Thursday, January 28, 2010


My upcoming group exhibition is getting close! Only a couple of weeks away now, it opens on Wednesday 17th February and runs for 5 days, last day Sunday 21st. The exhibition will be in Gladstone (NSW not Qld). If you don't know Gladstone it is a picturesque village on the Macleay River north east of Kempsey on the way to South West Rocks, a truly beautiful part of the world. Gladstone itself is a historic village, largely unchanged except that it is now a thriving creative community. The MV Gallery is a wonderful space beside the village hall.
I'd love you to come along and see us. Julia, Natalie or myself (or all of us!) will be there when you visit. We are having a celebration/opening on the Friday night starting at 6pm.

How do you get there? If you are coming from Coffs Harbour it is an hours drive (approx 100 km) south on the Pacific Highway. Don't take the first turn to South West Rocks. A couple of kilometers further along take the (left) turn to Gladstone, Smithtown and South West Rocks. Gladstone is 5 kms off the highway; drive past Smithtown (on your right) and cross the river. Turn right and you have arrived in Gladstone. (On the map below you will be coming from the South West Rocks direction.) There really is only a couple of streets in Gladstone so you won't have trouble finding the gallery. There are brown signs that lead you straight to it in Kinchela Street. There are other galleries and shops to check out while you are there and a wonder old Aussie pub for refreshments.
I'll be exhibiting some of my recent work you will have seen here and some new work you haven't. With the other two artists joining me, it's going to be a great exhibition!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Talk about inspiring!

Yes, I am still painting every day! Yay! It is good. What is really a surprise though is I've changed my painting media from acrylic to oils!!! I've used oils in the past but gave up due to allergies and health issues around chemical overload.

So why have I gone back? I was told to. (I'm so suggestible!) I was told to by none other than Vincent Fantauzzo (2008 Archibald Prize portrait of Heath Ledger) and Steven Jacks (I can't find a decent link to his work sorry, but believe me it is incredible!) when I was fortunate enough to meet them and spend a day with them in a painting workshop. It was particularly interesting because they share a studio and work together in an almost brotherly way. Their techniques are similar as are their views. It was most enjoyable.

No previews of my oil paintings yet. Oil paints are not blogging friendly as they take so much longer to finish. I can say I am excited to be finally working on my Paris paintings! It seems they were waiting in my mind until I rediscovered what is possible with oil paints.

These two are not Vince and Steven. They are in fact Parisians I spied and tried to capture.

What is it about Parisians and Paris itself that is so... what's the word... Parisian!?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stretchy potato and tattoos

Here is my biggest culinary tip for visiting Paris - order Aligot. Pronounced "ah-lee-go" it is a specialty from the Auvergne region of France and is in fact stretchy cheesy potato. We had it at L'Ambassade d'Auvergne where the waiter brings it to the table, still in its copper saucepan, and beats it and stretches it quite flamboyantly. I believe this is to prove that they have in fact used the "right" cheese because we all know any cheesy potato we make at home wouldn't stretch like that.
Our visit to L'Ambassade d'Auvergne was a triumph on another level too. I had phoned to make the reservation quickly asking "parlez vous anglais" only to be told "non"! I proceeded to speak however, eternally grateful that the French for reservation is, well, reservation. I booked for 2 people on a specific day, date and time, I managed to spell my name in French and when we arrived on the arranged day and time, they were expecting us!

Back to my real life here in Coffs Harbour now. Yes, I've been committed to painting every day and yes, I've not been doing too well on that these last few days. I said I'd be honest. I do, however, have a good excuse but do good excuses cut it with these type of commitments? What I have been doing is writing an application for a residency. Doing this has been a big step forward in my commitment to my work actually and it certainly has been a huge learning curve. It was a lot of work and a lot of hard thinking. Translating that thinking into a cohesive project description was practically painful! But it is done and I am very proud of myself for having done it and submitted it on time. I'm not unrealistic enough to think that I stand much of a chance of being accepted, but I do know that my chances are better now that I've actually applied!

So today I will return to they physical act of painting every day and I am looking forward to it. I'm really enjoying the works on paper I've been making. This one is titled "Body of Work" and is a bit bigger than the other ones I've shown you here before (200mm x 200mm). It references my long interest in tattoos in my painting. I like the combination of the old travel guide plan collaged with the henna pattern inspired pencil and think they work really well together.

