Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Recent Drawings, Trees and some Fantasy

I am really loving working with very basic materials at the moment. I have done quite a few drawings just with charcoal. Some with both black and white pencils on a neutral paper and others on plain white paper with just a hint of colour. I can't resist that touch of bright colour.

This is a giant Moreton Bay Fig Tree that I walk past every day. I spent about a week on this drawing. I don't think I have done anything so detailed for a while. There is a love heart with initials on the branch to the left.

Kangaroos are really a subject I can't seem to leave alone. They keep reappearing in new work when I thought I'd gotten them out of my system with the Terra Australis show last year. I have placed this little guy in front of Brisbane's Story Bridge. Something about the reverse curves got me going compositionally.

This is one of what I call my "fantasy" drawings.  I did quite a bit of sketching when the Brisbane Ekka was on, hence the Ferris wheel and the people on the left. My kangaroo and my Fig Tree are also in there plus Michelangelo's Sybil and a skeleton fleshed out. Don't ask me what this is about. There are orchids in there too.

Another skeleton. This has come no doubt from my concentration on anatomy this year. Glasshouse Mountains in the background, tree, owl, Watteau's Minstrel, all outside a Paddington gate, waiting for the mail.

This is a clump of Jacaranda trees down in my back yard. I haven't done anything like this before and it did take several days. It is a pretty accurate representation of what is there.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Paintings of Paddington

I am sorry I have not posted much lately but I have been working extremely hard. I have been drawing and painting my local area. I have read that many artists produce their best work when they find their subject matter not far from home.

The timber "Queenslanders"  and the wealth of plant life around this area of Brisbane are quite inspiring. I keep returning to things botanical and animals also even when I am looking at the architecture and hilly streets around here.

Here is just a small sample of what I have been doing.

None of these works are actually totally finished which is another reason I haven't posted them. I will get back to them when the spirit moves me.

This is image is looking up Cochrane Street towards Mt Lindsay. The elkhorn has made its home in a frangipani tree. Compositionally I was playing around with triangles.

This one shows the detailing of a typical veranda. In the distance is the Paddington/Bardon water tower. The flowers in the foreground are Bauhinias I think.

I couldn't resist putting in the scrub turkey crossing the road. They are everywhere around here. On the left is an amazing Moreton Bay Fig Tree. I am becoming obsessed with them and have done lots of drawings of them.

This one is looking towards the west. The gap between the hills is actually the suburb called "The Gap". Now I know why! I was experimenting with the effect of the sunset lighting on the fruit and am quite pleased with the result. Something new for me to focus on. I want these works to have the feeling that life is going on, (my life probably) hence the cups of tea, teapots etc.

Another scrub turkey. This image has turned into a bit of a fantasy with the street scene and the animals added! It is actually Haig Road looking towards Heussler Terrace. Again the giant Moreton Bay Fig Trees. The purple shadows against the glare of the road were what initially motivated me with this one. I still visit Lone Pine Sanctuary fairly often and this kangaroo is one of my mates.

The galvanised iron roofs around here are also painted interesting colours. The crows are daily visitors too. One day we could see twelve from our back deck. They are amazing, very clever birds and so beautiful with their blue/black sheen. Three on a telephone line.

I will mention again that these are not totally finished. I will probably spend some time refining them.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Botanical Gardens Drawings

I am thundering along with my promised year of study and experimentation. As well as the cemetery drawings in charcoal which I posted last week, I have been drawing in pastel at the Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens. We have had so many rainy days lately I have had to find a spot under cover. The narrow seating area in the Japanese Garden has fit the bill nicely.

All the following drawings have been done from life sitting in the gardens somewhere.

 This was done overlooking the lake. I have always wanted to find a spot where I could paint reflections from life.

This is me channelling Monet although I hope he does not have a monopoly on such subject matter.This was done not far from the first drawing spot. It shows the last of the water-lilies before the cold sets in. There were plenty of ducks around and I did get some good photos of them but I am trying to stick to my new mantra of just working from life. They don't quiet sit still long enough for that. My eye/hand needs to get much quicker.

