22 July 2021

When Prussian Blue meets Pink


Evening Prayer Brunswick heads, 18 July, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm


Evening Prayer Brunswick heads, 18 July, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm


Evening Prayer Brunswick heads, 18 July, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

These three studies reveal the successive changes a few days ago. I arrived to find a bright silver yellow sea beneath a blossoming pink and yellow sky, and indeed, the smooth silky sea looked like I could have skated over it. The beach was "crowded" which means, maybe but 300 people spread up and down for as far as one can see here. Most of them were hippies who spilled out from the drumming circle back up on the lawns behind the beach. Each Sunday afternoon is their moment of glory. In the summer months it is nearly impossible to park on a Sunday which upsets many locals. I take it in stride, they are hippies! And they celebrate their youth, why begrudge them?

The top painting came quickly, without hesitation, which always makes me happy because it means that I have switched on immediately and no longer worry about where my mind is going. The orange and violet band looked like it was on fire. 

The second one reveals the quick transition of dusk as the sea began to gently warm up and the band grows cooler into an intense blue violet. The sky begins to meld quietly as the blue violet seems to crawl up into a pink layer. Colours and shapes move quickly, but in a weird sort of way, they also move at a snail's pace like the planet.  

The third painting is a curious one because I wanted to shake things up a little by just using washes. The evening sea at this point had turned a muddy orange, the sky has been invaded by a rising band of pale Prussian Blue like the curtain at the end of a play, but instead of going down, it rises into the night.

It is a tricky thing at this time in the evening. I have yet to figure it out, even after all this time. It needs a spacial, graphic solution, but I cannot seem to get it right. 

18 July 2021

Anatomy of a crime, 15th July, 2021





My painter friend Liz Graham-Yool, who lives in the Aveyron region of France, remarked today on Instagram about two pictures I had posted yesterday and today, done on the 15th of July. She wrote that it was interesting to see the great transformations going on between these skies existing in two paintings from the same afternoon.

So, I thought it would be interesting to show all six of them done that day (in order from top to bottom here) to better give an idea of the transitions. These are actually very small studies 25 X 20 cm, so it's feasible to make several quickly at the twilight hour. This is the point after all.

I had arrived earlier than usual because I was supposed to meet a friend in Brunswick Heads for a tea but he stood me up (he forgot, haha) so I went out to the beach about 15h30. I mixed a palette and set up. Then I jumped into the two lemon yellow skies above. Although it was early for my taste, the skies sort of spoke to me already. Whispering to me, was really more like it.

The next one (third one) clearly begins to show the change over the horizon from deep yellow to pink violet. I decided to leave it in its unfinished state because it said everything already.

The fourth and fifth studies show the motif transforming into the colour of raspberry jam. The warmth of the sky had invaded the sea turning it deep Madder Red. 

In the sixth one, (below, below!) the sun was now buried behind me, and dusk had saturated the sky leaving a wide silk scarf of purple and pink. The sea below, glowed like embers in a fireplace, reflecting the sky overhead. 

And that was it, for me, on the 15th of July, 2021.




17 July 2021

Julie Beaufils et l'éternité

I was recently led down a rabbit hole through perusing the contents of an ARTFORUM email. I  enjoy these peregrinations. Like Alice, I too, like to fall gently through hitherto unknown rabbit holes.

I was reading about the hugely successful Californian artist, Laura Owens, who is currently showing her work in Arles at the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation (or something like that). A few Parisian artists were also mentioned in the article, one of whom was Julie Beaufils.

So I continued further along, down into the Rabbit Hole, and discovered the work of Julie Beaufils, specifically in a YouTube video in which speaks (naturally) about her work. It's curious work, I would like to see it on walls to really be able to experience it, but it's clear that she is a painter with great feeling and ideas.

What prompts this small post is that in the YouTube clip I saw, (Artist Says: Julie Beaufils for Gallery Weekend Beijing), she says something I have never heard during my visits to so many web sites, blogs, videos, and what not, concerning other contemporary artists.

