3 De Koonings, Olsen and Paella at the Beach

Happy Holidays, may your stockings bulge with art.

Happy Holidays, may your stockings bulge with art.

“…a surrealist scene of saffron coloured chickens…” John Olsen

Olsen's Culinaria Cuisine of the Sun

Olsen’s Culinaria Cuisine of the Sun

Christmas arrived early for me this year in three parcel post satchels. Not exactly Santa down the chute but those puffy square bags make me squeal like a little girl at Xmas. The benefits of being old is that I don’t have to wait for the big day to arrive.


The first parcel was the biggest De Kooning book I’ve ever seen – the Malvern star of art books. Ensconced in a hard slip case and full of perfect coloured reproductions of his best.


The second satchel held two De Kooning second hand treasures, one cloth bound with the library card still in slipped in the back pocket time-travelled from the sixties. The other professing to be the first De Kooning publication.

De Kooning Smith College Museum of Art 1965.

De Kooning Smith College Museum of Art 1965.

Willem De Kooning by Thomas Hess 1959.

Willem De Kooning by Thomas Hess 1959.

Borrowed by Shelley Rose on Feb 10 1966.

Borrowed by Shelley Rose on Feb 10 1966.

The third satchel held Culinaria by John Olsen. Cuisine of the Sun. This book was to be our Christmas dinner – drawing, painting and cooking in the sun – sand, saffron, cadmiums, paprika, burnt orange and paella.

The Hamptons 1953

The Hamptons 1953

Two great artists, De Kooning from the northern hemisphere where he spent Christmas in the Hamptons, and Olsen in the southern hemisphere comparing Watsons Bay to an Iberian fishing village, seem very relevant to this years sunny seafood xmas by the beach…with books.



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

Lloyd Rees for Leftovers

photo-26I love leftovers.

After visiting the recent Lloyd Rees exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, I pulled out my collection of Lloyd Rees books for another helping of his work.  One of the books, Lloyd Rees in Europe by Hendrik Kolenberg is a beautiful collection of drawings and watercolours of his trip during the 50’s 60’s and 70’s.  I bought this book from a friend, Sandy quite a few years ago. Sandy’s leftovers have become some of my favourite dishes.


My other book Lloyd Rees by Renee Free was also a left over. Deleted from Library Collection is stamped very clearly in red and a thick black marker across the bar code.  Pasted in the front page is an old-fashioned yellow library pocket with a frenzied green date stamp, last marked in 1995. This book hasn’t had the careful nurturing like Sandy’s book but is a little bumped around the edges, a bit crinkly and smells of a library. I like the plastic wrapping, like a plate of last nights offerings. It means I can leave it on the paint table and not be so tentative.

Tucked between the pages the last borrower, Valerie,  left her  shopping list of library items. It made me wonder why it was destined to be deleted.


I have mentioned Lloyd Rees‘ work before and he is a pretty tasty morsel.  He also travelled and painted the area close to where I live and the little town of Gerringong will be holding a Lloyd Rees Festival in December.  Hopefully they will serve up quite a decent helping and more people will get to taste his recipes for drawing. A new book will be launched by Henrik Kolenberg. I wonder if I should buy it freshly packaged or wait like I did for the others to ripen over time.Lloyd Rees 2

Lloyd Rees Europe

Lloyd Rees sketchbooks

I’m a Sticky Beak

“I’m a sticky beak…” Angus Nivison

My stuff to get distracted by....

My stuff to get distracted by….

I can never get enough art.  I have proven this by the use of my time.  I listen to podcasts whilst driving, on the train and now even peeling vegetables.  There is always a backlog of something to listen to and this week I chose a great podcast by Angus Nivison, Wendy Sharpe and R. Ian Lloyd. It was recorded at the State Library of NSW to coincide with the launch of one of my favourite books, Studio by John McDonald and R. Ian Lloyd.  They were talking about the photo shots of their studios and listening over freshly de-strung beans, I tried to remember what they were like.  All I remembered was that I identified with Angus Nivison the most when I first bought the book back in 2007.

