We Are All the Flocking Same



Killalea Headland sketch

My sketch Killalea headland




Killalea pan


The Farm was a familiar term growing up with a surfer brother. When we arrived at our painting site today there were two guys, greying, with boards on their racks checking out the surf. They never lose their love of surfing -any conditions, any age. Today was the first time I saw The Farm up close. I hadn’t realised that Killalea State Park held this sacred surf spot on the coast.

I love that trot that surfers break into – board clenched under their arm, leg-rope dangling, hair dripping, their sleek wet-suit uniform dense against the green. They canter, the cold from their wrinkled wet feet protection against the gravel.

We cooked sausages and onions on a wood bbq at lunch time- it felt like summer today. There were so many different flocks and types of birds -black cockatoos against the blue blue blue sky. I painted with gouache on paper with memories of my brother Michael. I wondered if any of those greying surfers were Little Mick, or Tightarse, or Brooksy – all those older surfers who I use to lust after as a teenager, who called me Grub.

As a final note when we left later a parade of older vintage cars rolled along the road where the surfer had run back to his car earlier. The vintage Jag and MG had no roof racks for boards, no dusty wagons for paints and easels but glistening rims and chromish mirrors.

We’re all different flocks

This was a re-post of an earlier blog, after a recent sketch trip back to The Farm.



Richard Serra Vico,2002

Richard Serra Drawings

Blackness is a property, not a quality”  Richard Serra.

Recently Richard Serra has been on my art hit list.  Looking at public art, it has hard to see past him, his work is solid, demanding and ‘complexingly’ simple. I have a loan of a  beautiful book to read from my pal Jane Richard Serra Drawings.

Serra & Pollock, it's all about action

Serra & Pollock, it’s all about action

I suppose coming from a blacksmith’s daughter, steel was a material sheet-rolled into my psyche.  I watched my dad melt lead and instead of flinging against a wall like Serra, he poured it into molds for sinkers.  He curved steel in the shed to form horse shoes, like Serra curving lines within a room. Most of the time I was forbidden to go into the work shed, but I would don the Ned Kelly welding helmet, smelly and sweaty. I would wave my stig wand and pretend to make steel glow.

Serra, Vico 2002.

Serra, Vico 2002.


Unfortunately Dad never got around to see my (very inept) welding skills and I think he would have loved Serra as much as me, he could have explained the properties and the logistics. I recently looked at making a sculpture on the scale of a Serra and was excited to see a drawing materialise, if only in Photoshop as a huge monolith, emerging from my lake.




Paintlater, Graphite, oil pastel  2014.

Paintlater, Graphite, oil pastel 2014.






Paintlater, 'Down' 2014

Paintlater, ‘Down’ 2014

Paintlater, Maquette fro 'Down' 2014

Paintlater, Maquette for ‘Down’ 2014

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.

My Little Bella Book

Autumn sun“Drawing is a very important way of thinking without words”…………… Antony Gormley

351 1 1It’s turning colder and there is nothing like autumn sun streaming through the window to warm the bones and that means my life model stays still for longer.  At times she lays on her back, stretched out and her belly turns a soft pink.

4 Every now and then during a drawing session she will fall into a deep sleep and I can see her twitch in her dreams.  It’s when this happens that I know I can grab my little orange book especially for these moments. I use my favourite Lyra colour-giant brown pencil.  bella2There are other times I draw her and use pens or whatever is handy but I like this little ritual.

I also like that the end of the pencil is a little chewed from leaving it behind.


Sling-Shot Granny and Escaped Cockatoos

Black Red-Tailed Cockatoo

The baby bird sketchbook continues. I am slowly filling up this tiny book and the story of the daring escape of 2 red-tailed black cockatoos from Taronga Zoo in Sydney was just to tempting.

I hope they are safe and maybe if you check out my drawing of the cockatoo about to take flight you might recognize them and help them out.

My sketches are taken from a conglomeration of different old books that I have. Some are from memory and some are taken from recent travels to the Lewin exhibition where I fell in love once again with botanical drawings and paintings.

Collage and drawings


The colours of foliage were a particular influence from Lewin in these little works.









I can never resist an old bird book and these are 2 of my favourites. I can remember being in primary school and being a member of the John Gould League of Birdlovers.

My pre-occupation of birds perhaps comes from my somewhat scary grandmother who used to wield a slingshot and take out any fruit-eating birds in a single shot. Her protection of the quince trees was all-consuming.  Despite her loathing of fruit pinching feathered friends she did have a pet sea-gull that she named Biddy and could imitate the beautiful song of a Magpie. I was never sure if she was luring them for the wrong reasons as she also liked to partake of “wild” duck that she would hunt at the local lagoon.

Perhaps it’s this early generational bird decimation that has provoked my fascination for birds and my need to capture their vulnerability.

Meanwhile if you see those pair of red-tailed black cockatoos keep them safe from any sling-shot happy grannies.

