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

Friday, November 10, 2017

Rick Amor Self Portrait Prize 2017

The Rick Amor Self Portrait Prize is an art prize sponsored by artist Rick Amor. This year is the second time the award as been held, the first occurring in 2013. Rick Amor is well known for his own self portraits and it's through his generosity that an exhibition like this can be made possible. 

There is a size restriction too, the portrait is not to be larger than 81 x 60 cm, which is a good thing because we often see artists creating portraits on an enormous scale primarily to catch the attention of the judges. Portraiture should be an intimate exploration of a particular person in a medium, so the size limitation works to that end.

There are many fine self portraits in this exhibition and I think the finalists were a stronger selection than the inaugural prize, so it is a privilege to be among them. My entry is below

Photo credits - Deborah Klein

Self Portrait in s Patterned Sweater, 2017, oil on linen, 46 x 36 cm

Three portraits

A list of the finalists

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Judging at the Royal Melbourne Show

This year's Royal Melbourne Show was a new experience for me because I was asked to judge some of the art on display, along with my partner, Deborah Klein. We judged the prints, paintings and mixed media sections, and as a guess, we probably looked over 70 works. This might not sound like a large number, but we had to grade and comment on every single entry. It was a tough day, but also a pleasure, especially since we had two excellent assistants, Helen and Catherine. Another pleasure was the great lunch that was put on for all the workers in our building - you were certainly made to feel at home. Both Deborah and I are looking forward to next year when we'll come back and do it all again.  

Photo credit - Deborah Klein and Jill Kellett

Me looking at the Prints section.

 Some of the paintings on display.

 Deborah in deep thought about the work.

 With Catherine (Standing) and Helen, our two great voluntary assistants.

What a big lunch!

From left - Gracia Huby, Romona Barry whom is in charge of the 
Arts and Craft section, me, Deborah Klein and Louise Jennison. 
Gracia and Louise will also be judges next year. The pigs are fakes!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Drawing Gordon Morrison

This is another drawing that will ultimately form a series of profile portraits of people in the Arts. Gordon Morrison is currently the director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat but he will retire in 2018. Gordon has always had a respect for painting and drawing and he will be missed by the many artists who reflect similar values. Under Gordon's leadership, the gallery has seen fantastic exhibitions for many years and hopefully his legacy will continue into the future. 

This sitting was about two and a half hours, and it was done on grey paper so I could take advantage of the beard, which asked to be rendered with white pastel. Sometimes the addition of white on darker paper gives a drawing a different look than if it was done on white paper. One approach is not necessarily better than the other, it's simply another way to approach a portrait drawing.

Drawing Gordon

Portrait of Gordon Morrison, 2017, charcoal and white pastel 
on grey paper, 42 x 28.25 cm

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Painting Aimee

Portrait of Aimee Board, 2017, oil on linen, 46 x 35.75 cm

Aimee and I were at RMIT Art School together but in different years. I had an exhibition at Warrnambool early this year and Aimee happened to be working there. After meeting again 17 years later we got to talking about portraits. Aimee was doing a Masters degree at Melbourne University, and one of her subjects was the portrait photographer Athol Shmith.  It seemed a natural progression that we then decided to do a series of portraits. The profile below was the first, so who knows where this may lead.

Aimee, 2017, charcoal and white pastel, 69.75 x 41 cm

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


The Melbourne International Film Festival has now come to an end for another year. Deborah saw 55 films in the two and a half weeks, while I saw 15, and it was certainly an enriching experience.

The film that has stayed with me the most is called A Final Portrait, directed by Stanley Tucci. It was based on A Giacometti Portrait (1965) a recollection by the American writer James Lord, of having his portrait painted by Alberto Giacometti.

Geoffrey Rush plays Giacometti with conviction and the film set was a reconstruction of Giacometi's studio. So good. it looked like the real thing, complete with the artists sculptures and paintings - but these were reproduced too.

I'm not saying it was the best film I saw during the festival, but I suppose it resonated within me because this year I've been engaged with portraiture too.

 Giacometti's portrait of James Lord, 1964, oil on canvas, 115.9 x 80.6 cm

Alberto Giacometti (left) and Geoffrey Rush

During the Festival, the Forum opens its doors to the public at certain times where you can eat, drink and talk about the films. The interior is magnificent, as the following pics show. Deborah and I took turns to capture these moments.

 Deborah at the Forum

A coffee is always a welcome pick-me-up 

Interior of the Forum

The stage area 

The sign says it all