Friday, October 30, 2009


Detail from Halo oil on linen 90 x 180 cm

In my last couple of posts I have mentioned that I am working on a large painting which I am going to call 'Halo'. I am still working on it and just to whet your appetites I have uploaded a detail from my work in progress.

But, I will go into a little about my inspiration. In October 1983 my cousin Bill [Fred] From died trying to conquer Mt Everest. I have often thought about Bill who was a true mountain man. He was strong, big, capable and incredibly intelligent. The kind of man you imagine conquering mountains with his little finger. Bill was 4 years older than me and I have childhood memories of him holding my arms and twirling me around in circles. I loved it and was thrilled because he was strong enough to do this to a rather large 8-12 year old gangly girl. After 12 I just got too tall and self conscious!

Bill had just received a Doctorate in Physics from the University of Queensland. He thesis was on his research into the Ionoshere. Here is a link that gives a brief description of this layer surrounding the Earth. He had also just received a scholarship to one of the prestigious Max Planck Institutes in Germany to further his research. I gather his research was cutting edge and very important.

Bill and one of his fellow climbers, a young doctor Craig Nottle, both slipped on an icy patch as they were descending Mt Everest. Their bodies fell into the great depths of ice and have never been recovered. They had been a short tantalising distance from the summit, but a blizzard forced them to turn away. They were climbing without oxygen so every step was arduous and slow. Bill was a seasoned climber and knew very well the risks of undertaking such an incredible quest. The team was lead by Peter Hillary, son of Sir Edmund.

I googled Bill's name just now and found an article which appeared in Brisbane's Courier Mail only last month. It is 25 years since Bill and Craig perished. Here is a link to the article,23739,26085462-5018552,00.html

But, back to my painting. It seems incredible to me that I have been thinking about Bill much more just recently and that it is 25 years since he died. I had not really been aware of the anniversiary until I read the Courier Mail article.

My thoughts have been about desire...a desire to reach the top of the world...a desire so strong that a person is prepared to put their life at risk. I wonder what it is like to be near the top of the world and have to turn back. I wonder what kind of views [if any through a blizzard] are possible at that height. Bill, studied the atmosphere, and one particluar part of it in great detail ie: the ionoshpere. Was he trying to reach it, to get closer to it? Regular readers of my BLOG know of my intense interest in perspective and distance...WOW what a perspective of the world from the top of its tallest mountain! Would an experience of this majestic perspective make a person feel humble as well as awed? Would this kind of perspective reveal not only the materiality of the Earth, but also reveal the substance of the atmospheric layers which cacoon and sustain us and our environment? My wonder is...did Bill see and feel the Earth's halo?

So, I am not and have never been interested in literally climbing moutains. But, all of us climb metaphoric mountains as we progress through life! Indeed, I have painted many moutain images over the years...landscape elements are important metaphors for me.

My new painting is inspired by my thoughts about Bill. And, since these ponderings seem to be serendipitously at this time of the 25th anniversiary of his death, I wonder if I am being 'spoken' to by some force from beyond? The painting will be finished soon and I hope it will be as beautiful as I imagine standing on the top of the world would be.

PS. Since writing this BLOG my next one also discusses 'Halo'

Friday, October 23, 2009


Some of the images below have been posted to my BLOG previously, but a few conversations over the last couple of weeks have prompted me to reload them as a group. These conversations have been about that age-old and very important topic of water. When weather conditions are perfect water is not necessarily a topic of conversation, but when there is not enough or too much water, then anxieties, hopes and frustrations are expressed in conversation. Currently , in my part of the world ie: SE Queensland we are experiencing a severe lack of rain. Whilst there were good falls earlier in the year they have not continued. Gardens are dry, farmers look imploringly at the sky, bush fires are raging in the dry conditions, dust storms have recently enveloped us and so on. Not surprisingly people are talking about water and rain.