She's available in my Etsy shop now.

Monday, January 11, 2010

1 week down, 51 to go

Meet Rose Henna or should I have called her Henna Rose? She is one of my new mixed media paintings and I've just listed her in my Etsy shop.
I've had a great week, drawing, painting, sketching. Over the weekend I did let myself off the hook a little and just sketched or did nothing, but it was an unusually busy weekend. Still, I'm not going to beat myself up just because of a day off. That isn't the purpose of my commitment to painting everyday. Quite the opposite really. I am allowing myself to paint everyday and that's a positive thing.

When I was in Paris I picked up a new (to me) sketching pen - Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. As you can see it's quite a bold black and very calligraphic. This is the first drawing I did with it. It really is quite fun to use once you get over the shock of how bold every little touch of it is. I discovered going for bold was the best approach. I used this pen over the weekend to sketch Roly. I haven't scanned it yet but it's pretty weird. He never stands still for me, or if he does it is with his bum end pointed at me!
I did this drawing on our first visit to the Lourve. On this particular day we only visited the outside. There is so much to see without even going in!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Lost, but it's a good thing

I decided not to bore you with daily posts titled anything to do with "pleased" so I've left it a few days to allow my fresh commitment to settle into my mind. I do seem to be learning so much more just by making myself do something every day. Mainly I've learned that those old sayings are true. The latest thing I learned is that you are nowhere if you aren't lost. If I think I know where I'm going with a work the results are staid and well, simply bad. If I'm lost, don't know what to do next, have to paint or draw myself out of a veritable corner the work is fresh, alive, interesting and I'm happy with it.

I don't know how many small works I've finished just this week, it must be about ten or so. Here is taste of what they are like. "Blue Henna" is small, just 10cm x 10cm, mixed media on paper. I will add her to my Etsy shop sometime today. I'm so happy to be able add some of my work to my shop in spite of getting ready for an exhibition next month!
I want to keep showing my Paris sketchbook drawings here too. Here are T and I sitting, as we did nearly every evening, at Cafe Parvis watching the Parisians walking by. During our first two weeks in Paris (T would say it wasn't 2 weeks, it was only 10 days! Men can be so pedantic.) the lift to our apartment was out of order and we had to walk up to our sixth floor attic home-away-from-home at the end of our day-long walking exploration of Paris. Cafe Parvis was a good place to rest before the ascent. We fortified ourselves with local beverages (eh hem) and inspired others who were using the spot for the same reason as ourselves to buy by the bottle and not just a glass!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Day 3 - Really pleased! (I'm going to have to think of a new post heading soon)

But I am. I am really pleased with my day yesterday and the turnaround I've made in my creating in just 3 days! Yesterday I finished 4 small paintings! These works are following on from some of my mixed media works of last year, layering pattern, book pages and images and they are all figurative which is the direction I want to take and persevere with. Well almost figurative, they are all faces.

During a pause in my process yesterday I was looking at the finished little works and I had a huge BFO (blinding flash of the obvious)! I was thinking something like "It'll be a shame when I have to stop working in this style to paint my Paris paintings." Uh hem. I don't have to stop! I have been working on a look or style for my Paris paintings and hadn't found one. This will do perfectly and it is how I want to work! Sometimes the obvious can be so obtuse. Now all I have to do is to start them.

Ah, starting. It seems it is true what they say "just begin" and it will work out. I began 3 days ago with the commitment to paint every day this year after a pretty dry creative period. It seems it is true, all it takes is to start! The problem with that sentence is that it implies that all you need to do is to start ONCE. The truth is that I must start constantly, start painting today, start a new painting, start the difficult part of the painting, start the finishing off etc.

I still don't have a scan of my new paintings to show you yet but I'm sure you will love to see another Paris sketchbook page so here is the dining room of the Musee Jacquemart Andre. I tried to capture the beautiful bronze, ceramic and red silk lamps but didn't do them justice at all.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Day 2 - pleased

Pleased I am. Spent almost all day yesterday reorganising my studio space. Moved just about everything to a new location, some of it into the storeroom, although not as much as I'd planned. The new layout might just work! But... it was late afternoon and I'd not painted. The room was a huge mess and I couldn't see the surface of my desk. I pushed a clear space in the mess and looked for something to paint on. A piece of watercolour paper 10cm x 10cm was in the mess pushed aside so I chose it and began. I started well, a bit of collage, a smear of gouache, some coloured pencil. Ugh, that stage where every fibre in my body seems to be screaming "Yuck! Stop it now! Try again." I persevered. I LOVE what resulted! I feel like I have broken the back of my block already. Painting everyday is going to be VERY good for me!

