An empty mind full of ideas?

Episode 36

21 April 2021

To express yourself in a creative way you don’t need structure, you need an empty mind.”


A problem when your mind is so full of ideas. Loose very abstracted florals are one of my current obsessions. I love colour, I love gardens and flowers. I know I can paint realistically but I want to go to another level. And I have been trying. I want there to be the barest reference to flowers just the joy of seeing, smelling and touching.

I had done several 30cm square works (on my website soon) which I felt were getting closer to my intention. Inspired by artist such as Conn Ryder, Wendy McWilliams and Sandy Welch I decided to move up to four times the size.

A work by Conn Ryder from Pinterest

These two below are my works in progress. I start out quite loose and free but get drawn back to realism. Going larger means I should go larger with size of marks and shapes; that means larger paint spreaders and more paint on the palette. These were done mainly with oils sticks. They aren’t thick enough for what I want to achieve. Still a lot to do on these. I have to wait sometimes for the paint to dry before going further.

I know flowers don’t appeal to everyone, especially abstracted ones. I know I can paint more realistic flowers and still lifes but I want to push myself. Also, even if I am not satisfied someone else might absolutely love it. Challenging myself and experimenting are what drives me, not so much the number of sales or likes.

A friend, now a ‘collector’ asked the other day how I know a painting is finished. It’s much more straight forward with representational work; usually only a few tweaks to finish something. For me a painting gets to a stage where I feel their is a variety of interesting marks and shapes, interesting tonal and colour contrasts but also a cohesive colour palette. There is a danger in ‘fiddling’ and loosing the freshness and spontaneity. The question I ask is , ‘Is there any more I can do to take it where I intended?’

I don’t feel the need as some artists do to control or influence another’s response to my work. Every viewer brings their own context, feelings, memories, hopes and dreams. I feel if I have created with passion and joy that is enough. Make of it what you will.

Struggling with two from my shapes series. I wanted to use stencilling over complex and mono colour backgrounds, one in blues, one in reds. The lighter overlays and rigid structure weren’t working for me. The blue one has gone back to the blue base and the red into more geometric shapes similar to work I was doing over a year ago. That might all change.

Collages are developing. Shifting focus to a different media is an approachthat is great to rest the eyes and the mind. This is one of four 30cm collage paintings and a couple of sections of my concertina book. It has been fun to do and interesting to work with acrylic paint again rather that oil and cold wax. I don’t use brushes either with acrylics, techniques learned from oil and wax.

Pages 1-3 of the concertina book

Pages 7-9 of the concertina book

I was thrilled recently to sell a set of four small works to a lovely lady in Rosebay. They were from my leaf series.

Tomorrow I attack with passion and exuberance a large sheet of prepared 300gsm paper which is on an easel. There will be large marks and lines using heaps of paint. Hopefully I will achieve something exciting!

Love any comments or suggestions you may have to improve my blog and website

Where to now?

Episode 35

1 April 2021

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. Life has intruded. Creating a photo book of my son’s life so far for his 50th birthday was quite a challenge and a distraction. Lots of frustration due to impatience and lack of technical skills. I chose to do it in a powerpoint application rather than commercial software. This gave me more flexibility but no help desk. It was great to finish it and present it on his birthday.

Card made from collaged papers and paint

I feel like starting a new series of painting but am torn as to where to focus. I have been researching in recent months a semi abstract coastal theme so might pursue that. I thought I would do a review of my work using a mood/brain map, discovering that I have already seven themes/series on the go. So many ideas within these but I feel I should narrow the field and focus on maybe three.

My most recent work has been on a shapes theme; complex colourful background with negative shapes stencils over. I had four on the go and they all went in completely different directions; certainly only one went in planned direction. I like to paint intuitively and not control the outcome. They are shown below; two are rectangular 50 x 60cm and two are 50cm squares. The formats are quite different to work with.

No painting is ever finished for me so sometimes I have to call a halt or I have too much on the go. Even though I might have reservations someone else might love it and want to buy it.

In the online membership group Your Art Tribe we focussed in March on learning about collage. I rather enjoy printing on tissue paper from a gelli plate, direct paint transfer or digital images. This is then torn or cut into shapes which are applied with a medium onto the painting surface. The tissue become transparent.

I started my first concertina book; 12 pages measuring 3 metres wide and 25cm high. That has been very interesting. I have worked further on these than the photos show.

I would like to experiment with larger versions of collage and paint. Another theme!!

Sales have been slow this year so I was delighted to sell a small unframed still life at the Lady Franklin Gallery in March.

An arrangement 2

Now to focus on my themes for the next 3 months. Wish me luck!!

Blooming good

17 March 2021

Episode 34

This month I am exploring collage work. I have experimented before and had some wins and losses. Making collaged cards to sell in a gift shop became tedious and uninspiring and I haven’t until now developed any enthusiasm. I had some inspiration from an online art community I am a member of earlier this month and this week spent more that a day printing collage papers from tissue; 70 sheets to be exact. When applied to an acrylic or oil based painting the paper becomes transparent and only the paint or ink marks show. It’s taken me a while to perfect the gluing process.

A close up from a painting in progress

I have also started a concertina or accordian book. This is 2.5 metres long and folds up to about 25cm square. I made it myself and it was surprisingly easy. Funny how you think new things will be difficult and how motivating when you find it a breeze. The paper is 300gsm and so quite heavy and able to take a lot of punishment with water, glue, mediums and marks. I have been working on half of one side; firstly with ink and crayons then collaged paper. I am really enjoying the process and will soon start adding paint as well.

I have also been working on a large drawing adding different marks each day. The urge to add paint is gaining momentum, but I am not sure where to go or if to add some colour. A challenge for this week!!

Back to blooms. I feel I am getting closer to what I want to achieve with my loose florals. This is my second set of six and I am very pleased with half of them. Trying to keep loose and fresh with just a hint of flowers. Compared with the last set they are much more successful. Its very easy to overwork which is what happened to the previous lot. They measure 30cm square and will be mounted on cradled boards or they could also be framed with a mat board surround under glass.

Yesterday, I went to the Tasmanian Bush Garden near Buckland with a group of 8 artists to paint and draw en plein air. Lots of loose drawings with ink and a nobbly stick resulted for me. A man made but authentic looking waterfall flowed down a rocky cliff face. A relaxing and enjoyable day. The patterns in the rocks were fascinating.


Episode 33

3 March 2021

Floundering in February and now marching on. I was struggling with some in my shapes series in the past few weeks. Life interrupted and threw me off course for a bit. I let my intuition override my intentions and then found it difficult to resolve two paintings.

Despite this set back I was determined to spend more time drawing due to some prompts from a few different quarters. I have been slow to get going; was hoping for 3 drawings a day but it feels like a chore somehow with no specific purpose. Yesterday I decided to start two big ones 50 x 70cm. Think I am happier working large where I can put more physical energy into my mark making. I will continue to add a layer every day for a while to build up a composition and will also obliterate parts of it and rework. Should enjoy this and I am working in my sketchbook as well.

One of the two in my shapes series I struggled with is shown here. I didn’t keep to the planned colour palette and ended up with a very mid to dark toned painting. I had built up a complex underpainting of 10 layers then used cut out masks to retain the background when adding a layer of dark blue, then more masks and a layer of white. I tried to increase the tonal differences but still not happy. Part of the problem is learning how best to use your medium; oil and cold wax can’t do everything but has some wonderful qualities. Think these need to be turned to the wall for a few weeks then looked at with fresh eyes.

I have also been working on six loose floral abstracts. These were done with thick oil sticks. The intention was to have abstract works that barely look like flowers. I made a few wrong calls along the way but two of them are pretty well resolved and I have started another six but using paint and silicon spreaders to move the paint and make marks. I start out painting them as one on a large sheet of paper, with masking tape placed where they will be separated. These are looking more promising.

They will be separated now and worked on them as individual paintings . Fingers crossed!

Six paintings have replaced those hanging at the Rosny Doctors complex at Rosny. They are Rock patterns 2 and Treasure beneath shown below, 50cm squares. I have 4 from my leaf series as well.

Rock patterns

The treasure beneath

The Art Society of Tasmania has an exhibition this month titled ‘Feast for the eyes’ opening next Saturday morning at the Lady Franklin Gallery. I have two small works hanging as well as two unframed ones.

I have started two more in my shapes series and I hope they are resolved more quickly than the last ones. Happy Autumn!

Fiesty florals and other things

Episode 32

9 February 2021

Last week I showed the beginning of six 30cm square abstract florals exercises.

I have been trying for a while to really loosen up my approach to florals but I always seem to start fiddling and realism takes over. Well my imagined realism. I love flowers and gardens; they are as much a part of my life as painting is.

These are two I have been working on for a while and am yet to finish. I didn’t achieve the looseness I wanted but I an happy with them. They are square; the first is 40cm and the other 60cm.

I find the work of other artists inspiring and informative. I know what I like but need to learn how to create those effects in my own work. I want to get more energy and gesture into my strokes especially in the final stages. I have studied a number of artists including Sandy Welch and Conn Ryder. A work of the Conn’s is shown below by courtesy of Pinterest.

Abstract Artist, Conn Ryder, Abstract Paintings, Colorado, Home Page

Further work on two of the six square floral exercise are shown below. They are created mainly with R&F or Sennelier oils sticks. The former are much creamier and easy to use in this way.

My pink series continues on in the background and I am wanting this one to be finished. Just a few tweaks needed.

I am planning to get back to some expressive drawing soon and bought a new sketch book for that purpose today. Just have to find time to do all I want. And there are four collage exercises needing some attention. Love this art life.

Water, water everywhere

Episode 31

3 February 2021

Finally the Art Society of Tasmania’s Waterways exhibition is imminent; opening on Thursday at 6.30 pm in the Long Gallery at Salamanca Place. The exhibition runs for 10 days. I worked on three paintings a few months ago for this exhibition and am looking forward to seeing them on the wall. These are my entries. They are oil and wax medium on square cradled boards and measure 60cm.

Diving deeper $580

Beckoning me $580

The third one in the series of the same size is to be exhibited at the Kingborough Art Prize Exhibition at Kingston Tasmania on the weekend 19 – 21 February. This is usually an excellent exhibition in what was a grand old country hall but now is a community centre.

The waves whisper $580

In the same series but in the smaller size are the following two. These are currently shown on my website.

Turbulence 1 $420

Turbulence 2 $420

These are so much different from the more traditional work I used to do. There are some from this period on my website as well.

Rock sculptures framed $480

The link to this image on my website is

This week I started some what I hope are very loose abstract florals. There is a set of six and they are 30cm squares. I work on them on a taped off sheet of 300gsm cartridge paper using R&F oil sticks which are very soft and creamy in texture. A lot like creamy lipstick. I am waiting for them to dry a bit before my next layer.

Today I started two more in my Shapes series because I am still trying to master the use of stencils and masks over a complex colourful surface. More of these next time.

I have done some extensive planning for 2021 to work in series and to include study of colour, techniques. I am also trying to become more adept at social media and online selling. So much to do! I try to fit in 6 painting sessions of 3 hours a week as well.

Loving this artist’s life.

Organic shapes; a winner or loser

Episode 30

27 January 2020

The past two weeks have seen me struggling with shapes: mainly curvy ones.

But first the finished versions of my collages from a few weeks ago. I like all the different shapes and marks but not 100% sure the composition is working for me. I like the touches of blue in the second one. These are in acrylic paint.

Fractured 1

Fractures 2

Last time I showed the beginnings of two new larger works. My intention was to create a complex multi layer background of rich translucent colours then to use masks and stencils to build shapes and structure. These are half way there I think with 10 layers of paint so far. Each step jumping like into the unknown.

In the second one I have used a solvent to excavate the layers. My next step is to lay some random masks all over than add a thin layer of paint.

While the jury is still out on these in my Shapes series, two of the others are a bit of a mess but I may be able to finish them to my satisfaction. This one is 50 x 60 cm.

On a more joyful note I reworked an painting from 2020 called Spirit Song and am really loving the looseness and luminescence in the 50 cm painting. Not sure that the photo shows it to advantage though.

Spirit song emerged

My maquette exercise this week has been with the intention of creating interesting textures using only pthalo green and turquoise and black and white. The pthalo colours are transparent so you can build up glazes. I did this with acrylic paint because I started at the Bellerive Community Art centre group I attend on Friday mornings. Acrylic dries more quickly so is easier to transport. I continue to work on these and a couple of them I am happy with where they are going. I did decide to add some pthalo blue glaze and I think that had added more interest. Here are the six together(30cm squares) and a couple closer up.

So I am now wondering where to go next. I am still unresolved on my floral series. I want paintings that barely show a flower but show more the beauty and life energy in flowers. Whenever I start to paint too much detail and become representational I lose it. Maybe I will try another maquette series and see if that takes me where I want to go. It is funny with art, even if you have a good idea how you want something to look, you mind and body intervene. I guess the skill is in problem solving, to then bring what evolves closer to your intention.

