Crowdy Head Lighthouse

You guys continue to shame me with your production rate.  So I finally finished my first follow-on watercolor painting based on images of Australia, from this past trip in 2013.  It is of a lighthouse on high coastal hill along the northern coast of New South Wales.  These distinctive lighthouses could be found on many such headlands from Sydney north.  “Crowdy Head Lighthouse, NSW” is destined for a relative in California who graciously hosted me on my way to Oz in August.  He love lighthouses so I’m going to surprise him (unless he figures it out from my other Facebook/status posts.)





“Today you know what you’ll do” Chuck Close

At 5:30am on the front verandah I sat and watched brooding clouds move around the top of the mountain. You could have called the morning ‘close’. The humidity was like a medium-weight blanket, and the building clouds are teasing us with the prospect of rain.

109_AWHow did pre-photography artists capture that light, those morning skies that move so bloody fast? I guess they were just seriously good which is why we can see them in our bookshelves.

At one point I saw some formations happening and despite all the sketching gear laying around the office at present I raced and picked up the nearest pad and a biro so I could scribble what I was seeing. After a few days of banging away at something that’s still not working, it’s easy to erode one’s own direction. I know I’ve got better at ignoring those voices with their little archeological hammers and brushes that chip, chip, chip away at my defence shield. But turning to art play, scribbling with a biro, just getting on and doing more work, is like a laser gun to those voices.

Dave’s last post about visiting Chuck Close’s show in NY reminded me of his motto in Inside the Painters Studio: “Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will—through work—bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea’. And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.”

Chuck also says he often has tv on while he paints, but mine is still in the cupboard though I did watch this great YouTube video, you need an hour so make a cuppa and settle in, it’s really good: ‘A portrait in progress’.

10 minute gouache scribble. Need to do another and forget the land mass for a while, the little voices say this needs working up…


Redo and new….

Both, 16″x 16″ oil on canvas.

first the redo….YOU ASK FOR THE MOON. YOU ASK FOR THE STARS. I added all that blue.


Secondly, the new: YOU’VE GOT MY LOVE. Yeah, listening to Glen Hansard’s new CD which features he and Eddie Vedder singing Bruce Springsteen’s DRIVE ALL NIGHT. sigh.


Finally some art activity

While I’ve managed to catch some great exhibitions along my travels, I’ve not had the time nor inclination to create anything of my own until yesterday.  Started work on a small, simple piece for a relative who likes lighthouses.  Not my normal subject matter, but wanted to please.  I’ll post finished work (in who knows how many months?) but wanted you to know I’m not dead out there.  I don’t have internet access from my mom’s house so get my little windows of activity when out doing errands and can find a free link.


I was very impressed with an exhibition of Chuck Close prints.  Amazing what he can do with so many different extremely complex processes.  Adrienne would be depressed.  Japanese woodblocks with 123 colors, on $20,000 paper, 2 m square.  Thinking of Peg with Close’s homemade paper compilations of multiple squeezed shades of grey into a massive portrait, almost 3D.  The photo is of my mom stunned in front of a tapestry, yes a tapestry, portrait.


I also enjoyed revisiting my Danish roots at Scandinavia House in NY City, on a rare day where didn’t risk death from freezing this winter.  Great food, then toured the exhibition of Ambassador Loeb’s Danish art collection in the gallery.



When not shoveling mom out from the snow, I’ve been helping my son with his new condo apartment.  I’m popping down to Washington for the weekend to see daughter off on her semester abroad in South Africa.  I’ll fly back to Santa Fe briefly to help a friend move in to his house, then back to NY and continuing my East Coast touring through the spring.  Glad to hear the heat is breaking in Oz….glad I missed all that!  But we set records for cold in NY.  Greetings to all!


Treasure Island

'80s PopTop

I’ve just returned from St. Petersburg/Treasure Island, Florida.  I’m working on a long promised web site for my Father and Art mentor JIm Crane. The initial effort is now posted at Don’t miss the “Faculty Meeting Folio” page. There be jewels. CC

Back to Alpha

I have recently travelled North to Alpha with my son. The trip inspired me to write this post:

The grey ribbon road weaves and curls through flat, drab brown terrain, then rises up steeply towards a crest that supports a big Aussie sky. It is not such a big blue Aussie sky today, festooned as it is with bulky grey clouds…dirty grey clouds.

I want the landscape to be different this trip…not so stubbornly harsh and unforgiving, but the land is flat and dry…unfriendly…long fringed with bleached dry weeds. Dotted with mean little bushes tamed by the relentless throbbing heat.

The land has obviously been cleared in days gone by, to accommodate the cattle that apparently graze on these pastures. But there is not a cow in sight. Perhaps they have found shelter from the heat somewhere on the huge cattle property that encompasses our narrow road. The property is over twenty-two thousand acres strong.

But these can’t be pastures can they? I once saw pastures on a train trip to the country outside of London. Lush emerald green velvet were the ‘real’ pastures there. Patchwork pastures edged with gentle soft bushy trees lush enough to inspire fairy stories. Every now and then a magical ancient castle would pop up unexpectedly atop that divine viridian velvet quilt, like a castle from a page in a ‘Pop up’ book of the sort that I loved as a young child.

Cows could be seen contentedly grazing in those perfect pastures, waiting to be painted by the likes of Thomas Sidney Cooper.

But I am not from the ‘Motherland’ as we once called it. I want to love my sunburnt country despite everything.

From my passenger’s window I note that the clouds are travelling fast beside me…with me in fact… as if we are companions on a quest. But on reaching the crest, well ahead of me, they are absorbed into the now thin, drab line of the landscape. It’s then I notice a dark purple haze of smoke in the distance.

Reaching up from the faded dun earth on either side of the narrow road are the black skeletal remains of older trees. Thin gnarled branches stripped of their leaves plead in frozen dance. Every now and then, a small group of bottle trees appears, strangely fecund in this barren place.

Silhouettes of small trees emerge peaking over the oncoming crest. They wave and beckon like sirens luring us onwards. Perhaps Alpha will be on the other side of that crest?…my son and I have been on the road for eight hours…and I have endured over four hours of Hip Hop music…a true sign of a mother’s love! cx

12˚ of separation


What a difference a day makes, a beautiful sea breeze trounced the 5 day heatwave and Wednesday was 12˚ cooler than Tuesday (dropping from 111˚ to 89.6˚) and I spent 6 hours painting and didn’t notice the time. Such a good feeling. At the very same time North America was having a little chat with some Polar influences and setting it’s own records.

106_AW_backAfter the required caffeine intake I dug out a piece from last year which had stumped me, enough drying time had elapsed and so I’ve started painting out what I don’t like. Not sure where it’ll go for now, but hope to keep some of the zinger blue there and still talk about the zone colour story (even if I’m only talking to myself).

107_AWNice to be working again, and the Assistant is flat out too. The plan is to keep putting paint down on bottle trees and start some sketching about my recent trips. I think the black gesso will come in handy for penguins.
Back to work today, good morning 2014.