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?