I am asked fairly often if I have always painted. The simple answer is yes. It was certainly encouraged in my family for all four of the children. My mother Joan Bauer (1933 - 1995) was an artist, so we had ready access to pencils and pens.
My mother did this pastel of me when I was a baby and I have had this framed work hanging next to my bed virtually all my life. Even now it is still there. It touches me to know I was observed so closely when I was asleep. My parents had two more children after me but for a while there I was the baby of the family.
One of these days I will devote a blog post to Mum's work, but for now I am just remembering back to my own early Art Education. Mum and her artist friends in the Dalby Art Group would drive off on Sundays to scenic spots near Bell, Kaimkillenbun and along Dalby's Myall Creek. All the kids went along too. It was the perfect introduction to seeing the Australian landscape as something picturesque and also a great initiation into an artist's working methods.
This is the type of work Mum was doing in those days.
This is a watercolour and it shows the type of scenery she sought out. More often she worked in oils like this one below with the purplish mountains either on the road to Toowoomba or near the foothills of the Bunya Mountains.
She called these her "pot boilers" as they sold very well among the locals of the town. She also called them "trad" meaning traditional and in those days it was a very derogatory term. She'd be surprised to see the amount of realist work being done today. As a kid I really liked them and couldn't understand her disparaging tone.
The Australian Flying Art School also visited town and Mum took me along to these seminars as well. I was the little apprentice painter, the youngest by far. (This aspect of my training completed a full circle when in my early adulthood as Education Officer at the Queensland Art Gallery I travelled with Mervyn Moriarty around Queensland in the little Australian Flying Art School plane.)
I painted all the time as a child.
This is me at 16 working on what looks like a pen and ink garden picture. The photo was taken by the newspaper which explains its air of unreality and my awkward pose.
This painting won me the Sunday Mail Art Prize at 16 years of age. All those poor barefoot faceless convicts lined up and the British red coat soldiers with the "X marks the spot" on their jackets. Not really sure what I was thinking... Interesting composition I came up with though and the subject matter demonstrates at least to me a certain consistency in my interest in things historical.
I wish I had more examples of work from my teenage years but this is the sole sad survivor.
I went on to university and studied the history of art which has been fueling my work ever since.