Makers in da house

It was a really delightful time working away in the BRAG studio on Friday and Sunday, with a gentle, then busy, then gentle flow of visitors through each session. Trevor came a long way to be there which was very special. Trudie and Jenny came and played too, and as usual the Brag staff and volunteers did a beautiful set up for us, and directed brave Gallery visitors up to the Makers mess!

AW72_MTMcombopicAW061_TrevorMTMAW062_TrevorMTMOn the Friday we had a great roll up from Council supporters and people stayed quite a while to chat with the artists.

In our little homage to Nolan and her yam brushes we set up a kids area for carving and printing. A large amount of sweet potato is grown in the Bundaberg region.

Some of the big kids got involved too.

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AW064_AriellaMTMAriella set up some of her stunning work, and visiting kids had a ball with her, rolling clay and making impressions. She is great at explaining her process and now, on a basic level, I understand what Raku is. Amazing!

And I really enjoyed hearing her talk with visitors too, you could see they enjoyed it so much. Shows how important it is to be able to communicate what you do on many levels.

And below, Marlies cutting cutting cutting edge. And Susan creating some beautiful bases.

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And Jenny continued working on her stunning BBQ tray retablos for her November show. Everyone who sees them says ‘yes please, I’ll have that one’.

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And I was mucking about on paper with some Aspen, watercolour and gouache. What a great day get together we had. Thanks to all of you, and very much to Wendy @ BRAG for her hard work on getting the promo material out there for us all.

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The green, green grass trees of home

Hi everyone, fun to be checking in for the first time on WBHDII and thought I’d post about what I’ve been working on for the last couple of months and where it’s headed. Actually, I don’t know where it’s headed… 02AWFebGrassTreeSite

These beautiful plants are Australian Grass Trees (Xanthorea species – I’m not sure what kind yet) and they cover a hillside about 100km (62m) from my home. There are some closer to home but not in such numbers as this site. They push up a tall, straight flower spike and remind me in some ways (if you squint and move back about a mile) of the Yukka I saw at White Sands in NM.

03AWFebGrassTreeSketches I’ve been sketching and painting these for a few months in preparation for a show in Brisbane in July, but also to see where it might all head for my WBHDII pieces. Sketching has been pretty minimal as the Australian summer makes for very unpleasant times. I went to the site 2 weeks ago and once I’d swatted away about 300 mosquitoes, then swallowed some flies visiting from adjoining cattle paddocks, the sun emerged and before I blacked out I made a vow to come back after summer.

So, some squiggly compositions did emerge and whilst none of the larger pieces are finished, there is some colour going down and I’m working through some ideas. Below is where I work, listen to bad tv and good music, drink lots of coffee, and talk to our dog. 01AWFebStudioGrassTrees

A little bit of New Mexico at a Queensland Xmas

Christmas this year will be spend with good friends who are currently inflating the blow-up pool where we will sip Margaritas in the sunshine and then probably need a 7 hour nap and then some more food (including a prawn and tomatillo nachos), and then more napping. A summer Christmas with an NM twist.

Arriving home 3 days before it has cancelled out time for card writing and tinsel twirling but the offcuts of xmas paper and shiny ribbon trapped in the tumbleweeds of dog hair have added a festive feel to home.

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104__AW_13 The recent travels have allowed lots of time for thoughts about work to come. There are many things I still want to work through with the bottle trees, and for a few years now I’ve been gathering scribbles and photos and disjointed thoughts around the alpine plants of Tasmania, in southern Australia. It was amazing to see some related plants on the subantarctic islands recently (we got as far as 53˚ south), as well as the gigantism of some of the alpine island plants known as megaherbs.

105__AW_13I think I’m just going to have to start scribbling in the New Year and see what comes, as it currently feels related and not. And the amazing sight of 50,000+ penguins has to work it’s way in there somehow. I’m thinking they could be quite beautiful as embossings like the recent bottle tree collagraph embossings.

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And somewhere in amongst all that sits the black gesso, the fledgeling skills in woodcut and hectograph, and the urge to stretch up a gigantic canvas. It’s going to be an interesting year.

Merry Christmas and thanks for making my 2013 such a great year.

Access studio

I dropped in to the Access studio at Brag today as I knew Adrienne was working there on her prints. I had to reschedule a meeting and thought it best to catch her in person. She was busy with some small collagraphs which would ultimately have some un-inked embossed areas. When she emailed through the results of her endeavours later in the afternoon, I was so impressed by what she had achieved. She will post some photos soon, no doubt. Striking images!

Dave came out of his lovely apartment to have a cup of tea and a slice of banana cake with Adrienne and I. After we sorted out all our meeting issues, he showed me some of the works he had done in the past , and some recent works. His compositions are so strong and I don’t think I have ever seen such sumptuous layering done in watercolour. His surfaces become very rich and beautiful.

Coming to the Access studio always takes me back 15 years or so, when I was creating my big pegboard Boardgames there. It was and still is a productive space.

Tomorrow night Dave and Adrienne will come to my gallery, Dirty Linen to see Bridge’s ‘Behind the Mask’ exhibition that is installed there, to celebrate Mental Health week. More on that tomorrow. cx

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Today is plate making day

081_AW_13I’ve been working towards a much desired block of collagraph printing next week and the week after following a long break from it (thank goodness I started keeping notes).

