Sunday, December 31, 2006


There is just one hour left of 2006.

I often thrive on symbolism, and the end of one year and beginning of the next is no exception.

In this hour my mind will race as I regress, looking back on this past year.

I'm tired.

I am at home tonight with no desire to be amongst anything remotely party-esque. For me new years eve is a time to reflect, not get 'shit-faced' and rowdy.

I find entering a new year a very humbling experience, it is a time for me to be grateful rather than gregarious.

We saw M.Ward play last night at The Corner Hotel. He was fabulous, inspiring and worthy of more than this brief mention in my blog. Alas, I am tired and do not feel much like writing, but I did want to make one final entry before seeing this year out.

With my 'end of year self reflection' comes a lot of thoughts about my art. I have made myself some promises, or should I say resolutions, regarding this, along with a couple of others. Hopefully all will benefit my artistic endeavours. I have not painted, really painted, for over a week now and it is starting to play heavily on my mind. I plan to spend a good proportion of 2007's first day immersing myself in my art, (and listening to M. Ward).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Poetry and Prose

I am glad Christmas is over. Not to sound too negative, as my Christmas was quite ok. Really though, it is just another day for me - it's just that many people have other ideas and expectations for the 'jolly' season. Now that some of those expectations have been met, or ignored, I am getting stuck into my painting.

Although I enjoy the act of giving gifts more than receiving them, I must say I was given some wonderful inspiration for Christmas. Amongst other things, my partner gave me a book on Egon Schiele that I have desired for quite some time, he also surprised me with two complete series of Dr. Katz on dvd, and although this may seem to have nothing at all to do with art, for me, it has.

Dr. Katz is my animated hero, as is his son, Ben, and his receptionist, Laura. Dr. Katz is my claytons therapist...the therapist I have whilst not really having a therapist. I was never a big TV viewer but I was fortunate enough to stumble across Dr. Katz on SBS a number of years ago and it appealed to my obscure sense of humour. In many ways, subtle and otherwise, it has been an ongoing influence for me in both art and writing and is one thing that never fails to make me laugh.

I once had a video tape of many episodes that I had diligently taped from SBS over the period of around 12 months, perhaps more, as it was not always a regular programme. This tape was my friend. It was my therapy. It was an escape. (It was only a TV show?) Sure it was, but to me it was also something else, and one day, whilst living in Prahran, my temporary flatmate 'accidentally' taped over every single episode. I was most upset.

I do my very best not to get attached to material possessions but I had a relationship with this particular item that I do not expect anyone else to understand. The joy has now been restored and the laughter can once again flow freely.

Am I over dramatising? For the sake of writing, yes, a little, but as I said, I do not expect anyone else to understand.

As I sit here writing, for the sake of writing, I am listening to one of the most beautiful songs that I believe exists: Martha by Tom Waits. I have listened to this song hundreds, possibly thousands, of times, but the time that stands out was a couple of years ago, whilst sitting on my (ex)boyfriend's bed. I was alone in the room and although I knew the song well, I think it was the first time I really listened to the lyrics. I remember crying, initially not even realising why I was crying, but by the end of the song I realised I was shedding tears over the impermanence of everything in life and in love and there was a part of me that knew many things I had there and then that day, were going to come to an end some day. Many of them did, including the relationship.

That song can still make me cry, but I think I cry with a greater acceptance now, to a certain extent, though I must admit there are some things in life I don't think I will ever understand or even begin to accept, not with any grace anyway.

I did accept my gifts with grace though and I have fallen in love with Egon Schiele's work once again.

With that said I should ride this wave of inspiration away from the keyboard.

I have tried to make my silly season as short as I can and now, for me, it is painting season once again. I have a lot to do before the big move.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I Got the Rooster, I Got the Crow...

It looks as though I could turn 33 in the land of the rising sun.

My partner has been offered a job in Japan.

It has been a dream of mine to experience living overseas, especially in Japan, for some time now, and it finally looks as though that dream will become a reality. I am just as nervous as I am well as a little lost for words.

I think the experience will have a huge impact on my art, and that is something I feel ecstatic about.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Festive Frenzy

I have just come home from a rather frenetic day about town. My reason for travelling into town was to fulfill my promise to myself, my partner and my pre-made appointment, and get my tooth filled. I did so with a little help from my friend xanax.