This is a view from the Japanese Garden. The forms are all very contrived and sculpted and the views all pre-arranged. It is very beautiful but is like the processed food equivalent of other more natural bush settings.

Another view in the Japanese garden. This shows the little waterfall and rock-pools.

This was done in a more rainforest type area of the gardens. I got very cold sitting here hence it is not quite finished.

This drawing was done much closer to home. It is actually the view from our summer house down the back of our yard. It looks into a gully between the houses. Amazing to have this here in such an urban suburb only 2k from the city centre.

This is a slightly larger more finished piece.  It is a view of Paddington just around the corner. Huge old fig tree on the right and in the middle distance you can see the church on Enoggera Terrace. The workers cottages around here have such a charm when they are still in their original state.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Toowong Cemetery Drawings, - from life drawing to dead drawing.

I have discovered a wonderful new place to draw!

It ticks all the boxes I am currently concerned with.
a) I am outside
b) I am working directly from the subject, no photos etc
c) I am really building up my observation skills
d) I am working on my rendering skills.
c) I am not bothered by people

For the last month or so I had been going to the Botanical Gardens and have captured the last of the water lilies and the flowering trees of the Japanese garden (I will post these images at a later date).
There were too many people there however and they felt that I was there simply for their entertainment. So I switched to the Toowong Cemetery which is close by and I have suffered no such interruptions.

The Toowong Cemetery is an amazing place to sit and draw. I can drive my car in, pull up virtually anywhere and set myself up with my little stool, my pad and pencils and my thermos of tea. I am particularly interested in the plant life, the incredible trees and the shadows they cast. In fact on my first day driving in it was the strength of the shadows patterning the ground that struck me first. The sound of crows kept me company. (I love the much maligned crow. They are very intelligent.) I also realised I needed to be very well prepared with fruit and snacks as I am so used to taking breaks whenever I like in my own studio.

There is so much subject matter here.

* Firstly the natural landscape, the trees, the weeds and the bird-life.
* The historical aspect of course,
* and what I would call the "hand of man" in the carvings, inscriptions etc, different cultures represented
* and most excitingly the phenomenon of nature taking over once again in the crumbling of the tombstones, and the tree roots growing through graves etc.

There is distant traffic noise, aeroplanes flying overhead, birds everywhere especially scrub turkeys.

The overall colour is stone colour, dead leaves, sharp sunshine and lime green against the black of the trees in the shadow. There are little vistas everywhere and the place is very hilly.

I think there is beauty here. It is a place filled with emotion, memories and history. It really interests me.

These are the first four drawings.

I was basically working in charcoal but decided to add just a touch of colour with pastel to each drawing. 

There are some lovely pink and green weeds in the foreground here.

I have put some lime green on the bush at right.

 Again I added the lime green leaves as they were actually there.

The drawings are actually quite accurate as far as composition goes. I haven't changed anything or added what isn't there. At this early stage I am simply recording what I see and getting a feel for the place.

I don't believe in the supernatural and I am not religious but I do feel the overwhelming force of people's emotions and grief especially in the choice of inscriptions on the headstones. I can cope with that as it is part of life.
I joke to myself that I spend so much time doing "Life drawings", these are my "Dead Drawings".

The names and dates interest me also.

I am not sure where these drawings are going to take me but it is enough for now to be simply drawing.

I have posted images on Instagram of each drawing in front of the subject.

I would like to be artist in residence for the cemetery! Friends of the cemetery take note.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Robert Hannaford Workshop

About a week ago I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop by Australian artist Robert Hannaford. I have long admired his portrait work particularly his self portraits from unusual angles. I am certainly not alone in admiring his work as he one of the few artists who are loved by both artists and by the general public as his numerous "Peoples' Choice" awards gives testament.

This is Hannaford's amazing portrait "Bill" which won the 1990 Doug Moran Portrait Prize. I will return to it later but first some details about the workshop.

