A month overseas. I gain a month travelling and being fed the beauty of England, Wales and Scotland. An easier travel load this time, not a new place each day, rather a new place every other day. Observing, walking, painting. Experiencing all weathers, clouds and trees… in the Peaks, along canals, by mills and over dales. They have fed me, enriched my senses and taught me skies and colours. I have painted in all sorts of nooks and crannies, window seats and tiny places. Trying even harder to not leave my mark anywhere… Christo-plastic all surfaces and myself, unpeeling at the end. I miss my big studio and large canvases! My big brushes and mottled spaces, time being my own and breaks for reflection. I have spent a twelfth of my working year on the road and in planes and cars and strange places… I see it in small studies and same styles… canvas is small, the strokes deliberate and intricate, the places pretty and neat. Be prepared for some big dramatic work when I come home!
Travelling gives time for reflection, contemplation and self evaluation. I learn more about myself as an artist and a fellow human being. Meeting so many different people, rubbing up against different cultures and living in confined spaces breaks off many bristles that we tend to grow when not moving so much. Learning about other people’s art story and practice rounds the edges of my practice too. I hope that I am more tolerant of myself through this. I also want to push myself to do better and more adventurous art.
The light in the UK is different. I always knew it but never so much as this time here. Especially in Cornwall. The tendency is to think artists who painted here romanticised the landscape. I think not so much. The light is different. I can see why people travelled to paint in Cornwall. European light is different! The greens are different. I found it challenging to paint the greens… never entirely confident with greens, I had to wrestle with the Aussie green reflex and adapt to another sort of greening of the landscape.
Be prepared to see a few more northern hemisphere paintings when I get home. I am not finished with it yet. I may have to delve back into the photo log and my memory to get a few more out here. With my Sydney exhibition looming, the focus will be on Sydney and more local scenes. I am excited about painting some large works and pushing my techniques further.
Here’s a selection of the 30 6X8” studies I painted on the road… some are still available.
It is places and spaces this time. The exhibition at Brightspace Gallery in Melbourne heralded a few firsts for me. It was the first time exhibiting in this wonderful space and it indeed lived up to its name. Many commented on the large viewing area and how vibrant the paintings looked on the newly painted white walls. This was the first time my exhibition in Melbourne spanned more than a weekend. The weekday visiting was steady, topped off with another first – a workshop at the gallery surrounded by the exhibition and interspersed with visitors to see the show. Twenty students attended and all said they achieved their aims and left inspired. The waiting list is growing for another workshop so plans are developing for another event before the next Melbourne exhibition.
Portugal is the next workshop planned. In conjunction with Art In The Algarve, I am offering a one week painting workshop next year in the quaint fishing village of Olhao in Portugal in October 2019! Located on the stunning Algarve coastline, this will be a relaxing and energizing art holiday with accommodation, all meals and tuition included. So if spending lazy days sketching and painting in a fully supported art environment with a wonderful home cooked meal and wine at the end of the day sounds like your idea of fun... this is exactly the holiday for you. To book this course and find out about the art school please go to Art in the Algarve.
The last place, but actually the next place is the UK. We will be heading off on an artist’s journey through the UK next week. I will be following in the footsteps of some famous painters and doing plein air painting as I go. Follow the journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I will be posting images of the paintings and all work will be for sale as I go. I have had many recommendations of scenic landscapes and information on famous and lesser known artists who have loved and painted the areas where they lived and travelled. I wonder if your favourite places will be featured? Keep me posted and I will do likewise!
Just a quick note for those who have been asking about the online catalogue for my Melbourne show. You can now preview and purchase the works from the online catalogue here:
For purchase enquiries please reply directly to this email. If you live in the Melbourne area it would be great to see you at the show!
July is Melbourne exhibition month! My new show "Bright New Day" has been a long time in the making and I am now at the stage of sorting and classifying paintings for the show. It is great to have a choice of strong pieces and I feel that my best work will be on display at Brightspace Gallery in St Kilda this month from July 17-22. Come and meander through the golden dusty laneways of the wine country all the way to the pale moody days of the coastline. If you live in the Melbourne area please pencil this one into your diary and stay tuned for the online catalogue which will be released close to the opening date.
Forays into limited palette and old masters colours have produced some interesting paintings of late. Partly adventurous, partly pushing my artistic skills and part foolhardy, I have found that the paintings have been rather pleasing. It suits the winter on the coast, reflecting the moodiness of the coastal skies and bringing home some of the blustery conditions.
Large paintings allowed me to develop my technique and use different effects to create specific landscapes. Exciting colours and bold movement painted with huge brushes... while initially daunting... ended up leaving me with a taste for more. In contrast I have also been producing a swag of small paintings... in cigarette cases, on small canvases and also on board.
