18 May, 2017

Evidence of yellow

When I was young, my father fell very ill. So ill, he turned yellow. Jaundiced, is the medical term. HE was yellow, his skin was sallow and the white of his eyes, the most telling evidence of this change, were a very unwell yellow. He lay recovering in bed , camouflaged in sheets as yellow as he was. Surreal overexposure and total reign of yellow.

I have been diligently focussing on yellow this week and in doing so, that memory of my yellow father surfaced.  Like a yellow submarine.

Autumn is well and truly here. Yellow reigns in the garden. The Gleditsia tree thinks it's at the Met Gala Ball and is positively glowing in her dress of gold-leaved finery. 

When Spring comes, the terrible Gorse will spring forth with it's blooms of acid yellow. 

I have no yellow sheets in my linen cupboard. My fathers eyes are bright white.

11 May, 2017


Yellow is one of those weird colours on my palette. I consistently use it IN a mix and rarely on it's own.
Cadmium Yellow Light
Cadmium yellow Medium
Indian Yellow
Yellow Ochre

I don't like Naples yellow. That might change when I find an application for it.

I like yellow, but I own no yellow item of clothing. The thing that may be considered the yellowest item of clothing is a sad t-shirt that is probably yellow from age. I am only just beginning to wear green after wearing blue for so long. The yellow seeps in slowly.

Turner and Van Gogh are the artists I think of when I think of yellow. Klimt too, but he was more about gold.

I see yellow as a challenge. One of those mindfulness exercises that I set for myself: Use yellow in a painting. Use it today.

Oil on canvas

Oil on Gessoboard
15 x 15 cm

Muslin used to hold spices when I made a curried chutney
Inadvertent pear.

Alex Kanevsky wrote a lovely piece about yellow. 
He titled it: Yellow.Reluctantly since 2006.

Yellow is difficult. But it seemed easy to Van Gogh. Maybe I should spend some time in Provence. Pierre Bonnard said that you can never have to much yellow. Yellow was one of the four colors found in Piet Mondrian paintings. Indian yellow was originally made from cow urine but not anymore. Its powerful tinting ability makes it very hard to control. Yellow is the color most susceptible to dramatic changes from even smallest additions of other pigments. Naples yellow ranges from astonishingly ugly to very beautiful, probably because nowadays it is a mix, and its composition depends on the maker’s preferences. It is one of the oldest synthetic pigments, dating from around 1620. The actual pigment is toxic, like many good things in life. I always have a tube of Cadmium Yellow (how could you not?) but almost never find any use for it. Yellow is the first color to fade from the sun exposure. White paper and fabric, on the contrary, turn yellow from exposure. Nobody uses yellow in paintings sparingly and reluctantly. It is either with abandon as did Turner, or not at all. Matisse was not afraid of yellow, but I wouldn’t call it an embrace. Morandi stayed safely within Naples Yellow and Yellow Ochre, only rarely venturing into insane Cadmium Lemon Yellow excursions. Zinc Yellow used by Seurat was unstable and turned brown. Although the leader of a stage in Tour de France gets a yellow jersey, he is not considered the winner of the yellow jersey, only the wearer. Yellow is the first color introduced into fresh white snow as dogs are taken out for a walk early in the morning. In Russia, a colloquial expression for an insane asylum used to be "yellow house.” At the moment, my favorite yellow is Sennelier’s Light Yellow Ochre that also has a wonderful german name “Gelbocker Hell”.

I shall continue to use yellow.
I like it because it's not natural, feels weird. That seems as good a reason as any.

04 May, 2017

How I almost qualified for a Darwin Award

Let me tell you a tale of stupidity…my own.

Last night, on ,my way to bed( I seem to be the first into bed these days) I passed Julius playing on the swissball in the corridor.

“Watch me, watch me he pleaded. Good parents should watch their children, so I did. 
Bracing himself against the two side walls of the corridor, he stood on the swissball and then tried to let go and balance. He managed for a second or two. Then he grabbed the walls for support again.

