Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quotes from Auerbach

The following quotes are from the book on Auerbach by Robert Hughes.
"Not until the very end did I get the courage to make some things bigger and others smaller than they were; to get the right expression of the whole thing...when I had done it, I recognised somehow that I had cut through my habits, I had made some shapes that seemed to conjure up a coherent, plastic fact: I had done my own painting. I didn't know whether I would ever be able to do it again, but at least I knew what it felt like."

"Nothing can be left out...but you have to bury the irrelevant in the picture, somehow". (To do this, he gradually realised paint would have to relate to drawing in a different way).

"In a good painting, everything is painted with the pressure of a grander agenda behind it, but sometimes the agenda isn't clear to the artist until the very end. It gives the secret unity... The problem is always to identify it."

"I cannot conceive of a way of working inwhich you make an armature and then put things on it. It's exactly those decisions about size, gesture and so forth that one wants to leave until last".
Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Grounded" 2008, 110 x 83cm

Idris Murphy, “I and Thou”, plus Southerly Buster

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery (Sutherland Shire Council, Gymea)

The opening of the survey show for this landscape artist last Friday night attracted the glitterati – well, the older patrons/friends and volunteers of the Gallery, Damien Minton (Gallery Owner), Randi Linnegar (King St Gallery Director and Idris’ dealer); Celia Gullett (artist, Tim Olsen Gallery and personal friend), Terry O’Donnell (also ex teacher COFA and East Sydney Tech), Annette Tzavaras (Art theorist, Fundraiser extraordinaire and seemingly everywhere I go) and Alison, another friend, who, I discovered, owns 23 of Idris’ paintings due to the fact that he is the godfather of her children! Ah Hem… well, we thought we were special, anyway (especially after a few wines and Idris signed our catalogues).

But the point is, this artist is well respected by many artists in the Sydney community, and recognition, though late in life, is coming thick and fast and, to my mind, not a moment too soon. He is a wonderful colourist, who combines colours even other colourists would never think of using, but somehow it works.
But here’s a warning -for non-artists, his work takes a bit of getting used to. His paintings are naive in execution –or “cacky handed” as I think John McDonald said – and he draws trees in a manner of a third grade school kid. However, on longer viewing, these seemingly simple paintings reveal a nuanced touch; a hardly decipherable composition where perspectives shift and the landscape is flattened; a skilled observation diluted to its simplest and most direct execution, and, importantly, evoke a sense of place and time of day. Stand in the gallery and cast your eye quickly over the whole show and I defy you not to be uplifted by the riot of colour and to discern an artists’ personal language somewhere between an indigenous rendering and European perception of a rather alien land.
An added bonus to the show is a rather excellent and even formidable exhibition of work from artists of note (mostly young) with connections to the “Shire” called “Southerly Buster”. Silke Raetz work is my favourite and a recent discovery for me, but all are excellent.

If you aren’t familiar with Idris’ work, then I encourage you to visit this show and be thoroughly out of your comfort zone. If you are familiar with it, enjoy the ride. Both exhibitions on till 4th October

Silke Raetze, Tender Trap (afetr Cupid) 2009, Oil on canvas with stitched canvas pieces, Courtesy the artist and Michael Reid Gallery
Images: Idris Murphy, Weipa Harbour, Storm Clouds 2005, Acrylic and collage on board, 120 x 120cm

Friday, August 28, 2009

John Peart, “Mainly Painting”

