Friday, January 30, 2015


My first January 2015 post was about a painting that was not working out...I had to wipe it. The post is called Sometimes Things Just Do Not Work Out 
After describing what had gone wrong, and my failed attempts to alleviate, I wrote Rubbing, wiping, more turps, scrubbing and scratching, more turps, until finally I now have the linen canvas at a point where I know I can create another painting without the 'shadow' of the combatant one lurking underneath.
The photo above is me wiping the painting.
The photo below is the wiped painting...
The photo below is the resurrected painting! It's called Code and it's nothing like the painting I wiped. However, the red undertones are thanks to the remnants of the previous image. Indeed, I wrote about the wiped painting I now have a new and rather interesting looking base to imagine with...see I am already thinking like the painting and I are in partnership!
Code Oil on linen 60 x 110 cm 2015
Code and I were and are a partnership! We went from this to that together.
That's not to say there weren't any angst moments as I painted. But, these moments were points to reflect rather than dead-ends or 'battle' scenes!
Please read my post for Code ... I discuss my inspirations...tree-of-life as the master template for the Universe, simulation theories and more. Yep, BIG stuff! The photo below is a detail from the painting. It shows my use of actual code...binary code... for LIFE!
LIFE - Binary code - Detail from Code
Also, take note of the computer chip/circuit board sections in the tree that seems to grow from the edge of the painting. The branching appearance in circuit boards has always fascinated me. Reminds me of a tree...and you all know how I like my age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life!
Since I can remember I have been exposed to things like circuit boards, transistors, resistors, aerials and so on. How? Why? Well, my Dad has been a HAM  radio enthusiast since he was a lad. When I was about 11 or 12 I built a crystal [radio] set. I was pretty happy with my achievement and took it out to Dad's HAM shack to hook it up to a wire that I knew was connected to his huge aerial. This amplified the crystal set's receiving ability a lot. Dad's aerial 'punctuated' the flatness of the Pirrinuan Plain, where our grain farm was! See my brother Wilfred Brimblecombe's photo below.
By Wilfred Brimblecombe of the family homestead. HAM shack and aerial on right.
I hasten to add that I am not an expert in electronics. I pursued a humanities at university rather than science. However, long-time exposure to technology has certainly influenced my interest in it, how I approach it and how I integrate it with other areas of interest, including my art. My choice of a traditional medium is deliberate and...enigmatic...paradoxical...but definitely fun! 
I think my exposure to technology, throughout my life, is why I am so interested in things like, Cambridge University philosopher, Prof Nick Bostrom's theory that all of existence is possibly a computer simulation run by post humans who are attempting to re-live, re-create existence, perhaps over and over again. Also, current debates about the possible negative affects of artificial intelligence fascinate me. Again, Nick Bostrom has cautioned, but so has a plethora of other really smart people eg: Stephen Hawking [needs no explanation!], Jaan Tallinn and Elon Musk [both technology entrepreneurs eg: Skype, Tesla, SpaceX], Sir Martin Reese [physicist and cosmologist] , Max Tegmark [cosmologist] and more. In fact the Future Of Life Institute, in Boston and co-founded by Max Tegmark, has recently written an open letter urging people to really think about how AI is developed. It is not anti-AI per se, but calls for deep thought and reflection. The debate recognises that a cross-disciplinary approach is necessary to ensure all angles are probed.
I work in my studio...hours and after day...I ignore household chores...until, for example...the grass is far too long. I then galvanise my energy to mow. The two photos below show me in my studio and starting the mower. Neither activity requires high fashion garments, make-up or other pretty you can see!

But, the third photo below shows me all 'scrubbed up'. Yes, a fun from this to that!