It is under three minutes so it's easy to watch, (and the piano music is a sweet knock-off of Yann Thierson's work for the Amélie). 

What struck me was that I heard Julie talk about how her work would be viewed, felt, looked at, perhaps understood, perhaps not, in the future. She cited ten years, then fifteen years as examples. I have never before heard anyone ruminate in this way about their own work, and I found it refreshingly honest. She pondered whether her work would have meaning in the future for someone else who might come from a different culture.

Essentially, her question is; Does this work have Universal Appeal? I am so happy to hear this sensitive woman, of the younger generation, ask these kinds of questions.  

This idea of The Universal was so important in my own education which I received from Léo Marchutz. Because his ideas of art were so vast his sentences would extend over centuries at a time pulling together Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Thomas Hardy all together, easily, and freely.  

So, I really liked hearing Ms. Beaufils discuss her work in a time not yet arrived. 

14 July 2021

Le Salon des Refusés! clouds live, then die away


 Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 10 July, 2021 oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

                   Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 10 July, 2021 oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

These are from the other night. It was a difficult sky and I had to grit my teeth to find a way through it. But patience is the key, and I waited until I found a hand-hold in the cloud bank.

It was one of those very melodramatic skies which stops people in their tracks to grab their phones for a photo. And why not? These are amazing skies.

But I rarely take photos of skies myself. For some reason, I always feel like the result will be just a colourful photo, nothing more. Nice, but something too far removed from the experience.

But by the same token, I cannot imagine that others would find anything more in my skies than perhaps that. But I don't paint for others in the same way as one might show off a photograph to others. I paint for myself. It's a purely selfish act.

Painting a sky requires a decent colour sense and certain drawing skills but nothing like those needed to work from the figure. Painting the melodrama of these kinds of skies needs an anxious spirit too, for they must be done super fast, at least, this is how I work. I consider all these to be 'studies'. Consequently, they often possess an unfinished feeling, and one either understands that and appreciates it, or these pictures will have little meaning for them. 

I recently proposed to make an exhibition of about 120 of these paintings on several long walls of about 96 meters total. The Regional Gallery is a beautiful contemporary space made of glass and steel, and I would have been very happy to see these pictures there. Alas, it was rejected because they felt the work wasn't good enough. After much thought, I realised that they didn't understand this idea of 'the unfinish'. If they had, they would have enjoyed the 'mistakes'; the splotches, and unintended marks and weird brush marks which give them character but most importantly, their unity too. Then again, realistically speaking, they just thought the work was inferior.

I had written what I thought was an interesting proposal for a show which included a diverse selection of paintings as well.

I guess they didn't understand that I am a kind of Expressionist, but an anchored one, moored onto a spot in front of a motif outdoors from which to glean pictorial information with my eyes in order to make a palette, then a picture. Naturally, the work is messy, and it is full of air, big wind, and full of life, hopefully even when they don't succeed. I work quickly, and quite spontaneously like an Expressionist of yesteryear, but I work from a motif at the beach not enclosed in a dark studio of my mind alone.

After an initial sense of disappointment, I came away from the experience with a curious sense of relief weirdly enough. It not only freed me from worries of being accepted in the art world at large, but especially around here in this parochial community of regional Australia. 

While it is alway nice to be respected by others for one's own work, it is secondary to possessing one's own self-respect, something with which I am sufficiently supplied. 

I imagine now weeks later that perhaps they didn't like the work because they couldn't see it, or was it that they couldn't see the work because they didn't like it? 

Either way, I need to look abroad for a show. 

13 July 2021

I can't breathe, is context everything? part 1

Is context everything? Is it the essential ingredient of Contemporary Art? 

I think of this often when perusing articles about contemporary art which sometimes seems like a big inflated balloon of contextual ideas and images dispersing in the wind.

Being ultra discreet in my person, as the French put it. Though I do believe in my own artistic vision I do not place that high enough  to imagine that I am more important than the art work which I am making, certainly not contextualised to the point where I (my person) has superseded the art work. 

