Random Thoughts JULY 2-20 2013 @ NGART GALLERY

For the last year I have been working on my new works for NGART GALLERY in Chippendale opening on the 2nd of July,2013

RANDOM THOUGHTS is my theme this time around.

I am painting ten Big works and ten 50X50 cm works using vermillion red and ultramarine blue oil paints on canvas, to depict my transient thoughts before they go away. The outcome of the images are just as much a surprise to me as for the viewer when they invest a little time with them.

I am relying on my “memory library” of stored  images in my mind that I have gathered over 25 years drawing  illustrations on the Opinion pages of the Australian newspaper.

It is important  not have to worry about the process of mark making in that initial process, so that the “Random thoughts” are allowed to come and go freely.  I can then capture associations, from the shapes and forms into a cohesive image that represents the metal gymnasticst. That is my fascination. The result is usualy figurative and it is like a spiritual  tottem pole. A bunch of ideas that meld into an image which relate back to the title and starting point.

Over the coming weeks leading up to the exhibition I will try to share these thoughts with some images to make sense of the final result and maybe we can all learn a little more about what occupies our minds in the process of being creative.


29.4.2013 – I am currently working on a picture I am calling “Music”

The thoughts came from hearing a violin player and I have always listened to the instrument been played ether in symphonies or in gypsy music the French contemporary bands play.

The pose is classical and I wanted to get that feeling of exhiliration that comes from the pulsating sounds that eminate from such a delicate instrument. I could see the horse appearing in my linework unintentionally, but almost serendipitous in its entry into this image. I turned the painting upside down and marked in the flowing shape of the equine beast, with reference to the Vienna’s lipizzaner horses . I grew up  hearing about them from my father but never had the time or occasion to see, eventho he lives there and I visit Vienna regularly.

The face on the Violinist emerged without too much angst, and maybe I would have liked a younger player. Maybe the thoughts of my father influenced this image emerging. Then  my music maker needed a hat. The catalogue in the memory went to Charles De Gaulle

My french history learned 40 years ago resurfaces. What a great hat! and for that matter, the nose, it’s a caricaturists dream too. Now the rest was about wrapping up the composition coming together well, with the ribbon. I like nature, which was explored visually in my previous exhibition, A CONVERSATION WITH NATURE , so a reference to that thesis seems to creep into my compositions, hence the hand and arm turning into a old branch.

The appropriate music will be French Gypsy and the tune in my mind is this one from Thomas Fersen le jour du poisson   A great sound to have playing around when sitting infrot of this piece.

Now it needs the modelling and depth put in with a darker red and the icing on the cake, the gold leaf on the violin’s strings.

 9.5.2013, This is a smaller canvas, 50×50 cm, oil painting.

It’s creepy yet beautiful, I did this one totally randomly. No preconceived ideas and not even a tittle to start with. It grew from the pale face, her hair and then It was covered with old torn clothes. The blue tassel came from a vanity fair bed spread that Nicole Kidman posed on, I like that it added texture and depth to the composition. With a gap left on the top right hand side, I left the painting hanging on the wall of the studio for two or three weeks, until a lions face and main slowly crept into the composition. This addition set the meaning and even gave the image a looping narrative. The lion is in competition with the calm aura in the face, it brings a sense of strength, and power, and I also felt there is an arrogance in the positioning of the lifted chin. These are the conflicts between the strong and the vunerable in us all, and that aspect rings through in this painting. I’m yet to set the gold leaf, and add the  darker red, and also the tittle is “Lion” but i’m unsure about this as well.



‘Eagle’, for want of a better title, was painted on yesterday and it has no relevant narrative that I can attribute my consciousness. The image is pleasing, and im finding that all my works have that effect on me when the third level is reached. That is, the level of bringing in the darker reds and now even a minute amount of burnt umber . This extra warm colour adds the definition that was lacking, even when using the darker Old Holland Vermillion oil paint as my second red tone. Now the decision is, do I go into the bigger works with my new discovery, and deepen the tones in my figures or leave them be? Overworking a painting is all about these small decisions. I don’t want to lose the glow that the red imbues, but on the same token……a little brown brings out the figures…..

stay tuned….









I have decided that the burnt umber works to help define form and add deepth to figures and objects in my oil paintings.I worked on two small canvases this arvo, the elephant and the dolphin. they both progressed rather rapidly, and that turns my attention to Rapture, still in progress this painting began from an email form Darenberg wines from the Mc Clarenvale district in South Australia. The wine makers asked if I could make an artwork to personify the wine the Shipter’s Cabernet Sav. This is what I came up with.

27 .5.2013.

I have started the painting I will call Pleasure last Thursday. I started with lips and gave them a happy composure, and while drawing them i wanted to bind them up so the I could isolate this pleasant expression. Bandages for me give a sense of security, and nurture, even healing. Then another image of pleasure surfaced, this is of the court jesters hat with it’s protruding horns and the bell attached. I quickly scribbled in and the neck of my creation, so that it began to form figuratively .

I’m pleased with the outcome for now and I could leave the image like that. Add the blue background and feel that the goal is achieved. It would be a painting about pleasure. It is too subtle still. Monday my day off from the newspaper. I have all day to work on this new image which will act as the punctuation mark to this series of random thoughts.

I really do not want to complicate this image and consentrate on the emotions surrounding pleasure and see where my hand and mind prominades.


It’s amazing what a month as made to the development of this painting I wanted to call “Pleasure”.

After three weeks  finishing all the other works in the show I had left this canvas, the biggest one in the show  until last. As you read previously, it was to be an ode to “Pleasure”. Unfortunately by the time I had got to it, a hat was needed. So having tinkered with newspaper hats in my work before, the image came to me very quickly. Napoleon and Captain Cook became evident, and the shoulder lapel and tassle were scribbled in. Standing back from the painting, the urge to turn the image upside down became overwhelming and once done, a figure emerged from the upturned shoulder. The big  hand of opportunity made a  returned to reach out for the jesters blue bell.

The face went from female to aboriginal, in reference to the image of the Captain’s Hat which seemed appropriate at the time of scribbling, and I found a nice piece of reference lying  around the studio to help me with the drawing.

The Random thoughts this time took me on a journey not expected. From pleasure to a comment about the white mans occupation of a space and land that was once free from western influence. In this journey I did not think it would ever steer the art on a course that was navigated with political meaning. This may mean that years as a political illustrator has seeped deeply into my thought process and surfaced quickly when looking for the farmiliar.

The Painting is nearly completed now, the blue background is in (although not drying very fast in this rain and cold Sydney winter), and I’m looking forward to putting all tweenty of them up in Nicky”s Beautiful space @ NGART GALLERY where we Open the show on the 2nd of July.

Here is an iteresting talk by Allan Wallace about observing thoughts from a Bhuddist perspective, and also about how the mind is plastic and maleable. He talks of the inner and other contemplation and that we should not be thinking of anything in isolation because all thought is inter-dependance on the enviroment where this thought is concieved.

Anyway he explains it much more elequantly.


Watch the video here