The class was for two days and Hannaford began with a brief overview of his thoughts and methods and a demonstration piece which he continued to work on over the two days. I took brief notes which I will reproduce here.

Robert Hannaford's Ideas

* Art is an "act of discovery"
* Don't have a plan
* Importance of a viewfinder to try different compositions and then the "That's the one I want" moment. As most of us didn't have this essential piece of equipment he proceed to make several out of paper for us.
* Abstract pattern / Abstract shapes of the masses, and Light/Dark
* Objectivity
* Squint to see tone and open eyes (till they blur) to see colour,  Shift between these two.
* Don't fiddle
* Don't rush in
* Using viewfinder try vertical or horizontal composition/ different sizes of head/ inclusion of body etc.
* There is a psychological horizon in a portrait ( eye height if standing in front of it)
* Re-see every day, don't follow your drawing from the day before or even from the previous sitting before the break.

As far as his method goes, Hannaford started on a white canvas, blocked in using charcoal which he then wiped off just leaving traces. He also started with lots of paint which he wiped back. He did even put in some highlights early on ( not details, details were last) so I guess you could say his approach is an instinctive one.
Filbert brushes
He did a tonal block in, around the head etc.

* Only when you cover the whole canvas can you really see what's going on.

 And his main point which he repeated throughout the weekend


He quoted Rembrandt as saying  "Nature is my master" and made the point that all the big leaps in art history have been made when artists returned to nature, i.e. Leonardo, the Impressionists etc. The Impressionists, painting plein air noticed that shadows were blue/purple and not the brown that Rubens painted.

He stressed the importance of composition from the start.

* Always rely on your own vision, not on your painting from yesterday.
* For his commissioned portraits he takes 6 to 7 days with a 3 hour sitting per day.

* Seeing is everything.
* Don't worry about technique, technique will look after  itself. Everything will look after itself.
* Spend 90% of your time looking, 10% painting
* Stand back /use mirror to view your progress.
* Don't copy other artists

He spoke about when he was young, taking his own work to his mentor Ivor Hele. He said Hele never said much he just looked, and Hannaford could then see his own mistakes as he felt he was seeing his own work through Hele's eyes.

Hannaford made an interesting point that we are on the verge of a Renaissance with our eyes.
* You can make unique discoveries.

I asked several questions about the painting of Bill (above) most notably about the dog and did he use a camera to capture the dog. He said he did not. (It is the artist's own dog.) There were over 100 sittings for the painting and the dog was there for about 50 of them. He says while other people train their dogs to fetch sticks,  he trains his dogs to pose.

                                Painting of Brett by Robyn Bauer

This is my effort after the two day sitting. I had a full-on profile which I did not choose as we drew easel positions out of a hat, but but I soon warmed to the possibilities (after using my viewfinder) and deciding to do landscape format which  I would not otherwise have done. The green curtain had been placed behind the sitter and framed the head very well for most of the painters but I ended up finding the book shelf very exciting (surprise surprise). I am sure I have never painted a bookshelf before.

Hannaford was very generous with his information and gave plenty of individual attention. There were some great painters there and some great paintings by the end of the weekend.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What not to do in an Art Gallery

After eight years, today is the final day I will sit in my gallery minding a show of work by one of the artists I have been representing. As I have been hinting for months I am making some serious changes, no longer representing other artists but concentrating on my own painting and drawing, and I couldn't be happier. I keep catching a gleeful grin in the mirror.

This is me waving goodbye at the door. The reflection in the hall stand mirror is my manikin Frida holding her palette, and there is a tiny Martin Edge self -portrait at bottom right.

As this is the last day I will be captive here and at the whims of the general public, I thought I would have a bit of fun with some do's and don'ts of gallery visiting.

I have divided these into two categories. The first is

Comments made by gallery visitors

1. "I would buy one but the one I want has a red sold spot" ( Said regarding a show of 60 plus works only one of which is sold)
2. "I really love that one and I will come back with my husband/wife/partner/cat/mailman on the weekend to see if they like it too..."
3. "I really love that but have absolutely no room on my walls."
4. "I could maybe get my artistic son/daughter/cousin to do something similar."
5. "What a great SPACE this is...Wow"
6. "Gee what a great view from the back deck, you should serve coffee..."

