Sunday, 27 October 2013

Odd Ball - My golden cage at the ANU Art School Ball

The Art School Ball was on the 12th of October. I made a golden bird cage out of recycled materials, a combination of metal poles from felled shade pavilions, floor insulation and old poly-pipe, wired and taped together. This exercise relates in theme to my self-portrait as a galah, "I'm not a Budgie." The cage was documented there at the "Odd Ball"by Janis Lejins - many thanks, see more photos at

We took the cage into the Art School in our truck and already had a hitchhiker as we carried it inside.

At one stage there were six revellers occupying this small space, it bent in a few unexpected ways. Eventually I hung up my flapping bird companions, donned my wings and danced. The next outing for the birdcage should be on our float at the Mardi Gras next year.

Anime studio adventures in portraiture

I've been having lots of adventures with my Anime Studio Debut program. For an animation program which cost me under $50 (student version) it is amazing. Here is a screenshot of some work I have been doing on my animated self-portrait as a galah, "I'm not a Budgie."

I have built a face and figure representing myself and have been experimenting on ways to use the "bone" morphing tool. What I really love about this tool is its complexity coupled with an ease of use which I think of as intuitive. For a sculptor/painter like myself it becomes just another tool. I feel that I am squeezing those pixels with pliers or sweeping them around with my brush and like with the use of a hammer, chisel or saw, the angle at which the tool is applied is of the utmost importance.

So this is my head and my body, a cross between the symbolic and representational. The grey lines are the "bone" areas of influence which I have set into my drawing. It is an interesting method of working because every "object" in the 240 frame "bone" animation has to be set up in frame 0. I am fairly meticulous when I do artwork - every idea must be executed exactly, but I am also very adventurous and willing to innovate as I progress. I suppose that a lot of it is a matter of experience and being able to look ahead, whatever... setting up the whole animation in the first frame was a challenge that I enjoyed.

This is how I set the "bones" in the face. I started my use of this program a couple of months ago by following some tutorials. I never follow them exactly because that bores me too much, but I tried some techniques and watched a lot of people explaining their methods. When I came to applying bones to this drawing there really was no guide available, so I just did it by feel and experimentation. I'm sure that most people use vaguely the same techniques, but I just couldn't find anything close so it was quicker to experiment. The main thing you have to remember with using "bones" is to have them properly sourced or "parented". In this structure most of the "bones" relate to the bone in the neck which, when manipulated, will move the whole head.

I found it necessary to use a mass of "bones" placed around the mouth to effectively compress and stretch the area as I have used it to lip-synch a short passage of spoken word in the Budgie Song. I have crossed the two long "bones" over the lower jaw area to help move the whole chin/lip zone and also have detailed related groups for the eyes and earrings. I filmed myself speaking the words in the song and worked out how to import the video into Anime Studio as a guide for the shapes and timing of lip synching. Anime Studio actually has an automated lip synching system, but from what I saw in tutorials, it would be too simple and coarse for my feral/obsessive way of working. I always have to re-invent the wheel...


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Audacity to make "music"

When I was growing up (as opposed to growing out) I loved the work of William Blake and fancied that when I was older I could get stoned and write poetry like his. I later found that I had no need of drugs, they only hinder your motivation and thought processes and I am quite strange and creative enough without them. As a teenager I listened to music that would be called Progressive Rock now. I remember that one of my desired careers was to become a "degenerate musician." I can laugh at myself and my dreams, but I think that people shouldn't give up on their ambitions, no matter how old they are, or how distracted they are by the other needs and choices of their lives.

Here is a YouTube clip of the band Van der Graaf Generator, the music which moves me most. It was integral part of my teenage years. I used to come home from school and turn it  up very, very loud. Van der Graaf Generator supported Jimmy Hendrix and they are still a major touring and recording band. (Very respected in Germany, Russia, Italy and South America - we Anglos can be so conservative) This is from a live recording in 1970, when they were so young, but they are still making music now. I saw the band live in 1976 at Saarbr├╝cken, Germany and saw Peter Hammill solo many years later.

The driving force of the group, the singer/poet/musician, Peter Hammill creates the supreme fusion of words and sounds. His voice is superbly versatile and his lyrics and music, whether dark or joyous, match each other in a way I have not found in any other songs. To me it is really exciting, but I understand that a lot of reasonable people can’t bear the complexity, depth of feeling and discordance in Van der Graaf Generator music. It’s not pretty! If you were looking for the complete opposite to elevator music this has got to be it - at times it is heavier than the heaviest metal, rougher than punk or more soaring and soulful than a choir or an opera. The fact that I attempt karaoke with Peter Hammill’s words and music has got to be a sign of my mental instability, but I love it.

