11 April, 2017

Nudes and news

"something old
something new
something borrowed
something blue"

Traditionally used at a wedding (when dressing a bride), this little ditty held true for my visit to the latest exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery, The body laid bare : Masterpieces from the Tate.

I had been rather keenly anticipating this exhibition and FINALLY managed to wrangle a free day in my schedule to travel up to the big smoke and visit. I have a great love of the figure in painting although I do not, as a rule, use the figure in my work.  I invited the lovely Jenni Stringleman to join me and she has the joyous commute of a hop on the ferry from Devonport over to the City itself.

Viewing an exhibition with another is so good for understanding. Her perspective and mine are different( she paints a good nude!) and yet we both exhaled with pleasure and awe when we came across some works that were clearly quite extraordinary. In one room, several heroes were gathered on the wall: Lucian Freud,  Francis Bacon, Cecily Brown, Willem De Kooning. We circled Rodin's sculpture "The Kiss", marvelling at the detail, the lack of it, the sheer enormity of the task, the lost and found edges in that entwined , iconic sculpture. David Hockney, Tracy Emin, Alice Neel...the names ...Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso....Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Cindy Sherman....names, BIG names. And in front of us. We scrutinised, pointed fingers, oohed and ahed. We spoke A LOT. Not for us the hushed , reverential discussions. We were too excited and engaged for that.  We wondered what would shock us( if anything did) and were both surprised when we each found the thing that pushed that particular button. And for each of us, it was quite different. It was nice to be a bit shocked again. It's been a while! We circled through the exhibition twice. Flesh junkies.

Then off we went  to meet Jenni's lovely husband Dave for lunch. He took us to a newly opened restaurant on the waterfront where I has some  fish carpaccio thing that was delicious( I was too busy talking to pay attention to the meal name. "I'll have what she's having "was what seriously came out of my mouth when it was time to order) and we nattered until it was time for Jenni to catch her ferry home. Dave had to listen to us gabble on about flesh and paint and ideas and colours . The man is a saint.

No photos, (which I think was stink).
But all this makes me think of the figure and gets me excited to consider it again.
It's there, in the back of my mid, but I am a way from including it at the moment because I have not yet worked out or have clear understanding of what that figure would be. I greatly admire the work of Euen Macleod, Kevin Sinnott , Alex Kanefsky etc who place the figures in the landscape with such particular reason. I don't have that reason yet, so , till I do, I don't go there.

I am exhibiting this easter weekend at the Baffin Street Gallery with Hillary Ramage, Carole Shepheard, Tai Meuli. 15/16 and 17 April, 9.30 am till 5 pm.  812 Baffin street Gallery ,Pirongia . There will be a closing event Monday 17 April at 3 pm, should you wish to attend and meet the artists. Yes, me included.

River Fisher will be there!

I hope the cyclone will have passed by then!

Ps. I told my boys I was of to Auckland for the day. Bored faces looked back at me. 
"To see the nudes" I declared. They both flinched. 
"Nudes?!?" they echoed.
" Yes, from the Tate. Borrowed nudes"

total confusion 

Eldest then says" I may reconsider my opinion of art galleries"
Youngest" Nudes?!?"

23 March, 2017

The social pages

When I grew up, the newspapers generally supported an arts supplement that would frequently feature gallery and exhibition openings. Photos of well coiffed and suitably bejewelled patrons, flute of champagne or cigarette in one hand ,would sit cheek by jowl in glamorous company. These pages were poured over in case one was either AT the event or KNEW someone who attended. The famous heart transplant surgeon and his model wife (no.2, mind you) were the prize guests. Various minor european royals, the jet-set beautiful and the old money set were all there, jostling for attention. We never saw the paintings, just the beautiful people!

These days, the newspapers have dropped the arts supplements and the only way to get your face in the who's who arts magazine social pages is to pay someone to put it there. Sign of the times.

So, I raise my glass and toast: Here's to the beautiful people, the good souls who both came to the exhibition opening and continued to stream into the gallery both Saturday and Sunday. You all looked marvellous and frankly, I was delighted to see you all.

I was so confident that the visitor numbers would be slow over the weekend that I took a book to occupy the time and some lunch. Truth is, I touched neither and have never been more delighted to be less informed nor hungry!

Thank you for sharing your stories with me about what the work said and meant to you and thank you for listening to my stories too.