If I had a dollar for every time I heard these...

Helpful List of Do's and Don'ts.

1. Don't step two feet inside a gallery and ask "So how's it going?" What sort of answer do you want?

a)"Yes it's going great guns I am making a fortune"? ( a lie)
b)"It's a bit quiet" ( a half truth but I don't mind as it gives me time to paint)

If I answer with the latter remark, that does not automatically entitle you to then launch into...

"You know what you should do..."

Advice offered ranges from

"Have you tried to head-hunt X, Y, Z?"

"You should be showing A,B,C type of work."

"You should sell books"

"You should not sell books"

and of course

" Gee you know what? I think you should serve coffee on the back deck"

2. Don't come to every Opening for eight years, make a beeline for the bar, stay on the back deck all night without even a pretence of looking at the work.

3. Don't stand in front of a painting, and state loudly
"That's way too cheap", unless you personally intend to a) buy the work, and b) would like to pay more for it.

Believe it or not Gallery Directors have given some of the above considerations a bit of thought.

A few other classic comments I would like to share.

Visitor:   "You've painted the walls in here"
Me:   "No I haven't"
Visitor:   "Yes you have"
Me:   "No I haven't"
Visitor:   "Well you have since I've been here last!" (defensively)
Me:   "When was that?"
Visitor:   "About two years ago!" (more defensively)
Me:   "I haven't repainted the walls since I opened eight years ago"
Visitor:   "Are you sure?"

And a real classic was the lady who stood on the back deck overlooking our Sculpture Garden and told me it was a "common area put in by the Brisbane City Council".
When I said
"No it is our garden"
She assured me
"No dear, the council have put it in. See all those little paths? They go to all the neighbouring houses"..

I am really warming to my theme here. I have a few pet hates...(nothing to lose now...)

4. If you are an artist and you want me to see your work. Make an appointment.  Don't expect me to look at tiny images on phones that you take forever to locate.

5. Don't tell long stories about your grandmother/uncle/cousin who paints or who once did a painting that was "really good".
6. Don't describe in words a painting you/your child/your mother once did in school. Even if it had "sort of like a tree, with a kind of dolphin, and was kind of blue but maybe green" and was "really good".

7. Don't get out your phone to find said painting. "It's here somewhere...flick, flick, ... just can't find it".

8. Don't get the gallery director all excited by asking for measurements of a work unless you are at least 20% serious.

9. Don't listen to gallery director's introduction about who the artists are, what the work is about and then come out with "So is this all your work?"

10. Don't advise me to sell coffee!

While most gallery visitors are genuine art lovers and I am here poking fun, I hope you at least have a sense of the frustrations, the customer fatigue and the time wasted. I also think most people who are giving advice are genuinely well meaning in most cases but it  is condescending in the extreme.

My pet hate of all is the schools/kindies etc who send in a delegate to ask for a a donation for their school fete. People who have never set foot in the gallery before, not looked at anything, expect to walk out with a painting under their arm for free, under the dubious misapprehension that the "publicity" will be "good for the artist." My standard reply is to ask if they are also asking  dentists and lawyers to donate of few weeks of their time also or is it just the artists who are the lucky ones? I would conservatively estimate to one such request each week.

I would now like to end on a more positive note. There have been some great visitors and supporters (usually other artists) and some great conversations about art have been had, but now it is time to pull up the drawbridge and actually do some painting.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Internet for the Artist, New studio props

I am still so motivated and busy with the study tasks I have set myself for the year. Many of my experiments I have posted on Instagram just for fun.

I have started serious new work but am keeping it secret for a while.

Like everyone else with an iPhone, computer etc I have been seduced by the instant gratification of posting images on facebook, pinterest, instagram and twitter. There are so many artists doing this and many of them are interesting to follow, particularly in countries different to Australia which have a different aesthetic. There is a danger though I think to the artist, of putting work "out there" before you are truly ready.

