Sunday, May 25, 2014

New stretchers [Belgian Linen] 
Please read my previous post called The Blank Canvas
So, I am painting...the large stretched canvas in the photo above. The two photos below show early stages. I am now working on more colour, more impact, light and shade, depth. It's a constant state of wonderful problem solving.
 A preliminary coat of paint
As I work, the painting 'speaks' to me. Yes, truly it does! It can veto my ideas! It can also 'grasp' my hand with approval! It can pose questions too. This is when I place the in-progress painting in a position where I will see it when I walk back into the studio...and then I walk out. I do other stuff, like write a BLOG post...and later when I return to the studio, I see the painting with fresh eyes. Sometimes I rework an area, other times I see something new, and on other occasions I fall in love with the painting...until it 'asks' me more questions I cannot immediately 'answer'...and I walk out again!
Yes, it is kind of like a relationship...

And, subsequent layers of paint.

Sometimes people ask me if it is hard to see paintings go ie: sell. Hey, no! I am happy they find new homes. It's a thrill to walk into someone else's house or business and see one of my paintings. Truly a thrill!
I also have them hanging in my house. But, they get changed very regularly as they go to exhibitions, competitions, sell etc. The photo below shows you how my work looks hanging in a domestic situation. Don't you just love the 1970s wood panelling! Actually, I have grown to like it a lot...time has given me plenty of space to get used to it. Funny thing is, it would have been very expensive in the 70s. I did not put it there...the previous owners did.

But, getting back to the work in progress above.

It's a large painting, at this very minute leant up against my car parked in the carport, so that when I walk back into the studio [aka garage] I can see it through the open garage doors. Yes, I had reached a point where too many questions were muddling me, so I walked away...and I am writing this BLOG post.

I am actually looking forward to walking back into the studio. I have been painting long enough to know that the process is exciting. The problems are never really that bad, because the process gives me strategies to deal with them. Long ago when I was younger I would wipe out, tear up, get angry and frustrated...but with age I've learnt that the impasses are just as creative as the moments and hours when everything falls into place.

The new painting will be themed along the lines of the thoughts I expressed in my last post Prelude To Landscape And, I am happy to report that the painting is not's just asking questions!


Monday, May 12, 2014


Fingerprints of Existence Oil on linen 36 x 36 cm
In this new painting Fingerprints of Existence I have tried to capture a sense of life from before time, after no time...without time...but with a kind of knowing or maybe a pre-knowing.
So what triggered me?
  • The recent discovery of what scientists think is the signature of gravitational waves from the BIG BANG. A discovery which apparently supports the theory of inflation and strengthens the proposition that we live in a Multiverse. If you want to know more start HERE with an article in Scientific American. these gravitational waves, in my mind at least, conjure thoughts about fingerprints and line-markings on our hands. So, they are like identifiers of some identifier of life? A marking of existence.
What made me think more?
  • Repetition of patterns in nature and the Universe. Think of the tree! Yes, I am going to write about my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life. I suggest the tree became such an important and persistent symbol because it is such a remarkable reminder of life systems. Now, I am not suggesting that this has always been at a conscious level. For example, the human vascular system was not really understood until William Harvey's research in the early 17th century. However, prior to this there was an understanding of some kind of system. The branching tree shape, I propose, has always stirred a kind of knowing, as if stirring a memory, one at the cellular level. As the centuries have flown by science and exploration have revealed so much about our planet, humanity, the plant and animal kingdoms, space and the universe. The tree-like pattern repeats itself in the's like a universal fingerprint!
  • In the painting I imagine the tree trunk as holding the elements and conditions that existed just prior to the BIG BANG... just prior to the massive inflation that was the BANG. The tree cascades from the trunk, spreading its code for existence across the canvas ie: THE Universe/Multiverse.
The question that intrigues me...and I am sure
  • What was before the BIG BANG...before the elements and conditions that propelled the BANG?
Regular readers will know of my intense interest in the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life. I employ its marvellous potency in many of my paintings. This potency is all about life! The more I explore its immense treasures the more I discover about myself and the world. It has not been an age-old symbol of life, 'speaking' to people across cultures and eons, without reason! It 'speaks' to us at all levels, across times, even outside time and space, within a Universal/Multiversal psyche and dimension! Maybe like a code teasing for attention...
And to my untether landscape from Earth-bound horizons. Regular readers will also know of this interest. In a sense Fingerprints of Existence is a landscape of existence! Well, when you think about it, the BIG BANG was actually the precursor...the prequel to it housed the elements that lead to landscape. And, when you look at your fingerprints, your palm, your cardiovascular system, your  neighbourhood water system and more...the branching shape of a tree unfolds revealing, what could be called, the template for landscape. It exists, quite rightly so too, inside us...maybe it is us?
Within an art historical context, the landscape genre has evolved over time. Sub-genres such as the urban landscape, the idyll, the sublime, bride in the landscape, traditional and modern, seascape, futurist, dystopian, environmental etc etc all carry elements of the human psyche and visually parlays humanity's understanding of its environment at particular times in history. With contemporary cosmological research revealing more and more about the Universe [if not the Multiverse] it's time to take landscape beyond Earth-bound horizons....because whilst Earth maybe our home, the Universe/multiverse is our environment. Metaphorically speaking the Universal/Multiversal perspective implores us to seek new dimensions within too.
A cosmic perspective of Earth begs questions of ownership of land...surely we are all custodians of the planet...manmade boundaries seem somewhat insignificant when viewed through a cosmic lens? At this point in time, we ie: humanity do not have an alternative home...Earth is it! Let's work together...can we do it? I suggest rethinking concepts of landscape, and how landscape is depicted, may help shift human perspectives on a multitude of things...
And, talking about landscape, ownership of land, human perspectives...I recently attended the opening of a very interesting and thought provoking exhibition Conflict: Contemporary Responses to War at the University of Queensland Art Museum. Indeed, conflict and war are, more often than not, about land, boundaries and what riches the land may hold. But, again a cosmic perspective proffers a very clear picture of the futility of war. I am going to return to the exhibition to have a closer look at the work of around 50 artists in the show.
I really enjoyed chatting to one of the artists Fatima Killeen, a Moroccan born Canberra based artist. Her work resonated with a deep sense of intelligence and heart. She has three colour collographs in the exhibition. They do not scream for attention, but when you look at them you are drawn in and captivated by, not only the literal layers of her technique, but also multiple layers of meaning.

