Monday, April 25, 2011

A Pair of Little Asses


After some angsting about how to treat the chalk grounds I've decided to leave them in the rough. I tried a layer of zinc white and was horrified by the cutsie kiddie bedroom look they acquired! Had a confirmatory chat with the ever wise Niki and rubbed it off! Damn, but it was horrid. I'm enjoying the contrast of the refined oil painting against the rough and sketchy preliminary layer.

Phew, catastrophe averted.

Also managed, today, to complete the last of a triptych of larger pieces for the measure series. After months of umming and erring I had a break through by simply repainting the ground to some colours that actually make me happy. The two little swallows came quite quickly after that. I have decided to call it minuet due to the courtly dance in which the little birds are engaged.

Now I just need to find a wall somewhere to show this ever increasing collection of works!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The scruffy first layer

So many artists do that 'painting a day' blog thing and I thought I might try something similar. Given that I work in layers with oils, a painting a day doesn't really work for me, so I thought a layer each time the last dries - 2-3 days. So I sketched up the 9 little darlings on Friday afternoon, worked on some larger pieces on Saturday as well as the first black layers where needed and then did some fast underpainting on Sunday afternoon.  I might see if I can come up with a task to document on 'wet' days.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pig Tales

After several months of video focus I'm finding my way back into the paint again. I've had a series of small panels (20cm x 20cm) prepared with chalk gesso sitting waiting for me for some time and I finally realised that rather than going BIG with the current series I wanted to go even smaller. I spent the afternoon drawing up nine close-up mini portraits of the salt and pepper shakers that feature in my measure for measure series. And I'm feeling quite happy with the outcome. I particularly love this little piggy, he's such a ham (I'm sorry).

I attended a Gregory Crewdson lecture on Tuesday and he asserted that all artists have a core story that they are trying to convey. I left wondering about mine. Do I really have a core story? Maybe. I do seem to be obsessed with "stuff"; collecting objects, painting them, cherishing them, studying them. And if I think back through my childhood journey there are a few reasons why I cherish stuff. Dad was in the army and we moved a lot. Six schools by grade three in three different states. It was a lot. And we didn't get to keep much from one place to another. And stuff went missing. There's certainly a deep sense for me in finding cherished objects for which I find playful narratives that somehow replicate childhood fantasy and play. I think that this might be part of my motivation, the story in my work.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ginger Bread & Pepper Nuts

The last few months of 2010 were pretty much a paint-free time for me. I really struggled to find motivation to pick up a brush; but I spent my time refining my Gingerbread and Pfeffernüsse recipes.

A friend of mine, and fellow artist, explained her theory on why we loose ourselves in this other stuff for a while. It's because as emerging/unrepresented artists we have no audience. We spend months and years alone in our studios creating deeply heartfelt work and no one ever gets to see it.

Artists are communicators and it's very hard to always feel like you're talking to yourself. We are silenced. Making Gingerbread and PfeffernüsseI get to be creative and get an immediate audience reaction. I even get to eat some!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Fabulous Feast - of Golf balls

School holidays are such a lovely thing. Long languorous days of light and warmth that bring back memories of my light-filled childhood in the 70s. Hans and I have been having a great time weaving memories for his hazy childhood memory-bank. We spent a recent such day with the fabulous Rik and Jo. They had invited us to share a viewing of the Feast of Trimalchio by the Russian collective AES+F at the Art Gallery of SA.


A cut and paste Baroque orgy of delight on an imaginary island in the sun. We sat enthralled as the ballet of exotic servants and privileged tourists wove themselves amidst an animated resort with an ever accumulating vortex of golf balls.

It was very inspiring to see the clean, but obviously layered and animated elements playing against each other. In my video work I find myself spending a great deal of time cleaning up keying effects and to see how other artists deal with this is always interesting and in this instance somewhat freeing. AES+F appear not to be too concerned about the veracity of the edges of the figures which have a great deal of smoothing, yet the work is dynamic and engaging and clearly others viewing the work did not worry about that level of detail, rather the integration of the whole. 

Much of my art is inspired by the work of Classical world and responding to their concepts in a contemporary context. The Feast of Trimalchio is similarly inspired so it's fascinating to see AES+F's take on this Classical tale.  

I think I'll need to go back for another visit and spend some more time thinking about the work.

A small sample of the work can be found on the Art Nation site. 
The exhibition will be at the AGSA until the 6th of March 2011.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

After 18 months I have finished and handed over the birthday portrait of my Uncle Graeme! It's always exciting when you feel a portrait getting close to completion. He came together quite quickly in the end. And I was able to add those final elements . I had a vision fairly early on for the work and it's taken a long while to finally be able to add that sweep of stars from the Milky Way across his chest and the sky. 

I don't like to tell anyone what I have planned for a work  while it's still being created because I have this strange sense that once it leaves my lips it somehow loses power. So the stars were a little surprise for everyone, but they give him a shamanic-godlike quality that works for me.

Now that he has left the studio and travelled to Sydney and the New Year presses upon me I find myself goal-setting for the coming year. A year of consolidation, I think, and of competition entries. Compositions are already starting to crowd in now that some space has been made in my mind; pushy little pictures that need to be painted.