September and a New Project

 

This lovely Aboriginal Elder man, Tony Liddle, is the one who triggered a lightbulb moment for me.  A much needed lightbulb moment, because I had been feeling that I was well and truly stuck, and perhaps even at a dead end!  (We creative souls DO get things out of proportion at times)

Tony has a real heart for the Old People, who, as he says, have special stories to tell, and want to tell them before they leave us…..And I thought, Ah, I could do that!  Through my art…..And the idea grew from that

…..The idea being an exhibition which would be their exhibition, rather than mine, where they get to tell their amazing stories, in their own words, recorded alongside each of their portraits in a local exhibition space….and at the end of the exhibition, get to keep their portraits, if desired.

I estimate that it will take me two years to realise, as it will be slow going, and is a project that necessarily requires progress to be made one step at a time, and simply doing what is in front of me to do, rather than projecting too much into the future.  Both challenging and absorbing, which is how I love it!

Posted in New Paintings

Peter Spence

Now here’s a man I admire. One of our Outback heroes who battles climate, soil and markets in order to put the food on our collective tables.

Here is what his wife Helen proudly says about her lovely Man. (He calls her his Bride. How lovely is that?)

“Pete comes from a long line of property owners, fourth generation in the Longreach Muttaburra area. His Father was on a family block out of Muttaburra when Pete born, he is the youngest of four children and at the age of two they moved up the road to a new block.

WE married in 1985 having two children and the family bought their fourth property in 1989, just as the Floor price was taken off the wool. Then one of the biggest droughts hit our area leaving us in finical ruin. We had to sell 2 of the properties to keep the banks happy.

We finally decided I would go back into town to work as we had two children at boarding school and then Pete got a job as a Rural Lands Officer in the small town of Ilfracombe. This meant he was away all week and going back up to the property on the weekends. A hard life but one that finally led him to working for Desert Channels Queensland.”

And for his dogged dedication to his calling, he received a 2016 Landcare Award…and this is what was reported in Queensland Country Life

“For Longreach’s Peter Spence, killing weeds and feral animals isn’t a job, it’s a calling.

The unassuming man is synonymous with the Desert Channels Queensland brand, a product of the old school where you didn’t ask anyone to do something you aren’t prepared to do yourself, and his dedication was rewarded at the DCQ Legends of Landcare dinner on Friday night.

In making the presentation, CEO Leanne Kohler said Peter epitomised the Landcare ethic, demonstrating it before it even had a name.

“He inherited it from his father, who believed you left country in better condition than what you found it,” she said. “In his jobs since leaving the land, Peter has shown that this Landcare ethic has never left him.”

“He understands the country, the issues and the people, developing relationships with landholders and shire officers, and generating a calm sense of hope and optimism that prickly acacia can be beaten,” Ms Kohler said. “There hasn’t been a landholder approached under the program who hasn’t agreed to come on board.”

He was one of a few given accolades at the Legends of Landcare awards dinner held at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach last Friday.”

Posted in New Paintings

A Man and His Hat opening

 

The scary bit well and truly over….but check out what Tony Liddle had to say about the culture of the Aboriginal stockman. His stories are just beautiful….I am very grateful to him for sharing his stories with my guests….and most especially, he has agreed to have me do his portrait! I am so honoured, because he is a truly special human being, and I am looking forward to spending time with him….and maybe I will get to hear a few more of these wonderful stories that sadly, few people get to hear.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-03/nt-aboriginal-stockmen-attire-inspires-art-exhibition/8671438

Posted in New Paintings

August Exhibition

A Man and His Hat

The Residency Arts Program is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Alice Springs artist Betty Davies.

 Through a series of impressionistic portraits, the significance of the iconic stockman’s hat is presented as a tribute to the bushmen of Central Australia.

 ‘A hat defines a man in terms of identity and lifestyle, and much careful deliberation goes into the choosing of this treasured item of male attire’

 Join us for the opening on Sat 1st July at 11 am

 The Residency is located on the corner of Parsons and Hartley Streets

Posted in New Paintings

April 2017

Have just returned from a month at the seaside, which explains the inactivity on the painting front.
As we were fortunate enough to find a holiday house that was literally on the beachfront, we were able to spend time watching those amazing surf board riders at close range doing their thing. Completely engaged in what they were doing, totally in the present, and unaware of anything but remaining upright on that surfboard!….and it occurred to me that it is a bit like painting, really, in that there is no awareness of the passing of time, the temperature, the need to eat or even whether either the back or the feet are completely over the exercise! Heaven, actually.

 

Posted in New Paintings

January 2017

 

 

Commissioned portraits can be a real challenge.  What does the painter see?  What does the sitter think that the painter sees?  What does he WANT the painter to see?

You want to do your very best for your client, and hope that he or she will be delighted with the result, and will agree with you that yes, that is how I see myself….and I like what I see! …. Or, wow, I have not seen myself in that light, but I DO like that someone else has!

In the case of this particular client, we weren’t too long into the initial interview, and I ‘saw’ what I needed to see.  And that was, a lovely man who, although holding a position of power in his profession, nevertheless did not feel the need to flaunt the fact, but who rather exuded a grace and a gentleness of spirit.