In my studio [aka garage]

Starting the mower
Out and about

Friday, January 23, 2015


Code Oil on linen 60 x 110 cm
I have previously written about my idea that the tree may hold clues to the template or code of life. In September 2010 I wrote a post called Master Template? where I discuss some of my thoughts. And, yes the post is accompanied with a number of my tree-of-life paintings. And, yes it is a fanciful notion, based on nothing other than observation and imagination!
Since 2010 I have read some fascinating theories about the Universe, a Multiverse and more. One very interesting idea is that all of existence is, in fact, a computer simulation! Yep, a computer simulation. Prof Nick Bostrom from Oxford University has made such a proposition. Please check out a very interesting webpage where you can read Prof Bostrom's theory, plus scholarly commentaries etc. Also, check out Prof Bostrom's own page for some very thought provoking ideas on a range of issues from artificial intelligence, to embryo selection, to transhumanism and more.
But, back to the computer simulation idea. Prof Nick Bostrom's theory, as I understand it, is that we are living in a computer simulation devised by post humans who re-live their human existence via a simulation which they 'watch' and vicariously 'live'. Not only is it a re-living of the human existence but also a re-telling or re-evolution of all existence since the Big Bang. I have previously written about the theory in Watching The Universe and Count Down
In my previous post Count Down I wrote So, we maybe living inside a computer? But, then again we may not? But if, indeed, we are living inside a computer it would have to be a really magnificent computer and probably not recognisable as a computer to us, otherwise we'd detect the subtext, the guile, the subterfuge...wouldn't we? But, as the Professor writes, if someone did detect something, the post-human simulators could eradicate the memory of detection, wipe the slate clean...and the simulation would continue.
But....maybe the Professor's postulation is a sign of the simulation itself...maybe an undetected leakage from the post-human future or maybe a deliberate play...a teasing loop?
Prof Bostrom is not the only one talking about life...all a simulation. Check out this quirkily presented video interview on Talk Nerdy To Me with physicist Prof Martin Savage from the University of Washington .
IT IS FASCINATING STUFF don't you think?!!
That brings me to my new painting Code
My visual interpretation of the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life forms a semicircle, which represents a planet...maybe Earth? One branch connects to a swirling, looping tree that seems to emanate to and from a distant space/place. If you look closely at the tightly coiled part of the tree you will see the word LIFE in binary code. I did not do this on my own. I had the Internet to help. It's provides text-to-code conversions!
Anyway...also take a closer look at the 'planet'. I have painted some of the 'branches' as parts of a computer chip. Don't you think they look almost like music notes? And, music itself is a code of sorts too! However...the point is that systems, both naturally occurring and human-made, seem to need a branching type of appearance/existence. Maybe it's how the post-humans 'play' their simulation?
I am ploughing my way through Douglas Hofstadter's 1980 Pulitzer winning book Gödel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid [Basic Books, 1979]. It's fascinating 'trip' through various kinds of loops: logic, music and art. In fact, it has inspired me to become more aware of looping trees in a few of my paintings [couple of example below]. Since starting to read the book I now deliberately often depict the tree with looping aspects. Once I have finished Godel Escher Bach I will read another of Hofstadter's books called I Am A Strange Loop - great title! It may take some time though.
Beyond The Dark Night  Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm 2009
Getting back to the tree...the tree-of-life to be specific. Regular readers know of my long term fascination with the age-old symbol...more importantly my fascination with how we can tease out symbolic energy in a way that is meaningful to us in the 21st century. I suggest that staying connected to age-old symbols may actually help us remain human...?
In Code the tree is the dominant 'player'. This is deliberate.
Tree Of Life Time Travelling Oil on linen 85 x 150 cm 2012


Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Seeking Perspective oil on linen 92 x 102 cm
For those of you who read my last post Sometimes Things Just Do Not Work Out you will be pleased to know that my painting mojo returned. For those who have not read my last post, it was about a painting that was just not working. After some reflection, and a few weeks of  painting, it had to be wiped.
Seeking Perspective [above] is not the 'phoenix' of the painting I wiped out. The would-be-phoenix is resting. The wiped-out phoenix-in-waiting painting rests near my easel, as evidenced by the photo's the red one on the left. As I work, keeping it in sight helps the percolation of new images and ideas. It's 'wings' are fluttering!
In response to my last post I received many comments about how interesting it is to see how an artist works. Thus, another reason for the photo below and the one at the bottom. The photo
below shows that I placed the 'failed' painting in sight of where I work. Other paintings are in the studio for all sorts of reasons eg: they need coats of varnish or the sides of the stretched linen need painting etc.