I’ve been thinking about it in amongst the recent painting and thought it would be interesting to create some shaped plates, and then leave a lot of white paper that will represent the ‘white zone’ areas on the property maps I’ve been painting about. Within this white paper I’m planning some blind embossing of shapes as ghosts of bottle trees past. (This really does sound like I know what I’m doing hey?)

I use the press at BRAG and have it booked for 3 days next week and the week after. I’m so looking forward to it. I stay in Bundaberg to avoid the 200km round trip each day and I will be ‘big city living’ – dinner, cafes, movies. I know, I need to get out more.

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I took a quick trip to Childers today to replace one of my prints that has a mark on it. I was welcomed there by Dave, who was giving painting demonstrations.

The gallery looked great with all our works very nicely displayed. The gallery windows filter the incoming light beautifully, and this provides a wonderful ambience. It was a treat to see everyone’s artworks in the flesh. Each work powerful in its own unique way.

Mmmmm…some delicious blue bowls there too…who are they for Trevor?? I know Adrienne has plans for one of them! Dave commented to me that Adrienne is such a shy and retiring person and of course I knew he was being cheeky….and he had the biggest smile on his face!!

He really enjoyed his time at Mt Perry with the effervescent and interesting Adrienne and her family.

Several phone calls to Susan offered no response, so I jumped in the car and headed home. I had hoped to do lunch and catch up with her, but will do that soon.

Till soon. cx

When ‘there’ moved slightly away from here… (warning: long post, with happy ending)

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On Friday night when I posted I was ‘there’, I did not foresee that in a calm, orderly moment on Saturday afternoon I would slip while removing staples and plunge a screwdriver through my two Las Cruces-bound canvasses.

It’s hard to describe what that felt like, but repetition of the word ‘no’ for quite some time seemed to be my first reaction. Then I seemed to recall shock setting in, and maybe a little bit of whimpering. Or that could have been the dog in response to the rat-a-tat of ‘no’ coming from her Human.

I was using a plastic clipboard as a guard for just such an event, and in the final moments of the final side of canvas 2 I’d forgotten to slide it along. Of course that’s the first and last time I’ll work one on top of the other – yes, that truly is the cringeworthy, embarrassing aspect. But other than that it was all as has been practiced before.

Like most painters, I’ve had the occasional canvas blow off the easel, hit something sharp or lean against something pointy until you turn up at the studio some hours later to find a new shape moulded. But I’ve never actually pierced the surface before. New ground. All is lost, I said, and started rethinking what was going across the seas.

And then I did the best thing I could. I stopped talking to myself, some of it had got nasty, and I started talking on line to a few of the WBHD Rescue Crew. And the common response was ‘don’t stress’ and ‘what about repair’ – I had only embraced despair ‘cos I thought I was ‘there‘. The ideas, techniques and tips came rolling in, and that 16hr time difference helped when I couldn’t sleep at 2am and the bright eyed 10am NM painters turned up with the ladder to get the crazy kitty out of the madness tree.

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One piece is repairable in time, and it’ll be accompanied by it’s plein air sketch. In the image here I could add some ‘grasses’ between the trunks, as there’s patches of grasses across the painting.

The painting and sketch is quite a lovely combo, and has made me rethink what goes to CHARTS. I will repair the other canvas too, and it will hang in Childers with it’s plein air study. I wanted to post this as, even though it does feel monumentally humiliating, I wanted to talk about the power of asking someone else’s opinion especially if you work in isolation. And, as was said by the Rescue Crew, it happens all the time, artworks get repaired, and you can’t let a good piece die when you don’t have to.

Perry through the lens

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Lin has sent me some pics from the weekend that she’s happy for me to share. A domestic tribute to Casa del Williams and I always love seeing what emerges from her 40 years of photographing … even with a compact camera. Although, she does point out there’s more computing in her new compact than in her not-very-old DSLR. Click on the goat triptych, it’s delightful and now you all know I have some purple towels.

And perhaps as a counterpoint to my photo, I truly did do something while she primed canvasses… some WBHD bits drying on the wall… are they finished? Ask me next week.

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Constitutionals…

This morning was a stunning walking morning so I thought I’d show a little of what I see on this regular route.

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The entry to the off leash area. Some days I let people use this for hitting small white balls with sticks, but all other times it’s ours. A small range on the horizon, lots of gum trees, native and feral grasses, and Sunday checking her pee-mails.

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A flowering bottle-tree (Callistemon) caught my eye today. We’re having a warm winter which is possibly confusing the plants.

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The oft mentioned Mt Perry 750m. It’s very nice of them to mow all this grass for us.

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There’s many good stories here… I don’t  know any of them yet.

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Stopping at McKays for milk on the way home. Keith, in the doorway, is 81, still lifts truck tires, bales of hay, works 6 days a week with his childhood sweetheart, Barb, 80. They’ve run this business all their lives, and their son and wife now work with them. They are one of the two retail outlets in town. The General Store (town tour next week) sells food, newspapers and takeaways. Post office is open 3 hours a day. It’s a wee place, our Mt Perry.