Home, sweet work.

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.



Saturday morn, talking to meself, I think. haha


Sometimes, I put up my first cuppa of the day on my facebook page. This was today’s. I won’t make it a habit here, but will share today. Left is a small card art by Truth or Consequences, New Mexico artist, Susan Christie. Next to it is a postcard art by Sacramento, California artist James Gasowski…see the sweet worm? My first try at sculpture. Alas, I paint.

Have a swell weekend and think about keeping this blog going for another week or two or….

a ‘free’ commissioned piece. ha

I was invited to join 6 other artists to ‘illustrate/paint to’ one of 7 winning essays that were selected by  the Wonder Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is owned by the BEST ex art dealer in that beautiful city. It was an honour for me to be invited. The piece will eventually go into a book with other essays and images. It isn’t really ‘free’…if anyone wants it they’ll have to pay me the usual price. ha. Just ‘free’ for the show and to go into the book. Will be fun to see what others did. Mine is about a 14 year old whiz of a young woman…reader, competitive swimmer, trying to blend in teen who wears lavendar cat eye sunglasses…. This one is called: THE BOOK OF DAISY (her name)…24×24 inches, 61x61cm….acrylic, graphite and crayon on canvas.


Whew, sent it to the curator and owner of the Wonder Institute and she said it was PERFECT for the essay. wheeeee

Farewell to Adrienne and Marlies

Postcards-adrienne by her painting-f

After a flurry of final activities for the ladies from Bundy, including one more show of Adrienne’s work (above) within the Project Postcard exhibition at NMSU, it was time for final farewells to Adrienne & Murray and Marlies & Phil.Murray Adrienne at Double Eagle-f

One more margarita at the Double Eagle….

Adrienne Nancy Jeanne at Ouida's-f gang at Ouida's-f

…as a warm-up for more good drink and tucker, hosted by artist Ouida Touchon at her lovely home in Mesilla.  Joining in were artists Jean, Jacklyn, Nancy Frost Begin (center, above), and some wonderful significant others.  All were impressed by Adrienne’s small water-media works from her stay, especially Nancy, a Signature Member of the National Watercolor Society.

In keeping with New Mexico’s “wonderful” cultural tradition of letting rubbish lay where it falls, I close out the 2015 WBHD2 blog posts with a few international beverage-exchange images.

Fosters still life-f

White Sands-Bundaberg bitters-f

White Sands-Bundaberg ginger beer-f

I’ll continue to post and am already planning a return trip to Bundy and Oz in 2016, time-frame is still TBD.  Until then….

Party at Peg-ay’s

The elusive Mrs. Brown and hubby Joel held a wonderful welcoming party for recently arrived Murray Williams and Marlies, along with several of the WBHD gang and their significant others.  Here are a few pix of us in various stages of debauchery.  Other attendees included artists Nancy Frost Begin and Margaret Berrier, and the Thomas’ (who hosted AW and MO during their stay.)

Peg's party-Nolan Murray Dick Marlies-cPeg's party-group by bar-cPeg's party-at the table-c Peg's party-at the table2-c Peg's party-other end of table-cPeg's party-Sherry Nancy Margaret-cPeg's party-AW going for the margarita-c

Peg's party-Joel-c Peg's party-Peg clowning-c

Moments with Marlies

Unfortunately I had family visitors for much of the month of October, so was not able to spend as much time with Marlies as I would have liked (lucky for her, eh?).

Raul shares collages at Unsettled-e

I got to watch some of her collage work as part of the Mesquite Street open studio event.  While Adrienne and Jean were across the historic Camino Real (now Mesquite St.), Marlies and Raul Dorn shared their collages outside on the Unsettled Gallery veranda.

Art Obscura-Marlies and Crook pose-e Art Obscura-Marlies with Crook at painting full-e

I had the pleasure of introducing Marlies to the Art Obscura Gallery, a mecca for younger, emerging artists.  We attended the opening of a solo show by Crook (Juan Gonzalez) that was particularly good.  The painting I wanted was already sold by the time we got there (so couldn’t add to the 4 pieces by Crook already in my collection), but Marlies was able to snag one that fit in her suitcase.  Marlies’ funky outfit was right at home with the crowd in the gallery.  Art Obscura brings in a food truck for events, so she got a literal taste of the local culture on top of all the art.

