Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas to all

Just got the best present ever- and it's a day early! A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer last week, in for a mastectomy last Tuesday, and has just texted to say that she has the "all clear" - no more treatment needed! So happy.
I had a creative day, enjoying the fresh breeze blowing in to cool our "morning sun-warmed" house... made a pistachio and raspberry semi freddo; some star-shaped biscuits dipped in chocolate; the short crust base for a strawberry and custard tart for Christmas lunch desert (to accompany the semi freddo); a fruit compote...yes, there IS a pattern here. I actually do cook things other than desert and sweets...but I let my hair down at Christmas, forget about the waistline and enjoy the nurturing part of me that doesn't get a run during the year when the creative streak is fully occupied by the to and fro, struggle and progress of painting. So sue me (but wait until I'm famous!)
The creative bug extended to engineering some Christmas angels on my tree, after my daughter complained it looked too subdued to be a real Christmas tree. I settled on the non Christmassy colours of orange, black and gold... because that's what tissue paper I had. Actually, brought back memories of when my kids were small and we had "making days"... and that I actually used to make Christmas decorations with them using Fimo, dough and food colouring. Do people still do that??? Time flies...
Hope you and yours make the memories you will reflect on in years to come,
Thanks for sticking with me in 2009 and look forward to blogging with you next year -
Peace, Love, and much laughter...
press on title to go to workshops page or use the link here
Image taken on my phone - where IS my camera???

Sunday, December 13, 2009

NEW! Art Workshops

Due to popular demand (I always wanted to say that!) I will be running some painting workshops in the first three months of the New Year. ...(and may be later on, too!)
Why not invest in yourself, have fun, learn something new and even find your creative side? Rest the logic and the "gotta do/be"s and go AWOL for a short while!
There's something for beginners, intermediate and the more advanced, and class sizes are STRICTLY limited to a maximum of SIX students, so you're assured of personal attention.
Image: Gabrielle Jones, Cherry Blossom, 2009 30x 30cm Oil on Ply (framed)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mirre van Dalen - the interview

I had the pleasure of watching and experiencing the work of this artist at the Multiple Personalities Exhibition at Rozelle Hospital (see previous post). Mostly, I stayed quiet and let the performance speak to me
- to my surprise, it stirred an emotional core emanating from ...where I don't know - a very unusual thing for one so often out and about in the art community and a little steeled against performance and installation art, having been bored stupid on one too many an occasion.

So I spoke with Mirre (Title link), but not much, as I did not want to disturb the ritualistic performance which she was obviously engrossed in. It seemed a bit sacreligious, somehow. So mostly I read her artist's statement, and questioned the bits I was unsure about (her preferred method of communication is, obviously, visual and performance art).
Her background in Art Therapy extends Mirre's art practice (which provides a source of healing to both her and the viewer) to the patient. When asked what needed healing, her answer was simply, "childhood stuff".
As Mirre sees it, both the artist and the wounded bring order to chaos. Therapy and art practice allow "unspoken feelings to arise", they involve a struggle to resolve, and energy to work through until completion and a realised "wholeness". She finds freedom and growth in the balance of having an objective, in doing something towards it and relinquishing control of the material.
For this artist, the materials chosen and "Chance" itself play an incredibly important part in her creative process - a playful and child-like, instinctive collection of objects, often pre- loved (and thus containing a history of their own), is experimented with and explored to learn its qualities and the part it may have in telling her "story".
"I recognise beauty in things other people have given up on (and) give them a second chance".
There is no deep planning involved, but rather, a conversation occurs between herself and the materials, allowing the object to take on its own life and form the art.
"I am amazed at how I seemingly stumble across materials and ideas to use, that hold significance for the things in my heart....Often it isn't until much later in the creation of the piece that I realise how strongly they are helping me to voice my story....the end product is unplanned and surprising as a result".
Mirre sees that this process also welcomes spirituality into her art, abundantly evident in the "black flowers" performance at Callan Park.

It was striking to me, yet again, to realise how artists with completely different methods of creative expression seem to talk the same talk - of dialogue with materials, of letting an idea blossom over time, of realising only later why they chose THAT object, or THAT subject device, THAT storyline, THAT symbol etc. Allowing chance to occur, tapping into the subconscious etc also seems to be universally important.
And how, regardless of religious background or atheistic stance, we find an "otherness" or spirituality in the best of the work we do.
So...Take the time, Take the chances, (Note to self) Take the hint, to let things bubble and well over time so that the doing of the art is the end product, and becomes an act of joy rather than a burden, adding to the tapestry which is our lives, the surprise result.