Went to visit the almost renovated, and thankfully quieter Watters Gallery to see this show by this well respected and prolific former teacher of mine. There were a number of unexpected treasures here, the most obvious being “E camaldulensis”, a wall sculpture made by this painter from the twigs/branches of the same name, intertwined in a grid formation that presents the basis of John’s investigations over the last couple of shows. The structure throws pleasant shadows on the wall and intrigues the eye with the play between real and ephemeral; and rough tactility of the materials opposing the geometric, linear nature of the final structure.
Frankly, besides loving the work, I was jealous because I had thought of doing a sculpture in found branches for my upcoming show, "Trees for my Father", and now it will look like I copied him. Damn!
As for the rest of the show, there is a surprising variety coming from works more closely related to this sculpture in their rawness (such as “Lattice”, “ShadowGrille” and the collages) combined with more finished, but still related works - all line, grid and experimental process – such as Ground Formations, the “Panel” paintings and Harvey’s shields. Through it all, it’s obvious that John is playing with chance -the multiple possibilities of his arrangements of squares in the “Grid” pictures; the varied drip, brush, line and colour work apparently laid at random; and the layering process, which leaves some elements to show through whilst others are coloured, attest to this.
Here is the work of an artist in control of his medium and process, and the painting, “Gradeground 1” is a ripper! (Geoffrey Legge, the co-Director of Watters quietly told me this one painting would knock Pollock’s “Blue Poles” out of the gallery if placed beside it). For my money, “Ground Formations” was close on its heels.
However, as I often find with John’s shows, a little more editing would work wonders in my opinion. Some paintings tend towards the muddy (“Grey Grid”) or uncomfortable/ugly colour combinations (“Tetrad 5”) and one of the Panel Paintings (I think it was 5) just didn’t work – it looked simply messy to me, and my eye kept going to one area that had red in it and being left stranded there. The collages are all pretty good and excellent value for an artist of this standing.
John Peart, Watters Gallery 11th Aug to 5th September
Image: John Peart, “E Camaldulensis”, 2009 Red gum wood, 122 x 244 x 15cm

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

new Work - More Sculpture/drawings

More images of work I have completed recently.

The ram sculpture is called tentatively, "Mortie" and is made of solid oil paint, wood base and sheep's skull.

This drawing/sculpture are called" She Oak" a detail from the back and the whole thing are shown here. It is part of the "trees for my Father" series and was constructed from a found dummy, gesso, cartridge and fabricio paper, pigment ink, charcoal and acrylic paint.

What do you think of these?

I am thinking of uding Mortie in a series of paintings - still life meets character adventure etc. Should I?

Monday, August 24, 2009

More Quotes-On being an artist

“Manure, roses, rubbish and straw –like good and bad artworks one produces- all serve a different function in the garden.” John Young

“The desire to reveal involves the terror of doing so.” Elizabeth Murray

“The pleasure of painting proves its necessity…Painting has a brilliant future, hasn’t it?” Gerhard Richter

“One has to believe in what one is doing. One has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do a painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically, painting is total idiocy.” Gerhard Richter

“You don’t just move into the future, you drag a past.” Larry Rivers

“What paintings have you learned from? From everyone that I know” Gerhard Richter

“I steer clear of definitions, I don’t know what I want. I am inconsistent, non- committal, passive. I like continual uncertainty. Other qualities may be conducive to achieving publicity, success, but they are all outworn…” Gerhard Richter.

“Now that there are no priests or philosophers left, artists are the most important people in the world” Gerhard Richter

“Painting is intrinsically capable of giving visible form to our best, most human, most humane qualities:”. Gerhard Richter

“The difference between success and failure, winning and losing, is a thin grey line defined as self belief.” (Author unknown to me)

“(Clarice Beckett’s) life is concerned with the in-between moments, the ones we almost forget but which are the stuff of much of our lives…in painting the external world she captures the inner state….Her enduring message is that to make and look at art is to delve into unfamiliar and often uncomfortable territory” Jenny Bell, Art in Australia

Image: Gabrielle Jones "Plateau" 2008, Oil on Canvas, 110x 83cm

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More Quotes - What is art?

“Art is the highest form of hope” Gerhard Richter

“I don’t see art as cohesive, but as a process of continued re-working, re-staging, re-enacting in both past and present.” Susan Norrie

“I did think then, that unless I really could draw like a Leonardo, I wasn’t a real artist- a childish thing…” Larry Rivers (even after selection for inclusion in Talent 50 exhibit at Kootz Gallery, NY, Rivers’ worries and crises of confidence did not abate)

“To me, art is always contemporary. It’s not a thing that is periodically over and done with. It has nothing whatever to do with time” Gerhard Richter

“A good painting to me denounces its own ties so that you are unable to remember it correctly. Thus it generates other images” Luc Tuymans

“One should be able to devour a painting with the eyes’ Picasso

“There is nothing original – all you can do is make an authentic forgery.” Luc Tuymans

