Fiddling and Floundering About

Now here’s a funny thing. When you play and fiddle about with a painting it seems there is more interest than when you’re trying to orchestrate things. Interest from both others and yourself!

Early this year these two small paintings, painted freely and mostly unselfconsciously, were highly commended at a local exhibition. They’re from of a series of 10 small paintings I made as part of a challenge another artist and myself set for ourselves – to paint every day during January. The others are on my website.

“Confluence” 20cm wide x 20cm high
“Convergent” 20cm wide x 20cm high


It was a very pleasant surprise standing outside in the covid line to pick them up when a friend said congratulations! Making this small success even more pleasant was the fact that they were the first abstract paintings I have exhibited. These pleasures are short lived however and it was on to the next project.

During June, Louise Fletcher’s “Find Your Joy” taster course was repeated. I participated last year and got a lot out of it. It’s about following your likes, playing and not focussing on results. This is good for someone like me who used to plan her art to the nth degree! Here is one of the exercises we completed. We were limited in tools, media and the number of marks we could make with each.

Paradoxically, limitation is a good way to expand possibilities and generate ideas.


Recently, I’ve been wondering where things are headed for me artwise. It’s both difficult and exciting. You know you want to head down the abstract road but you seem to be floundering about. I guess that’s what you do when you’re finding your way.

I tried to reconcile my art aims with what is actually happening. Remember, we’re a little out of control here! However, my aim so far has been to show people what I love about our landscape, mood atmosphere etc but recent work doesn’t seem to match this at all! Maybe my updated modus operandi might be to create fun, playful images based on landscape – feelings, shapes, textures, gestures or anything else landscapey that takes my fancy?

These small play images were started recently to explore the idea.


Don’t know where they point to yet but there are a few ideas in there.

Recently, our plein air group, POGO, painted at Richmond. Although cool, it was a beautiful clear, sunny day. It resulted in six sketches to use for collage, finding compositions or generating inspiration. There’s no pressure to be exacting about these sketches. It’s an exercise in being there and taking things in.


There were a couple of crops that might be useful as a starting point for something new in the future. Here’s to the future and more fiddling and floundering fun!

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

Click here to find out about exhibitions I currently have work in.

HOMEGALLERY

Playing Outside

seascape horizon in blue, black and white

Have you watched an artist painting or sketching en plein air or perhaps tried it yourself?

Playing with abandon, like a child…..just you, the paint, paper and brushes, all working together can be very invigorating.  Take it outside and you add another exciting element to the experience.

I love the way children are fascinated when they find you painting. They immediately become inspired to try it themselves ….. when they’ve finally asked all their questions!  Generally, there’s a supply of sketchbooks in our caravan to give away when we’re travelling.  I’ve also given kids the odd sketch or two because they are so enthusiastic.

I once sketched a young girl climbing some Northern Territory rocks and gave her the sketch.  Next thing we knew, her young brother was posing for me to sketch him too!  Naturally, I obliged. Subsequently, the family “parked their caravan” at our place while travelling in Tasmania. Making friends with art!

My motivation these days, when plein air painting or sketching, is not to go home with an image that visually represents a scene.  Rather, it’s about getting the feel for a place, the atmosphere, mood and the felt characteristics. 

What colours, textures, techniques, movements and marks could be used to express how the area makes me feel?  Are there ways to use tools, make marks and find effects to create a sense or feeling of place? …… Something that comes through and from me, my random choices, arm, hand and body movements?

I’m not asking myself these questions while working though. It’s more an overarching aim, to be achieved or happened upon by “just doing it”.

This can result in some rather messy images, as you can see above!  But, hopefully, within the mess, there is treasure! Something to be reinterpreted and to inspire new art or ideas.  There are often useful crops (small sections/images) within the sketches.  At the very least there will be some marks to reuse in the studio to help when attempting to recapture the experience.

Things don’t always develop further right after a sketching trip.  Inspiration could happen any time, even years later. There’s a lot of potential “material” waiting patiently in the studio to fuel art.

We’ll look at just what might happen with all that “material” in future issues of Studio News.

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

Click here to find out about exhibitions I currently have work in.

HOMEGALLERY