Friday, July 20, 2018

Profiling Simon

Simon Storey, 2018, pencil, 39.5 x 27cm 

I've known Simon for many years and at the back of my mind, I always wanted to do a portrait of him. Although this is a black and white drawing, I loved the colours he wore when he sat for his portrait. 

Simon is a valuer, and he's been commissioned to value a number of our major State and regional galleries.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Drift of Memories

On occasion I change mediums, and this sculpture is the fourth one I've made that is primarily a model construction. I've always loved looking at models, whether they are of cities, stage sets or doll's houses. In a sense, it's like viewing life in miniature.

At first I was a little apprehensive at calling it sculpture, the reason being that I've always considered sculpture as a carving or a casting from a clay model. But so much Modernist and contemporary sculpture is a construction, but on a massive scale, this one is simply the same thing on a small scale. I've included some examples of the work in progress. The hardest thing to do was the camera, and it took days to figure out how to bring the three legs together and keep the perpendicularl centre pole in a vertical position. I ended up making a miniature scaffolding that held the pole in the right position then angled the legs carefully to join them all up.

Most small models are about what the eye sees, by that I mean they tell you what a real stage set will look like, or the type of dwelling a small doll would inhabit, or the look of a town that once existed, but what I'm aiming for is to make something that suggests what isn't present. 

The title is about the way memories can be so important, something we need to capture and retain, but in time they begin to drift until they all fade.

The Drift of Memories, 2018, balsa wood, MDF, polymer clay,
 40.5 x 28.5 x 23.75 cm (hxwxd)

Thursday, July 5, 2018


Moonrise, 2018, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 30.5 cm

With this painting I aimed to contrast the calm in the background against some agitation of the foreground water. It's also done from my memory of a twilight sky over Lake Wendouree in Ballarat. 

It took a while to do, because although there is not much detail, sometimes I added one or two small lights in the background and a few more ripples in the water. I find that my pictures advance in waves, but over time. Some artists can make work as if it was done in a single wave, and it probably was, but I can't do that myself.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Drawing Tim

As the photo shows, Tim posed with his camera for around three hours, and returned for a short while on another day so I could finish the drawing. I love hands, and so I appreciate the effort Tim put in so I could draw them. Tim is a photographer and tapestry weaver, to see Tim's art. click HERE

Tim Gresham, 2018, pencil on paper, 39 x 31 cm

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Exquisite Palette Exhibition

Deborah and I have a fabulous kitten named Alice. A few months ago she was sitting on Deborah's knee just looking at me for awhile so I decided to have a sketchbook and biro ready the next day. There she sat again and looked on, long enough to be able to sketch her eyes and a bit around them. From then on I was able to add a bit here and there over time and ended with a complete sketch of her face. Since I had to hurry, the features are a bit out, but it didn't matter that much because I had enough information to be able to redo her face and make the necessary adjustments.

Sometimes I continue with tromp l'oeil painting when the occasion arises. A page from the sketchbook and sticky tape are painted but the grain is the real thing. I realised that the page would not fit nicely within the palette so I added a small piece of wood which allowed me to extend the painting beyond the edge. I also curved the wood so that it would look like the page is bent at its corner when I added a shadow.

The reason it's painted on an artist's palette is in connection to an exhibition called The Exquisite Palette. It's the fourth exhibition of its kind and is open to any artist who desires to participate. The exhibition is organised by David Coles and Louise Blyton, who are artists and have an arts supply shop called St Luke Artist Colourman, but this year the palettes will be shown at Tacit Galleries from 6 June until 1 July.

This is the second image I've done of Alice. I've already made a drypoint from the same biro sketch which will be posted soon.

Sketch of Alice, 2018, oil on wood

 Added wood on back 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Painting Louise

This is a painting of Louise Taylor. We had 8 sittings for this portrait, spread over about 6 months. It was commissioned by Jim Taylor, who I had as a drawing lecturer at art school (RMIT). Jim was always inspiring and encouraging as a teacher, so it was great to connect in this way. Louise also studied art, so she has a good eye. After I thought the portrait was finished, she suggested perhaps one final sitting was needed to bring out the eyes a little more, and she was right. After another sitting, the face had more focus than before. I always welcome feedback from the sitter, as finishing a painting is sometimes a doubtful decision. 

Portrait of Louise Taylor, 2018, oil on linen, 61.25 x 45.75cm

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Twilight Blue

Twilight Blue, 2018, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 30.5 cm

This painting is another addition in the series of paintings which have moonlight as the main subject matter. The time frame for this hour of the evening is barely 15 minutes, after which it's too dark to see the canvas, so it's painted from memory and imagination after a number of visits to the sight.

Sometimes it's a little tricky to balance detail and breadth of handling, as too much detail might transform a mood picture into a recognisable landmark, which is not my intention.  