After the dentist, all I wanted to do was come home and paint but my friend had caused me to feel rather weary... so instead I decided to attempt a little Christmas shopping. (I also managed to get over to the other side of town to pick up the rest of my new canvases for my next exhibition - which was a far more enjoyable experience than the dentist).

I am not really big on the whole Christmas thing, not that I am a Scrooge either, it's just that I tend to like the freedom and randomness of buying something for people I love when I see something that I know they would really like, enjoy and appreciate. I don't like the expectations that come with occasions such as Christmas and birthdays.

I did not last long amongst the frantic crowds and the suffocating atmosphere they were creating, although I did manage to buy a couple of things for my partner and my mother, two of the three people I really want to buy something for. However, if I had the time, I would just paint something for all those I love. It is only time that prevents, or should I say delays, me from doing so. The ideas and inspiration are certainly there. I could think of nothing better than giving such a personal gift to those dear to me.

Maybe next year.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Internal Alien

It must be the time of year. I have felt as if I have been so incredibly busy these past few weeks, and not just in a physical or practical sense, my mind has been busy too - the latter possibly causing the slight feeling of exhaustion and at times frustration.

I am working on four paintings at the moment and I am struggling to finish one as I am finding myself getting bored or lacking discipline with one piece only to then start a new one. I have worked this way in the past and it has not been a problem, I am used to having more than one work on the go at any given time, however, it just seems to be creating a more chaotic feeling for me at the moment.

The new year is fast approaching, and as I do every year at this time, I am finding myself assessing and reassessing my current position and realising all the things that have changed since the last assessment and those that haven't along with those that I want to change and those that I don't. I also realise that despite often being quite a self absorbed artist, I am also a grateful one.

I feel that artistically I have had a very productive year and I am happy with where I am at with my work and what I have planned for my next exhibition, however, I feel I could have made better use of my time this past year. I guess that's one thing about moving house too often, it can be just as unsettling as it is exciting, and sometimes by the time you feel settled and comfortable with your new surroundings and create the order you so desire, it is time to move and change again.

I'm rambling. I'm rambling because I know I should be painting instead of writing. I should be using my time more productively, but an outlet is sometime a necessity.

Some days I could swear I have no idea who I am...other than an artist. Some days art is all I know.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's a Fine Line

I had forgotten the amount of patience required to 'paint' the outlines of my hard-edged and graphic style work as opposed to hand-stitching them. The stitching did required a huge amount of patience and concentration and I nearly always pricked my finger and/or thigh whilst sewing into the canvas. My thumb was often red, sore and throbbing by the end of a day spent in my studio. However, these new pieces are demanding a lot more of the 'P' word than my other recent work has.

I decided recently that I wanted the hand-stitching to take a less dominant role in my new work. The decision was made for many reasons, the main ones being the constant desire to evolve and experiment with my work, and so as not to get to the point where my work became too predictable.

For me, the hand-stitching was, and still is, very symbolic - only now on a different level. I still have many ideas and uses for that and other mediums in my work but I have had a strong desire of late to get back in touch with the 'detailed brush'.

I have been looking through a lot of images of my early work, and some of my more recent work, and assessing the differences and similarities, the growth and changes, and the continuing and changing influences.

Just like in life, there is a certain cyclic quality, and each new cycle is entered into with more knowledge and experience than the previous one. As an artist, and as a human being, I am always learning - through art and through life - and once again, I am forced to re-learn the art of patience (with these new works).

I am not a very patient person, as a general rule, except when it comes to my art, it is the one thing I must reserve patience for.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hot Hot Heat

The relentless Victorian Summer seems to come without too much warning. It seems to go from one extreme to the other in a very short period of time.

Today, whilst I paint, much of Victoria burns. Evidence of bushfires is everywhere, even in non-affected areas, as smoke drifts through the sky and atmosphere making everyone aware that danger time has hit.

It must be terrifying for the people in the directly affected and threatened areas.

Whilst many Victorians are seeking refuge from the heat at our beaches, many others are praying and doing all they can to save their homes and belongings. The 'season to be jolly' is turning into an awful nightmare for some.

