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?

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Vanishing Views of Port Kembla Stack

The Stack and MM Beach

The Stack and MM Beach

Lately I feel parts of my life are slowly being erased.  This week news that the stack, my stack, is coming down.  It may be an unsightly industrial world blot to a lot of people but it feels part of my history. I have used it as a personal symbol within my artwork as a reference to my family.  The picture above shows the stack, a marker,  to the left and the beach to the right where I scattered my parents ashes together.  A pointer in the landscape.

Sketch looking north to stack from Shellharbour

Sketch looking north to stack from Shellharbour

 

 

 

 

 

Port Kembla Stack

The Port Kembla stack pins the coast firmly in place.  It is over 200 metres tall.  My mother and I both attend the school directly underneath.  As a child at lunchtime in the playground we would dare each other to throw our heads back far enough to look to the top and make it look as though it was swaying side to side and we would collapse on the ground, dizzy.

 

The secret beauty of an industrial town..

The secret beauty of an industrial town..

 

My mum would glimpse it rising in the distance coming from the north or south and say “There’s the stack. We’re nearly home.”

Commorant Boat

A few years back my boat shed  home was de-bricked and now the green flatness I pass most days still brings back memories.  I wonder after the stack is gone on whether there will be a ghostly sentinel that replaces its existence for me.   Like the twin towers when you catch a glimpse of old footage and it catches your breath, the sky will seem empty in that place.

I have watched a show recently called Vanishing Views where architect Ptolemy Dean sketches landmarks that are disappearing.  He had sketched the Sheffield Cooling Towers prior to demolition.  This week I intend to capture it much as possible.   The event has made me consider views of the imposing chimney and how I would find the right vantage point to paint or sketch from.  Unfortunately the view from the playground is also prohibited as recently the school too has been partly demolished.

The Stack & MM

 

 

 

 

MM Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stack and the playground

The Stack and the playground

jellyfish and stack 1

The boat shed, the school and the stack will all be physically removed like an erased De Kooning drawing.

Walykumunu, A Good and Happy Place

Ken Shepherd sketch

In the words of the Warakurna artists of Central Australia I was in a good and happy place, Walykumunu. For them that place was the arts centre in the Central Desert making art, for me it was the next best thing – looking at art.

Amanda

A little while back I went to Turner from the Tate exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. This visit was with my daughter and it was a last-minute decision based more on opportunity than intent. Her recent visit to London and her emotional encounter with Turner also drove us there.

Turner

Last weekend my second visit was with my painting pal Jane and based more on intent and serendipity. The second look was different. The time-lapse between visits meant that I had considered works from a distance and returning provided the opportunity to draw on those remembered paint marks. This visit I swore I could smell oil paint in the room.

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Upstairs Roy Lichtenstein’s prints in Pop Remix Exhibition told of the journey through Western art history in a totally unexpected way. His dots told stories of Abstract Expressionism, Still Lives and Nudes.

National Museum of Australia

At the National Museum of Australia the exhibitionWarakurna, All the stories got into our minds and eyes used very different dots to Lichtenstein. It was a coming together of different skin groups keeping their culture strong through various art forms, weaving, painting, sculptures, making bush medicine.

Helicopter Ride with Brooksy to See My Father's Ngurra (Country), 2011, Ken Shepherd, acrylic on canvas. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne and Vicki McGeoch.

Helicopter Ride with Brooksy to See My Father’s Ngurra (Country), 2011, Ken Shepherd, acrylic on canvas. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne and Vicki McGeoch.

Ken Shepherd’s Helicopter Ride with Brooksy to see my Father’s Country (Ngurra) left me feeling like an explosion of cultures. It was Turner’s narrative, Pop Art’s patterning and Indigenous understanding of life and art.

The Tate London is more than 10,000 miles away to the west and more than 10,000 miles away to the east is New York. Australia seems to be smack bang in the middle and I imagine an art sign post in the Central Desert of Australia with New York pointing one direction and another pointing to London.

Underneath sitting crossed-legged in the red dirt Roy Lichtenstein and JMW Turner. Lichtenstein marking the sand out in dotted patterns and Turner sweeping large gestural marks through the dust. They both seem worlds away from the Warakurna Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. All are Walykumunu, a good and happy place. Places that bring art together and keeps culture strong.

National Museum Australia

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.

photo-24

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.

photo-25

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

The Better Boatshed, Royal National Park Sydney

Royal National Park SydneyPlein-air painting can be difficult but when the weather is perfect, the location is devoid of onlookers, wildlife is abundant and the landscape is stunningly beautiful nothing is better.