After two ‘failed’ attempts, and a degree of frustration, the third canvas finally agreed with me, and we happily settled on this result.

 

Posted in New Paintings

December 2016

The recent passing of Leonard Cohen has caused me to ponder the two contemporary heroes in my life. 

Leonard Cohen…Because he was a seeker who had the courage to question the accepted and various versions of Truth.  Thus choosing a path hitherto not oft’ walked.  Without fear of retribution from Above. 

Somewhat akin to the story of the Knights of the Round Table…who together and with one purpose set out on a quest to find the Holy Grail….through the forest, and each to a path of his own choosing, each forging a new path for himself that had hitherto not been walked…..

….And David Gulpilil, that wonderful Indigenous actor, who, as he puts it, has had to learn to live his life straddling two opposing cultures.  Something that I myself could never do.

….And so in order to get the maximum benefit from my meditations on these two special heroes of mine, I have spent the past few weeks ‘with’ them in my studio, in an attempt to capture, in each, something of the loveliness that I perceive in both.  Not to my satisfaction, of course, because how could mere paint and brush do full justice to two such exquisite individuals?…. but nevertheless the process has enabled me to outwork some of the very deep emotions of both love and respect that I encounter when my mind drifts to either one of these Two.

Posted in New Paintings

October 2016

Tell you what, portrait painting can drive you NUTS!!
After the marathon struggle, and still on the easel, it all looks so ‘perfect’. Then comes The Assessment….when the ‘finished’ work is propped up on the dining room sideboard for another look in a different light. Can be devastating! As well as ego shattering.
….And then comes the process of ‘adjusting’, which can sometimes take longer, and be much more harrowing than the initial time of genuine fun and exhilaration in the studio….because, of course, the portrait must be perfectly balanced, otherwise one eye can look like it is on some sort of stick, and projecting about a metre or so in front of the other….or the nose resemble that of the old rhinocerus!
…..And the worst thing I can do is to ask my lovely Stan to tell me what is ‘wrong’….which he does….because he has a terrifyingly savage eye for detail and accuracy!…Which of course really does nail it…but then again it means still more problems to solve!
…..And then I think, ‘Well, I’m happy with it now’, and up it goes on social media, or taken to the gallery, and therefore exposed to more critical scrutiny. Ego all but non existent by then.
…..And then months later, you revisit…and again, horrors, horrors, why didn’t I see that before?? And it’s all a bit too late now, because the painting is invariably in another state, or on the other side of the planet, hanging on somebody’s wall, AND THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT !!
And so why do I keep torturing myself? Because I am totally hooked, absolutely obsessed….and wouldn’t have it any other way….

          That Special Memory…

Intensity

Posted in New Paintings

September

Have just experienced one of those months where too many things have kept me from the studio.  All good things, mind you, and all a part of everyday life but nevertheless I am looking forward to putting August behind me and getting back to ‘work!’ It has been a case of snatching the odd hour here and there, which has surprisingly resulted in two finished pieces!

 

55x42cm Aus sienna, p green, t red oxide

As yet untitled

The Thinker 60x59cm. U blue, T red oxide, T yellow ochre

The Thinker

 

Posted in New Paintings

July/August

I decided that I would lighten up a bit this month and have a bit of fun with two characters….and so I did…But I couldn’t help myself.  I went back to my favourite subject, and out popped this old fella!  I painted him to the soundtrack of One Night The Moon, hence the title, Unfinished Business.

Is That So? 56x46cm Trans v red, mars violet, u blue, aus sienna

                        Is That So?

IMG_1655 (1)

                      Well I Never!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfinished Business 60x42cm Aus sienna, p blue, trans v red

              Unfinished Business 

Posted in New Paintings

June, 2016

 
Thought I had painted Fellas In Hats out of my system,

however the trouble is, I am not short of subject material,

and I can see myself adding more and more to the collection!

Why not, though.  That’s what life is about, isn’t it?….following one’s passion, and doing what nurtures that much desired sense of inner delight!

 

60x50cm Pthalo green, aus sienna, trans red oxide60x48cm Indigo, trans v red, Aus sienna

 

 

Posted in New Paintings

April/May

50x42cm Diox purple, Aus sienna

Have almost completed my Fellas in Hats collection, ready for an exhibition next year….

…..And having painted these lovely fellows out of my system, I now find myself contemplating the subject of strong women, and in particular, the Elder ladies of our outback communities.   Mothers who have invested much in the next generation, and who have the answers to the issues that persist…..

If only the whitefella would acknowledge that, and relinquish his need to interfere…..

Fully Knowing

Resilience

Posted in New Paintings

How special is this?

Trevor Jenkins, Rubbish Warrior

This morning I received a lovely message, accompanied by a photo, from a man from Melbourne who had purchased a set of three Trevor Jenkins, Rubbish Warrior paintings for his wife’s birthday. She had seen the paintings on the website, had expressed a particular attraction to these three, and so her husband took it upon himself to surprise her for her birthday. He went to SO much trouble over the purchase, and was SO excited at the prospect of surprising his wife on her special day….which is today.
It always makes my female heart sing when I encounter a man who wears his love for his wife on his sleeve with such openness!  It was particularly sweet that they invited me into their special day in this way, and so it has made my day a special one too!

