Sunday, July 31, 2016

Terence Davies at MIFF

Terence Davies, left, and David Stratton

The Melbourne International Film Festival is in it's early days and yet the highlight of the festival has been, and will be, seeing Terence Davies and his newly released film, Sunset Song.

There was a Q&A session after the screening of Sunset Song, and Davies' answers to questions were both enlightening and entertaining. On another occasion he was interviewed by David Stratton about his personal life and his career (pictured above by Deborah Klein), called IN CONVERSATION with Terence Davies.

While much of the film industry aims to entertain audiences with the intention of making a profit, Terence Davies is the opposite, intent on capturing the emotional reality his characters bring to a space. In his answers to questions, emotion is often a word he uses to indicate what is important to him as a film maker and his films find a reflective place within ourselves, something that transcends entertainment. Yet it's his philosophy that has made it difficult for him to get funding for projects and is the reason why there have been long gaps between films. Ironically, this current period in his life has probably been his most productive since he has just released another film about the American poet, Emily Dickinson, titled A Quiet Passion.

One inspiring quality Terence Davies has is his passion for writing and film making and this has kept him boyishly young all his life. He always answers questions with stories and his enthusiasm in the telling bubbles through and effects the audience in such a positive way.

It was great to see David Stratton doing the interview, and how fitting, because his opening remarks were about the way Davies' film Distant Voices, Still Lives effected him in such a profound way.

As Deborah and I were leaving the hall, we were able to stop and have a chat with Terence. We wished we could have stayed for hours, but those moments with him will stay with us as a wonderful memory of this year's film festival.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Art of Illusion

oil on wood, 50 x 50 cm

The art of illusionistic painting, otherwise known as trompe l'oeil (trick the eye), has a long history. There are a number of paintings by artists throughout the centuries depicting the rear of a canvas and this is one of four versions I've painted, but the only one I've done on wood. 

I've always found it a magical experience when tubes of sticky coloured substances called paints seem to be transformed into other materials or textures. An achievement realised through feel rather than skill and observation.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Drawing Peter Wegner

Peter Wegner and I were judges at the Great Southern Portrait Prize in 2015 and it was on this occasion that we decided to draw each other. After about a year and a half, the right time presented itself and Peter came to my place for a sitting.

It was another standing pose, done with charcoal and white pastel. It took nearly three hours with a few short breaks along the way. I'll be awaiting my turn to pose for Peter of which I'm looking forward to.

Peter won the Rick Amor Drawing Prize a few days prior to our sitting so it has been a drawing feast for both of us.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Drawing Kate

I've always loved the profile portraits of Tom Roberts, and of course, those portraits from the Renaissance, so recently I asked Kate Nodrum to pose in profile. She stood for over two hours without a real break, which is a difficult thing to do. I thought sitting in a chair might cause a slight slump in posture which might subtly effect the pose I was after - a sitter who is alert and could move away at any moment.

Portrait of Kate Nodrum, 2016, charcoal and white pastel, 38 x 27 cm

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Clouds Passing the Moon

The lower photograph was taken by Deborah Klein earlier this year when I was painting the moon from our balcony in Abbotsford. I wanted a more complicated composition, more than a quick sketch might achieve where there isn't enough time to think about structure. 

When painting clouds crossing the moon, time is a consideration. Clouds change so quickly that trying to capture something of the night moments is almost a race before too much change takes place in the sky. 

One often hears it said that artists capture a fleeting moment in time but that is not literally true. To capture a moment in time, time would have to stand still so it can be captured. Working from life is about constructing a picture that reflects what it was like being there for those short moments or even hours, but in a way that looks like time did stand still. Memory and feeling come into play to conjure a picture that seemingly is a fleeting moment.

Matisse pointed out the difference between a sketch and a more considered work, when he said that a sketch has freshness while a more considered image has a greater sense of structure. 

Although this painting from my balcony started from life, I added to it in the studio as well, trying not to paint over the initial sketch too much, exploring the possibility of making a painting that has both freshness and structure. 

Clouds Passing the Moon, 2016, oil on MDF, 40.5 x 50.75 cm

Friday, July 1, 2016

Some More Calligraphy

 As I mentioned on a previous post, I did a short calligraphy course in the late '80s. Here are a few more works I composed around that time.

The top one measures 56.25 x 41.75 cm. The lower one measures 62.5 x 50.75 cm. Watercolour and ink.