Can you tell my 'studio' is also known as a garage! I dream of.....
So, let's discuss SEEKING PERSPECTIVE.
In the photo below you can see me painting Seeking Perspective. The underlying coats of paint had been applied weeks ago. So, last week when I wiped out the other painting, I turned to this new one. Even while I had been working on the other one, this prepared linen kept drawing my attention. I should have decided to work on it first! As I have written before canvases, even blank white ones, speak to me. I should have paid earlier attention to the one that has now become Seeking Perspective!
 Me in my studio working on Seeking Perspective. On the right is Life Calling: Anyone There? On the left is the wiped out painting and behind it is Birth Of Light
My much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life cascades across the canvas. Is it cascading across the vastness of outer space or is its existence an intimate microscopic world...or does it harken to something in between vastness and seeming invisibility? Perhaps, it exists in all perspectives at once?
The title Seeking Perspective can be interpreted a couple of ways. Maybe perspective itself is seeking, maybe it implies that perspective is sought?
With recent atrocities that have happened around the world, the use of the transcultural/religious tree-of-life has given me some solace. Indeed, it is a shared symbol across many cultures and religions and yes, it is closely shared by the three Abrahamic religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.  
The tree-of-life, as a symbol of all life, is a conduit for perspective itself to seek out new ways of 'seeing', at the same time as inviting...even to seek these perspectives too. As the tree reaches into unknown spaces of close and far distance, especially in partnership with cosmology, we can 'slide' along the branches, revelling in 'in/sights' never imagined. Well, we can...if we go seeking! Are we brave enough? I think some are...and some are not. And, perhaps some deliberately 'climb' a 'tree' that has been poisoned.

Seeking Perspective's cosmic potential, draws the viewer across many dimensions. As I was painting, I imagined the red ball as Earth, maybe 'bleeding', maybe hot with potent potential, maybe just plain HOT. The tree-of-life provides vascular-like energy in 'empty' space, almost cradling 'Earth'. But, it may not be Earth at all. In a Multiverse...yep that's right we may exist in not one Universe, but many...maybe the red ball is our Universe?

Taking a cosmic perspective makes it abundantly clear that we humans, for the foreseeable future anyway, only have one home...Earth! It also makes war, killing, terrorism and fundamentalism of all kinds, seem pretty puerile.

You might like to read Team Humanity

I highly recommend the Boston Goble's Art Critic, Sebastian Smee's essay Confronting The Unthinkable In Goya's Art  Its trigger is the Goya exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, but Smee, with amazing dexterity, weaves contemporary themes into an analysis that prods re/thinking about our perspectives of humanity. It is a sombre read, but eloquently illustrates the power of art to provoke analysis.

Here's a 'close distance' photo of Seeking progress.

And, here's the link to the official notification that my BLOG, yes this one, has been selected for archiving [in perpetuity] on PANDORA, Australia's official archive of online sties of significance and long-term research value. Please click HERE I am really pleased to have my work acknowledged in this way.


Thursday, January 08, 2015



For an non-artist, an artist's life can seem quite romantic...painting away in a 'garret' with inspiration pouring onto a canvas, which comes alive as if by magic or divine guidance. Yep...that's pretty romantic perception. But, the reality is that whilst there are times of flow and oneness...or whatever you wish to describe the creative pursuit of image making...there are also times of discord when things just do not work out.

I spend long hours in my studio [aka garage] and I love it. I also work long hours doing all the admin 'stuff' from photographing my paintings, to promotion and marketing, writing my Blog, updating my website etc etc. I also love most of this work too, especially writing for my Blog.

