Work in progress

I’ve been fluffing around again, as is my Ipswich Art Awards tradition.  ONE YEAR.  JUST ONCE!

I mean, I work well under pressure, but how well could I work without pressure.  How about I just have a range of fabulous things to casually choose from one year?  How about I stroll around my house casually sipping a G&T and waffle to myself about the benefits of various pieces?  That, to me, is a sign of success.  Not the ridiculous, poorly organised, procrastinating and then late night flapping around bullshit that I do.


So.  Last night we did some late night flapping around.

This is the ink piece I’m working on.  Because I haven’t done one of these in such a way before, which is exactly the way you win competitions AMIRITE (no, I am not right, I am a twit.  Why why why why why.  You win things when you’ve mastered a particular skill.  Rightly.)

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at art over the past year.  I have a particular love of Asian art.  The ordered chaos of it all, and the naturalism.  I just love it.  I’m a very chaotic artist in regards to my colour choices and the way I throw things around.  I also use mediums like soft pastels that can be erased when I mess things up.  I’m intrigued by ink because I want to have the guts to work without training wheels.  Plus I love the visible representation of where water was, even though obviously it can’t be physically represented on the page.  Water speaks to my love of chaos too.

Around here, the artists who use watercolours and inks tend to be very controlled and deliberate.  Absolutely beautiful, of course.  Very very talented.  They’ve put far more work into perfecting their artform than I have, that’s for sure.  But you know what I love watching in art?  When an artist clearly know what they’re doing technically and then they just let loose and create something entirely new.  Rodin and artists of his time period knew how to do it, kids were taken off the street by the government and taught to be artists with a view of them becoming masons when they grew up.  Matisse was another.  Japanese calligraphers and basket weavers are absolute masters at this.  My heart.

So I decided I’d like to have a inexperienced artist’s crack at it.

Here’s the first few layers.  I wanted to have bleeding ink to represent the smoke and light on a stage.  I painted where the figure is going to go with liquid latex, which I’d removed by the time I took this photo.  To be honest, I think it was a bit on the turn.  Didn’t give the coverage I wanted and was a bear to remove.


Then I coloured in the shadows with a black intense pencil, because I am not ready yet to fly completely without a safety net.  I also think the lines from the pencil could be interesting underneath the brushwork that is going to follow.


I went lightly because I wasn’t sure how dark it was going to be before I added water.

The cat really would quite have liked me to go to bed.


I do love her.

And this is as far as I got last night:


I like it.  I will probably add more shadow before I start doing the translucent white layers.  I’m leaving the face until last, once I’m really sure of what I’m doing.



So I finished him.  Nine goes I had at his face.  NINE.  We’ll talk about that another day when it’s a bit further away.

He’s fine.  I’d probably keep doing his face over and over until I got to this fictitious point where it is perfect.  It won’t ever be perfect and I’ve got other shit I need to do.


“The Boxer, 1953” by Rachel Brennan, done as a collage in ballpoint pen, ink wash and soft pastels.  Which is not even close to what its going to say on its didactic.  Whoops.

As I said, he still doesn’t look right to me.  A bit part of my problem is that he doesn’t look like Clive Owen, which is what my heart and imagination want.  But that’s a problem that he has in common with just about every other man on the planet so if I’ve gotten used to the rest I can get used to this one.
I’ve gotten started on my next thing.  Because I have five days until I have to hand these suckers over and I work full time at my own small business and I apparently don’t like sleeping and I’ve got my eye on that Hannibal auction that’s going on.  (The hats!  And a murderplaid is out of my budget but you know one of those white business shirts of Hannibal’s would be beautiful quality.  Anyway.)

I’m going to be turning this


into a landscape that looks realistic.  I can’t find the original photo right now, but that’s fine.  I have the printed copy.  You lot can wait.

Seeing I don’t have much time and I’ve stupidly called the thing Grace I’ve been meditating on a piece of music that I’ll have hopefully guiding my hands while making that Rothko knock off bullshit above realistically  look like the Australian bush.  I haven’t done a landscape in ages.  All of my pieces have had people looking directly out at you, and it’s a bit of a mental gear shift that I’m hoping music will help me through.

Fly, by Einaudi, who always soothes the raging beast


Hopefully I’ll be able to encapsulate what I love about art, which is small representation of what I love about being a human being at the end of a very long line of other human beings who have sung and danced and belched and farted and created and fought and overcome and innovated all throughout the past eighty thousand years on this tiny, unlikely blue marble hurtling through space.

