Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hope House Exhibition opens 1st July

This exhibition raises money for widows and orphans from Afghanistan, to buy art supplies for them to use in both therapeutic manner (expressing their grief and the traumas they have experienced) and to provide materials for possible income support. I have donated the above painting which is on exhibition amongst donations from John Peart, Elizabeth Cummings, Euan McLeod, David Fairbairn, Lindy Lee and Suzanne Archer...amongst others. You can find out more information at: www.hopehouseart.blogspot.com and see the images of all donated items. I'm proud to be part of this very strong line up of prominent artists. The Auction will be held on Sunday 5th July at 3 pm, conducted by Andrew Shapiro of Shapiro Contemporary Art Auctions. The show will be opened by Caroline Jones at 5 pm tonight, Sydney Colleges of the Arts Gallery, Balmain Rd Rozelle

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to create impasto

"Impasto" refers to the heavy application of paint that allows the making of it - ie the brush strokes, the trowel marks etc - to be seen. It makes no attempt to look smooth. It can also be achieved using mediums applied to the surface which are then painted over in Oil or Acrylic paint, or by adding foreign matter to the canvas.

Van Gogh used paint thickly with a quick brush or palette knife stroke, which resulted in an impasto effect. To my mind, this is the only reason to have impasto - as a necessary consequence of your painting process or the result of the energy applied to the canvas. This effect often results from painting in layers - ie through the hard work of applying, scraping, re-applying paint, blocking out, etc which forms the "art" in the work. When resulting from the struggle of painting,impasto looks "authentic" and intriguing and is usually noticed after the composition, colours, content of the painting - as an added bonus, if you like.

Alternatively, you can work like Jackson Pollock (and a number of the American Abstract expressionists and subsequent followers) who used dirt, sand, broken glass and other found matter to "beef up" the paint they used.

There is also readily available a medium (many different brands) which can be used with both oil and acrylic paint, called (funnily enough) "impasto". This is applied first, to build up the surface and then painted over. If you want the van Gogh effect, then you need to paint with a brush stroke over the impasto gel, after the thickness has been formed and in the direction you would like it to appear in the final painting, so that it looks authentic. Otherwise, it can be built up and/or moulded (usually with a palette knife) to form any surface pattern or shape you would like, and then painted over in multiple layers, if you prefer.

A wash of paint over this surface roughly formed can give an interesting effect - some of the paint settles in thicker pools than others and it can add an antique effect or look like buildings in the distance (as in an early painting of mine, above).

Do you have other ways to form impasto? Was this helpful? Post your comment here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to Handle rejections

Well - just looked up the website at www.rex-livingston.com to see if I made the last 25 of the Mt Eyre Vineyards Art Prize - Unfortunately, no. It's hard to take, especially when I thought I was a "shoe-in" for the final 25 and a possibility for a prize. Well - what does that teach me? Not to be so cocky, sure...but is the Universe trying to steel me for the enormous number of rejections I still have ahead of me?Like many artists who've been practicing for a long time, I'm becoming an expert on handling rejections, so here goes....
How to Handle Rejection
Think of what you have achieved -including getting up and facing an empty canvas every studio day, managing the juggling act; actually painting instead of talking about what you will do when you get around to it! (not easy!);
Look at how your work has improved - if you haven't got an early work/painting at hand, keep one of the current works so you can judge how far you have come for the next rejection! Congratulate yourself on how brave you are to have put your work up there for judgement;
Tell yourself "I'll show them!" and enter another competition - congratulate yourself on your persistence;
Imagine winning this competition next year;
Ring an artist friend and bitch about the hassle of entering Art Prizes; the judges, the host organisation etc - but never the winner (bad kharma!)
Look at other artists who have been rejected from competitions - John Olsen from the Archibald etc - ask anyone...we all have war stories!
Remember that every competition entered and rejected from means you are one step closer to acceptance - and winning! Play the odds.
Read inspirational quotes form artists (see next blog!)Eat Chocolate!

And a short note (in the spirit of prevention is better than cure) on:
When to enter a competition
When you want your name and work to get out to the community;
When you desperately need the money;
Only when you are definitely qualified/overqualified for - so your chances improve and your ego has a chance to bounce back;
Only where you know the judges - and where you think they will like the work. Save yourself the heartache and the costs!
Only when you have an appropriate painting already finished - never paint for the show so the rejection hurts less, and you can just continue in the work that really matters (yours!)Whenever you need to beef out the CV for an upcoming show or because there are huge gaps in it;
When you need to fulfill your masochistic streak.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Inspiring quotes - what is art?