I understand that many people would not agree with me. My education was different, which is the only way I can explain it. Unlike many of my generation I was told to avoid the zeitgeist  and not to seek to be part of it. To ride it like a wave? Or be the guy who makes the wave(s)? Are they mutually exclusive?

Without a context (it seems) a work of art cannot breathe in today's world, it cannot come to a life of its own. (I am not trying to be cheeky in saying this just because of the I can't breathe movement which I support completely)

What I mean by this is that I only wish to make something which bypasses the contextual thought process. I want to make an image which lives on its own, without any ideas which keep it propped up. My desire is always to make an image which can render the viewer mute of words. I think that is one of the main purposes of 'Art' as we think of it even as a utilitarian object. 

In front of a Japanese 18th century rice container bowl one doesn't need to say anything. Nor does one need to comment in front of this Van Gogh. What is to say anyway?

I have often broached this idea over the past eleven years of writing in this blog and my thinking has certainly changed over this period  as well. My thinking has primarily changed by the the activity of Painting but also by contemplation of painting, and by looking at everything. One can never look enough at everything in the Painting world whether one likes it or not. For a painter, this is always an education of the mind and the eye.

And curiously, this brings me back to this idea of the role context plays in art today, specifically, Contemporary Art. 

Yes, certainly, I live in a world far from the contemporary artist whose preoccupation is with social issues, gender issues, race issues, among so many these days. And yes, I was brought up a privileged white male from the sleepy world of the fifties. And, (to piss nearly everyone off) I studied almost exclusively the art of Western "civilation". But all this does not at all make me insensitive to the pressing issues in our life today of which there are so many. It just means that my priorities are very different than many others. 

In regards to this idea of context in Art I was thinking recently of the Renaissance, but also earlier even; Giotto, for instance. Whether Giotto was a religious man or not I know nothing (but I'm sure that one could find out easily enough) When I look at Giotto's paintings (frescoes) I see the painter Giotto, not the religious or spiritual Giotto, just the painter. When specifically, I see his angels careening around his deep Ultramarine Blue skies, I do not see them as religious or spiritual, but just as elements in a complex, (and far out) composition rendered with a coloured medium. Yes, they are angels, and they are crucial to the contextual subject of the composition but for me as a painter, they are but elements ingeniously conceived, and primarily appreciated as Painting (Art for Art's sake) not as an illustration for a story. But saying that, I do also appreciate his painting as extraordinary illustrations in the Christian story. 

On the other side of the coin is the religious person who sees only the story, not the Painting. 

I always think of Giotto as 'other worldly' because of the way he renders the human face. I first saw his images in my father's art books as a child and I was frightened by the severe expressions on the faces of the figures on the page. I still am.

And so I this brings me to my old friend Christian Martel, a painter from Montpellier who sadly died two years ago. Having been brought up under the twin dark shadows of his village Rémuzat and the Catholic church, he  never developed an appreciation for any works depicting Christian images, no matter how well painted or beautifully conceived. We once drove together through Rémuzat (Drôme) years ago, a sad-looking place hidden in a steep valley. He explained that in the winter it received no more than 30 minutes of sunshine. Ouch! Suddenly, I fully understood a lot about him from just that quick drive through his childhood village. But anyway, he hated anything to do with Christianity, like not a few of my French friends. 

"Oooof,,, Je ne peux pas les supporter ces choses!" He would declare with an obstinately when I tried to show him bits of a Titian or an obscure wooden crucifixion from 14th century Spain. I learned early on to stay away from the subject which was difficult because though I was not emotionally connected to religion, I seem to be obsessed with Art.

Unlike so many these days, I was taught to look at Art primarily through the senses, through the eyes, not by my intellect prowess.  

And I was taught that the work is everything. There should be no explanations necessary, nothing with which to prop it up. Everything is in place for it to be complete in itself. Like a lotus flower, it is perfect. I have been educated to search for a replication of that perfection in every artistic endeavour I pursued. 

A tall order! One quite impossible to achieve yet, like a lighthouse, it guides me home. 

Music, poetry, theatre, sculpture, cinema, and architecture, are all things to be sensually savoured.  

