Posts Tagged ‘art-making’

In this liminal, pre-exhibition week, it’s births and deaths

It’s a strange, strange space you’re in, working up to the installation of a show. I’ve been doing it for 15 years now and it seems I’ll never get used to it.

I guess I am better than I used to be, but there is a disruption in the pit of my stomach and everything is amplified along my nerve pathways.


Industrial scape with pink stacks

Industrial scape with pink stacks, 2015, mixed media on paper, 80 x 90 cm, AUD $600 framed


What precisely am I anxious about?

It’s a cliche among art folk that it’s because you’re putting  a piece of your soul out there for the world to shrug at.  I’m not so sure. Isn’t it more about the exposure of your decisions; your judgements? You’re only exhibiting the work you consider fully resolved, i.e. finished. Will your audience agree?

I look at art all the time and it’s a constant judgement thing. It’s not that you judge the artist personally, but you are considering the decisions they’ve made about colour, values, composition. Those who are interested enough will be doing the same to me. In some weird way I want that; but at the same time I’m horrified by the thought.



In the green night, 2016, 15 x 28cm, mixed media on paper, AUD $190

In this week of the great loss of David Bowie, I just need to proceed, in his honour if I can’t manage anything else. What a shining example of unapologetic originality. Thanks David… I’ll be imagining you’re coming along to the show. That would be great.






Upcoming Workshop at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space


The good folks at Shellharbour City Arts Society  invited me to conduct a workshop this month and I was delighted to accept.


One of mine from last year: Landscape with mapping elements VII, acrylic & collage on canvas, 75 x 45cm

I’ll be working with the idea of  deliberate simplicity. I reckon (and it’s far from an original thought) that art-making can get too complicated…we can get caught up in ideas about what it ‘should’ be…all the rules and regulations about art,  or – perhaps more to the point- what others may think of our art. Will it be too weird? Will people laugh (presumably behind my back, if they can hold  on that long) and what about my skill level?  These worries may prevent us from expressing ourselves authentically. It’s certainly something I fight with.

Getting  past worrying about what others may think is no easy task of course, and unlikely to be achieved in a 4-hour session with strangers. What I’m aiming for is a supportive environment, and I’ll introduce some brief exercises where the skill level of the individual is irrelevant. These exercises will focus on  the formal elements of art – tone, composition, colour, line, texture, pattern etc. Yes, they’re  the kind of things that engaged us when we were in Kindergarten. They remain the building blocks of artistic expression though. They are what make us want to look and keep looking.

Whistler_nocturne in black and gold_falling rocket

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (US, 1834-1903) Nocturne in black and gold: the falling rocket, c.1872-77, oil on canvas, 60.3 x 46.6cm. The composition and tonal contrasts in this work make us want to look at it all day.

That’s not to say that the conventions and techniques of Western art  should be disregarded. I’m all for formal education. It’s just that as  our cultures have changed, so art-making has changed. It’s not the purely artisanal skill it was in the Renaissance. What we want, or need, from our art has changed too. During the 20th century, the importance of the concepts behind art became recognised, as did the the idea of art as a form of personal expression. My view is that anything that prevents someone from trying art today needs to be challenged.

However I  don’t intend to run  a  ‘let’s make mud pies, children’ sort of session.

I’m hoping that by deliberately restricting our options within the exercises, we can forget ourselves for a moment and feel  we have license to express ourselves more freely.

I did a workshop based on this idea back in June 2014. People seemed to receive that one well, so, encouraged by that, when I was approached by the Society I thought I’d develop the idea a little.

Still some spaces available – max class size will be 8 people.

Thurs Feb 19, 12midday – 4pm

Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space, Wentworth St Shellharbour Village – next to Tourist Office.

Cost $60, all materials supplied

Light refreshments provided.

Bookings and payment/further enquiries: contact Moira on 0400 374 362 or

Kindly note full payment will secure your place, and must be received by Feb 17.