The Ups and Downs of Drawing

IMG_4071A shag and a pig went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat lined, with red-lead”

Sometimes I feel very connected to where I live and other times I want to get the hell out.  A while back I saw a submission for sculpture installation at the lake.  The lake was my childhood home, the boatshed my happy days. Somehow I feel as an artist I have a deep connection and I sort of owe it to me and the lake to produce something worthwhile.  I have done plenty of research and have my own motifs that appear in paintings and drawings.  I didn’t do the submission – no time, no confidence, no excuse really. This week while driving to work I passed the sculpture that has been erected where I thought I should do something.  I was prepared for the worst. I’m really happy with it. I didn’t do it but someone put their hand up and it feels very right.

Ghost Trees

Ghost Trees

Drawing on stories from the community there is a strength of connection behind the work. I had my own plans and a work that really was about me more than the area, so I am glad there is a work that will tell lots of other stories.

Anyway the drawing is improving. Once again the cormorants surfaced, the boatshed and my struggle to get it out. I may not have built a huge black shaped wing on the foreshore but I feel at peace with a story in art there for others.


Meanwhile I am still drawing more stories from my childhood on the lake.



Torpedo the pig

Torpedo the pig



We Are All the Flocking Same



Killalea Headland sketch

My sketch Killalea headland




Killalea pan


The Farm was a familiar term growing up with a surfer brother. When we arrived at our painting site today there were two guys, greying, with boards on their racks checking out the surf. They never lose their love of surfing -any conditions, any age. Today was the first time I saw The Farm up close. I hadn’t realised that Killalea State Park held this sacred surf spot on the coast.

I love that trot that surfers break into – board clenched under their arm, leg-rope dangling, hair dripping, their sleek wet-suit uniform dense against the green. They canter, the cold from their wrinkled wet feet protection against the gravel.

We cooked sausages and onions on a wood bbq at lunch time- it felt like summer today. There were so many different flocks and types of birds -black cockatoos against the blue blue blue sky. I painted with gouache on paper with memories of my brother Michael. I wondered if any of those greying surfers were Little Mick, or Tightarse, or Brooksy – all those older surfers who I use to lust after as a teenager, who called me Grub.

As a final note when we left later a parade of older vintage cars rolled along the road where the surfer had run back to his car earlier. The vintage Jag and MG had no roof racks for boards, no dusty wagons for paints and easels but glistening rims and chromish mirrors.

We’re all different flocks

This was a re-post of an earlier blog, after a recent sketch trip back to The Farm.

Post Christmas Colour

The Xmas PaintingEach Christmas gets curiouser and curiouser. This year was shared with my painter friend, Jane.  Rather than a traditional Christmas, we ate BBQ sausage sandwiches and painted and drank.  Trying to get back into some semblance of order post-Christmas and cleaning up the studio a tad, I decided to show my daughter my Christmas painting (as I had dubbed it).

Declaring to her “This is my Xmas painting.” I realised I had painted it primarily red and green. Maybe the result of too many Xmas mojitos, the heat and lamb and rosemary sausages but I can’t remember the original subject. Jane’s subject was the lake where we had walked the day before and I’m guessing mine had also originated from the same area. I do remember referring to a sketchbook. But the colours certainly aren’t relevant.

WindangI had also lost a day in the midst of a week and fortunately collected my daughter from the airport on the right day (just!). So now I’m getting back into order, righting the chaos and so this painting is now half done, red and green, unwrapped but needs to be finished. I just don’t know what I’m finishing.



The Lake?

The Red Case and Killalea

I had not made plans to go with the Picknick Painters this week but things changed last-minute and they were going to Killalea. I thought that I may not be able to do this again for a while because of other commitments, so I threw my stuff in a bag, a book on Philip Guston for Kaye, some book binding notes and my sketchbook.  It looked pretty black towards the south so I wasn’t expecting to stay long. Killalea had its own plans for me.


It’s beauty never fails to amaze, pushed to the edge by McMansion after McMansion just a small mottled concrete barricade to stop the grey roofs from spilling in on the green hills. To the east, Bass Point, a quarry and the constant rumble of trucks on dirt that disappear behind the hill. To the west vivid yellow-green hills and escarpment hem us in even further. For me it’s the view northwards that tugs at my attention and draws me away from the natural beauty.