Back to relative sanity, Nette... I have been making noises, rapping, singing and mixing them with Audacity to create a background track for my Anime Studio animation, "I'm not a budgie." Stuff the fact that my voice is untrained and wobbly and that this is only the second time I have tried to use Audacity,  a free open source digital audio editor and recording computer software application, to make my own soundtrack. I went ahead with it anyway. They way I can tell whether I have finished any artwork I do, is just by getting to the point where I can't think of any changes I want to make. Apart from the coarseness of the sound and recording which is an accurate reflection of myself, I think this piece of "music" is finished. Here it is.

Digital Self Portrait

I've decided to create a digital self-portrait using Anime Studio. I have always had an obsession with birds so I am basing my digital work on a self-portrait which was a "morph" of myself and our caged Galah (Rose-breasted Cockatoo) whose name is Budgie. I entered a version of this "bird morph" in the Archibald Prize in 2010. There are some strange works entered in the Archie, but this must be one of the oddest.

Budgie was born on our farm as a wild bird, but when she was learning to fly she broke a wing. She is about three years old now and a caged bird. I have always felt bad about birds being caged, but if one's cage is one's only means of survival perhaps it is not that bad. Any sane creature wants to survive. Budgie has an indoor and outdoor cage with a transparent sliding door between, she opens her own door and goes out each morning and we spread birdseed on a two sided feeding shelf which she shares with her wild family, so at least she has a good social life, if not freedom.

I designed this galah morph as a result of questioning the traditional portrayal of winged humans in art. Bird/human hybrids like Nike, Hebe, Alkonost, Genies, Cherubim, Maat, Garuda and Tangata Manu all have their wings at shoulder level or as part of their arms. Occasionally a symbolic winged figure like Faravahar has lower body bird characteristics, but I became fascinated with the actual mechanics of bird movement and decided, when watching my galah, "Budgie," that her legs were actually more the equivalent to human arms with their hands and opposable digits, whereas her wings provide the propulsion force as do our legs.

I have an interest in mythology and comparative religion and I am fascinated by the narrative uses of anthropomorphism and its impact on society. I have a lack of belief in human supremacy and attempt a level of fairness and relative equality in my relations with other animals. I find the anti-anthropomorphic attitudes of extremists in religion and the sciences absurd. I am an animal, I think like an animal and feel like an animal. This attitude is reflected in my artwork. This project is a way to express my artwork in a new form where I link abstract images and words and sounds to tell a personal story.

For the last 35 years I have been using a wide variety of media including sculpture, glass, ceramics, collage, drawing and painting to express my viewpoint and explore my obsessions. Over these years I have intermittently created self portraits. A painting expresses a single aspect of my self, but I usually explore deeper levels through the use of complex detail. I am wondering how the ability to use of a linked string of moving images will effect my ability to portray my shifting identity. I am hoping that the use of sequences of images will reveal a more complex self portrait.

When I paint and draw I use complex techniques which can often obscure the primary statement of the artwork. I am hoping that by using a medium in which I am less skilled, but which is straightforward enough for me to use intuitively, I will be able to communicate more simply, the emotion of this personal statement. At the same time these simple abstract forms will become complex by their placement in the sequence of the short film.

I will use film of live action as a reference for areas which require life-like form or movement. I have been making videos of trees moving in high wind. I will study these films to use as a reference for the way the different levels of trees, individual branches and leaf clumps move against each other, but I am unlikely to use them as a direct photographic reference because I want the moving landscape to be fairly abstract.

The narrative is an important part of this project. I am intending to incorporate both sound and text into the film. I want to strike a balance between the images and the words. For added impact I will experiment with how I can create dissonance by disturbing the synchronisation between the sound, the images and the text, while still retaining a cohesive narrative. My bird/human character will create a point of reference throughout the film.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

It started with a feather...

Sometimes accidents provide very good results. This piece of film I made in Anime Studio started with an attempt to draw a feather, but I haven't worked out how to put texture detail into this program and the lines weren't going the way I wanted them to. So I ditched my direct drawing and decided to try turn a jpg of an existing drawing I had made of a feather into a vector image.

Here is what the feather turned into. It may have amounted to nothing like my intention at the beginning of the exercise, but I just love random shit. It was like trying to control the weather. A lot of effective abstract images came from figurative sources, simplified and extended. It's fun to see the extent to which that initial image can change.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Abstract Animations

Searching out interesting animations leads you all over the world. Here is an animation, Armenian Abstract Dreams by Sargis M which has interesting techniques and images as well as being well synchronised with its music track.

