Sunday, January 31, 2010


The Brush Of Angels' Wings Oil on linen 50 x 92 cm 2008

Collective Memory Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2008

Forever Connected Oil on linen 120 x 80 cm 2008

I have been painting a smallish painting about change. I should be finished in a day or so. Once completed I will upload an image for my BLOG. A woman with trees growing from her heart, feet and hands stands in the middle of change............

In the meantime I thought I'd upload the above three images....and why? Well, they have all been selected for the 2010 Brisbane Senses Art: 31st Rotary Art Spectacular which is being curated by Simon Wright, Director of Griffiths Artworks and Queensland College of Art, and Senior Lecturer [adjunct] at Griffith University. The exhibition and prize will be at Brisbane's Riverside Centre from 18-27 March. Here is the website
where you can read about the prize, the exhibition and the charity partners which Rotary helps support. All the artwork is for sale.

I have previously written about all three paintings:
It is obvious that all three paintings have a core theme of life which is represented by my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif. Fundamentally, I aim to search for ways to allow archetypal symbols to 'speak' to me, and you, and us in the 21st century. Archetypal symbols can be seen as old and even outdated... yet they are intrinsically without age...agelessness means they do not have to be tethered to any particular century or aesthetic. It is up to us to 'see' and search for the secrets and essences which give us meaning in our time. This does not make archetypal symbols makes them strong. They could be seen as the universe's gifts to us...we just have to learn how to unwrap them. I'd like to think that artists [all types of artists] start the unwrapping and this is our gift.
So, if you want to attend the opening of the Rotary Art Spectacular, go to the website and order your tickets. I went last year and I can tell you, it is a very enjoyable night out.


Monday, January 25, 2010


Frisson Oil on linen 84 x 147cm 2010

The Hidden Seen In My Mind's Eye Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2004

I am working on a painting of a woman with trees growing out of her feet, hands, head and heart...and I am taking a moment as I walk away from the painting...I need to let it breath and for me to let go some frustration. Yes, this is just part of the process, the ebb and flow, the toooo and fro...and so on. It gives me time to 'see' the painting with new eyes when I go back into my studio [well garage!]. It gives the opportunity of a distance which reveals.

So, while I take my breathing moment I thought I'd write about the painting I uploaded in my last post. The painting is called 'Frisson' and whilst I wrote a post with it as the only and lead image, I did not write anything about it. Instead I wafted on about recipes for a frisson........

As you can see I have reloaded 'Frisson' and have uploaded an older work called 'The Hidden Seen In My Mind's Eye'. As I was reviewing my image files I noted, or felt, that the same sense was evident in both paintings. With 'Frisson' I wanted to create a soft, shimmering painting, and I wanted to experiment with using purple and yellow, and all the tones in between. I wanted the frisson feeeling to be one of tingles, a missed heart beat and luscious anticipation. I have to say though, the painting took a lot longer than a nano-second of tingles or a missed heart beat! But, I am happy with the meeting of soft colours, as if distance has melted upon the horizon, heralding the darkness of night and the inevitable rising of a new day. I also think the meeting of colours is like the momentary light brush of someone's hand or lips...yes someone you really like!!! It also whispers the flutter of angels' wings!

I have used my much loved tree-of-life to create the sense of a life force, as if tingles are travelling through a vascular system.

' The Hidden Seen In My Mind's Eye' is obviously an older painting, but I think it also heralds the new day as we witness the softness upon the horizon. I am very fond of this painting and I am surprised it has not sold as it receives a lot of attention when people see it. Obviously THE right person and THE right situation have not happened....yet!

I have mentioned horizons a few times in this post. As regular readers of my BLOG know, I often use landscape elements as metaphors. To me an horizon can also represent our own horizons, limitations, fears, goals, etc. Once an horizon is reached it disappears as other horizons present themselves... and they need not always be in front of us. Reaching an horizon can engender an 'Ah Ha'... or looking back from where we came can also shock us with an 'Ah Ah '... a revelatory kind. Horizons that we see with our eye, of eye ball and pupil, need to be mediated with those horizons we cannot see, because all horizons disappear once reached. We need to be able to imagine what is beyond the horizon. This imagining is imperative in a global world in which we live locally to ensure we are compassionate towards ourselves and others.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


 Frisson Oil on linen 85 x 147 cm 2009/10

My exhibition in March is called 'Frisson'. The meaning of frisson...a a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill. [ORIGIN French. Source-Oxford Dictionary]

It is such a great word. Think of the pleasure in capturing the moment when you meet someone whose attraction to you causes sudden gut tightening feelings of excitement, fear and thrill. This private yet sensual, earthy, tingly and anticipatory experience is a ‘frisson’. It is full of potential and it can be both scary and exciting! can be replayed over and over in our imaginations as we fall into the romance of the situation. Our imaginations allow us to repeat the experience.

