cook Eggs

IMG_3214Inspiration comes in packages of all shapes, sizes and compositions.  Recently I was gobsmacked by Velasquez Old Woman Cooking Eggs. There was a dynamism in the figures and objects and how they related to each other both in colour and shape.  As a result a new series of small works in gouache provided impetus for bigger and better things.  The serendipity of reading John Olsen’s biography whilst working on the series, also laid another level.

The egg, a symbol of hope and regeneration that he saw in Velasquez, carried into his work and as a result into mine. I could see a jelly-fish-like symbol in the slithery par-cooked egg whites that could transfer into compositions for my boatshed works.


Velasquez: Old Woman Cooking Eggs.

Velasquez: Old Woman Cooking Eggs.

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The World Wide Scribble Pad

The One that started it all….

OK Enough is enough!  It’s been too long since my last post. I’ve had a few changes lately which has meant pulling out some old paintings, organising art stuff and documents etc. The tacky unglamorous side of art.  It was then that I realised what the original purpose of this blog was  – someone wanted to buy a painting, I had no website and my storage system was pretty much non-existent.

So I began the laborious task of putting each painting up, making notes on series but then I got a little excited.  Instead of scribbling notes about exhibitions in my sketchbooks, I began blogging. It was a huge worldwide scribble pad that visitors could like.

I helped friends set up their blogs, began making art quizzes and photographing.  In the sorting I have come across paintings I had forgotten and sketches that brought back memories of places and people.

Rocks Day 65- memories of places...

Rocks Day 65- memories of places…

I haven’t blogged for a while, my life has taken a turn recently. I miss blogging, I miss painting and yesterday I could feel the desperate need for drawing returning. I don’t know if that means I am getting better or trying to fill a need. Either way – charcoal and gouache is a good remedy and a nice way to scribble on my world-wide sketchbook.



Paint and Smoke

Capstan Reds

Capstan Reds

I tend to think of myself as a landscape painter, I don’t know why. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit. I love the stuff in the landscape as much as the setting itself, even when it’s dirty fag packets.  The last post was about Motherwell’s fabulous prints based on smoke packets.  So after a dig in the past I’ve unearthed a few more images thanks to Double Whirler’s interest.  These were done some time ago and after a while they all blur together. I take close up photos sometimes when I think certain crops of paintings will work on a larger scale.

I often do not title my works and when I stumbled across this work in my photo storage “system”(a very loose term),  I had called it “Capstan Reds” so I guess it was one too, but can’t even remember painting this now and really had thought it was based on something completely different. I painted direct from John’s scrapbook collection and photographed them before returning them so I could source them later on.



Part of John's marvellous collection

Part of John’s marvellous collection

Alpine? Woodbine? Peter Stuyvestant??

Alpine? Woodbine? Peter Stuyvestant??

Old Black and Blue Signs

Black Blue Sign

Black Blue Sign

Lately life has got in the way of my blogs.  Then a little orange cup at the top of my dashboard told me it was my anniversary.  I thought I had the blog for a few years but when I took a closer look it has been four.  So, this is a blog of reflection in a way.

I started the blog as I had been contacted by someone wanting to buy one of my works.  I had asked my talented artsy daughter to create a website for me, instead she said “You don’t want a website, you need a blog”.  She knew I was a writer, my sketchbooks have scrawled notes just as much as scrawled drawings.  My aim was just to have an online record of my paintings and drawings.  It evolved into writing, quizzes, exhibition reviews and more so, a connection to the world through my passion for art.

Anyway, looking back at the very first blog, it was no writing, just a work “Black Blue Sign”.  As an anniversary present I am going to smick up that first tentative blog and beef it up with some words.

