Friday, 23 December 2011

Season's Greetings



This last post for the year comes with my good wishes to all my readers. May you have time to rest, relax and connect with family and friends.
Thank you for reading and commenting, I value your interest and support.

And to all those whose artists and writers whose blogs have inspired me during the year, I am constantly awed at the talent that is shown - thank you.

I look forward to a new year bursting with new ideas - new drawings, new paintings and new materials to explore.



Friday, 16 December 2011

Magic and fantasy

A visit to GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane) today provided further proof that art galleries and young children can be compatible. The Gallery has made a bold move to de-mystify the Gallery space. To re-affirm the notion that art can be fun; that art is to be enjoyed and that if children are introduced to art at a young age they will continue to visit. It is true, though that some of the exhibits test the observation skills of the Gallery staff to the limits.
Yayoi Kusuma: Look Now See Forever transforms the galleries with vibrant pulsating colour. The online catalogue gives a wonderful overview of the exhibition. Huge red and white spotted balloons dwarf the viewer in a red and white spotted room called Dots Obsession.


Dots obsession 2011 in Yayoi Kusuma: Look Now, See Forever

In the next room there are huge fibre-glass Flowers that Bloom at Midnight – all asking to be touched. Then at last, in the Obliteration Room, there’s a place where the usually forbidden is allowed and even encouraged. When the exhibition opened this room was pure white. The room is furnished as a traditional Australian home with locally sourced furniture – all painted white.



On entering each viewer is handed a sheet of brightly coloured stickers – dots of various sizes – and these can be stuck anywhere - on the floor, the furniture, a piano and, for the very tall, the ceiling.




 A couple of weeks later and there are still some white gaps but by the end of the show the room will have been transformed.

Pip and Pop’s installation: we miss you magic land! was commissioned for the Children’s Art Centre. It’s a fairy tale world made out of layers of sugar, modelling clay, mirrors and origami creations - a forest of fantasy plants and flowers. One of the gallery staff I spoke to said she had helped work on the installation. It had taken about eight weeks to complete with a lot of the components arriving already made.



It’s enticing and fascinating and trying to persuade the little ones not to touch is almost impossible.


In fact at times in spite of the watchful eye of numerous Gallery staff the occasional stretch and touch does occur. Take a careful look at the last photograph – the evidence of a touching hand is there!

I've just found a link to the Obsession Room before the dots...



Saturday, 10 December 2011

A Year in Australia

A year ago today I stepped off the plane in Brisbane - the beginning of a new adventure in a new country.

Looking back over the last twelve months, the time seems to have passed in a blur. There have been some low times. Adjusting to life in a strange place takes time. It’s hard to leave loved ones behind and start in a place where one has no history. And I get very nostalgic about many things including the glorious aloes.



Aloes – oil on canvas 900mm x 600mm Carol Lee Beckx © 2010

No sooner had I arrived than it started to rain. And rain and rain and rain some more. The January floods hit Queensland and Brisbane hard.The photos remain horrifying. Plans that I had made to visit places, meet people and integrate myself into Australian life had to be put on hold as my new city was swallowed by mud.

Then, not a month later, on the third of February, Cyclone Yasi hit northern Queensland with a vengeance. Brisbane was not directly affected, being some 1500 kilometres south. However, coupled with the damage caused by the floods; the cyclone had widespread effects on both the people and the economy. For one thing the price of bananas sky-rocketed to $15 per kilo!  

But, life goes on. Queenslanders washed off the mud and carried on. I started to find my way around. My surroundings became familiar and, more importantly, I made new friends. I’ve shown paintings on local exhibitions with some success – I won First prize for Still Life and the Redhill Gallery Prize at The Gap Community Art Show. In addition, I received Highly Commended for a painting at the Woodford Biennial.
A high point in my year was when I moved into my own home at the beginning of June. I could set up my studio and was able to start teaching. I started to feel settled. Another milestone was when I built my garden with the help of my son-in-law. A barren patch of dirt became a little sanctuary. I could literally put down roots. Instead of visiting vervet monkeys I have to fight off the attentions of the bush turkeys who a very partial to my parsley.