Most of the time things work out. Sometimes they work out without hassle, sometimes they need a bit of coaxing....

But, sometimes things just do not work out no matter what!

I have spent the last few weeks working on a new painting. I had hoped to show it to you soon. But, the painting has been 'fighting' with me. I did what I normally do when I sense that things are not quite right. That is, I walked away from the painting...numerous times. Before I left the studio I'd place it in a spot where I'd see it, first thing with new eyes, as I re-entered. This kind of 'intervention' normally brings new insights and ideas, recalibrating 'flow'. But, this particular painting continued to 'fight' with me. The paint would not do the right thing! The colours seemed to suck energy, the balance was not quite right. One night bugs got stuck in wet I painstakingly picked them out and repainted!

I persisted.


I put the painting on the bonnet of my car to look at it in clear uncompromising daylight. YUK!!!! I was not happy....not happy at all.

This painting was NOT going to live.

So, I poured turps on it, to begin rubbing and wiping the paint off...BUT, the turps spilled onto my car...panic set in as I imagined the paint peeling off my car....quick dash to get soap and water....I washed the car, hosed it down. There's one thing driving a 23 year old car, but it does not have to look its age with turps induced peeling or stained paint! I then returned to the task of eliminating my painting.

Rubbing, wiping, more turps, scrubbing and scratching, more turps, until finally I now have the linen canvas at a point where I know I can create another painting without the 'shadow' of the combatant one lurking underneath.

The photo above is me scrubbing...wiping...

The photo below is the scrubbed painting...I am going to let it 'breath' for a bit, before I put paint anywhere near it! I will take a few big breaths too...


I was not game to leave the painting again, because as paint dries it becomes harder to remove. Even though I had been working on the detail of my now-dead painting for a few weeks [about 3] the surface paint had not completely set. You can see from the photo of the scrubbed painting that there's plenty of red paint left. That's because the red was the first underlying colour. I painted that many weeks ago and had waited for it to dry before painting a blue background. Fortunately the blue had not completely set...and neither had the other colours I had painted on top of it.

I use Belgian linen for my stretched 'canvases', which I get custom made. And, Belgian linen, whilst wonderful to work on and of the highest quality, is very expensive. So...making sure I do not waste or destroy the linen is an economic imperative! The fact that the linen, and its primed surface, are of such high quality also makes it easier to wipe paint off without compromising the integrity of the stretched 'canvas'.


All is not lost.

I have saved the linen 'canvas'.

I now have a new and rather interesting looking base to imagine with...see I am already thinking like the painting and I are in partnership!

And, I have learnt from past experiences [yes this has happened before] that I have been given an opportunity. Problem solving, re-imagining, re-calibrating are wonderful stimulants for creativity. Otherwise I'd be painting the same thing over and over again...maybe?

In a way, this impasse - agitation - battle, is still part of 'flow'...after all many rivers have rapids and waterfalls that disrupt a calm flow. Even dried up rivers come alive again with rain. And, flooded rivers return to their banks. 'Flow' is just going with it all!



I received an official request from the State Library of Queensland to allow PANDORA [Australia's National web archive - National Library of Australia and partners] to archive my Blog...
 YES this one you are reading now! 
PANDORA is an official site for archiving 'online publications and websites of lasting significance' and 'research value' in perpetuity. I am really so very happy that my eight year old Blog has been acknowledged this way. 
I invite you to read my last Blog post Time-2015-And Dinner Party Conversations  where I write about the wonderful benefits of having art in your dining room...and I've written a hypothetical conversation based on the paintings currently hanging in my own dining room.
If you are curious as to the connection between Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and potential habitable exoplanets please read my Greener Pastures post.

A reminder that you can now buy Cry Ma Ma To The Moon by Lesley Synge with images by me as an e-book at Amazon 
This is a collaboration that began in 1995
Please read my previous post