I am now decompressing after an eventful few weeks.

ps. the book, by the way, is called "Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking" . Frankly, I am fascinated but have yet to make much inroad. I keep having to google Soviet and Russian history. The lunch was not Soviet.

08 March, 2017

Colour and cookies

The colour workshop was good and bad, depending on who you spoke to and when!

Who knew that talking so much was exhausting and left one's throat  parched  .Also, who knew I was that excited about colour!! I saw the fear in their eyes as I started my spiel and my fellow tutor told me afterwards that he thought I was rather excitable!

o dear!

" All learning starts with confusion" said Pat, a teacher by trade and a painter in my tuesday class .I am immensely grateful to him for stating that fact. It's true and I should have remembered that because everything I have ever tried to learn has begun that way too, so why should a colour class not begin with total confusion either!?

Colour wheels, colour temperatures, value, hues, tints, tones, primary, secondary and tertiary colours, complementaries.... see the problem?!??
I think learning by doing is best. So we mixed and mixed and mixed paint until we were dizzy with mixes.

It was a long day and they did very well.Very well!  I was reminded that the ease of it comes with experience . I was encouraging the lovely participants to apply critical thinking to their mixes and to be logical (even clinical )when mixing paint. Intuitive mixing comes with practise and experience, just as one cannot teach wisdom to a young doctor, they has to grow, learn , make mistakes and gain experience before they become wise, so too is the lot of the painter. The good news is,I think its easier to get a grip on colour than on medicine!


Next class in on Saturday 8 April at my studio. I will bake more biscuits!

Oil painting mixes and small class of 5 only. Let me know if you want to come by emailing me
$100 per person

25 February, 2017

Colour workshop or How not to mix MUD

Colour workshop for Oils and Acrylics
A one day weekend workshop

Jennie De Groot and Pieter Swanepoel

5 March (Sunday) 10 -3 pm
Waikato Society of Arts
Victoria Street

Workshop includes:
Introduction to colour theory
Explanation of colour temperature
How to mix correctly
Colour wheels and their relevance
How to mix the colour you want and not make mud
The differences in oils and acrylic mixes
Greyscale and value.

There will be lots of practical application of the theory and participants are encouraged to wear an apron or old T-shirt.

Please bring a packed lunch. There will be a informal lunchtime discussion and a slideshow.

Tea, coffee and water provided.
Class limited to 15
$120 per person
Course includes materials
To Book : Jennie De Groot 0274534307

21 February, 2017

It's not about me

I have been very lucky in my life to never have to run for my life, flee a situation that was untenable and dangerous to live in, grab a few key belongings and my kids and run, run, run.I cannot imagine what that must be like to flee my home , lose my family and yet it happens, on a daily basis to MILLIONS of women in the world.

South Sudan
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
...the list goes on and on. It is shameful that this continues to occur.

I feel very helpless as an individual. I am  not a terribly political person, but I am very lucky to  have a rather public opportunity to use my talents and try and make a difference. So try I must.

I have a small exhibition running at the David Lloyd Gallery 17-19 March.
I am offering this painting as a silent auction with the entire proceeds going to Unicef to help them with their job. It's what I can do and it's how I can help and do it by adding good to the world, not taking from it.

This painting is not an easy painting to look at. Not initially. Washing hangs  neglected or forgotten, on a line. The atmosphere is filled with smoke and dust, ruined buildings loom in the dark, illuminated by possible explosions or gunfire. Sparks hang in the dust. This place was abandoned suddenly, washing remains the only evidence that domestic life once reigned happily in this place.

Now Let me offer you another scenario

Its a celebration. Fireworks are being let off just beyond the buildings and everyone is celebrating peace and reunion. Families find each other and life start to become normal again. Washing hangs on makeshift lines , this time forgotten in the delight of watching fireworks and spending time together, celebrating peace.

Whatever this is , please help me send it out into the world with some good to it. If you feel you would like to offer a bid on the silent auction but cannot attend the event, email bids will be accepted until midday 20 March.

The Celebration
oil on board
64 cm wide x 44 cm high

The exhibition is not about me. 

Exhibition details
David Lloyd Gallery
78 Lake Crescent
New Zealand
 Reception 17 March 5:30 till 7 pm
sat and sun 18&19 March 11 am till 3 pm

Silent auction available on site and vial email.

