Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011

Darling readers, thank you for bearing with me this year, watching my progress, commenting, urging me on.
This year, I can honestly say, was the best of my life so far. I had a bad spell between 2008 and 2010, where I felt each year was worse than the last. Wonderful things happened to me in those years, of course, but somehow on New Year’s Eve I found myself angry at the world and most angry at myself. This year however, I would struggle to remember more than a handful of bad experiences; mistakes, awkward situations, misunderstandings - nothing serious or with gravity. Instead I look back on 2011 as one filled with new experiences, adventure, art, and the infinite kindness of strangers. Most of all, the unbelievable kindness shown to me by strangers.

Being the Year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese Zodiac, and being a rabbit myself, I feel almost as if the stars themselves helped me along this year. The Year of the Rabbit was predicted to be one of new beginnings; where you paved the path for a calmer future. This certainly seemed the case for me. I found myself in incomprehensible situations, where it seemed as if the stars themselves had aligned to make certain things possible. I left Australia in April and headed to Hungary, to visit the land of my parents. I got to go to England and Italy too, which for me was a great treat. I saw snow for the first time in my life. I danced and I laughed and I drank the wild air and basked in the wonder of it all.

My art has definitely changed – I find it hard to put my finger on the specifics, but scale is definitely one of them. My previous works were tiny little glimpses, intimate moments caged and trapped, visible only through a keyhole. The new pieces, though still melancholy in nature, are larger; the figures loose in a white space open to interpretation, un-caged, free, wild.

2011 was very good to me. I eagerly look forward to 2012; I can only imagine it being even better!
Happy New Year everyone!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Little Faces

I had a lot of fun painting these little faces. Little Apple and Little Peach.
Available in my Etsy Shop

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Will Draw For Food

I am a great fan of the idea of the Barter System: I can create something you like, and you have something that I need. Trade.
I have had a pretty good spell of luck here in Győr, Hungary. I have met some incredible people that have reached out a helping hand to help nurture my art, feeling it was something worth aiding and assisting to grow. I am speechless when I think about the opportunities I have literally been handed this past year – it has given me so much confidence with what I am doing, to see that so many people have gone out of their way to give me the chance to devote myself entirely to painting. I myself have seen an obvious change in the size and caliber of my work; I feel it is a little sharper, a little more sophisticated than before.

Faced with a cold winter unlike anything else I have experienced back in sunny warm Australia, my two main concerns were obviously shelter and sustenance – the basics for survival. Through my art and the help of the Győr Art Museum I was able to acquire both. As amazing as figuring out a trade for my accommodation was, even more amazing was when a local restaurant, Szalai, decided to help me through the winter by providing me with a free meal a day in return for one of my paintings.
I tortured myself over what to paint for them, I wanted it to be something very special… but who knows if they would appreciate a flower decked maiden in a floral frock, or rouged coquette reclining on a Victorian lounge… so I opted for something simpler and more mainstream, choosing to paint a portrait/ intimate dining scene inside the restaurant.

I took it to a local framer, and I have to say I am thrilled with the result. I want to see ALL of my paintings framed ALWAYS; I think they look wonderful behind glass with a handsome frame :-}

Monday, December 19, 2011

Young Luca Witch

My second witch inspired by the Hungarian folk superstition revolving around the Luca Day festival. (You can see the first witch and read about this strange superstition here).
 This time I decided to depict a young girl, and her horns are those of the Hungarian breed of sheep known as Racka – they have long twisting horns and their wool is either black or cream coloured dreadlocks.

In accordance with my other witch portraits so far, I was more interested in suggesting my witches were the victims of mass hysteria and the cruelty capable by mobs singling out someone who did not “fit in” in a small town. I was joking that I did not want to attend midnight mass with the locals because if someone stood on a Luca chair they would single me out because of my weird Australian-Hungarian accent - to which my comrades replied not to be silly, the boys would only accuse someone they did not like of being a witch (confirming my point.)

I thought of the way children often “flirt” with each other by bullying and teasing the one they secretly fancy, and the unfortunate consequences this might have in a superstitious community.

Luca Witch

In Hungary the 13th of December is celebrated as Luca Day, a day when evil walks amongst us, similar to the Western "All Hallows Eve".

On Luca Day the young men of the town would start to build the Luca Chair. Each day up until Christmas Eve you had to work on a particular part of this chair, which eventually had to be constructed and carved out of 13 different types of wood, over 13 days. On Christmas Eve the guys would smuggle the chair into midnight mass hidden beneath their coats. Superstition was that if you stood on the chair at midnight you would be able to see who amongst those present was a witch. The Witches on this evening would grow long horns, invisible to the naked eye. Because of the horns they would have to duck or bend over as they entered the gate of the church. The person who stood on the Luca chair would be able to see the horns and identify the witch – then they would have to run home (screaming and hollering I imagine) lest the witch, enraged that she/he’d been discovered tore them to shreds. By dismantling and burning the Luca Chair in the fire you symbolically burned the witch – the little pieces of wood were rumoured to shriek in the fire as the evil spirits were burned.

I loved the imagery of the witches sprouting horns, and am working on a small series of Luca Portraits inspired by this tradition. The horns here are based upon a traditional breed of giant grey cattle confined to Hungary known simply as "Grey Cattle " (Szürke Marha).

Puddle Splashing

Long time followers of my blog will occasionally see me produce these more stylistically illustrative pieces. They’re like little ice breakers… testing the water with a tentative toe before leaping in completely. I have always dreamed of illustrating for children’s books, and I think it is the career path I will whole heartedly pursue in the very near future.
Whilst I love my (usual) style, I do not see it reaping me enough financial rewards with which to survive. Selling an occasional giclee print on etsy for barely more than it cost to produce is not a sustainable career path. Ultimately I would love to do both, to create large-scale watercolour paintings that are exhibited in galleries, whilst working on children’s books as well. Well, this is the ultimate goal! I just have to hurry up and produce an illustration portfolio!

This little girl was painted as a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for the director of the Győr Art Museum, who reached out and essentially became my benefactor, making sure I had the means to pursue my art without interruption during my stay in Győr. She’s been teaching me odd and lesser used Hungarian words, and our favourite sentence became an eccentric way of saying “The cheeky coquette splashes in rain puddles” (A rakoncátlan kisleány pocsétákban tócsázik.)

To get an idea of scale, here I am hiding behind the final framed painting.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Etsy Shop Grand Re-Opening

Giclee prints of my paintings are on offer once again!

When I left Australia in April of this year (2011) I closed down my etsy shop as I thought I would be returning within a few months anyway. 8 months on and I am still in Europe, and chances are I will be here for a fair while yet. As I have also been un-employed this whole time, money has become a scarce and worrying concern for me. Knowing that I have a box full of beautiful archival giclee prints just sitting around back in Australia, I would like to re-open my etsy store offering these for sale again.

Postage will be from Australia (NOT Hungary).  My postal elves (dear mother and brother) have strict instructions on how to package the prints (sturdy matt-board backing and acid-free cello sleeves within a bubble mailer – the usual!)

The money raised will be used to buy myself soup :-) Whilst the romantic idea of being a starving artist is traditional and all, I’d rather have warm soup in my belly to help me stay creative!!