I sense that 'Ah Ah' moments are small frissons because the 'Ah Ah' is felt in the gut, heart and the head. The world shifts a little as the 'Ah Ah' becomes both a physical and an emotional experience. I'd like to suggest that the potential is the change which may occur if new realisations are acted upon. This could be physical action or new ways of thinking, but both leading to change over time.

In a previous post I said I would write an open ended recipe for a Frisson. I never follow recipes when I cook, so that's why my Frisson recipe will be open ended. I don't follow recipes for many reasons, including not liking restrictions, not having the right ingredients in my cupboard or that weevils have attacked my cupboard contents, to expired use-by-dates... You guessed it, I am not an avid cook, much to the suffering of my family.

So, to start this Frisson:
  • A large cup of excitement
  • A small shell of fear

  • A tank of anticipation

  • A thrill of potential

  • A quiver of dread

  • A stirring of eros

  • A sentient dose of sensuality

  • A pinch of gut wrenching

  • A nano-second of a missed heart beat

  • A 'Ah Ah' moment

  • A sweep of tingles

In my previous post 'LOVE' I wrote about some thoughts I had about art and its potential to change our brain maps. I wrote this post after reading Dr. Norman Doidge's marvellous book 'The Brain That Changes Itself'. I am re-reading the book because it is so fascinating.

So, if looking at a painting causes an 'Ah Ah' moment or a frisson, maybe this is a clue that art does have the potential to precipitate change, because frissons and 'Ah Ahs' are felt in the body, heart and mind. Even after seeing the painting, a person can keep thinking about it, replaying the first sighting in their imaginations. This is why some people re-visit their institutional galleries to see their favourite paintings again and again. It is much more than an intellectual or entertainment choice. The replay is a repetition, which must affect the brain and induce the firing of synapses and the release of chemicals. Hopefully, this is why people might buy a painting too...???

My middle daughter saw 'The Resurrection' by Tinteretto at the Queensland Art Gallery when she was just under 3 years old. I could not get her to move and on each subsequent visit to the gallery [up until the dreadful teens arrived] she would make her way the painting to sit and ponder. And...the many questions. I can tell you she not only had her brain working, but mine too. Answering some of the questions stretched me too, because the probed far beyond any art history I knew!

If art can cause change... it can also cause or assist the maintenance of prevailing patterns eg: the dominance of negativity and worst case scenarios which humankind seems drawn to in the general media and superficial entertainment and celebrity.

BUT, we do have 'free will' and thus choice! Maybe these are two more ingredients to add to my Frisson recipe!


My entry 'Elemental' for the Stanthorpe Art Prize has been pre-selected for the award which is announced on Feb 26th. The selector/judge is John McDonald [Art Critic Sydney Morning Herald and author of Art of Australia Vol 1]

Friday, January 15, 2010


So far untitled Gouache on paper 30 x 21 cm 2010

I have just returned from a short glorious holiday in New Zealand. I did not trip around, except for a couple of nights in Auckland, but treated myself to a wonderful quiet indulgence in one spot which was SO worth saving my pennies for. I went with a friend and we stayed at The Boatshed on Waiheke Island and everything was magnificent. Waiheke Island is about half an hour by ferry from Auckland and it is truly a beautiful place. AND, The Boatshed was amazing with its fantastic architecture, incredible views, acres of flowering agapanthus, delectible food, quiet elegance and so on. So, if you are visiting my BLOG from places well beyond the Pacific, I highly recommend a holiday in New Zealand, especially during the Northern winter. New Zealand's weather was just perfect....not freezing like Europe or HOT like Australia!

We had a few nights in Auckland...or we were meant to! I will never fly PacificBlue again. This was my first [and last experience]. Our first night which was meant to be in Auckland ended up being in Christchurch, because the plane from Brisbane was firstly delayed...and then cancelled. We were instructed to to stay at the Christchurch airport despite originally being told we would be sent to a hotel...yes no sleep! We were then put on a plane to Wellington and then to Auckland. Our 3 hour flight from Brisbane to Auckland ended up taking us all night. Not impressed. However, I have just flown back today with Air NZ and it was fantastic. No comparison.

So, in the midst of doing nothing on my holiday cooking, cleaning, washing, mowing, shopping...or children!!!!!...I did paint some small gouache on paper paintings. One of these is above. I am really interested in the play between straight lines and curved ones, especially the curved lines of a tree and its branches. The beauty of gouache is that you can really stretch it, pummel it, play with it. I use very thick watercolour paper and lots of water, and love watching the paint react to the water. It does amazing things which, I can then choose to work with or not. Once the paper has dried it is fun to rework areas, fill in with colour, overpaint and so on. The painting above is full of movement and stems from ideas, thoughts and memories I have written about in a couple of recent posts and

I am reading Norman Doidge's MD book 'The Brain That Changes Itself' again for the second time. Please read my previous post for some of my thoughts about art and the brain...! I have more thoughts brewing.

