Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Seeing the Bigger Picture

One thing about my ups and downs, though some of the problems that prompt them are long term ones, if you leave yourself open to change, nice little things can brighten your day.

I did not do any painting yesterday. For a while it looked like the only good thing I had done was to mow the front footpath (sidewalk) The day befire, I had found a website of a guy who was described as being an expert in the Mische, Sfumato and sgraffito (often spelt without the "s's") techniques. So I thought I would try the mische technique of the Old Masters. I used acrylics to speed up the process. One of the problems with this is that the only White I have in Acrylics is Titanium White which is hard to use as a glaze unless you dilute it a lot with water and medium because it is not transparent. To remedy another problem I had to remember exactly what I had done previously and could not remember, so I ended up painting what I had done over to star again . So I am resolved , yet again, to try to remember to take notes of what I do. (It is a bit of a Catch 22 - like the Johnny Cash song where he forgets to remember to forget.)

Anyway, back to the inspirational bit. Mary got sick of watching Australia get beaten yet again by South Africa in the One Day Cricket Series. So she switched to the ABC channel which was showing Philip Glass's bio in twelve parts. Glass is not a composer I have heard a lot on ABC Classical FM. Much of his story and comments resonated with me, however, like making lots of little repetitive bits that become a pattern on the larger scale.

To me this is the the way the world is made in the Great Chain of Being with all it's differently scaled levels. Turn the tap on when you have detergent in your sink - the chaos of water molecules produces a nice larger scale pattern of bubbles.He is very eucumenical (open) in his religious beliefs and practices. Something I like a lot.

He also mentioned suddenly realising what an artwork (your own or other's) is about, but he also added that you have to keep working on it till it happens. This is rather like Edison's formula - Genius= 1% inspiration+ 99% perspiration.The results of what Glass does are awesome, notably in cooperation with other creative people.

I do not know how to embed Video here, but look for him on YouTube at something likewww.youtube.com/watch?v=LFBijDU8PpE

(Do this with a friend to hold your hand.)

Seeking Inspiration in Melbourne


Mary and I have literally just driven over 3000 km to Melbourne, Victoria and back to Toowoomba, Queensland. Our main purpose was to deliver our eldest grandchild back to her mother.

I also tried to see some visual art there. Melbourne is a very active centre for the Arts, but it is not so easy to find things when you do not know your way round town and have less than whole three days to do it.

Mary wanted to rest, so I spent the first afternoon walking through the city. I found that a gallery recommended to me had closed down. As I walked towards the Ian Potter gallery I wanted to visit. http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/ngvaustralia/ I talked with some street artists doing on-the-spot portraits. Technically, they were a lot better than me but their artwork did not turn me on. Daylight saving tricked me into being too late for the Ian Potter Gallery which focuses on Australian Art.

The next morning, I ventured forth with Mary in our car. A private gallery in fashionable Toorak had samples of all the famous Australian artists on show, but nowhere nearby to park our car.

At a small arts and crafts market there was an artist selling postcards and prints of her works. She is very accomplished, I liked the colours used and the poses of her nudes, for example, but again (this is not sour grapes) her work otherwise left me cold.
My daughter was more successful in meeting my artistic needs. She took us (plus grandchild and friend) to the National Gallery of Victoria's main site. http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/ngvinternational/

NGV has an international collection on this site so I had a pleasant stroll, walk mainly through European Art from the 14th to 20th centuries. It was nice to see familiar artworks in the flesh for a change rather than as prints or in books or on computer monitors, much larger or smaller than you might expect and with the brushwork textures clearly visible.

This Breugel, for example is less than A3 size, so the detailed figures are actually very tiny.
The next day, Maria had us stop at a small gallery http://www.suburban312.com.au/ located in Brighton, the suburb where she now lives. I found myself particularly interested by the work of Barbara Tyson. She produces a nice mixture of realism and abstraction and utilises some interesting techniques. In "Soak" the oil painting shown above , for example, the water area is covered with clear resin, so that the experience you get seeing the original is quite different from what you would get from a print or photo, Check her out at


So there in Brighton, I found quite a few artworks I could relate to and, hopefully, do something in a similar style.

Where do you get your inspirations?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My wife Mary found her favorite old photo of her dear sister Trisha sitting in their front garden. She loved to sip coffee and listen to recorded music back in the 1960's. Mary suggested I might use the photo as the basis of a painting.

The garden plants around Trish in the photo were pretty, but I decided to eliminate them and create a different background for a more sparse, carefully composed look.

Acrylics on stretched canvas 60x50 cm