So the question still lingers: How did clever messaging, much like advertising, take up so much room in the world of Art since the 1950's? 

            Barbara Kruger


                           Richard Bell from Australia


                               Jenny Holzer

So, today we live in the aftermath of the contextually contradicted messaging of Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer and Richard Bell among so many, many others. These are catchy and subversive worlds which mirror the Madison Avenue of yesteryear. But hey! It is what it is, and Jenny Holzer is the cleverest of the three.

I do often find them clever and interesting but only in my mind, and it never lingers long. The problem for me is this Art has been reduced to messaging; political, social, and emotional tag lines which do not last.

So questions come up for me. Does Art have the power to change culture and/or society? Can people be moved to change their ideas about life from art? 

More to be revealed...

10 July 2021

Evening Prayers 5 July, 2021


       Evening Prayers Brunswick Heads, 5 July, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

     Evening Prayers Brunswick Heads, 5 July, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

      Evening Prayers Brunswick Heads, 5 July, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

After a few weeks of rain the sky seems to be settling down again. It has been cold though it doesn't change my habits. There isn't a lot to say about these except that now, looking at them, I perceive that they have something of the winter chill in them. The colours somehow never seem to warm up on the canvas board, the palette hovers over the cool side.

I like the top one very much. The other two are OK; interesting maybe, but they don't set the armchair on fire. Anyway, I just always try to keep working whilst not thinking in the moment about whether or not they are any 'good' or not. There is not enough time for that. And once that voice begins to chatter, the dreaded duality kicks in, and I am no longer free to be 'absent' in the moment. The Zen wise guys from the East always warn against this.

Suddenly, I see the pictures as pupils who the school teacher tries to discipline during recess hour. Like the teacher, I have no real control over what comes up while painting. For me that is the beauty of it all and why I paint in front of a changing Nature. Like the wild pupils, the paintings come out just as the moment demands they come out. Later on, of course I begin to see them, really see them, then judge them too. 

But I am more like the benevolent school teacher who looks upon his unruly pupils with a great empathy and patience. I have learned this slowly over time. When a picture is right, even if it appears unfinished, and unruly, it's done. 

Patience is everything.

06 July 2021

Kamrooz Aram and Yuji Agematsu, To be (gifted) or not to be, that is the question!

 Kamrooz Aram’s “Maghreb Drapery” (2020), a diptych filled with wax-pencil arabesques, in the group show “Field of Vision.”

Credit...Kamrooz Aram and Peter Blum Gallery

Here are two different kinds of artists which captured my interest the other day. I picked them off the NYT. I am not sure what it is about them that I felt, except perhaps a sense of organic unity in their expression. And their content expresses vastly different pictorial ideas. Even better!

In Aram's diptych of Arabesques's, there is a musical harmony which seems grounded in the muted  palette of colours. They are together but also separate. I have tried to look at them apart from one another but they don't appear to work. They possess a symbiotic identity much like two similar siblings.

Yuji Agematsu’s “zip: 11.01.18 … 11.30.18” (detail), from 2018, a series of sculptural assemblages displayed in “vitrines” made from the cellophane wrappers from cigarette packs.
Credit...Yuji Agematsu and Miguel Abreu Gallery

Yuji Agematsu offers up a selection of off-beat assemblages which exhale the sensibilities of Japan. They, too feel unified in a very real and organised way and this comes always (I think to myself) because it was created by someone with an innate sense of Form.  Originally from Japan he emigrated to New York a few decades ago. He collects street debris from daily walks and carefully archives them in those small paper cellophane packets he carries. Using these, he creates his own miniature world of eccentric light humour. 

With so many people now making "ART" everywhere, there is inevitably a lot of interesting work being done but which doesn't necessarily possess the mysterious and concretely organic element of Form. Is it is cultural? Is it educational? Why do some people naturally 'have it' while so many others struggle to find it? But fake it, when they don't find it?

Writing this down suddenly takes me to another place of discussion, though quite related.