Images; Mirre van Dalen in performance at exhibition, "Multiple Personalities", Rozelle Hospital 6th December, 2009. Photo by Gabrielle Jones.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Art Outside, Multiple Personalities

This exhibition was the inaugural showcase of works from over 80 artists exhibiting within the vacant rooms of Wards 17 and 18 in the Rozelle Hospital (aka Callan Park) on the shores of Sydney Harbour, once the home to the criminally insane. A diverse group of Australian and international artists engaged with the spaces, spirits, history and memories, and used imagination and personal experiences to explore the sometimes fragile boundaries that exist between creation, reality and sanity, and between the artistic experience and that of the inmates.

The event was run not for profit, created solely for the purpose of bringing together the artistic community, particularly of Sydney's Inner West. It was organised with a short time span (approximately three months) and Rogerio Blanco-Ramos must be congratulated for a show that presented some amazing and moving works, a tribute to the quality and continuous practices of the contributing artists who could react in such a short time frame.

Sherna Teperson's sculptural work is always poetic and here she presented delicately carved trees (twigs?) encased in a clear, moulded bubble of "ice" which challenges the viewer's sensory memory (rather like the challenges faced by the insane). It was beautifully sited to catch a soft play of light. Also memorable were the works of Muzu Li , photographs which featured ephemeral, fuzzy focused single object plinths with focused origami birds in watercolour primaries (exploring objects in different contexts); the strange and somewhat fenetic/tortured portraits of self taught artist Kirsten T Smith of small girls (the child/artist); Brendan Gaule's weird/scary imaginings of people/clowns/ children with despicable fork lift trucks (man's idiosynchrasies, trials and tribulations over control of his environment); and Tanya Chaitow's strange, quirky "Moose paintings", small and varied in size and straight from left field- both evidence of a wild imagination and deep exploration of very unique sub-consciouses.

I also particularly liked the concept behind Vanessa Anderson's excellent installation of a rather domestic scene, overlaid with drawings and symbols, conveying the stories and personal mythology that the institution's spaces contain and expressing the tension in the personal lives that play out in such places.

However, the stand out for me was the work of Mirre van Dalen, whose performance piece was incredibly moving as well as beautiful, involving artificial flowers, painted using her hands dipped in a large tin of acrylic paint, and placed carefully in rows of jars half filled with sand across the other side of the room. But this description only begins to tell half the experience: her attention to detail from the dress she wore to the music playing, the web of steel fishing weights suspended from the ceiling, the still life display on an ornate dresser, the mannequin in the background and the baby/doll's pram in front of canvas, was amazing. No "reading of artists statements" necessary, no confusion - just straight, amazing, visual and sensory communication of heartfelt empathy with previous inmates, enough to stir the imagination and empathy of any visitor. But more about her work, based on a fuller interview, in the next post.

This exhibition was really a delightful experience, one I found inspirational, not least because it is a wonder to me that, in Sydney at least, most of these artists would not get a chance to exhibit very often what was very high standard work (where are the venues?). How do they support themselves? How dedicated must they be?

Despite some video installations not being available on the Saturday (they were working on Sunday), and a little confusion in Ward 17 (I started viewing the exhibition here but was not sure if I should have started in Ward 18 or what was happening, given some empty rooms and videos/installations seemingly dismantled) this was an outstanding experience, and one I urge you to make the time to attend. There were not many punters on the weekend, and it would be a shame if this wonderful idea was not repeated next year due to a perceived lack of interest.