Nature's elements, at their best and worst, are always unpredictable.

I paint inside today as outside it is not only thick-aired and hazy from the smoke, but a very stifling 37 degrees - (at least that was the predicted forecast, I've a feeling it may be higher).

On days like this I barely venture outside. As Summer progresses and the beaches nearby become more and more crowded with each Summer weekend, I lock myself away in my studio. The beaches will still be there long after the masses have departed at the end of silly season.

The tourists can have the beaches, I've got my art, and for now, I am happy being a Summer studio hermit.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

School Daze

Whilst at my parent's house yesterday, and inspired by a recent conversation with a friend, I fished out my old high school reports. It was somewhat amusing reading my teacher's perception of my character and ability.

I never really liked school. I was the class clown and somewhat rebellious. Not one who showed much interest in anything other than art. I was quite fond of reading and writing so English began as a subject that interested me - but as my progressive reports showed, I soon lost interest when the teachers began telling me what I
should read and how I should write. When I look back on those days, it is the art classes that hold most of my fond student memories. I was fortunate enough to have the same teacher in years 7 and 9, who was very supportive and encouraging. I did not have as strong a rapport with my year 8 art teacher but she was still encouraging and recognised my ambition and dedication.

I had no interest in, or in some cases even a need for, subjects like maths, science, history and geography and I resented being in a situation where I felt forced to learn about or study things that I had no concern for or things I felt would not assist me in my future pursuits. It may seem a somewhat ignorant attitude but it was how I felt.

Art was all I ever wanted to do. As a child, I never dreamed of being a nurse, a vet or a ballerina like most of my class mates, I always answered 'artist' when asked that question: "so what do you want to be when you grow up?" My high school art teachers recognised this and I consider myself fortunate to have had their encouragement during those vulnerable and volitile years of my early teens.

I was also fortunate enough to have very supportive and understanding parents who, despite struggling to understand many things about me during my rebellious teens, (or at least that's what I thought at that age), understood my passion and determination. When I told them I wanted to leave school at 15 years of age they did not flinch, instead, we sat down and had a rational discussion about what I wanted to do instead and they agreed wholeheartedly. I left school on a Wednesday in November 1989 and began working as a graphic designer the following Monday. I stayed in my first job for over 8 years - five years longer than I lasted in high school.
I think that speaks for itself.

Memories Are Made of This

My mother and I took my grandparents out for lunch yesterday.

After driving them back home, I asked about an old photograph of me I believed they had. It was a photograph of me drawing. It was taken at kindergarten and I remember it clearly. It used to hang in my grandparent's bedroom before they moved to the retirement village.

I remember my childhood face looking at the camera as I leant over my drawing in purple crayon on yellow paper, (back then with no idea I was producing a complimentary colour harmony work). I remember often looking at that photograph when visiting my grandparents as a child and thinking about how I wanted to, and was going to, be an artist.

In searching for this photo, (which I did not end up finding), I fossicked through dozens of others, some dating back to the 30's and 40's, before my grandparents came to Australia. ( My grandmother is German, my grandfather, Russian. My mother was born in Germany in 1947. The three of them travelled by boat to Australia in 1949. My mother had her second birthday whilst on board. The journey took around 4 weeks ).

My grandparents moved to the retirement village around 7 years ago, and in moving to a much smaller place, many things were either disposed of or placed into boxes. It had been a long, long time since my grandparents had looked at these photos and I was so glad I took them out yesterday.

That shoebox was full of so many memories, both joyful and sad. It was a beautiful moment for three generations of my family to be sharing those memories together. Watching the expressions on my mother's face as she looked through photos of herself as a little girl, some taken on the boat on which she arrived in Australia. My gradmother's expressions as she looked at early photographs of her family, before and after marriage and motherhood. My grandfather boasting about how handsome he was whilst looking at images of his young self and remembering his days as a draftsman.

From the little doll of my mothers that her brother destroyed to the house my grandfather built in Altona when they first arrived here - every single picture told a story that at least one of us remembered clearly and we told some of these stories to each other as we looked through these images from our family's history.

Some of my favourites were those of my mother as a little girl on the boat and a wonderful image of my grandmother with their first television set.

