Get Positive, Throw Caution to the Wind

This blog draft has been hanging around for a while and today I thought I might just do what it recommends!

It’s been a while between blogs and my biggest fan recently asked me what’s been happening! I told her I’m not sure whether to continue or not. Is “it” about the process of making art or composing blog posts? I tend towards making art and not blogs really. We’ll see.

Anyway, to the subject at hand.

Is it always a good idea to throw caution to the wind?

Is it much different to being out of control?

Perhaps you knowingly venture into these new areas. You explore them with more purpose and thought. They aren’t just foisted upon you, directionless, aimless and far too wide ranging to be of real use. I’ve heard it said that exploration with limits is more productive and beneficial.


In favour of the case for throwing caution to the wind the following examples are offered.


Some new toys arrived, two rubbery wedges! Ideas for using them on Google seemed samey and unexciting, so I decided to just slap some paint down on the paper and move it about with them. To allow for maximum chance of some form of success I used a big sheet of paper. It means you can happily scrape and spread paint with large arm movements. It seemed to be using a lot of paint though, but I kept going as some rather lovely marks were happening. My soluble graphite crayon and a spiral stamp got a look in during the creative fenzy too!


It soon became obvious that you need to stop before you make a big muddy mess. Several large pieces of paper later it suddenly dawned on me … I had no idea what to do with them next. “Think about it” I thought …… Nope, no ideas were forthcoming. So, I set out with some white paint on my brush to follow wherever the lines and forms within the image took me. The exercise revealed a landscape and I thought “Ok, I can work with this!”


Throughout my art adventure there have been several memorable points where I seemingly threw caution to the wind. One of the earliest, I think, would be trying a new style of sketching. I’ve previously referred to it in Drivepast Sketching – Our Journey Begins and it was well worth the experiment. From very early on I “knew” that it was going to lead me somewhere new. There was no indication of where, but I could feel it.


This is what turned up, sometime later (below). It’s a mingling of the sketches with things that happened elsewhere in my art. It turned these sketches into something more, something different. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t decided to sketch differently.

Can you see how these feed into the wedgy piece I painted later (above)?


Another early experiment uncovered a way to compose images using the markings on Richea Pandanifolia leaves. (It’s a native plant here in Tasmania and grows at higher, colder altitudes. Look it up and you’ll see why I like it.) Well, this wasn’t an experiment as such initially, more of a stumbling! I had lots of photos of these leaves and I’d spread them out to find what I liked best. The process was a jumble of photos on the table, all overlapping and arranged randomly. Could some of these be compositions to use? Or, could the idea be explored to find compositions? Or both? It was a completely new idea for me and, I think, the first radical move away from traditional landscapes.


I tried it and really enjoyed the process of finding compositions, creating the art and, luckily, I liked my creations. Another similar coloured pencil painting, “Richea Pandanifolia in Focus” features in the first issue of Studio News.

The painting below, “The Landscape Within” is a further development of the theme. I’m wondering now if this idea will come back and take me on another journey. The markings on these leaves are very abstract. Mmmm…..!


Back to the wedges. Putting paint directly onto the painting surface from the tube often results in too much paint to handle. What to do? Oh well, scrape it off? No, it’ll turn to mud! What to do with it then? Why not just slap another sheet of paper on top of it, like a Rorschach image, and see what happens? So I did. It was so insignificant at the time that I didn’t take photos, but this is the result. A little thought, turning it upside down, more mark making and finding the skyline and “Veil” was there. It won an award and sold earlier this year!


Sketchbooks are another place for experimentation and play. You can do whatever you like and no one ever needs to see it. Recently, on a trip away, I decided to sketch as quickly and as minimally as possible. On the same trip I decided to do sketches one on top of the other. Whether these will lead anywhere remains to be seen.


Not to forget the case against.

It’s not always pretty folks and it can be soul destroying, if you let it. There have been many times when experiments have led to abandoning ideas and pieces of paper in the bin, or even in the fire! Some might be kept for collage fodder or for working over later. Sometimes, though, binning a piece is the most sensible way to go. Best if you never see it again!


As far as reuse goes. Often, when you come to reuse these abandoned pieces you are far more likely to “throw caution to the wind” and have a really good go at it.