Black cockatoos.

Black cockatoos.

DSC05265Michael Ambriano, my painting pal, took me to his local. The Royal National Park just south of Sydney is beautiful. Setting up our painting gear, a flock of black cockatoos screeched overhead and I knew it was going to be right.  We were soon joined by ducks, magpies and sulphur crested cockatoos.

I remembered coming here as a child. My family had a boat hire business further down the coast and we would visit another member of the family who had the old boat shed here in the National Park.

DSC05227

This cockatoo came in for a closer look at my work. The magpie had told him about it.

As much as I loved the lake and our home at Windang, I always felt Uncle Ralph’s was the “better boat” shed and yesterday I could see why I envied this place so much.  I remembered ducks gliding by on still water and grassy lawns falling into the banks. Plus Uncle Ralph had an eye-patch.

Michaels Studio

Michael’s Studio

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The "Better" Boatshed

The “Better” Boatshed

Big Red Things By The Sea

Quin Sihua: Bubble No5 Photo by Clyde Yee

Quin Sihua: Bubble No5 Photo by Clyde Yee

Ron Robertson-Swann: Inner Sanctum 2011, my photo

Ron Robertson-Swann: Inner Sanctum 2011, my photo

It’s no secret I love Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi and have blogged about it each year. Recently it went on tour to Arhus in Denmark and when I saw this image Bubble No 5 , earlier in the week it reminded me of big red things and blue, blue skies.

Dave Mercer: View TM 2012

Dave Mercer: View TM 2012

It’s winter here in Sydney Australia and after a bout of rain clear crisp skies have emerged.

Chen Wenling: Childhood Morning Cottosloe Photo Clyde Yee

Chen Wenling: Childhood Morning Cottosloe Photo Clyde Yee

Chen Wenling: Childhood Horizon Photo Samantha Burns

Chen Wenling: Childhood Horizon Photo Samantha Burns

Kate Fennell: Wallpapered Photo Jack Bett

Kate Fennell: Wallpapered Photo Jack Bett

Chen Wenlings larger than life figures are always popular with children and can’t help make you smile.  The work here Childhood Morning was stolen (and later recovered) from Cottosloe Beach in Western Australia.

Chen Wenling: Games Photo Jarrad Seng

Chen Wenling: Games Photo Jarrad Seng

These images have inspired me to take a large calligraphy brush, dip it in brilliant red gouache and write their story.

My photo The Nail

My photo The Nail

Kashel Robertson-Swann: Little Lady 2011 Photo Helen Liu

Kashel Robertson-Swann: Little Lady 2011 Photo Helen Liu

David Horton: Jarrett in London 2010 Photo Roger D'Souza

David Horton: Jarrett in London 2010 Photo Roger D’Souza

Philip Spelman: Carmen 2011 Photo Samantha Burns

Philip Spelman: Carmen 2011 Photo Samantha Burns

Philip Harry Koch: Budgie Cottosloe Photo Clyde Yee

Philip Harry Koch: Budgie Cottosloe Photo Clyde Yee

Subodh Kerkar: The Chilly Photo Clyde Yee

Subodh Kerkar: The Chilly Photo Clyde Yee

Sir Anthony Caro: Aurora 2011 Photo Clyde Yee

Sir Anthony Caro: Aurora 2011 Photo Clyde Yee

Dillon McEwan: Car Cutter 2007 Photo Jamie Williams

Dillon McEwan: Car Cutter 2007 Photo Jamie Williams

Haruyuki Uchida: Gravity Circle 2007 Photo Jack Brett

Haruyuki Uchida: Gravity Circle 2007 Photo Jack Brett

Richard Tipping: Go Photo Clyde Yee

Richard Tipping: Go Photo Clyde Yee

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.

Fuzzy Edges and Overpasses

Jeffrey Smart Bus Terminus AGNSWRMG 2011-09-11 Took off reflections on right sideYou would think that these two artists couldn’t be further apart but there is something very similar about them.

 

It was sad news that Jeffrey Smart, highly respected Australian artist died this week and on the other side of the world in San Francisco, the De Young Museum is holding a Richard Diebenkorn exhibition, The Berkley Years.

Berkley #44

My trip to the USA a while back was primarily a search for Diebenkorn paintings (and De Koonings of course). The major Australian Galleries have no Diebenkorn paintings in their collections.  The National Gallery of Australia has a number of prints and the Art Gallery of NSW have just 2 etchings not on show.  There was no other option than to visit the source.

