Velasquez and I Cook Eggs

IMG_3214Inspiration comes in packages of all shapes, sizes and compositions.  Recently I was gobsmacked by Velasquez Old Woman Cooking Eggs. There was a dynamism in the figures and objects and how they related to each other both in colour and shape.  As a result a new series of small works in gouache provided impetus for bigger and better things.  The serendipity of reading John Olsen’s biography whilst working on the series, also laid another level.

The egg, a symbol of hope and regeneration that he saw in Velasquez, carried into his work and as a result into mine. I could see a jelly-fish-like symbol in the slithery par-cooked egg whites that could transfer into compositions for my boatshed works.


Velasquez: Old Woman Cooking Eggs.

Velasquez: Old Woman Cooking Eggs.

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I Wish the Helper Monkeys Would Review My Life

today 001WordPress sent me the annual run down on the health of my blog. I love fireworks and I love the analogies those little monkeys use but how good if I got fireworks over my life for the year.  I think if they saw what I did for the year in paint, it wouldn’t be the Cannes Film Fest firing up, more like a YouTube snippet of watching paint dry.

As usual I vowed this year to be more productive with paint. I have turned the dining table into a gouache station in hope. I have a fresh accumulation of tins. Squeezed tubes and a jar full of brushes in place of place mats. So far?….3 small works and fewer pistachio nuts in the centrepiece. I already feel as though the year is running out in the first week.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals


It’s All About the Drying Time

Today I was late for an appointment. This never used to happen to me but lately I realised it is out of my control. Paul Higgs, whose work I greatly admire, was talking about Ron Lambert when he said it was “all about the drying time with Ron”.

Sometimes you get paint when it’s almost at that dry stage but not quite and you push it with a brush and wow! It’s that half drag, tacky mark that sends you off. 

So back to the appointment, do I sacrifice punctuality for the promise of a work? Why are other people late when they are not painters?

Todays effort was inspired by one of the most unattractive trees – (well… dead stick) I’ve ever seen on my walk around the lake. Someone had hung an old blue dummy on it, then another, then another bit of crap and an empty Fisherman’s Friend packet.

So what excuse did I come up with for being late -“sorry, I was painting a dead stick with an old blue dummy on it and it was at that tacky stage I really like.” No – I used the old favourite “sorry, traffic” and hope they didn’t notice the streak of paynes grey that extended from my elbow to the wrist.

The Ping-Pong Table

I’m still rolling up paintings, tearing paper and burning stuff.  As I go I am photographing the stuff I have had to say goodbye to once and for all.

This one was hard. Not a great work by any means but one of those that I remember every mark, every mix. It was based on my old studio.  I had a large ping-pong table in the centre of the space – it was great to store bits and pieces, cut paper, mount works, paint flat.

The table was a conglomeration of collectables. Pieces of paper, bones, paint but it was where I was happy for a long time. I had hung on to this work for that reason. It was a series of 6 large boards -each 1 m x .700 so difficult to dispose of too.

One board had 3 ping-pong bats glued to it and on top of the bats, cassette tape boxes and inside the boxes, pieces of paint palette and on the paint palette, fish bones.

It was produced at a time where I was in transition, I wanted to paint but loved the exploration of materials and this work was about that.  Perhaps I was sensing the time to leave that ping-pong table behind.

I often dried fish bones after eating fish and my clothesline would have smelly fish carcasses hanging precariously from time to time. I liked to do this when I had caught the fish myself. I sometimes lost my “washing” to kookaburras.

There is something very primal about fish bones. Their role in this work also related back to my youth at the boatshed. The actual fish bones glued within the work had long since gone – to delicate sustain countless moves.

I don’t know if I could have discarded the work at all if they had still been adhered to the work.  Either way it has now gone and it definitely looks better in hindsight.

I’m not a Hermit, only a hermit crab….


This image of Charles Blackman’s studio in Buderim Qld looks to be a great shell to retreat into. The majority of artists have ordinary lives, ordinary jobs and as Blackman says, we are not hermits but we do act like hermit crabs. The thoughts slowly creep over us like the sign of a rising tide and then we find that we have to bunker ourselves within the protection of a studio and weather the tide of creativity. This week in a new job I felt like I was among the fishes but I felt fortunate that I had a shell that could get me through the swells.

Fresh Paint & Well Hung Brushes

Being in an artists studio is akin to looking into the mind of a serial killer. You can see where they are coming from, what drives them. Some are erratic, others orderly. A recent trip to Idris Murphy’s studio meant we could understand the paring back, the essence of composition. I always feel somewhat of a voyeur when looking at other artists brushes – the length, the width, how they are cared for-hung or potted. I am always so careless with my brushes and I think this leads to a bitter case of brush envy.

No matter what I paint or where I paint, I always seem to be in chaos. My studios have always become a huge mess. Perhaps if I look at paring back my compositions, my paint, the studio will follow and I will have well hung brushes like Idris.