Musicians Love Dogs and Writers Love Cats

I am reposting this art quiz I created years ago. Time flies! Just click on the How much is that doggie in the window link below and give it a try. It anonymous and if you took the quiz all that time ago- how’s the memory?

The inspiration for it came from this article by Emily Temple that recently linked from one of my blogs about David Hockney.

I’m a dog person so I think that means I can’t write (or perhaps shouldn’t).

This week my library pick up was wonderful Dogs in Australian Art by Steven Miller. Does it get any better – art and puppies in one book, and it’s not heavy! But wait it gets better. My favourite artist Noel McKenna has my breed of dog -SNAP! (here’s a work he did based on lost dog posters)

Tim Storrier brought his dog Smudge to share in his glory of the win at the  Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery NSW so I have decided to share the love and do another quiz – I know about time! This time it centres around doggies and artists. Don’t worry I have another quiz especially for cat-lovers here

Take a stab: How Much is that Doggie in the Window?


Light, Space, Time and a Wombat Hole

Turrell Skyspace 5

Sometimes the order of exhibitions matter. Your head is in a space, ready for the onslaught. This time there was no plan as to who would be first.

Ann Thomson (detail)

Ann Thomson (detail)


Ann Thomson’s exhibition Freehand was even higher than the expectations. Her works are full, yet light. Marks, space and colour give each other time. There is a lustfulness in the way she paints -a love of the space she creates by the marks with her body. It is not painting, it is not composing, it is absorption.


Turrell Skyspace 4Turrell Skyspace 6

The nearby James Turrell Retrospective at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra had a naked art night (no, I didn’t like the thought of bending over to put on the booties). The participants absorbed the light into their flesh. The Turrell show was a world away from paint using space, light and dark.

The show made me envious, why do I need a studio full of brushes and paint? A day earlier I was inspired by Ann Thomson’s work, it had made me want to paint again but the stripped down use of light as a material seemed to make sense. Marks seemed inconsequential.


In between there were glimpses of Sidney Nolan, the Riverbend series at the Drill Hall ANU,  an assortment at the Canberra Museum and Gallery and the Kelly series at the NGA. Somehow his works still resonated. There was the myth of place, I wasn’t in the desert creating huge skyspaces and I wasn’t in a studio surrounded by dripping paintings on white walls. I am caught in time, like Ned painted into a story of what my life has become, headfirst down a wombat hole.

Policeman in a wombat hole 1946 Sidney Nolan

Policeman in a wombat hole 1946 Sidney Nolan

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.



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.



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.

A Big Mixed Bag of Lollies

Anish Kapoor Memory

Anish Kapoor Memory

Multiple exhibitions in one venue can sometimes be a mixed bag of lollies.  There’s usually the big musk stick that pops out the top of the bag and draws you in and then there are the ones  at the bottom, the three for 5 cent  jubey things.  My trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney was like that.


Anish Kapoor proved musk stick-like to be as good as it looked. Something sweet and distinct at every bite, leaving a unique taste in your mouth.  The promise of more sweets inside was the huge mirror dish reflecting Sydney Harbour on a perfectly blue hundreds-and-thousands sparkly day.  Having been impressed by his work for a long time I was hoping for the best and I got better. As usual looking at the works on line, in books, on DVDs doesn’t cut the musk

At the same time the other exhibition South of No North jubes proved to be strawberries and cream. Delicious with no fan-fare, three for one. The exhibition was based on works by Noel McKenna, Wiliam Eggleston and Laurence Aberhart. Noel McKenna’s work has always made me smile. From his doggie poster series to big things. This was a wonderful exhibition and although it is hard to compare the  monumental work of Anish Kapoor, there was a similarity in the complete paring down of subject and the strength in simplicity. I especially loved these small tiles of simply drawn ordinary objects and one of the best known useful products ever deserving to be lauded in glazed ceramic : liquid nails.  It was also wonderful to see his influences in Aberhart and Eggleston.

photo-8So my little bag of MCA mixed lollies proved to be quite sweet . It wasn’t too sickly and way too tempting to

If you hadn’t tried this before, click here for my Doggie Quiz inspired by Noel McKenna.

How Much is that Doggie

Give Some, Take Some and Two Bags Full

I swore no more books in the house until some leave. I rummaged the shelves for sacrifices for the next big book fair. I piled them into two huge bags, took some out, put a couple back in and lugged them to the boot.

20130324-134001.jpg I can’t believe the Lifeline Big Book Fair has rolled around again so soon and today is half price Sunday. I expected the visual arts section to be dessimated by the last two days of hungry art students but the pickings were great and I chowed down on a Guggenheim publication, an old botanical art book too big for the shelf as well as some lovely old 50’s mags.

Of course I ended up leaving …heaving the same two bags I had arrived with, more fresh old books. The smell of musty books and scouts cooking sausage sangers makes this Sunday in March delightful.


Art Sux

This is my pencil-case. Art Sux. Well it does. Saturday was sunny, a day off and what did I do? Back to see an exhibition I had already seen, what 3 times? Blogged about before….I don’t know what I expect, for it to rub off on me? make me brilliant? more informed? more intelligent?

Then after swearing “no more art, enough!”. I come up with another concept. Maybe I can collect every map of every gallery I go to and eventually make an artwork from that. So now I have a folder and have scanned the images and have then collaged them into a book.  As if I don’t have enough to do.

So after spending a sunny afternoon inside the same exhibition, did I waste yet another day on art? Sure of course. It was a wonderful waste of a day and this time I mapped a plan of the exhibition so I can recreate it and relive it til I see it again and waste even more time.

I Blog therefore I Think

I got a present today. Not for a birthday, not for Mothers day just because I blog.  Blogging has become a continuation of my art making.  Not because what I write about is particularly artistic or new (and some would say uninteresting) but it keeps me being introspective with my work.

So here is my present. I gigantic cup. And how appropriate as I have been making tea bags in order to support my art practice amongst work and other things. The last few days  I have been cutting up old gardening books, collaging, sewing bags, labelling and testing.

Most artists tend to fiddle. Sometimes working in a studio may not be about working on a painting – you just don’t have the right frame of mind to dip brushes so the fingers begin to wander, drawing, mulling over books or putting bits and pieces together.

We make and do. Cut and paste. Sew and stamp. Blog and think. So my mug is well suited, a typewriter on one side “I blog therefore I am” on the other. I can dangle my oversized, hand sewn, tag collaged liquorice and peppermint tea bag in it while I figure out what comes next.

There is always a tenuous link of some kind that leads to the next blog or the next painting, drawing.  During another studio tour of works in the Wollongong City Gallery during last week, I saw works on paper and paper sculpture held in the collection.  The most amazing fact was that I had purchased works by three of the artists on show.  I had not intentionally set out to do this. They were works that appealed to me at the time I bought them but standing in the back room I realised paper was the common denominator whether it be print, painting or sculpture.

Sometimes paper can border on craft and at times I feel I skirt that border precariously with scissors and paste.

Either way I have been able to float my ideas in a giant cup full of artful tea.