Marlies by 138 Food Truck-eMarlies plays illegal immigrant-e

Speaking of vehicles, Marlies introduced me to a part of Las Cruces region that I wasn’t familiar with….the eclectic open air, dusty bus depot out by the highway petrol stop at Dona Ana.  I picked her up from her exciting outing to El Paso by Greyhound.  She is an adventurer after my own heart!

Marlies Phil at Double Eagle-f

It was wonderful to see Phil again, however briefly during his stay in Las Cruces.  Above the happy reunited couple enjoy killing some brain cells over margaritas at the Double Eagle bar in Mesilla.

There was plenty of art produced!

One thing that really impressed me about Adrienne, and mirrored by Marlies when she arrived, was the dedication to the production of artworks.  I really wasn’t permitted the luxury of much creative time during my residency in Bundy, but Adrienne made a point of setting aside time in the studio and the field to sketch and paint.  Here are a few moments that I captured during her stay, to supplement her many posts on this subject.

Adrienne painting thru window-e Adrienne working in Mesquite studio2-e Adrienne holds strip in Mesquite studio-e

The Ayers were kind enough to provide studio space across the street from Unsettled Gallery.

Aussie open studio-Adrienne collector and Jean-e Aussie open studio-Jean and Adrienne-e

Jean and Adrienne shared their work in the same studio during the Mesquite Street open studio event, highlighting the Australian connections.Aussie open studio-Adrienne expains painting to Raul-e

Adrienne enlightens local art icon Raul Dorn on her approach to an oil.  Raul taught many of the emerging artists in Las Cruces as a teacher in several schools over the decades.  His wife Tauna Cole currently teaches art at the University, and Adrienne shared various art-bonding events with this influential and inspiring couple.  Another art couple to bring out the best for Adrienne was our very own Nolan Winkler and her sculptor husband.  Adrienne did a retreat for art at their Hillsboro home, as well as other stop-overs.  The watercolors and gouache pieces Adrienne created there were especially good!  I was fortunate to see her at work (below) when I came to courier her back to Cruces.

Adrienne at Nolan-with Nolan studio2-e

Looking back some more – Outings into the Wilderness

Here are a few more supplemental photos from hikes taken to particularly painting-worthy spots with Adrienne during her stay.

Sierra Vista trail-Adrienne by knoll-e  Sierra Vista trail-Adrienne rock drawing bushes-e

Early on, it was the Sierra Vista trail, only a few minutes from town but full of the lovely spiky stuff that AW loves to paint.  She showed me her technique of setting a base for paintings by rough-rubbing graphite on damp paper atop rocks.  Pretty cool effects!

White Sands paintout-Adrienne dunetop studio-f White Sands paintout-Adrienne paints-fWhite Sands paintout-Adrienne paints birdseye-f

A grey day at White Sands actually proved good for a paint-out visit.  We both did at least one watercolor without the blinding glare of a sunny day.  An art trade is in final negotiations, pending use of AW’s results for some exhibitions back in Oz.

Pena Blanca dawn hike-AW kitchen help-e Pena Blanca dawn hike-AW descends red wall2-e

One particular spot I wanted to show Adrienne is the unusual set of rock formations at Pena Blanca, on the southern end of the Organ Mountain chain.  The prehistoric Native American caves are unusually good, with grain grinding/water storage depressions worn into the rock of the cave floor.  Definitely timeless sense to the place.  But mainly I wanted her to see the subject of one of my WBHD 1 paintings, “Fallen Crystals, Pena Blanca.”  This painting was displayed in the ChArtS gallery in Childers in 2013, but then became part of a trade with Adrienne for some of her gouache studies.

DDS Watercolor-Fallen Crystals-16apr13-f  Pena Blanca dawn hike-AW fallen crystals1-e

The painting (above, left) and Adrienne dwarfed by the actual lava crystal formations.

Pena Blanca dawn hike-AW water-e

If you go hiking with Adrienne, be sure to bring lots of water, and there may be the odd stop to see what lies behind a bush or tree.

Looking back on WBHD-2: Fun with Adrienne

Now that Adrienne and Marlies have departed for home and USA touring, I am trying to catch up with some blog posting.  Looking back, it was a full-on visit for both, so I feel fortunate to have shared a few moments artistic and social, with my mates from Bundy.  Here are a few pix to supplement those already posted in earlier blogs.

Roadrunner statue fed by Adrienne-e

There seemed to be endless feeding at the proverbial trough.  Adrienne shares a morsel with the giant roadrunner sculpture in the rest area off the highway, west of Las Cruces.