While part of me remains with family and friends in South Africa and I miss them sorely, technology allows me to remain in close contact with them. I can still be involved.
Even though there have been times when I questioned my sanity for embarking on this crazy venture, I am glad I made the move. I enjoy spending time with my daughter and son-in-law and developing a close relationship with my grandchildren.
My plan to focus on painting and teaching art is becoming a reality. I am working on a new commission for three paintings. The art classes are going well. It’s a good feeling to see my students blossom, growing in confidence and ability after a few short months.


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mysterious Ochre

Every experience is influenced by its context. Our location, current circumstances and even emotional status alters our interpretation of events or experiences.

Some years ago, when I was still living in South Africa, I read a wonderful book by Victoria Finlay called   Colour: Travels through the Paintbox . I had borrowed the book from a friend but enjoyed it so much that I bought my own copy.
However, I scarcely remembered reading the section called The Australian Paintbox. I’m really glad now that I have the book because when I picked it up recently, I re-read it from a completely different perspective. Living in a different country with its own particular history has changed my perception of what Finlay has written.
On discovering that a shaped piece of rock / lump of earth was in fact a chunk of ochre pigment, Finlay realised that it was possibly used by an artist some 5000 years ago. In Greek the word means pale yellow – iron oxide – it was the first pigment. Her search for the origins of the colour led her to the heart of Australia.

The light and heat here is much like South Africa. But if anything it’s brighter and hotter, and the hole in the ozone layer just above us is threatening. The colours of Africa, yellow ochre, burnt sienna and earthy reds have a kinship with Australian earth colours. And then, because the sky here is so blue some days the red earth is even redder.
The Aboriginal painting tradition, the oldest continuous painting tradition, goes back for 40,000 years. The colours are bound up in age-old stories, rituals, mysteries and secrets. So much is hidden below the surface. Ochre was for many years a valuable commodity used as a bartering tool amongst various aboriginal peoples.
Last week I visited GoMA. One of the exhibitions celebrating GoMAs 5th Birthday was Across Country : Five years of Indigenous Art from the Collection.
I turned a corner in the Gallery and walked into an ochre room.

The colour glowed, highlighting the work on the walls and plinths.Indigenous artists from across the country have continued to find innovative ways to interpret their stories and experiences in an increasing range of mediums. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Colour

Do you see the same colour that I do?

Is it true that colour is not a “thing” but the observer’s mental sensation?

What is it about colour that mesmerises us?


Colour surrounds us and indeed sometimes there is almost a bombardment of colour on our senses. You have only to think of the vibrant neon lights in the cities. Many thinkers have written about colour – Aristotle, Sir Isaac Newton and Goethe to name a few. There are numerous books on the scientific aspects of colour theory – Google “colour” and you can spend a lifetime reading.

We impart emotional qualities to colours and give them symbolic meanings. Different cultures give colours a variety of meanings. Red can indicate danger or warning – a red stop sign but the red heart is also a romantic symbol. How did we start to the tradition of using pink for girls and blue for boys? In nature colour has a purpose. We have only to take a look at the plumage of male birds. Almost without exception the boy birds outshine the girls in the colour stakes.
It’s comfortable for us not to have to question the colour of everything we see. It’s time-consuming to judge each object rather than just accept that an orange is orange. Yet once we start to analyse the colour of objects our assumptions are constantly challenged.
As with drawing where the base of a vase standing on a table is often drawn flat – the brain knows that it HAS to be flat because it is sitting on a flat table – so too the brain knows the sky is blue, clouds are white, and trees are green. Yet how often is the sky not blue but yellow?
The colour of objects depends on the light they reflect.  We also know that other colours change to way we perceive objects, particularly when complementary colours are adjacent to each other and when their proximity sets up a visual vibration.
Exploring colour and all its mysteries is a fascinating journey.

(For my American friends - I know you think it should be spelt "color" but I do like the "u"! )

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Markets, marketing and an Artist's Open Studio

A big challenge for an artist is getting your work seen, and building up contacts. In a new country it’s doubly difficult. Where to go? Which Exhibitions will work? What sort of work should you show? In the end it’s all trial and error.