Image: GabrielleJones "Split Hill" 2009 Oil/Canvas 152 x 122cm

“Just something that will emerge that is unknown to me, something which is universal” Gerhardt Richter (German)

“I do not concern myself, when starting a painting, with ideas or subject matter. Without considering the end result, I know only a compulsion to find..” Frank Hodgkinson (Australian)

“Making art precipitates self doubt – stirring waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be.” (David Bayles, Ted Orland, “Art & Fear”)

“ I’ve tried to make my paintings moving, powerful and necessary but to give them a kind of nobility – a physical strength so they are proud of who they are…the beautiful but also the potent” Sean Scully (Irish)

“In making art you need to give yourself room to respond authentically, both to your subject matter and your materials. Art happens between you and something – a subject, an idea, or a technique – and both you and that something need to be free to move” David Bayles, Ted Orland (Authors, “Art & Fear”)

“To show the way you do something is very important…it’s a moral, ethical stance: the process should be evident in the result, and it should have a relationship to the result which is still in the work…” Sean Scully (Irish)

“I am not trying to dominate the viewer…I am trying to make a situation that the viewer completes” Sean Scully (Irish)

“Creation is extending yourself out of your body into the material, and discovering forms” Tony Cragg (British)

“I work very slowly and usually have things around for a long time before I understand where they’re going, or at least I have an idea where to take them. Basically, I get my instructions from the materials …” Jim Hodges (USA)

“The painting has no meaning, other then the meaning that’s buried in the form, which is the only meaning worth anything in art” John Currin (USA)

Do you agree with these descriptions of what is art? Post your Comment here

Inspiring quotes - how to make art

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Tree-Still Life 2009 Oil/Cnvas 152x122

The second in my series of Inspiring quote.s

“One has intention, but what really happens comes about in working –that’s the reason it’s so hard to talk about…In working, you are really following this cloud sensation in yourself, but you don’t know what it really is. And it’s called instinct. And one’s instinct, whether right or wrong, fixes on certain things that have happened in applying paint to canvas…” Francis Bacon (British)

“Drawing, making marks, layering, describing surfaces, allowing what is underneath to emerge: this is how I work” Judy Watson (Australian)

“In Genesis, it is said that in the beginning was the void and God acted upon it. For an artist, that is clear enough…one is utterly lost in space forever. You can float in it, fly in it, suspend in it and today, it seems, to tremble in it may be the best…the only meaning that man can give himself is through the free project that he launches out of his own nothingness” Willem de Kooning (Dutch/USA)

“Virtually all artists spend some of their time producing work no-one much cares about… The artist’s life is frustrating not because the passage is slow, but because she imagined it to be fast” ” David Bayles, Ted Orland (Authors, “Art & Fear”)

“I learned to respect what it is to live with that level of creative and artistic uncertainty. It was great being around artists. I saw, for the most part, they’d survived pretty well through that devotion to the unknown” Kiki Smth (USA)

… I only discover these things in retrospect. In the moment that I’m working, I don’t really know, I really don’t. I just try to let myself be, to do my work. That’s the most important thing…”: Jim Hodges (USA)

What inspiring quotes on making art do you have? Do you agree with these artists? Comment here

Inspiring Quotes from Artists - How to use rejection

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Waters Edge, Oil on Canvas, 111x83cm

I thought I would share with you some of the quotes I collect from my reading, in a series of blogs. Here's the first one on handling failure

“Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how not to quit. Those who challenge their fears, continue – those who don’t, quit” David Bayles, Ted Orland (Authors, Art & Fear”)

“It’s been an enormous struggle to get where I am…in art school, they kept telling me I had no ability…but it’s a matter of how you see. It’s an act of will, of force” Sean Scully (Irish)

“I, painting from myself to myself, know what I do, am unmoved by men’s blame, or praise either. Somebody remarks “Morello’s outline there is wrongly traced his hue mistaken” – what of that? Or else, “Rightly traced and well ordered” – What of that? Speak as they please, what does the mountain care? Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?...” Robert Browning ( English poet)

“Our flaws and weaknesses, while often obstacles to getting things done, are a source of strength as well. Something about making art has to do with overcoming things – for doing things in a way we have always known we should do them” David Bayles, Ted Orland (Authors, “Art & Fear”)

“I don’t think that being an artist is about making yourself bullet proof. It’s about exposing yourself to attack. Being able to take it” Sean Scully (Irish)