The swapped work

The swapped work

This work was part of my Garage Sale series.  It came at a time when I was sorting out what I wanted from paint.  I was still using collage like material and testing out mixing paint.  I had copper shavings I was using for sculptural works and mixed these into the black within the work.  It was hung in an exhibition with other works from the series.  Somebody remarked at the opening they could see Jesus in the top left corner. Someone else had bought it and then swapped it for another painting not in the exhibition.  I then sent it to a gallery and it was sold from there.  I don’t know where it lives now and often wonder if the copper within the paint has altered the colour.

If you are out there and it is hanging on your wall, thanks for liking it enough to take it home and let me know if the black is now a coppery green.



Thank You Yvonne Boyd

Painting of Yvonne by Arthur Boyd

Painting of Yvonne by Arthur Boyd

I only saw this gentle woman once.  She was standing to the side of the doorway, once her home, to let me pass.  It was in that moment that I realised exactly what a selfless person she must be.  The occaision was the 10th anniversary of handing over Bundanon, her home, to the public.  People were rambling en-masse through her home, helicopters landing on her peaceful paddocks and the whole time she was gracious and kind. Not only had she relinquished such a special place, she had lived and loved Arthur Boyd and tended to his art affairs.  She was an accomplished artist and although I did not know her personally, I feel I owe her a lot.  My time at Bundanon allowed me to paint unimpeded by the outside world, to immerse myself in the landscape she and Arthur shared.  Sadly Yvonne passed away today. Thank You Yvonne Boyd.



My Turtle Ran Away to the Carnival

Pelicans Boonerah long 1

Sometimes the unexpected can lead your mind on a merry dance through some strange stuff.  Yesterday while walking my dog on the jetty at the lake at Boonerah Point, I was reminiscing. The smell of the lake and the jellyfish and weed combine to recreate my childhood. I suddenly saw something swimming toward me, moving slowly through the water, larger than a jellyfish, larger than fish. It was a sea turtle.  I fumbled for my phone for a photo but unable to unravel the dog-lead and swipe for the app, all I could do was stare. It came closer and closer almost breaking the surface, the dog scrambled to the edge, the turtle took a swift left turn and swam away at high-speed.

Boonerah Point

Boonerah Point

It’s unusual for sea turtles to venture so far from the entrance but a good sign that the lake is healthy and it definitely looked uninjured and in good condition.  I have had  some limited turtle experience so I figure I knew one when I saw one. I’ve snorkelled with them a few times in Queensland waters and on the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve helped my friend Carla feed worms to her hungry turtle hatchlings for WIRES (wildlife rescue).

Turtle WindangThe one turtle experience however that has stayed with me was a turtle whose name I can’t remember. Dad had found him at the boat shed and he had a hole drilled in the base of his shell. Dad put him in the garden behind the shrubs next to the tap where it was dark and damp and we left lettuce.  The next morning he was gone along with most of the lettuce.  It was near Xmas time and the usual carnival had set up over the road in the park. I always thought that my turtle had run away to the carnival. I hope he had a happy life and his fairy floss was mostly green.

My Headcounter is Running Down

Weeds from the Lake

Weeds from the Lake

Sometimes a day is never what you plan.  I wasn’t feeling particularly creative today but after a vigorous bout of gardening and junk throwing-outing I went into the “studio”.  I jotted down a couple of ideas for the lake series that had drifted to the front of the brain. Drew a few thumbnail sketches to see whether a bull in a boat was feasible.

photo-22There was no more room in that sketchbook, another one had bitten the dust so I grabbed the next empty. It was a small black moleskin that I had started a collage on the cover. I was using body bits out of an anatomy text-book. I love doing this, simple cut and pasting. I lost focus pretty quick and went from collaging body bits to checking emails.

There was a great podcast on the future of museums so I went outside once more and sat in the sun and listened, watching the counter going down and down. From there I found a link to another creative blogger who had a Vimeo treat for me so off I went watching a selection of  Vimeos, looking at more counters counting down minutes and seconds.

Miniature Melbourne from Nathan Kaso on Vimeo.

I felt I had a counter on my weekend. I tried to remember how it had started but I couldn’t grasp that slide bar to take me back.