Last Saturday I set up a small exhibition at a local market just up the road from where I live. Bridgeman Church has a great sense of community and the place was humming.

My aim there was to start to establish myself as an artist in the local community. My work was well received and enquires for both my art classes and for portrait commissions were encouraging. Hopefully, in the long term this interest will translate into sales. I loved being there chatting to people about my work and my love for what I do.

This week, almost a year since I held a similar event in South Africa before I packed to come here, I am again opening my studio to visitors.

I have been working on a series of small paintings, 8” x 8” oil on canvas - shells, seed pods and flowers. These echo the Artists Blocks that I have done previously. The paintings work well when grouped together. More of these can be seen in this album.






All work will be for sale. Portraits can also be commissioned – just in time to be a special Christmas gift.

More details about the Open Studio can be found by clicking on this link to my Facebook Page.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Community of Artists

Artists need a community. Creating is a solitary experience, but we need to be able to bounce ideas off other artists, share inspirations, and help with the critical appraisal of our efforts.

Pascale's Orchids - oil on canvas - 380mm x 760mm 

© Carol Lee Beckx 2010
Painting in a studio of like-minded fellow artists is an enriching experience. I was really fortunate to have been able to spend one day each week in such a studio, learning and growing as an artist. The camaraderie is not easily replaced. Facing one’s work alone calls for stern self-appraisal and self-criticism. Often poor self-confidence undermines our rational assessment of our work. We need someone else to say – that’s OK you’re on the right path or – why not try this instead?

Thank you, Pascale, for the time I spent in your studio. I hope that I will also be able to create a studio environment where my students can grow in the same way.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Rock, sea and sand

Expressions 2011 is on show this coming weekend in Sandgate, Queensland. The painting below will be exhibited.




Rock, sea and sand - oil on canvas - 910mm x 910mm
© 2011 Carol Lee Beckx

This painting is a favourite of mine. The tactile quality of the massive rocks called for a different way of working with paint. Heavier impasto paint, layered and incised, glazes of colours and texture all contribute to the expression of monumentality and permanence.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Expressions 2011 - an exhibition in Sandgate

It's been a busy painting time for me.There’s another exhibition at Sandgate this weekend. I have three paintings included in the show. I think I've been on a bit of a "Pink Fest" with this one...


Magnolias - oil on canvas - 610mm x 910mm
© 2011 Carol Lee Beckx
 The Shorncliffe Pottery Club @ Sandgate organise this annual event, Expressions 2011, showcasing Pottery, Sculpture, Painting, Photography and Jewellery.

Expressions 2011 will be held in the function room of the Sandgate RSL, Keogh Street, Sandgate

Friday 21 st. October from 6.30 pm - 10.00 pm
Saturday 22 nd. October from 10.00 am - 6.00 pm
Sunday 23 rd. October from 10.00 am - 2.00 pm
If you are in the area, do come along and enjoy the art.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Woodford 2011 Biennial Art Exhibition

Still Life  with citrus - oil on canvas -600mm x 760mm
© 2011 Carol Lee Beckx
The Woodford Community Art Group presents their 2011 Biennial Art Exhibition this weekend. Woodford is a pretty town perhaps better known for the Folk Festival and for the fact that there’s a Correctional Facility in the town! 




The Field - oil on canvas - 700mm x 700mm
© 2011 Carol Lee Beckx

I have three paintings on show - two landscapes and the still life shown at the top of the post. The choice of paintings when showing at a new venue is hard. If one has no prior experience of an exhibition, one has no idea of the kind of work that will be on show.


Kalinga Trees - oil on canvas - 760mm x 1000mm
© 2011 Carol Lee Beckx
Kalinga Trees had it's origin in the watercolour sketches done at Kalinga Park. The Field is a painting that was started in South Africa but which I worked on once here.
The Still life with citrus satisfies my periodic need to paint in a more representational manner. So, I guess, in some ways the three paintings each show part of my artistic personality.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Integrity of the artist - the materials debate

Kalinga Trees - detail

There’s been an ongoing debate between some of my artist friends in South Africa about the quality of materials used to create their paintings. Some advocate a comprehensive list of materials to be attached to each work. This would be rather like the mandatory list of ingredients on food packaging. Personally, I don’t think that’s the way to go. It places the focus on what’s gone into the work in the way of materials as though using top notch materials will ensure a masterpiece. It ignores the artistic ability of the artist and the concept behind the work.