Image: Gabrielle Jones "Heath" 2008, Oil on Canvas, 110 x 83

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Show and Tell-More drawings

Thought I should let you see the rest of the works in the Trees for my Father Series of Drawings.
Images: Scribbly Gum, Paperbark, Water Gum (details, top); 2009; cardboard, Ink, Canvas, watercolour, Feather and found leaves

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Been drawing a lot

Thought I might shut up for once, and let my work speak for itself (well, after this intro!) I have been a bit in the doldrums, I think mostly because my next show has been well and truly painted and there doesn't seem to be all that much need to do what I do. So I decided to draw, and I like what's coming out and it's related to my upcoming show in content - but definitely not in style. A problem? I don't know.

I started drawing to give me a lead into the next body of work ...but I'm in denial about changing my process again.
What do you think of the work? Should I just go with the flow and see what happens at the end of the journey (I KNOW the answer is yes, but do I have the courage?) Are these common questions for all of us practicing artists?
Images: Four out of seven totems from the "Trees for my Father" series. Tree totems (group) and details of top of Leatherwood, Iron Bark; Grass Tree, Flame Tree). Cardboard, Pigment ink, feathers, leather, wood, playing cards, matches, leaves)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What makes practicing artists special?

I don’t play a musical instrument – I only wish I did! But I was recently at a local Café launch and was treated to a wealth of talent from volunteer locals whom I usually see in a suit, lining up for their morning coffees. What a revelation – behind many a grey exterior, there lurks a colourful character all trussed up and packaged for the corporate world!

A couple of things came from this experience. After the “Sigh! I wish I could play guitar or piano” moment (yet again) I revelled in the pure, unadulterated joy that music can bring. I’d forgotten what a very powerful medium live music and the joy of singing along (even badly!) can be…The memories it unearths -the make of the car that you had your first kiss in, because the band just played “Evie;” or the smell of the tanning lotion that springs to mind, the sound of the beach when “Seventeen” plays; or the look in the boy’s face who first played you a “Seals and Crofts” Album; or the din at the party where you first heard “Dark Side of the Moon”…and on and on it goes….)

And I was again struck, after chatting to the band members, how many similarities there are between the art and music worlds, and how easily I can relate to them. The hard slog and resistance to rejection, the need to express individuality, to communicate, to participate in the art form or almost “die”; and the understanding and agreement about what makes art (basically boiling down to: honing your skills, “finding your own voice”, taking a creative risk, and having enough confidence to believe in your chosen path) are common to both. .

I also discovered that, not only could the band members and neighbours who later entertained us in their home (clarinet, drums, grand piano) sing and/or play music, they were damn fine photographers, writers, actors etc. Obviously, artistic expression in most people does not limit itself to one form and exists in more places than is obvious to the naked eye when crusing the neighbourhood.

So now I have a few questions:

What makes one person pursue the artistic dream and another not?

How do artistic people cope with displaying only the alternate personality required by today’s corporate world?

Why doesn’t society value artistic expression enough to make a career in it an economic reality for many artistic people, especially since it spreads so much joy?

What can we, as artists and as consumers, do about harnessing the talent that lies unused out there?

Any Answers?

Many visual artists say they do it because they couldn’t do anything else. Me?...I, have done a lot of other things and they were paid well and carried with them way more social kudos than I now have as an artist (particularly a female one…I often have to negate a presumption of having a high earning partner and too much time on my hands – all not true- to be taken seriously). But that all seemed too much like an act- too silly, really. It didn’t touch my core and eventually, I got tired of the game and decided to be myself.

What about you? Why do you do it (or not, as the case may be)? What sets you apart? Post your comment here.