It’s a lot to say on an A1 piece of Mi Tients paper, but I’ll have a crack.







(In seriousness – Will add more details, draw his face and add some texture to the background.  There were pipes and taps behind him but I dunno…  I think it might over-complicate things.  Sometimes the purity of a naked dude is enough.)

Oh, he’s drawn in ballpoint pen.

Valiant attempts and stalwart companions



I’m enjoying how much depth I can get by layering translucent washes of ink.


Second layer


Third layer


Fifth layer

I’ll probably do one more and then get started on adding texture with soft pastel or charcoal – maybe taking it out onto some concrete and doing some rubbing, I dunno.  Then I need to tear off that artist’s safe sex condom that successfully stopped fluids from getting where I don’t want them to go.  (The latex masking fluid.  Don’t panic.  I like art a lot, but I can control myself.)   By tomorrow afternoon I should have this bad boy back on the easel where I can get on with the actual drawing part of this Drawing entry.

And once again, my stalwart fluffy companion hung out with me until I finished at 1am, being a very damn good little art cat


Hey, Andy Warhol and Ah Wei Wei totally dig art cats.

She would really appreciate it if I went to bed now, please.

Removes the dust sheets, evicts the possum from the chimney


It has been a while, hasn’t it.  (I say that a fair bit, don’t I.)  I tend not to think of self-promotion for my art until I’m grabbed by the back of the head and thrust into it nose-first.  Then I have to sit over there and think about what I’ve done.  (Which is, usually, flap around about deadlines and producing good work and then forget about the rest of it.)

Well.  What I have done, when not being consumed by the rest of my muggle life in the past year is:

Receive second place in the drawing category for the Ipswich Art Awards for my piece “Sunken Forest, Arnhem Land” as judged by Ben Quilty (!!!!)

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I was honoured to be selected by the Ipswich Art Gallery to display my work in their People, Place exhibition back in January.  In that I covered ground that I have before, in drawing burlesque girls, an idea that I thought I was done with, but you do what you’ve got to do when you’ve got a short deadline.  It was still rewarding, in that I produced one of my favourite pieces (more about her another day).  I also discovered that I have progressed enough that I can bring things to life one early Sunday morning when the piece I was working on started looking back at me


She gave me such a fright I had to take myself out for breakfast.  Far too much Dorian Grey for so early in the day.

This has since opened up a whole new train of thought for my next solo, which so far involves a lot of research into Renaissance art and will hopefully develop into my being able to portray coherent ideas about how women have been erased from history, art history in particular.  We’ll see how that one goes.  So far it has just meant that my trip to the Lifeline Bookfair was very heavy and full of incident and I’m reading a few pages of Vasari before sleeping.

Anyway, next we get to the good bit, the reason why I presume you have found me.  In February, Glen Smith, our local tireless, passionate arts advocate finally (after probably a year of trying on his part) got word that he can bring a group of artists from Ipswich to display their work at the Regional Arts House in Teneriffe, Brisbane.  Here are the details if you’re curious –

I was fortunate enough to be one of those invited.  I’ve created two new pieces specifically for this show, and experimented with entirely different (to me) techniques and mediums, which I’ll be posting about shortly.  A Handfull of Artists From Ipswich runs until the 23rd of April and if you are around I do suggest having a look.  There are a lot of talented people taking part and I’m sure you’ll find it worth your while.

In honour of this exhibition, I’ll be posting here daily while it runs.  You lucky ducks.



Um. Hi.

Long time, no chat.  Working on that study of Rodin’s “The Cathedral” is kind of kicking my butt harder than I thought.  Plus there was a flood.

Image(Spoilers:  You can’t normally see water.)

Rather put paid to my plans for placidly drawing away last week.  Almost everybody is fine, don’t worry.  Just last time almost everybody wasn’t, and wasn’t for a long time.  I’d have felt a bit of a Nero, drawing away while the rest of the town gets flooded.

Anyway, what I *have* got was first going to make me have a cry.  Ie:


And this is the third version.  The other two looked like someone had vomited alcopops onto my sketch book.

So I sat down and had some stern words to myself, changed my medium (now using Inktense pencils and a Japanese calligraphy brush) and I’ve gotten this far:


Getting warmer.  Eventually it will be huge, with a background, texture and blocks of colour.  I’m planning on getting at least as far as another large draft over the next day or so, with experiments with texture to see whether my imagination is accommodated by the materials.

I haven’t planned a piece of art work in such depth since I was back in school.  Interesting, this having a process.