Here is another interesting film, Eyeliner, an indie 2D computer animation by Joanna Priestley of Portland, Oregon in the USA. 

Friday, 16 August 2013

Steampunk animation

Just watching more Russian short animations in my search for different arty techniques. This one is a film using silhouette, written and directed by Andrey Shushkov... a graduation project to be proud of. A sad but archetypal story, described as "A love story from the world of gears and bolts." The applications used were 1. Anime Studio 2. Photoshop 3. Apple Motion 4. Final Cut 5. Maya

Here is another great "steampunk" dystopian saga in silhouette below, "Bendito machine III". Are you scared of technology or the way we use and discard it?... you should be. Also below is a behind the scenes video demonstrating the techniques in Flash, Freehand MX and Final Cut Pro.

My first two Anime Studio renders

I've been experimenting with Anime Studio Debut and will post my first two renders. This software started in 1999 under the name "Moho", developed  by Mike Clifton at Lost Marble, which is where the user forum and free Papagayo lip syncing program are now situated. Mike currently works for Smith Micro as the lead engineer on Anime Studio. This is how Anime studio is described on the website... I have a lot to learn.

• Revolutionary Bone Rigging system takes the work out of tedious
   frame-by-frame animation
• Intuitive animation timeline simplifies complex animation tasks
• Physics Engine allows for super realistic movement and collisions
• Auto Trace your own artwork and then animate it
• Work with vector based art for maximum control and scalability
• Import or record audio and automatically lip-sync to characters
• Work in 2D or 3D space and import 3D objects

This was my first attempt at bone rigging, which is a shortcut means to move certain linked fields of the animation through inverse and forwards kinematics which were developed for robot control. I have made a very simple tick-like creature to experiment with because I want to keep my designs out of the cartoon figure stereotype at this stage of learning. Once you set up the internal bone rigging, it can be manipulated from a distance, without touching the figure, which is convenient.

Here is the second animation I have done with Anime Studio. It is to test the movement and overlap of multiple layers. All of the layers are hand-drawn and manipulated, no bone rigging or set shapes were used. I was amazed at how smooth the tweening appeared, because I really didn't use that many key frames for the length of the animation. I trashed the first render of this because I had misjudged the time it would take and it ended up too fast and jerky. I went back into it and was able to adjust the timeline to make it longer although it did get a bit muddled when I did that. It is good to be able to highlight and slide the keyframes. The other adjustment I made was with the transparency of the shapes. I had to increase the opacity on the two pink shapes so that the provided more of a contrast to the other washed out tones.

Considering the very limited experimentation I have done, I am very pleased with the way this program works. I find it much more intuitive than the more expensive programs I have tried at the university. It works smoothly with my MacBook Pro and Wacom Bamboo tablet. For a very cheap setup I feel that I should be able to get some very interesting, complex results.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Anime Studio Debut - It works!

Semester two of my MA in Digital Art has started and I've bought my animation program. I'm very excited by it. My aim is learn to use it so well that I don't even have to think about the technicalities when I make artworks that move. It does everything I want and more. I'm a bit of a control freak with my artwork, but I am also very in to risk taking and innovation. Anime Studio will offer me all the challenges I need and lead me on to new pathways.

While I was doing my 4 year degree at ANU, BA Visual Arts (painting) I found the discrepancy between the mastering of traditional technical skills and the constant requirement for innovation in art unsettling and rather depressing. I am a natural innovator, but the tendency towards minimalism just doesn't move me. Once it has been done I feel that it is no longer important.

The contemporary fashion industry gives an insight into the rest of the art scene. One can revamp "classic" styles and techniques and call them new, a novelty which is usually pretty transparent to those who have lived through a few generations of change, or engage in a desperate hunt for something that hasn't been done before. Now what artists consider novelty seems to be more in the hype (self promotion) or analysis (dissection) of art. Excuse me for finding that dull.

So, that is my very negative assessment of art fashions, but it doesn't take account of an artist's individual achievement and innovation. I believe that art "movements" are a thing of the past because we have had the "anything goes" mentality for so long now that there is nothing particularly novel about anyone's art. The death of "shock value" art movements does not discount the journeys of individual artists.

In this privileged "first world" society where we are bombarded with rich food, imported culture and the cheap products of emerging nations, there is even more need for each of us to establish interests and activities through which we express our identities and developing skills. A lot of people in our society, although wealthy and privileged in the eyes of other nations are actually poor in culture and purpose, in dislocated communities with dead end jobs.

I live on a farm with a lot of animals to look after. Although I often moan about the backbreaking work of my family's chosen lifestyle, at least it has meaning and purpose and I don't have to go to a gym to keep fit. There is not a lot of spare time to engage in making art, but it gives me a source and inspiration for my art. I enjoy painting and crafting, but in order to connect with the rest of the world I am determined to develop my means of expression using digital art.