We just turned the case against into an arguement for telling ourselves, “what the heck” and going with the flow! “Genesis” (below) is a result of just that.


Throwing caution to the wind can be easier in some circumstances than others. It also depends on your mood, but I reckon it’s a habit worth developing. You never know where it will lead and as I’ve found, even your worst pieces can be used to get you into that free state of happy playful creativity.

I wish you heaps of happy and successful creating!

If you would like to view the work I have available please go to Bluethumb.

You can always see what I’m up to at Wendy Galloway Art on Instagram or Facebook.

Who Moved the Goal Posts?

When is creative work finished? It’s a question that is almost as frustrating as asking what the meaning of life is!

In an attempt to figure it out, we’ll follow five stages of “Vestige” as it goes from the “oh my goodness” stage to “ok, I see what’s needed” and on to completion

There are some creative pursuits where you know the finish point when you begin. They generally don’t tend to allow for much initiative or alteration along the way. Things like knitting to a pattern or building a house for instance. The creativity tends to happen prior to beginning the actual work. Thus, once you begin creating the “creation” you have a plan showing exactly where you need to head in order for your project to end successfully. Art, as in fine art, is not always like that.

As you can see there definitely wasn’t a plan for “Vestige”! Drastic measures were necessary after the above bout of intuitive play!

In the past my art was always planned, as mentioned previously, but now it is freer, led by what happens from minute to minute. It’s a great way to work. There’s more freedom, experimentation, questioning, playing and dreaming. However, it does mean that the “finished” stage can either jump out at you unexpectedly or, on the other hand, remain so elusive as to almost drive you mad!

Some artists, myself included, will often say that their art is telling them what it wants. What this really means is that we can either see what is needed, or we can’t. In which case the work gets done or we wait for “something” to occur to us. Often, the wait is long and tedious, as it was with “Vestige”! If you look closely around the upper left central area of the above photo you will see a small patch of light green. That patch could have inadvertently been covered in the painting frenzy but it remained visible to “tell me something”. You can see what I did with the idea in the finished painting below.

Since starting to work this way it has been difficult to accept that one piece in a series might be finished very quickly while another will test my patience severely, like “Vestige” did.

This piece “Hushed” is a collage on canvas and was finished right after the first piece of paper went on. (A large piece of tissue that I had prepared as part of a collage paper making session.) I stood there unsure, thinking it looked done, but I hadn’t done enough work, had I? It shouldn’t feel finished yet, should it?

It’s sister piece (above) which you’ve seen before remained “unfinished”. It didn’t feel done and sat around taunting me for a few weeks. How could I make it feel “finished”?

I didn’t want to overwork it but at the same time it felt like something was needed. Should it be left aside for later review or succumb to the changes that were lurking in my mind. The fact that the changes didn’t feel “solid” made me hesitate. I wasn’t even sure which way was up!

Eventually, a decision was made to add some collage to the sides of the canvas and reassess things after that. It didn’t alter the face of the canvas, but the sides now look finished!

There’s still uncertainty over this one. Maybe it might tell me it’s title and all will come together and make sense!

New Art Listings

Recently added on Bluethumb. Click the image to see more.

“Feeling Frosty” 40cm square

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Diversification – A Bit of Carpentry

As a general rule, being an artist and making art means displaying it for others to see.  That exercise involves framing, packaging in a matboard mount or attaching it to something else that can be hung on a wall.

New frames can be a very costly exercise and I seldom use them these days. Cradled wooden panels have become my preferred way to display work.

Currently, I work on heavy cartridge paper using acrylic paint and mixed media.  It means more paintings can be started and allows greater freedom and spontaneity because, “it’s just a piece of paper”.  The paintings, if successful, then require framing or mounting on cradled wooden panels like the one below (reverse side pictured).

Here we have a difficulty.  You cannot buy large sizes of these cradled panels easily where I live and if you can they seem to be quite flimsy and warp easily.  Thus, they are best made to order. I decided to learn the craft myself.  Luckily, my husband has helped a lot. Also, a friend has gone down this track before me and has been able to give me some tips! Check out her art at gayeoakes.com

Like any new task this one involved some planning and the gathering of various bits and pieces: mitre saw, plywood, lengths of wood for the cradle on the back, glue, sandpaper, nails, filler, hammer, clamps and a ruler. My new Bessey variable size clamp is shown below.  A slight rearrangement of the studio was necessary to allow room to move with lengths of timber.  A heavy strong table to work on helps too.