The stack sits embedded in a finger of coast, surrounded crucifixion like be a scattering of smaller inconsequential chimneys. Mum always said -“I know I’m home when I see that stack.” Each time I look at it, it conjures childhood memories in some form. Scanning out to sea eastward from the stack, the five islands off Port Kembla float amongst the shipping containers like large bags of jetsam. The last page in my sketchbook contained notes on jellyfish within the lake. Images and sketches sometimes merge and I found myself humming “Five Jellyfish sitting on a rock…” meanwhile I sketched my thoughts. A tanker towing the island and in turn the island towing the jellyfish. It made me think of the dreaming stories associated with the local Wodi Wodi people of the starfish and  the whale.

I couldn’t decide whether they were heading ashore or out to sea but it made me think of the red suitcase, a symbol of my need to run, to escape.

Each time I work it feeds more and more into the lake series which is becoming stronger in my mind through my experience in this landscape. I feel I have opened the suitcase a little more, perhaps feeling more ready to settle.

Today it All Mattered

I arrived at Killalea just to sketch today, I had a bit on – a funeral of a young boy, voting and shopping. I didn’t realise that it would all matter. Killalea was especially beautiful today – I found it in rusting baskets to keep wood and barbeques. I did a few small sketches, took some photos and took off my shoes so my warm pink toes could feel the grass – the impending funeral made it seem even more relevant just to take the life in around me not rush to get it in paint. I had birthday cake with my painting friends and then went to vote.  I had sort of decided what to do -I like to keep on top of things in local elections but not really with a passion -I saw a man in a straw hat with “Save Killalea” on his Tshirt -I knew the morning had mattered -I decided to ask each candidate questions on their thoughts, something I never do -I made a confident decision and felt that it mattered.

Today I have to make a decision on work or art – it all matters.  I wish there was a man in a straw hat and a Tshirt to help me.

We Are All the Flocking Same

Killalea BW

            The Farm was a familiar term growing up with a surfer brother. When we arrived at our painting site today there were two guys, greying, with boards on their racks checking out the surf. … Continue reading

“You Really Don’t Have to be that Good”

Not only was it oppressively hot, grey nomads with grey lives felt compelled  to comment on our painting technique. The next time I see them backing a caravan into a tight spot I might take it upon myself to offer advice or tell them that they “really don’t have to be that good” or “that must be soOOO relaxing”.

How do you explain abstraction to the uncoverted caravaners? Thier vans are constructed and composed, arranged in rows (almost like these synchronised swimming seagulls), you would have more success with the campers who throw their canvas tent to the ground Pollock style to maximise view and capture morning sun and light.

Don’t mistake the Picknick Painters for a sweet ladies plein-air group. A palette knife can prove a useful weapon against ignorance.

Sue-pa Doopa Painters & the Vengeful God

The 3 Sue’s came from 3 points of the compass, Sue 1 from the south, Sue 2 from the north and Sue 3 from the west. We gathered at the shore to the east and displayed our tools of worship. We donned our headdresses, gathered rocks.  The art-god replied with howling gusts of salty breath. We feasted on golden fingers of oily potato and plump red melon, spoke in tongues for great length and left in fleeting white chariots back to our 3 corners. Our devotion was rewarded with humble examples of art.

We were reminded that picknick painters should gather in greater numbers, names other than Sue were accepted in the eyes of art-god and we should continue to paint more than eat and talk.

A Bolt of the Blues





Yesterday was a day that I was glad I was a painter. The weather was perfect, the location beautiful. Rockpools and smiles glistened.  The blue of the sea pool was blindingly bright. Morning tea was ripe red juicy strawberries and lunch fish and chips surrounded by anxious seagulls. The four of us spread out  – Kaye arranging lurid pink barbies like swimsuit models, Sue melting and melding her oily canvases, Andrea delicately observing the first swimmers of the season. I was mesmerised by a semi-submerged drainage pipe, brilliant blue and rusting in a pool surrounded by velvety black periwinkles.  Kaye braved an icy swim. It was a holiday in a day.