We are hitting the road for ten days on a spur of the moment road trip north. It’s my birthday tomorrow, and George came over early this morning with his Dad and little brother to wish us a good trip.
George had been busy on a birthday card drawing for me.
It’s a sophisticated piece for a five-year-old. My name is phonetically spelt on the top left, with Jimmy the poodle next to it. That’s me on the right. I’m six metres high and Jimmy is four metres long.
On the bottom left is a table with lots of birthday cards and a cake of course. Then there are kisses and hearts. George said he folded the corners of his ‘card’ so they wouldn’t be pointy.
This beautiful work did make me feel six metres tall. It’s occupying pride of place on the fridge gallery.
I’ve converted my messy art room into a mini gallery that opens for business from tomorrow for the next two weekends (Friday to Sunday) and next Tuesday (Oct 5) Hours: 10.00 am to 4.00pm.
After seeing the workspace in the garage, visitors will be able to see what the paintings look like on the wall, and gain some insight into how they evolved.
I’m not prolific but I work with passion and give art my all. The hard work of getting everything ready behind me, I can now relax and enjoy the next couple fo weeks of art making and meeting other art lovers/artists who enjoy a having glimpse into the world of artists at work.
Talented Peregian Beach photographer Julie Hemsley did a publicity shoot at Marcus Creek of me when we exhibited at The Butter Factory Arts Centre in 2018. Apart from being successful in promoting our show, I knew that the photos had something that I wanted represent using paint – reflection in water.
The result? One subject, two abstract paintings using two different techniques to convey a sense of the red dress and yellow painting reflected on the surface of water.
Red Dress, Yellow Painting #1 evolved from an abstract work that that I had “retired” because I was unsatisfied with the result. On revisiting the canvas when mulling over ideas about reflection, it occurred to me that the shapes could be the basis for a work inspired by Julie’s photographic images.
The painting began to take on a new life; linear brushstrokes conveying the sense of distorted reflected shapes and disturbed water; thick opaque paint with no medium; textures from the underpainting adding subtle patterning and interest.
The process of painting the work evolved over five years. First, it was a purely abstract painting with no subject, then an abstract painting with a subject. Finally, in order to fully resolve this work, I had let go of the idea of a subject, and went back to seeing it as purely abstract. Full circle, quite a challenging process.
In Reflection – Red Dress Yellow Painting #2, I used the technique of glazing – building up the surface with successive layers of paint made translucent with medium so that the colours below show through, thereby alluding to something deeper than the surface.
I wanted to suggest a flat surface – water – at the same time as conveying movement on that surface, and the distortion that moving water gives to reflected shapes.
It was a technique I had used for the series of paintings exhibited at The Butter Factory, inspired by the sunlight shining through the tannin water of Marcus Creek, which, in the early morning light, has amazing reflective qualities.
I find that art is all the the richer when you discover something about the genesis of an artwork, the techniques that the artist used and the painting process. Perhaps that is because I paint myself. I’m curious to know whether others feel the same way or is viewing without knowing a rich enough experience.
Do either of these paintings resonate with you? If so, which one do you prefer and why?
My latest art acquisition, a print of a work by Susan Neuvonen, fellow Noosa Open Studios artist. Susan, along with Desley Roach, Trish Menzies and I, all Marcus Beach residents, joined together to form the Marcus Mini Art Trail. I visited Susan’s studio yesterday for a preview, and felt drawn to this image. The work is poignant. Like all good art, it comes from the heart. Out of grief and mourning emerges something very beautiful.
started tearing pages out of my handwritten journals,
lit a match,
and unceremoniously fed the pages into the fire.
I didn’t read any of them, just let them go up in flames.
Looking back, I can see that the burning of the journals was the beginning of some important realisations that play out in my art practice.
Whenever I am creating, I am totally absorbed and present in moment – or try to be. If my concentration is poor, or my mind wanders, inevitably my painting session does not go so well.
The way that I paint is a process of embracing change. When a painting isn’t coming together, I will retire it for a while, months or sometimes years, by which time it is part of the past, so I can see it with the fresh eyes of the present. Often I will start a painting with something in mind, but the finished work bears little resemblance to original concept.
