Monday 10 April 2023

'Magnificent obsessions' series

I was out with friends on Saturday but stayed home all day Sun giving me time and space to dream. 

Because I’d flattened out a whole lot of watercolours I had given them a second life and resurrected possibilities. The confluence of events led me to making a bunch of standalone paintings into a series I titled ‘Magnificent obsessions’ in honour of Sydneysiders’ penchant for food and real estate. The title is similar to my old boss’ film title, what she made after she left the company we worked at. 

Like my collage I’m not really stealing the film title, it’s more like payment because I made some graphics for the credits, and anyway her film title is not precisely the same. I repurpose magazines to make collage so why not repurpose a pair of words?

There is something unwieldy about our obsession with real estate, more recently paired with an interest in food – see all the cooking shows about farm-to-fork etc – and it’s a bit of a stretch to call it “magnificent” though we have nationally a much higher mobility rate than other countries apart from those in Scandinavia, so evidently the use of dwellings to improve one’s material wellbeing isn’t all bad. 

We’re yet to see if the state and federal governments can do something about homelessness, which is still too high. We know what to do about homelessness it’s just a matter of authorities biting the bullet and taking the necessary actions to make sure people are housed. The measures required imply an all-of-government response. I wonder if siloing – which is inevitable where you have organisations responding – isn’t going to throw a spanner in the works.

Saturday 8 April 2023

Automobile transition series

This week I flattened out a whole slew of paintings. What happens is that if you don’t use good paper with lots of water the paintings dry curled, so I popped down to IGA on the off-chance they’d have a squirter bottle to fill with water. 

In fact this one was the last one on the shelf so for the rest of the day I sprayed the backs of paintings than weighed them down with heavy books as per the instructions I’d got from Google. 

It worked so well that I decided to revisit one series and add a closure to round out the viewing experience.

It’s a sort of comic/conceit that I’m going to call ‘Automobile transition’ in order to tap into the zeitgeist and capitalise on a popular theme. In fact the series DOES show change from one state to another and back again.

The original paintings were done in November so it goes a LONG way into the past. When I first did the paintings I started out by experimenting, just following my intuition. In the same way that in October I began in Pitt Street Mall to paint leaves, when I started to use collage it seemed natural to make leaves as well.

Wednesday 5 April 2023

Abstract chevron sets

I can’t remember exactly when it was, yesterday or the day before, but I assembled the abstract series of works into sets (see below) giving the individual paintings a second opportunity to glow. One viewer said they are “luscious” and I’m grateful for the feedback, but for myself I think they create meaning when they’re considered together because of the sheer diversity the new work embodies.

Seeing the thing here online you don’t get the full effect but in real life when seen together the paintings secure new life because in addition to the range of colours, the arrow (chevron) shapes all point in different directions so the eye is constantly changing its point of focus from one panel to another. The sense of movement you get from the work has something to do with this diversity, as though a sink full of soapy water were being stirred.

Because I had two panels left over after putting the two sets together I am making a third set to accommodate the two spare paintings. I explained in the previous blogpost how I came to have three of the first set, and not two.

Sunday 2 April 2023

Abstract series

On Thursday I was due to meet friends for dinner in Darlinghurst and there was a show opening also nearby to go to. A friend had furthermore offered to give me things for the baby (my daughter is expecting) so I had three reasons to go into town, and caught a bus at around 3pm. I went to the Sheraton Hotel to pick up the bibs and cap then went to Dymocks and bought some more children’s books as well as some art books.

I started reading one on abstract painters when I was in the CBD at Westfield’s food court where you can sit freely for as long as you like, then I tried getting on the train but it didn’t come so resigned myself to resorting to a bus, which I caught on Elizabeth St.

The walk down from Oxford St to Rushcutters bay was a little stressful because I was always wondering as I went along when my heart would start thumping but it stayed calm. I took in the show by myself – you can see the review on the Esag blog – then sauntered back up the hill to Victoria St where I sat down on a bench reading.

The cars were buzzing behind me and one popped and snorted as it changed gears because it was owned by a young man and he thinks that making noise is as fun for everyone else as it is for him. For about 30 minutes I wandered mentally through different worlds, art movements, manifestos, declarations etc and I came away amused at the frailty of human endeavour, we think what we do has a certain meaning and it turns out that other people (in the future, say) don’t care a fig about what we say and only admire the pretty pictures.

Last night I talked with my friend Basia about all these earnest people and their exhortations and “position statements” etc and we laughed (I love the pretty pictures though). We also talked about the abstract works I made in response to reading the book (see below), I started with an unused base watercolour from a previous series and did four more to make five in the ‘Yellow abstract’ set, then did four ‘Orange abstract’ paintings using some of the new paint I picked up on Thursday.

At dinner a friend of a friend commented on my paintings (not from the abstract series) and later I saw an SMS she sent regarding them that noted their preliminary nature, I think she wants me to make acrylic or oil paintings and use these watercolours as studies. I took this person’s words to heart thinking about the future and its mysteries but haven't moved away from my current method yet and possibly never will. I’d shown her some of my return to the ad slogan series (see below) and I hadn’t started on the abstract ones at that point. her husband also said I should use larger paper but after talking with Basia about both of these suggestions I'm deciding to stay put for the moment. I'm enjoying myself.