Angus Nivison

Today I pulled the book out and was keen to have another look after so long.  I’m not as Baconesque as Nivison’s studio but it was the similar materials, looking at the same books such as Bonnard, Giacometti, Indigenous art and open art mags that made it feel familiar.  It’s the studio I would have if there was more room leaving empty cans, stiffened brushes and empty tape rolls behind me in my wake.  In contrast Wendy Sharpe’s studio feels like a workplace. It appears to have the ability to perform without too much distraction or threat of injury, surrounded by working paintings. There are no tempting paint stained books open to trip over and cause loss of focus.  Shes does mention in the interview a central table where the books can be safely ogled.  I have tried this in the past but as you can see from the last photo, the table was close to the point of collapse after a short while.

Wendy Sharpe 1In the podcast the photographer talks about his experiences of first impressions.  The photos in this book are simply brilliant and the photo of Nivison’s studio taken while hanging from open rafters captures what I would love to do, flying overhead taking in the experience of studio-envy. In Angus Nivison’s words “I’m a sticky beak….”

Just another note, I also bought the DVD at the same time. I have loaned this to someone and cannot remember who. If it’s you please PLEASE give it back I love it and miss it. I can assure you it’s not in this mess.

My old studio table.

My old studio table.

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.


Another Splash

Hockney A Rakes ProgressI finished David Hockney’s biography “A Rakes Progress” by Christopher Simon Sykes at the same time as my daughter returned from London where she saw A Bigger Splash Painting After Performance at the Tate Modern. We seem to have that sync with art. Sometimes we disagree on the merit of works and artists but for the most part we are at one.

A Bigger Splash Tate Modern 2013I loved this book and found a renewed enthusiasm for drawing. It reminded me of art school and David Hockney Drawings a volume that was much too heavy to keep taking out of the library on a regular basis. I could not juggle the book, the paintings and the backpack so I would spend lunch poring over it at the table in the library, sketchbook out and scribbly notes taken.  The good books were always the biggest – Rauschenburg, Picasso and another on my regular list – Asian Abstraction.

Elaine De KooningMy current book is one that my little girl had found for me, another wonderful gift:  Elaine De Kooning The Spirit of Abstract Expressionism Selected Writings.  Full of essays and insights from a painter and a critic.

Putting Peart Away

“Spacious,spaceless and painter of edged edges”*

Putting books away is a never-ending task for me. I seem to have a stack accumulated beside me, or stacked on a stool or in one of those canvas non-plastic bags. It gets to the point where I have to put them away and do the shelf shuffle to find room.  The problem is I flick before I file. That means I suddenly come across something I hadn’t noticed before so I have a little read and put it aside and so that vicious paper cycle continues.

Last night it was John Peart Paintings 1964-2004. I read it when I bought it but of course flicking at different points in time reveal new associations. My recent trip to the Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia left me thoroughly soaked in Australian abstraction.

This small book contains some of Australia’s best abstractionists commenting on John Peart’s work. Elisabeth Cummings, Aida Tomescu, Euan MacLeod, Robert Hirschmann, Ildiko Kovacs, John Bartley and the list goes on and so many that I have blogged about before. It made me hungry for an exhibition of Australian works.  I got a recent taste of Tony Tuckson and Peter Upward in Canberra.

I feel the need to compile a list of those that I would include in my ultimate abstracted exhibition but that would mean more books piling up and once again it will eventuate in a casual flick before putting them away, a bit of a blog and I’m back where I started from….

*quote by WHAT – I don’t know who What is but a wonderful quote.

All images from John Peart Paintings 1964-2004 – the book I haven’t put away yet.