I’ve made several panels now and it seems to be going ok.  Smaller sized panels are easier because there’s no need for bracing the cradle to prevent warping.  However, larger sizes require cross bracing as shown above. 

Frustrations, so far, have been in the form of balancing perfectionism and budding woodwork skills.  They tell me it’s going pretty well, all things considered, which is good.

Taking on new tasks initially involves learning.  After that comes a settling in period where you are improving, refining skills and work methods.  The hope is to make everything streamlined and straight forward.  Plus, hopefully, speed the process up a bit.  Well, one aims for that at least!

This is the clamp in action (above) and a small finished panel (below) which is ready to have a painting attached.

I’m enjoying the process so far.  Let’s hope that continues because “someone” needs to make them!

Yes, I’m still making art as well! 

Here’s a collage that started as a first layer for “something”.  Sometimes, these first steps stump me.  They can look like they’re almost done when I’ve just began.  It’s most perturbing for someone that likes to “get their teeth into things”! We’ll have to wait and see what eventuates here.

Just to balance things out a bit, here’s one where a third “let’s start again” layer isn’t doing it for me!

New Work

These new pieces were listed on Bluethumb recently.

All the Rest is Sky” 40cm square
Sanctuary in Monochrome” 40cm square

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When “It” Strikes You Down

It can happen any time these days!  Viruses are lurking everywhere!  Not the digital kind, the ones that actually affect our physical health.  The effects they have on our art can seem far worse than those on our health!  At least to us artists anyway.

You don’t have the energy to do much but your mind is still inspired and rearing to go.  Often there will be little things you can do as you laze around lamely awaiting your emergence “on the other side”…. ways to maintain contact with your art spirit. 

During down periods there are several, not so innovative, ways to keep going regardless.  Well, some of the time at least.  Things that help maintain the art spirit while the body navigates the virus.

Sketching is one thing that only requires the amount of time and energy you are prepared to give.  There are a few scattered about here from a trip made while accompanied by “it”.

Another thought that emerged was books.  (There are plenty on the shelves!)  So, bearing the current state of art affairs in mind they presented themselves for selection.  My art life is several decades long and the shelves are many.  There’s a lot of already covered material in there, but plenty of new stuff too.  Mind you, I’m never one to shy away from going back to basics.

This is what jumped out.

Colour:  It’s been on the “get better at this” list for years, so out came a few books to sift through for interesting stuff.  I’ll just admit first up that there won’t be any formal colour mixing exercises happening!

“Colour Choices, Making Color Sense Out of Colour Theory”, Stephen Quiller – I might try using pure colours with semi neutrals! There’s a section on inner vision where he says “each painting and each inner vision must follow its own course”.  Does that mean I can just throw paint about?

“Color Harmony in Your Paintings”, Margaret Kessler – It seems I’m interested in intensity at present.  There’s also some planning stuff here that makes sense if you aren’t up to flying by the seat of your pants!  Maybe there is a happy place somewhere in between planning and complete freedom?

“Confident Color” and “Exploring Color Workshop”, Nita Leyland – These two books are similar.  They both look at various palettes and how to use them.  My favourite parts were those dealing with contrasts and unifying colour and design.

Content:  More particularly emotional, personal content, which is what I think is needed in abstract art. 

Gerald’s book takes you on an indepth study of how to access emotional content in landscape painting.  However there’s a lot there that you can interpret from an abstract perspective.  I wonder, can it be applied retrospectively.  That is after I’ve had my frenzied play sessions!  The key takeaway seems to be – really feel what you’re trying to communicate.

Abstraction:  Just doing it is ok, but that can feel a bit shallow or unskilled, even when backed up by your past art experience.  This book takes you through the principles and elements of composition as they relate specifically to abstract painting.  It’s an indepth look at how to go about learning to paint abstracts.

There are sections on working from reality to abstraction and the other way around.  Rolina writes that, with abstract painting, there are two places to start:  content with no relationship to reality and content that is related to reality.  She talks about “stock in trade” which is your store of visual information (visual memory).  It allows you to work from your imagination while having a solid background to draw upon.  I’ve definitely felt a lack in that regard before!  Is that why it feels like I’m winging it sometimes?

