Friday, December 30, 2022

The Birth of Cinema

The Birth of Cinema, 2022, oil on canvas, 20.25 x 25.25 cm

Many years ago, a great friend of mine had a part of his house converted into a cinema and it's been my good fortune to be invited to many of his screenings. Ross had an eightieth birthday recently and for a birthday present I thought it a good idea to paint a scene in a cinema. But what to put-on the screen? Eventually the idea came to me to make an image of the moving picture that is regarded as the beginning of the cinema as we know it today. 

It was made by the Lumiere brothers, Auguste and Louis, in 1894 and it is known by the title L'arrivee d'un train en gare de La Ciotat ( The arrival of a train at Ciotat train station). There are 3 versions of this motion picture which are known to have existed but the original film created a new artistic medium that has developed in a way that would have astounded the Lumiere brothers. No doubt they would have been proud to know they were the spark that created film history.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

My Early Beginings as an Artist.

When I decided to study art seriously, at 20 years old, I couldn't get into an art school, so there was only one course of action to pursue. The hardest question to answer was how do you become an artist? How do you make the kind of images you see in the art books? After trying out many ways to paint pictures and without success, I travelled to London when I was 26 and saw the small painted cloud studies by John Constable which were done directly from life. It was a revelation and from that time on I have painted  almost all of my pictures from life. 

I didn't stay long in London so when I got back to Melbourne I painted scores of still life pictures. Almost all of them I destroyed but I kept about a dozen. At this time I couldn't paint skies, clouds or things in front of other things. In these still life paintings, very few objects overlap that much. But these few paintings are some of the ones I've kept from 40 years ago.

Still Life with Ceramic Container, Oranges, Glass and Corkscrew, 1981,
oil on masonite, 39.4 x 44.7 cm

Still Life with Teapot, Apples and Oriental Porcelain Container, 1982, 
oil on canvas board, 47.5 x 59.3 cm

Still Life with Glass, Bananas, Spoon and Beads, 1981,
Oil on masonite, 31.5 x 35.5 cm

Still Life with Brandy Bottle, Two Glasses, Bananas and Knife, 1983,
 oil on canvas board, 45.5 x 59.25 cm


Saturday, November 26, 2022

Empty Frame With Reflections

Empty Frame with Reflections, 2022, oil on canvas, 40.4 x 30.5 cm.

This is a paintings I did while I was the artist-in-residence at Geelong Grammar School recently. The tricky part was to convey the feeling that you are looking at an empty frame with glass in it
reflecting an image but not enough to look like a frame with a picture in it. 

The reflection is a suggestion of my face but I needed to adjust the tones to make it seem like there is someone there. Whether I succeeded or not is up to the viewer.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Christening Dresses

 In 2013 I bought 3 Christening dresses as subjects for still-life paintings. In 2022, I finally painted the final one. 

From a painting perspective, rendering the colour white and capturing intricate patterns are two challenges that are a pleasure to tackle. A Christening dress has both, which add delicacy and  elegance these these objects. These gowns also suggest the spiritual since they have an association with  the newly born. Below are the 3 Christening dresses with some details of hems, cuffs and collars.

Christening Dress #1, 2013, oil on canvas, 91.25 x 50.25 cm

Christening Dress #2, 2015, oil on canvas, 102 x 66 cm

Christening Dress #3, 2022, oil on linen, 122 x 61.25 cm

Monday, October 31, 2022

Storm on the Lake

Storm on the Lake, 2022, oil on linen, 46 x 61 cm

This work was inspired by Lake Wendouree in Ballarat, which is a never-ending source of ideas for paintings. This painting is a studio invention though I like to constantly visit the place of the initial inspiration as it helps me to develop the painting over time. Visiting the sight reveals the little things that are important and which make a difference to the result of the work. It could be the colour and shape of a cloud, the reeds pushed towards the shore, the trees and buildings along the horizon or an orange buoy in the water. Sometimes real life has surprises that inventions overlook.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

More Pics from Geelong Grammar School

I thought I would post a few more pics from my residency at Geelong Grammar so here they are. 

The art students have an art award called the Coriobald, an annual portrait prize opened to Geelong Grammar students only, and the name is of course a play on the Archibald. I was a little surprised when I was asked to be one of the judges when I arrived at Geelong Grammar School to begin my residency. In general, I'm not a fan of Art Prizes or Awards as they are a kind of censorship. By that I mean the finalists and winners are filtered through the prejudices and agendas of those who judge the artwork. Then there is the inevitable compromise amongst the judges as they seek a common ground to come up with a winner that will suit all the judges. It might not even be the winner you would choose if you were the only judge. 

I was also asked to open the award so I thought I would point out to the students that time alone is the only judge of an artist's legacy and that this fact should always be borne in mind. 

The opening itself was amazing as so many enthusiastic people turned up for the event and the catering was exceptional as it always is at Geelong Grammar School. I was given a bottle of wine as a thank you, a wine cultivated from the Timbertop vines and it was such a warm and tasty brew! Thank you Geelong Grammar School.