Exhibition closed Mon/Tues 7th and 8th Dec, on till 13th December, 10am -5pm, Callan Park, Rozelle Wards 17 and 18 (Enter at the Cecily St entrance, take the left towards the Writer's Centre" and follow the road to the sign/banner)
Images: Mirre van Dalen in performance, Rozelle Hospital, Sydney 7/12/09 Taken by Gabrielle Jones

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Self Portrait Calendar

Just sent my entry to the Art Calendar competition (Title Link). I actually painted this (and 8 more portraits) about 7 years ago, as an experiment in how to do the same things a lot of different ways. So I ended up with nine portraits, all 40 cm x 30 cm (16in x 12in) in a variety of poses, made from a mirror held underneath my chin, to one above my head, straight faced, smiling, perplexed (this one), non-plussed, skeptical, with mirror held also RHS and LHS side of face. The colours all go together but range from blue/green, Magenta/green. Magenta orange etc.
It was a great exercise and one that taught me a lot about intuitive colour (that's making it up, folks!) The group looks good together, but who wants a collection of self portraits hanging around the house? Maybe, when I'm famous.....
I think I might do one a year from now on - pretend I'm Rembrandt! The competition is free to enter and has some reasonable prizes, but mostly it's a bit of fun. Have a go.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back on line

Thanks to all those people who let me know (privately) that they were missing the blog - I'm so glad you noticed! Nothing sinister, although I have been re-grouping after the solo show and assessing my next moves. I had a hunch that I needed to just take the proverbial step back, and practice "acceptance", to create the void and see what flows in to fill it. A bit "New Agey", I know, but worth a try.
I've also been closing some post exhibition sales (Yay!) and investigating leads to galleries not painting nor blogging, but still involved in the artworld.
Mostly, I didn't write because I've been on a lovely holiday -although not long enough- and plowed back into the teaching today. I really enjoy it, but I am buggered after it!
So...I'll be posting info about some classes I am dreaming up, soon. Found that my exhibition was good for drumming up prospective students, as a number of visitors asked about classes, workshops and the like. Gotta make some hay while the sun shines (and the money's short!)
Image: Gabrielle Jones, "River (Night Tree)" 2009, 100 x 75cm Oil on canvas (apologies if I've used this one before!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Art & coffee go together like...

Thanks to my friend Gweneth for alerting me to this one. Shows that coffee really is necessary for the making of art!
Artist assistants stand next to 3,604 cups of coffee which have been made into a giant Mona Lisa in Sydney , Australia. The 3,604 cups of coffee were each filled with different amounts of milk to create the different shades!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why we should bother with art

Been a bit slow here today, again (Thursday) but just found this fabulous list as to why we do art. Visual Art Teachers and parents, note!

Gallery Sitting -Tues, Wednesday and Thursday Week 2

Ok - So I have been slack in not keeping up these posts. I'd like to say it's because the sales have been coming thick and fast, but that's not it -though I have been busy. Most of my art buddies and sundry other friends have made the time to come catch up with me and my work these last few days, so I have been having a rather full, chatty and social time. I thank them all for their support of, and appreciation of my work - I feel loved and valued.
There has been "hold" dots coming and going all over the place - usually for the same pieces. And these are pieces I don't consider my best works, even if my partner does, the moral in that story is I will take his advice when hanging a show for sale, but use my own instincts (almost universally agreed to by my artist friends) when entering competitions or deciding what work to pursue.
One other thing has helped as well. I had been down about the lack of sales, and how to fit the work back in my studio, the costs how to make an income (you know the drill) and I am sure I was not very nice to live with.
Then I realised that I have made this decision to practice art seriously with both my eyes open. I'm old enough not to be naive and have worked in other industries successfully. Why be an artist? Initially, it was because I love it, unreservedly. Now, I can't NOT do it. So...if I'm going to do it anyway, then I may as well enjoy it, and stop making it a rod for my own back, and that of those closest to me. When I decided I wasn't going to bitch about it anymore, to accept the inevitable ups and downs and that I was where I wanted to be, I felt an immediate sense of relief and change of mood. I recommend it to you!
By the way, afterwards, I got a call from someone who I subsequently showed some studio works to, who looks like they might buy a few pieces. And last night, a group from the Art Gallery of NSW came in to the complex...and they stayed mostly in my Gallery. I awoke to an email from one of that group inquiring about some works, wanting to reserve a piece today. Yet to convert, but I can sell one at a time -baby steps (as a good friend of mine says).
Stay tuned.
Image: Gabrielle Jones, Tree Line Triptych 2009 Oil on Canvas 90 x 60cm each

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lay Day at the Gallery - Sculpture by the Sea

Had a lovely day off today - great weather, beautiful setting (Bondi to Tamarama Walk), wonderful sculpture and my ipod playing classical, world, and iconic favourite music. What more could you want?
So here's the slide show of some of the sculptures (aplologies to those not included - technical difficulties).
Images Top Guiliana De Fleice "Signs of 2009"; Middle:Belinda Villani "Tribute to a Workhorse";
Bottom: Tim Burns "Why Cars Road Kill Retablo".