The process for showing work in the past, - beavering away in your own studio, sometimes destroying work and then only showing your best, -  has totally changed. Now, as soon as you finish something (in my case a life drawing) a sketch, an idea, or an experiment, you take a photo on Instagram without a thought. No wonder there is so much crap out there.

I am as guilty of this as anyone. It is fun! And ten minutes later you have twenty "likes" from all around the world. The sense of studio isolation is replaced by a sense of connectedness to others interested either in what you are doing (best case scenario) or in similar preoccupations.

For serious work though, the time factor, and the process of work developing over time is still the most important thing.

For me personally I am discovering I have to be wary. As I stated already I am keeping my new work secret for a while. It has been a big struggle to get everything to come together, particularly when trying to assimilate new influences, a new medium and technology.  I liken the process to when you are trying to remember a name you have forgotten ( in private not in public) and you know the name is up there somewhere in your brain but you can't quite grasp it. If only you could reach up and clasp it but   ...it ...is ...just out of ... reach... That is how I feel about the new work I am trying to do. I am motivated, I am inspired and I have the ideas but putting them all together is such a struggle it keeps me awake at nights. It is starting to work though and I feel all my hard work is about to pay off.

I know Monet said to a friend that when he finally got his garden going and his studio organised, he said
 "Now I am going to paint masterpieces". I know I am not in that category but I do feel my best work to date is just around the corner...

With the experiments I have been undertaking it has been confirmed to me more and more that I am really a reclusive studio painter. I agree with Degas' remark that painting outdoors is a kind of sport. I can manage to draw or photograph outside or in a life session but setting up to paint must be done in my own private space.

I have no qualms therefore in making that space exactly how I want it, furnishing it like Sorolla's exotic studio. I collect images of artists' studios on my Pinterest site. (Another obsessive internet activity that I am addicted to)

So, even though I am not showing new work here, what I would like to share are my recent studio prop purchases. These have been acquired over the last six months and the plan is to set up my whole existing gallery as a studio, only open on Sundays and only showing my own work to those interested.

 I have always wanted a big birdcage to do this with. No doubt it will make its way into my paintings in various guises. I collect bird sculptures and I plan to play around with them and the cage.

A new set of mapping drawers for my life drawings and paper storage.

Antique hall stand for keeping hats etc for portrait sitters to play around with. I seem to be mentioning the word "play" a lot. Julia Cameron would be pleased.

Another antique purchase. This is called a Canterbury and I plan to use it for book display and various other arrangements.

Did I use the word "exotic" above? Let me introduce "Iris". She is a black panther, life size made of bronze. She will be keeping me company during my painting hours.

And meet Uncle Leo (named for his famous anatomy obsessed antecedent). I have done many drawings of him in my pseudo academic self study program. This has really helped with my portrait work.

This is Mr Muscles, showing what makes faces twitch. I have drawn him heaps also and ditto to the comment above.

 I bought these little guys also. I already have quite a collection of porcelain dolls in the bedroom but these two are avid readers so must stay focused on the book shelf. No names yet sorry. Any suggestions? They are Bavarian.

 I am also starting to collect fabric. These beautiful satins are from Spotlight. I have always loved the background drapery in Rubens and Van Dyck and am on the lookout for a big red velvet second-hand curtain.

 Antique hexagonal mirror and Persian rug from an auction. And of course books, books, books and more books. There is no furniture as charming as books on a shelf.

I am looking forward to putting these things together in the studio, but for the rest of 2013 I am planning to rent out the gallery space to artists on a weekly basis. The new studio set up will be up and running in 2014 when I reveal the new work.

Meanwhile back to the secret paintings.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Experiments with Pastel - Landscape

I am still continuing to explore the possibilities of the medium of pastel. The colours can become so luminous with the layering effects which makes them ideally suited to the effects of light on the landscape and also clouds.

I am trying something a bit different from my usual subject matter. I drove up to the Glasshouse Mountains as I have always loved those monolithic volcanic rocks towering over the coloured fields. The colours in the landscape were very strong that day reflecting all the rain we have had and the fact that we really are in a semi-tropical area here in Queensland.