What great quotes do you have? Were these helpful? Comment here

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Palette Cleaning 101 -Save the environment AND money

I share a Studio complex which has space for 30 artists. Despite the Managers installing sand filters for the sinks and Drums for oil paint, after a mere 5 months of operating at about 70% full, we are getting blocked drains. Since I paint with thick oil paint and am pretty prolific, yet put NO paint in the oil drums, much less down the sinks, I am at a loss to work out how that can be, unless there are a lot of artists out there who know not how to save themselves money and save the environment at the same time, by cleaning their palettes properly. So here goes: Palette cleaning 101.
Use a separate brush for each colour/tint you paint onto the canvas (this means your colours are clean and available immediately you require them). Stand the brushes (on their stick end) in an empty 1Ltre paint tin when not in use.
When finished for the day, scrape off the oil paint on your brushes onto your palette (where the paint is close to the colour on the brush) with a palette knife.
When scraped, put your brushes back into the paint tin brush-side down, until all brushes have been scraped. Fill the tin halfway with decanted turps (see later).
Meanwhile, work the paint on the palette into a homogenous colour blob (at least 2 cm round, mixing similar colours if need be) and scrape off the palette into a plastic "take-away"or other lidded container half full of water (or enough to cover the paint). Since Oil and water don't mix, the paint will be contained in the "blob" you placed it there as, and all the air will be excluded from the paint by the water - thus keeping the paint moist. No skins to peel back!
Then, swish the brushes in the turps and scrape against the sides of the tin to remove as much paint as possible. Wipe them down, brush first, on a rag. (Note: every week, I also wash the brushes again in clean, new turps, before wiping them down with a rag).
Pour the turps into a large 4Ltre Paint tin, where the paint sediment will settle overnight, leaving a layer of turps and oil which you can use as medium to paint with (no 1 to start but gets to no 3 after doing this for a while!) or to clean the brushes off after tomorrow's session.
Next, scrape the paint off the palette with your knife and place on a sheet of Kitchen Paper towels and discard into the bin. Wipe the palette with a rag (and a drop or two of turps, often on the palette after cleaning the brushes) if need be, to thoroughly clean your palette. This leaves a grey layer of very thin paint on your palette, which dries overnight and is a great colour for accurate viewing of paint as you mix colours the next painting session.
Note: When you start again the next day, you can use the paint in the containers as needed (it will keep well for 7-10 days, but is "touch and go" after this). You can also lose the sludge which forms on the bottom of the tin as a base for your next painting - it will be a coloured grey, depending on the colour palette used in your paintings.
So with this method, you waste no paint, waste no turps, have mixed colours the same as your painting to continue with as soon as you enter the studio, have a clean palette, and a great background for distinguishing your paint colours-and, best of all, no blocked drains and no environmental damage!!
What tips do you have for oil painters to save the environment? Post your comments here.

Print Making as tribute

Went to the opening of Rosalind Atkin's show at Australian Galleries Works on Paper (the Oxford St end of Glenmore Rd, Opp Barry Stern galleries). Ros and I met at Bundanon,  Arthur Boyd's property on the Shoalhaven River where we both had been awarded a residency, staying in the Glenn Mercutt specifically designed Units, with private facilities linked by kitchen and dining areas, and access to huge studios. We got along like a house on fire - two "can do" women who loved to walk the National Park trails (Fast!) and worked into the night in our adjoining studios. We both had kids around the same age, lived in the inner suburbs of our respective cities (Me Syd and her Melb) and were experienced in the wife/mother/artist/"plus earning money" merry go round balancing trick. And we were lucky enough to be taking time out for our art.
Anyway, this exhibition is a lovely lyrical tribute to her mother who died of cancer in 2007 after hiding her illness for some time. The exhibition represents an amazing amount of work and eye strain - her already small woodcuts (?) of trees with the most minute of painstaking detail were apparently executed with No 1 Chemist glasses by a woman who still doesn't need them in every day life (How is that possible?). I realised we had even more in common - my up coming show at Danks St in November is a tribute to my dad who died in late 2006, and is called Trees for my Father -so we are both obsessed with trees and we both needed to work through our "Silent Grief" (as three of the pieces are called) by making art! Anyway, as well as the trees there are blue birds, which  are new to her work and are layered over sheets of music and other personal symbols relating to her mother. Best not to go on a rainy, windy night, as I did, because the work fluttered in the breeze - but perhaps that is the point, the moving wind of the spirit of her mother, let free. On for the next three weeks.
What do you think of the show? What do you think about artists working a tribute to loved ones? Post your comments here.