 
Contemporary art has produced much that has a short lifespan. When I was at art school, acrylic paints were fairly new. Many artists made use of cheap household paints and today many still do with varying degrees of success and longevity. There are many artworks that will exist briefly before self-destructing.

Here in Australia all kinds of art materials, both imported and locally manufactured, are plentiful. Cheap canvasses and paints can be bought from hardware stores, supermarkets as well as speciality art stores. Some products are to be avoided at all costs while others are of better quality. It’s really a case of buyer beware.

The Field - detail

The good news for me is that oil paints are more affordable here than in South Africa. In particular, the Australian brand, Art Spectrum provides artists with a wide range of wonderful high quality pigments.

The irony is that for an artist, using the best equipment actually makes one’s task easier. A good brush makes expressive marks with ease and if cared for properly, will last for years. Top quality canvas is a joy to paint on and with artist’s quality oils in particular; the colours are loaded with pigment making a little go a long way. One has only to compare the lovely grey that results blending Winsor & Newton artist’s Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna and Titanium White with the same mixture using student grade paints

When painting in watercolour, using inferior brushes and poor quality paper spell disaster. If you’re a novice you really need all the help you can get. You don’t want to add a fight with the materials to your list of problems when learning a new medium.

So use the best you can afford. In this way you show respect both for yourself as an artist with integrity and for your collector who has invested in your work.
*The images above are details of paintings that will be on show this coming weekend at the Woodford Biennial Art Exhibition.




Monday, 26 September 2011

Trees - a fascination

So, you would wonder – what’s exciting about gum trees? 
At first glance there’s repetitiveness, a sameness of shape and colour. But when you take a closer look there’s a wealth of magical neutrals, a world in camouflage. The colours of the forest are muted, soft greys and greens, subtle, gentle and dusty.
 
There’s’ something humbling about standing beneath these tall giants. Some of my first small watercolours done here were inspired by walks near Windarra.

I have been sketching in the local parks, using light washes of watercolour; exploring the textures with a fine pen; and then moving on to canvas for a larger painting. Light and shade is the central theme.





The textures and colours of the bark suggest that there will be a move to more abstract work in time.  Experiments with a ground of textured acrylic then using impasto oils are the start of an investigation into surface and layers.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Creating in the garden


The last few weeks have had an altered creative focus. I have been working in my garden. I have always had a strong connection to plants and have loved gardening. For a number of years I had a landscape design business so the task of planning a garden was a familiar one but for the first time I had a completely blank canvas in my own garden.

Since I moved into my own home in Brisbane I have been impatient to change the back yard. The small courtyard garden had been sadly neglected over the years. There’s great satisfaction in turning an empty tract of land into a beautiful garden.

Finally the hard landscaping has been done and the planting can begin. After a visit to a local nursery I came home with some favourites – a white Azalea, French lavender, scented Jasmine and a Rosemary bush.

There’s something fascinating about watching plants grow and see the first bloom on a new plant…standing idly, hose in hand, watering the garden is a good way to relax – it’s going to be such fun.


Monday, 12 September 2011

A visit to the Archibald Portrait exhibition


Yesterday a friend and I drove from Brisbane down to the Tweed River Gallery just over the border in New South Wales. Our visit was to see the Archibald Portrait Exhibition. It  was the most perfect day and the gallery is in an idyllic setting, on a hilltop overlooking the winding Tweed River, lush farmlands below and with the mountains as a backdrop. The view reminded me so much of the Kwa Zulu Natal midlands in South Africa.

The Gallery was originally built alongside the river in 1923 moved to its present location in 2004. A  modern gallery creates wonderful exhibition spaces.Narrow windows frame the spectacular views connecting the landscape to the interior.




