Beautiful Garden Re-Imagined

This was a commission in late 2012 for a woman's mother. My client Tatianna brought me a work her mother loved from a desk calender, which was really beautiful. It was however the work of a disabled man who painted with his mouth. As much as I have always lived by Picasso's motto: "All artists borrow - GREAT artists STEAL", I wasn't entirely comfortable with the notion of copying another artist who did these works for a charitable cause and whatsmore had mastered the art of working with his mouth. I can barely brush my teeth let alone accomplish what he did. Do I took the same palate, elements of the design and created something which my client felt would suit her mother's tastes. So - sorry SeƱor Picasso - I borrowed instead of stole. It worked - and thankfully daughter got a very tearfully delighted mother on Christmas day.

Mum's Best Friend

Okay so I have really neglected my blog posts in recent months which is very frustrating.

But it's also a good sign I have been busy, and thankfully have the artwork to prove it.

Here's a little work I sent home to Australia for my Mother's Birthday in April (a month late but she was very understanding - a friend carted it there on a business trip) and it's a portrait of her watering the garden in her front yard with her faithfull adoring Jack Russell Terrier Holly keeping her company.

The house has changed dramatically as the folks have renovated and repainted the joint since I left, but it will forever be remembered like this for me. The Sydney afternoon sun through the Eucalypt trees, the light (which is very different than here in Canada)- I can almost hear the ciccadas in the trees...

I'm inclined to think I was inpired a little by the late great Howard Arkley, an enigmatic and idiosyncratic Australian Artist who focussed much of his work on the Suburban mailaise, and the bungalows of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane Adelaide and Perth's "Burbs". Here's a little You Tube Video of him:

(I'd have painted Dad but you can't see him watching television on the couch from this angle..!)

16 x 20 inches/40 x 50 cm, Acrylic on Canvas

Cold Canada

Living in Canada as been nothing but a delight. But it is a bit of rude shock to someone who has come from one of the hottest and the actual driest continent on Earth, to one of the most vast alpine and coldest winter countries which contains roughly 60% of the worlds fresh water.

I have to say I think I acclimatized pretty easily; I honestly thought I'd be a real fish out of water but then ironically living so close to the water on Sydney's Northern Beaches was kind of wasted on me. Haven't had a tan since I was a kid, and I didn't surf and went to the beach very rarely. Even my last home in Sydney I was one minute's walk from Dee Why point and could watch my room-mate Tom with an unobstructed view carving it up in the Surf every afternoon when I came home from work. Dee Why Beach has one of the worlds most coveted point breaks - something wasted on me as I say.

As a result I'm completely fascinated by snow, snowy scenes and the 'Great White North' in general. I can watch the snow fall like a dog watching television for hours. I was in Montreal for Christmas at my Mother in law's and witnessed the biggest snow fall in the region in one day since 1971 - 47 cm..! I was glued to the windows..!

But it's not just the weather and climate; it's the landscape, the light, and the furnishings of the landscape. Barns for instance..! We, in Australia, grew up with Barns and Covered Bridges on our televisions and movie screens but none in our landscape. We didn't need them. So it's fascinating to see them in the flesh so to speak.

In October I worked on a series of Canadian Winter scenes which I also had made into Greeting cards. Here's a sample of a few of them.

Drop me a line if you would like to purchase some, I'd be delighted to take care of it.

Spring Forward ~ Fall Back

Trying to get over serious Jet-lag after a short trip to Sydney; seems like I have been jet lagged for two weeks now. Just when I recovered to fall into Australian Eastern Standard Time I have lived in all my life, I return back to Canada to refresh it. Yawn.

I also return to lower Canada in full-Autumn swing... Which is in many ways temperature, light and daylight hours comparable to Sydney mid-winter. A strange feeling which is kind of familiar somehow - then I realized why. It was what I lived though in my last year in Sydney and first year in Toronto. I went from one Sydney Winter to a Toronto Fall, then into a Toronto Winter. One really long winter effectively.