Posted in New Paintings

February/March 2016

75x63cm P grey, Aus sienna, deep rose madder

True Blue.

 

It is sadly the case that for no apparent reason, your creative genie can leave the room on you….which is what happened to me.  Again.   And of course who turns up next?  The little voice that comes to sit on your shoulder to gleefully tell you that you are finished as a painter! However, if you choose to ignore the voice, and resist the urge to want to control the situation, or to force an outcome, then the genie eventually returns….Which is what happened to me, when she reappeared several weeks later and whispered three little words in my ear: “Blokes in hats”.  In that moment I was transported into renewed passion, and full of ideas for the new project!  Within a very short space of time, seven of these lovely old fellows have appeared on canvas, in quick succession, and once again I am in heaven!  I have no idea where this will lead, or if indeed it will lead anywhere at all, however that is not my problem.  My part is to do what is in front of me to do and simply enjoy doing what I do….and the outcome, if there is to be one, will take care of itself…or it won’t….but it is about just getting on with doing what you do, regardless of the final outcome.  Doing it because you HAVE to do it!

Posted in New Paintings

November 2015

This month I have been mulling over the work of the British Biologist, Rupert Sheldrake, and his theory of Morphic Resonance.  The idea that the whole of the universe has a kind of memory and that each individual within a species draws on a collective memory, as well as contributing to it.  Experiments over many years have shown that if a new trick is taught to say, a group of rats in the one locality, that before long rats all over the world will learn the same trick quicker, and straight away!….So that it enables new patterns of learning and thinking to spread faster than they might otherwise do.  Not to mention changing the very nature of the rat.

It light of all the terrible events that are occurring in the world, it made me wonder what would happen if, instead of us humans allowing ourselves to be transfixed by the evil, we turned our attention to pondering Goodness, which is equally if not more so the reality of this planet on which we all reside at this present moment in time.

 

60x42cm Trans yellow, p grey, chrom green oxide, t red oxide

 

 

75x60cm. P grey, trans red oxide, mars violet, raw umber

60x42cm P grey, t yellow, rose madder deep

Posted in New Paintings

Trevor Jenkins, Rubbish Warrior

 

IMG_2767

 

Where do I begin to say what I need to say about this most lovely human being?  Words can be clumsy, and the truest meaning of them not always grasped.

This is Trevor Jenkins, Rubbish Warrior.  Living on the streets of Darwin, because he wanted to do what is said that Jesus commanded of the rich young man, which was…..Sell all and follow me.  And so he lives with integrity as a homeless man who creates the most beautiful sculptures out of the rubbish that unthinking souls scatter around in our public spaces. He leaves them in strategic places in order that we might contemplate the folly of our sometimes insensate actions… and at the same time rethink our attitudes to those people we might be tempted to label as “rubbish”.

 

Loved by the majority, and labelled by others as an “eccentric”….which is….what??

I consider that the five hours I spent with this man has enriched my life, as he is one of the most open and empathetic males that I have ever encountered in all of my 70 years in this human experience.  A beautiful, honest, open soul, blessed with intelligence, of both the brain variety and of the Heart, and he has left a profound mark on my life.

My original intent was to paint him once, however so far, and in a very short space of time, four have so far leapt off the canvas, and I do not know that I am done yet!

 

         

 

Posted in New Paintings

September, the arrival of Spring

Have been mulling over this Dickens quote and thinking how often it is the case that we jump to judge before looking with innocent perception….and it lets us down every time….because it is the head that judges, but the heart that sees the beauty beyond the imperfections.

“Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the sombre colours are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.”

Insight

Insight

Fond Recollections

Self contained

Self contained

Posted in New Paintings

August 2015

Untitled.  Private commission

Untitled. Private commission

Three women this month. The little ones are especially fascinating, and delightful to  paint,

because there is always so much written on their little faces.

Hope, defiance, questioning, feistiness.  Love it!

 

 

 

 

 

Missy.

Missy

I Don't Want to.

I Don’t Want to

Posted in New Paintings

June 2015

June, and I am back in the studio, after spending  most of last month on the Two Capes Walk in Western Australia (can highly recommend!) with my lovely life mate.

Something a bit different for this month, as I am going to be working on two lovely “White” faces as private commissions.  Two chappies, as it turns out.  Lovely subjects, actually….and I love painting the men, as there is invariably such gentleness and sensitivity underneath all that muscle and “manliness”.  I am hoping that I will be able to do justice to what I perceive to be “the real them”.

The Appraisal

The Appraisal

Posted in New Paintings

Easter month

How often I find, in my studio, my thoughts drifting from the physical world and into the intangible, yet magical, “beyond”….  My preferred reality, as it is one of wholeness, perfection and pure love.

 

IMG_8845

Beyond The Tangible

P grey, yellow oxide, cad red  75x60cm

The Longing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in New Paintings