The Gallery was packed with people – we wondered why there was such a crowd but put the crush down to the popularity of the exhibition. Then we realised that it was the last day before the Archibald moved on to another regional location, the Moree Plains Gallery.
Photography was not allowed in the exhibition so please click on the links to see images of the paintings.There were 800 entries in this year’s competition, from which 41 paintings  were selected. There’s a wide range of styles, media and sizes from the huge – Ben Quilty’s winning entry of Margaret Olley to the minute. The self portrait, October by Natasha Bieniek is the size of a matchbox - evidence that bigger is not always better.
An unusual mix of watercolour, gouache, acrylic and ink was used on a large canvas for a portrait entitled Mother (a portrait of Cate) by Del Kathryn Barton a previous prize winner.
This video clip of the Exhibition shows some of the work being readied for judging. It gives both an idea of scale as well as an interview with the winning artist. Quilty’s portrait of Margaret Olley shows wonderful handling of very thick oil paint – he says so much with so few absolutely perfectly placed paint-laden strokes. Parts of the face remain bare canvas - there’s no fiddling with paint here – just bold, dramatic application, so thick in parts you feel that it’s going to fall off the canvas. It’s a worthy winner and a wonderful homage to Olley who died in July 2011.



Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A year of Art Matters


Flowers in a bucket - oil on canvas Carol Lee Beckx © 2011
It’s almost a year since I started writing Art Matters with the first post - A new beginning. During the time I was packing up my life in South Africa in preparation for my move here to Brisbane, putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) helped me express myself when there were times that I couldn’t paint.

It’s been an eventful year. I de-cluttered and sorted and bid farewell to family and friends. In December I started life in a new country and new city. I shared the traumatic effect on Queensland of the January floods followed later by the devastation of Cyclone Yasi.

Gradually life returned to normal. I found my way around the city and made new friends.  I love having wonderful art galleries in the city to visit. Moving into my own home a couple of months ago reunited me with my belongings and I was able to start teaching. I love the interaction with those in my art groups and it’s rewarding to see their progress after just a few short weeks.
When I began blogging I had no idea who would be interested in reading my musings about art and life. At first I knew so little I wasn’t aware how to access the blog’s statistics! It’s therefore quite gratifying to see that I have readers from a number of different places across the world from Russia to Ecuador, USA, Germany, South Africa and Australia. My thanks to everyone who has stopped by, your interest is much appreciated.
While designing my website I discovered some wonderful artist’s blogs. I have learnt so much from looking at other artist’s paintings and seeing how they approach their art practice. There is a raft of painters doing a Daily Painting and posting every day without fail. Regular readers might remember I tried that back in January – this was a flash in the pan and then life got in the way. It was really difficult if not impossible for me to paint something worthwhile, photograph or scan it and post every single day. I have great admiration for those who manage this while maintaining a high standard.
An artist who succeeds is Julian Merrow-Smith - Postcard form Provence. He has been doing an average of five paintings a week since 2005. Each morning I enjoy the fresh delight of a new painting in my inbox.
Another blog that is well written and entertaining is Life and art – working through the absurdity of life. Gillian Holding is both an accomplished artist and writer. She also posts a daily digital self-portrait in  A Daily self- reflection - showing both talent and staying power.
Liz Steel is does the most wonderful sketches and her travel notebooks are an inspiration - her blog is Liz and Borromini.Katherine Tyrrell's Making a Mark , one of the top art blogs is a must read for artists.
 
There have been a number of artists who have confessed lately that daily posting is intrusive and disruptive to their development as an artist. This happens when the deadline becomes insistent and there’s no time for reflection, planning and self-assessment as an artist. The other problems with daily painting and blogging is that unless one is extremely imaginative the work will become repetitive and of indifferent quality.
The more I paint the less time I have to write. My solution is to write and post only when I have something to say. Unfortunately the intermittant nature of posting means that readers may forget you.

So please don’t forget the solution - sign up for an email subscription and you will know when there is a new post - and please do leave a comment every now and again - bloggers love to get feedback from their readers.
Now – I’m off to do a little more painting…

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Still life - yesterday, today and tomorrow.

