Hello from Perry!
One of the things I knew before I left Mt Perry in late August was that Red Hill Gallery had secured a commission for me, and Marlies and Phil got the usual call “can you make me a 100cm x 100cm stretcher frame, tickety boo?”.
Stretched and primed, with some texture in place to dry, I closed up the doors and headed off.
After working 4+ years full time in the studio, and never for a minute regretting any of it, I did hear myself often quip “it’s no way to make a living“, making light of a genuine concern about income. And yet my struggle with commissions continued. So I got onto the plane knowing it was time to ‘reframe’ those thoughts, and be brave enough to ask some other artists theirs.
Off and on over the weeks I spoke with about 6 different artists and of course everyone was generous and thoughtful. And yes, it’s a no-brainer: someone is prepared to pay you to paint something you love painting. They like your work, therefore they will like what you paint. This was the gist of reply each time amidst a great broad ranging discussion.
But will I like what I paint?
Well probably not if I tie myself in knots over it! And I already know I have a process in place that avoids being asked to replicate works, or to be heavily directed, but apparently I have numerous doubts. Other questions I’ve posed to self have been: What is this angst over studio paintings versus commissioned pieces?
Will money corrupt the process?
Am I a lesser artist afterwards?
Is the work less interesting?
Answers: sshhhsshh, stop the voices;
yes, and buy you a canvas roll, get over it;
no, doh, build a bridge and get over it;
and, only if you let it be!
One of the things the residency fostered was my willingness to ask questions of the US artists that I may not have so easily asked of my home crowd. Nearest astutely observed that we can often be more ourselves when a long way from home—a little more fearless in our approach perhaps—as the importance of the lasting impression seems lessened. Or this may just reveal more of my own shortcomings back home, but I certainly won’t forget the responses I received. Either way I came home emboldened.
I am really enjoying the lightness of the work on this one, I’ve started some sketches around it (2nd pic) and also started the base painting (above). I’ve decided to not finish the sketches first, to not be too prescriptive, but instead move from one format to the other and maybe some interesting things will occur in that process.
The coffee is flowing, the oils are out, the watercolours too, and Nearest is still terribly impressed with how many Qantas meal trays I managed to flog on one long flight to Australia. Thank you Qantas, they make excellent watercolour palettes.
And the studio assistant (cue the gratuitous pet photo) is very happy to be working again.