The Home Duey System

From my new gift book Sunday’s Garden by Lesley Harding & Kendrah Morgan

What am I reading is never a simple question. I have my categories of books and you can see by this blog, I like to categorize. They go like this:

Peter Sharp: Will to Form Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre













1.   The Art Book:   This is a book solely about art, artists, art history, art art art.

Dogs in Australian Art by Steven Miller












2.   The Library Book:   Currently on borrow from one of a few libraries I belong to- so can be sub-categorized into which library. Also can fall into most categories except the Train as I am prone to adding to State Rail Lost Property Book Section.

Just Kids by Patti Smith












3.   The Train Book:   usually a shorter, easier read made for stops and starts and distractions. Can also fall into Art Book Category

A History of the Land Purchased for the Building of Port Kembla Steelworks by DK Reynolds













4.   The Research Book:   This book as the name suggests directly affects the art practice. It is usually a historical record of places, artists or mythological stories. Sometimes text books. Yum.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales from Sue’s Ipod












5.   The Ipod Book:   This is a similar category to the Train Book, made for shorter reads but always happens to be fairy stories, fables (aesop mainly) or childhood books. Handy for extended unexpected waiting periods.

Dirt Music by Tim Winton read by William McInnes













6.   The Listening Book:   I have an old tape player in the studio so I like to listen sometimes when I paint. Can be sub-categorised into Tapes, Records and Podcasts.

Sundays Garden












7.   The Gift Book:   This can throw the whole category system out of whack. It may mean that Library Books need to be returned before their due date, Train Books need to be read in a house to move things along, Ipods are left uncharged in the excitement and I have no time to paint and listen.

Wishin’ I Could See Whisson

I’m discovered and forgotten, discovered and forgotten and it will go on…..”

"Verbs"Ken Whisson’s painting used to be tucked around a corner near the lifts at the National Gallery in Canberra. I felt like grabbing it and giving it centre stage. Shaking it in front of people and saying “Look, look!” instead the NGA underwent massive reconstruction and in the jumble of works -it moved! Yes. Heide Gallery in Melbourne is having a whole Whisson show and unfortunately I can’t make it but I have the next best thing -the catalogue (no surprise Glenn Barkley has contributed to this wonderful book).

Ken Whisson Perugia 1990 Photo Clare BreitnerHis paint is fresh and lively, I’m wishin’ I could smell it.

Too many exhibitions, too big a world.









The One that Got Away

One of my favouritist photos of all time is one of my beautiful daughter flicking through books on a sale table outside the San Francisco library. It was one of those days, it was crisp clear skies, we were rugged up and we saw the library by chance, it was unplanned and a book sale! Afterwards we ate organic strawberries from a paper bag. I can still smell them. The books and the strawberries.

Today was the Lifeline Big Book Fair and one of those days that I look forward to all year. Sometimes I will travel hours to check out a book fair.  Apart from the hunt for bargain books, I love the rows, the signs, the scouts cooking sausage sandwiches and again the smell.

I have increasingly budgeted myself on book buying, mainly for precious space on the bookshelf. This time being half-priced Sunday I was happy with the catch but the one that got away is playing on my mind.

Then I remembered I had brought my camera as I wanted another shot like the one in San Francisco and had already taken some random photos.  I realised I could take a snapshot, like a prized marlin, kiss it and toss it back. It didn’t have to be stuffed and mounted. Maybe it will find a better home, a large open bookshelf one where it can stand face forward with air around it, maybe even on a stand.

Maybe I will be fishing in a book fair in a far away place and it will be the right time.  I know there are plenty more fish in the sea, but I am wondering where it is now, it was late when I left it. Packed away in a box for the next fair? Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to throw it back.  If you do stumble across it any stage maybe you could let me know. I didn’t exactly tag it before release but this is what it looks like. By the way I don’t collect shells, it’s just a beautiful book. My prize book that I came away with today, a small 3 x 5″ book on the Art or Oceania Masks of Papua New Guinea – how much? 50 cents.