Great New Work at Harrison Galleries

Went to Harrison Galleries opening featuring Cate Maddy, Lauren Potts and Miranda Skoczek. This is the first show for all of these artists and it is a wonderful example of what is new on the art scene. These girls really know how to paint and their work manages to straddle the fine balance between decorative (Oooh! That would look good in my home") and Fine Art (with a capital F and A). Cate Maddy had one work acquired by Art Bank and another on hold - if only I had the meagre $3200 to afford the one on hold I would have asked to snatch it if Art Bank didn't! It was a ripper! But the fact that they have acquired her work means that this could be a good investment. My only criticism is that 6 of the works were outstanding, but the two blue animal ones didn't hit the mark and for me, and put a question mark as to whether the first six were all she had in her. (In my experience, it's always easy to do 4 of anything; 6 means you can it wasn't an accident, and a show of 15 plus means you have worked long and hard and are in your stride!) Anyway, I give her the benefit of the doubt, since her mastery of spray paint, traditional oil paint methods and stencil/graphic elements was beautiful and surprising. Both Potts and Skoczek also managed a lovely painterly balance to their otherwise graphic presentations - in both cases, the juxtaposition between naturalism and flatness worked well and brought their work on par with what is happening internationally. Skoczek's work was almost as good as Maddy's, but a certain preciousness or self consciousness of paint placement showed a little less confidence and the desire to make a picture rather than interact with the painting. Well done all of you. (Harrison Galleries, 294 Glenmore rd Paddo till July 2)
What did you think of the Exhibition? Do you like Graphic and naturalism together? Post your comments here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Upcoming exhibitions and competitions 15th June till 15th July

I am exhibiting in Hope House Contemporary Art Exhibition and Auction, to be opened by Caroline Jones on 1st July, 5-7pm at SCA Gallery, Balmain Rd Rozelle. Exhibition runs 25th June to 3rd July, with Auction conducted by Andrew Shapiro, Shapiro Contemporary Art Auctions at the gallery on July 5 at 3pm. Artists include Lindy Lee, John Peart, Elisabeth Cumings, David Fairbairn, Suzanne Archer and many other well known artists. My painting is attached here 
I am exhibiting in Small Works 09 at Brunswick St Gallery (30 x 30 cm paintings max)from 19th June till 2nd July. Works are on sale and there is also an $8000 cash prize for the winner - Judges are Peter Westwood and Jennifer Mills, lecturers RMIT and Mark Jamieson of BSG. Tree series pics attached.
I have been selected (via a digital image)for the final 50 in the Mt Eyre Vineyards Art Prize. Paintings need to be delivered to the Rex-Livingston Gallery this week when the 25 finalists will be selected. Cross your fingers for me! tree Still LIfe Pic attached

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hunting a gallery

I went to a professional studies speed dating at an art fair. There were a Curator of public art events; a private curator/artist; a gallerist/dealer of a top gallery; an arts administrator (govt) and an art publicist. They maintain that the most important thing to do (after checking that your work fits with a gallery's stable) is to ask whether the gallery is looking for new artists. No matter how good your work (unless you have a very marketable name) a good gallery owes a debt to its current stable - ie they should be shown in a solo show every 18mths - 2yrs; have other means of promoting their work at other times etc. Even if your work is better than the existing stable, the gallery has invested in this artist's name and should not suddenly dump them for you - you wouldn't want that to happen to you! 
Problem is, if you ask them on the phone as they suggest, they will always say no! So you need to get your work across their desk first - mention a mutual contact/collector; or the last art prize you were selected for; or where you trained, how long you have been painting etc. I have exhibited in three states, and each of these galleries asked me to show them my work after engaging them in discussions about the current exhibition/artist; or having seen my work elsewhere (an art fair, another gallery). So get out there and talk to the galleries (you may not like the dealer even if you like their stable - and, let me tell you, that makes for a rough ride) and get your work out there as much as possible (artist run initiatives, Fairs, art prizes; personally funded group shows). The targeted approach is necessary to know which galleries to have these discussions with (natural conversation flows due to your interest in their artist)
I also recommend starting with a list of favourite galleries (whose stable you think your work would suit), begin at your top,  -aim high! approaching one gallery a  time. At worst, the galleries will have now seen your work and would recognise it - say as judges at Art Prizes in the future. Wait for a response, and after rejection (and licking your wounds, keep trying and, most of all, keep painting. As the "rejecting" galleries have told me, hard work, dedication and persistence will pay off! What are your tips for approaching a gallery? Post your comments here.