As the 20th century came to an end I looked back on the achievements of its artists. It was not the modernist art movements in painting, sculpture, literature or music which I felt would really be looked on as that century's most significant art legacy, but the amazing individual and collaborative achievements in the field of "moving" images. I looked back on the milestones of the century in which my grandparents, my parents and my own generation had spent most of their productive lives and film was the art form which I felt had had the most influence on society.

Film, in particular animation, was the great "constructive" art effort of the Twentieth Century. Expressionism, surrealism, cubism, modernism and every other ism of the century had a great effect on "art" as it was known, but I feel that it was as much a de-constructive effect as a constructive one. All the way along the road towards the dead end of ephemeral art, artists in the last century changed the way they have designed their works and thought about their art.

In building, design, fashion, music, literature and philosophy the changes over the century were immense, but I believe that what both fed on these changes and spread them to the masses were the constructions of the film industry... the technology of dreams. When story telling, sound and moving image capture came together for the first time it was a true shattering of conventions. It both incited and promoted the changes in traditional art forms.

Painting in particular was forced to change. It had been a highly skilled trade used for centuries to capture a story, a scene, a time, a lifestyle, a hero, a loved one or a religious revelation, then its uses were changed to that of the expression of an individual artist. That was a world shattering change for artists using traditional media, but not so much for the general populace who were much more blown away by the experience of watching Disney's "Steamboat Willie" or Chaplin's "Modern Times." Animation and film led by Hollywood has become such a part of all our lives, is it any wonder that the cultural imperialism of the USA was so successful?

I have been researching examples of interesting animation, particularly those which combine techniques more usually used in still paintings. That is the area of interest which I am investigating this semester, both by looking at other people's animations and by experimenting with what I can achieve by using my newly purchased Anime Studio application. This is not a radically new step in the type of art I make, but more an adaptation of my still artworks. (To look at my still artworks go to this link at my website -

Here is a beautiful hybrid traditional animation using oil painting on glass recorded digitally. Aleksandr Petrov won an Oscar in 2002 for this cartoon adaptation of Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea". Rather than using brushes, he uses his fingers to organise the paint, he says that he likes using this technique because it is new and exciting but "organic simple and effective." He defines himself as an artist rather than an animator and describes the drawback of his technique as the amount of time it takes to do, which gets the actual creation out of synch with the "creative spark."

Aleksandr Petrov takes about three and a half years to complete 30 minutes of film. This is not a technique I am about to copy even though I empathise with his motivation for using it. I will see what I can make using Anime Studio.

Thursday, 11 July 2013


I'm thinking of getting an animation program for my Mac. I've been researching  everything available at a reasonable price eg. Pencil, Tapptoons, Morph Age, Synfig, Artoonix, Anime Studio, Toon Boom and Adobe Flash. The simpler programs are not really relevant as they don't provide for computer tweening. I did an animation unit when I did my Graphic Design Certificate in the 80s. Computers were not used at all, so our animation was done the traditional way, frame by frame. For years I have been wanting to try animation again and to me, the whole point of using the computer to do it is to get that tweening and make it quicker. I seem to be such a loner in my art that I want a program that I can make a short film with all by myself.

At Uni. I have used the program Nuke to morph and distort shapes to do simple animations, but using Nuke is overkill for what I want. It is the main program used by the big commercial studios to create special effects. In Nuke you build your effects yourself, which gives you full control of what happens. I do believe that it is the most powerful and flexible program available - it makes Adobe After Effects seem really crude and simple. It is, however, way beyond my budget and as I am awkward with any but the most intuitive and mac friendly programs I am going to give it a miss.

I want to animate my drawings and paintings so a 2D drawing program is what I am looking for. The 3D world of a program like Maya holds no appeal. I dont want to go there. If I want to get more depth in my work I think I will overlay the drawings on to live, but rather abstract footage. Most of the films I take seem to have very abstract elements anyway. Film-making is not my thing, probably because I really don't care about the technical quality of film. Aesthetically, I prefer indistinguishable blurs and pixelation to hyper-realism.

Having looked at what is available, I think that the program I will go with is Anime Studio Debut which I should be able to get a recent version for $50 or less. Toon Boon Studio is over $300, and they both seem to have similar capabilities including the automatic morphing/warping capability of an internal "skeleton" to the structures (vector based animation).

Still enjoying Porkchop 'n Flatscreen, I wonder what program Emezie uses?

Thinking or filming; I like to take photos, but am I a photographer?