Videos:  You don’t even need the energy to hold a book and turn pages!  But, be warned it can go on forever!  However, there are gems to be found, which is why down time helps.

Ok, so I have a secret yearning for printing.  I like the vitality and fun feel of FroyleArts videos (gelli printing, art journaling etc) (still from the video shown above). The ideas are yet to be used, but they’re there!  Plus she cheers you up when you’re feeling unwell!

(Still from the Ryan Jensen video, link below)

I stumbled upon “Art School Live with Eric Rhoads” and this video featuring Ryan Jensen.  Loved it!  It’s not short (about 50 min) but he has some great advice to offer.  How can anyone paint such paintings so nonchalantly?  He really does make it sound and look easy! 

Free workshops:  You can just watch if you choose.

Judy Woods’ stARTs course  Judy runs a free taster which I have participated in previously.  This time I wanted to look at it more from my own perspective.  You know, change a few bits and pieces.  But … enter a virus, which turned it into more of a watching exercise where I generated ideas to try later.  I did, however manage to do some of what was on offer while adding my own touch.  It certainly encouraged ideas and I’m looking forward to working more on the “starts” that were made.  I think the stARTs course sounds great, but, just not for me at the moment.

These two images (above and below) are stalled at the second stage of proceedings while the other brownish one (above) is still at stage one.

When I look back at all this perusing, I feel like good use was made of the down time.  There’s quite a bit to explore as a result!

Now, all we need is recovery with plenty of energy and action.

New listing on Bluethumb.

Exploration in Blue and Yellow” 40cm square

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Start Strong and Follow Your Intuition

Enthusiasm is usually pretty high when beginning new work.  That was the case with this painting.  Let’s see what happened along the way and what seems to have eventuated.

It started with some fun wedge marks using “in your face” Indian yellow. Cheerful, but a bit much all over things eh!

Sticking with “in your face” colour I applied red gold and white, along with some graphite lines. Scratching about to create some texture seemed like a good idea too.

I couldn’t get away from the strong colour so I thought, ok, stick with it. On went some pthalo turquoise and white in a frenzy of mark making. Oh well! That was fun, but mmm? What now?

No! I thought. That’s enough killer colour! So, now, how to deal with it? Easy option …. wedge on some white, not to thickly cover it, but to take the edge off. After that it cried out for some glazing. So, I obliged using a little red gold, not much, and some Indian yellow.

When I say not much red gold I mean only a little glazing-wise, but those stronger lines were added as well. It was a risk I took and I think it paid off. The lines provide a nice structure.

It might be finished (above) but I’m going to wait a short time to see if my completion comfort level changes. It’s a fairly busy painting which feels a little unsettling.

(Detail)

If the painting sits well after a break it’ll be declared done and take its place on Bluethumb. There’s a slight question in my mind about whether to highlight or push back some parts, or perhaps a bit of both.

(Detail)

The beauty of waiting a while is that, usually, as soon as you look at it again, you know exactly how you feel. The break provides a bit of emotional distance and allows you to view things objectively as well as letting your intuition have a say if it feels inclined.

Ok, what’s next?

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Devotion Pays Off

I’m talking fine art here, but these thoughts could apply to numerous creative pursuits.

Have you ever looked back over your creative time and noticed unintended links and developments in your work?

Often it’s not until some time later that you realise previous work has led to or influenced new work. Follow the progression through these pieces that I worked on over a period of eight years from 2014 to 2022.

It makes me think about the times when you think there’s nothing exciting to do. All the old things seem boring, like they’ve run their course and there’s nothing new presenting itself that’s worth attacking with gusto.

It’s times like those when devotion to making art comes into play, consciously or not. Not just for the fun, exciting times, but the whole box and dice of good and bad times. Those weeks, months or years of work sit quietly in place influencing you. That place can be a box, a sketchbook, your photos, in a frame on the wall, or your subconscious, your journal, your memory, anywhere!

When I say devotion, I realise you cannot know whether your subconscious is playing the game. But, it seems to me that if I’m consciously focussed on art, my subconscious is too. I know this because art ideas will spring to mind and I can tell they’ve come from past work. And, it won’t be ideas for sewing, which I’ve done in the past, or what to eat for dinner that night.

