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About Me

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I paint, make collages and mixed media work. I write poetry. I reflect on the Tao.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

News: December 2016

I'm showing three paintings at the 40 x 40 exhibition at the Brunswick Street Gallery, 322 Brunswick Street,Fitzroy, Melbourne (Australia).

The show runs from 11 December 2016 to 21 January 2017.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Small poem

Move body in cadence slow steps old muscles know seek the when dance moves the dancer court the when no dance no dancer

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Twists and turns: intuitive abstract painting

I love it when the art journey takes on twists and turns.

One evening two weeks ago, I decided to do a small watercolour each evening as part of  #paintseptember on Twitter.

With little time for the evening painting, I needed to work small. I used an A5 size (6 by 8 inches) watercolour pad with a taped border of just under ¾ inch.

Because I was working small, I was able to relax, just have fun with it and not worry too much about what I was going to paint. I was going to follow the paint and use my intuition.

I began by wetting the paper generously using my one inch hake brush. Then, using a wetted half inch bright I would take colour freshly squeezed from the tube and apply it directly to the paper, pretty much at random. First, the yellow, then the reds and then the blues and finally indigo or Payne's grey or earth colours.

Then I manipulated the paint on the paper, using clear water to encourage bleeding and merging and runs, and playing with the paint using my hands, an old credit card, paper, sponge, tissue, a worn dish scourer.

The first paintings

On this one, I was mainly exploiting the runs and bleeds.  By this time, I had the feeling of a wild and dramatic dawn sky. I pressed the soft side of my palm into the still damp paint to texture some cloudiness.

The falling star was a result of exploiting an accident. A speck of semi-dried paint had fallen on the paper and I streaked it. Why not a falling star. Especially now that the upper cloud had become an alien face.

A similar process on the second painting, but this time I was getting the feeling of distant sunlit mountains and an indistinct foreground. as an experiment I added rock salt crystals to soak up the paint. and give the sense of rocky texture.

The twists
And this feeling of landscape became stronger with the next set of paintings done over the course of the following days. Particularly as I used an old credit card to blend and push the paint in the lower part of the painting. I  had created mountains!

Some of the paintings were done using the dried leftover paint from the evening before, resulting in a faded, less intense colour.

And one of them was based on a print, taken from the initial layer of intense colour.

The turns

And then matters took an interesting turn with this one. I had used up my watercolour pad and turned to some other paper of much lesser quality which I had lying around. because this paper has less sizing, the watercolours soak right in , no running or bleeding. I started pushing the mountains up. The initial mountain colour had become horribly brownish and I quickly sponged it out. Now I had a clear division between the upper and lower section, but no feeling of sky. Instead I had the sense of earth, the sense of the Australian earth in drought.
 I'm viewing the ground from above. I'm drawing the fence lines of farmer's paddocks, which become the fence wires themselves. I'm drawing lines using watercolour pencils. I'm applying white gouache paint on the edge of a credit card. I'm sponging paint as texture to give variety to the ground. I'm blotting paint with my fingers. I'm smudging a blob of white gouache which looked too stark. In the meantime the words "Crawford's Run" keep echoing in my head. (A "run" in Australia was a large tract of land occupied by a squatter to run cattle or sheep. And there is a Crawford and he did have a run! Crawford, James, ‘Emu Creek’ run, squatter in Portland Bay District )

The turns

With this one, I did  start out by looking at some extremely enlarged photos I had taken of water tumbling over rocks. and I did start out with the intention of laying down a rocky substrata. I'm using more of the sense and feel of rock, rather than a visual memory or even looking at the reference photograph, as I sponge on colour and use the watercolour pencils on the damp paper to create texture and depth. Then I scrape and smudge and use the paint tube to apply the white gouache. I am feeling flow, rather than water specifically.Now, when I look at it, I see a greater resemblance to bark than to water...but both have the same sense of growth and flow.

Finally just to finish up what has become a rather long post, here are two of the more recent abstracts using watercolour, watercolour pencils and gouache.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Aphorisms on art and poetry

What I discover is more authentic than anything my mind can devise.