Lunch at winklers-group-e Lunch at winklers-serving with Peg-e

But mainly into our own cake holes.  Nolan dished up several feeds for various members of the WBHD gang, hosting at the lovely and creative Hillsboro compound.

Mas Art ladies Adrienne at dinner-e

I had many family visitors during the period and it was tough finding a spot on the WBHD schedule, but I was able to force some tucker into Adrienne (along with the lovely Mas Art ladies-Karen, Malu, and Sandra) on one dinner event at Casa Sorensen.  As Marlies can surely attest, after a few drinks the frame shop ladies can provide plenty of juicy gossip about local art and community “players.” My lips are sealed, of course.

Salsa dinner selfie with Adrienne-e Salsa dinner-Adrienne and chips-e

Adrienne and I were able to join up downtown for Salsa dance night in the Placita area.  Great music, introductions to local art icon Bob Diven, and, you guessed it, more chow down the cake hole.  Sadly, the local NM wine doesn’t quite measure up to typical Aussie vinho collapso, so Adrienne offset with excessive doses of multi-colored tortilla chips.

Soon after Marlies arrived, we caught an evening out on the dunes at White Sands.  Did someone ask about food?  Well, it’s not a proper White Sands event without a picnic on the “beach”.

White Sands with Aussies-Adrienne below-e White Sands with Aussies-Adrienne portrait1-e White Sands with Aussies-AW MO after sunset-e White Sands with Aussies-backs-e White Sands with Aussies-heading home-e

Winding up, down, waving not drowning

We are ensconced in LAX, surrounded by these strange accents of people from Australia and I realise I’ve been away a while. The last few days have been full of hellos and farewells. After a great stay in Hillsboro and coming away with a stash of Dorlands Wax, we got to wave ‘hi’ to Phil in Mesilla and he already looked right at home. And Marlies is a true local now with lots of great stories to tell. It was great to catch up.

Thursday night was the NMSU Postcard Show and Jenny’s piece was snapped up very early. And Friday night was a perfect party night thrown by Ouida Touchòn at her beautiful home in Mesilla, with great food and beautiful company and generous farewells. Thanks Ouida, it was such a memorable way to finish this NM stay.
This morning (Halloween here) a fine young stormtrooper dished out the shots in El Paso which prepared us for a total power blackout at the airport.

We think hamsters on treadmills were supplying the emergency lighting and the power to one single computer terminal that allowed the attendants to check our bags and issue boarding passes. Luck fell our way as the electronic scales were off line so we avoided awkward weight conversations and avoided eye contact until our bags were lugged away – hopefully to our plane.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art LACMA was kind enough to open until 7pm on Saturdays so it was an easy alternative to 10 hours in LAX.
With more than six major exhibition buildings in the complex, we bumbled around for several hours, coming to rest in front of many treasures.

Ed Ruscha’s Actual Size, 1962 Oil on Canvas

Téte Au Fort Menton, Jean Debuffet 1957 Oil on canvas seemed a little like looking in the mirror after a night of Double Eagle margaritas and Californian Pinot Noir.

And a small Picasso Weeping Woman with Handkerchief 1937 sat nearby a small and delicate Joan Miró Group of Figures 1938.

A divine Joan Mitchell, I’ve enjoyed seeing more of her work this trip. Not someone we see back home. East Ninth Street 1956 Oil on canvas.

And the Broad building at LACMA houses some fabulous and fun (complex race track through futurist city amongst them) installations, and massive and gentle indoor sculpture, Band, by Richard Serra.

And this may be the last chance in a while to photobomb a De Kooning. Montauk Highway 1958, Oil and combined media on heavy paper mounted to canvas!

I’m so thrilled with the time I’ve had, my life partner has sacrificed a lot this last year to help me get here and while I’ve been in New Mexico there has been endless generosity and assistance from ALL of the artists inside and outside the project. I’ve done work I’m really happy with, it doesn’t always fall that way, and the Hillsboro crew and Diana and Dean Ayers provided the working space to do that.
The Thomas’ home was a huge part of making the stay in Las Cruces possible, and Catherine and Don sure know how to throw a great opening and hang a good looking show.
Jenny and Trudie, the BRAG crew and vollies, RADF, and those behind it all at Bundaberg Regional Council, we all thank you, and I thank you for allowing me to be part of this project. It has been an affecting experience and will be for some time.
Tomorrow I wake up at home. And then possibly go straight back to sleep. 🙂