Sunday, January 31, 2010


Head shot

I have almost finished NASA #10 – the great and long series of Caspar David Howard – the little white ghost of the art nether world. So here is a shot from the unfinished end of town – that’s the rough end of the studio.

unfinished endThis one has only taken a week so far – 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there and very few little worries. I suppose there is a point where I will have to think of the ultimate way of showing them. If I can do one a week (dreaming) then in 20 weeks I should be done – hmmm, maybe I should try and do two at once (nightmaring). I need a big white wall in a populated area, or thirty T-shirts and then write a paper on the joys of art as told by a small man in a Hardware uniform.

Here is a close up – it’s starting to energise a bit now and loose some of it’s simple cartoon feel. The little astro-priests need a final solution to finish them off. 

NASA 10 almost

One day I might paint some work that has some sort of practical function – i.e. is sellable or reasonable enough to put on a wall – problem is I lack ambition in the business side of things and prefer to plod along on my own terms.

I found another snake yesterday, this time only a few metres from my studio. Fortunately it was so small it could fit in the palm of my hand. But, from small things, big things grow, so I better finish my renovations and plug the holes.

This is a really tiny snake, about as thick as my little finger at it’s biggest.

baby snake

I went to a great art opening today – LAWRENCE DAWS, “The Promised Land”. He was one of the painters that inspired me as a  teenager, before and during my art college years. He was also the specially invited judge in my final year of my painting major – about 28 years ago. He had many of the qualities that I aspired too in an artist: symbolism, technique, mysticism, biblical references, the poetic, and  the ability to emphasize and imbue an object or subject way beyond it’s normal reckoning. At 82 he is still a great painter and mentor: much can be learnt from his art and career.

Also, I bumped into quite a few other artists, who sometimes come out of the woodwork to take a little peek and pick up a few crumbs – aren’t we a cute little species. Some of the artists I had not seen for quite a few years and had an opportunity to catch up and trade web stuff.

Well, off to another show on Thursday, which should be a hoot. Loretta (The Failed Painter) and her partner Hew Chee Fong have a joint show at the Local University entitled “Shift” – can’t wait.

Hey, I might use this part of NASA #9 as inspiration for a future Squarescape painting – that’s as soon as I finish the current one.

NASA 9 altered crop

Friday, January 29, 2010


Watch it

I am just starting to think about an artists talk that I will be presenting in a few weeks at Redcliffe Regional Gallery. The associated exhibition is entitled ‘How Artists see People” : so I thought I would focus on faces.

At Night Alone head I am considering compiling a whole series of face pictures from the last 30 years of my artwork – if one can call it that. Just the faces only, compared and then discussed, bringing in references to other artists and so called art movements – whatever that means.

Brian head

Generally I think of an artwork as whole thing and consider every part playing of another part. But, just isolating the faces, especially as mock Polaroids, does bring to light some interesting stuff.

He Knows What He is headAlready, I have noticed a sense of character difference between the faces. Some artists, paint and draw like illustrators – they are great draughtsman but there figures are without soul. Other artists are all over the countryside stylistically and far less formal in their approach, but there figure work is full of life and expression.

face 6 face 1 face 2 face 3 face 4 face 5

Looking back over my drawings and paintings is something a self interested artist like myself does on a regular basis. This should prove to be not only an interesting and fun exercise,  but also illuminate another way of looking at myself and other people, Yada, Yada, Yada.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


punk 1

Well, I finished the paling fence and yesterday I re-organised my tools, building materials and storage areas – this is in preparation for the next jobs - I need to put up some guttering and finish my studio space. The above photo is me discovering that my camera can be controlled by windows XP automatically – that’s my stunned mullet look.

We had a busy Australia Day – family members over having a BBQ and swimming in the pool – as usual for this time of the year it was hot and humid. Amidst all the preparations and projects, I found time to start NASA #10 which is almost finished – I really need to start pushing these works out to get the series finished before I get bored or too stale.

Here are a few progress shots -

NASA 10 1NASA 10 2NASA 10 3NASA 10 4

The painting is actually a bit further progressed than this now but I we will keep that photo for later. The work was more dynamic as a sketch: the more colour I put on it the more it loses power – hopefully the black scribble outlines will create a bit of life. The work is looking a bit two flat and cartoonish as well – I am just dealing with those issues at the moment too – but all in all it is a typical NASA painting and should be finished in a few days.