I am an artist. I could also be a writer and I am sensitive to sound and the structure of music, but am I a photographer or film maker? Probably not. I really don't care much about the quality of my photography or film-making which is obvious if you have a look at my films I have posted here, with my own structured artwork I get a lot more fussy.

Wherever I go, whatever I see, I analyse the structure and form of what is around me, but I am not really the sort of person who carries a camera and uses it as an extension of their mind. I would like to be, because I see so many opportunities for film making.

The classic missed opportunity was years ago when my partner and son were riding in an Adult and Child Pair at a local agricultural show. My partner, Kate, was riding a young horse and our son was on his fluffy pony. I was taking photos, I was watching through the viewfinder as they went around the ring with the other pairs. Suddenly, without warning, the young horse who was feeling a bit tired after being at the show all day, sat down in the ring in the middle of the class. What did I do? Did I take the comedy show shot of the decade? No, I was so surprised I dropped the camera.

So what next? A combination of drawing/painting and film would have to be animation. Just watched this so I'm sharing it.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Budgie the Galah

It's winter here in Australia, our farm is still blanketed in fog with only the muted shapes of gum trees in the mist. I have just fed the ponies at the back door and put out some seed for our galah, "Budgie." Our galah (rose breasted cockatoo) was born on the property but broke her wing while learning to fly. I hate seeing caged birds, but Budgie would not be alive if my daughter hadn't rescued her. She has an indoor and outdoor cage with a sliding door which she can open in between. The outdoor cage has a shelf where we spread seed, so every day Budgie throws a party for her friends and family.

Sometimes the sulphur crested cockatoos come and muscle in on party time, they are twice the size of the galahs so it is hard for the galahs to stand their ground. We have a lot of birds here as we have a good bush and grassland habitat and also plenty of supplementary food which they glean from the spilt horse food and the horse manure.

Bird Themes ... Amelia's Wren Tattoo

The breakfast show on JJJ has lost Elize Strydom as newsreader and Amelia Marshall is the new reader. Thanks to Amelia I have revisited this poem. Little birds should rule the world. I have written a book about it called Mobile Magic.

I was listening to Tom and Alex this morning and the callers couldn't guess that Amelia had a wren tattoo on her wrist inspired by this poem.

“may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile”

― E.E. Cummings, Complete Poems, 1904-1962


The early Sydney GLBTQI scene, Oxford St Collage and Mardi Gras 2012 and 2013. Original music on this video is from samples by Annette Schneider, produced by Albert "MC Fade" A-Yeboah, at the recording studios set in the beautiful countryside at Jerrangle, NSW near Canberra, Australia.

Kate and Annette became lovers in 1978 at high school and then moved to Sydney to live together and study. We were active in the Queer social and political scene. We were members of Gaysoc at UNSW and the Gay Rights Lobby.
We participated in the Stonewall March in 1979 and the Mardi Gras and other GLBTQI events in the early '80s before we moved to the country to build our rural business and family. Annette designed the "Outrageous Gay Mardi Gras" poster in 1980, the National Gay & Lesbian 1980 Conference Poster and, with Bob Hay, a lot of the Gaysoc posters.

As a professional artist, Annette has had a stalls at Fair Day, participated in a lot of Mardi Gras festival art exhibitions and has a listing in Liz Ashburn's book,"Lesbian Artists". Together with our children we have also participated in the Mardi Gras Festival equestrian event, "Mardikhana". "The Pink Triangle" was a Gay Food Stall which Kate and Annette ran at Taylor Square (in the tobacconist alcove next to the pawnbroker) and at the Queen St Fair in the 1980s.

Kate and Annette and their family celebrated the 35th anniversary of their relationship by having a float or "moving installation" in the Mardi Gras Parade.  Their son, Lee, drove the family truck in the parade. (Lee participated in the 1991 parade as a baby in a backpack) Our children, relatives and friends, both GLBTQI and straight, joined in a celebration of an 'out and proud' farming family. Kate is a horse breaker and riding instructor and Annette is a visual artist.

Our "moving installation" celebrated our history and rural lifestyle with farm animals, dancing, light art performance, a bunch of happy people and a fabulously decorated truck.
For images of Annette's art please have a look at her website We started our relationship with major involvement in the Sydney GLBTQI scene so it was exciting to celebrate our joint anniversary with this family float.

The float was our own medium rigid Mitsubishi Dual cab tabletop with stock-crate, decorated with symbolic representations of our country life (The truck's name is "Anything's Possible") Our family and friends, in costumes of their own choice, shared the celebration in this lavishly decorated stock-crate. There were disco lights, original dance music based on farm noises, rainbow tinsel, rideable horse sculptures, rainbow bread-bag sheep sculptures on fake grass, flying and dancing birds overhead; the whole truck was transformed. The sculptures and costumes made from remnant, recycled or found objects is reflective of our ethics and lifestyle.

