Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 72 Wednesday

Today marks the start of a countdown of the last two months of my trip. I’ve completed thirty-five small panels and two big ones on canvas so far, as well as a handful of gouaches and studies. I’m still not sure what the show is going to look like, as I still have a lot of big ideas that I haven’t tackled on a large scale. I’ve ordered another ten big canvases and when they arrive I think the ball should start rolling rapidly. Even though it was really windy today, I took jumpin’ joan out to Merbein and painted this vineyard from the passenger seat.

Day 72 Tuesday

This past week has been overcast and rainy and I have been spending most of my time in the studio working on the big paintings. Nothing to put up just yet, but today there was a break in the clouds and I headed out to Orange World to paint this small oil on panel.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 65 Tuesday

After taking Joe and China out to roundabout, the local household tip, I saw them off on their way back to Sydney. I finished up some paperwork and got my Blake entry to the postie and sent off. Then I got stuck into painting, and the more and more I looked at ‘the robber barons’, the more I thought that it might be done. I’m putting it up because I’m onto a new painting now and need to let this one simmer for a while.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 64 Monday
I went out to Orange World again today and they were quite happy for me to explore and paint to my heart’s content, which is what I did. I was going to shoot some videos as well, but was itching to get back to my studio, as Joe and China were planning to stop in on their way back from the Alice and I wanted to make sure the BBQ is in perfect working order.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 62 Saturday
I went to Wentworth again to take part in the sesquicentennial celebration, and even though arriving after the parade had finished, I sketched some of the tractors parked in the middle of the main street. I walked down to the riverfront and saw the old paddle steamer called ‘Ruby’ doing its best to cart a load of paddleboat aficionados up the river. Getting hungry, I grabbed the second to last steak sandwich that was available and then wished I hadn’t. I’ve never had such a bloody tough steak in all of my life! I drove back to the studio and finished the gouache I had started of a vineyard and then worked on the large painting of ‘the robber barons’ the rest of the night.

Day 61 Friday
I was supposed to be painting an orchard up near Wentworth today, so I headed out early and stopped in at Artback in Wentworth for some brekkie. After getting filled up and chatting a bit with Steve and Mary about the 150th celebrations happening tomorrow, I headed out to get some painting done. The guy whose orchard I was to paint never called, so I pulled off the road at Curlwaa on the way back to Mildura and painted a nice little orange grove there. After finishing up I drove back to my studio only stopping for some mandarins and chook eggs at a roadside stand.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 60 Thursday
Another beautiful day of sunshine brought me out to the orchards, and I drove north to Orange World to chase up the friendly folk and paint their fifty acres. I didn’t know where to begin, so I paid my ten dollars and with my complementary cup of fresh squeezed orange juice jumped on the tractor-drawn wagon to take part in Brian’s tour of the orchard. Before we set off he played us his original song about Mildura on his six-string, and then off we went to the accompaniment of a rhyming dialogue on the history of his family interspersed with titbits on the orchard itself. After the tour I stumbled into the orchard with my painting gear and found a quiet spot to paint the prolific navels hanging from one of the 10,000 trees, but not before scaring a roo that was lounging between the lanes. I finished up and headed back into town for some laps at the aquatic centre and a shower, and then headed out for a night of culture at the Art Vault. There was an opening for a Slovenian artist Marco and a local girl based in Melbourne, Nikita, and the work was brilliant. Both of the artists’ work contained plenty to talk about, bold narrative in the case of Marco, and subtle push and pull of charcoal and watercolour in the works by Nikita. I had a chance to meet lots of the movers and shakers within the local art scene, and afterwards we came back to my studio and had a bit of an after-party with Rowan giving the fiddle a go and some Johnny Cash sing-along on the guitar.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 59 Wednesday
This morning I headed towards Wentworth again, but on the NSW side of the Murray and stopped outside of ‘Orange World’, which is a cross between an orchard and a theme park. The owner was really friendly and I think it broke his heart when I asked if the orange trees across the road were his. ‘No, but the owner lives just over there…’ so I headed off to ask permission while promising the owner of Orange World that I would be back to paint his oranges sometime soon. The owner wasn’t home, and after scratching his red heeler for a while I decided to just paint the orchard from the side of the highway, as the view of the poplars in the background was what had inspired me in the first place. It was a magnificently warm day and I peeled off my layers of clothing as I laid the layers of paint on the panel. When I finished up, I headed back into town for a swim and a shower at the aquatic centre and then dropped in to the Red Cross to buy a shirt, jeans and pair of shoes – all for $14 for tonight’s dinner gala at the local Tafe. It was a celebration of the graduates and a night of awards for the chefs and tasty bites for us guests. The theme was Spanish and after chorizo and potato nibbles and a few glasses of sangria, we all sat down to feast on the three kinds of paella they had made with the assistance of a chef from Spain. I was wondering how many of the ingredients were local, and pondered the thought that one hundred years ago, if you wanted to impress your guests at a dinner party, you would have all manner of exotic foods shipped in. In today’s global economy, it’s quite normal to have food from all over the world represented on an average dinner plate and to impress guests at a contemporary dinner party you might try to source all local ingredients. Ah, how times change. The night was further embellished with two Spanish guitar players and a flamenco dancer, followed by a local rock group, and a great time was had by all, not bad for $35!