“That looks cool! “I said” I want to have a go”

Now, this is when the judges of the Darwin awards all pulled up and watched, scorecards at the ready. 
 I began my attempt to stand on the swissballx  Background  info is that I have not done any swissball exercise in over 2 years, not yoga in 3 months, am unfit, chubby and frankly, totally unfit for any kind of gymnastic feat. 
The ego, however, was a fucking olympic athlete. That was how that quick inner conversation went.

I stood up on the ball, hands bracing me on walls either side. When the ball sagged under my weight, I should have dismounted. 
“You are as lights a feather” shouted my ego, hands covering my eyes and dismissing the fear department who mentioned , quietly , that the ball MIGHT explode.

I was up! I was standing!

“You are fucking awesome” said the ego

Then Julius stepped back and in a split second, everything changed.
I had not realised Julius was stabilising the ball with his leg.

The ball SHOT forward.
I SHOT backwards............ and down.

Paint shot through so many places. I hit the floor :elbow, ribs, head…in that order.Things that should NOT go crunch went CRUNCH in my neck.
I lay very still. Shocked.

That was a lot of shit that got shot in a very short amount of time.

My head hurt a lot. Those crunching noises in my neck freaked me out and I could not comprehend what had just happened. More than that, I could not comprehend how I had failed to anticipate the outcome.
Hindsight works fast.

I lay there for a good 5 minutes, assessing damage, going through the events in my head and mentally and physically prodding around looking for signs of real damage.

I am still sore this morning but INCREDIBLY grateful that I seem to be ok. Sore ribs, sore neck, bruised ego and sudden realisation that my reactions are those of an older person and not a 20 year old have left me a bit quieter today.

I may go back to the yoga mat. I need to work on my balance.

My ego is doing a downward dog as I type.

Painting will be slow going this morning but I will be out and about on saturday for the planned plein air paint out in Hamilton Gardens.

Stop Laughing, please. 

Google Darwin Award .

30 April, 2017

Scale is everything

I went to visit Gibbs farm last thursday.

Gibbs Farm is not a farm. Not really. It is a world class outdoor sculpture  gallery on the Kaipara harbour, just north of Auckland.

It opens only a few times a year , often as a fundraiser , so I jumped at the opportunity to visit last thusrday. It required a 5 am start. People, that was hard. I am NOT a morning person.I had invited Di Tocker (the glassmaker) along because she knows her sculpture stuff and I needed some education. When you are going to spend 8+ hours in a car, travel with a person who is interesting and can navigate. It took us almost 4 hours to get there.

So the backstory is this: Alan Gibbs buys the farm in 1991 , establishes it as a world class sculpture park, invites artists to spend time on the farm and ,in collaboration, a work is commissioned and then created. Some artists have returned year after year to establish a link.....one thing is for sure. They are all quite spectacular and unique. I think it's an open chequebook kind thing.

There are big names and big works. Anish Kapoor's incredible "Dismemberment1" had my jaw dropping. I had seen it before in a catalogue, but in real life, the scale and the situation of the work in incredible. So much attention has been paid to the work that even the triangle of grass that lies underneath the sculpture is planted in a low growing, shade loving grass, to maintain the artists vision of the red over green....so sandy, scruffy patches!!!
Andy Goldsworthy's Arches were half submerged, but there was a great photo in the book.It was the only one I did not see at close quarters.

It went on and on like that. Work after work . If I muttered "Scale is everything" once, I must have muttered it a thousand times. How deeply anchored must a 28 meter high sculpture on a ride be?! How ? I kept coming back to the mechanics of assembly and creation.How? The ideas and the translations thereof. How? So much discussion and so many questions, made my head spin. It was so very worth the 5 am start!

Some photos:

Di catching a view of the Kaipara Harbour and being my scale model.

Bernar Venen. 28 meters tall corten steel.

Len Lye's posthumously erected Windward. It could only be fabricated after his death once the technology had caught up with his vision.

Windwand and the Kaipara Harbour with what Di and I suspect is new work being created in the mangroves 

the tips of Andy Goldsworthy's Arches

Google Gibbs farm. Really. It's visionary.

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...