Of course, being “in” and doing your work helps your conscious brain think about what’s next too. It’s like two brains!

When you realise you’ve been working on a piece and have been influenced by past work it feels somehow comforting. It’s knowing there’s a thread running through things that is yours and yours alone. You’re creating authentic, original pieces that nobody else ever could. Sure they can copy afterwards, but it was yours first.

I can hear you asking, “But what about artists you’ve been influenced by?” Fair question. I don’t copy other artists, but I’m obviously going to be influenced by them. But, it’ll be in a way that is individual to me, combined with all my other influencing factors.

The good thing about all this is that things beget things! “Working” creates momentum, internally and externally. You just have to keep going for it to happen!

Exhibitions

For the Hobartians among you. The Art Society of Tasmania’s Annual Exhibition is opening on Friday night. Click here and scroll down to find out about it.

Juggler” 67cm x 97cm is one of my entries. It’s actually another painting in the development series I’m talking about here.

New art on Bluethumb

Summer Rain” 20cm square
“Leftovers” 30cm square

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Sending Your Work Out Into The World

Things get busy when there are exhibitions lurking about!  It’s been a busy time preparing work for several exhibitions, as well as getting the four small paintings below ready to go to Miss Bond, a lovely shop in the Salamanca Arts Centre here in Hobart.

“Tryst”, “Around and About”, “Rendezvoux” and “Orbit” all 20cm x 20cm square

I really enjoy painting these little paintings.  They’re so crisp and playful.

On another playful note, here are three of them on display at Miss Bond accompanied by shadows and reflections.

These two paintings (below) have been dropped off for the bi-annual Clarence Open Art Exhibition which is on from 2 to 24 July 2022. It’s held at Rosny Farm Art Centre and Rosny Barn in Rosny Park.

“Veil” 60cm wide x 70cm high

Just before publishing this “Studio News” I visited the Exhibition. While I was standing near “Veil” a collector arrived with one of the exhibition organisers to place a red “sold” dot under it! I wonder, what are the chances of a sale happening with the artist there on a casual visit and standing not far away from the painting?!

Back to business ….. To facilitate the hanging of “Party at the Gorge I needed a large cradled panel.  I’m pleased to say that I was able to pull off that minor feat of carpentry with help from a friend and my husband.

“Party at The Gorge” 67cm wide x 70cm high

At one of the art get togethers that I attend, we recently had a covid variety Cancer Council fund-raiser. Usually, it’s a morning tea for all the various groups that frequent the Centre but, as we all know, covid changes things.

This year it was decided to have everyone work, in their groups, on specially chosen master works by artists like Picasso, Vermeer etc. We were all given an outline copy of the artwork to work on in whatever way we chose. You can see some of the results below. Our room sure looked brighter when they were all put up. For the privilege of this experience, we each made a donation, and supplied ourselves with morning tea.

It was a great idea, something different, and very interesting to see the variety of approaches that were taken. Mine is a mixture of collage and paint (below). It’s after one of Picasso’s Weeping Woman paintings. Others used materials from their area of expertise, such as fabric and wool. One was entirely collage, another completely monochrome, everyone’s choices varied greatly. It really got some creative juices flowing. Lots of fun! Some “Weeping Women” looked positively distraught, others less so.

I’ve had a forced break from art for a couple of weeks but I’m back in the saddle now.

There are more paintings to prepare for coming exhibitions, cradled panels to be constructed and new works to begin. An artist’s work is never done. That is, if you can call it work!

New art on Bluethumb.

Only one listing since the last Studio News but I have more to finalise. Another job for the list!

“Within the Boundary” 40cm x 40cm square

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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How to Feed Your Creative Beast

There are many ways. Some artists express their emotions, some explore political or social views. For others it’s nature – living creatures of all sorts, botanical, geographical, meteorological. Still others are into representing humans in all their pictorial glory or perhaps still life. You must to find your own authentic muse and cultivate it.

So, how does that and fill your creative well with inspiration and enthusiasm? We all know that feeling of seemingly having nothing, absolutely nothing, that feels like our “thing”. It’s soul destroying to say the least.