Day 6 Gallery-Sunday

Well I’ll admit it. I am disappointed and very over this gallery sitting thing.

It’s Sunday, and people wander in like it’s a mall, have a five minute look, point a painting out to their friends (if I'm lucky) and wander out again –almost quicker than I can notice, get up and hand them some information. It’s FREE Sunday entertainment, I think. (I know, I’m supposed to remain positive and think about all those people suddenly becoming aware of my work and remembering my name for the next time they, or their friends, are after something to put on their walls. But then I remember that they can hardly remember their work colleague’s names or people they have been introduced to five minutes earlier – and then I get depressed).

Where are all those people on opening night who promised to return on Sunday to decide which painting they wanted?

And where are the galleries I invited to view the work? Let alone the gallery I have just begun exhibiting with – aren’t they supposed to be interested enough in my work for shows in the future?

I’m confused (not an uncommon state, of late).

So I think I should leave it at that and spend some time thinking nice thoughts and getting my mojo back – and wasting some more time until it’s time to knock off.

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Night Shadows 09 Oil on Canvas 100x100cm (Something suitably dark for my mood!)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 5 Gallery-Saturday

(Note: I am publishing two day s together - the internet cable began smoking so I have been without communications!)

The opening night went really well, despite it being a Friday night – too well, and I am paying for it today (It’s only because I didn’t eat enough and my head was spinning all night, re-living the conversations, so I didn’t sleep well enough, really it was!) There were about 50 people here and half of those retired to the café with me afterwards, and I had a ball!

A number of guests have promised to return this weekend and make a decision – should I have somehow given them a sense of urgency to buy now? I learnt a little from musing about this so was ready for the next person who was undecided. One of the people I had identified as a buyer during the week, returned with her husband and chose three possible paintings for her newly renovated house. I asked her whether she wanted to put them on hold, and she did – so I put those paintings (which had been displayed in the storage area) into the main gallery with half stickers on them as soon as I possibly could! If others see this, will they, too, part with their money?

Another man (also identified as more serious during the week) returned to buy a small painting that had been popular with the “undecided” lot at the gallery opening. He told me he wanted to start the “avalanche of red dots” and thought I deserved to sell out. Very sweet and much appreciated!

In general, the feedback has been very complimentary. One lady even told me I’d be famous one day! (I ‘d like to be able to afford to live until then, but the comment was gracefully accepted even so). I try to ask any people who stay long enough with the work which of them is their favourite. Almost every item in the gallery has been nominated by someone, which attests to the quality control I tried to maintain when painting the pictures and editing for the hang…so that part seems to have worked.

Again, a little light questioning of those coming into the gallery reveals that most are artists. Also had another artist come to the gallery because of the ad in Art Almanac – does this publication only appeal to artists? Both buyers have come into the complex because they know it is here and there is likely to be something they like amongst the nine galleries who are here – so the strategy of being amongst galleries in a self hire space is accurate.

I was considering closing early today, as I have a wedding to attend, but there is a last minute rush closer to 5pm so I am staying open. I need a coffee to stay awake!

Day 4 Gallery

It’s been a bit busier today (how could it not?) but most visitors have been artists. One older lady was quite knowledgable in aboriginal art, having begun collecting twenty years ago. She likened my work to that of Kudditji, Emily Kingwarrye’s brother (and even corrected my pronounciation – the “d’s” are pronounced like “b’s”). It’s not the first time, and I take it as a compliment.

Another man has a number of Belinda Fox’s works on paper and he likened my drawing to one of hers. He prefers the totems and loves the abstract paintings, and had decided to come into the gallery because he’d had an awful day and needed to fill his brain with something beautiful or interesting. I loved that! He thanked me for making his day – how nice is that? Maybe that’s why we paint.

Two artists were having their “art day” – had been to see the Sculpture by the Sea, the Dobell Drawing prize, and made a special trip to see my work. They commented that they looked through the Art Almanac, and said my work was the only thing that interested them. Again, glad the advertising worked.