Seeping Into The Intimate Vastness Oil on linen 80 x 100 cm 2008

As readers of my BLOG know I grew up on a grain farm outside Dalby on the Darling Downs, Queensland. My parents farm was in what is known as 'God's own country' as the black soil was rich and deep. In fact, on the Pirrinuan Plain, where my parent's farm sat centre stage, the top soil is the deepest in the Southern Hemisphere. My grandfather farmed on this land for over 40 years and my father took over in the early 60s when weather patterns changed and he [unlike my grandfather] could not rely on rain arriving at the right and same times every year. I've seen my parents and other farmers despair over the lack of rain, as they watch newly sprouted seedling crops strain under parched conditions. Yet, I have also seen the horror of severe flooding where top soil is wripped away, and beautiful crops are flattened by heavy rain and often hail. From a very young age I knew that rain and water meant many things, but I also knew it meant money, prosperity and more relaxed parents!

Lifeblood Oil on linen 90 x 200 cm 2008/9

Lifeblood above, is a large painting where I have painted the strips of rain in small $ signs. The underground water and surrounding soil are also painted with $ signs. The red ribbon like vein in the sky is painted with $ signs. From a distance the viewer does not recognise that this painting contans any $ signs, but when up close they are revealed. Readers of my BLOG know that I am intensely interested in the viewer's experience of close and far distance and the impact this may have on developing flexible skills in perspective. The viewer's experience is a metaphor for how we need to 'see' the globalised world in which we live locally. We need to be able to see another person's point of view, understand another's culture, put ourselves in another person's shoes in order to have compassion for ourselves and others.

Here is the link to my previous post about "Lifeblood'

Thank Goodness [It's Raining]! Oil on linen 92 x 207 cm 2007 This painting above was inspired by those exclamations farmers make when it does rain. 'Thank God', 'Thank Goodness' and 'About bloody time!' These sorts of exclamations are really expressions of gratitude with all the emotions gratitude contains. I have used my much loved, tree-of-life motif as a visual conduit which could represent underground systems, mountains, a strata of the earth as if cut in cross section. The 'rain' falls from a dark blue sky, but the rain is red. I often paint rain in red because this colour represents fertility and a sense of vascular life forces. Rain and water are like the blood of the earth.

Here is the link to my previous post for 'Thank Goodness [It's Raining]!

It Looks Hopeful Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm unframed 2009

The sense of hope which farmers must have is like a faith. I wrote about faith in my last BLOG post and I have to say that as a farmer's daughter I have witnessed incredible expressions of faith from my father and other farmers. I also saw this when I lived in the small rural Queensland but highly diversified town of Goondiwindi for 18 years. Faith is a kind of 'knowing' which seems inexplicable but is felt at deep core levels of our being. Faith and hope are two of the most important characteristics farmers or anyone living in rural communities must have.

Now I am going to write something which may seem odd, but artists are like farmers! We must have faith in processes which we may or may not understand. We must get to a point where needing to understand is not paramount, because we recognise that creative forces are never ending. We must have faith that we can tap into these forces, and that when we have impasses where things do not seem to flow, we 'know' to walk away to 'let' the congestion unravel. We 'plant' after we have made all the necessary and technical preparations and then as we work we 'manage' complex creative and technical processes simultaneously. Our medium becomes an extension of ourselves, just as a good farmer after making all the necessary technical applicatons and seeking appropriate informaton can 'know' at his/her core if something resonates as the right thing to do.

Water Harvesting Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2009

I have written previously about this painting 'Water Harvesting'

Answer To A Prayer Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm unframed 2009

Being grateful for rain!

Cyclical Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm unframed 2009

Here is the previous post I wrote about 'Cyclical' . Quite interesting if I say so myself!

Fertile Sky Gouache on linen 30 x 42 cm unframed 2009

Some other 'Water' posts:

I am still working on my latest large painting which I am going to call 'Halo'. It is 90 x 200 cm and I am spending hours working away and going through the inevitable ups and downs of the creative process.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Into The Symphony Oil on Linen 120 x 160 cm 2008

I have not posted for 10 days and those 10 days have passed so quickly. I am working on a large rectangular painting which I will be calling 'Halo'. The world's halo is revealed! I will discuss more on my BLOG when I have finished and photographed the painting.


I was thinking about something I said in my last post which was, 'The largest system is the one which gives pulse to the Universe and whilst we may not completely understand this system we know it exists. Now this got me thinking...if we have evidence of a system it does not mean we know how it works, yet we have faith that it does.' I have continued to think about faith, the kind of faith we have which may seem blind, but somehow resonates at a core level. Maybe this resonation occurs in what has been labelled our 'junk DNA' ie: the over 95% of DNA scientists do not understand!