Sunday, April 29, 2018


Priscilla Ambrosini sat for this portrait at a moments notice, which was fortunate for me because another sitter had to cancel our appointment. Priscilla is an artist too. She was a student at RMIT and my partner, Deborah Klein, was one of her lecturers, so it's been great to have a friendship after all these years.

I've always thought a great portrait is such a magical thing to see and recently I came across a wonderful book on portrait drawings, a catalogue from The National Portrait Gallery in London titled THE ENCOUNTER, DRAWINGS FROM LEONARDO TO REMBRANDT. I thought I would probably never come across another art book I would love to have, but surprises can happen!

Priscilla Ambrosini, 2018, pencil, 45 x 32 cm

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Profiling Sophia

This portrait of Sophia Sylagyi was completed over two short sittings. I thought I would add the half finished drawing from the first sitting to contrast it with the final one. It is drawn with a pencil and took around three hours, which is about the average time it takes for these drawings. I did a little touching up here and there, but I don't like doing too much once the sitter has left, otherwise it becomes a different drawing.

Sophia Szilagyi, 2018, pencil, 43 x 29 cm

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Classical Guitar

Trying out the Esteve GR08 guitar 

I've always loved listening to classical guitar music and I greatly admire a great classical guitarist. I had guitar lessons for three years from when I was 12 years old, but rarely touched the instrument until recently. I also had a desire to compose a tune one day, any tune, so long as it was something one could play. Over the last twelve months I've been attempting to write small, and simple, compositions. This one, titled FAREWELL, was the first one I kept. The other day I bought a classical guitar, an Esteve GR08, and it sounds fantastic, especially on the 4th, 5th and 6th strings, and a good guitar does make a difference when one practices.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Drawing Margeurite

The next profile portrait in my series is of Margeurite Brown, manager of the Print Council of Australia. After a number of charcoal drawings, I decided to change mediums, so this is the first portrait of the series drawn in pencil. Mediums can effect the way you think, so the pencil portraits emphasise line perhaps more so than charcoal, which lends itself more to chiaroscuro. Of course each medium can achieve both kinds of rendering, but I get a more linear feel for a portrait through pencil, and a more light and shade feel through charcoal. Margeurite sat for about three hours with a very short break in between.

 Portrait of Margeurite Brown, 2018, pencil on paper, 36 x 25 cm

Friday, March 2, 2018


My painting below, titled Track Record, has been included in an exhibiton at Charles Nodrum Gallery until March 17th. The exhibition is called HEADS AND BODIES, and explores the theme of human and animal bodies, sometimes in relation to each other and at other times as a self contained entity.

An online catalogue may be viewed HERE. There is also a 32 page catalogue available which is displayed below. The cover is a painting by Russell Drysdale.


Charles Nodrum Gallery
267 Church Street
Richmond 3121
(61 3) 94270140

Half Caste Woman, 1960, oil on canvas, 91.5 x 71 cm

Track Record, 2016, oil on canvas, 111.5 x 83.5 cm

Friday, February 23, 2018

Drawing Tom

Tom sat for about four hours. Sometimes it's tricky to stop a drawing, but I wanted it to remain unfinished. I love Hockney's unfinished approach to drawing, perhaps it plays on the mind, as the viewer might imagine what has been left out. But also, the state of the unfinished is what a person is too - we're all works in progress.

Portrait of Tom Alberts, 2017, charcoal and white pastel on paper, 49.75 x 29.75 cm

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Moon Rising

Moon Rising, 2018, oil on linen, 46 x 28cm

This painting is a continuation in the series where moonlight features as the main subject matter. It's a variation on my painting titled Winter Moon from the previous post. I was looking at that painting and got the idea of doing another version of it, but cut in half. A vertical format seems to reach up, which expresses the feeling of height and expansion, which a moon in the sky conveys. The vertical compositions of Arthur Streeton were also an inspiration as he in turn was inspired by Whistler. Whistler was influenced by the compositions of Japanese ukiyo-e artists, especially Utagawa Hiroshige at a time when Japanese prints made their way into Western culture after the mid-19th Centry, also known as Japonism.

Arthur Streeton - Pacific Blue, 1890, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 50.8 cm

James Whistler - Variations in Violet and Green, 1871, 61 x 35.5 cm

Utagawa Hiroshige - Six Jewel Rivers, 1857, ink and colours on paper, 36.2 x 24.4 cm

Although I'm aiming to catch a mood rather than a location, I often visit the sight in the evening and start the painting the next morning, based on my general memory of what I saw. I find that if I just make things up too much, it looks as if the picture has lost that touch of reality which I like to get into the paintings, even though my aim is not the details of a scene.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Winter Moon

Winter Moon, 2016, oil on linen, 36 x 46 cm

A painting based on my viewing of Lake Wendouree at night. Then moon wasn't really in that position, but I incorporated it into the picture based on sketches from life, make believe and the dictates of the composition. It's almost impossible to paint a picture like this from life because this time of day only lasts a few minutes - too light to be really dark, but too dark to be twilight.

click on image to enlarge it