I recently came across the work of two painters. They are a couple in fact, and he has the reputation, but she does not. Yet to see even one image of hers is to understand that her work is vastly superior to his. She possesses the gift, the innate thing which makes a painter, a painter. He, on the other hand, (and though being a teacher with the reputation) lacks this quality. His work only swims around the globe of the gift while hers lives in the center of it like a goldfish. How to explain?? 

Some people just have it while others spend years trying to acquire it in vain. 

I am happy that everyone tries to acquire it, that a world of people enjoy making art, but often there isn't an understanding of just what separates a gifted artist from all the others.

The conundrum!

05 July 2021

The dog who was left behind


This is a photo of a one dog being rescued from its cage at the pound while the other looks on with great sadness. I made a screen shot of it off of a short video from DODO on Instagram. 

In a short sequence, for barely an instant, it reveals that terrible pain of some living being being left alone, incarcerated at an animal rescue shelter. 

The look on that dog's face is so,,, well, human! I don't know why it struck me so viscerally but it did. There you have it. We all live in a prison of sorts, and we are all left behind somewhere in that particular part of our brains. No matter whether we are all dogs, babies or small children. Life is suffering for us all. 

02 July 2021

Sarajevo and Auschwitz 1944 and 1994


I may have posted this many years ago but I thought to put it up again. I came across it recently as I put some order into my laptop. 

I made a series of pictures back in 1994 around this conflict in the Balkans. It moved me to say something at that time. Could I convey a sense of dark drama? I don't know if I did with this but I like it anyway. 

I am in the middle of another large series of pictures in my studio which I will post soon. They are hard to call finished, so I keep tinkering.

30 June 2021

L Drôme en Automne, but here it is!


I came across this small study yesterday while looking while through through emails for something entirely different. My friend Hélène Fraisse in Lyon sent it to me after my return from France where I went for a three month trip two years ago. I left all the paintings at her place in Lyon to safe keep before returning to Australia. It was the most marvellous trip! I saw so many friends EVERYWHERE, all over. 

I started in London (and finished there) to see dear old friends in East Sussex before taking the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe where I rented a a small zippy citröen which I kept for the entire time. I picked up just enough paints, turps, and material to travel and work out of the boot of the car. It was really lovely, heaven really, to be free, working, and seeing so many friends who received me with the greatest of hospitality.

This small picture was one of a few which I made of La Milande, a small mountain just to the east of Dieulefit. It was done in the field  behind the home of my painter friend Giulia Archer. 

By then, (late October) the weather had turned, and the air was chilly and damp, the skies were turning silver and looking opaque But, many of the trees had dropped their leaves and the hills revealed their violet secrets; all kinds! Blue violet, pink, yellowish, and deep reds too. Delicious!

Autumn isn't the easiest time of year to work as a painter, at least until the trees are thread bare. Otherwise, it can be messy with melodrama. The orange and red leaves tend to quickly become sentimental, and they demand too much attention. 

This is a tiny painting! But it packs a punch as we say in Cincinnati! It is mysterious and there is almost nothing in it to explain how it was painted. I really like that in a picture. It is so simplified that one can barely discern the transition from the very first plane (at the bottom) to the 'red field' just above it. Then the line of trees runs across the whole painting to indicate the firmament of earth upon which we all inhabit. It is the ground of Winter which has yet to come. Then, a bluish atmosphere of light separates it from the violet hills.

It is a short, simple impression of that moment when I painted it, a feeling of (and for) the landscape at that very moment, on that particular day in the Drôme.
This will sound terribly corny, but I am so happy that I painted this picture. From the distance of now almost three years, it is easy to forget the awful angst of being there at that moment in the cold chilly air, feeling that one can never really capture a scene such as this. But here it is.

28 June 2021

Evening Prayers, people are so cool around painters


      Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 27 June 2021, oil on canvas board, 25 X 20 cm

Two offering from last night that came quickly and without hesitation to my surprise. I hadn't worked in a while and it always makes me feel like a real beginner, not just the usual one. 

