Confession time

Since moving to Mt Perry I have not done enough plein air sketching/outdoor scribbling. I used to do so much of it when I lived in the big city. Moving from reasonable sized city (1.5million) to small country town (250) with the bush at my doorstep, across my street, all over my horizon: I  g o t  l a z y. I went out when I had to gather new resource, rather than going regularly. So part of my time here is to get that groove back.

Yesterday, I schnaffled Dave’s car, drove it like I stole it (which was fitting) and headed back to the Sierra Vista trail, with backpack, new stool for sitting up out of the ants and rattlesnakes (actually not joking) and a goal to walk in about 1 mile to a spot we’d found the day before.

50m/y from the car this hill took my fancy.

AW96_LC week1_sierravistaI know, doesn’t that look bland? And when I looked at this photo later I thought ‘this is the thing about outdoor sketching’. The detail, the form, the clarity, that comes from sitting and looking and being there is just simply not possible from a snapshot, even with a good snapshot-maker. So, with yesterday’s rock rubbing, the sketch went something like this…

AW90_LC week1_sierravistaAW91_LC week1_sierravistaAnd then compositions seem to emerge, they make sense to me—and may not make sense to others—but I was excited. So I packed up my chair and moved further on… another 50m/y (you just know I’m not going to get another mile eh?)

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The yucca flower heads were so extraordinary to me, with sunrise light pushing behind them, and the ocotillo leaves glowing in front. Amongst the scribbles below are the yucca flower heads and it feels like this could be an interesting painting back in the studio, and I start dreaming of buying a big canvas and a big brush!

AW93_LC week1_sierravistaAnd it seems so cliched to sketch the prickly pear, but the rock rubbings just leant themselves to the dimples and spines. We have a LOT of invasive prickly pear in Australia and it’s borderline ‘UnAustralian’ to draw them there, but here they are the habitat…

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Eventually the heat and the sun chased me back to the car to launch into the first afternoon in the studio space where, for the first time in a long time, I broke out the watercolours. It was so fun.

Perhaps the joy was afterglow from sitting in the desert foothills below the mountains, alone, listening to birds, listening for rattles. And perhaps it was recalling the moment I returned to the car, put all my gear in the back, boots off, and walked to the front, climbed in with keys in hand and shut the door. And I was sitting in the passengers seat! Laughed so hard as I looked left to the steering wheel and vacant drivers seat. :-)


Hi All,

Time has flown by and tomorrow is the reception for my solo show at Matrix Fine Art in Nob hill, Albuquerque: ‘Human/Nature’. I’ll be there from 5 to 8pm. Of course I hope you can make it–but understand completely if you can’t. Here’s a sneak preview:

Sunrise Lotus Sunset Lotus Midnight Lotus Fields#5-12x12 Midnight Fields#2 (The Crescent)-40x30 Blue Desert#2-40x30 Rings#1-36x48

Next Aussie Landscape-also from Gosford NWS

I have begun the first of two large watercolors to be based on an amazing, twisted pink eucalyptus tree that I found in the bush above my B&B in Gosford, NWS (just north of Sydney) on the second morning of my 2013 trip.  This tree was within a few hundred meters of the rocks in “Gosford Dawn” that I recently completed (after starting on the ChArtS veranda).  The warm morning light, filtered through a bush fire haze, really accented the bizarre shape of the trunk and limbs with hot pink light.

Gosford-twisted pink gum in forest-c Gosford-twisted pink gum-c

The first one I’m painting is on a 16×24″ Arches block of rough cold press paper.  I am abstracting the forms and surroundings in this version, as seen from a bit of a distance.  Here are the drawing and initial undercoat stages of the painting.

Gosford Pink Tree started in DR-crop DDS watercolor-pink tree-02sep15-(drawing)-f DDS watercolor-pink tree-02sep15-f

The other version will be a very large watercolor, more than a meter tall, focusing on the core twisted part of the tree.  I will try out the new roll of Arches paper that just arrived.  It is a bit of a challenge to cut the stiff roll, then get the curl out to flatten the paper for use.  Fortunately the glass top of my kitchen table is just large enough to let the damp paper dry.

cutting watercolor roll in DR-cdrying paper on kitchen table-c

Ticking off the list

Isn’t it amazing what you can achieve when a deadline is looming?

With my imminent departure I had a long list of unfinished projects…..not anymore (well it’s shorter now)  :-)


After four weeks “unfinished” on our shop wall and Phil constantly nagging me to do something about it, I actually finished my Marilyn collage properly today and it only took one hour! I think it’s called procrastination.

These two cuties were meant to be a Christmas present for Adrienne last year, then her Birthday present this year and now they will be a “welcome home” present when Adrienne returns from the US. The penguins are made up of individually cut up used postage stamps but only from stamps from the Antarctic….that’s my reason why it took so long I had to find them in my big stamp boxes first :-) I am pleased with them and they hopefully have special meaning to A .



close up view

…and I have finished Captain Jack for an exhibition while I am away. All good :-)


Ground work

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An early sunrise pickup made for a beautiful walk out on the Sierra Vista Trail – it would be difficult to tire of the view of the Organ Mountains. I have a feeling there will be a lot of vegetation picture posting, as the plant life is extraordinary.