On the home front, a major commissioned piece "Sydney Skyline From Milsons Point" has been delivered to its new owner. Measuring a whopping 1.2 X 2.4m, this piece pushed me to the limit in terms of technique, scale and the sheer quantity of paint required!
I returned to Melbourne this month and visited a paint factory, watching the most luscious blue paint being made. Travelling and painting is a challenge, so I trialled cigar case paintings – the new old miniature version of painting. Easily fitting into a pocket, discreet amongst the shoppers, cute between the coffee cups, they achieved their purpose. My next exhibition will be in Melbourne. “Bright New Day” will be held at Brightspace in St Kilda next month. The first interstate workshop will be held there in the studio. It is full already and there is demand for another, so more Melbourne sojourns are being pencilled in on the calendar.
Portugal, Paris and Italy are also in the feasibility study stages for workshops. Planned for 2019 with steady interest and growing expectation coming together. If you would like to register your interest for one of these workshops please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently researched the "Old Masters" colours. Using a limited palette was challenging but so rewarding I applied it to my local landscape. It helps capture the winter sky on the south coast. Another limited palette that I tried was out of necessity. I was in Victoria last year and had to source my paints locally – from the one newsagent in town. There were only a few colours. All my paintings for that trip were easily identifiable. I am sure I will revert to using the full scope of colours available but it is good to push practice and use what is locally available.
A clean studio, with well organised supplies and systems has enabled me to be more creative. This month I have also taken on two studio assistants. Luke prepares the studio for workshops and Ethan packs away. He has the energy at the end of the day to clean when I am spent!
Some large commissions dominate my wall and encourage me to be bold with colour and expression. Encouraged, I find the seascapes and skies are an opportunity to use big brushes and lots of paint to good winter sky effect.
Flight time seemed longer than the numbers on the page, but we landed in Houston for a breather before heading to Charlotte. There was time for a few quick paintings that connected with people following our journey. It is home with precious memories so we were told. Across the other side of the country… Charlotte, and in particular Lincolnton, is Southern Charm and hospitality. ‘You’re welcome” is meant and pronounced with a smile.
Our first impression was tall trees, warm sun and yellow flowers dotted along the road. The studio was glorious, wide and welcoming; a fully stocked studio with fabulous hosts and assistants. Donna, Liz, Gabby, Zhon and others made the three day workshop flow beautifully. The students came armed with expectations and enthusiasm and were housed on site and in the immediate locality. The 14 acres stretched out and about, embracing woodlands and lanes. It was enough to provide inspiration for the first day where we sketched and painted and shared stories. The focus was on composition and the demonstrations were delivered to an engaged audience who then applied what they learned to their own masterpieces.
The second day was about sharing memories and the landscapes and stories abounded. More demonstrations and a discourse on colour encouraged the participants to try new skills and processes.
The final day was about imagined landscapes. The exercises allowed the artists to extend their imaginations and stories to embrace colour, texture and expressive painting techniques in their final works.
New York called. I was there 31 years ago on my birthday. I planned to repeat the experience. Brooklyn was…..interesting. Manhattan and Central Park were enthralling. I could walk the Park all day. We saw the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim and filled out the few days soaking all that the Big Apple had to offer. Subways, grunge, blossoms and noise. The birthday came and went and left a strong impression – just as it did the decades before. I reflected on how far I had come as an artist and how much further I want to go. I feel like I am just beginning.
San Francisco was meant to be a stop over to confuse the jet lag but it became a stop in itself. The place was to my liking and temperament. The bay captured my imagination, the architecture caught my eye, the pace allowed me to catch up with myself. We walked and watched and breathed the salty air and prepared for home. We wondered if we would return.
At home and in my studio, I remember the smells and sounds and special places. The lovely people we met and the arty threads that bind. I paint and think and remember and tie the strings closer. They are pulling tighter. Pulling me back. I think I will have to go back. I have park places to explore and paint. People to see and share arty things with. Friends to see. Urban places to put on canvas.
Some workshop photos and paintings inspired by the trip...
Hi again folks, and thanks for stopping by!
This month I had my first studio workshop. The artists gathered. Expectation and excitement fuelled. They walked and sketched. They examined the place and made it their own. Each one different. I had an opportunity to demonstrate how I start a painting in front of a captive audience. They lunched and laughed and seriously talked about their art. Talk of a future workshops at a French chateau… the promise of a reunion in a year’s time firm in their diaries!
Preparations continue for my trip to the US in a week's time. I have not been to the US in nearly 30 years so I am very excited. I am doing a 3 day workshop in North Carolina, then zipping across to New York for some painting and I will be on the lookout for possible exhibition opportunities for the future. I can't wait to get to the Big Apple!