Upon seeing them I realised it wasn’t just all about space and colour, it was the edges, where paint meets. Do I bring it up close and stop or push it over the edge of the next colour?  Diebenkorn knew.

Jeffrey Smart Cahill ExpresswayAt the same time as Diebenkorn was dealing with his edges during the Berkley Years of 1953-196, Jeffrey Smart was painting The Cahill Expressway in 1962 in Australia. Smart had chosen to use those edges differently, crisp and hard.

 

Any artist familiar with Jeffrey Smart’s paintings recognise his roadside world and driving the expressway is becoming a figure within his composition.

My trip to Berkley.

My trip to Berkley.

My trip to Berkley, thousands of miles from a Jeffrey Smart world, over the Bay Bridge, a flash of overpasses and underpasses felt as though the two worlds collided. I wonder if they knew of each other’s work. Both were influenced by the likes of Cezanne and Edward Hopper.  In the same way Smart and Diebenkorn have influenced my work.  Fuzzy edges and overpasses.

Mascot Drawing, Roadside Series

Mascot Drawing, Roadside Series

The Artist’s Chair

Reverse Graffiti Chairs NewcastleMost artists who have a studio have a studio chair. This all important item compares to a brush.  Most artists need time to mull over what comes next. The painting gets to the stage where it’s close to breaking through and that sit and look time can be just what it needs to get to the next level.  I haven’t had a lot of different studios so I haven’t exactly been Goldilocks and tried them all.

Arthurs StudioThe closest to best was the chair in the studio at Bundanon. An old cane chair with a slouchy cushion, just right. I think it may have even featured in a couple of Arthur Boyd drawings or paintings.

The pink chair looked something like this....

The pink chair looked something like this….

 

 

Another of my faves was an old salmony pink chair. A sad case that was passed endlessly through the ex’s family who had no room for it and never quite fitted in with their decor. Funnily enough they wanted it back when we parted ways. Maybe they re-painted.

Thirroul studio

Thirroul studio

The Thirroul studio had the good old waiting room chair circa 80’s wrapped in vinyl and made a good double as an easel when not being sat upon and it could easily be wiped over.  Not being too comfy meant I spent more time off my butt.

My current chair is a bridge chair. It has a swing back and is good for procrastinating, leaning back and staring at the ceiling (and the top of the bookshelf) for inspiration.

 

 

I think the king of all studio chairs would have to be Willem De Kooning’s.  This photo from Architectural Digest shows that there were two, one for Elaine too. It appears to be a rocker and would be perfect with a rug for winter, drifting off  and dreaming of pink fleshy glazes and how the painting might end.

 

cn_image.size.willem-de-kooning-ad-visits-h670

“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries.”

“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries.”

 

Bright Lights, Big Names and Ordinary Lives

Vivid2-croppedThe bright lights of Sydney’s Vivid festival drew moths to flaming landmarks around the city. It is spectacular, the harbour dark and cold brought to life reflecting the hyper flickering.  The Museum of Contemporary Art was perfectly packaged in light on the outside by Gemma Smith and the Spinifex Group. Inside two major exhibitions made the lights seem frivolous somehow.

Exhuming Gluttony: Another Requiem 2011

Exhuming Gluttony: Another Requiem 2011

The first show was Wangechi Mutu, an American based Kenyan artist whose work felt dark and heavy behind the facade of lights. A reminder that not all the world is beautiful.

The other show was Jeff Wall: Photographs. This was a remarkable exhibition and once again proves that visiting a gallery with no specific purpose can sometimes be for the best.  I don’t know a lot about photography but was curious to find out more from his work. There was an overriding feeling for me that I could use these works as a basis for a painting, especially so with Diagonal Composition. A simple photo but so right in all aspects.  It reminded me of photographs I have taken prior to developing a painting, the subject almost irrelevant and the focus more about the shapes within that area and how or whether the colour could be used at all.

One of my photos for Garage Sale series.

One of my photos for Garage Sale series.

Study for a Sudden Gust of Wind

Study for a Sudden Gust of Wind

A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)

A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai).  

 

 

 

 

 

 

His larger  highly staged works such as After the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) feel effortless.  Once again the lights outside seemed a flash outside of reality compared to the world of Jeff Wall.

Diagonal Composition 1993

Diagonal Composition 1993