I am feeling particularly energised after an afternoon workshop at QAGOMA (Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art) with Brisbane artist John Honeywill. John had us wielding large sticks dipped in black paint across paper laid the on the floor, followed by collaging, pencil scribbling and rubber drawing. All done in the name of creativity.
Collage number 2, now nothing more than an image on my hand-me-down iPhone, is the collage design I liked best of the three I did. We had just 15 minutes. The exercise aimed to combine the intuitive with the thinking part of the brain. Instinctively, I approached this as a colour and tonal piece. Intuition and experience drew me to the particular colours.
My first collage had been a happy accident that resulted primarily from plonking the bits of paper on the backing page. As a consequence, for Collage Number 2, I decided to work within the ‘confines’ of the materials, that is to use their own particular qualities rather than manipulate or change them.
What spoke to me were the beautiful ragged edges of two of the bits of paper, something I had not particularly focused on when choosing them. They became the heroes in my design and, being heroes, needed top billing, with a good supporting structure. This is where the black strips came in handy.
The whole design came together in minutes, with no repositioning or conscious thinking. Even the conscious thoughts, requiring many words to describe here, came in seconds. Not surprisingly this exercise felt like a powerful burst of energy! For me, collage making, or any artistic endeavour, too frequently becomes laboured rather than fluid. A drawn out bid for the right composition, colour, texture or shape can degenerate into exhausting, fruitless fiddle rather than a creative act.
At the outset of the workshop John had briefly explained the connection between unconscious process and the the thinking brain in creativity. Good teachers provide experiences, not just words and that is exactly what John orchestrated. We had the experience of combining intuitive thinking with analytical thinking. Doing art using these different aspects of our brain makes magic happens. Oh to find that place each time I set to work!!
Thank you John. Click to visit John Honeywill
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.
There is something special about being gifted a collection of art books – or a collection of anything.
Rosemary’s mother was an academic, who, when she retired, took up painting. Amongst her bookshelf-lined walls were three rows of art books. Would I like them, Rosemary asked? My bookshelves are full to brimming, but how could I resist more art books? I will take them over time I said, and go through them at my leisure. So I piled about a third of the collection into the car boot.
Before I leave, Rosemary shows me a selection of her mother’s work, stacked in a wardrobe that is now devoid of clothing. It is an eclectic collection, the work of a hobby painter: still life studies; busy people populating the outdoors; landscapes; and stylised figures.
Collections speak of the person who created them. This collection tells me that Rosemary’s mother had a wide and varied interest in art. She must have read voraciously. There are books on Australian painters such as Robert Bunny and Tom Roberts. Scholarly works like Australian Surrealist painter James Gleeson’s book Australian Painters sit alongside art books for the general reader.
Books on: Brueghel, Cezanne, Munch, Kandinsky, The Impressionists, Goya, La Belle Epoque, Life and Times of Durer, Graphic Works of the American 30’s, couple of weighty tomes on how to paint and much more.
At home, after making space in my bookshelves I begin to unpack the treasures, finding unexpected snippets of information.
In a book by Alistair Duncan entitled Fin de Siecle: Masterpieces from the Silverman Collection, there is a tiny clue to Rosemary’s mother’s creative process. A small piece of paper with the handwritten question “possible?” bookmarks a page of beautifully photographed Tiffany Lava Favrile vases. They are stunning vases, and I recognise the shape as similar to some of the vessels in the still life paintings.
Did Rosemary’s mother draw her creative inspiration and ideas directly from her collection of art books? Perhaps the figures from the detail of Bruegel’s The Corn Harvest inspired her outdoor scenes with busy figures.
Then a piece of scrap paper with a pencil sketch on the back drapes out of a book.. What inspired drawing and what do the figures represent – Matisse’s dancers, a piece of painted pottery or is it a narrative of some sort?
I am left with questions that will never be answered, and further thoughts about collections: of art, of memorabilia, in galleries, in museums, in libraries, grand and small collections, serious or quirky, public and private.
What makes a collection? Why do we humans seem to have a propensity to collect? As a child I collected stamps for a while because my Dad collected stamps. I still have my little collection – in a blue stamp book. Every stamp has one thing in common; it speaks of my love of horses.
A mini gallery springs to life. These pretty flowers are in a jardiniere from my mother’s collection – a memory from my childhood. The encircling cards, miniatures of a painting series are, in my mind, fallen petals. Visitors to Noosa Open Studios like the space I’ve created too, which makes me happy.
Right now I’m thinking about how I can convert this room back into a work space that is less cluttered and more streamlined than its previous state; an organised work area to supersede what my neighbour’s children call the “Messy Room”.
It was the best room in the house for Hide and Seek. Still, under the iron bed comes a close second as a hiding spot, so if the “Messy Room” stays tidy, the boys will still have some good Hide and Seek places.
Although Open Studios is primarily about inviting people into your space to view your art and to see how you work, it’s always exciting when you sell a work.
It’s been really wonderful to have feedback on my art, to have conversations with art lovers and fellow artists, and to collaborate with the three local artists in my area to create the Marcus Mini Trail as part of Noosa Open Studios, 2021
A tree with the most extreme and precise trim to accommodate a power line that I have ever seen, caused me to pull over to take a photo.
It was part of an avenue along the Great Alpine Road in the Ovens Valley leading into the pretty town of Harrietville, a starting point for alpine hikes and the gateway to the ski fields of the Alpine National Park in North East Victoria.
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?
Circles. Acrylic on linen, 61×51 cm (24×20 inches)
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.
Here are Susan’s words:
With two weeks to go until Noosa Open Studios, I’ve cleared away various projects in my work room so that I can convert it onto a “mini gallery”
Open from October 1 on
Fri to Sun 10.00 am-4.00 pm
Tues Oct 5
Today, on the 20th anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers, I looked back at the photos I took at the 9/11 Memorial in September 2019.
The urban beauty of the skyscrapers reaching towards the blue sky surprised me. It was a sunny day with soft white clouds drifting across the sky, their reflections patterning the glass facades of the buildings. I consciously photographed reflections – reflections of the clouds, of the buildings and on the water.
Around the edge of the reflective ponds, the names of those who died and red carnations, remembrance and reflection so simply conveyed.
Here I started taking photos of red lights and signs. Red signifies danger and mayhem: fire engines, the red lights of ambulances and police cars flashing; exit signs – there was no escape; the fire of the underworld – some might say Hell. It did feel an underworld in the Ground Zero Museum.
I ask myself what have we learned, how have we reacted, how have we changed? They are big questions on the world stage. Sometimes I find comfort in small things, like the fact that each day someone puts a white rose next to the name of a person who died on 9/11 to commemorate their birth.