View from the train

August 15, 2016

Today on the train with Portia, we talked about the urge to record the world via smart phone, or drawing it. How are they similar and how different? Something to think about.

 I love rural train travel. The cinematic window view, a good soundtrack in my ears, and perhaps some poetry to read. An epic drama unfolds before me. Or alternatively there’s a conversation with a stranger. 

On urban trains people are less inclined to speak. Although these same people smile and respond warmly to my clumsy offerings. I feel relieved by that.

Some days I don’t want to speak either.


August 11, 2016

Why draw?

To learn. To really see. To understand how things work. To observe productively. To intensify memory. To explore an idea. To show something otherwise missed. To become immersed in something other. To receive. To feel useful. To record. To play with stuff. To train the senses. To escape time. To leave something behind.

That sounds pretty good hey.




August 3, 2016

Long ago, when my sons went to school, they each in turn came home in Year 1 or 2 saying it wasn’t fair that they didn’t paint much anymore, or play games in class, like in Prep (the first transitional year of school).

Learning gradually became less about play and more about absorbing the knowledge of others.

Speaking with a friend today about joining a drawing class she said no I can’t draw. Oh but I did a watercolour workshop once, every day for a week, but failed miserably. I asked how so? In reply, one of those stories came out where the teacher’s rigid method and criticism left no room to move, and no desire or confidence to paint again.


Lately I’ve started to paint again, with watercolour also. Just playing really. To reacquaint myself with what watercolour is, what it does, what I can learn, what I can encourage it to do.



July 21, 2016

A year ago now I travelled with my friend Vicki to a place called Gariwerd, (more recently known as The Grampians) an ancient and rocky range several hours drive from home. We drew and painted and walked and talked for a few days and came away emptied out and filled up.




June 10, 2015

This winter is already long and we’re less than 2 weeks in.

Looking for ways to enjoy it anyway, and to prevent a sliding decline into a dark hole, I’m making evening drawings – some indoors and some out.

Cave2_detail_smallCharcoal, (the wood fire burns warm) is the easiest thing. Smudge and erase and push back into the paper and leave a mark, on this cold night. Black velvet ink might show off the moonlight.



June 19, 2014

How little visual information do we need to recognise a person? From a surprisingly great distance all we need is the shape, the shapes a body makes as it moves in its own particular fashion.

Copy of image_5Skin, the outline of us, is stretched and molded by what lies beneath, a great metaphor. We protect ourselves with further coverings and yet the elemental shapes of a person can reveal so much.

Laying watercolor onto paper is like feeling the skin, as a liquid membrane. Steadfast in it’s role as protector, skin is what separates us physically from almost everything else. It contains the unique shape and form of each of us.


Spending time at Mayday

February 11, 2014

Spending time in a place, drawing painting looking listening touching, you’d think it would make you feel as though you’re getting to know it.


But knowing takes a long time.

In the meantime I’ll borrow the shapes and colours and lines of this place, an old asylum with a garden of trees that have seen everything unfold for one hundred and fifty years.


4 days with Sammy

February 4, 2014

Having a small boy around for 4 days over New Year I learnt many things.

How to excavate a pile of dirt to find fossils.

How to build a cardboard sky-scraper with a draw-bridge and round windows and flying creatures that park in those windows.

The importance of ducking when chasing said boy around kid-sized play equipment.

How to persuade a person to eat French toast by sprinkling it with cinnamon sugar, and eat vegetables by adding a cheesy white sauce.

How to take photographs of interesting things at knee level.

Squids are jet-propelled.

According to his grandfather, Sam said his visit here was better than he thought it would be.


And now for your viewing pleasure here are a couple of images by Sam. So good.



A week and a half in this little village. The start of a new section, as my friend Susie would say.

So quiet at night. Cold so that I have to wear clothes to bed and have an extra blanket, and it’s November. The air is fresh, the water rain, local friends pop in for 15 minutes and don’t feel awkward to go again because they live close anyway. Think I’ll do the same.

Across the road is a line of poplars that point out the stars in the night sky, and remind me of them in the day. Trees all around, oaks and gums that shelter our place.

Animals are more apparent here, especially birds. I’ll have to paint them sometime, and their sounds. Am still sorting out the studio.

There have been a few odd occurrences.

During an evening walk up the Dingle we saw a peacock showing off his gorgeous tail to a farmyard chook. Poor bugger, not a chance. On the way back we spotted him ahead on the road coming towards us, tail out behind him like an opera cloak. We passed each other, him taking a cautious detour behind a shrub (perhaps he was shy), and on we went. I heard him cry out later that evening. Hope he made it home OK.

A couple of days ago a beat up old Ford, circa 1990 went sailing past the house, a foxtail and Australian flag flying from the aerial. I wondered which of the weird political parties on the last election ballot was missing a vehicle from their motorcade.

Having a late lunch on the front veranda yesterday (pita-bread pizza and half a glass of Cascade Light) I heard the first cicada of summer. I like it here.

