There’s An App For That Art

The Lake

Taking a photo at the lake on my walk, why not give the old Tate Ball a shake?

This was my treat on a hot summery night.

This was my treat on a hot summery night.

I think when I heard the Sesame Street rendition of “There’s an app for that…” I knew my excitement for apps was justified.  I can’t say that I’m a tech expert but I can negotiate around the app store like a book shop.  I head straight for the art section (surprise,surprise), do a bit of opening, browsing, reading reviews.

The Magic 8 Ball Tate Ball

The Magic 8 Ball Tate Ball

A grey day at the lake, a shake and presto!

A grey day at the lake, a shake and presto!

So my phone now has a great selection of art apps and one of my all time favourites is the Magic Tate Ball. It has it all. At any time of day, anywhere you can give it a firm shake and magic chance along with a little GPS tracking and sensing your surroundings, it will predict an art piece specially selected for you to make your day a little brighter. Todays treat was Barbara Hepworth!

Along with apps from most of the major galleries, there is also a variety of arty games and another favourite time-waster is Art Museum. It is similar to the old card game of patience where you flip over and match the pair – in this case art works, you then go on to match the painting to the artist and even further to match the title to the painting.

There is a great variety Dali Watches, Draw SomethingMuybridgizer, and Magritte It are a few fun ones.  Let me know if there is the ultimate art app that you would love to share.

If you think all of this may be just too much to take in, check out this fun animation that sums up my problem.

No, I didn't get locked out but I was a little paranoid.

No, I didn’t get locked out but I was a little paranoid.


That Messy Abstractionist Drawer

Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell

The bombardment of information through internet sources has meant that I hear about more and more artists that I like.  “Great!”  You might say.  I’m not so sure.  My current reading material is an essay by Elaine De Kooning on the artist Earl Kerkham and I had earlier read an article on American abstractionist Joan Mitchell.  I really didn’t know about these artists and rather than just a name printed in black and white, I wanted to see their works, give them time and recognition.



I was really enamoured with Joan Mitchells work and was surprised that I had not discovered her work earlier. I don’t know if it was a case of seeing and forgetting or never looking.  How many others have escaped me?

Earl Kerkham Head 1962

Earl Kerkham Head 1962

The trouble is there are so many artists out there past and present and the more time spent looking means less time spent doing.  I admire artists who are single-minded and focus on one or maybe two artists and can develop their own work as a result. I thought I could do that and if I really had to choose, I could only narrow it to three – De Kooning, Giacometti and Antony Gormley.

But what happens to all the others I discard to focus on the big 3?  Do I chuck them all into the second drawer that is my head and rummage through it when I’m working on a painting or series? That scares me, I know what that drawer is like and there is always a fabulous instrument that lurks at the bottom, sharp and edgy and when you go in to retrieve it you could possibly be hurt or come out with something you really can’t use.

My Lake series is bubbling and I am looking at artists that I think might be relevant to what I need  – Puccini, Arthur Boyd, Rembrandt and Elisabeth Cummings are in the pot. And if I could give them a stir with the tool at the bottom of the drawer it would be Rauschenberg.

The Wingman

Lawrence Hargrave sculpture that sits overlooking Wollongong from the escarpment

Lawrence Hargrave sculpture that sits overlooking Wollongong from the escarpment

Bert Flugelman had a beautiful studio amongst lyrebirds in the rainforest. It was sad news today to hear of this wonderful Australian sculptor’s passing yesterday at the age of 90.  He has left us beautiful works that are part of the Australian landscape.


Cones at National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden

One of my favourites is the work in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery in Canberra that is so familiar. The Australian bush is highly reflected in these wonderful stainless steel forms and people and birds are engaged by their distorted reflections.

Flugelman with Wingman by Guy Warren UOW Collection

Flugelman with Wingman by Guy Warren UOW Collection

His friend Guy Warren had won the Archibald  Prize in 1985 with a portrait “Flugelman with Wingman” and the work hangs in the library foyer at the University of Wollongong, commanding and inspiring.

Guy and Bert shared the wonderful commonality of Jamberoo, the little lush town where I had been only a few days ago with my artist friend.  The majority of his work so solidly metal and constructed had its roots in the organic and the love of the bush.

Tetrapus from Bondi Sculpture by the Sea

Tetrapus from Bondi Sculpture by the Sea

Drawn Out

Tim Allen: Folded and Faulted Sediment III

Tim Allen: Folded and Faulted Sediment III

After the Bacon exhibition I went for a look at the Dobell Drawing Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.  This is the last Dobell Drawing Prize after 20 years and I was pretty sad about that.  It struck me that Bacon had no sketchbooks displayed in the exhibition and I was then curious about his habits and it appears most of his work went straight onto the canvas. I’m currently reading David Hockney’s biography A Rakes Progress whose drawing is such an important foundation of his work.  I remember being in awe of a simple line in his drawing that went from black to red so easily and obviously. Beautiful.

Graham Fransella: Figure and a Bell

Graham Fransella: Figure and a Bell

I remember seeing the Dobell prize for the first time and my excitement of drawing that I continue to have. I remember being obsessive, taking the sketchbook in the bath to draw the taps, taking it fishing to draw while the line was dangling, always at the beach and having a sketchbook especially for train trips small with an orange cover so I knew the difference.