At least most of the people who looked today spent time really interacting with the work, which has buoyed my confidence up. (It’s a day-to-day thing, and probably one of the hardest tasks sitting here all the time, sometimes watching our work be disregarded before even really looked at. An artist friend, who visited today, remarked that you really needed to spend time with the work. I consider art is present when time with the work means it continues to engage, rather than become wallpaper, so I am happy with that comment, too.
I am now preparing, mentally and physically, for the opening night – I hope it goes well. A few red dots would be helpful, leading into the weekend. Fingers Crossed!

Image: Tree Line VII installed next to Tree Still LIfe -with breathing space and a red dot!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 2 & 3 in the Gallery

Well , it was cooler in the gallery today (day 2) and there were a few more people who visited. Now I know I really would rather be painting!
Anyway, I changed the hang of the work with the help of two visiting artist friends. The first didn't like my "Totems" or sculpture, but loved the paintings and felt they needed to have more primacy. He particularly liked a few pieces and recommended they be alone on the wall. (It's expensive space, and my hanger felt we needed to put as many middle sized paintings on the wall as possible, because they were more likely to sell, while maintaining a circumspect few feet of space between them).
In the end, I have the same number of paintings on the wall, but the main piece is sitting on a wall with only a small, complimentary piece next to it, rather like an installation. I separated my totems and moved them through the gallery space - they now are better seen individualy, and link the elements of the exhibition better. The sculptures "talk" to the paintings. This was achieved with the help of the other artist friend.
I also changed another piece and hung it with an original choice, and these two now compliment each other.
Which all goes to show that:
1. Each space requires specific attention regarding the hang of the work. What you think goes together in the studio, may not go together in the gallery.
2. You can "Get by with a little help from your friends" (and not without at least one honest, visually aware, independent reviewer!)
3. An exhibition needs to be hung on one day, and reviewed on the next. (I got to the point where I couldn't see the paintings - I was just too tired).
4. Disparate elements in an exhibition (and, in my opinion, you need them to give a spark to the work - otherwise, same old, same old and why buy one when there are so many pieces the same?) must be placed throughout the gallery to provide some continuity and to cement the "flow of the show".
5. White walls sell paintings (yet to be confirmed!)
What do you think of the new hang?
BTW I am persisting with the price list at the rear of the gallery - interaction with people, even if they are "tyre kickers" is definitely preferable to dying of boredom. This might change for opening night!

Day 3 - There were about 5 people who came into the gallery complex today. I went to by coffee to find that the cafe was full, as was the one across the road, and there were people milling around the street, looking at the homewares shops. So I guess they don't like art? It just goes to show that art and painting is important to those of us who are involved in the industry, but not to the general public. Perhaps we should show in a cafe?
Anyway, the highlight was engaging with an artist from France who spent time in Tahiti (where I had a residency) and it was nice to reminisce. (Most visitors to the gallery, by the way, have been artists).I was invited to opening drinks of the other depot gallery, which is being hired by a very reputable gallery from Hobart, so it was interesting to talk to the Director about the state of the art as he sees it and to see avery good show by his exhibiting artits, Anika Kapoor.
I then had to hot foot it over to my studios, where there was an open day for the public - met more people - again, mostly artists- but had good feedback on my work. Absolutely exhausted, and need to back up to the Gallery today, bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for my own opening tonight. Why do we do this again??

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Professional Art Practice put to the test

Since showing your work at a self-funded gallery may be the ultimate test of professional practice, I will be bringing you daily posts of what it’s like sitting in the Gallery every day with my paintings on display; the people I’ve met, or anything else that occurs to me as useful for us all to know. Perhaps we artists don’t realise what the galleries do for us?

Diary-Day 1 Solo Show (at Danks St) IS Melbourne Cup day …and (obviously) early in the week, so that explains the fact that I have had only three people walk into the gallery since opening at 11am (sharp!) this morning. It’s now 2:15pm and I am terribly bored.

The first told me she liked my work and then continued to tell me why she couldn’t paint, (she didn’t have time, she was always running around at her husband’s request; that no-one supported her, no subject matter gave her a burning desire to paint etc etc – the usual); the second visitor came for about one minute- long enough for me to give him a bio/statement/price list until his wife came in and dragged him away; and the other was the director of the Gallery across the way returning a key I had leant him. About three other groups of people have looked in and kept walking – were they on their way to an appointment with another gallery? Did my stuff just not grab them?