The whole series is meant to be seen as one collective work, which hopefully will be a future show in a cool and supportive gallery. I will a post a composite of all ten paintings soon with a list of titles and a brief explanation of the concept.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010



NASA 9 – NASA in a Time of Drought – 2010

This one is a bit of a worry because the landscape is so green when the painting title states a drought. I have been wondering about this issue while applying the paint, and have come to the conclusion that this dilemma well represents propaganda.

The little astronauts are encircled in dry parched ground, while the surrounding landscape is green. The large central figure glaring down is half immersed in water and possibly represents totalitarianism. It reminds me of the climate change debate – those who believe and those who don’t or those who want you to believe and those that don’t want you to believe. I sit more to the middle and generally somewhere else on this issue – like most things that tactic polarise, a false dichotomy is usually in play.

What's funny is one astronaut is starting to drill, while the other is ready to start skiing – maybe a bit self delusion going on here as well.

Anyway #9 is finished and only 21 to go – I feel like The Little Steam Engine – “I think I can, I think I can…”

 pool fence

Almost finished the paling part of the pool fence – the above photo (taken at lunchtime) is the post and rails, then  I started hammering palings on around about 5:30 tonight. Earlier on at about 10:00 am I ran into a snake that looked like this.


 I was upstairs and heard birds squawking, so looked out the window to see this snake disappearing into the side garden. I ran out on the front deck to see where it had gone, and was surprised to see it nearly on the main road.

A car gave it a fright and it tore back into my front yard at a thundering pace – quickest snake I have ever seen – at least running speed. It disappeared around the side again and possibly into the paddock next door – I hope.

It was an Eastern Brown snake : the second most poisonous snake in the world – 12 times deadlier than a cobra. They are quite common in Australia especially on the east coast and around rural home areas. They can be very aggressive when cornered and account for the most snake bite deaths in Australia – as high as 4 a year – did I mention they are really quick.

So my little dogs stayed inside for most of the day and I walked around with my eyes constantly checking the ground – I will probably have a snake dream tonight.

Normally a dog would not have much of a chance if bitten – even vets normally suggest euthanasia – but I came across this website that suggests injecting the dog in the neck with a high dosage of vitamin C .  There are  a few amazing testimonials on the website. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010


two girls

Well, I have done a little bit more on the drawing on the left – at least it has had some progress, that I think will lead it to completion. The drawing on the right is the next in line on my quest to get a few things finished: not just art finished but all my jobs. Today I worked on a paling fence which should be finished in a few days and then it’s back to completing the studio with another four walls to build and a ceiling to put in. In between these jobs  the art  is chugging along and hopefully going somewhere – I think it’s time to track down another show – something to work towards – maybe it’s time to move from ‘as’ to ‘shift’.

I have a small show of works in February at an arts community centre, but these will be older works and nothing new. I have a self portrait in a group show at a regional gallery in February as well as taking an artist talk at the same venue.

Some friends are  having an opening early in February of all new works, which should be fun and inspirational. Artist are never satisfied and always want more – I personally thrive on art and generally have a pile of art books that follow me around the house. It is hard work to complete art and have a go, but I can’t be satisfied unless I am injecting some sort of new art stimulus into the brain to spur me on. Currently, I have renewed an art book from the local library at least 4 times – I did again yesterday – I threatened the library staff that I was going to keep it this time. It’s a book that shows the artists in their studios, which I find very stimulating – sort of like a visual autobiography laid bare for all to see. The book is called ‘STUDIO’ and features Australian artists.

Here is a quote from the book quoted by artist, Wendy Sharpe -

“If you can bore them in the right way, your reputation is assured”

- Somerset Maugham

I hope I bored you – whoever you are.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


 Joe Looking at the Space Between His Hands revisted

Checked out a painting by Charles Blackman in a show at the Queensland Art Gallery. The work was one of many chosen by Lawrence Daws, from the Galleries collection. The work has vibrant colours on a black background, which is very typical of many of Blackman’s works.

I had a close look at the technique, which comprises of broken brushstrokes of high key colour over a very dark black ground – it’s very dramatic.

Recently, I have been cropping old work and doing a negative thing, which turns the white background black – like all the works on this posting.