I am happy to be in Beginner Mind much of the time when painting at the beach. I don't wear a badge on my painting smock announcing to to the world that I am a professional, even though so many artists want the world to see them as such. I couldn't give a hoot as we used to say in Oklahoma back in the 30's. All the Wise Guys of the East talk about Beginner Mind incessantly, and this state of creative being has taken up a home inside me over the years so I am thankful.

Painting as a baseball player means to step up to the plate like a batter at the ball game, though usually without the crowds. This is when everything becomes really interesting. Will the batter hit a foul? Will he hit a home run or will he strike out? No matter, it's to step up to the plate without chatter in the mind is the right mind. (The Wise Guys of the East assure us of this!) 

It was a somewhat hazy, late afternoon which the first picture (top) shows. The second one was made in the afterglow, and I had to wing it a little because the sky had already lost so much of its power. 

There was crowd of teenagers who had arrived, they were quite sweet, but they wanted to take photos. I never say no. Yet, I would really never allow this at any other place in my life. I am far too discreet! But, I am at their mercy in a such a moment. With my left hand clutching paint brushes, I suppose I feel compromised in a curious way, I am open and vulnerable all at once. Moreover, my painting on the easel, in an unfinished state, might seem like an embarrassed young woman hardly wearing a thing. And, my attention is glued onto both the horizon line and the small canvas board on my easel so I acquiesce. What's a fellow to do??

Thankfully, people passing by need to make an effort to get up to to the dune where I am working. And with only a few exceptions, they have all asked permission. I really love that. People are so cool around painters, sometimes 

           Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 27 June 2021, oil on canvas board, 25 X 20 cm

26 June 2021

Housekeeping for l'air de rien

For anyone still receiving the email from FOLLOWIT rss (the green logo appearing at the top right on the home page of l'air de rien) please unfollow this rss. Everyone is already receiving an email notification from Mailchimp which has replaced FOLLOWIT rss. 

Sorry for the confusion. 

Love from Cloudsandseafrance.com 

Salinger's Catcher in the Rye cannot save Shuggie Bain!

I find myself in a Salinger loop. I didn't mean for it to happen but it started easily when I picked out Nine Stories from my bookshelf a few weeks ago. It's a small book of short stories which I have cherished since I first read them in English class as a young man. I have continued to read them frequently over the years since then. But I had not, however, read The Catcher in the Rye in maybe twenty years and it has been a great surprise because I was immediately swept away out into the first paragraph of a long story.

The truth is that I have been wrestling with a few short stories over the past months (six to be honest). I find it hard to admit somehow, but a compulsion to write took me over this year. The problem is that I am not an author, a writer possibly, at best, but certainly not an author. There are lots of writers in every sort of medium these days but there is only one author, and he/she is the creator of fiction and non fiction. In a word: BOOKS. 

I love short stories, I always have, everything from Joyce to Tolstoy, Jack London to Bernard Malamud, I have read them over and over again throughout my life. I love novels too, but the brevity of a short story suits my anxious nature. 

Being in the world of Painting, where emotional content is conveyed so differently, I feel out of my depth by attempting to write stories. And yet, when I sit down to write, ideas spurt out of me in a free and chaotic fashion which is extremely pleasurable. But thus far, I have only written fragmented bits of memory with fanciful invention. And as they say in Britain (and Australia), I have written a few things which one could say is akin to being "mutton dressed up as lamb". But I really do have several short stories going which I only need to resolve, to bring to a close, to wrap up like it's a gift from a bookshop in Tokyo. A good ending is like when a conversation between two old friends comes to a close. There is nothing more to add but "Bye Bye, and take care". 

So naturally, in a last ditch effort I have jumped into my favourite authors to desperately search out ‘how the great ones finish their stories.’ Like paintings, it's often easier to begin them than to end them.
So I read for pleasure, but also to glean the magic imbued in these stories in order to sort out my own endings. I feel like a student in the week before final exams desperate to find the answers (and secretly hoping that Tolstoy's fairy dust will come off onto these pages and into my writing fingers). But speaking of muttons: Revenons à nos moutons! as the French say. The Catcher in the Rye is a gem of a story. 

