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.

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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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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Two Ways You Can Influence Yourself

During a recent break from social media I thought about what my free time was bringing to my creativity.  A wandering mind is a curious thing.

This photo and the compilation image of four sketches below it are from a recent wander at Mt Field National Park. Lots of inspiration and influence up there!

The first thing I noticed about my social media break was that all the stuff I didn’t see wasn’t influencing my art.  Fair observation I guess, even if rather obvious!

The good thing about that observational gem is that I found myself being influenced by my own work.  (It’s a never ending circular type phenomenon …. if you let it happen.)  I was forced to think more within myself.  Solutions and ideas weren’t available at the click of a button, nor were they offering themselves uninvited on my screen.

Images such as the one below provide real life influences. These Pencil Pines (Athrotaxis cupressoides) are listed as vulnerable because their population is decreasing.  I love their form.  Even the dead ones are inspiring. Look at how those plants in the foreground are hugging the rock.  There’s a feeling of desperation.)

Something else I do is encourage or allow inspiring “what if?” thoughts to turn up.  They’re related to my art on the whole and often provide me with an exciting new direction to explore.  Sometimes, it’s just an intuitive feeling that “something” is going to come, soon, if I just let it happen. With more free time the “what ifs” began to turn up more often.

What if I throw down some collage before I start my plein air sketch?  So I chose some collage paper I thought was suitable and glued it down.  The “what if” became a “wonder if”. I wonder if this idea will take me somewhere new?

What if I draw as I’m walking along the beach? Literally …. because there’s little to trip over! And, what if I overlap the drawings? “Salty” the duck was doing her own “what if”. She was foraging for food in the wet sand at the waterline.

What if by the end of my break away from looking at the screen, I am able to breakaway from some of the stuff that often keeps my art predictable?  (From my point of view at least.)  What if it feels more authentically mine?

A “what if?” is by nature something new that you haven’t thought of or done before.  So, presumably, it could lead you somewhere you haven’t been yet.

Amazing how more time and quiet, subconscious, consideration can put a spark in your thoughts and your art! 

New Work

Here are several new pieces that have been listed for sale on Bluethumb. Click the images for more information.

“Verdant” 68cm wide x 71cm high
“Romp” 71cm wide x 68cm high
“On the Face of It” 66cm wide x 67cm high
“Forces at Play” 98cm wide x 68cm 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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Sticky Situations

Have you ever been plagued by being stuck, unable to move forward? Desperately wanting to run towards your dream but, somehow, unable to move. A ball and chain around your ankle perhaps.

(I keep wanting to move Mickey’s apparatus closer to the wall!)

There’s lots of advice (other than silly gifs) on the web to “assist” you in this quest! I’ve always believed that it’s really only me that can find a way around my ruts. But it’s very frustrated when you get stuck again and again and end up feeling like there’s a major fault somewhere that needs fixing.

“Just do it” they say. Yeah, right! Like it’s that easy! There are any number of “solutions” out there, none of which have worked very well so far.

There are so many factors that can contribute to these frustrating times that you have to be very lucky to find the right solutions. Our lives are so variable and different and our backgrounds just as much so. Surely “just do it” is an oversimplification. Does it come from people who miraculously don’t seem to have these problems?

Yet, at the same time it seems to be one of the keys because no matter what tiny thing you start with, it’s likely to make you feel good about what you’ve done and it might lead to more action, at least in the short term. Just don’t “go big” too soon.

It worked today. I chose the mindless studio job of gessoing paper and got into the swing of it. The impetus led to gessoing over six old painting canvases, providing some inspiring textures to work with.

Recently, I watched a couple of videos about this problem and creativity in general.

One of them stated that you can’t keep going with self motivation alone. It later went on to say, about one of the proposed steps, that, you won’t feel like doing it, but you just have to! Wouldn’t that take motivation? Mmmm?

The same video suggested that action changes your mood. Yes, I would agree with this. Taking action means you can cross something off your list. Or, you’ve started and it’s most likely going to be easier to keep the momentum going. You might now be excited and have completed or moved closer to completing something.

(It worked with getting these cards ready for an exhibition. Small images were needed and I found a few so I kept going.)

The other video was looking at Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas and habits around creativity. The ideas, while seemingly simple, point again to motivation plus, interestingly, consistency in habits. Something that can seem difficult to maintain.

The stand out item here for me was keeping a notebook and consistently using it for various things that were suggested.

(I did make a list of items to get ready for the exhibition and it has helped keep me on track.  These A5 size images are now ready to mat up.)

So, to get moving ….. plan something vaguely motivational, however small, to get you started, take some action, write about and record it, make more plans in your notebook and …. back to being motivated! Leonardo would be proud! Together, they all lead to action and hopefully the development of habits.

But what about the inevitable obstacle? Internal, external, emotional, physical and mental obstacles, out of our control or not. In my case, this puts me back to square one! The first video suggested planning for these obstacles.

But how?! Probably, the stronger, more long lived, the habit and the greater the importance we attach to it, the easier it will be to overcome obstacles?

This dreadful thing or one of its cleaning cousins can be constant obstacles for most of us!

For example, with respect to the “obstacle” above, I suspect most of us have been conditioned to feel better about our art time if we diligently put in some time using it, or a cousin, before starting our art! Only if it’s needed of course!

Obstacles come in a wide range of types and it seems complicated. But really it isn’t, once you have a good think, you can try to brush aside the unhelpful thoughts and alter unhelpful habits! You have to try, then try some more and more again, because it doesn’t seem to be consistent or predictable and circumstances change. Habits take a while to change as well. Some sort of reliable method is needed and it probably needs to be your own. Not that of an internet guru, who when it all boils down to it, is just like us, but they’ve found their own way and want to spread the good word!

My advice. Find your own way folks. I’m still looking!!

I like to remember these wise words that are generally attributed to Einstein:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Here’s to momentum and bliss in art!

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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