Has our muse left us to our own devices? A scary proposition for some no doubt. I’ve been in that place more often than I care to remember. However, these days I seem to have reached a place where there are a reasonable amount of creative ideas waiting to be born. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

How do you do it? Does it just happen? Is it a struggle or can it come easy?

Firstly, it isn’t a struggle. Trying too hard won’t help. And no, it doesn’t just happen. It can come easily though, well, easier than you think! There are some things that can get in the way however …. perfectionism or waiting for the “right” thing or time. Better to experiment! Try things, have fun and enjoy the journey to your creative energy.

As a landscape inspired artist who also bends to the whims and wishes of my “art”, I fill my creative well as I create art. Each piece or series of pieces leads me forward. I find new inspiration and ideas in almost every piece of art I make, be it a painting or sketch. Even if the inspiration arises from a disaster!

The other way I find my muse or muses is to venture out into the landscape. Feel it, be in it, experience all that goes on. While there, I will sketch and ideas will begin to present themselves. There’s also photography, like the shots you see above. It allows you to visually capture your surroundings. What it does not do is help instil the whole experience of being IN the landscape like painting or sketching does. Even a quick scribble sketch can do that. Perhaps they capture the feeling best of all because they’re often done quickly and the marks are made with speed and abandon.

Sketches are a great way to refill your empty creative cup. The act of making a sketch or painting en plein air can be exhilarating and set your mind on track to plenty of creative ideas.

To summarise, immerse yourself in your artmaking and follow your intuition, it will lead you to your creative power.

See my new work on Bluethumb (below).

“A Rock and A Hard Place” 20cm wide x 24.5 high
“Within the Boundary” 40cm square

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Bringing Things Back Into Line

Or, it can be more like bringing yourself back into line! Painting can definitely be a combination of both.

This one started freely with hope, a sense of excitement, free gestural wedge marks and fun graphite lines.

Collage felt like just the thing so I decided to play about on top of the paint and graphite.

Now what? Some digital fiddling perhaps? It can be fun, if not time consuming, looking for designs using a photo editing app …. could really lead you astray!

After digital play time, I decided to use one of the weird imaginary landscape designs I had “found”. Who knows how the mind of an artist works!?

Ok, so that just didn’t do it for me.

How to remedy the situation and bring it back into line so to speak? There were several choices, as there always are.

  • Bring it back into line by covering the whole lot and starting afresh, ie kill it
  • Use more collage on top
  • Do some more wedgy play on top, or
  • Get busy and sand it back a bit, or a lot.

Sanding sounded adventurous so I went with that option. After sanding for a while it started to look and feel better. Perhaps we are onto something here! It took longer than you’d think to hand sand it back to something that seemed acceptable. The painting is on paper, but the paper seems able to take a beating. Anyway, this was the result.

The artist is happy now it seems …. might put it in a local art society exhibition if I can get it mounted on a cradled wooden panel in time.

All went well, but after carefully glueing it to a panel and weighing it down overnight I discovered bubbles under the paper. NOT happy! The damn thing is fighting back! If the bubbles can’t be fixed it’s the end of going in the exhibition and (the painting doesn’t realise this) but it’s the end of it too. (It would have to be removed from the panel which isn’t pretty.)

After another unscheduled “bringing it back into line” assignment (which is a rather voodoo doll like exercise) and resealing it, we have the painting below – “Feeling Frosty”, a slightly smaller, cropped version, all stuck down neatly on a white cradled panel and ready to hang in the exhibition.

All this toing and froing is inevitable, but it’s part of the joy of making art. I guess it’s similar to being out of control! There are, however, varying degrees of control and frustrations in art, or lack of them, as the case may be. Artists’ moods, temperaments and how they “cope” with these experiences also vary. Do you give up, or, continue, have fun and hope for the best? What might be sheer joy to one of us delicate creatures will send the next one mad! Indeed, I myself have moved from the mad camp to the joy camp. Well, I like to think that’s where I am most of the time.

Happy creating!

These new paintings of mine are now listed for sale on Bluethumb.

“Switchback” 22cm wide x 22cm high
“Party at the Gorge” 67cm wide x 70cm high

Subscribe here to receive fortnightly issues of “Studio News”.

Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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