Each of us needs to find our element- the place where things we love to do and things we are good at, come together

Archive for the category “Figure studies”

Self- portraits

When one starts from a portrait and seeks by successive eliminations to find pure form….one inevitably ends up with an egg ( Pablo Picasso). I am not so sure about pure form but there is a lot of the egg in this one….rather elongated! So,I just closed my eyes and pushed the camera button because suddenly there seemed to be so much that needs fixing! Now, the whole point of the exercise is the time limit and the colour restrictions, so, no fixing allowed! Only 4 colours used here: black, red, yellow ochre and white. Very easy to mix mud!

Oh well, I have decided to be more kind to myself. Life is tough enough as it is. Somehow that new gentle approach seems to have found its way into this portrait? It is kind of soft…. What do you think?

By the way, I appreciate very single visitor and follower, so my apologies for the irregular postings. One fine day, not to far from now, all will be back on track.


Finally. Atmosphere. Moody! Dark! Done in less than the allocated time (as you can see). It reminds me of that line in a song from way back when, ” I see a Bad Moon Rising…” Ha ha!

I am in good company however. This is what President Lyndon B Johnson had to say about having his portrait painted in 1967 by Peter Hurd. He only allowed Hurd one sitting, during which he fell asleep! Hurd hence had to use photographs of Johnson to finish the painting. Johnson did not like his self-portrait, declaring it ” the ugliest thing I ever saw”.

Before the best emerges, we get the worst, or did I just make that up? You can’t deny that it has some atmosphere, eh?


Self- Portraits

Now where were we? Portrait painting. Keeping the smile. Painting the atmosphere . Using unusual colour combinations. Loose strokes? Finding comfort in famous quotes…

I haven’t painted many trees but this one rather speaks to me:
“I have painted many portraits of people and I have painted many portraits of trees. Trees are more tranquil to work with, never demanding, never complaining their portrait doesn’t look right.” (Cosbie)

I kept thinking, this doesn’t look like me. So. I cheated. Yep, I don’t normally do that kind of thing but I’m afraid I did. Did it help? No,Not really. Want to know what I did? I used a photograph. It is probably allowed but not on my mission, which was painting from life. So what happened ? You did ask me that didn’t you? Well, my proportions went even more haywire, I hit mud ( poor colour mixing), and I couldn’t resist the temptation to nip and tuck and lick and spit and fiddle and and….

This much I can say: the next one has a ton of atmosphere , you just wait here patiently and I will show you soon…



I find it rather difficult to paint myself. Also, I try to put on a friendly face but as I go along it seems to settle into a rather serious look, so to keep on painting and smiling turned out to be quite a mission. And the colours are foreign to me… And I keep wondering, do I really look like that? When is it going to look like me? And yes, I was taught not to start sentences with ” and” , so let’s get that out of the way! And to top all that, I keep wondering how much time I have left ( put a time restriction on myself as you may remember )

I am beginning to agree with Umberto Boccioni who said,” A portrait, to be a work of art, neither must nor may resemble the sitter…one must paint its atmosphere . I think to myself, ” Wonderful, exactly right! It is after all also merely an exercise!” And then I wonder….does it show any atmosphere?!

All I can say is, wait till you see the rest! Atmosphere developing plus a few other things…



We met in my first week of arriving in the hot, dry, north western Australian town of
Karratha. Unique, beautiful, always perky, head held high no matter what the temperature
was or how isolated the location. I was reminded of the saying by Mary Engelbreit:
‘Bloom where you are planted’. We were the exact opposite. One flourished irrespective
of the conditions, the other struggled to bloom…

Backlit desert peas

Backlit desert peas


Sturt’s desert pea, formerly called “Swainsona formosa”, “Formosa” being the Latin for
“beautiful” is the state flower of South Australia. A stunningly vibrant and unique
wildflower that is a slow growing, creeping plant with stems and leaves appearing soft
grey due to a covering of fine hairs. The leaf-like flowers stand upright on tall fleshy
stalks. The large pea flower can be various shades from bright orange to deep red, each
with a bulbous black centre, or “boss”. It is mostly low-growing but I saw several that
grew taller, more shrub-like.

Desert pea fruit: legumes

Desert pea fruit: legumes

My initial photographs were the usual happy snaps that I took on my morning walks to practise
painting flowers. It was only after I had painted them and realised how abundant and unique
they were, that I started paying closer attention but all the stop starts to take photographs
did not lead to much exercise so I am sad to say that I have a lot of photographs but not
many that do the desert pea true justice

The troops advancing...low crawling!

The troops advancing…low crawling!


“I am not altogether displeased with the shirt-front”…. Paul Cezanne, after 115 sittings for a portrait of Ambriose Vollard!

I am a list maker. If you suffer from the same affliction, you may be familiar with the good and the bad of it. It leads to two things: satisfaction in getting the job done and ticking it off the list, or procrastination….and in procrastination lies a little fear of failure and a lot of seeking perfection (among other things). So, a series of self-portraits has been on my list since day one and I have successfully ignored it so far! I have however, done or dabbled in most of the other things on my To Do List, like fruit, boats, flowers, landscapes, etc. and a lot of those have remained as friends to be re-visited every now and then. Current best friend being flowers…with just a touch of friction building up!

It was very difficult to start (having played around with flowers for so long) so I decided to 1) do it on paper (not wasting canvas), 2) go for unfamiliar colours, and 3) set a time limit of 90 minutes. Ouch! They are meant to be exercises, not great works of art! Once my time is up, I am not allowed to go back and fix. That is quite a challenge.

So, here is no 1 and like any good story……to be continued….!!

Very yellow. Very wary of the artist!

Very yellow. Very wary of the artist!

The King

When I am weak ... Oil on canvas 90 x 100cm SoldWhen I am weak, He comes forth, ablaze with power…

When I am weak... Oil on canvas 90 x 100 cm SoldWhen I am weak... Oil on canvas 90 x 100 cm Sold


Not a good week to paint with all this moving …but as always, I continue painting in my mind,

ever searching for that loose stroke, the same as saying as much as possible in a few words. So

I took a trip down memory lane. Some good, some bad. A nice splash of yellow left untouched.





I hear the drops faintly go blip…blip….blip. I stare into the darkness, feeling the utter silence

that amplifies each sound. I can feel him. I can smell him, but he does not make a move.

An eternity passes, years added to my life without me having a say in it.

I am no longer afraid.

I get up and walk to the door and keep walking into the dark night.

I know I will find my way.


Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: