Episode 21

4 October 2020

I had a lot of unresolved works happening last week so didn’t publish my news. I have been very busy though and the studio is becoming chaotic again. Seems to be a pattern emerging, with weeks of frenetic activity follow by a step back and having a clean up.

I have continued working on two of my Oceans series and am planning two more. I worked from small studies developed from my own photos taken on Tasmania’s east coast. I have then referred back to the photos in the final stages and am now in danger of overworking and loosing the freshness.

‘Flourish’ is a series I started a few weeks back and now have two gracing the halls of the Rosny Doctors surgery. I really enjoy doing these. Big loose gestural applications of paint. Can’t say brush strokes as I don’t use brushes, rather palette knives and silicon spreading tools. I have been using different combinations of colour each time keeping to two colours and black and white.

This is one I did earlier and have now finished featuring a favourite colour magenta.

Also hanging on my studio wall awaiting further work was one from several weeks ago. I was chatting to a friend and happened to rest my eyes on it and suddenly saw how it could be resolved. Here are the before and after. Well it might not be completely finished.

On the floral theme I completed two more small 30cm squares boards with vases of flowers. Lots of texture in these. And fun to do!

Coming up soon is the deadline for entries in the Rotary Wrest Point Art Prize. The exhibition was postponed due to Covid 19 but set to go ahead now in November. Always a great exhibition at the Boardwalk Gallery on the waterfront. I have been struggling over calling these two finished. But decision time looms. They are both larger, 60cm square works in oil and cold wax on cradled boards. Still undecided about titles. Ideas gratefully accepted!

I have been sitting on the prints I showed you last post not knowing where to go with them. Yesterday I spread them out, tore up the ones done on tissue paper and am preparing to collage them. I will then probably do some further printing on them. Will be fun. Seem to need to distance myself enough from them to have the courage to tear and cover etc. Its so exciting to see what prints you pull and they are a bit precious immediately.

I have been working on my journaling and study of composition. One thing the course I did recently has taught me has been to seek out and study in depth the work of other contemporary artists. So to finish this week with Betty Krause and one of her abstracted fields of flowers.

Episode 20

30 September 2020

I packaged up and delivered the 5 paintings now on display at Rosny Doctors and in the process I had new business cards made. It’s good to be exhibiting again and clearing some space in the studio for more creations.

I have joined an online artists community called Art Tribe runs by Louise Fletcher who also ran the course I was doing recently. A challenge in the group for September is to experiment with a different or new medium or approach. I chose gel printing on to cartridge as the base for further painting. After doing the exercise and making 11 prints I realised that I hadn’t done anything new really, to that point anyway. I like most of them as they are so feel stuck about taking them further. These are some of them that I like.

I will sit on these for a while.

One I didn’t like. It was a 60cm square and I felt the colours weren’t inspiring me. There were some lovely textures though. There were multiple imprints on this.

By accident I came across some Youtube videos by Betty Krause, a Californian artist. She most paints very abstracted flowers or fields of flowers. I thought I would steal something from her way of working.

I had a good session yesterday and this is where it’s at. I will continue to abstract. I seem to have lost most of the blue so will have to bring some back.

My Oceans series is developing. I started two more 50cm squares, based on two small studies done two weeks ago. They had an orangey underpainting. The first is from some photos and a painting I sold of a storm approaching Bicheno. The second was a storm receding from Spring Beach. I am happy with the second one but the first needs more work.

I had a brief visit to Park Beach on Saturday and did some loose sketching using ink and a feather of rocks and water. I took photos but they don’t do justice to the scene. Need to go back for more!

Experimented with different colour palettes too this week ready for two more paintings in my abstract Flourish series. I am also enjoying the abstract florals so will soon have three series on the go. Garden needs attention too!! The Rotary Wrest Point Art Exhibition is coming up in November so need to get 3 or 4 paintings ready for that. Website needs attention too. Think I need an assistant!!!

Episode 19

23 September 2020

Now that ‘Find Your Joy 2020’ has concluded, the course materials are available for several more months, I intend to go back over the exercises and notes to consolidate my learning. Of more interest is that I have joined a follow up group called Art Tribe to continue to learn and challenge myself at my own pace. There are monthly challenges. In September, what is left of it I am going to explore using printing techniques to create interesting back grounds. I will continue to work on my Ocean series as well.

In the past week a couple of opportunities came my way including a short teaching stint sharing my knowledge and experience painting with oil paint and cold wax medium. Nothing confirmed yet but I am thinking it could be enjoyable.

The second opportunity is in a permanent exhibition space in a large new medical centre in Rosny. This offer resulted in some intense activity on my part for a day or two, sealing and mounting the works I will display for sale on cradled birch boards. Attaching wires, labels, designing and ordering new business cards. Busy busy! All ready to go.

These are the paintings that will be displayed at Rosny Doctors 27 Bligh St Rosny(opposite the library).

The first two, Flourish 1 and The day begins, measure 50cm square, the next four are 30cm squares and will hang together as a group.

A new day

The studio was in such chaos post course and the above frenetic activity. I was tripping over things and storing paintings on the floor. I had a massive clear out. Regretted after a couple of hours, but then made a list of Gaye size jobs that I will do over the next few months. So on the surface its now looking tidy and organised. I bought a new shelving unit and my grandson assembled it for me. It very difficult disposing of art work that you have ‘grown out of’ and materials bought for the many tangents I have gone on over the years. Online garage sale coming up!!!

So I am back to my ongoing Ocean series and the collage experiments that have been in the too hard basket for a few weeks.

This week I am going to experiment with some direct printing to create interesting backgrounds for new work. Some I will be doing with a gelli plate and acrylic paints. Looking forward to lots of fun with this.

I also need to update my website with all my new works from the last few months. So watch this space!

Episode 18

16 September 2020

Spring cleaning. Or the desire to do it has emerged in the past few days. Well in my studio at least. It could be because it’s spring or that I have finished my course and feel energised, transformed, excited about my art and life.

My studio is quite a big room but full of years of clutter, art materials and tools, storage bins and shelves, hundreds of old art works, art books etc. It looks much worse that these photos taken a couple of months ago.

I have been working on 11 paintings in the past few weeks and they are on the walls, the floor, the tables. I have been tripping over. Need an OHS plan! Completely absorbed by my work(or that could be obsessed). Now the course is over I feel the need to de-clutter. I have moved on and feel confident and purposeful.

Aspiring artists buy stuff; how to books, art books, materials in every medium in the search for what really suits them. Most of it gets used a few times only, some of it deteriorates. You move on to another idea, another art class another medium in that pursuit for your unique style. I have done most. Watercolour , acrylic paint oil paint, monoprinting, drawing, collage and combinations of all these. Landscapes, still life, flowers large and small, the list goes on.

I have kept so much because each work was important to me as a step along in my art journey. A lot of blood, sweat and tears too!

I am now thinking I have found a way of working that I really enjoy and now longer need to hold on to the baggage. Its all been photographed so I have a record. I am working on number 725. So I am thinking of divesting myself of the burden of so much history. I could do what my friend Wendy has done and have a bonfire(don’t have the space to set up a fire) or garage sale, recycle shop, abandoning some in public places for people to find and keep or pass on. Or some form of destruction. I have started to rearrange the studio and it is in total chaos. Don’t want to be distracted from my art though.

The 11 works in progress are nearing completion; 6 of them are new and three are reworks of unresolved ones. Struggling with 2 abstracted florals but will not give up.

I have started on a new series based on my oceans mood board shown here.

Eight small studies have been done and I am working on four larger pieces. One is these is here

I am really excited about this project and the challenges there will be.

So it is back to cleaning out the studio or my oceans series, or can I manage both??

Thank you for reading my ramblings

Episode 17

2 September 2020

2 September 2020

I love springtime, even if the temperatures are cool still. My studio is well lit and warm and its a pleasure to work here. For me spring brings such optimism, new growth in the garden, preparing for summer, longer days. Love it.

The last few weeks I have been exploring contrasts and composition. I had always believed that you should work out a pleasing composition before starting a painting. Placing the subject in certain positions (1/3 rule); deliberately using line and colour to create depth and lead the eye to the focal area then around the painting. Its not so easy with abstract painting which I am currently focussed on. I am attempting to paint with just an intention and a limited choice of colours. I am working intuitively just letting the image create itself without any plan. Later I come in and create a composition.

The approach I am learning is to use contrast to create the composition towards the end of the process. There are a number of ways to do this; contrast in tone(dark and light), contrast in placement(using different shapes to move the viewer’s eye around), contrast in colour( warm and cool, saturated and de-saturated) and contrasts in marks(drawn and scratched in lines, stamps, collage, dots etc)

The first one shown is using saturated warm colours against cool neutrals to show subtle contrast. There are lots of lines and free mark making. I really enjoyed making this one and have entered it for selection in the Art Society of Tasmania’s annual exhibition. I have clled it ‘Spirit song’

The next few images are exercises from the past two weeks. I have been trying to incorporate floral motifs into some of these little abstracts, with mixed success. Think I did eight in all. Here a two.

Below is another set of 30 cm exercises. And following that, one of the ‘not yet finished’ but further developed ones. We had to adjust the tonal values or shapes and marks to create a better composition. Still a work in progress!!

These exercises have challenged me as an artist and person. Alongside these I have been working on 3 other larger paintings now nearing completion. Need to decide on titles and will get them up on my website soon.

I have one other that I am working on in my quest to abstract floral images. It’s gone through a few stages and I am still hopeful I can resolve this one. So far most of the layers are transparent. I have lost some of the vibrancy of the flowers but think I can restore that without getting to realistic and detailed. Fingers crossed. Following are 3 of the stages. Still a way to go.

I have two modules/weeks to go with the course I am doing. This week I am working on four larger paintings as well as continuing to finish some I have mentioned. Focussing on colour contrasts and mark making.

Writing this blog has been a useful way to document my progress but I have also filled two journals; one A4 with 110 pages and an A5. The latter is used to research the work of other artists all over the world. This has been very valuable. You just don’t get that exposure visiting local galleries. By journalling you also study the works in more depth rather than just glancing a moving on as you do in a gallery.

I have so enjoyed this course. Thank you Louise Fletcher!

Episode 16

19 August 2020

Since my last post we have had snow, heavy rain intermingled with lovely warm days(in my studio anyway). Spring has sprung, the daffodils are blooming, the roses are shooting and the weeds are growing fast. They will have to wait a few more weeks for attention as I am engrossed in my online course Find Your Joy; the purpose of which is to change your mindset, find your unique style and get greater enjoyment from your art and produce exciting paintings.

The week before last we were tasked with making paintings by stealing one or two aspects of an artist’s work you love. Sounds simple but it absolutely wasn’t. I attempted four paintings; only one of which I was happy with. It is very hard not to end up stealing more of than one aspect but you cant paint like another person so if you focus on the end product you are unlikely to be satisfied.

The first is by Joan Fullarton. I like many of her works. In this one I love the colours and hint of landscape in the underlayer. Lots of lovely marks as well. My attempt is the second photo. I am reasonably happy with.

The next one is from artist Anne-Laure Djaballah. My version was not particularly successful. I was using textured watercolour paper which didn’t allow the paint to move over the surface very well. I like the idea of a colourful under layer with white areas overlaid then black drawing and mark making and I will come back to this after the course is finished. In both of these I painted intuitively without a plan other than steeling some aspect of the artist’s work.

Last week the learning was about the importance of contrasts in a painting. This could be warm and cool colours, dark and light, busyness and calm, thick and thin lines, an image out of normal context and so on.

I worked further on two exercises done earlier in the course. The first was warm and cool as well as scribbly drawing and calm areas. This week I took this one further and built up the composition and contrasts as shown in the second photo. Loved the process and how its turned out(for now!)

The second exercise again combined very colourful detailed areas with calm neutral ones. Still not sure that I am happy with it. I think the composition is fine though. A bit too bitty for me perhaps. There are some very interesting complex areas. See where it goes!!

As well as all the exercises, the active keeping of a journal is strongly encouraged. I have done this on and off over the years but have never been disciplined enough to keep it going. I have enjoyed it this time and plan to make it an ongoing aspect of my art practice. An extension of this is developing a ‘mood board’ which is the starting point for painting a series of cohesive works. I have started three: oceans, floral still life and boats and jetties. There are images of my own paintings, those artists I admire, sketches, words etc.

So I am really excited about going forward with these and hoping my work moves to another level. Upwards of course.

Episode 15

5 August 2020

It is snowing outside as I write this. The temperature only reached 8 deg C today in comparison to late last week when we topped 18. I am so lucky to have a lovely warm studio to retreat to.

I have been working on two new paintings over the past week; both not yet finished but showing great promise. The first is inspired by some loose gestural sketches I did a few weeks back. I tried to keep the same feelings and sense of enjoyment I felt then. There is such power and beauty in the ocean.

The second larger painting I have been working on arose from limiting the colours I use and experimenting with a different composition. This is a ‘s’ composition. One of the skills an artist learns is to use marks or colour to take the viewer’s eyes around the painting. I am loving the colours and textures in this one.

In the Find Your Joy course I am doing, along with several hundred people from all over the globe, a transition or catch up week was allowed. I have been working pretty well full time on this course so a breather was very welcome. There were still exercises to do if you wanted. One of these was to experiment and document various sets of colours(variations of the three primary colours) and their mixes. I don’t really like doing this. It is a bit messy with oil paints because the paint takes a few days to dry. But I will persevere. I prefer putting paint on an actual painting. From these experiments we had to play with one of the combinations we liked. These measure about 25cm square. I felt the colours were too saturated(bright) and competing with each other in my first layer. Did a couple more layers attempting to let one colour star in each.

