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

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!

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.

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,

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

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Portrait of Julie

My next profile portrait in the series is of Julie McLaren, curator at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Sometimes the drawing turns out a little larger than I planned, but I go with it as the portrait unfolds. Charcoal is a medium I love to use but I don't feel the same sense of precision as I do with pencil. Each medium has its advantages, and I do like the impact charcoal has from a distance. I often work on the portrait after the sitter has gone as it's easier to think about the drawing when there is no-one around.  I also like a drawing to look as if it's been made by hand, that is, the marks of the charcoal have not been smoothed out too much.

Portrait of Julie McLaren, 2017, charcoal and white pastel on paper, 37.25 x 29 cm

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wallace and Gromit and Friends exhibition

Deborah and I saw a fantastic exhibition at ACMI the other day, titled Wallace & Gromit and Friends:  the Magic of Aardman. The history of the studio, from its beginnings to the work being produced today was both magical and informative. It's always fascinating to 'see behind the scenes'. Numerous drawings, robot puppets - pulled apart to show you how they moved, clay models, lighting techniques explained and many original miniature sets, some never seen before in exhibitions, never ceased to amaze and delight. 

What was fun, but unexpected, was that at the end of the exhibition there was a set up where the public could make a 3 second animation. Plasticine was supplied to create a small figure which was then animated at 8 frames per second from an iPad supplied by ACMI. The animation was shot on an app called oSnap, with a maximum of 25 shots and then it could be emailed to oneself. The following pics show Deborah and I playing around with the modelling clay on a small set, which was really a photographic backdrop.

Deborah made a cat and I made a hand. It's a shame the app doesn't play on blogger, but what occurred was the cat jumped into the hand which turned and enclosed it and then everything fell into a blob of plasticine. We have just got a new kitten, called Alice, so she inspired the storyline as she is a very mobile feline with a lot of energy.

Both of us have always had animation at the back of our minds, so who knows, a visit to the Aardman exhibition might inspire us to look into it more.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Track Record

This painting was done after my horse racing exhibition in 2014. My work explores different subject matter and genres but sometimes there's an overlap, for example, this work is an extension of my trompe l'oeil series in combination with horse racing. 

Although this work portrays champion horses and jockeys from the early years of Australian horse racing to the present day, it also unfolds the changing way reality has been depicted, from lithographs, etchings, black and white film, colour film and digital photography.   

It took many months to paint, and I thought I would include some progress shots of the work as it took shape. My approach was a little different to the way I often paint. Generally I block in thin, broad shapes to give me an idea of the composition, but in this case the rectangles of each horse and rider needed to be a specific proportion so it was easier to do this one at a time. If I had mapped out the entire picture, the inevitable adjustments would have made it too complicated. I always started with the jockey and judged how big to make him. Then I added the horse and finally the rectangular border around both. The size of the jockey in the next image was determined by the size of the previous image.

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Go Figure

Go Figure presents a selection of works from Tweed Regional Gallery’s collection that highlight the 
human figure. The primary inspiration for the exhibition theme is a group of works in bronze by the 
renowned sculptor Rayner Hoff and his students Marjorie Fletcher and Barbara Tribe, on loan from 
the private collection of a member of Marjorie Fletcher’s family.

Artists featured include: Ella Dreyfus, Stephen Dupont, Marjorie Fletcher, Robert Hannaford, Rayner
Hoff, Petrina Hicks, Angus McDonald, Rod McNicol, Daniel Moynihan, Monica Rohan, Jenny Sages,
Barbara Tribe and Greg Weight.

My painting, Untitled #85, has a place in the exhibition and it's such a pleasure to see it hanging 
amongst so many excellent works.

The exhibition is on until Sunday 21 October 2018

Installation shot of the exhibition.

Untitled #85, 2001, oil on canvas, 152 x 121.5cm