We were absolutedly amazed when we won a Mardi Gras Gold Show-stopper award for our family float.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Horses, donkeys, all the beasts; transport that pollutes the least.

 A quick film, made for the 48 hour eco-film challenge and pieced together from some shockingly bad quality footage taken with my Samsung Handycam. Have you tried to film the moon on a frosty night with a handycam? The film was made by me on our farm over the weekend, then put together with stills from my own artwork by myself using iMovie. For some strange reason iMovie wasn't processing two thirds of the footage I had taken so there was film I wanted to use which was left out. It has been said that I am no film-maker, but I hope you enjoy some of this weird compilation. At least I tried. 

Reach for the moon, I say. I really don't like the sound of my own voice but I think a lot of people have that problem. I have transcribed the poem which I wrote for the film below. The music was made from samples I made which were produced by MC Fade at his Jerrangle recording studio near Canberra, Australia.
The strangeness of the story is partly because of my bird obsession and partly because I had to include a couple of different things in the plot, to prove that it was made over the correct weekend. I had to have a character called Jacquie Adams who was a social worker and a prop of a pair of sunglasses. All filming and scriptwriting had to be done within the specified 48 hours but entrants were allowed to use previously created still photos which they owned the rights to. For an unprepared film made entirely by myself, I don't think I did too badly. It didn't make the list, but I was up against teams of film-makers which could be any size and came from all over the world.

“Birds…scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth. They know the truth. Screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears, but sadly we don’t speak bird.”
― Kurt Cobain

It's the last full Autumn moon, summer's over, Winter soon
Gaea wants you all to know what you should do is take it slow
Humans, we know change you shirk, so what you need is social work
A sad case-study, humankind, so out of sight and out of mind

Her social workers? Well, we're birds - spying on the human herds
Country, city we are there, in all weather, foul or fair
Mountain, forest, lake or bog, see right through your human smog
Will you save that national park or keep on struggling in the dark?

If you humans think your best, you're ignoring all the rest
The world's not yours, now pay the rent, have some caseload management
I'm here to have a little chat, but how to act? Can't tell you that
I've forms reports and interviews, for information... watch the news

I'm Jacquie Adams, I'm a bird, Earth's in trouble, have you heard?
I'm here to help but it's your choice, come on humans, use your voice
Great Southern Land, you're full of greed, come notice those who live in need
Do not fear the winter cold, but endless heat unless you're bold.

A lifestyle change is not the end, all current rules were made to bend
How do we make this work for us? Can't understand? What's all the fuss?
Ecology, our stewardship, might keep afloat this sinking ship
Remember there were dinosaurs... Change not coming? Change the laws.

Tell me have you seen the sun... have you got your glasses on
Australia, you have got to see, it could provide our energy
Renew, sustain and tell your Pollie, they have got to spend the Lolly
Not on fracking Greenhouse gas or for drilling in the Bass

Group together, be a force, harness up this solar horse
Speaking of the solar horse, it's not the only horse of course
horses have been used for yonks, horses, mules and faithful donks
around the world in every nation, beasts sustain the population

The fuel price gains, the beast remains.
For those without a car or truck, an animal to help means luck,
to carry food or firewood, to plough the field, a livelihood
90 million equine mates help families survive their fates

Their energy's sustainable if you just keep their bellies full,
manure is good for growing crops, no algal blooms from nitrate props.
So take advice from Jacqui Bird, be partners with the equine herd.
High tech low tech, take your pick, the world needs change and make it quick.

How did you get to work today, car or bus, bike, train or sleigh?
And how about the supply chain, where'd you get your beef and grain?
Just count the miles your food must travel, it's a puzzle to unravel,
Chinese peas and US pork, what energy is on your fork?

Potato's not a perfect round? Go plough it back into the ground
Go bulldoze all Australia's North, so goods can travel back and forth,
irrigating shallow soil, tanking up with pure crude oil,
Coles and Woolies, they won't stop, so buy food local when you shop

Cyclone, wildfire, tsunami, just think of how the world might be
You chose fast food I choose slow food, tell me do you really know food
Lifestyle with consumer choices, less iron birds with shrieking voices
We want less waste and much less greed, and definitely much less speed

To save our world will be a plus, that's how we'll make this work for us.
And don't forget to save the trees, we birds all need them, pretty please.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Cyriac Harris animation & Bonobo

Cyriac videos are well worth watching, more at
He uses adobe photoshop and after effects for most of his animation.