I have been particularly thinking about faith in imagination, faith in our own imagination, faith in the collective imagination. It seems to me that it is imperative to have faith in imagination, because without imagination we cease to wonder, question... and really live. But, as I wonder about faith in imagination I also 'see' that imagination has been hijacked by written and unwritten rules and regulations, fashion, education!...all causing a lack of faith. I have seen this slow erosion in my own children and as I travel back in time [in my head and imagination] I feel the erosive events in my own life again. I have learnt to repel and irradicate some of the unhelpful influences, but first one has to identify them. This can be difficult because over time they have often entered the subconscious insidiously weaving networks of belief about oneself and others. It actually requires some imagination to irradicate! I see it like some sort of pest control!


All the images posted have my tree-of-life motif. Regular readers of my BLOG will identify all that these trees 'say'.

I have written previously about this painting

The Brush Of Angels' Wings Oil on linen 52 x 92 cm 2008

I have written about this painting on my BLOG previously

Into My Galaxy Oil on linen 85 x 147 cm 2008

Generations Oil on linen 80 x 120 2008

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Majesty and Oder Oil on linen 36 x 36 cm 2009

While I was painting this image above I was thinking about 'order'...and not house tidy type of order [although I know my family thinks I should think about this more!]. I was thinking about 'order' as in destiny and fate or another name could be 'divine order'. Coupled with my thoughts about 'order' were ponderings on systems, all kinds of systems from natural ones to man-made ones. The largest system is the one which gives pulse to the Universe and whilst we may not conpletely understand this system we know it exists. Now this got me thinking...if we have evidence of a system it does not mean we know how it works, yet we have faith that it does.
Sometimes, a system is not evident until something happens which gives rise to questions about how, why and when the event happened. Sometimes people achieve things without an apparent system, yet once the achievement is made a 'walk' back through the experience will reveal a 'system', which may or may not demonstrate traditional lock step sequential patterning.
For sequential thinkers a system is possibly a different thing to a divergent thinking person. This latter type person will not necessarily think sequentially as in 1,2,3. Their sequence may be 3, 1, 2. This person is often a BIG picture thinker, who will demonstrate hyperactivity and boredom if confronted initially with sequential 'bits' without a BIG picture promise. I think primary school is a devastating place for tangential BIG picture thinking children, because there is so much emphasis on 'bits' of information. These children wonder why they need to learn the 'bits' and tune out when there seems to be no or little relevance...I have seen this with my own children.
So, these are some of the thoughts I had when I was painting this new image. I have just finished it and my thoughts are still spilling over... as they do...which is a kind of system isn't it? Indeed, I have faith that this will happen after finishing a painting, thus leading to the inspiration for my next painting.
I wanted to paint an image which 'spoke' of systems, faith and majesty. My tree-of-life motif represents all of life, but I have formed it to appear like the Earth in orbit. In this sense, the painting is a landscape, indeed a vast one. The size of the painting is small ie: 36 cm x 36 cm, but I like the way vastness still exudes with majesty. It fits in with my ideas about distance being close and/or far. Readers of my BLOG would know of my fascination with the permeability of distance and perspective. The tree-of-life and its branches suggest a system, a natural one akin to those of river systems, mountain ranges, cloud patterns, ants trails, vine tendrals, blood vessels, lymph systems, finger prints and the markings on the palms of your hands....and so on. Each dot represents another world of systems pulsing with life and having faith that it will continue.
I have painted the dots amongst the tree-of-life branches in various pale shades of the complementary colour of the surrounding branches. So, the purple branches have pale yellow dots, the red/pink branches have pale green dots and so on. I did this deliberately for a few reasons: 1. The colour wheel provides a system which artists can use to augment the visual impact of their work 2. I like the concept of seemingly oppositional forces creating a tension which can stimulate 'happenings' 3. I like how seeming randomness, as in the placement of the dots, can be questioned by the subtlety of complementary associations...and how this gives clues to 'hidden' systems at work in our lives and psyche [both idividually and collectively].
Anyway, I could go on and on! But, I won't because maybe you have your own thoughts and as I have said before I love viewers taking my work to places I have not thought of. I do not complete my work, because each conversation either within a person or with others, provides another completion, thus the possibility of multiple completions. Now, is that a system? Systems are everywhere. There is an 'order' in their very existence giving majesty and awe to our lives.