Jewel Box

Jewel Box - Susan Skuse - 2015 Oil on canvas mounted on board 4x panels 30x80 cms
Jewel Box – Susan Skuse – 2015
Oil on canvas mounted on board
4x panels 30×80 cms

Jewel Box is another in the series of paintings I have been doing of Mudgeeraba Creek. I was walking along the edge of the creek one day when I noticed a shaft of light coming in between the tree branches and lighting up the stones on the floor of the creek with a golden glow. The richness of the reflections of leaves and branches, and the shapes and colours of the underlying rocks seemed to create a complicated sort of Rococco pattern; not a collection of mundane objects, but a secret cache of precious things. That’s why I’ve called the work ‘Jewel Box’.

Holmes Art Prize – Steve Hillier Finalist

Stephen Hillier, Breakfast at Sweethearts, Oil on Canvas, 92x80 cms
Stephen Hillier, Breakfast at Sweethearts, Oil on Canvas, 92×80 cms

This is my partner, Steve’s entry for the Holmes Art Prize, a stunning painting of the Black Shouldered Kite. It was an education to see the meticulous dedication that goes into painting a work like this. Long after I thought it was finished, Steve was working away, adding details and making subtle adjustments that I could hardly see. Very unlike my own slap-dash approach. But hey, vive la difference!

You can see more of Steve’s work, including some of his un-feathered birds at Visual Emporium – https://visualemporium.com.au/artists/steve-hillier/.

My Cloud Atlas

Atlas of Clouds, acrylic and oil paint on composite aluminium panels, each 400x400mm
Atlas of Clouds, acrylic and oil paint on composite aluminium panels, each 400x400mm

Painting the sky is a huge challenge, I have discovered. This is the final work for my most recently completed uni unit. I was trying to capture some really difficult aspects of the sky, such as its luminosity, its changeability, its vast size, power and mystery. In the end I discovered that painting on aluminium composite panels gave me the best results for smooth, luminous colour. There are still some technical problems to overcome, which I am currently working on.

Mr. Darwin’s Lovely Thought – The Tangled Bank

Mr. Darwin's Lovely Thought 65x50 cms, Pen and Ink on Canson paper
Mr. Darwin’s Lovely Thought
65×50 cms, Pen and Ink on Canson paper

“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about and with worms crawling through the damp earth and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.”
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 6th Edn. (from the final paragraph).

Mr. Darwin's Lovely Thought - detail 1 - Pen and Ink on Canson paper Rainbow bee-eater and carpet python
Mr. Darwin’s Lovely Thought – detail 1 – Pen and Ink on Canson paper
Rainbow bee-eater and carpet python
Splendid Wren, Black Striped Wallaby, Golden Orb Spider, Eastern Water Dragon and Lamingon Crayfish.
Splendid Wren, Black Striped Wallaby, Golden Orb Spider, Eastern Water Dragon and Lamingon Crayfish.

This is a famous quote, and I came across it again a couple of weeks ago in a book about the concept of the sublime in art, as it happens. I started to think about doing a drawing based on my own neck of the woods in sub-tropical South-East Queensland, with the plants and animals that are so familiar to me. It took a lot of work to plan and many, many hours dotting away with very fine point pens, but I’m happy with the result. I have submitted the work for a major drawing prize, and have got my fingers crossed for a spot in the finals. In this drawing I have tried to depict a dense web of interconnected life, rich with pattern and detail, through which the eye has to wander slowly to pick out all the animals (29 of them) and various types of plants (more than 15). The style of the drawing is intended to evoke the feel of 19th century hatural history engravings and also has been influenced by the complex fantasies of Arthur Rackham.

Summer Storms

Summer storms

Summer storms have come
scattering the last blossoms
of golden wattle.

3 Panels – 92 x 45 cms each – oil on canvas.

This painting is part of my series titled Looked for beyond Seeing: Portrait of a Rainforest Stream which I’ll be working on throughout this year to complete my Fine Arts degree. What really interests me here are the simultaneous impressions of the water’s surface, the reflection of the sky and the creek bed beneath. Some of my other work has taken a more abstract approach, but for this one I have kept it quite realistic, just strengthening the underlying abstract composition and the naturally occuring patterns.

Infestation of Beauty 66/100 for 2013

Infestation of Beauty: Water Hyacinths by the McLean River, oil on canvas 60x60 cms
Infestation of Beauty: Water Hyacinths by the McLean River, oil on canvas 60×60 cms

I was driving down the Pacific Highway, where the road follows the McLean River, when I saw these marshy fields infested with water hyacinth, (which is a horribly noxious weed), all in furious flower. I had to stop and investigate, taking lots of photographs. It looked from some angles like a Dutch tulip farm. The colours of the flowers were echoed in the stormy sky. It was kind of an ‘aha’ moment — yes, I see, beauty really is no guarantee of virtue, contrary to what Mr. Keats had to say (“beauty is truth: truth, beauty”)

Dancing on the Edge 65/100 for 2013

Dancing on the Edge, mixed media, 75x75 cms
Dancing on the Edge, mixed media, 75×75 cms

This was my entry for the recent Border Art Prize. Didn’t win, didn’t sell, situation normal. It’s a departure from my usual style. The painting started with a background of rust paint – you paint it on, black and gluggy, and then put on an oxidizer, that makes the surface, well, rust. When its rusted enough, you can seal it off. It makes a very interesting coloured and textured matt surface. Then I used some net fabric as a stencil to apply modelling paste, palette knife ditto, and a lot of dribbling, flicking and dotting. I was trying to get the impression of a group of rather graceful looking trees clinging onto a cliff face and swaying in the breeze. I think I got something of it there. The original photo reference, which bears little resemblance to the painting, was taken at the Minyon Falls lookout, Northern NSW.