My big secret ingredient here is the paper. I used sandpaper! It is about P400 or P600 in sandpaper language. I love the texture and also the black surface. You have a lot of control over tone as you are consciously working from dark to light instead of the usual white to dark. 

These two are different angles of the Glasshouse Mountains. We drove down every back road to get the best vistas.

This one is much closer to home, being the view from my back deck. That is Torbrec on the right. It is really just a cloud study with the new medium.

I should stress that these are just experiments and I do intend to do larger works incorporating these landscapes as backgrounds.

This rabbit is also a shift for me instead of my usual kangaroos. I did him over the Easter weekend which was just a coincidence. He is also source material for some larger ideas.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Art Renewal Centre and Recent Work

I love the internet. How amazing for an artist to have such a wealth of historical material to trawl through, particularly from here in Australia where good old master works are few and far between.
And links lead to links lead to links. That is how I have recently discovered the Art Renewal Centre.


If you read through some of my earlier blogs you will find similar sentiments expressed to some of those on the Art Renewal Centre website. Where have they been all my life?

The following quote is lifted from their site

"If you studied art history anytime between 1945 and 1980, you were told that there were great old masters that existed from the early Renaissance to the time of David, Constable and Turner in the early 1800's. Then you were taught about Corot and Courbet and the Pre-Impressionists and then finally the Impressionists themselves who led the way into Modernism. Most of the period from 1850 to 1910 was described as a terrible cesspool of official art where petty academic artists painted inane silly paintings that cared only for technique, that were devoid of emotion and who didn't recognize the genius of the Impressionists. Maybe one paragraph about that long was all you read. Possibly they mentioned the leaders of this rogue's gallery and so they might have said once the names of Meissonier, Bouguereau, Cabanel, Gérôme, Alma-Tadema, Lord Leighton or Burne-Jones, and never showed you any of their works. If they did show anything it was always a bad example. "

It is as if they have been reading my mail! This struck such a chord with me! As soon as I read the opening words I was saying yes, yes, yes, this is totally true of my art history studies! In lectures at Queensland University we were shown images by Gerome, Cabanel, and Bougereau and told they were the "bad guys". I remember thinking. They look pretty clever to me, but of course I never voiced this out loud. One thing I have been saying out loud, very loudly to my family and peers is, -  whenever someone goes on about Impressionism etc I say THAT'S NOT ALL THERE IS! Another thing people have heard me say ad nauseum is - "The pendulum has swung too far away from skills."
And I will die of boredom if I have to walk into another darkened room with an "art" video showing. I would far, far, rather watch paint dry...

For anyone interested in art I recommend reading some stuff on the website above and making up your own mind. Some of the articles are quite brave and provocative but there is a lot of bandwagon jumping among the posted letters. Meanwhile I am continuing with my private study year of anatomy, life drawing, portraiture and my secret project.

Here are a few drawings from the past week.

This was about two hours of work. I just concentrated on the face which was mostly in shadow from where I was standing. She does look a bit bored and droopy and she was poor girl. I am happy that I have captured something of that feeling. Pastel on prepared paper.

This beautiful model is one I have drawn once before. The earlier image is on my last blog post. This time I had a full profile view. Again about two and a half hours. No time to finish the traditional African costume she is wearing or her arm.


This is a sketchbook study from one of the life drawing sessions. I am still going to about three per week. It is done in black, white and sanguine conte in about 20 minutes on prepared paper.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pastel Studies - Seriously!

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I am really enjoying a change of medium at the moment and am exploring pastels seriously. I always thought they were such a messy medium and they can be but I have decided that the mess is worth it. I am giving myself time and space to really experiment. I have been feeling for a while that although oil is such a beautiful and seductive medium so much has already been said with it. I am discovering the versatility of pastel. The soft dreamy blurring effects that have given pastel such a bad name have meant that the medium has been unfairly dismissed, by me as much as anyone. I am becoming its new advocate!