But don't I really love it because I identify with Holden Caulfield's social and cultural background? After all, we shared the same kind of privilege which has been so taken for granted by whole generations of  white Americans. I also had the same kind of pimpled and smelly roommates in Boarding school (for Chrissakes! as Holden Caulfield would say).

But, I really love his narrative which is crafted with such clarity. Salinger was so eccentric and so terribly gifted. Would an inner-city child from Glasgow relate to any of it? 

And this brings me to the fact that I rarely start a book, then stop after fifty pages. But I did so last week with a book entitled Shuggie Bain by Booker Prize Winner Douglas Stuart. A friend in New York had loved it and told me about it. She is a big reader, no slouch, and quite critical. She described it briefly (the alcoholic mother!) and, I immediately went out to buy it. So it is not without a dollop of shame that I quietly put Shuggie Bain to rest in the mortuary section of my bookshelf and grabbed The Cather in the Rye instead. 

There are a few reasons no doubt, but mainly I just didn't relate to anything after fifty pages, nor was I compelled to empathise with any of the characters. I found it confusing, convoluted, and the phonetic accents too difficult to grasp, while pushing me away at the same time from what was going on between the characters. I lost my bearings, and I wimped out! I admit it! It's an awful thing to bail out of a new book which was a winner of such a prestigious literary prize! Though looking through the past winners of the Booker prize I saw that Arundhati Roy also won it for The God of Small Things about twenty-five years ago. I bailed on that book as well but with maybe just 50 pages to the finish line! Ha Ha! She write beautifully, it's a story intelligently told, and it was certainly interesting but it was just too sweet and sentimental for my own taste, I thought I would die of suffocation if I had arrived at the end of it. 

I know, I know, it was very popular! And still is. And it was very much loved by everyone, everywhere. I just found it too sugary, (trop sucré, as they say in France) Too, too sweet and precious. 
Now, Shuggie Bain is obviously a good book, and quite auto-biographical (which was my prime interest) but I didn't get far enough in to it to see anything on the horizon, though I am sure there was something,  somewhere. Maybe some day I will try again later, before I die. 

It has occurred to me that I must have been seeking to shelter in a place of my own, back into a comfort zone of my own dysfunctional childhood. Apparently, I was not patient enough to spend time in a foreign one belonging to someone else. I am still too obsessed with my own childhood which is why I want to continue writing, obviously. (but hey! We only live twice, right?)

In any event, I like that J D Salinger loves children, and he understands them. One feels this in everything he wrote. He wrote almost everything when he was still such a young man himself, and with such wisdom. 


22 June 2021

Summer Solstice, 2021, under the watchful eyes of God


   Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 21 June, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

I have not been painting regularly and consequently it has made me feel somewhat out of touch with the motif. Remarkably though, when I do get there to set up at the beach, mix a palette, and put a white canvas board on the easel, I breathe a little less anxiously. The sky was clear but for a long bank of clouds hugging the horizon, the colour of a corpse. 

And I confess that I haven't a clue what I am doing. I am just doing. 

I once heard a guy talk about his meditation ritual. I had found him quite pretentious but this was years ago when I found lots of people pretentious. I still do because these days, so many really are pretentious around topics of meditation and spirituality, especially in this neck of the woods near Byron Bay Australia. But no matter, people find me pretty pretentious, so I have been told.

Anyway, this guy was saying that after so much meditating his mantra was so ingrained in his whole body that he could no longer tell if was breathing or the mantra was breathing through him. (Or something like that) 

So in any event, here is where my own pretentiousness kicks in; because though I haven't a cognisant idea how I proceed in a picture, I know that something guides me, and I like to think it is the Motif which is steering the tiller. But, it is certainly Nature which guides the motif and tells people like me how to proceed, not the other way around. Contrary to many others in the Painting world, I watch and listen, I don't dictate to Nature. My decisions (choices) are contingent on Nature and not of my own volition. 

But this can open up a bigger conversation for another day.

