White on White

Last night I attended an exhibition opening held by Victoria University, my old art school. Fiona Myer has been the patron of VU’s Visual Arts course for the past 20 years, and every graduate show she awards art prizes (one for a travel proposal) for a couple of lucky students.

For White on White, eight previous award winners were invited to submit work on the concept of ‘white’ and the interpretations were varied and interesting. It was also lovely to catch up with some former fellow students and lecturers.

My favourite piece is by En-En See, called Love Letters. At first I wasn’t sure if it was an artwork, because it is made up of a number of hand cut vinyl flowers, scattered seemingly randomly, on the floor. It wasn’t taped or roped off and there weren’t any signs saying ‘do not touch’, so I assumed it was part of a decorative install. People walked on them and some of them got crumpled and folded over, just like real flowers would. En-En explained that the artwork was a response to a story about a white flower that grows in halves – one half grows near the sea, the other in the mountains, and together they form one perfect bloom (based on the legend of Nakapau). I’m a big fan of ephemeral art and this was a beautiful piece. I loved the way it wasn’t precious and roped off, like most art work, and was in fact more like street art, which slowly deteriorates in the weather, or gets peeled off or covered or tagged, evolving over time.

The exhibition is at White Story House, 48 Kelso Street, Cremorne for two days only, and closes 20 November 2019 (10 am – 4 pm).

Vexta, I love you

The first artwork I saw of street artist Vexta was the dramatic Orb Rising wall art facing the subway entrance to Flinders Street Station on Degraves Street. I was immediately smitten with the fluoro colours, bold geometric triangular shapes inside a arch, and strategic dripping, which adds a looseness to the composition. It’s stunning!

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Vexta is a self taught artist from Sydney, Australia. She mainly paints geometric shapes, birds, humans and animals. She is very successful and has completed street art commissions all over the world, and lives in New York city and Tulum, Mexico. I’m saving up to buy one of her circular orb prints.

Her website has more information about her work and practice.

A commission


I recently finished a commission for my mother. She wanted some small works on paper depicting my Dad’s farm as a gift for him. We took some photos of the farm and a ruined cottage there, and she picked out which photos she liked best.

I decided to use pen and ink (or fineliner) with subdued watercolour, after I did a couple of roughs that she didn’t like. I photographed some of the work in progress and she ok’d them so I did some more. Now they just need framing. I hope my Dad likes them; I think they’ve turned out well.

colour bomb! update

I did it!

Thanks to everyone who supported by donating to my fundraising campaign, my fellow artists who inspired and helped me, Tracey and Gasworks, and my friends who encouraged me.

finally, a solo show

I’m excited to announce my first solo exhibition! Colour Bomb! will open on November 20. I think I’m almost ready, but we’ll see how the last 10 days go. I’ve done almost all the paintings and pieces, and I’m framing them at the moment (and working on a special 3D piece).

Here are some samples to whet your appetite…

Colour Bomb! opens on Tuesday 20 November from 6pm at ARB Gallery, Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park. I’d love it if you could come and celebrate with me!

If you can’t make opening night, the show runs until December 9. I’ll be sitting the gallery on the weekends of 24/25 November, 1/2 and 8/9 December from 12 until 4pm. Hope to see you there 🙂

p.s. I also have a favour to ask… I’ve set up a crowd funder to help cover the gallery hire and costs of the exhibition. If you’d like to support an emerging artist, go to http://www.pozible.com/project/first-solo-show

Van Gogh and the seasons

tree trunks and dandelionsI think of Van Gogh primarily as a colourist, although his vivid colourful paintings were mostly painted in the last couple of years of his art career. His detailed descriptions of nature and his paintings can be found in his letters to Theo, his brother. Here he describes a landscape he painted at Arles in 1888:

A meadow full of very yellow buttercups, a ditch with iris plants with green leaves, with purple flowers, the town in the background, some grey willow trees — a strip of blue sky.
If they don’t mow the meadow I’d like to do this study again, because the subject matter was really beautiful…A little town surrounded by countryside entirely covered in yellow and purple flowers. That would really be a Japanese dream, you know.

And a beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer:

I took a walk along the seashore one night, on the deserted beach. It wasn’t cheerful, but not sad either, it was — beautiful.

The sky, a deep blue, was flecked with clouds of a deeper blue than primary blue, an intense cobalt, and with others that were a lighter blue — like the blue whiteness of milky ways. Against the blue background stars twinkled, bright, greenish, white, light pink — brighter, more glittering, more like precious stones than at home — even in Paris. So it seems fair to talk about opals, emeralds, lapis, rubies, sapphires. The sea a very deep ultramarine — the beach a mauvish and pale reddish shade, it seemed to me — with bushes.

