Hooray! I’ve completed my 100 painting challenge for 2013 — in fact I have a few more left over that I haven’t posted as yet. Painting a lot is a great way to improve painting skills and learn to get the work down quickly. I’m very glad to have done it. Perhaps 2014 should be a year for concentrating on quality rather than quantity.
In this figure study I was trying out a more graphic treatment of the background while keeping the modelling of the figure realistic. There is more to do on this work, but as the year is rapidly running out, I am posting it up now.
Always Emptying; Always Full – oil on canvas, 30 x 122 cms
This is a painting of my local creek. I’m going to be doing a series of paintings of this creek in the course of my university studies over the coming year. With this one I created a panorama of photos taken while standing on a rock in the middle of the stream. My aim was to make the viewer feel surrounded by the scene – not just looking at it as though through a window. I painted with very thinned down oil paint on an absorbent canvas surface, trying for the fresh look of transparent watercolour. The title comes from a line in the Tao te Ching – “the universe, like a bellows, is always emptying, always full.” The creek is my little metaphor for the universe.
I see that the year is fast running out. I must get on and post more paintings that are sitting around my studio. I’m pretty sure I’ve made my goal of 100.
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”)
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.
It was about this time last year that I visited the Blue Mountains for the spring Garden Festival at Leura. I got some wonderful reference shots of the canyon walls, including the one I painted this picture from, taken from the top of Wentworth Falls. This painting is built on a textured base of torn strips of thick hand-made paper to suggest the feel of the rock strata. I’ve used unblended rectangular strokes of strong colour to bring out the colour variations in the cliff face. Sadly this year parts of the Blue Mountains have already been damaged by fire and many homes lost. Fire is a constant danger in this region and I fear this summer is going to be a bad one.
I guess this would be called a quadtych – but that sounds strange. After painting my twenty small paintings for uni (see my post – ‘What a beautiful place to live’ ), I’ve been experimenting with doing groups of small paintings mounted together on coloured backgrounds. I’ve used small canvas panels for the paintings and have mounted them together on studio wrap 38mm deep canvas. The scene is a small part of a glorious sunrise I saw on my last visit to Port Macquarie, but it really could be anywhere along the coast. I’m putting this one in a show at Lismore in a couple of weeks time.
These are three paintings I developed from the small paintings I put up in the previous post. They are all scenes from Mudgeeraba Creek, a few kilometres down the road, right up in the headwaters of it, where it is very shallow. There is a fantastic quality of light there in the early morning, when the sun is lighting up the tops of the trees but the under-canopy is in shadow. The colours of reflections this makes is amazing – like liquid gold and green satin. The work is currently on display at Monet’s Art Garden Gallery, Metro Centre, Hollywell Road, Labrador. The mosaic table-top in the foreground is also my work, if anyone is wondering.