Next week from 4-14 February is the Waterways exhibition at the long gallery. Don’t miss it or the two from my Oceans series.

In the pink

Episode 29

12 January 2021

Last week started with music and seeing what happens when I consciously work to music. I started with classical for the first session then turned to ABC Jazz for the second session. I very quickly become oblivious to the sound and became totally absorbed in laying on paint and marks.

Stage 1

Maybe final stage

At the same time I was working on these acrylic 30 cm squares, I started reworking some older 50cm square paintings I no longer liked. I love the lovely rose madder colour. It is very transparent and almost luminous. My theme is shapes, mainly ovals. I used masks and stencils to create these. I like where the first one is going but the second is still definitely a work in progress. There are many many layers.

Over the past weeks I have been focussing on planning for the next twelve months as well as setting up a weekly planning system. This should stop me becoming overwhelmed with all the things I want to do and avoiding the things that aren’t so much fun. My studies over the past months have made me realise I like to learn and study and experiment. I have spent at lot of time looking at other artists whose work I like and analysing what it is I like and don’t like. I like to figure out techniques that might be used to create certain effects. Learning to manipulate your media is half the battle.

I have set myself the goal of starting two new paintings a week and so far so good. Following on in my shapes theme(which might become a series) I commenced the under painting for two 60cm ones. I will build up an interesting underlayer then use masks and stencils to build up a structure. There are three layers here already; crayon drawing, brayer(roller) white layer, then silicon wedge application of white.

Another challenge I have given myself is to develop collage based work. I started two in mainly black, yellow and white using plain black paper and tissue as well as gel printed tissue papers from last year. The next step with be to add acrylic paint and then more drawing and/or collage. See where they go. At the moment they are too busy and have too strong tonal contrast. I found that although I only intended to spend a few hours on these it took that long just to get into the swing of things. Lesson learned is that I usually give up too soon. Fun.

Coming up in February is the Waterways exhibition in the Long Gallery at Salamanca Arts Centre. I will be on duty there on Friday 5 and Sunday 14 from 1.30- 5.00. Drop in for a guided tour. Should be a great show. The following week is the Kingborough Art Prize exhibition at Kingston. Again another high quality art exhibition.

Stay tuned to see more of my successes and failures.

Keep safe and well.

Unearthed again

Episode 28 of Gaye’s Art Blog

30 December 2020

At the beginning of 2020 I was finishing off my Unearthed series ready for a solo exhibition at a small cafe at the Salamanca Arts Centre. The works were mainly in neutral earthy colours with a dash of red or blue. Sadly the exhibition had to be taken down after a few days due to the cafe closing due to COVID. I have sold two of these during the year.

The center piece was this multilayered and textured work.

The fire beneath

There are lovely subtle textures in them all achieved with special techniques possible with oil and cold wax medium. The following four aren’t pleasing me as much now as then. I guess because I have learnt so much this year and loosened up my painting style so I am vaguely thinking I would like to rework these a little to create more energy.

Timeshift 1

Umber 1

Umber 2

I also included in this exhibition my Leaf series; 5 smaller works featuring autumn leaves mono printed on the textured underlayers then worked into to build up detail and more texture. I still love these. They are framed in timber tray frames and priced at $160. I may expand on this theme when autumn comes around again. Not in a hurry. Want to enjoy summer first.

Leah series 1

Leaf series 4

Leaf series 2

Leaf series 5

Leaf series 3

I am going to continue with my Ocean, Flourish and abstract floral series in 2021 and explore some new series based on shapes and coastal motifs perhaps.

I am learning how to use Trello, a personal management system to better keep track of information and aid in planning. With that said I have to get more disciplined to look after my health and wellbeing and create more time for all I want to do. I just love playing with paint! I know I need to be more strategic with social media use if I wish to sell work from my website. However, social media seems to be one of my greatest time wasters. Need to work this through.

I am about to submit entries to two exhibitions in February. The first is the Waterways exhibition in the Long Gallery at the Salamanca Arts Centre where my waves will feature. The other is the Kingborough Art Prize at Kingston and I haven’t finally decided on my entries.

Happy new year to you all . Hoping it is a better one for most people and we can put the pandemic behind us.