I still have a sketchbook with me at most times but I don’t have that obsession anymore. I don’t know where I lost it but wish it was back. I love that feeling being lost in a drawing, starting small getting past that uncomfortable niggling feeling and then being swap away in the marks.  I still use drawing within my painting and don’t think I could ever use just paint, the brush handle is too distant from my finger tips.

Lloyd Rees Sketchbooks in the Art Gallery of NSW Collection - photo from Australian Drawings AGNSW

Lloyd Rees Sketchbooks in the Art Gallery of NSW Collection – photo from Australian Drawings AGNSW

Kevin Connor: Pyrmont and the City 1993 the first Dobell Prize Winner

Kevin Connor: Pyrmont and the City 1993 the first Dobell Prize Winner

The last exhibition for the Dobell was like saying goodbye to some old favourites and familiar names associated with drawing. The prize will be replaced with a drawing biennale which sounds exciting but a long time between drinks.

Almost The End of the Y

Experience in the Far West Stanislaus RapotecA few nights ago I went to Jackson Pollock’s and Morris Louis’ birthday party – 100 years celebration at the NGA where they transformed the sculpture garden restaurant into the Cedar Tavern for an event named “New York State of Mind”.

Before the drinks we had a talk by the curators about the exhibition but because of time they left this room out. I have blogged about the previous rooms and this is the last, the Orde Poynton Gallery.

Matter Painting Ralph BalsonA gallery named after a man who had never been to the National Gallery in Canberra but a generous benefactor who enabled us to stand in this space and marvel at the works on the walls.  Orde Poynton was held prisoner of war in Singapore and I think he would have felt a connection with the Ian Fairweather’ calligraphic abstractions that were the result of his prisoner of war experiences in the first world war.

House by the Sea Ian FairweatherDuring the talk the curator referred to this gallery as the end of the “Y” referring to the shape of the overall exhibition.  This is almost the last area of the Abstract Expressionism exhibition and it is an amazing collective of abstract artists.  Caryatid Michael Taylor

There is however one work missing from this area that is not listed here and that is a painting by Tony Tuckson #81 that was not listed on the NGA website.  Just another 2 rooms to go. Stay tuned.

Reclining Figure 1935 Hans HofmannUNTITLED 1935 Hans HofmannUntitled 1943 Hans Hofmann
Nude Study from Life Lee Krasner

Nude Study from Life 1939 Lee KrasnerUntitled IX 1983 Willem De Kooning

He Started It! Hans Hofmann The Middle Child.

Hans Hofmann Pre-dawn 1960Hans Hofmann’s painting is in the middle room in the Abstract Expressionism Exhibition at the National Gallery Canberra.  I think if the room was full of the artists themselves, Pollock, De Kooning, Motherwell, you know -all of them, it’s Hans Hofmann I’d want to sit with. Each time you study a great New York painter he has some connection, a thread of influence. My painting teacher, Barbara Hilder had that same effect on a whole group of south coast artists. Her words echo Hofmann “push and pull”.  Passmore had the same effect on early Australian abstractionists.

Clyfford Still’s work is reminiscent of our indigenous artist Sally Gabori’s My Grandfathers Country and Watkins work Anniversary produced in 1973 shows a continuum of work through the years.

Still: 1952 #2Dick Watkins Anniversary

The Dogs of Bondi

Brett Whilteley drew 15 great dog pisses of Paris.  Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi had the tell-tale mark at the base of the odd sculpture.

For me, it’s part of it. The furry critics decide the fate.  Each year I photograph dogs at the event. The dogs of Bondi are unique – there are the walked variety and the loose variety. Both have their merits.

I think I see them a bit like the Dog Children of San Francisco, maybe drawings, maybe a series, maybe not.

Either way I like the fit between dog, sculpture and owner, it’s just another aspect of the event that makes it unique.

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.

Pink Rocks and Green Ponds

The painting trip to Braidwood fed the painting habit a little more. Rosalie Gascoigne said that she was “visually hungry” and reading an article on David Hockney he got excited about drops in puddles.

I love colour – it’s what the landscape feeds me. For the past 3 years I have had this screen saver from a photo I took down there. It was the colour of this stagnant pond that drew me back. 




From this trip it was the colour of the rocks – that dull fleshy pink. I did some small gouache works and know that these will in turn feed larger works and that from those initial colours, more colours develop.

Dumbo Feather and Rick Amor, Pass it On

 I have always admired Rick Amor (my post Failure Was Never An Option). A couple of weeks ago I took this photo of his dog in the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden.

I was bemused at the procession of fluro bunting surrounding the sculptures. I thought maybe it had something to do with risk management or maybe it was just for grass regeneration. Either way I loved the surrounding bunting keeping the viewer at bay from the dog. Maybe it was to keep the dog in.

Yesterday I came across this wonderful sharing of images on behalf of Dumbo Feather (a fabulous magazine). I’m looking forward to the article even though the images by Lauren Bamford have already said so much. Click here to see the whole slide-show.

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