This Covid Capsule painting is an example of how the process works. It started with a painting that hadn’t gone to plan but was one that I knew it still had some potential, so I retired it.
A few months later I bought it back to the present, creating a strange bleak landscape. Then I noticed some brushstrokes that slightly resembled a face appeared on the canvas. And so idea for a covid capsule evolved.
A Map for Navigating Life
The Universe is in constant flux and the only thing that doesn’t change is that nothing stays the the same.
The past is gone and the future is yet to come.
Human life is therefore a continual process of beginnings and endings, embracing and letting go.
This requires acceptance of what is, and some insight to successfully navigate a way.
The present is where to direct our energy and attention.
Life culminates death, the process of simultaneously letting go and embracing the unknown.
You might find this line of thought fatalistic or bleak, but for me it is a guiding path that cuts through a lot overthinking, unnecessary worry and regret. As a result I am more productive and proactive rather than being passive, angry, frustrated or disappointed.
Is it art, decoration or an environmental statement?
My artist friend, Victoria Bradbury, who gives Jimmy the Poodle oodles of love while Col and I are away, also gave me a wonderful artistic homecoming gift. The rough stepping stones that are a short-cut from the veranda to the backyard had come alive with beautiful swirls in subtle earthy colours that seemed to emanate from the stone itself. Vicki used the surrounding sandstone pebbles as her “crayons” so the pigments did literally come from the stones.
I absolutely love using stones in garden design, hence my rustic steps, but the shape of the large flat paving stone leading from the veranda particularly draws me.
Years ago I used it at the background on which to photograph the coloured glow sticks used to attract fish to trawler nets. The sticks that wash up on our beaches, some of which still have coloured liquid in them, add to plastic pollution of the ocean and shoreline. Despite their negative impact on the environment, they did seem to have artistic possibilities. At the time I was doing a photo collage art project using rubbish collected from the beach.
I am thrilled that these two paintings are On-line Finalists in the Lethbridge Gallery Small Art Prize (Brisbane). Thank you Lethbridge for your commitment to show lesser known artists alongside more established ones.
On 17 February 2019, two days after Theresa May’s Government had been defeated for the second time on her Brexit deal with the EU, journalist Tom Peck wrote an article in The Independent on the British Prime Minister. Peck likened her to the rugged Nokia 5210, a shock proof, water-resistant mobile phone that was renowned for its indestructibility.
Fascinated by this I looked up the Nokia 5210 and started reading old reviews from 2002. Bizarre as it seemed, the journalist had hit on something that resonated: the words used to describe phone in the reviews somehow seemed to speak of Theresa May and the political situation.
I used some of these words in the digitally-designed postcards. Another element, the unusually shaped “on” “off” buttons of the Nokia phone, suggested people shouting; they represent the “yes” “no” protests seen daily in the press at that time.
After two more defeats, May proved not to be indestructible, resigning on May 24, 2019.
Meanwhile mobiles have come a long way since the fabulously retro orange Nokia 5210, Peck’s quote, no doubt forgotten by most, has been buried by the 24 hour new cycle, and postcards are fast becoming a nostalgic thing the past.
It is difficult to be a painter alone in your studio, no matter how much time you spend there. You have to show your work and engage with an audience, for it is social contact that energises and renews us.
Christopher Allen, Arts Writer, The Australian
Christopher Allen goes on to say that perhaps artists were luckier in earlier times when they were commissioned to paint significant subjects for public places such as churches. Their works had a shared meaning that people understood and that was relevant to the time and place. Artists therefore had a responsive wide audience.
Now, perhaps with the exception of graffiti, art is not so imbedded in the fabric of society. It has become rarified being ‘held’ by esteemed institutions. In contemporary western society at least, you can see fads in art and ‘trending’ artists. There is fierce competition to get a gig at a commercial gallery, or to be part of a prestigious gallery ‘stable.’ We speak of ‘the art world’ as if it is quite seperate from the real world.
That leaves an outsider artist like myself, who hasn’t been to art school. but who is serious about her practice, wondering how they can find a way to escape from what Allen calls “the quicksands of solipsism”.
Being an artist is about creating works to be viewed.
A website and blogging is one way to reach an audience, though it does have limitations where visual art is concerned. That said, it has never been easier to publish your creative work, be it literary or visual.