17 February, 2017

Results may vary

Last night saw me attend the award ceremony for the NZPPA (see past post for acronym explaination). It was a marvel I even made it there !A torrential downpour, akin to a monsoon ,turned roads into rivers, carparks into lakes and drivers into homicidal maniacs. Thrilling start to the evening.My shoes were soaked and I walked around, squeaking, all night.

The supreme award went to Rose Meyer. Rose's work has strong conceptual basis, but more than that, it was quite pleasing and those two aspects rarely make good bedfellows in this kind of scenario! In a blind sighting, I had picked her piece titled " Journey: from Pen to Print to Paint, as a contender, so trust me, it was worthy. She was worthy. Her work times time and effort and is beautifully simple and she made a delightful , short acceptance speech. I liked her and so did most everyone.

I have no photo to show you but have a look at her website to get an idea of her work www.rosemeyer.co.nz

I believe only 3 pieces sold at the opening and mine was one of them!

This is where the story begins for me.....
The couple who bought my painting are young and they have just bought their first house. In fact, the deal went unconditional yesterday, so they were out celebrating their status as new homeowners. This couple then bought my work as the first bit of art for their new home. I cannot tell you how much this touched me. Anyone who owns a home knows the trepidation of that first purchase , mortgaging yourself to the hilt and the knowledge that you are now in debt for many years, the belt must tighten. Most people start tightening. This couple bought my painting. A most un-tightening gesture , to be sure.

Success |səkˈsɛsnoun [ mass noun ] the accomplishment of an aim or purpose: the president had some success in restoring confidence.• the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status: the success of his play.• count noun ] a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains fame, wealth, etc.: to judge from league tables, the school is a success | I must make a success ofmy business.archaic the good or bad outcome of an undertaking: the good or ill success of their maritime enterprises.
I was looking at the definition of success and the first few lines did not sit well with me. It was the last one (archaic, had to be!) that rang true. "The good or bad outcome of an undertaking. "

I did not win but my painting was loved and loved, in particular, by two people DEEP in the quagmire of fiscal debt, who threw caution to the wind and bought a painting they could probably ill afford but did so anyway.

I lost and I won.
I had both!


Also, I only had one glass of wine and didn't have to say "fuck off" to anyone.
Success again.

Ps. Sorry about the swearing

15 February, 2017

New Zealand Painting and Printmaking award 2017

The New Zealand Painting and Printmaking award ( from now on referred to NZPPA before carpel tunnel syndrome takes over my poor typing wrists) is announced tomorrow evening.

Frankly, I am just delighted to be in as a finalist. True story! Ultimately, the winner gets a nice stash of cash and kudos, but there's a lot of bitching about the work too .  Trust me, I've been in the audience many years and heard it!  I'm not sure my fragile sensibilities (yes, yes, my ego. Give it a name!) could take it without yelling " Fuck off" after a while. Not a good look. I got in and I got noticed and I am delighted.

I like my work.

I like it very much.

 I am proud of it . It is technically sound, it pleasing to look at without being obvious and its not obtuse enough to make people look at it sideways and edge away muttering " my kid could do that". It holds it's own.

Technically, its quite an interesting painting. I painted in oil onto mylar (otherwise known as architectural drafting paper) which I then mounted onto archival photo mount paper. I then cut the painting up into squares 5 x 5 cm( or maybe 6 x 6 cm. I misremember) and reassembled them into a grid- like pattern. This device abstracted the original botanical image of grass and the reconstruction of it lent an otherworldly yet recognisable air to the final complete image

The Grass is always greener...we all know how the old saying goes, but I beg to add my own twist to it.
The grass is always greener ...wherever you water it. Makes sense.

The Grass is always greener
Oil on mylar
36 cm h x 26 cm w 

On show at the NZPPA 17 February 2017 till 26 February 2017

My accompanying statement:

My painting occupies a space where reality, imagination and memory all hold equal tenancy.
My status as immigrant informs my work, exploring loss of familiar with the excitement of new opportunities, linking them through the vehicle of landscape.
The tension between realism and abstraction, coupled with my interest in introducing memory and imagination into my paintings manifests in the "broken image" quality that I have emphasised by cutting up and existing landscape and reformatting it to create a new landscape. The image is recognisably familiar to be comforting but different in a way that keeps the viewer interested and invested in establishing a personal understanding.

Ps. Sorry for swearing. 

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