Image: Free on Sunday -Tahiti" 2008, Oil on canvas, 122 x 152

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More quotes on the artistic Process

“(Jasper Johns) uses paint as an active kind of layering. He moulds it. Glues things on, and uses templates until the paint begins to have a concreteness, which reminds me of Cezanne”. Elizabeth Murray

“The notion of not having to get to a destination makes everything a possible destination” Robert Rauschenberg

“..I draw out the shapes as quickly as I can to keep myself off balance. I try to think about them as little as possible and let them come from unconscious places…It’s a way of tricking myself into trying to do or see something not so predictable…I get anxious to discover a new way to paint, which brings back the pleasure. …I play around (with paint) as long as I can stand it…it’s a process of trying to be unconscious and very deliberate at the same time…”. Elizabeth Murray

“If you have no certainty about how something is going to develop, then you go through the whole process of witnessing its development”. Robert Rauschenberg

“One should accept all givens, and move on from there” John Cage

“I like the idea of a thing to describe a feeling.” Damien Hirst

“(Paint) is this physical thing, yet you use it as a transforming agent…..The paint really makes the image. The paint discovers the image.” Elizabeth Murray

“I find it, then I go looking for what it is.” Picasso (on his choice of subjects and shifts of style)

“If you take something that no-one looks at and you displace it successfully, then people will look at it as thought it’s theirs and beautiful” Robert Rauschenberg

Do you relate to these quotes? What is your artistic process? Post your comments here

Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Hill End" 2008, 110 x 83cm Oil on Canvas

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

David Fairbairn, Stella Downer Fine

Went to see this really good exhibition last week.

David has broken out into colour – magnificent emerald greens with Indian Yellows (I think!) and pink/grey/black combinations which make me wish he’d taken the plunge earlier.

David Fairbairn was a teacher of mine at NAS – Life Drawing. I knew him to be very intellectual, quite attractive (to an older woman like me) and easy to engage in conversation. We were both selected for the inaugural Art on the Rocks in 2003, which David won. He has already won the Doug Moran Portrait Prize, which he accepted in his usual, modest way and put the money towards a new studio on his property in Wedderburn, the apple country just west of Sydney. His work, until this date, was all black and dark browns with white highlights, drawn in many layers on the one surface, as well as many versions of the one subject (usually depicting people of his acquaintance). In his words, David’s works “are a forensic mapping out of an energy field." FAIRBAIRN creates architectural portraits using angular lines. His densely layered works on paper portray the inherent fragility and transient nature of human existence - the shifting layers become markers of time, capturing every movement of the sitter and every mark made by the artist. FAIRBAIRN combines printmaking, draughtsmanship and painting. His works begin with a completed print which becomes the underlying structure for the layers of paint he uses to build the work.

Besides colour, the other surprise was the scale of a number of works, hung in the Depot II space and spilling over into the regular Stella Downer Gallery beside it. They hit you in the face like a wall - you can explore the lines and get lost in them, travelling into the picture and seeing the abstract qualities and depth in the execution. They are also reasonabley priced works, but this show may change all that for the next one. I was there the day after opening, mid winter in the GFC, and he had sold about half (the best of the large works gone but some still left). My favourites were these pics, the smaller one was my choice to buy if I had the money!

Well worth getting over there, folks

Stella Downer Fine Art (and Depot II Gallery) 2 Danks St Sydney 28 July - 23 Aug 2009

Image: David Fairbairn (Large) “VH no4” and (smaller) “DG No 12”

Did you like this exhibition? Post your comments here

Monday, August 10, 2009

Teaching Oil Class-Synchronicity!

I was just asked to present the Northbridge Art Prize to the 2009 winners later this year, as I was a winner in 2005. Judy, the owner of the Northbridge School of Visual Art has kept contact with me (I am ashamed to say that I have been a bit lax) and I was flattered to be asked and so, of course, accepted. (FYI Entries close soon and presentation will be on Friday Sept 18 – I’m not a judge!)

As well as having a bit of a catch up about what has been happening, I asked if she needed any teachers at her school – and low and behold, she had just asked another teacher who couldn’t take the oil painting class and was anxious to find another teacher.

I, on the other hand, had just decided last week that teaching would be a good idea to buffer the financial concerns, to get in front of interested art lovers, and to exercise a bit of knowledge sharing. I had even just completed a “teaching” CV and approached a couple of TAFEs. And so I am happy to say I have a job (one day a week) from next Tuesday week!

As for "teaching" I have also found that articulating your thoughts about art (like in this blog!) makes you aware of what you are doing, where problems might arise, what solutions exist (sometimes allowing a break-through with your own work) as well as why you are doing it. And the positive and creative energy of inquiring students can also be a wonderful tonic for one’s art practice. That’s why a number of artists, who don’t need to teach (such as Euan McLeod, Lindy Lee and Aida Tomescu) still do it.