I am a romantic fool throwing poetry against the wind of despair.

I paint. I draw. I collage. I make objects. I write poems. I do these things from my heart and soul.

I make evocations, not abstractions or depictions.

Paint has a physicality which should be celebrated.

Art is what moves the soul. The soul is for the depth of experience enfolded in life.

The dharma of the true artist or poet is to serve and defend the imagination of the soul, the passions of the heart and the sensuosity of things.

Poetry is an act of subversion.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Making art without making art

On my walk to work (yes, I have a full-time non-art job), my eye is captured by men on the scaffold of the building site in town. I miss two sets of lights to cross the road, but I take some photos. Later I process one of them into a black and white shot, emphasizing the horizontal lines cut through with verticals The diagonal line of the crane adds a good contrast to the grid-like effect of the scaffolding.  The little figures add a bit of mystery..

On arriving at the office and before I clock on, I make a watercolour print in a bound sketch book. At some stage of the day some words in connection with the print will come to me and will be added later. (A year later I am still doing this as a morning ritual and meditation; it's become a powerful reminder of my vocation.) 

During my lunch break, I finish shading this drawing for the Twitter #drawingaugust campaign. I'm exploring the use of earth-toned graphite pencils. 

A few days prior, I completed another version using the same three pieces of fruit. I changed the composition, primarily only used one colour for each item of fruit and used smooth card stock rather than pastel paper.

There's also enough time to do an experimental drawing using a reed dipped in ink

Before leaving the office, there is time to dash off a quick colour note in my carry-everywhere sketchbook, using my Koi Watercolour Sketch Box.

That evening I get the chance to do just under an hour’s playing with ink and card stock in my corner of the study.

This is not a schedule, just how it turned out one particular day. Other days, I might also have some waiting time for sketching in. Other days I might take my lunch break in an art gallery or go on a photography or sketching expedition. Some days there will be fewer opportunities, other days more.

Lessons I have learnt:-

Always carry a sketch book. (Having forgotten my own advice on more than one occasion, I now carry the absolute minimalist sketch "book"... a few pieces of cartridge paper folded in my wallet, along with a pencil stub)
 Do what you can, when you can. 
Leave work in progress where you can see it, not locked away in the studio.
Have the attitude of a hunter—be in a state of relaxed alertness, ready to record whatever stimulates your artistic interest.

(slightly edited form the original published in August 2015)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Semi-abstract Seascape Painting: Work in Progress

I painted this semi-abstract seascape on Sunday. I'm now just letting it sit for a while in the studio to see whether I need to enhance it in any way.

I find I work more freely and loosely when I am use my memory as a starting point and then respond to the painting as it develops. I think it helps that I don't use brushes, as these seem to distance me from the act of painting. I use a palette knife to trowel the paint on and then use rags and my fingers to blend and manipulate the paint. I often add highlights with sticks, sponges, credit cards and all sorts of other things. The more tactile the implement, the closer I feel to the painting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What is art?

"What is art?" or "I can't explain what art is, but I know it when it grabs me".

Art is what moves the soul.

All else is intellectual masturbation, propaganda, decoration or entertainment.

My first response to art is profound recognition, a sense that, although this is new or strange or different, I know it in my bones. It's a kind of terrible joy, for the soul loves darkness almost more than it loves the light.

The soul loves beauty, but not prettiness. The soul loves love, but not sentimentalism.

Above all, the soul is for the depth of experience enfolded in life.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Artists and the Social media

Ben Quilty: Social media for me has been a vehicle that is patted on the back way too often.
I say to young artists all the time—don't put your work on social media until you have properly, seriously exhibited it in the atmosphere that you planned.
For a visual artist that is very important. You need to understand the space. The theatrics of the way the audience works in that space is very important to me and should be important to any artist.
I know young artists who just put [up] one image after the other—before they've even cleaned the paint off their apron it's on social media.
I think one of the key parts of a visual language is that you see the language develop before you let anyone else read that language, because if you’re giving people every bite there is actually no language, you're just dribbling.
From ABC Australia, Radio National 26 april 2016