Day before yesterday was the first trip back into town and sure enough, as Susie predicted, ticking everything off my list would have been miraculous. I didn’t look at my old house. So much happens in 11 years.


Start stop start

June 6, 2013

Copy of cards_stitched-collage3

A bit numb after the show, after being away, after having a cold. Excuses I know. Just keep my hands busy. Make these postcards from throw away boxes during cold winter evenings. Resort to the comfortable old pull of needle and thread. Just make something.

Copy of cards_stitched-collage2

From well before Elemental ended in Wangaratta on Monday (followed by the inevitable low on Tuesday) my mind has been charging up for the next push into the world around me.

These past many years, I’ve spent studio time developing work beyond initial sketches, pushing the imagery towards abstraction, untangling ideas from memory and curiosites, deepening the experience of making – for both myself and the potential viewer. And yet very often, the works that touch even the most developed art practitioners around me, are the drawings and paintings I make while physically immersed in the subject.

Winter Drawing1-small

Maybe it’s a nourishing loop – subject to painter to object to viewer to subject…

However, most of the best known and loved artworks were done in a studio. Studio practice requires the honing of skills; continuous learning about materials and conceptual development, and drawing on every virtue I was taught in my catholic upbringing! It isn’t for the faint-hearted. It enriches ability, broadens visual vocabulary, and shakes up any complacency.

And as a bonus it’s given me a new ease when I venture out into the world to look and feel and draw and paint. I love it now more than ever. It’s a banquet out there! And if you see me in my trusty red van (The Red Limo), give us a toot!


Living in a Gallery #4

March 31, 2013


Living in a gallery #3

March 27, 2013

Travelling backwards to the end of this residency.

A while back we had a little stall out the front of the gallery. Cigdem sold her beautiful spiral woven brooches. Vernon drew the passers by – only legs and arms and hair. Instead of drawing portraits as was the plan, I drew the street.


We have a little collection of post-it note drawings by visitors into our temporary studio. The trees along the street, each surrounded by a brick circle, are memorable to others besides me.


A few ideas have had a start, but mostly there isn’t enough time to develop them. At least not this week.


Today my youngest son Tom is 25 years old.

Although he lives away, I think of him out there in the world, living his brave and colourful life.

This week my exhibition, Elemental, opens at Wangaratta Art Gallery. My sons will be there, and it’s a marvel how happy that makes me feel. A strange business, being a happy parent. Taming this too enthusiastic joy down to a less embarrassing version of delight when they’re around.

Happy birthday my dear Tom.

Copy of Tom2009

Living in a gallery #2

March 26, 2013

The gallery hums quietly, light is soft, voices and footsteps loud. Visitors are welcome and sometimes draw or get drawn.

We have a kind of rhythm now, each of us working in our own way, stopping for a chat or a cup of tea. Three weeks feels short. So many ideas. Lots of great conversation and even music sometimes – what a treat.



Living in a gallery

March 8, 2013

Most days until Easter I’ll be working at Albury Art Gallery with a few other artists. We’re in a beautiful room upstairs that began life as Council Chambers more than a hundred years ago.

As we go along I’ll keep you posted.



A few weeks ago I saw and heard the wonderful Rory Mcleod in Yackandandah. A teller of stories collected from all round the world, from conversations with strangers, small moments and big events. With a tireless voice and a collection of instruments he caught us up til nearly midnight.


Checking out his website I realised again how travel is a great educator. The only time I’ve managed to leave this country was to visit my family in the Netherlands a dozen years ago. It was the stories that affected me most, and I made work about them for the next 2 years. Many of the artworks are back over there on loungeroom walls.


dad's hands cropped

February anniversaries

February 28, 2013

It’s the end of February. The month of four birthdays and two deathdays.

Today is fabulous Harry’s birthday, and tonight in the split second between today and tomorrow is Martin’s. A very small leap into his next year. This is the first drawing I made of him. I wasn’t looking at the drawing.

Copy of martin flathead

And this one is Dad, who’s anniversary it was last week. He died a long time ago, but recently when I made this drawing I felt the need to mend him. I used to enjoy darning socks like this, on a wooden mushroom.


Poetry on the train

February 22, 2013

Reading poetry on the train, I’m always inspired to write a poem too.
Here’s a recent one, still in the rough, to help celebrate my friend Anna’s return to blogging. TrainDoorArchivist will be a great read.

Copy of poemTrain

The power of great shoes

February 22, 2013

Feet can be very difficult when it comes to shoes. Especially if they are naturally fairly narrow but have a pretty bulbous bunion just down from each big toe. Now, some of my best friends have bunions, and we could probably form a friendly society for frustrating feet, whose anthem would be the lament of the coveted shoe. My sports shoes are always from the men’s range – nice and wide, a bit bulky, and no colour choices (why that is I don’t know).

Searching for some sensible flats, I spotted a gorgeous shoe of the kind that I dream, on the specials table, noted the generous width, slipped it on, and it was obviously for me.


I’m not a big retail therapy kind of girl but this saved me an eventual trip to a shrink for the madness bunions can cause.