AND, now that the holiday period here in Australia is coming to an end, I am full power into working towards my show 'Frisson' at Joshua Levi Galleries opening 4th March.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Love Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm

Happy New Year to everyone! I actually saw the New Year in this year...on a boat [quite a big one too] moored off Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia. It was a really fabulous way to see the New Year in. I have a story about me and boats, but that's for another time...I MUCH prefer big boats to small boats.

I am still reading 'The Brain That Changes Itself' by Dr. Norman Doidge. Yes, I am taking it slowly, but I read at night and fall asleep far too quickly. This book is one I will be re-reading though. The idea that the brain can change itself has been refuted/questioned for a long time, but this book chronicles the many years of research and evidence that the brain can, indeed, change itself. It is a multi faceted book looking at how the brain can change to accomodate and override impediments such as blindness, illness and injury amongst other things including attention deficit disorders. It also looks at the changes caused by culture including technologies such as TV, Internet, video games etc... and etc

I have some ideas about visual art [specifically painting] and changes to the brain. These ideas are not whole yet, as they seem to drift into my thoughts and then slip away. I am thinking to myself, is this me experiencing changes in my brain...and if I give up trying to 'catch' my ideas will my brain just slide into a comfortable but not invigorative life? Well, I am going to 'catch' my thoughts, for a couple of reasons, one being that I [humbly I might add] think they are potentially really interesting thoughts and secondly I am now determined that my brain will not slip into a lazy atrophy.

Apparently, the brain changes and is invigorated by doing new things, not necessarily or just by getting better and better at those things one does all the time. So, new concepts may trigger off new ways of thinking and thus neuronal activity, just as learning to dance will stimulate our neurons. It is called brain plasticity or neuroplasticity.

So, I am thinking I might take dancing lessons, because whilst I love to dance and I think I am a really good dancer [my children laugh at me though!] new dance steps will get my neurons dancing too. I want to learn how to dance like Brazilians! Our lovely Brazilian student who stayed with us for 5 months in early 09 could dance OH so well.

I have even started doing some of those quizz type activities in the newspaper...just to get my brain going in different directions. I am not having a huge amount of success, but I am improving each day!

But, back to my fleeting thoughts about visual art and its potential brain changing agency. It seems to me that there is a very fashionable taste element in contemporary art. This art has a graphic appearance, often almost cartoonish. Very realistic images with quirky graphic or colour elements are also fashionable. So, I ask fashionability an outcome of mass incremental brain changes in the general population 'fashioned' by influences such as TV, video games etc? If it is, then any art which is fashionable cannot be provoking in the sense of contributing to changes in thinking, outlook or perspective. It is a follower of fashion rather than a leader.

So, let's move on from fashionability to art which is not fashionable. Does, non-fashionable art hold the potential to stimulate change and activity in the brain? I mean the kind of thinking or imagining which is not just a repeated version of a the broad visual genre offered by television or video games or advertising. I would say that non-fashionable art is successful in its non-fashionability if it causes people to wonder and ask questions...not questions that sit on the surface of description, but questions that probe our consciousness, beliefs, history, memories and relationships. Art which stimulates those Ah Ah moments when a new realisation hits you with a bang and you can almost feel your brain jolt with the stimulation. And yes there can be some Ha Ha moments too, but not the kind of humour which makes fun of others, is a repeated version of a sitcom type situation or is grounded in superficial slapstick.

So, I will keep thinking about visual art and its agency as a neuron stimulant! But, as readers of my BLOG know, these thoughts fit with my ideas of art as a catalytic agent for agenda-less, but not directionless conversations. It seems axiomatic to me that these conversations would be new, revelatory and cause change not only within a person but potentially throughout the world.

I suppose the clue is to be able to sidestep 'fashion'...maybe that's where dancing lessons will come in handy!

LOVE Oil on Linen 100 x 100 cm 09/10 SOLD

This is a subtle painting using my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif. There are two trees which form a circle and where they meet the colour turns to a soft purple. I have to say, when I look at this painting I feel something right in my heart. I know this sounds really gooey but even my children have said the same thing. When I was painting this work I knew I wanted to paint 'love'...and it just came out. I did not title this painting after it was completed as it was always going to be 'Love'. And this love can be whatever kind you want it to be...and it can change from day to day if you like! As, I have said before every converstion, whether it be with oneself or with others, that is triggered by one of my paintings, provides another completion. I do not complete my work...and I like the idea that there maybe multiple completions.