Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The first pancake

Have you ever noticed that the first pancake of the batch tastes the best, even if it’s slightly misshapen, lumpy and odd? Some people don’t like the first pancake and throw it away. But I wish every pancake could be the first pancake. First pancakes are the best.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Catch a tree killer

I couldn’t believe it. They were tearing it down mercilessly. I had to look away as though I had seen a brutal car accident. The neighbour’s tree is now a pile of logs.

I’ve always felt a bit sick whenever I see a massive, old tree being chopped down. Inside my head I’m screaming, ‘But it took so long to grow. Don’t worry about the roots buckling up your footpath. Now you won’t have any shade. It was so beautiful. Won’t you miss it? Stop, you tree killer..!’

Another part of me knows that they had their reasons. Maybe the tree was diseased and dying, dropping heavy and dangerous limbs too close to the house at random moments? Maybe it was an environmental weed and its presence meant that native flora was struggling to find its place? Who knows?

Goodbye tree. Thanks for all of the oxygen, shade, beauty, wind protection and for being a lovely home for birds and insects. Now I have another good reason to plant more trees.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Reflective distance

This is the theory.

The more control you have over your art material, the more time you have to think about what you’re doing when you’re making a mark. The messier your material, then the less time you have to intellectualise, and therefore this is the way to access your emotions and if you like, unconscious imagery. And if you’re using a tool to make the image, like a pen or paintbrush, then the physical distance created between you and the image also contributes to your ability to second guess yourself and analyse what you’re doing. If on the other hand you are touching the art material directly with your hands as in the case with clay work or finger painting, you increase your chance of spontaneous expression.

That’s the theory, anyway

So here is a portrait, one side using the most controllable tool, a fineliner pen. Lots of time to think about what I’m doing there. Neat, clean, graphic. Creating form through suggestion and leaving white space to do the talking. The other side uses a soft pencil. Still an easily controllable tool, but one step removed from the fineliner due to its ability to move a bit quicker and create light and shade.

In recent years I find myself drawn to art materials that allow more reflective distance. Not out of a conscious decision, but rather because I love the look of stark contrast of black ink against crisp white paper with touches of soft watercolour. In the past I was very heavy handed with the oil paint, working quickly and alternating between brushstrokes and finger marks.

When I draw now, I try to create images that have ‘breath’ to them. That is, I don’t want to fill in all the blanks, I don’t feel the need to explain it all in the image. Not sure if the reflective distance theory is being applied with what I do now. But one thing I know is that a pen and small sketchbook is easier to carry around than a canvas and easel.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Create or die

I’ve seen it before. I mean, it did come out in 2007, but I have to express my love for the movie Eagle vs Shark. Directed by Taika Waititi and starring Jermaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) and Loren Horsley, Eagle vs Shark captures something about relationships that we stop noticing as we become adults. I’m talking about when there was plenty of time to just hang out with each other, when we accepted idiosyncrasies readily and when we were unafraid to express our likes, dislikes and needs in plain and simple words.

Do you remember being a kid and having a friend come over for a visit? Do you remember showing off your prized possessions as a way of sharing yourself, proudly describing the origins, meaning or purpose of treasured objects? Well, when Jarrod shows Lily his unusual handmade candles and states, ‘I guess I’ve gotta keep creating or I’ll just die’, Lily is genuinely impressed. And so am I. You said it, Jarrod. You said it.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Slow down and listen

I could only get am radio. In my first car, that is. Music was a big deal to me back then and so, am radio troubled me. To me, it was out-dated, old and irrelevant. Out of sheer desperation I tried station after station. I listened to announcers who paused for way-too-long-between-sentences. I laughed as listeners rang up for talkback, giving their opinions on young people today in stern and cautionary voices.

As I slowly opened my ears, a strange thing happened. The more I listened, the more I fell in love with this slow paced world of am radio with its prepaid funeral package ads and community announcements for senior citizens. But it was the music that changed me. It had an innocence. The melodies and harmonies were more complex than I initially thought and the lyrics told a story that were sweet, sad, poignant and meaningful. The strange juxtaposition of a cheery melody against tales of losing a loved one to another just made my heart soar.

So the other day, years after my conversion to am radio I heard an announcer say this quote by someone unknown. ‘If you don’t stand for something, you could fall for anything.’ See what I mean, you can learn a lot from slowing down and taking your time to listen.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A job for the Queensland bottle tree

It happened. It really happened. It rained and rained. The wind was terrible. People were trapped, clasping onto whatever they could to stay afloat, above the water and safe. Awful, awful, awful. My thoughts go out to the families who have lost loved ones. If only this Queensland bottle tree could soak up and store some of that water and make it easier for everyone affected by the Queensland floods. I hope that sunny days reach you very soon.