Secrets in My Garden

Sketch of my geranium at loralyn- Windang sketchbook

The garden is where I watch and think. Some people ask me if  I miss my old home. I shake my head, it’s just stuff but I miss my garden. I wonder how the trees have grown, what spots of the paths are covered. What birds are nesting. Are the swallows still allowed in my studio. Are the big black sulphur crested cockatoos screeching and stripping my hakeas. Are the ashes beautiful colours now in autumn.

I have saved a small piece of my garden in this one small sticky geranium.





It was originally in Yvonne Boyds garden at Bundanon. I broke off a small piece and it came home for a while, was potted and re-planted.



Although broken and re-stuck it emerges with a dainty coral coloured petal every now and then. It’s a stolen momento that lives in my new garden. I have snapped pieces and passed them on to other artists in their gardens.

Geraniums have always had a special meaning for me.

From Sundays Garden Growing Heide Lesley Harding & Kendrah Morgan

My new gift, a book on Sunday Reeds Garden at Heide is a reminder of how much artists and gardens are connected.

Thank you to the secret gardener for inspiring me on a cold autumn day to get out and look at my secret geranium.

Little Birds & Empty Sheds

After pulling apart paintings, arranging couriers for the big stuff, the shed is empty.

In a basket left over from my last studio were remnants of bird stuff. Some old drawings, bits of books, a few feathers, what I term – collage stuff.

I had found this tiny leather-bound sketchbook in Salvos. I have decided to make another bird book.

I have been a tad introspective lately about working big again. I just can’t do it yet I’m waiting for that opportunity that keeps seeming to elude me. Meanwhile I’m back to small birds in tiny books.

Mapping Room

I love maps, my last 2 blogs were about my love of the new MCA so I decided to add the two together. I admire the planning in exhibitions, working out where to hang what but even better are maps to explain.  I think my all time favourite was the room map of the William Kentridge exhibition that was held at the MCA in 2004. It was an inspirational exhibition and the large room map was just as impressive. Coincidently Annandale Galleries has a current exhibition on his work that I should make an effort to see.

I tend to keep ephemera, room pamphlets, newspaper clippings and always a postcard. I think of myself somewhere between obsessive, hoardish and knowledgeable. I also think most artists tend to do the same, collect, exhibitionalia.

So when I started putting this blog piece together (God help me! Am I now blogging about blogging?) I went on the search for the mother of all room pamphlets for that exhibition in 2004.  Prior to blogging, I was a sketchbook scribbler so I thought this shouldn’t be too difficult as the sketchbooks are in some semblance of order. A3,A4, A5, A6, Hardbound, leather, unusual, trains, travels and moleskin – then years. Unfortunately the ladder was obscuring the bottom of the bookshelf where the A5 2004’s lived.

My next avenue was the Kentridge books, I have a small collection and I sometimes keep noteworthy pieces of paper in there. Damn! Anne-Marie has borrowed those. Aah! Yet another avenue – the postcards. Yes, now there are the large and small, indigenous Australian, Australian, International, freebies and gifts -all in little white boxes. I took a punt and went the large international (plus it was on the bottom shelf). So I have this….. a postcard from 2004 with my thoughts at that time and my current postcard from last weekend-a view of the harbour by Eugene Von Geurard and yet another postcard commemorating the opening-a special scratchie edition by TMOD (funnily enough these have been my birthday cards of choice between my daughter and myself and I have a collection of these).

And as a result I was so happy to read the back. It wasn’t the room catalogue but it was enough to jog the memory maps. In the meantime I clutched at an old sketchbook, wrong year but conveniently placed between the ladder rungs and a quick flick showed the early rumblings of my current lake series. Mmm -that’s going to be useful for later.

I would love to design a room brochure for my internal workings.

Pelicans, their Beaks hold more than their Bellies Can

I worked in a touristy gallery for a short time and the average tourist loved paintings of pelicans. I can’t fathom their attraction, is it because of their huge beak? their huge frame? Maybe cause they waddle. Or their ridiculously huge feet that act like brakes at touchdown? I think it is because of their big eyes. They look almost cartoonish and happy. Yes, they definitely have happy eyes.

I got a call just after 7am, “There are pelicans en masse at Boonerah Pt! Get down there!” I knew there must be something out of the ordinary so I chucked in the equipment. binoculars, camera, sketchbook, pencils,pens and jumper. No breakfast not even coffee.

There were over 100 pelicans gathered on a small strip of sand.

It was very low tide, the sky was still morningly soft and a wisp of cloud still sitting low in front of Mt Keira in this distance. I scribbled out sketches and notes. Looked at fluffy, orange-beaked birds rummaging around the feet of pelicans. I have no idea what these birds were, some had yellow beaks and they were quite nuggety.

I even got some more sketches in for the cormorant boat and it was definitely worth missing that morning coffee, it was a great heart starter.