How to create a "style"

I think a style comes about as a result of having painted for a while...an artist tends to naturally have similar responses to the problems the painting throws up, and after a while, their brush strokes are unselfconsciously their own. Trying to develop a "style' means you are trying to be someone else, or to shortcut the work required to really be an artist. There is an "authenticity" which comes with this hard earned work, and even a novice, when given the choice between a number of paintngs and the time to view them, will respond to the one that is hard fought (try it -they pick that one every time!). This authenticity (ie true to you) shows even when painting in different subjects or while experimenting with techniques etc over a number of years - see Gerhardt Richter's work, the great German painter. That said, just about every artist I know moves backwards and forwards between tighter/looser; naturalistic/contrived - we are all a bit schizoid! My advice is to keep experimenting until you somehow incorporate it all together - it will happen, with time.


Went to the very Schmoozy, overcrowded but at least warm on an excruciatingly cold Sydney night, opening of this show at Damien Minton Gallery in Redfern. Damien's Speech was as warm and friendly as the guy himself - he really does work at the "arts community" ideal - but David Marr's was witty and insightful - he correctly identified the "lost" status of Hill End (as in: was that it? it can't be it...we must have missed it!). This exhibition has a local (to Hill End) curator and exhibits the work of many artists who have made Hill End their home and workplace (as DM put it, there's nothing to do when it's so cold but to bunker down and use the imagination). For my money, the stand out was Raquel Mazzina followed closely by Luke Sciberras. Danelle Bergstrom puts together a competent diptych, Genevieve Carroll's Installation is whimsical and interesting and "off the wall", Bill Mosely has a beautiful ink drawing. The show is intersting to see how one place can inspire artists, or is that how artists can bring to one place inspiration? What did you think?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Style,drawing, collage and Brett Whiteley

9 Shades of Whitely is an interesting exhibition  at Bathurst Regional Gallery - it was great to visit three of my favourite works of his that have been missing lately from the AGNSW. No matter how many times I see his lush brown abstracts, i am totally engaged (less so with the more illustrative, representational paintings of Lavender Bay, Birds etc). How does he get those browns???
What came across loud and clear was that he painted what he wanted ("the subject matter doesn't matter necessarily") but it was in his own inimitable style ie his solutions to the problems presented to him by his paintings are solved in a consistent manner, with an unselfconscious brush stroke - all of which forms his style or the indelible print on a painting that is Whiteley. 
There is a great video at this exhibition: some really informative stuff on drawing for the would be artist. As the artist states, drawing is all about "what is to move, what is to stand still...what is to be ambiguous and what is to be clear...what is to be reduced and what exaggerated...what distorted and what is real...what is smudged and what is defined...the drawing is the combination of what it looks like and what it means...what needs to be violated in order to get more power into it..."
I had also forgotten (how could I?) how much collage and mixed media are in his paintings - Charcoal, cardboard, string, fibre tipped pen, plaster. Also noted this to try in my own landscapes.
What do you think is the crux of a good drawing? What defines a person's style?

30x40Exhibition United Galleries Palmer St Sydney

Attended this exhibition on opening night Thurs 4th June. I was impressed with the display and variety of the work, tho I was disappointed that one of my paintings, which sold before opening night, was then displayed in the storeroom of the gallery (not enough room when pics are placed side by side around the main gallery). This seems a silly reason to "hide" a painting that, not only compliments the remaining painting that is hung up, would help to brand the exhibition as successful and high quality (my work wasn't the only one sold and "hidden"). Surely there is enough room behind reception, anywhere in the main gallery, to hang good quality work. Also since part of the reason for participation is to show your work and get your name out there, putting a painting where it is difficult to see negates one of the reasons for exhibiting. What do you think? What would you do?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Latest Landscape painting

I'm getting more and more abstract! These paintings come about from "just doing it" ie I put myself in the studio and have a starting point (a rough idea of what I want to paint) and I envision the experience of being in the landscape, then "excavate" an image -add and remove paint, scrape, layer etc -and what's left hopefully has a life of its own! I'm after a landscape essence.
What do you think about these works?

art Exhibition Sydney

Hi I have been selected for an exhibition of paintings all 30 x 40cm held at United Galleries in Sydney (Palmer St, Darlinghurst). About 30 artists have one or two pieces in the shop, so it's a snapshot of painting across Australia (artists from at least 4 states involved). Starts Friday June 5 till July 11). Let me know how you think the exhibition looked and whether you liked my paintings!


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