These last two are not as successful but there are things in them which I like. I had been joined by a retired meat inspector, a lovely older man who was fascinated by the speed at which I was able to work. I explained that I was an anxious child, to which he did not even blink an eye. So, these last two were painted under the watchful eye of a gentleman named Warwick, originally from a small town in Victoria.

18 June 2021

"Hey!,,, You hadda be there!"


Two studies from last week done on the same day, one after the other, as the afternoon sank into dusk. 

The top one is more classical; conventional even, and closer to a verisimilitude which appeals to a certain crowd of art lovers. But, I like it nonetheless, and I accept it as an accurate response to Nature at that very moment in the afternoon. Its colour (and drawing) is mostly true. 

Below, is certainly a fanciful iteration of the fireball which appeared briefly, only to fade into the memory of embers like after watching fireworks. But at the apex of bliss, there is the crescendo which lends itself to an explosive dénouement, as the French like to say. 

(And as we used to say in the Bronx of my youth; 
"Hey!,,, you hadda be there!")



14 June 2021

Evening Prayer, Brunswick Heads, 11, June 2021


This is from the other night which I post with an apology due to the awful RSS feed which my small group of followers received. !!

Truly awful! But Google Blogger has knocked off their RSS feed which was used to send out the notice of posts which I make. So, I scrambled around and found another one, but it too, will soon be discontinued because of the advertisements which are truly disgusting unless any of my readers have fungal issues with their toe nails. 

Mailchimp will hopefully be taking over as soon as I get it up and running.

In the meantime, be creative, and be full of the devil.

12 June 2021

at the beach, an actor unsure of his lines


Evening Prayer Brunswick heads, 6 June, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

The weather has been a bit crazy and it has kept me in the studio instead of getting to the beach later in the afternoon. This study came out the other night and though I didn't like it at the time, it seems to look better to me with each passing day. Below, is another one, the first done that night. It's smaller because I hadn't painted there in a week and felt insecure, suddenly feeling like an actor on stage who wasn't sure of his lines. But it worked enough to get me to the next three before I packed up in the cold twilight.

     Evening Prayer Brunswick heads, 6 June, 2021, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

08 June 2021

other people's s**t, in both sitcoms and in real life

I read something the other day which got me to thinking about something which normally remains rather discreet in our everyday lives. It was a profile on somebody, maybe a celebrity or something, certainly someone in the news currently in a any event. In it this person recounted that they never, could never clean their own toilets; "That's what maids are for", they reasoned. (Ouch!) 

The very few times in my adult life when I had the service of a housekeeper at home, I always cleaned the toilet myself before they arrived. 

I would never wish for another person to clean up after me like that. And moreover, it seems too personal, too degrading if I think about it clearly. This attitude might have become cemented into my thinking from reading so many Zen "How to" books during my lifetime. And though I have never been in an ashram where one would routinely be assigned toilet duty, I  somehow developed this sense of modesty through other means.

(Full disclaimer, I was raised with maids as a young child, and they (the maids) routinely cleaned up after us in those early years)

I still carry a bit of shame over this fact. But I left home quite early, at the age of twelve, and I quickly learned to take care of myself in this regard, and in other domains too. Hey! we grow up the best we can, though sadly, many never do.

And so to broaden out the scope of this idea further, it got me to thinking about just how much s**t other people expect us to put up with or clean up. Actually, just how much s**t do we throw out to others while expecting them to deal with it? If Youtube is a barometer, then we are all in trouble.

But then I do live alone which makes the whole thing a lot easier for myself and others. 

When I watch films or television sitcoms, I understand just how the screenplay is loaded to the gills with discord, because without it, one wouldn't have a story. All of drama is about discord between characters, husbands and wives, family members, lovers, workplace colleagues, etc, etc. 

So, without any discord, what would relationships look like? What would our lives look like without altercations with others? Would the answer to this be peaceful or boring? 

Again, I live alone so my issues are well hidden from view, so I am imagine but I certainly know that others wouldn't agree that I am the easiest of people. 

And I guess this is why Trump came to power for four weird years.