First layer

Blue, green, pink and orange

In the module I started this week, I have to choose another artist whose work I admire, choose two aspects of it that I really like and the ‘steal’ these and apply to a new painting. I am going to attempt four over the week. Working with oil and cold wax requires a day or so between layers, so to stop overworking its good to have another few on the go and move from one to another.

The following are works by Joan Fullerton. I love the colours and layered texture.

Mystical Threshold-Abstract Landscape by Joan Fullerton, Acrylic, 30 x 20 x .75

A very busy and enjoyable week ahead for me. Stay warm and safe

Episode 14

29 July 2020

I have enrolled in classes and workshops with many respected and talented artists in my state for many years but eventually found this limiting. I don’t want to paint like anyone else, I want to have ‘me’ show through in my work. About 3 years ago I went to a series of classes on abstraction and it was a turning point for me. It synced with my love of experimenting with media and love of learning and as a result I have become a very passionate and compulsive painter.

I receive the blogs/newsletters from a number of inspiring artists and digital technology has expanded my horizons enormously. This week I read some words from a conversation between Nicholas Whilton and fellow artist Nadine Renazile.

“Small paintings need to feel powerful and large paintings need to feel intimate. “

Every so often I have insights (light bulb moments) when something comes together. In recent times I have been painting small studies or maquettes with the thought that they might work as studies for larger painting. Some of them were fairly subtle but maybe they will work better as big paintings rather than the more bold, dramatic ones??? So I am now thinking about how this might apply to my work now. The three images below are crops of small parts of larger paintings completed recently.

This week’s exercises
The joy of singing


The focus this week in the Find Your Joy course was to paint a feeling. This was a challenge; to consider a feeling as opposed to an emotion. Then were you painting what it might look like or how it felt to apply the paint while you were feeling the feeling. We did some small black and white studies then I did two larger 50 x 50 cm paintings. Felt the need to work bigger for this. I chose the feeling of my memory of singing with gusto; pure joy really. At the other end of the spectrum; melancholy. The process of painting and how you feel about it is more important that the finished product at this stage of the course. They are shown above and I think these could both be taken further to finished paintings.

Painting by Rebecca Crowell

The work above is by an artist I admire, Rebecca Crowell. Rebecca is an expert and teacher of painting in oil and wax, a medium I now mostly use. There are dozens of layers of paint applied and excavated or scraped back to produce and expose complex surfaces.

I have started two larger paintings this week and will show you in August. That’s next week!!

Episode 13

22 July 2020

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on”

Alfred Einstein

Early last week Gil and I drove up the east coast to Swansea for lunch for my birthday. First time we had ventured out to a restaurant since Covid 19. It was a sunny day with some showers over the hills of Freycinet.

One of the exercises I had to do in the course I am studying was to play with paint using all sorts of mark making tools on paper, with out trying to make a finished painting. Scrapers, silicon wedges, sticks, crayons and bubble wrap were used to create the next two images. I was quite excited because even though I wasn’t supposed to be making a painting , I did and very quickly. I have always painted seascapes and landscapes with brushes in the past. Loved the looseness of these. They are only about 30cm wide.

Again this week in the course there was lots of experimenting; with marks and colours that one doesn’t usually use. Find you love things or hate things. Here are some of them. They are mostly 20cm squares and may be used as studies for larger abstract paintings.

Looking at other artists work and identifying what it is you like about it is another aspect of this course. Pinterest is a great source of images and links to contemporary artists. This week I came across this one by Joan Fullarton which I loved. I love the warm colour palette contrasting with cooler areas of grey. I love the hint of a tree shape below the surface, the interesting textures contrasting with the smoother open areas.

I have started the next module now and its about expressing emotion in your art. Now that will be a challenge!

Thank you for reading my news. Its a great way to keep a journal. I enjoy writing it.

Episode 12

15 July 2020

Middle of winter and very cold in Tasmania but surprisingly settled weather. Beautiful scenes, reflections on still water. Drove up the East Coast to Swansea on Monday. Lots of material for some future paintings in my sketchbook.

The two below have been influenced by the online course I have been doing. Just a few small highlights are needed on these next two. Needing to buy a particular colour crayon for that. They measure 60 x 30 cm.

I also revisited a pair that had been ‘stuck’ and am pleased with where they are going now. I was inspired by some particular ‘winter’ colours in a Dulux advertisement. Measure 50 x 60 cm.

I am 1.5 weeks into the Find Your Joy 20209 course and do lots of ‘freeing up’ exercises. Throwing paint around and making as many interesting marks as possible. Great fun! Here’s a few

Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.

Edward Degas