Meanwhile a great travelogue of paintings is appearing in my studio as I continue to paint for my Melbourne show in July. This month I have tried to think like Cezanne. Cezanne saw planes... solid shapes and fragmented planes in the landscape... he told us of the foundation of the scene, the geometry and solidity of the view. Using reference sketches and photos, this month I have been everywhere from the dusty back lanes of the wine country to the sombre, moody landscapes of the coast. I have been enjoying the process that my memories play in the outworking of these pieces... glimpses and impressions of places visited that begin to flit and disappear like stones falling into a pond. I have to capture them on my canvas!
I hope you are all well! Below is a selection of this month's work...
Lots has been happening in the studio this month, it's been hard to keep up with it all! Firstly I have a series of workshops planned at my Shellharbour studio... what started as a tentative expression of interest resulted in the first workshop being booked out within an hour, three more by the end of the day, people travelling from interstate and now a rather large waiting list. I couldn't believe it! Thanks so much to those who have signed up... my wife Kerrie and I are so looking forward to hosting this painting experience which includes a walk to the state park, painting and tuition in my studio and... Kerrie's famous 3 course lunch! Can't wait.
In another exciting development... I have begun writing an e-book about how to thrive as an artist in the digital age. Following on from loads of questions I have been getting at my new blog StudioDoor , this will be a comprehensive toolkit for all creative professionals trying to make a living from their art. If you have any questions or suggestions about what you would like to see included... please don't hesitate to get in touch and let me know!
In the studio this month it has been a mixed bag... my collection of Victorian countryscapes continues to grow in preparation for my Melbourne show in July. What seems to be emerging is a golden landscape of autumn trees and dusty lanes... rural Victoria in all its glory! As always, the Sydney foreshore continues to be a delight to paint... I've so enjoyed painting my old favourites... Balmoral Beach, iconic Balmain and of course Lavender Bay!
"Landscape at Coldstream", 35X45cm, oil on board
"Rocky Point Island", 85X85cm, oil on linen, $3,200
"Rain Passing at Coledale", 35X45cm, oil on board, $950
Healesville Landscape", 61X61cm, oil on board, $1750
"Lavender Bay in Blue", 35X45cm, oil on board
"Golden Lane", 61X75cm, oil on board
Hello again everyone, and thanks again for stopping by!
The year has kicked off with some rather extraordinary weather here on the south coast of NSW... squally, scudding skies, big sunsets and passing showers. I have never really been a painter of skies but, in a new development of my work, I seem to have taken to it with vengeance! I just never realised how much was actually going on when you look up. So... I have dropped my horizon line almost to the bottom of the canvas in an attempt to capture the many moods of mother nature.
I have another rather exciting announcement... I have started a new blog called StudioDoor. I do get asked a lot of questions, so this will be a deep dive into all aspects of my art practice including painting techniques, how I run my art business, random thoughts, travel stories, my daily routine... and more! If you are an artist I'm sure you will get a lot out of this as I explain the various aspects of my process. You can subscribe to receive a weekly update of the blog here or follow the blog on Instagram @mystudiodoor.
Also this month I have been to Victoria painting in the wonderful Yarra Valley. This will result in a series of paintings I will be showing in Melbourne later this year. While I was in Melbourne I also took the opportunity to research possible venues for this exhibition, and I have a big announcement regarding that coming up in my next newsletter. So until then... stay creative and keep being inspired!
Here's a selection of south coast scenes I have been working on so far this year...
As the calendar winds down for 2017 I'd just like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic holiday season.
It's been an amazing finish to the year with the success of my Secret Sydney exhibition at Aro Gallery. With a total of 37 paintings sold and the opportunity to meet some of my wonderful supporters, it really has been one of the highlights of my career so far. Located smack bang in the arts precinct of East Sydney, the excellent lighting system, combined with the extraordinary expertise of my professional hanger Richard Butlin ensured that Aro Gallery was the perfect location to showcase my work. I have learned that being surrounded by professionals, right down to gallery staff and sign installers is the best way of allowing a show to run smoothly. Big shout out to all the great people involved!
As the year draws to a close it's time to contemplate what the new year holds for me. I always look forward to the start of the year as I am staring at a blank canvas, literally and professionally, with so many exciting opportunities ahead! Loads of new paintings to come, workshops and a couple of surprise projects as well... please stay tuned as the details are released.
Thanks again for the incredible support in 2017. I never take that for granted... it's the generosity of your comments and likes which keep me showing up in my studio every day. Please have a wonderful, safe Christmas and New Year and I look forward to catching up with everyone in 2018!
Here's a few photos from the show!
PS. There a still a couple of great paintings left in the catalogue here Sydney Catalogue