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.


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.


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.

Painting a New World

After digesting the yearly dose of Archibalds at the Art Gallery of NSW, I strolled across the park to the State Library of NSW to see the John Lewin exhibition.

I really didn’t know that much about Lewin apart from his delicate paintings of birds but the exhibition was like a trip to a new land through paint.

I couldn’t imagine the excitement for an artist to confront new and wonderous plants and animals and a landscape so different from the lush greens of England. His soft grey greens of the Australian bush were outstanding and I wondered about his choice of palette before he left.

The works were delicate and light and his studies of moths and caterpillars were inspirational.

In a room adjoined to the exhibition, a room of stuffed birds and animals perched on tables with pencils and paper ready for new explorers. The walls were hung with brightly coloured parrots, stuffed feathery owls and spiky echidnas drawn by visitors from around the world. Scribbly signatures with their country of origin at the bottom of each drawing gave some clue as to where they had come from. I guess the explorer-artists felt much like Lewin looking at these strange animals up close, taking in detail that you would never get from books.

The State Library is full of books with plates and illustrations but countless artists but nothing substitutes for the real thing -stuffed or not.

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.

Hurtled into the Safety of a Letter

While the Prime Minister was being hurtled to safety in Canberra I was not that far away in a world of poetry, music and art.  I love this country but choose not to celebrate it on the day it was taken from the original owners so I try to immerse myself in things yobbos would not and The National Library is just the place.

“Handwritten” an exhibition of works from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin was simply wonderful. My last adventure to the Library was to see Nick Cave’s genius, this time it was wonder after wonder. From Dante’s Divine Comedy, exquisite illuminations, letters from Napolean and Kafka to Beethovens 5th Symphony.  His chaotic, powerful notes crossed and re-written  and as you study the darkened marks on the staves -the music opens and my goose pimples explode in those few notes.  In the same darkened room the delicateness of Fanny Mendelssohn, sister to Felix Mendelssohn is a complete contrast and a simple pencil drawing by her artist husband adorns the edge of the manuscript, the words by poet Josephf Von Eichendorff.

It’s this relationship between music, art and poetry that reccurs in a letter dated jdth August 179i3 by Goethe.  He has written a poem especially for his artist friend Roesel who had sent him a drawing. At the top of the letter he has combined a brush and a pen within a laurel wreath.

Perhaps the most poignant comes from a man named Peter Hagendorf, a small intimate well thumbed diary of an ordinary man. A soldier in the 30 year war (1618-1648) This diary covered a 25 year period and described atrocities of war such as a beautiful young woman of 18 burned alive to recipes of tasty pumpernickel. Over this time he writes on losing his wife and eight children and enduring poverty and injuries to wealth and accounts of lands that he journeyed through.

A page from Hagendorf's diary 1624

Picking up a Library Newsletter on the way out was an article concerning Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan in producing backdrops for the Ballet. I treasure poetry and music, I am influenced by musicians and poets as much as other visual artists.

I didn’t need the fireworks for Australia Day, Beethoven supplied those.

Images from “HandwrittenTen Centuries of Manuscript Treasures National Library of Australia

Birds of a Feather…..

In my intro about myself I state that each day I say I’m never going to paint again! This week I’ve been questioning myself – why bother? I’m never going to make a living from this. Why the need for others to see my work? Creativity is making my skin crawl while I do other chores. Then I see this! I have exactly 10 minutes before I leave for work and I see this! My jaw dropped, I pulled my head in and will leave for work a bit later (-who cares- well no obviously I do because I saved the draft and did it later which is now..) proud that I am creative and in admiration of those that create for the sake if it. Thank you Edinburgh Paper Artist for humbly going about your business and not whining like me. Click here to see more photos