On Saturday afternoon I did a Still Life demonstration at Art Shed Brisbane, a jewel of an art store. It's an artist's delight containing many tempting materials. The demo lasts two hours with a short break at half time. It's not enough time to complete a painting but sufficient to make a good start. I have worked on the painting for another couple of hours, altering some colours, re-drawing certain sections and adding more juicy colour to the poppies.
There is an album showing the process of Blue vase with Poppies on my Facebook Page.

Blue vase with Poppies – oil on canvas 600mm x 600mm
 © 2011 Carol Lee Beckx

It’s fitting that I should be writing about still life at the moment. Australia has recently lost a fine proponent of the genre – Margaret Olley. While her contemporaries experimented with various other styles and ‘isms’ she concentrated on still life and painted the objects in her home in bold vibrant colour, delighting in the simple things in life. She was one of Australia's treasures.

The Still Life genre traces its history back to the Dutch term “Still leven”. The Italian term is “natura morte” which literally means dead nature and indeed many early paintings featured dead birds. The artists wanted to emphasise that their paintings had substance and were not simply indulgent paintings of beautiful objects. So within the paintings there were deeper meanings reminding the viewer of the transience of human life. This was symbolised by wilting flowers, mouldy fruit or the inclusion of a skull.
There is a story from Greece going back to 440 BC that tells of a competition between two of the best painters, Zeuxis and Parrharsius. One painted a bowl of grapes that the birds tried to peck they were so lifelike. He thought he would be the winner and went to look at his rivals’ work. He saw a painting covered by a curtain and tried to push the curtain aside – only to discover that the curtain was in fact painted. Guess who won that round?    
During the Medieval period – there were no still life paintings as most were of religious subjects and the style was largely symbolic. Towards the beginning of the 14th century things started to change and by the following century with the invention of perspective, artists were now able to represent objects realistically showing form and volume.
The first artist to realistically represent simple objects was a Venetian, Jacopo Barbaro who painted the Still Life with Partridge and Iron Gloves 1504 which is in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. He signed his work too – but did so on a small piece of paper painted on the bottom of the picture.
Paul Cezanne said “I shall conquer Paris with an apple” and Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers are among the best known Impressionist works. The genre has had many changes over the years and in the Twentieth century there were many variations.
And now in 2011 the still life moves off the picture plane and on to the gallery floor as still life objects become installations. with the use of computer generated images allows the artist to manipulate images at will.

Monday, 1 August 2011

A mixed bag - clouds, quotes and virtual quicksand.

There is a cool breeze but the sun is warm so I’ve moved up to the little balcony off my bedroom to write. The clouds are constantly moving and changing. It will a good place to watch the sunset.

A few weeks ago I was reminded how disposable everything in our world has become. My printer that does/did everything so beautifully (except make tea) decided that it didn’t like the print head anymore. It was a terminal failure. The sad part was that replacing this one little part, albeit essential, would cost way more than a brand new one. So into the heap of useless  trash it goes - a far cry indeed from the days when socks were darned and collars turned. It seems to make nonsense of my efforts to live a 'green' life - recycling and being conscious of waste. 

During the last weeks my priority has been unpacking and organising. The plus factor to all this organising is that I have unearthed a journal from December 2009. It’s always interesting to look back on plans one had and then see what really happened. Much of the writing is about everyday events but there are little gems culled from reading here and there. Unfortunately, some of these will remain untagged, uncredited and anonymous as I was not always careful to note the source of the quote.
For instance: “yesterday will always be yesterday, it’s what we do with the ever-moving now that matters…” and then another: “in learning navigation, there are two things that are important – where you are now and where you are trying to get to”

And in a similar vein, this time I can give it the correct accreditation Edward De Bono said:
" You can analyse the past but you have to design the future."
All too often we remain caught up in the past – re-living and regretting what has gone instead of planning the next forward step. Sometimes being content with the present is sufficient.
Here is another gem – this person was talking about checking emails and social network sites first thing in the morning – he says “It’s like being sucked into a giant pool of virtual quicksand” 

This is good advice that I intend to follow – paint first then check email and Facebook!






