One hundred and seventy-six elegant woodblock prints by Japanese nineteenth century artist Katsushika Hokusai are on display in Melbourne at the NGV. It’s a huge exhibition and a popular one. What is it about these images, from a culture aeons from mine in sensibility and almost two centuries in time that are so riveting? And why do they remind me of Turner, Freidrich and Cozens – those Northern European painters for whom landscape was a metaphor of transcendence? What could a Japanese printmaker have in common with a Romantic painterly sensibility? [Read more…]
Good Cover, Falls Creek was painted in the Bowl near the base of the Summit T bar in 2016. Although it was early in the season there had been very good falls the past couple of days followed by some brilliant sunshine. Despite my warmest ski gear, I can’t stay out for long so it’s essential to plan carefully. The day before I did this painting I spent some time wandering about making drawings to find a workable composition. I chose one of these drawings to sketch onto canvas back at the lodge before I came out. This method means I can fully concentrate on the essential elements that make up the brilliant whites and deep sky in this painting.
Here is the drawing that was done in preparation.
This picture (below) was taken by a passing snowboarder who also is a photographer – he clearly knows a few things about composition – see that perfect diagonal running from my figure up to the two clumps of trees and on to the horizon. I would like to credit him but I only know him as Tim.
The wooden box you can see in the top image has slots to hold the painting board and the palette in place, to get them both safely back to the lodge without a smudging disaster. A lot could go wrong, but nothing did this time!
This painting will be in the VIP Private Viewing February 2017
David Hockney: Current
National Gallery of Victoria 11th November 2016 – 13th March 2017
Two mobile phones attached to a purple wall greet you at the entrance to this exhibition. Their screens are displaying images of David Hockney’s drawings done on a phone. My younger companion’s first reaction is not to the image but to the type of phone. Iphone not android she observes glancing and moving on.
Is this an exhibition about drawing, about Hockney or about technology? Or about advertising? Apple doesn’t seem to have its logo anywhere, but let’s face it; this exhibition is about one company’s product. Is Apple getting all this endorsement for free? [Read more…]
Arc Yinnar Biennial Drawing Prize
October 15 – November 26, 2016
There’s a converted butter factory in a small town tucked into the green rolling foothills of the Strzelecki ranges, where the main street is wide and cars are parked at 45 degree angles. Anyone who can spell Strzelecki must be a local. This is Yinnar on the doorstep of the still-operating Hazelwood coal-fired power station, subject of much debate and despair.
There’s a Drawing Prize here of national repute. Despite the rhetoric of demographic disasters: job losses, mine fires, pollution, asbestos and the rest, Arc Yinnar an artist run venture has been operating for 32 years. As well as hosting a national prize, it boasts two galleries, public access facilities for printmaking, ceramics, metalwork, photography, painting and drawing, a retail outlet, theatrette and private studios. All this on a shoestring grant of $3000. When the lights go out at Hazelwood, this sort of cooperative venture is what keeps communities afloat and shores up their identity. Its funding should be assured for the long term, but I am told it is reduced every year and tied to utilitarian outcomes.
A drawing show throws up immediate questions; how much drawing is going on, what do people draw and what do they draw for [Read more…]
Clarice Beckett: The Ordinary Instant
2 July to 11 September,
The Gallery, Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre, Brighton
Beckett’s lyrical soft focus paintings are associated with the tonal school of Max Meldrum and his obsession with contrasting shapes and pattern. This exhibition of over fifty works by Beckett (1887–1935) is shown in the context of seven contemporary women painters responding to her work: Lynne Boyd, Michelle Hamer, Kristin Headlam, Pia Murphy, Saffron Newey, Victoria Reichelt and Camilla Tadich.
Meldrum didn’t believe in drawing – his teleological view of art allowed him to believe he had discovered a new ‘science of appearances’ which superceded line drawing. Beckett adopted his views on [Read more…]
Painting in the snow; what is the colour of white?
I am painting in oil, a great medium for the brilliance of the colours of the snow and sky, although John Singer Sargent made watercolour look like the only way to approach it. This is Mountain Fire, (1903, John Singer Sargent, Brooklyn Museum)
Sargent’s fluid, semi abstract approach almost suggests automatism – that kind of painting that celebrates the subconscious mind and which was popular after Freud and Jung’s theories became widely known. But leveraging the unconscious mastery of a medium [Read more…]
The skies are overcast in palest purple with a lemon horizon as I drive down Studley Park Rd towards Abbotsford.
It’s after lunch and the light is in the western half of the sky, but low on the horizon shooting a warm yellow haze over the suburbs. There’s a long low shape of a warehouse painted in orange which sets off perfectly the blue distance of the city beyond. It’s May and the air is brisk, crisp, making you move more quickly but not yet to the sudden-intake-of-breath cold we will get to in July. [Read more…]