In case you missed my post about my recent travels abroad please click HERE

Very cold day in Budapest


Sunday, May 04, 2014


I Spy Oil on linen 36 x 36 cm 2014

I heard a story the other day. A story of a real event. A young person was reversing a that this person has driven before, but does not drive regularly. While waiting for the beeps...that help indicate if a car is getting too close to objects...the car smashed into a wall. You see...the car did not have a reverse parking sensing system, yet the driver, used to having such a system, still waited for the beeps.

Regular readers will know where I am going with this!

Yes. I have a concern that reliance on technology...even simple things like parking sensors and the like...will 'train' us to be unaware of our environment. We won't even think to do simple things like...look out the windows! How would we cope with the game I SPY? And, that brings me to a couple of previous posts I've written about this very topic. One is even titled Looking Out The Windows  Another is called Looking In The Rear Vision Mirror - Cosmically Speaking  And, another, possibly more obliquely related is Flick Of A Switch

Here's a quote, to give you a gist of these previous posts, from Looking In The Rear Vision Mirror - Cosmically Speaking 

So, 'looking out the windows' helps us literally and metaphorically practise perspective, seeing the close and far distances. Handy, in an age where repeated and continuous experience with the short distance between eye and screen exposes us to, and threatens us with, myopic sight and perspective.
In the middle of writing my last post I also thought...well what about the metaphoric possibilities of the rear vision mirror. If you want to know where I went with this metaphor click HERE
North South East West Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm [unframed]
So, now I see a metaphor in waiting for the beeps!
If we wait for the beeps, because we assume they will warn us of impending disaster, we relinquish all kinds of things, from dexterous understanding of our physical environment, actually looking and seeing, employing innate sense...and ultimately power, self control, self preservation, critical reasoning and more. I am not saying that we eliminate technological warning signals, but we must be careful that they are not the only tools and capabilities employed. They are not a replacement, nor even simply an augmentation...they are just another tool in our 'perception kit'. We need to be careful that an assumption of the existence of warning signals does not train us to NOT see for ourselves, thereby emptying our 'kit' of a range of practical human knowing when to ask questions, use imagination to predict and so on. Indeed a kit with only one, or at best, a couple of tools, is not going to help when technology is compromised...or not available. A tool kit, full of tools, is an excellent one when its full with everything that is available. AND, a full kit means you have the scope to double-check eg: if you don't hear beeps, then look out the window...and employ powers of visual perspective to gauge and determine action!
For an insight into tool kits I invite you to read my previous post called Tool Kit
Now, some might think I am a technophobe. Well, I am not. It's just that I have been around it for a long time. You see, my Dad is a HAM radio enthusiast. He was a grain farmer, but preferred to spend time in his HAM shack, which was full of amazing techno gear. He made our first TV in the early 60s, our first record player about the same time. We always had the latest cameras, movie cameras, telephone systems and more. And, being a farmer, there was plenty of scope for various kinds of technology with machinery etc. My brothers are both involved in technology, one even in areas like Big Data and super computing.
So back to waiting for the beeps: There are so many What ifs?
If we relinquish practical skills, our sensory perception skills, imaginations, intuitions etc to an assumption that technology is the only provider a plethora of services/capabilities, including warning signals...then I think we are at risk of missing a glaring warning signal...and that is in the word assumption. BEEP  BEEP!
A reliance on technology creates a vulnerability in that it could be compromised eg: hackers, breakdown, cyber attack etc. Couple this with the potential loss/erosion of human skills and I believe we have increased vulnerability. BEEP BEEP!
Damned Gouache on paper 21 x 30 cm
Serendipitously, while I have been writing this BLOG post, I was alerted [on Twitter!] to an article written by four very influential science thinkers Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, Stuart Russell and Frank Wilzcek. The article 'Transcendence' looks at the implications of artificial intelligence - but are we taking AI seriously enough?'  examines some of the pros, but also the cons of technology, specifically artificial intelligence. For me, the last part of the title 'but are we taking AI seriously enough?' is a very loud BEEP...a caution to look up and take notice. Actually the whole article is essentially a BEEP BEEP BEEP! Please read the is not a long one!
Risk Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2010
  • My latest newsletter with more about my recent overseas trip etc is available online by clicking HERE
  • There's a short article about my painting Super Earths Discovered in Highlife Downs Living The painting was a finalist in the $25,000 Stanthorpe Art Prize.
  • My studio is one of a few featured in popular online magazine Hyperallergic's regular A View From The Easel