Opening remarks at the Coriobald

left-right. Hugo, Peter Bajer (Head of Visual Arts), me and Charlotte. 
Unfortunately I didn't get the surnames of the students who 
introduced me and presented me with a bottle of wine as a thank you

The Clock Tower

Inside the Clock Tower

Inside the Clock Tower

View from the Clock Tower

 View from the Clock Tower

Friday, September 2, 2022

A residency at Geelong Grammar School

I recently completed a 2-week residency at Geelong Grammar School in Corio. It was a fantastic experience so much so that you  leave a part of yourself there! All the artists-in-residence stay in the same apartment Ludwig Herschfeld-Mack lived in and it certainly adds something special to have that connection. Great to see how talented the art mentors are too as this means the students are in good hands. Special thanks to Peter Bajer, Head of Visual Arts, for inviting me to do this residency and he is certainly continuing the breadth and rigour of Hirschfeld-Mack's teaching legacy.

Following are some pics with the students who asked many great questions, the studio space where I was a working, some of my paintings on display, going back 40 years to the present and views of the apartment inside and from the windows.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Daniel Nistico in Concert at Charles Nodrum Gallery

 I've been studying composition for classical guitar with Daniel Nistico, Daniel Nistico for about 2 years. In one of our lessons, Daniel mentioned that it would be good to play some of my compositions in an environment where some of my paintings were hanging. I mentioned that I have an exhibition on at Charles Nodrum Gallery in Richmond, so he enthusiastically suggested he play there. At the last hour of my show, Daniel gave an intimate performance of all 9 of my compositions. What a way to end an exhibition and what a privilege to have such a fantastic guitarist play any composers music.

Below are some pics by Deborah Klein of the recital.

The compositions were as follows - 

The Little Waltz

Waltz #2

Maillardet's Automaton Comes to Life

Autumn Fades


Remembering the Celts

The Four Seasons

Deborah's Pictures

Explaining what Maillardet's Automaton is with a painting I did of it.

It was a small audience which was perfect for the space and the occasion.

Introducing the music

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Rick Amor Self Portrait Prize

The Rick Amor Self Portrait Prize is held every two years at Montsalvat Arts Centre in Eltham.  

For this year's entry I initially had the idea of painting a self portrait out-of-doors but there is often too much glare in the open air, so I thought the next best thing was to paint myself in the studio with my landscape paintings behind me.

The human face is a difficult thing to paint and it's especially difficult to stop and decide that that's the finish of the portrait. I often get to the stage where the portrait can be improved but it's a case of I can't improve it.

Self Portrait with Pictures, 2022, oil on linen, 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Airs & Modes, my exhibition at Charles Nodrum Gallery

Relocating permanently to Ballarat from Melbourne has given me the opportunity to paint the landscape as distance is no longer an impediment. This is a new direction in my work because although I’ve touched on the landscape from time to time, it has never developed into a substantial interest until recently. 

But the word landscape can be deceptive because it’s not always about the land. The title of this exhibition is AIRS and MODES, which deliberately suggests nature is something nearer to light, air and mood rather than a geographical location.


Many of the paintings were done en plein air while others were invented in the studio. The pictures painted outdoors took around 10 sittings each with minimum touches in the studio, and although they often do not resemble the places where I stood, the initial idea for a painting remains vivid whenever I return to the same spot. Every aspect of nature like fire, rain, lightning, wind, or clouds do not stand still for the artist to paint them, so there needs to be a lot more invention than there seems to be.


Spacescape seems a more appropriate word to apply to landscape painting as the presence of hills, trees, clouds and skies is more dependent on light and air which acts like a stage for the elements to play their part.


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Montsalvat Exhibition

Last Sunday was the official opening to my drawing exhibition titled THE ARTS IN PROFILE. It is now hanging in THE LONG ROOM at Montsalvat, a magnificent Arts Centre located at Eltham, until 12 June. The project was inspired by the profile portraits of Tom Roberts, one of Australia's most important artists, and spanned a six year period. My aim was to invite people who have something to do with the Arts to sit for a profile portrait drawing - from visual artists, framers, collectors, curators, musicians, writers, art shop workers etc because the art world exists through the efforts of many different professions.

I chose drawing mediums because a portrait painting demands so many sittings whereas a drawing can be done mostly in one sitting and on occasions, two sittings if the hands are included. Having said that, right at the end of the project I decided to add a few paintings which I thought enhanced the overall look of the exhibition. I intended to have more portraits but Covid essentially ended the project and too much time had elapsed to keep it going. Instead I applied to a number of venues to exhibit the work and Montsalvat agreed to host the exhibition.

Here are some pics of the opening.



                                            The arrival of some of the sitters 

Portraist of Kate Nodrum, and Deborah and I

From left - Tim Gresham, Simon Storey, Michael Nichols, Graeme Drendel and 
a self portrait

From left - Rachel Derum, Godwin Bradbeer, Priscilla Ambrosini

From left to right - Self portrait, Luke Ingram, Marguerite Brown

Unknown models painted from life drawings

From left - Rosa, Aaron McLoughlin, Rona Green, Priscilla Ambrosini, Deborah Klein, 
Shane Jones, Jasmine Mahon (front), Paul Compton, Gaye Britt, Tim Gresham and James Harrison