So… a couple of things came from this exchange (and I’m going to get all “new agey” here)…

Articulate what you want, take positive action towards it and see what happens;

Ask and you shall receive – but ask not only the Universe, but people who may be able to help you!

In giving of your knowledge, you receive a lot back, so always be generous with your knowledge or experiences as you can also learn from others when they share theirs.

Do you believe in synchronicity? Share your experiences here.

Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Coastal" 2008 110 x 83cm Oil on Canvas

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Websites for career help and marketing

As I have a solo show coming up in November (3rd to 15th, Danks St, waterloo Sydney –you’re all invited!) I have been investigating websites that allow for marketing or listing your exhibition. I am surprised how many there are, and I thought that I would share them with you -good karma! May be I’ll sell some more work…..) You’ll need to pay for this one (the price has dropped and the site will be upgraded to make it more user friendly soon). Benefits are that you can upload a lot of work, descriptions, bio prices etc in one place, which you can link to your own website and the price includes an announcement of your exhibition, before and during the show on the email newlstter front page. There are a lot of subscribers here, hopefully of the art buying type, but I’d like this confirmed with some stats (a friend of mine has done quite well from here). The owners advertise widely for additions to the list in AGNSW Society mag “Look”, SMH Spectrum etc, most of whom are attracted by the chance of winning $1000 painting every month. Newsletter is sent out every 2 weeks.

This eponymous site allows you to sign up as a business. But you can also sign up personally and upload pics (wasn’t allowed in business last time I checked). You canalso send your friends an invitation and have it displayed on their site, so their friends can see it and may become interested in your work UK Site – but worth the link to your website and looking at the pics of other people’s work. Also try for the same reason, and and (Site for artists and exhibitions in New York) for looking at what this centre for the arts has happening. You can make your work into cards or T shirts and impress your friends, be a walking advertisement for your work. However, too many amateur artists and not sure if anyone is buying. Artists site where you can display work for free For the serious collector or fellow artists. Who knows, your work may come to the editor’s attention and you get it reviewed (here’s hoping). -NAVA and Australian Business Arts Foundation with support by Fed Govt have joined to help artists with career decisions and marketing. A wealth of relevant information for artists in Australia (and much info applies to artists anywhere)

A community website where artists can have one free page which shows five

images, a brief biography and contact details a great chat forum on what is happening in art in Australia, but also a section called “look at me” where you can upload announcements re your exhibition; upload works in progress, and even have other artists critique your work.

A database of living Australian artists which allows artists to upload 10 images, artist statement and contact details. The service is free to registered users. You can search the website by name, artform or location, or just browse through the artist gallery by using the search function.

A portal for multiple art forms including visual arts, performance, music and literature. Artists can purchase a standard or professional portf olio, allowing between 5 – 10 images and one page for text.

Share your comments about these sites here, or let us know of any other worthwhile sites for artists.

Image: Highland 2008 (SOLD) Oil on Canvas 110 x 83cm

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Optimism – The Artist defined

Been reading the catalogue for the exhibition: “Contemporary Australia: Optimism” held at the fabulous new Modern Art building of the Queensland Art Gallery in 2008. Apparently the Gallery intends a trienniel exhibition featuring the best Australian Art has to offer in Contemporary practice/culture …..and more power to them!

This is a great book about an exhibition I didn’t even know was on and wish like hell I had been to see!

It contains works from painters, drawers, installation and performance artists, sculptors, photographers, Leunig and even Jane Turner (aka “Kath” from the hit TV series ‘Kath & Kim’).

And it even contains the following wonderful quotes, analysis of various art forms and musings on optimism and it’s relationship to art practice that make me proud to be an artist:

“Going into the studio every day is an act of optimism”

“Optimism is a clear-cut matter of courage and commitment. (Artists) are committed to the creation of beauty and wonder, intrigued by exploration and given to wild leaps of imagination..”

“Humour and satire are powerful tools for defeating sadness and stimulating hope…(artists are) deliberately confronting challenges ranging from personal demons to social problems….”