Stand Firm cropPreviously on this blog I mentioned the wish of mine to create works as vibrant and dramatic as these crops. Brush marks come alive and figures take on a new presence. Also, old colour schemes are washed away and replaced by some new and alien vision. Making works like these may need some rewiring to my brain to break old schemes – or maybe I should just copy the crops.

The Striped Shirt crop

These next two paintings are from a very old series called the red man series: they become in reverse the aqua blue boys.


redman earth revisted The process of fiddling with work on a computer, changes more than just the colour or heighten the drama – it shifts the meaning. This ex-redman has gone from a more peaceful painting to one with more menace – the dark smudge in the sky and on the head is due to a flash spot from a camera which in this version looks intentional.

redman revisted

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


tortoise 1

Well, the weather has washed down all sorts of creatures lately – Snakes, a pet Parrot, a giant Praying Mantis, Elephant beetles, Geckos of all sorts, White Cockatoos, and now a Snake Neck Tortoise.

It was quite large really – about 30cm in length and quite quick on it’s legs. We left it alone to go it’s own way, but half an hour later it was caught in our fence – we only noticed due to all the birds making such a racket – I think they thought it was a snake.

Anyway, I carefully lifted it over the fence, using a spade – just in case I got nipped. But in a few minutes it was trying to get back through our fence, but then eventually gave up and headed down hill, hopefully towards water.

tortoise 2

Sunday, January 3, 2010



Well it’s been raining on and off for a few days now –  storms and big rain drops, a few leaking gutters and clogged drains. But during this, I have revisited the NASA series, and have almost finished number nine, and it’s about drought.

The above image was taken a day ago and the image below was taken last night. I have done a bit more today and will post later on.

NASA Nine 2

It’s coming along in the usual way – that is for a NASA painting – things sort of follow a set course – that is why I am confident in completing the series. Each work has it’s own set of problems though, and I have to be careful not to allow the work to drift to far in one direction – which this one is starting to do. It’s looking a bit too prescribed and formulaic – too neat and cartoon like – it needs a bit more messing up. As I move along with the work it will require, “The Treatment” which should sort it out.

This is the original sketch -

NASA 9 Sketch 

This is the sketch for NASA #10 – “Space Oddity of NASA” -

NASA 10 Sketch

Number 11 is entitled - “The Great Fires at NASA” – but a sketch has not been drawn yet – I better get my act together.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Negative Crop

Well the previous post’s artwork is now finished, and is now entitled, “Portal in Apricot Pink”. The above negative crop is from the next unfinished work, that I need to finish. It has a few scribbles on the bottom - “Nothing is really de-constructed only replaced” and “The faceless fool de-constructing away from the light” - these are random notes to myself and possible future titles.

Below is the real thing in a real context – all ready to go and not sure where to go. Maybe if I stare real hard, it will either disappear or some practical stuff will materialise – we shall see – time to work on NASA #9, and get that finished – time is running out – I will be 50 before the series is complete.


I might write an article on the NASA series and submit it to a national arts magazine then try and flog it off to some unsuspecting art gallery. Maybe a little booklet too that I can drop here and there as a wee primer to wet the sacred ground a bit.

Friday, January 1, 2010



This odd drawing/painting is almost finished – it has a few issues but that's OK.  The bulky head sort of reminds me of Gauguin's heads and the scrolls of Gaudi’s or Klimt’s decorative embellishments. The whole work is hap hazard and laid down with very little finesse in a David may care way – but that’s OK it’s just one in a pile of leftovers.

Portal Head 

The idea is interesting though, and as I have said here before, “one idea leads into another, creating the next painting”. I don’t think ideas are that hard to come by – but good ideas are harder. In many ways it is the doing that realises the idea – the work defines and proves what is a good idea.

I have met artists over the years who have been frozen unable to work, unable to produce any paintings because of the fear. The fear of what? Maybe the fear of public scrutiny, maybe fear of an  imaginary peer group, maybe fear of not being relevant – whatever – the list goes on and on.

Here's a quote by Francis Bacon,

“But when you’re outside a tradition, as every artist is today, one can only want to record one’s own feelings about certain situations as closely to one’s own nervous system as one possibly can”

So all I can say is either create art or don’t create art – don’t get caught somewhere in between – it isn't good for the soul – OK.

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