Despite not finding the photograph I was looking for, I was happy to discover and rediscover so many others. I had not seen my grandmother smile this much in a long time. It was truly special and reminded me of the importance of documentation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Spring is Over

Summer is definitely here.

I have just returned home from a trip to the city. I made a deal with my partner that I would go to the dentist for a check up before Christmas. I have a tendency to put things like this off for a very long time, coming up with the lamest excuses as to why I can't go just yet or "I'll do it after my birthday" - which then became after my exhibition, which then became after Winter and so on. So, with Christmas and my next birthday fast approaching, I bit the bullet and went to have my incisors, canines and molars checked out.

I'd been dreading this visit as I was certain it would result in follow up visits and enormous bills right before Christmas. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I only need one procedure done, a filling where part of a lower molar has broken - no doubt from clenching my teeth. It has been this way since 2003 so I thought myself lucky that this was all that was needed.

This has nothing to do with art, in fact, it is something that took me away from my art today. However, I was hoping to see the Tezuka exhibition at the NGV after my oral examination. Much to my dismay, I arrived at the doors of the NGV only to discover that they are closed on Tuesdays. I was not aware of this. So instead, I drove home (around an hour and a half trip) in the unrelenting heat of mid-afternoon.

The air conditioner in my car has not worked well, if at all, since a minor 'bingle' last year, and despite having it fixed, (or so I was told), it is still struggling. It is a luxury I can happily live without but I will say that at one stage I truly felt I was melting as my hands kept sliding off the steering wheel.

I used to hate Summer. I have very pale skin and also used to be prone to headaches, sometimes migraines, in the heat. Now, however, there is something about the heat that I love. I am not one to lie on the beach for hours, I've no desire for a tan and I do my best to keep out of the direct sun when at it's most potent and I can still get headaches from the heat if I am not well hydrated. The thing that I do enjoy though is hard to put into words. Despite feeling as though I was melting yesterday, with my sliding hands, damp skin, pulsating head and clinging clothes, there is a certain invigoration I feel now that I never used to.

When my partner and I travelled to Japan last year it was very hot, a thick and humid kind of hot. I remember our first day in Kyoto, he was tired and mildly exhausted from the heat, (which is exactly how I would have been a few years earlier), but for some reason I was full of energy, as if I was solar powered.

It is said that there are certain feelings, sometimes extremities, that make us feel really alive or 'energised'. I would never have thought that the heat of Summer would do this for me.

I used to also hate painting in the heat. Now, I enjoy it, and I also now have the room and facilities to paint outside, which, provided is not in the direct sun, is wonderful.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Progressive Palette

I just noticed the full moon. I had not realised it was that time of the lunar month. The past few weeks have gone by extremely fast. On noticing her this evening, I realised why I have been a bit 'all over the place' these past couple of days.

I picked up four new canvases on Saturday. The weekend turned out to be slightly more social than I had expected so it was not until today that I was really able to spend quality time with my new additions to the studio. It's that time of year where social events are pretty much unavoidable, and whilst the weekend was enjoyable, I was extremely happy and appreciative to be able to get back into the studio today.

In recent years I have worked with a fairly restricted palette. It's not that I don't like colour, it's just that I have preferred applying it in a more subtle manner. Red, green, black and white featured heavily in my earlier work, and this year's exhibition was based on a Primary palette, using only red, blue and yellow, (or variations of), with black, white and grey. I have had numerous discussions on colour with many people in relation to my work and have never really had a strong desire to expand my palette too much - until now.

I have recently been reading, (and have been fascinated by), Victoria Finlay's book, Colour - Travels Through the Paintbox, which has made me and look at colour very differently and has inspired me to explore colour, within my own work, in greater depth and on a more emotional level. It is almost as though I have a greater appreciation for colour now and I am looking forward to introducing more and more into my work.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Champing at the Bit

Today was a day for planning.

I will pick up the first lot of my new canvases tomorrow and I am very anxious to get started on them. Most of today was spent making notes, writing down and sketching ideas for new works and working on a couple of smaller canvas pieces that will most likely end up being studies for larger works.

Although a fresh-primed virgin canvas can sometimes be just as daunting as it is exciting, I am choosing to focus on the latter. For the first time in a long time I feel completely prepared for my next body of paintings.