“Optimism is colour…a celebration of life - joy, courage, a gesture of pure love and faith; an anti-dote to sorrow..”

“Australian optimism is provisional, fragile and skeptical ….(however) it’s the golden thread through the Australian Narrative..”

“Optimism sustains in times of trouble and through suffering – it’s a shared strategy for survival…”

“The commitment to questioning, invention, passion and energy (required by an optimist) are at the heart of studio practice…”

“There is the necessity of action if hope is to survive. Optimism makes every kind of action in and on the world possible..”

“(The artists’) ceaseless wonder before the world’s possibilities awaken our sense of renewal and anticipation…”

“Optimism – the light that guides “the better angels of our nature’ (borrowing from Abraham Lincoln)…”

“Blind optimism – a form of madness”

“(Artist) are able to see the beauty in every day things and smile…”

Now I’m feeling better about my role in the world and it’s future…..How about you? Are you proud of an artist’ contribution to our world? What do you think the nature of that contributuion is? Post your comments here.

Image: Genesis 2008 Oil On canvas, 110 x 83cm

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Art and the Budget resolutions

I went to the Glebebooks 50% off sale last weekend. They have a great selection of art books and Art Mags, and I needed a fix. However (as is usually the case) the sale didn’t include these items. Despite promising myself (and even admonishing my partner) not to spend money unless it was a great deal…and that, just because we were going there didn’t men we had to buy something…we nevertheless “dropped” a total of $79 on books.

Whilst I am sure it was all good value (at least that is what I am telling myself) it brought about the angst of the need for budgeting if I am to continue in my art practice. So I did my accounts today –and discovered just how expensive it is to be an artist!

What became apparent was that any time I go into an art supplies store, it costs about $100, and that’s just buying what I need at the time.

Canvases are probably second only to food and rent for the operating costs of an artist. I finally ordered some more canvases last week. I have been using every canvas lying around my studio, and so starting the long line of failures due to too many size changes and consequent need to adjust (which was happening too slowly). That order cost another “Cool” $500 (I only bought 8), and Roger, my supplier makes them at a very reasonable price. I figure they cost me about $10 extra per item for him to source the materials, to stretch the canvas so much better than I can, and to deliver. Meanwhile, the theory is that I can be painting which, in normal times, would usually earn more money than that per hour, for the time I save not doing them myself. That’s not the case at the moment.

I also spent something like $350 in art prize entry fees, another $500 in delivery/pick up costs and an average of $7per envelope for express post delivery of the CD and entry form (you can track your entry by using one, it’s big enough for a CD, and still just drop it in the post box closest to you).

My studio also costs $528 per month. This is cheaper than the one I moved from in January of this year (by far) and pretty competitive from what I can gather. It has the space I need – and is already filling up fast (since my output is fairly prolific). Can I work from Home/? Not unless I am happy to drive everyone around me crazy with the mess and “distracted demeanour”.

So here’s the budget conscious possible resolutions for this financial year:

  1. Don't go into art mag or art book stores unless you have the will-power of a Greek God.
  2. Make sure you don’t go into an art supply store unless it’s necessary, and don’t “browse” the shelves.
  3. Make time to make a list of necessary art supplies, not only to restrict the spending but to make sure you don’t miss anything, and so, not have to return and be tempted again.
  4. Buy Stretcher bars in numbers that attract a discount, and stretch canvases yourself.
  5. Buy rolls of canvas rather than pieces and make sure they are pre –primed at least twice, and then prime them again yourself, just to be sure (that way you save on the cost of gesso).
  6. Restrict the number of entries into art prizes. I realised the amount of time and money spent on burning a disc; delivering to post box/office and sending by express mail; writing a cheques for entry fees; arranging and paying for delivery and pick up costs could well be spent on buying the work of a struggling artist friend, and so feeding him/her for a month!
  7. Apply for a Masters Program –free Studio Space!
  8. Anyone want to buy a painting???

What money saving measures have you been taking? Do you have any new suggestions? Post your comment here.

Image: Homage to the Rock God (the artist, seeking "the other' in her work, finds herself between a rocj and a hard place". 2009 oil on Canvas 152x 122cm


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