Friday, 15 July 2011

Sinister pools - the story of a painting

Sinister Pools Triptych - oil on canvas
Carol Lee Beckx ©2010
High in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa near Garden Castle, the Umzimkulu River spills out of the mountains and starts its journey to the sea. The river twists and turns its way through fertile farmland. As one turns off the main road from the village of Underberg to drive into the mountains, the river is alongside the road. The water tumbling over rocky cascades thrills adrenalin junkies on canoes.
In between there are deep dark pools that are part of the lore of the local trout fishermen. The mist rises off the river in winter at dawn and I imagine the atmosphere is dark, cold and sinister, hence the name.

The triptych is a gentler version of the scene. I was not up at dawn to photograph the river and I haven’t battled with elusive trout. The day I was there it was sunny and clear. In the distance, the mountains were a soft lilac contrasting with the sharp green of the fields.

For a closer look at Sinister Pools try this link to Google Earth latitude -29.7755769503, longitude =29.4647043761

Sinister Pools is currently on view at Red Hill Gallery , 61 Musgrave Road Red Hill Brisbane QLD 4059

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Surrealism through a child's eyes

Viewing Surrealism The Poetry of Dreams through the eyes of a seven year old is an enlightening experience.The exhibition is currently on view at GoMA, Brisbane.  Many adults have great difficulty understanding the often bizarre concepts of Surrealism. In fact, many Surrealists would confess that they did not understand much of what they were doing. Moreover, because the work originated in dreams and the subconscious, understanding the work was perhaps not a priority.


The Gallery thoughtfully has explanatory notes alongside many of the works, helping an adult trying to explain the inexplicable to a child. In GoMA  Surrealism for kids has fun activities that will engage children (and adult children as well). Using a drawer full of various household items they can can create their own Surrealist sculptures, take a photo (the camera is cunningly hidden at the side of the booth) and then send the images via text or email. There is the opportunity to make a collage of cut-outs in the style of Max Ernst, or embellish an ink blot to draw their own ideas.




In the Queensland Art Gallery we were fascinated by Artist’s Choice: Marion Drew - Buoyancy.She has curated works form the Gallery’s Collection relating to water. A mixture of paintings, sculptures and photographs from all historical periods gives an interesting insight into the varied works in the Collection.

Then in another space the photo-realistic paintings amazed us with the precise detail that made each part super- real. Some parts are actually real - the steel rule and the drawing pin holding up the string of the painted album cover aren't painted but the real deal. The tempation to touch is almost over-whelming!


Outside the sunlight shining through a Geodesic-domed sculpture makes abstract patterns on the Zoysia grass, beckoning the kids to play on the grass in the coloured light.


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Moving house - the final destination



At last I have emptied the last box and removed the packaging from the paintings that travelled with me from South Africa. This weekend saw the end of a journey that started in April 2008 when I decided to move to Australia. I am settled in my own home and my studio is organised. I look forward to many happy hours of painting and teaching here.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Drawing in Madame Tojo's Coffee Palace

In a side road off the main bustle of the Gold Coast there is this delightful haven. It’s a coffee shop with a difference. Indeed, it's a Coffee Palace. The comfortable armchairs are upholstered in a range of wonderful brocade fabrics. There’s an eclectic mix of collectibles: shop mannequins, ostrich feathers, leather suitcases from a bygone era and sumptuous red swagged curtains with red roses everywhere.

Chandeliers at Madame Tojo's Pen & ink in Moleskin sketchbook

Crystal Chandeliers provided a warm glow at the counter. Otherwise the lighting was subdued and restful. In another corner a tower of empty cigar boxes stretched to the ceiling and a bronze eagle swooped across the room. Alongside, an empty wooden birdcage provided a hook for the powder room key.

Tea at Madame Tojo's - Pen & ink in Moleskin Sketchbook
My tea was served in a delightful blue and white Chinese tea-set complete with a sprig of mint. Quotes painted on the table top provided reading matter. Ornate gilded mirrors reflected the crystal decanters that lined the window sills and multiplied the space crowded with so many interesting objects.

I was able sit for some time, undisturbed, drinking my tea and drawing.