Day 58 Tuesday

Another beautiful sunny day was greeting Mildura as I packed up jumpin’ joan and headed west of Merbein to seek out some plums that were still on the trees last Friday. I found them, and after a bit of hunting around got permission and did this little panel and shot some videos as well. I haven’t used violet in the fruit paintings yet, so I was quite excited to pair it up with the acid green of the grass for a powerful complementary contrast. After finishing up I headed back into my studio to start on a gouache of the red grapes I had shot a few weeks ago, but I’m still not close to finishing it so I’ll post it another day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 57 Monday
I sent off images and an application for the Waverley Art Prize on Friday and with any luck might get one of the three paintings in. I’ve started a new large oil painting based on a persimmon orchard in Wandiligong, Victoria. While I was shooting the video, scores of magpies were dropping out of the sky to feast on the orange fruit. The painting will be called ‘the robber barons’ and will include a picker and a tractor pulling wooden cases of persimmons. I hope to have an pic of it up later this week. The large ones are going quite slowly and as I’m hesitant to put up work in progress, I will put up a gouache I did today from a video of a hazelnut orchard. I am really enjoying painting with gouache, as it is a perfect mix between the loose handling of oil paint and the tight transparency of watercolour.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 53 Thursday
Well, it’s high time that I put this image up. It has been plaguing me for the past week and I can’t even really see it anymore. It all began with a trip to Eden, NSW to paint the communal garden there and put it in the Blake prize for religious art – first prize a whopping $20,000, second a worthy $5,000. I stayed in Eden for a few days making several sketches and a large oil painting (see day 27), but after arriving in my studio in Mildura and trying to finish the large oil, I realized its composition wasn’t doing it for me. Perhaps on a tangent, I got an idea for the ‘death of Eve’ and made a large charcoal sketch using the same figures, church, principal tree and tomato planter. I wasn’t convinced about the theme, but the composition was definitely stronger so I began the painting. I’ve been slashing away at it for the past week in an attempt to get it done in time, and what I’m posting today is the nearly completed painting, minus some small touch-ups. I guess I’m curious about the reaction it will receive. I know it’s quite a bit different from the rest of my current work, but a quick look at my website will hopefully link it to my greater oeuvre. I would be very interested in comments concerning the supposed narrative going on as well as other subjective viewpoints concerning the theme. I have a few more days to work on it, but as I said before the additions will be minimal as I have other paintings to pursue. I have learned more about my painting process by creating this work than from any other work on my trip, perhaps because of the long, drawn-out preparatory work. At any rate, I’m ready to push it out of the nest and into the world.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 52 Wednesday

It has been a really good week in the studio battling it out with my canvas for the Blake prize. I’ve been putting a fair few hours into it, and the audio books from the library keep me entertained while painting away. I just finished the 15 hour unabridged ‘History of England 3000BC-1603AD’ by Simon Schama, which was fantastic. Unlike before, when I would paint to music and get distracted by a good song by Tegan and Sara or Louie Armstrong, drop my brush and get online to look for the tablature – now I get distracted by the potent imagery of the gory history of England and imagine paintings, such as one of Robert the Bruce in Ireland after supplies had run out, digging up and consuming fresh corpses to keep the Scottish army from starving. Or perhaps a painting of the Black Death of the mid 1300’s? There are so many interesting themes for paintings out there, I’d better keep focused on what I’m doing. I’m hoping to have an image of the Blake prize painting up on the blog tomorrow, as I’m taking it to Melbourne on Friday to have framed and shipped to Sydney. For now, I’ll put up a small gouache of a persimmon orchard I did from a video these past few days, and then get back to painting on my Blake entry.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 46 Thursday
Well, it has been a rainy week in Mildura, which has been good for the crops as well as my work as I have been tucked away in my new studio. On Tuesday I went down to the Art Society of Mildura’s studio on the Murray and painted a small panel of some apples from a video I had shot previously. The group was very welcoming and interested in my method of working from videos. In the studio I have been working on two large paintings, one for the Waverley Art Prize, and another for the Blake Prize for religious art. One of my landlords Greg, and his wife Sue dropped in and brought me a kerosene heater and then took me over to her studio to see her work and have a bit of a chat. Mildura is an amazing cultural oasis in the middle of inland Australia, everywhere I have gone this past week I have encountered artists or art-lovers. I have been enjoying the aquatic centre, not only for the hot showers – but also doing some laps in the heated pool and taking advantage of the body balance classes as well. I feel like things have slowed down a little bit, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post daily, but I will put new work up as it emerges and hopefully a bit about the process as well. I appreciate everyone who has kept in touch as I’ve been away and I think the next three months here in Mildura will surely be some of the most productive months I will have. I’m also attaching a small gouache of a persimmon orchard I did from a video as well, and I’d like to have a show of my gouaches here in Mildura at some point, so I’ll keep everyone posted on the blog.