And because I have time, I got to thinking-

What’s the best way to Set up and Man a gallery, to get sales? So I thought I’d moot this for a discussion topic.

I have decided to place the info sheets regarding my work on the table I am sitting at, in the back of the gallery space, rather than leave it by the door. That way I need to get up and approach the visitor with the price list, have a chance to greet the visitor and introduce myself, offer to answer any questions they may have…and usually, begin to blabber a bit much.

What is the best way to interact with people in the gallery situation?

Perhaps we should have a bit of a conversation about this – your comments will help me, now, and others in the future regarding this vexed thing on selling our artwork direct. What do you think about not placing the price list at the door like everyone else? What is a good opening line to someone that has walked in the door, after you hand them a list? Am I creating confusion by not doing the expected (placing the list by the door), and if so, how else do I engage people who walk in to the gallery, so they spend some time looking at the work, without feeling pressured?

What has worked for you?

On the other important matter, the photos here show how I have set up the gallery. Do you think I have hung it well? Should I have more or less work?

Your comments will help us all when we need to sell our work direct.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trees for my Father -Gulp!

By the time you receive this, all the painting, framing (fingers crossed!), signing and naming, cataloguing, pricing, writing of press releases (some will be published, surely!), uploading onto social or otherwise media, bank relationship building, schmoozing with potential clients, galleries and beautiful-people-who-make-an-event-exciting, will have been done and my solo show, Trees for my Father, will have been opened, looking fabulous and I will be quietly reading a book on funds management in preparation for the spending spree I will undertake with all the money I earn from this fabulously successful show.
Or, not.
You, on the other hand, could be more interested in betting on a horse in The Melbourne Cup.
Either way, you are invited to the opening on Friday 6th, or, if you can't make it, any time 11-6 Tuesday-Sat or 10:30-3:30pm Sun Depot II gallery, 2 Danks St Waterloo NSW.
Come see what all the fuss is about, and whether or not I am entitled to even write about professional studies! See you there!
Image: Tree Lines, 2009; Pigment Ink, Charcoal, Acrylic, Watercolour, Pastel on Canson paper 74 x 164cm framed.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Misc Quotes relating to art

"It is not the eye, it is the mind which the painter of genius wishes to address; nor will he waste a moment upon those smaller objects which only serve to catch the sense, to divide the attention, and to counteract his great design of speaking to the heart". Joshua Reynolds

"Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it." Goethe

"Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no-one to blame" Erica Jong

"The centre that I cannot find, is known to my unconscious mind" W H Auden

"A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token" Mark Rothko
Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Plumbago" 2008, 110 x 83 Oil on Canvas

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What I do when I'm not painting -You Tube, I love you

The following ads are some of the funniest things I have seen - worth the time. Perhaps they'll make you laugh when the painting gets too tough? Any excuse to watch them will do.
Image: Gabrielle Jones Reflection 1, 2009, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 30cm

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cecily Brown -Interview by Perri Lewis, the Observer (20/9/09)

Thanks, Roody Hooster by Cecily Brown (oil on linen, 2004) Photograph: PRView larger picture

Thanks, Roody Hooster by Cecily Brown (oil on linen, 2004) Photograph: PR

Thanks to my friend at Undercover Painter for finding and pointing this out to me. It's a great interview and says so much about the artistic process that I couldn't not post it here. (I'm also a BIG fan of her work - see it here)

The boundaries of painting excite me. You've got the same old materials - just oils and a canvas - and you're trying to do something that's been done for centuries. And yet, within those limits, you have to make something new or exciting for yourself as well as other people.

I have always wanted to make paintings that are impossible to walk past, paintings that grab and hold your attention. The more you look at them, the more satisfying they become for the viewer. The more time you give to the painting, the more you get back.

I often avoid using the terms figuration and abstraction because I've always tried to have it both ways. I want the experience of looking at one of my paintings to be similar to the process of making the painting - you go from the big picture to something very intense and detailed, and then back again.

The viewer is a living, breathing being that moves about in space and I want the painting to be experienced like that. I want my painting to imitate life in that way. I want the experience of looking at it to be very much like the experience of walking through the world.