But there is a problem. I had that carefully cut piece of paper there for a project I'm not ready to talk about here. I actually have a couple of projects on the boil at the moment and I am not at a stage where I can show what I might paint. Solution A: If I paint every day it is likely that I'll be able to paint something just for fun and be able to show you that! Solution B: I'll show you some more of my Paris sketches, which is the solution I've chosen for today.

This is another sketch of those chimney pots I loved in our view from the apartment. This one has them almost obscured by T and the apartment itself, but I didn't think you'd mind. Ahh, Paris!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Day 1 of my new regime

I'm going to paint (or draw) every day this year.
Well, I took my sketchbook to the beach. I don't know why I haven't done that before. I love other peoples beach sketches! (I particularly love Marina's.) Maybe that's why I don't take mine there... I don't want to know mine are not as wonderful as theirs. Well, now I know it, but I also know practise will improve them!

On the painting front, I needed to do a bit more towards the reorganising of my studio space. I grandly call my little room my 'studio'. It is tiny and I have sooooo much stuff and furniture. I'm moving some of my stuff next door into a storeroom. It will mean I'll have to go in there on and off, but it will be better for painting. My problem is that the storeroom is already full so sorting, throwing out and reorganising is going on in both rooms. It will take time, but I'll get there. In the mean time I've almost made enough space to do some painting! Yay!

Well well well. I had to scan my Moleskine so I could show you my bad beach drawings so I scanned my Paris drawings at the same time. The reason I haven't shown you my drawings (I think) is that scanning them really means the trip is over. In my mind I race back to Paris at every moment I can. Scanning the drawings makes it really really over. Ahh, Paris!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Wednesday December 30th 2009

I’ve been to see Julie & Julia. I love food, Paris and blogging so it was right up my alley. While I loved the movie, it was the beautifully portrayed goal setting and perseverance that really struck a chord with me.

Goal setting is not my strong point. I had already decided 2010 would be my year of setting goals AND working towards them but this movie came at just the right time for me, in that post-Christmas haze, you know the one where the only thing that seriously goes through your mind is a general light hearted dalliance with what may happen on New Year’s Eve.

So in Julie Powell style I’m setting myself a goal – a big one! The true beauty if Julie’s goal was that it was exactly perfect for her. It incorporated her loves and her strengths. I need a goal like that. I think too, that I’ve put as much thought into mine as she put into hers, well, at least as much as the movie indicated anyway. My goal for this year is to paint every day (or draw or some creative expression other than sewing) and to keep me honest I’m going to post it here daily too.

It might not sound like a huge change to you but it will be for me as I’m one of those who has difficulty prioritising my art anywhere near the top of my list. Other things and people are constantly slipped in ahead of my art practise. I was brought up to be “good” and considerate and as a consequence reaching goals really only works when they coincide 100% with what’s going on around me. Not that I want to indicate that I’m unsupported in this because I am generously and lovingly supported in this goal and always have been. This really is a personal goal, a job of surmounting my old ‘self’ to allow my real, genuine and creative self to flourish.

Now, I wonder how Julie Powell got those boxes for the number of recipes and the numbers of days on her blog? (Not that it’s there anymore.) I’m off to check out how I can record my year of perseverance here…

Saturday January 2nd 2010

OK, I think we can all see the problem I will be attempting to surmount clearly demonstrated here. I could not find the little box widget to record the number of days left this year and the number of days I painted, then I got distracted and exactly zero painting has occurred.

I’ve been and dragged out my copy of The Magic Lamp: Goal Setting for People Who Hate Setting Goals, dusted it off (surely it can’t be THAT long since I bought it?) and I’m going to read it, set goals, work towards them AND paint.

So here’s the deal – I am going to try to post daily here this year, however I’m not going to let blogging come before the actual work I want to blog about! I may post an image without words some days, just to get it on here and some days I may not post at all, but I will be honest about the painting every day. Oh those heady days BEFORE New Year (way back on Wednesday when I started writing this!) when I could say to myself “It’s not New Year’s yet! I can leave it until tomorrow to paint.” I must start today. I must paint every day.