Animating an Elephant

I've been looking at ways to do simple animations, not with this style of image, but as a way to animate my 2D drawings. Here's a program which I find interesting, but it needs to be used in conjunction with photoshop so that makes it less simple.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Abstract Expessionism, Drip Painting techniques

 Janet Sobel (1894–1968)  and Jackson Pollock (1912 to 1956) developed the art technique of "drip painting" in the 1940s. Pollock was inspired to experiment with this expressive technique after seeing an exhibition of Sobel's work. Pollock laid his canvases flat on the floor and applied liquid household paints with brushes, sticks and syringes.  Pollock's painting technique moved away from the considered and figurative Western art traditions although later in his work he resurrected figurative content. He claimed that he was influenced by American Indian sandpainting techniques.

When you make art on the ground it changes your view and way of working. If you paint with a large canvas in this way, you move around the area in order to physically paint. This takes the artist out of the traditional Western landscape or portrait genres by subverting the singularity of direction usually implied. The decision as to which direction is vertical or horizontal then becomes more random, a choice made by the artist or viewer.

Earth, Wind, Fire; My Molonglo,  1400 X 1800mm,   Annette Schneider,  May 2012, Acrylic, Decomposed Granite, Quartz and traces of Bogong Moths on Canvas (currently on display at the bushfire memorial exhibition, Mt Stromlo)

I have used drip painting or abstract expressionism as part my artwork, on a car as well as on canvases laid flat on the ground. I find it a very direct and satisfying means of paint application. Using paint in this sort of way requires extreme focus and control, but contains a random element that makes it exciting and dangerous to use, especially outside on a windy day. Janet Sobel often combined figurative elements with the abstract texture in her painting. I also like doing very detailed figurative work, but I often then perform a "slash and burn" abstract around it, drawing in free arcs and "scribbles" or painting directly from the tube, then I usually spend some time on the painting in reflective adjustment of detail.

Family Ties,  1400 X 1800mm,  Annette Schneider,  1998,  Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, 31 May 2013

Silent Film Abstract Expressionism?

I can't quite work out whether I find this video fascinating or dull, I suppose that was the maker's intention

I suppose I find a lot of art dull. The interesting thing is often why the artist creates rather than exactly what they create. If you get a room full of artists being honest about why they create art, whatever the form or media, you will find that there are more similarities than differences between them.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The days when I feel blank

This is a blank page. I am an artist. Lots of artists have problems with blank pages. When I was a teenager I remember feeling a repulsion for blank pages and blank canvases. I would much rather transform a part of my life like my clothes or my surroundings with my art.

Why, I used to think, would anyone bother to paint on a canvas by choice? What is the painting; a framed scene, a fantasy world, movable from one room to another, one house to another, one socio-economic situation to another?

Yes, I came to realise that a painting was mainly for that purpose. It is a piece of movable property. It is the solace of the elderly for whom it is a reminder of days long gone, it is an object of status and pride for the collector or consumer who would be seen as sophisticated or cultured and it can be an investment, easily transportable or easily stolen. Think of all those canvases over thousands of years, sliced from their frames and smeared with the stench of death and corruption.

So a painting or a photograph hanging on the wall is a window into another life or another time for the viewer or owner, but what does it mean to the artist? What is a blank canvas and how does the artist approach it? One could have a vision inside ones head and try to put that down in entirety. Often that approach leads to disappointment, especially for those artists whose technical ability does not match their imagination.

It is daunting for the student of art to approach a blank ground like film, paper or canvas. The more precious the ground, the more daunting the project can be. Ok, the obvious is to plan, preliminary sketches, storyboards etc. That's what most teachers would advise. Planning has never been my strong point, but my visions do usually line up with my technical ability. So... the main problem with planning is that often, when your plans are too thorough, by the time you actually get around to the finished work your ideas are stale and you are thoroughly over it.

There is an opposite approach, slapdash, intuitive, it can lead either to disaster or a fresh new approach. Gird your loins and make a start, somewhere, somehow, place a line, a mark or some symbol with meaning to you and work from there. Just see what happens, surprise yourself, enjoy yourself, don't do your art for anyone else. Don't do it to pass your subject, don't do it to sell, don't do it in emulation of another artist who you think has status and style, just do it because it is what you want to do and what you have to do. That's the only justification for thinking of yourself as an artist, and art is just a concept after all.

See folks, I was feeling blank and I had no idea what to do with this page, but now every paragraph is bigger and bolder than the one preceding it...