These first few days have taken some settling in, like a nesting process. Gathering ‘places’ and materials and the basics, Catherine and Dave have both been very generous and BRAVE, loaning me their cars, and I head off on my first solo adventure in the morning – returning to this trail and a couple of spots along the way that got me excited about sketching.

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Up close to the rocks, it’s hard to resist some rock rubbing, such a beautiful and fast way to add some ground to the paper. (Thanks for the pic, Dave.) I was taught to wash water over the reverse side of the paper and this allows the paper to press into the rock. Smooth paper is best, and I was using a graphite stick. There’s something nice about the landscape itself helping form the bones of the sketch.

AW86_LC week1Post-hike found me back at the art shop and seeking lots of advice on the brands and medium styles foreign to me. I had planned to postpone working in colour for now, but discovered resistance is useless! I did manage to bring an AS Australian Red Gold from home. I think I’m set and settled now and ready for a sunrise sketch to beat the heat.

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Landscapes calling

Stunning early morning desert landscapes, the best way to see it is on foot.
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And Jenny was right about the Ocotillo, Fouquieria splendens, they are extraordinary and beautiful. I may have missed the upper tips filled with red flower, but the recent rains here have the place greener than the harsh sun normally allows.

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So much material :-] Another dawn walk tomorrow, the coolest time to be out.

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Meet the Maker in Las Cruces

MeetTheMaker_USG_01Catherine and I are busy cooking up some events, the first one is this Saturday. But before this I will spend my first day in the studio space tomorrow, across the road from the gallery. This has been generously provided by Dean and Diana Ayers and it has beautiful northern light and cactuses akimbo. I can’t wait to get started.

Yesterday I made some leporellos with beautiful Arches paper. These are to be my visual diaries for my time here. The first one comes out tomorrow on a hike for some plein air scribbling in graphite. Obvious thanks to Dave Sorenson from WBHDI for his incredible generosity and welcoming antics to date.

In the cactus garden at Unsettled Gallery, the leporellos grow!

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Settled in at Unsettled

It was a wonderful event on Friday night at Unsettled Gallery and Studio, Catherine and Don put on a fabulous night, a big crowd attended, and banter and laughter flowed through the gallery and out into the Las Cruces evening.

For the Wide Bay artists, follows are some phone photos in panorama style (hence the occasional curvy wall), I think there may have been corn chip grease on my phone lens, but hopefully this will help for now to form a picture of what a lovely building your art hangs in. As with Trudie and Jenny, Catherine did a beautiful job of marrying artists and pieces throughout the exhibition. Below, room 2.

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AW79_LC UGshowAbove, room 2 from a different angle, looking through to room.

AW78_LC UGshowAbove is room 1 looking through the arch to room 2. And imagine these rooms packed and loud, artists meeting for the first time, and a great contingent of Las Cruces artists came out to support us all. And great fun waving to the art family in Bundy.

Ariella, I had a wonderful time explaining in very basic terms your raku firing, so glad you got to tell me about it. Here is a great printmaker Ouida Touchon with Joseph Wade of JW Gallery, in Hurley, NM. Plenty of interest in your beautiful work.

Please feel free to take these pics from the blog, will take better dslr ones for you all over the coming weeks. It’s amazing to be here.

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In the meantime in Bundaberg

Only one week to go and I am off, too. Yay! First stop visiting my dad in Germany.

The first thing I check every morning are messages from Adrienne. I can tell she’s having a great time and you are all doing a fantastic job looking after her and making her feel welcome! Put her to work !!!!  If I wasn’t going myself I would be so jealous!!! My suitcase is slowly filling up haha….


What a great exhibition opening on Saturday! The exhibition looked fabulous and we had a great turn out and a few red dots, too. Pity that the sound wasn’t quite working but it was fun watching you all :-)




Although I didn’t get a red dot on my Wide Bay pieces I managed to sell two artworks at Gatackers in Maryborough. A smallish one and a big one which sold for $1800 (my biggest sale so far,…I am just starting out :-)


“On the Fifth Day”, Acrylic, Collage, Rhinestones on canvas, 1m x 1.5m


“Coloured Rectangles”, Acrylic on canvas

Phil went to pick the remaining 15 artworks up today of which three go into an Art Comp in Mount Perry this weekend and the rest will be displayed at the Montcrieff Theatre in Bundy for the whole of September. It’s all happening.

Still working on Captain Jack. I seem to have quite a bit of trouble with him. I had to change the face today as his nose was too long, but I am determined to finish him. Not the greatest photo, but he’s slowly emerging from the mist….Trying to make slight changes with cut up postage stamps is not that easy ;-)