At Arles he painted the same subjects over and over — wheat fields, fruit trees, olive trees, flowers, cypresses. One of my favourite paintings from the show is an olive grove. The sky is a delightful pale green with orange, yellow and blue accents, and the ground lavender blue, orange, green and pale brown.

olive grove with 2 olive pickersIt’s hard to imagine how revolutionary these paintings were at the time. They influenced many painters including Matisse and the Fauves. His vision was unique and the bold and surprising way he used colour is still amazing.

Van Gogh and the seasons is at the NGV Melbourne until July 9.

Isis the goddess

My response to the violent attacks on citizens in Paris, and the military strikes in Syria and racist warmongering rhetoric which seems to be drowning out truth and common sense, is the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr –

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

– and also to remember that the majority of people in the world are good and doing no harm to others.

With all the talk about terrorism and ‘ISIS’ in the media recently, my favourite astrologer posted about the goddess ‘Isis’ and this reminded me of my love of ancient egyptian art and mythology. [note that the terrorist organisation should be referred to as ‘Daesh’].

Isis the goddess is a timeless expression of the Divine Feminine, also known as Aphrodite, Hera and Artemis, and is devoted to empowering others. Read the full post by Mystic Medusa here.

These paintings are from 2011.

Inspiration – where does it come from?

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art. Andy Warhol

I love this quote from one of my favourite artists. Lately I haven’t been doing any art, and I’ve been thinking about that elusive thing ‘inspiration’.

Pablo Picasso said, and I agree:

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

He was a very prolific artist, constantly drawing and painting, and I think this is a great artistic method. But what if you don’t ‘feel like’ doing art?

In my second year of art school I realised that some of my fellow students were too scared to actually start a painting. That blank canvas or sheet of paper is intimidating. And we rarely, if ever, make a painting that is as good as we imagine.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. Sylvia Plath
We have to allow ourselves to make bad paintings, terrible drawings, stifle our inner critics, and keep going.

Sometimes, just going to the studio, ‘showing up’, and starting to play around with colour, scribbling something, flicking through books and images I’ve collected, will give me an idea for a painting. And sometimes I will just start painting without have a clear idea of where I’m going. This can lead to an unexpectedly good painting, and also to a shit painting that I’ll turn to the wall, to maybe paint over another day.

I believe Charles Baudelaire was right when he said Inspiration comes of working every day. Unfortunately, there’s no quick or magical solution to not being inspired. I think you just have to keep working.

And I love this quote from Banksy: Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a f**king sharp knife to it.

Postscript

I came across a wonderful commencement speech that talks about gaps in your resumé, fallow periods in creativity, and life not going according to plan.

How can we learn not to panic as future ministers or scholars or mothers when we are “not getting any work done” or when we lose direction altogether, when there is no plan, when the manuscript is delayed or the child is ill, when the love affair sours and there is no point in getting up, … Or when the sheer cruelty, racism, and blindness of the world can be kept at bay no longer, but storm our inner barriers, making normal productive life impossible? Yet in these … career detours, lie gestation and receptivity, what the Japanese call “hollowness” to the divine. In these nonproductive times, new things are hatching, being born in the darkness…

The full text is here.

Ben Quilty

I visited the Bendigo Art Gallery last week to see the Ben Quilty show. I’ve been a fan of his painting since I saw one of his car crash paintings and a documentary about him where he spoke about Australian masculinity and what inspired him. European settlement and the plight of Indigenous Australians are ongoing themes in his work.

What fascinates me is the amount of paint he uses! When I look closely I always wonder how long his work must take to dry. I love his dramatically rough painterly style.

Kuta Rorschach No. 2, 2014, oil on canvas (detail)Kuta_Rorshach_detail

Three of his Rorschach series of large landscapes are almost symmetrical mirror images, reflected from a central vertical axis.
Fairy Bower Rorschach, 2012, oil on linen (detail)Fairy_bower_rorshach Continue reading “Ben Quilty”

Tony Tuckson

Twenty-two of Tony Tuckson’s beautiful abstract paintings have been bequeathed to our public art galleries by his widow Margaret, who passed away in September.

Tuckson was deputy director at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1957 until his death in 1973, and the conflict he perceived between this position and his art practice made him reticent about exhibiting his work.

Untitled – yellow 1970–73
Untitled – yellow 1970–73

Continue reading “Tony Tuckson”