My process is really quite organic and starting a painting is one of the best parts for me. I always start in quite a loose and free way. I often put down one ground colour to begin with and then play off that. For the first day or two, everything moves very quickly - sometimes almost too quickly - then there's often this very protracted middle period of moving things around, changing things, editing.

Often, I find it really hard to see what I'm doing when I'm in the thick of things. I can get too precious and have to force myself to put my paintings aside. There's a wall in my studio where I hang paintings that I think are done or nearly done. Over time, I'll realise which ones are working and which aren't.

There's never a moment for me when I consciously add the last stroke. When a painting is 90-95% there, it's especially difficult because you know that it's really close and you also know that you could completely ruin it. Of course, I do often ruin things. I take things too far, and can't get them back ...

The problems don't get any easier just because you're exhibiting. I'm still faced with the same difficulties as when I first started to paint. But you'd never make a mark if you started worrying too much about how it will be received in the world, or if anyone is going to look at it. You can't have all that in your head while you're in the process of making a painting.

I think once I stopped caring quite so much about where I fitted in, and whether it made any sense to be painting, I started getting more and more absorbed in it. I've discovered that the more I paint, the more I want to paint. The longer I go on doing it, the more I have to say and do. You pose a certain set of questions in one group of paintings and you want to answer them in the next. One body of work leads naturally to the next - you sort of feed off yourself. It's a question of accepting the limits of painting and trying to be as imaginative and expansive as possible within those boundaries.

• Cecily Brown is represented by Gagosian

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Professional Practice part 11

Final Instalment to common questions re my professional practice.

How important is your studio space to the work you produce?

Very important, but less so as I gain more skills and confidence (apart from the fact that I need one to do the work- how it is set up and where it is becomes less important to me). It was important for me to invest in myself as an artist - I spent the first year or two after graduation painting from a garage - as many artists do. I went to Bundanon and had all this space. I still didn't think I could afford it, and one of the other artists quoted someone famous (de Kooning???) who said, "when you can't afford a studio, rent two!). It's a statement to the world that you are serious (but only good if you turn up to it! -there are many studios waiting for their owner day in and day out....). The financial commitment means you may be more likely to actually do the work - otherwise it's an expensive accoutrement!

As for the way it is set up - it's important to have ventilation, considerate neighbours, and a re-inforceable policy by the owners that protects the environment; and that, preferably, non-toxic chemicals or odourless solvents only be used. A dream, but worth fighting for! I can't work if people are splashing turps around (too many years of not worrying about the chemicals - it builds up!) A good studio complex is also worth it as the energy generated by happy, working, creative artists is palpable and contagious!

How important is your studio space? What do you think are important considerations when choosing a studio? Post your comments and ask any questions here

Image; Gabrielle Jones Stand 2009 Oil on Canvas 30 x 30cm

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Inspiration-Alex Perry & Designer Rugs

A lovely man called Cedric, an arts patron, invited me to the launch of the
Alex Perry Designer Rugs collection last night. It was held in a groovy studio space in Alexandria and there were a number of celebrities, models and "all-round" beautiful people there - and then there was me!
The result of twelve month's collaboration between Alex and the staff and owners at Designer Rugs was on display, larger than life, around the walls. In all, there are eight beautiful rugs in the collection. I particularly loved the rug in the image at left - so luxurious looking, and I'm always a sucker for black and white.

But the highlight was talking to Alex about his inspiration for the designs. Alex had once been quick to hide his Greek heritage, wanting, like many first generation Australians, to fit in with his vegemite eating, sports loving school buddies with pronounceable names. This collection celebrates his coming to terms with, and embracing his heritage and incorporates a number of symbols taken from a recent trip to Greece. For example, two of the rugs feature (or are overlaid with) letters from the Greek alphabet, which came from a photo taken of multiple, old signs spied by Alex in a Greek shop window. The letters don't spell anything -they are there to celebrate their form and history. Another rug refers to the images and colours he relates to his cultural homeland - the small islands, the blue of the water, the yellow and orange of the land.

And the whole thing got me thinking of inspiration. Much can be taken from our history, our cultural symbols and our family relations. You can use your travel shots, your imagination, your pride, and your "life stage" as Alex has done.
And as the Designer Rugs owners, Eli and Yossi Tal know, you can come up with successful business ideas by tapping into the talent that surrounds you, and helping it to develop and expand into areas not previously embraced.
And I call that inspirational!


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