 I am continuing with my anatomy and life studies, but if the pose is long enough (an hour or more) I whip out the pastels and do a portrait. This one was from a two and a half  hour pose.

This model I have drawn before from a different angle. Again it is about two and a half hours of drawing.
I have been preparing my own paper with acrylic paint and pastel primer as I really dislike the mechanical nature of the dots in tradition pastel papers. I prefer to have complete control and the dots are so distracting to the viewer that they interfere.

As always I turn to books to glean any information I can about the medium I am using. I found quite an array of pastel books in the Brisbane Municipal Library and also the Royal Queensland Art Society library. Here is a selection below.

These two books were probably the oldest but the best, with lots of insights into techniques. Reading technical information can save you a lot of time in the long run.

Even the books that seem extremely basic will often have some little nugget of information that can help your own methods. It also helps to be aware of possible pitfalls.

Don't laugh but I found the "Dummies" one very informative. I read the entire text. It is tempting to just read the images and their captions but this just gives a dumbed down version. You have to work your way through the text to really get it.

The centre book here shows pastels from  the Metropolitan in New York. The beautiful work of Mary Cassatt and a surprising Georgia O'Keeffe.

Here is a quote from Georgia.

" It was in the fall of 1915 that I first had the idea that what I had been taught was of little value to me except for the use of my materials as a language - charcoal, pencil, pen, and ink, watercolour, pastel and oil. I had become fluent with them when I was so young that they were simply another language that I handled easily. But what to say with them?... I began with charcoal and paper and decided not to use any colour until it was impossible to do what I wanted to do in black and white. I believe it was June 1916 before I needed blue."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Plans for 2013

I thought I would share in this blog post my plans for my art practice in 2013.

I decided towards the end of 2012 after my show in September that I would give myself a "study" year and not plan to exhibit new work again until 2014. I wanted to spend the year drawing, learning anatomy in a systematic fashion, getting to explore with new media, and sharpen up some skills that I wanted to employ in new work. I have big ideas for my next show and big plans for my gallery but without giving too much away ( keeping a "circle of safety" as new agers would say) I can share my immediate plans.

As seen in my last blog, I am drawing ,drawing, drawing. Going to at least four life sessions a week. Also reconnecting with my drawing teacher/ mentor David Paulson for some inspirational life sessions.

Basically if you don't push yourself out of your comfort zone you risk the possibility of your work becoming stale and you can stagnate. You never stop learning. I am also enjoying talking to all the artists I am meeting at these sessions, some of whom are as driven as I am. One artist said to me that if he felt his drawings were getting too "nice" he changed media to something more challenging.

I think it is important to embrace some sort of drawing philosophy. Turning the 3 dimensions of the world into the 2 dimensions of your drawing  is good for the brain.
Michelangelo said "make your eyes your compass".
Drawing from observation is critical. This is something I discussed in my last blog so I don't want to repeat myself here.

It helps to be reminded to simplify things. - big shapes first, work from general to specific, details last if at all.

I have been getting reacquainted with my pastels. I can't believe I have neglected this wonderful medium for a while.

This portrait drawing in pastel is from Friday's session at Royal Queensland Art Society. Three hour pose.

This drawing is just black, sepia and white. The Trois couleurs technique. A friend kindly modelled for me.

A couple of five minute poses where I did manage to just concentrate on shape.

My quarter finished ecorche figure showing musculature. I am making a proper study of anatomy at the Atelier studios. This is something I knew was missing from my art education. Each set of muscles is modelled in a different coloured  plasticine. I am just making one side at the moment but there are ribs and shoulder blades etc underneath!

I am so excited about putting it all together, the new media, the sharper drawing skills and my new ideas that I lie awake thinking about. The other thing I should mention is of course my reading. It is art, art, art at the moment. I am currently reading a book called "Girl in a Green Gown - The history and mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait" by Carola Hicks, 2011. I will keep you posted.

The gallery is going to be a rental art space until the end of 2013 to give me time to pursue these new directions.