The reason that lego lives in cages at our local Ag Shows

Candid camera of two boys with prominent ears trying to reach the model display at Stroud Agricultural Show this year. I did a lot of filming, bits of all sorts of events from the chainsaw contest to the cake auction. Something for me to put on the editing table at a later date. I feel strongly that Australia's local Ag shows should be more documented and publicised as they retain the traditions and community vigour of our country towns.

We go to Ag shows mainly for the showjumping, but I also love to see the Art, Craft, poultry and cookery sections.

National Folk Festival at Easter

Here's how I spent my Easter Break. Volunteering at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, decorating the Session Bar.

Another two volunteers and myself reworked the program cover artwork by David Pope,
who is the cartoonist for the Canberra Times. I enlarged David's inspired cartoon of a musical full moon playing Black Mountain Tower onto mural partitions and then made some folkie silhouette characters of my own to add to David's moon revellers.

Many thanks to Yiannos Catering
who donated a wonderful hot roast banquet to the volunteers, which inspired me to include Yianno and his daughter as characters in the mural.

 The full moon shines over the session musicians...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Black Sheep

Electric Sheep

I don't feel that I will suddenly change the way I make art, just because I am using digital media. Digital art can be as direct as you want it to be. It can be the direct result of recording a raw performance or it can be extremely mediated. A human can program a computer to generate an algorithm based painting or sound piece and create a constant stream of innovation. In between the extremes there is as much scope for creative endeavour as in any field of traditional art. When an artwork is digital it does not mean that the computer is making the decisions.

I am amazed at the beauty of a lot of computer generated images. To me, mathematically based images produced by computers can equal the beauty of the natural environment, but art is not just a means to create beauty. If I was really trying to reproduce nature with my art I would find it frustrating and depressing, but as I am using art as a means of understanding, educating, mediating and expressing my feelings, creating artworks makes me feel a sense of freedom and power.

I have long been interested in Fractal Images and am aware that the mathematician, Mandelbrot, based his fractal theory on the study of coastlines. Fractal art is, like much photography, often classifiable as art only because of simple aesthetic choices that humans have made. An example of this is the "Electric Sheep Project," the free software for screensavers which is actually an evolutionary computer art program through the choices made by the software users.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Home is where the art is

 JUDITH WAS WRIGHT BY A.M. SCHNEIDER, Oil on Canvas, Painted at Weereewa/Lake George

 My art practice disappears into the distance like a Palerang country road. Over 35 years of twisting and turning, embracing every pothole and technical challenge but never staying for long. I feel like the rally driver of the art world. If I look at my art practice in retrospect I can, however, see that it is a road; particularly if I gain enough altitude to map it from the air. There are connecting themes and forms throughout my work, although they can sometimes be hard to spot.

"That's not all the work of one person," says the viewer. "Oh yes it is," say I. There's a juxtaposition of colours and forms which has nothing to do with good taste. I constantly test the limits of whatever media I engage with. Other artists have refined this process and aesthetic, I keep telling myself, study them and learn from their mistakes. You're wasting time in re-inventing the wheel, Nette. Do what you're good at and then do more of it.

So what ... rules are made to be broken. It's only artwork, I'm not really doing any harm by offending the viewer's eye.  Perhaps the thing that makes my art my own is not what the media or subject is, but how the rules are creatively bent. Now I'm out on a new adventure ... bending computer art. Hang on ... it's a brand new field, who made the rules? You don't have to bend the rules, Nette; just invent, create, invent.

... and for a retrospective view of my artwork go to


Home is where the hearth is

Does my bird crash and burn or, exhausted, return to roost?

My parents drove over vast distances, so my knowledge of country came early from the back seat of our car. There was a tale my mother told me of curdled milk when all the shops in all the towns were closed. Parents driving home all through the night along the coast road from Geelong, not able to stop for fear of waking the thirsty howling infant.

Later, I viewed crumbling cottages from the back seat; no windows, gardens or sign of human life. THAT'S where I want to live, in walls of crumbling stone. I'll build a fire, mend a roof, grow a garden; cows, ducks, horses, sheep and chooks.

Now here at my hearth side, surrounded by neighs, baas, clucks, quacks, woofs and miaows, I want to fly the coop once more. Just give me the patience to make strong wings, made not of wax but feather, wire and sushi fish, so I can fly free, dancing over my apocryphal hills, knowing the ones I love are happy there without me and will wait for my return.

As Free as a Bird

I'm not the first person to notice birds, but I am THE bird woman nonetheless. Has my whole life been an attempt to fly?

An early painting my parents kept in the storage above their wardrobe, now marked with the telltale silverfish patina, reveals a lone bird winging above the treetops. The warm ochre walled cottage far below is not to be dismissed from the scene, for how can one escape if there is no frame; no pull of hearth and home?