Many thanks to my old friend, Warrnambool-based artist Kathryn Ryan, who took these photos of the digital process and for her kind permission to share them here.
'I like a view, but I like to sit with my back turned to it.' Gertrude Stein 1874-1946
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Digitisation of the Warrnambool Art Gallery collection
Saturday, March 20, 2021
Pictured above, Double, double (as in toil and trouble*), the little work that’s been by far the biggest challenge of any of the paintings I’ve recently undertaken.
Double, double (2021, acrylic on two canvases, 17.5 x 25 cm) went through so many different stages, none of which remotely met my expectations, that I finally dismissed it as a heroic failure and moved on to other works.
I’ve learnt a great deal during the development of this picture. As it turned out, putting it aside was a good move. It gave me some sorely needed time and distance. Moreover, I was able to take what I gleaned from the making of other paintings in the series and apply some of it here. (In fact, all of the works so far have informed one other to some degree).
Double, double has also proven frustratingly hard to photograph. At this stage, I’ve decided it is what it is. Nevertheless, the work does look significantly better in the flesh. For starters, there is a more even tonal balance between the two panels than appears here and the colours, built up over multiple layers, are somewhat richer.
I haven’t documented the many stages this painting has been through and wouldn’t inflict them on anyone even if I had. However, a handful of developmental shots are below. At one stage, my twin protagonists were intended to wear matching earrings based on an ornate gold pair I discovered in a catalogue of historic jewellery originating from the Victorian Goldfields (see last two photos). The inclusion of finely detailed, delicate areas of gold was intended to reflect the influence of Tudor portrait miniatures on this work. I laboured over the jewellery for several hours, only to realise it was an enormous distraction that would detract from the rest of the painting, most notably the intricately braided hair that’s central to it. As a result, I abandoned the earrings even before I’d finished painting them. In the end, I went with the relatively simple earrings shown in the finished work above. They are based on a pair I’ve owned for many years, although I’ve changed the gemstones from the original red stones (which I believe are coral) to my birth stone, turquoise.
*Song of the Witches, Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Act IV, Scene I.
Monday, March 8, 2021
A work for International Women’s Day
Today is International Women’s Day 2021. In celebration, here is my newly completed work, Wonder (2021, diptych, acrylic on canvas, 35 x 12.5 cm). The lace collar was adapted from one of the doilies I inherited from my late aunt, Eileen Klein (see second progress view below).
Recently I used another doily from her collection as the basis for my subject’s collar in the diptych, Idyll. To view the work, click HERE.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Following is an updated (and hopefully, definitive) list of events that were moved from 2020 in the wake of COVID-19. I’m thankful that they will all go ahead and look forward with eager anticipation to each and every one of them.
NOTE: the revised 2021 dates for my solo shows at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery and Queenscliff Gallery, previously announced HERE, remain the same.
Level 8, Room 16, The Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000 (cnr. Flinders Lane)
July 21 - August 7
Opening event: 2 - 4 pm, Saturday July 24
Backstories, my first solo show with Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, comprises recent paintings and drawings that expand upon the “rear view portraits” closely associated with my work for over two decades.
81 Hesse Street, Queenscliff, VIC 3225
30 September – 18 October
Comprising paintings, prints and drawings, the exhibition presents the first overview of the most significant and enduring theme in my oeuvre, namely the Rückenfigur, or figure seen from behind.
2021 EVENTS MOVED TO 2022
APW George Collie Memorial Print Award
In 2020 I was awarded the APW George Collie Memorial Print Award, an honour I share with with the late Barbara Hanrahan. Initially postponed until 2021, the George Collie Memorial Print Award Exhibition at the Australian Print Workshop Gallery has been moved to next March, in alignment with International Women’s Day 2022.
Artist-in-Residence, Geelong Grammar
In 2020 Geelong Grammar School invited me to be their Artist-in-Residence for Term 2. Past AIRs include Lewis Miller, Sue Anderson, Dean Bowen, David Frazer, Tim Storrier, Yvette Coppersmith, Juan Ford, Nick Howson, Matthew Quick, Bern Emmerichs, Robert Lee Davis, David Booth (a.k.a. Ghostpatrol) and Godwin Bradbeer. The AIR was formerly rescheduled for May 2021. I will now take up the residency in May 2022.
Full details of both events will be announced nearer the times.
Pictured top: Sunset, 2019, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm, part of my forthcoming solo show, Backstories, at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Pictured above: Wayfarer, 2021, diptych, acrylic on canvas, 37.5 x 15 cm overall.
My protagonist’s intricately-patterned lace shawl is based on the even more complex design reproduced in the first image below, a panel of Austrian lace dating from the 19th century. As with all of the lace depicted in my work, rather than making a straight copy, which frankly I’d find extremely tedious, I select elements of a pattern, rearranging and adapting these to fit the format of the image. Until the pattern is resolved and each component has found its place, a watercolour pencil (white works best on a dark background) is a useful tool. Needless to add, a very fine brush is essential.
The well-thumbed reference book is Lace, L’Aventurine, Paris, 1995. English edition: Bookking International, Paris, 1995, English translation by Sue Budden.
A series of progress views follow directly.