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

Drawing Aimee

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


Sunday, July 9, 2017

In Conversation with the Artists

The 2016 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize finalists exhibition has now arrived at its final destination at the Belconnen Arts Centre in Canberra. The opening was a wonderful experience, giving some of the artists an opportunity to meet each other and also a number of the staff at the Centre. Angus Trumble, director of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, gave an insightful speech about portraiture and painting in general.

The following morning, artists Ross Townsend, Megan Seres and myself, took part in a talk called In Conversation with the Artists, hosted by Creative Programs Director, Monika McInerney. Monika got the ball rolling with questions about, which gave us a number of avenues to pursue. As Ross said, we could have talked all day.

Photo credit - Deborah Klein

Monika giving her opening address, with CEO Daniel Ballantyne

Having my picture taken in front of my portrait

        In Conversation with the Artists. From left: Me, Monika McInerney, 
Ross Townsend and winner of the portrait award, Megan Seres

Standing in front of Meagan Seres winning painting titled Scarlet as Colonial Girl.
(left-right) Monika McInerney, Megan and Angus Trumble

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Some Roses

I've always loved flower paintings. Perhaps it's because they have a delicacy that suggests the transience of things. It's almost as if they are made from something that's not quite physical. These two small pictures are life-size and it was a pleasure to paint them

White Rose, 2017, oil on MDF, 22.75 x 10cm

Pink Rose, 2017, oil on MDF, 22.75 x 10cm

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Gracia and Louise

This charcoal drawing is my first double portrait. The sitters are Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison. Gracialoiuse

Gracia and Louise work together on most of their projects, so I thought it was a good idea to have them on the same paper. I worked on this for some time, constantly making decisions and rubbing bits out. I like unfinished drawings, because people are a work in progress and the unfinished state of the image reflects the same condition as a human being.

They both sat so still, and posed one at a time, as the pics show. Neither Gracia nor Louise had sat for a portrait before, so it was a nice experience for all of us.

Gracia and Louise, 2017, charcoal and pastel on paper, 53 x 70 cm

Drawing Louise

Gracia sitting still.

Drawing Gracia

Tools of trade

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Night Glow

Night Glow, 2017, oil on wood, 50 x 50 cm

This is a variation on one of my earlier paintings, The Still of the Night. I was aiming at making the white horse into a kind of glow, like the moonlight; perhaps aspiring to create an apparition that slightly removes the scene from being just a horse in a field at night.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


Journey, 2017, oil on canvas, 61.5 x 92 cm

This painting continues my interest in light as the main subject matter within a picture. At first I had the horizon as a straight edge but I think that by bending it slightly it creates a sense of moving across, and towards, eternity. Most of the stars are painted with two or three dots of colour and occasionally only with one colour. But colour vibrates more when there is an interplay between them, acting in the same way as chords on a guitar.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Come to the Cabaret

The set of Cabaret at the Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne

Last night was a treat. Deborah Klein, Paul Compton and I saw a production of Cabaret at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne. Deborah caught the atmosphere perfectly in this photograph, taken from our seats close to the action. Characters in this stage production are missing in the film, but in this performance we are seeing a truer version of its source material - Christopher Isherwood's Mr. Norris Changes Trains.

Paul Capsis played the role of Emcee and he lit up the stage with his magic, but all the performances were magnificent. Sally Bowles was played by Chelsea Gibb and she made the role her own. The mixture of faded glamour, the bizarre and prevalent seediness were perfectly realised and the songs of Kander and Ebb were at times poignant, funny or sinister. John O'May played Herr Shulz and Kate Fitzpatrick played Fraulein Schneider, both wonderful performances. I mention these actors because after the show we had a drink at the bar and most of the cast turned up too. We had a chat with Paul Capsis, Kate Fitzpatrick, John O'May and Chelsea Gibb, so that made it a double highlight for the night.

 Deborah Klein, Paul Capsis, Shane Jones

The two Pauls, Compton and Capsis

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Land, Rain & Sun forms part of ART+CLIMATE+CHANGE 2017

At the opening of LAND, RAIN & SUN exhibition with a selection of my small cloud paintings.


The Charles Nodrum Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition of Australian and European landscape painting and works on paper dating from the 19th century to today, presented in collaboration with Climarte.

Land, Rain & Sun forms part of ART+CLIMATE+CHANGE 2017 - a program of specially curated exhibitions across Melbourne and Regional Victoria, with related public programs, events and speakers that broadcast Climarte's advocacy for action through the arts to restore a sustainable environment.

Selected works will be accompanied by analysis and comments from participating climate scientists Penny Whetton and Joelle Gergis, shedding light on how changing environments approach hopes to produce new readings of the works beyond the purely aesthetic, and extend this vision in the direction of Climate's mission.

Over 100 works, this exhibition will be the largest and most broad ranging in the program.