14 July 2021

Tweed Regional Gallery, Le Salon des Refusés!


 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 strokes which give them character but most importantly, their unity too. Then again, realistically speaking, they just probably 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.

They didn't understand that I am a kind of Expressionist, though an anchored one, one moored onto a spot in front of a motif outdoors from which to glean enough pictorial information with my eyes in order to make a palette, then a picture. Naturally, the work is messy and full of air, big wind and full of life too, 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 also freed me from 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? 

But then another reason is that I am too old, not emerging enough, not enough sizzle and too much old steak. Alas, it is what it is, as they say.

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


  1. Sorry for the hurt. But then, you’re so old that hurt means little. Carry on my friend, I love them.

    1. Ha Ha oui,,, mais pas très hurt, quand-même, confounded!

  2. It's their loss! I'm not sure that people understand good painting anymore. The more I see of gallery stuff, the less I'm impressed by what is going on at the moment. I absolutely love what you're doing, which is definitely superb contemporary art. After all, I learned about "motif" from you, even though I dart around my subject matter rather too much!:) I think it would be fantastic to see all these paintings together ... I think you should do this in France and then I could come and see the exhibition!

    1. Merci Grazie!!! Liz, Thank you for checking into this blog, I hadn't realises you were still on it. All good, as they say down here. Every 'loss' becomes a gain at some soon. I am happy to see you out working from the motif chez Vous. Of course, summer is difficult with so much greenery but at he end of the day colours open up like flower petals in the morning sun. I think the Late Autumn and winter is best in France when violets, blue, red, yellow violets thrive everywhere, all held in place by a stern grey sky over head like a schoolmaster. Enjoy the summer!
      I am watching the last hour or two of the Tour de France in bed at night. I have really loved it for so many reasons, sentimental and otherwise, bisous!, X