Now - not to say that was a bad time - I actually dig cooler weather and don't go stir-crazy living indoors, and quite like overcast and snowy weather - but it was unusual. I'm also quite looking forward to this winter as it's likely to be very cold compared to my first Northern Hemisphere experience.

I painted this work last winter for my Mother-in-law as a gift for her to hang in her Florida summer-home. It's a work from an image of a lake she photographed in Quebec which is amazing, with a mirror surface and a small narrow tree covered isle in it. It was the first painting I really fell into my groove with here in Canada and I've been meaning to post it since.

It's my little way of reminding myself and everyone who checks in on my blog that this is an amazing country when the season changes to cold - the leaves and the colours are unbelievable - and add to that purple hillsides dotted with orange trees, a beautiful lake with a unique landmark, and a vanilla sky you have a really pretty composition.

Acrylic on Canvas 24 x 18"

The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge at Dusk

I felt like over the years I did so many works focusing on each of these Sydney Icons, yet to date this is the only one dealing with them both.

Amazing how the light plays across the harbour, and how beautiful the lights of North Sydney are from the East or the City itself. I especially love the way the floodlit and lit-up commercial buildings in Sydney look reflected on the harbour. When I think about this short series of works it's quite amazing the range of colours a person can see in one location throughout one day.


Quite proud of the green-floodlit feel of the bridge; it illuminates in a particular fashion and I feel like I captured it well.

Acrylic on Canvas
85 x 35 cm

The Opera House at Dawn

How many of us have seen a view like this before?

I must have seen this sight hundreds of times travelling across the bridge to work or university over the years... The sun rising to the East over the Tasman Sea, bursting through a far out to sea cloudbank which looks like a fantastic mountain range. It's beautiful light bathing the surrounding sky a myriad of hues, namely peach, rose, lemon and orange. Amazing. And the Opera House, being so much lighter in tone than much of the surrounding development seems to glow dully from all the faint reflected light filling the sky and falling on the clouds above (if they're there of course. Somehow on cloudless days it seems to happen more).

The image is loose and playful - like the idea it's so early the weary commuter is still getting the mind to work and the eyes are still adjusting.

You know how they say you have to stop and smell the roses in life..? Well, they're right. You do. You never know when these sights mightn't be available to you as readily as they once were. It really is a matter of "life is what hapens when you are busy making other plans" as John Lennon said.

Stop and smell a rose, or lie on some fresh cut grass in the sun for twenty minutes, or watch a sunset today. Go on - spoil yourself.

Acrylic on Canvas
76 x 58 cm

The Opera House from Dawes Point

I hated this painting almost the entire time I worked on it, up until the last hour or so where I began to render the ripples in the harbour. I think it's the limited palate. For some reason after the water was rendered more effectively it seemed to 'tighten up' and really look great. The light always looked right; just like it does late morning when the sun is breaking through the clouds, maybe towards the middle of the year in early winter. The grey of the overcast sky and the blue breaking through in the reflection makes an interesting composition. My wife's uncle told me it "...feels like the water is moving" which it what you set out to achieve when you paint water. Merci Benoit..!

It might also have something to do with the type of ferry traffic on the water.

I have never caught a River cat; I feel like I've missed a little something by not doing this. I guess when you come from Manly a lot of people think you look down through your nose on places like Parramatta - and perhaps we do to a degree. I believe much of the run up the Parramatta River is through a ton of Mangrove and not the most interesting for the sight-seer.

Still, I think I will do it one day, I've watched a you tube video (sped - up) which I enjoyed and it as ignited a little curiosity on this little voyage. I've even had a few dreams about it, although with my dreams there's always illogical surrealism - you could wind up anywhere with anyone - catching a River cat up the Parramatta River which eventually winds up in Venice, sitting next to Chewbacca the entire journey.

"Circular Quay Too (Sic) Parramatta"

- (Cut & paste again - sorry folks - also I hope you like The Eurythmics & bad dub-step type Elevator Music)

Acrylic on Canvas
76 x 58 cm