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


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