Now we are settled in Melbourne, I am beginning another body of work and thought I’d do a little tour of my new studio space. My studio is always a work in progress that changes as I paint in the space. I’m always tweaking things, moving supplies and furniture around to make the space as efficient as possible.
I also put all that IKEA cardboard on the floor to protect it, since we are renting and give more cushion while I stand and paint. Its great for the kids to draw on too!
I always love seeing people’s creative spaces so I hope this inspires. Let me know what you think or if you have any studio hacks yourself.
Do I listen to music when I paint? Yes. And I dance. I paint and dance.
One day after art school a friend and I caught up at a bar/lounge/club for lazy Friday arvo drinks. I was still in my painting clothes, paint splattered pants, singlet and paint splattered sneakers. We were having such a good time catching up before we knew it the lazy arvo drinks had turned into a pumping night club. Next thing I know I’m having the time of life, dancing my heart out on the dance floor in the most comfortable outfit ever!! It was thrilling because most of the time I’m only dancing my heart out in front of the easel.
“The gateway drug is not creating art, but experiencing it.”
For me music is my gateway drug. Listening to music, fuels my spirt and brings big energy and joyous emotions to my body. I loosen up. I move. I dance. Then I take that sprit and jump off it to express my own art.
I know another artist who doesn’t like this influence to her work and prefers silence. When I’m really nutting out or finishing a piece, I prefer silence too. However when I want that big energy in there I utilise the powerful effects of music. I carefully curate what I listen to, using my own artistic discernment to decide how I want my mood affected.
This is my mantra whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. I’m currently in a stage of my work that is about quietly brewing ideas and percolating experiments. I’m collating and curating source material and making notes on themes, feelings and concepts. Its a private, in the bunker time and it doesn’t photograph well for instagram.
I’m frustrated because to the outside world it appears I’m dormant but I’m not. I’m actually doing some of my most creative, focused thinking and working in this part of my process. When I’m painting I’m sharing images and getting feedback and I feel socially engaged with the broader community. The creative fires burn strong. But at the beginning of a body of work, I don’t get that connection. I’m protecting my flame, gradually stoking the embers so that they can build and support a large bonfire.
I respect the seasons of my process and know they are all a valuable part of my work.
I recently had a chat with an artist friend about artistic practice. She is also teaching part time and was frustrated that her students didn’t stick with one technique or line of inquiry and instead were too easily excited and enticed to try new approaches.
It is true that the narrower your focus the faster you develop your skill or idea. However, when we are learning something challenging or encounter resistance while developing a project it’s hard! Variety and trying something different can keep the fun alive.
Developing an artistic practice you actually want to stick with requires both focused hard work and fun. How do you keep it focused and fun?
I wanted to take a moment to write about painting orientation. Traditionally Landscapes are horizontal and Portraits are vertical. Of course there are exceptions to this guideline.
As I’ve been stretching canvases lately I made the decision to orient this next body of work vertically. Even though my work is inspired by the natural environment I love the intimacy a vertical orientation affords. Standing in front of a vertical orientation feels different, the painting is imbued with a presence that feels more human whereas to me a horizontal orientation feels expansive more like a window.
This work from 2010 uses a panoramic landscape format to enhance the sense of distance and space in the painting.
So here I am with a bunch of blank canvases for my next body of work. I have not put a drop of paint on them yet, but I already have a sense of the feeling of the final body of work. Do you have a favoured orientation with the paintings you make or collect?
I am delighted to have been selected for the 2018 Art2Life Academy Exhibition . It is the first juried show I’ve been in since having the boys and getting back into my art. At first I thought I would wait till they started school before entering competitions and juried shows but since this one was online only I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.
The judges were Nicholas Wilton, Academy Founder and Donna Seager, of Seager Grey Gallery, California. Donna Seager seems particularly taken with the formal elements of all the selected works writing,
“Looking over the final exhibition, I find that nearly all of the paintings have a wonderful sense of pattern and space… it seems to me that the paintings are consistently open – that the elements of the work, whether they are shapes or pictorial elements are given breathing room.”
The painting I submitted was “Fair Light”. This is particularly satisfying for me since breathing room was something I focused on in this work, with the light and dark green space balancing out the hot intensity of the main flower.
I joined the Art2Life Academy in 2017 to help give my return to art making some structure and it has done that and so much more. I’ve learn’t new skills, pushed my art futher and made some incredible connections and friends with artists all over the world. I am honoured to represent the Academy in this online show.
I’m having a show at the Five Dock Library, titled “Natural Chaos”. The show runs from the 28th of September to the 21st of October. “Natural Chaos” is a semi-abstract body of work depicting flowers and shrubbery, using intense compositions to heighten the wild chaos and explore the random beauty of life. Looking after two little boys by day and painting by night, this work mirrors the intensity and chaos of my life.
This work has evolved from a personal collection of photographs, both from my travels abroad and from my walks around the neighbourhood, such as the work “Fair Light” which was taken from a local garden on Fairlight Street in Five Dock. My photos are impulsive, taken when a shape, color or composition strikes me. I’m drawn to arrangements of overwhelming intensity. The camera has allowed me to capture an intimacy that drawing from life does not, sometimes a suffocating closeness. These paintings convey the beauty in the disorder and chaos.
My process starts by loosely mapping out the shapes and colours, I’m constantly designing and rearranging the composition. The work becomes a journey of searching, drawing and painting, looking for links, lines and connections between edges and shapes on the panel. During the painting I am working against the subconscious urge for order, consistency and rhythm so I don’t lose the natural complexity.
I’m really proud of this collection and its development has been a slow but steady labour of love. The works really look beautiful together in the library and I’m delighted to be able to share them with my local community. I wanted to also say THANK YOU to my collectors whos support has made this show possible.
The more I paint the harder it is for me to write. Looking after two little boys under the age of 5 is hard work and when I do get time to myself I am spending it on visual thinking.
While painting I’ve been listening to Beck’s (new to me album) “Colors” and really enjoying it. I love listening to music while painting because it lifts you into that inspired mindset. It’s like jumping off a diving board into the pool rather than just getting in at the steps. I’m exhilarated and fired up. Beck’s music is super inspiring to me but meeting him was not.
When I was about 20 I went to one of his concerts and my girlfriend and I decided afterwards we would go around back and wait for him to come out. A myriad of possibilities entered my imagination, knowing we were going to actually stand in the aura of this creative God. Well he came out, shuffled over to us, signed a few things through the fence, mumbled an acknowledgement of our presence, got in the back of a black SUV and left. It was a total fizzer.
In retrospect, I can see that he had done a huge show and was tired and wanted to go home not impress strange fans. It also made me think that artists really put there best selves in their work and often don’t leave much else for socialisation, promotion or conversation. Most of the time when you meet your idols, it is disappointing because of this. So for now I stick to listening to the albums, reading the books and looking at the paintings.
That being said Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathyrn Janeway, of the Starship Voyager) was one of the most amazing, inspiring women I have ever had the pleasure to hear speak. That lady is freakin awesome!