Friday, February 24, 2012

Blind Glimpses

A couple of glimpses from a new painting I am working on. It is slow progress and incredibly time consuming, as it is the largest piece I will have made thus far - A0, 75 x 100 cm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


A new project I am working on. Even though it is so top secret I haven't even figured it out properly, I wanted to start sharing my little Baroque Mice paintings!

Here is my first mouse.....

Here are some detail snippets of my Mousetoinette. Right now, I am all mouse and rabbit obsessed.
She is watercolour on paper, A2 scale.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Baroque Portraits

A selection of the watercolour portraits I painted during the 2012 Baroque Ball hosted at the Zichy Palace in Győr.

Baroque Ball

Some photographs from the Baroque Ball I attended as the "court painter" held at the Zichy Palace in Győr. I know it looks like there were just three of us, but I selected just a few out of the hundred blurry shots I took.

My paintings exhibited in the "blue room" (we couldn't hang them on the walls due to the beautiful fresco's.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Doll Face

Long time followers know of my little doll collecting habit/obsession/weakness. Having been a full time artist for the past ten months (aka unemployed, traveling, and sometimes drawing) I can’t give in to my selfish yearnings, and make do with sketching little portraits of them instead. 

The following three might make a cameo appearance at the Baroque Ball this weekend too...


It has finally begun to snow here in Hungary – it took till mid-February to start. One night a friend asked if I had seen the river yet, which was completely frozen over. “No!” I exclaimed, shocked that I had missed it (there are three rivers here in Győr, and I pass by two of them on my daily travels, but missed the third). The night was cold, and the streets were deserted. The sound of the snow crunching under our boots accompanied us on our walk. We got to the bridge and I stared out on a scene I was seeing for the first time in my life. Having grown up in warm Australia, I felt as if I were looking out on a post-apocalyptic scene. The river was not only frozen over, but a heavy blanket of snow covered it, the bank, and even the stone walls of the old Castle town. I mentioned this was how I would imagine the end of the world, at which he smiled, “This is what it is like here; the four seasons are clearly distinct from one another. Winter is about calm, sleeping, about death. Life will come again in the spring.”

I’ve obviously been heavily inspired by my travels, and my work has reflected the new things I’m experiencing. As winter approached stealthily, many of my friends began to tell me they couldn’t wait to see how a snowy winter would influence me. The museum director even inquired why I hadn’t made any snowy pictures yet. I began to feel uneasy… I felt like winter had not made its way into my work – I’m painting baroque inspired pieces, which true, is drawn directly from my current life as well, but they take place indoors, devoid of snow.

How can I miss such an opportunity? Once I go back to Australia I won’t be experiencing any more snowy winters! Reviewing my sketches for an upcoming project though, I smiled as I realized that the white winter outside had indeed subtly crept into my subconscious, without me initially realizing.
A de-saturated palette, snowy figures, milky eyes, and pink fingers numb with cold – glimpses from a new illustration I am working on, inspired by the Hungarian version of Sleeping Beauty – which translates as “Lace Rose”.

Sometimes inspiration takes a more subtle route than expected.

Would any dear readers be interested in seeing a step-by-step for this latest painting? Anyone? :-}

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sketchbook Musings

An artist’s sketchbook is a very personal thing. Whenever I’ve had the honour to catch a glimpse into one, I’ve always marveled at just how different they are, based upon the individual. Some sketchbooks are so neat, that each page could be removed and framed. Mine tend to be filled mainly with writing; I write down my ideas rather than sketch them out. I’ve always wished I kept neat sketchbooks, filled with charming studies and snippets of drawings, the sort of treasure you could exhibit alongside your finished work, but unfortunately mine are always messy and confusing –  the opposite of what my work eventually looks like. I wonder what they say about me? They’re obviously a lot more honest than a finished, fussed over painting.

Usually, I only start sketching an idea to figure out composition right before I'm ready to start work on the final piece. Here I share the preliminary sketch, and the progress of the final figures.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Baroque Studies

With crinolines, ruffled collars and powdered wigs on my mind, It' not surprising I've been sketching a lot of Baroque portraits recently. Even though the pieces for my mini show at the Zichy Palace are already finished, I can't get enough of the whole Baroque style.

I watch Annie Lennox's clip "walking on broken glass" at least once a day (worth it just to ogle Hugh Laurie and John Malkovich dressed up as French aristocrats). The clip itself is genius - a lot of these sketches are taken from the stills.

I'm finally reading "Dangerous Liasons" (the Hungarian version is fantastic, they have an incredible vocabulary). I'm looking forward to watching the movie, with a cast including Keanu Reeves, John Malkovich, Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman.... I can't believe I haven't already seen it.

All this frivolity is getting in the way of doing serious work. But hey, life is short, and this is fun.


I painted this intimate scene to fit the last frame I had. This small series of "Baroque Portraits" will be exhibited in a weeks time at the Zichy Palace in Győr, during a very frivolous Baroque themed Costume Ball. I myself will be set up in one of the palace rooms, in an extravagant gown, painting delicate portraits during the evening. 

I’ve always loved this era, and am a huge admirer of the "Marie Antoinette Cult" (I don't know what else to call it!). Imagery of decadence and carnal frivolity, contrasted with pastel prints and refined etiquette... I’m glad this Baroque Ball has lent me the excuse to engage in my fantasies for a little bit!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Dead Reef

Ideas emerge slowly, and I think the best ideas need time to settle and mature. Some new ideas might seem fascinating at first, but given time the lack of substance and ordinariness dulls their initial interest. Over two years ago I had an idea for a body of work that took a hold of my imagination and nagged at me. But I wasn’t ready to tackle it yet; the concept needed time to mature, to gather inspiration and momentum.
I put it aside and have been following other projects, other themes, other exhibitions. What I’ve noticed is this one idea keeps gnawing at me. It tells me that this idea is “a keeper”, not a silly thought that in hindsight wasn’t so fantastic after all.

The concept for my new body of work has slowly been taking form, and I know that once I return to Australia I will be ready to tackle it. To dive into it headfirst, you could say. As a prototype I created this painting, to experiment with the imagery and colour palette I am envisioning for the series. 

"The Dead Reef" was painted in delicate layers of translucent watercolour washes. The bleached underwater garden is a sad nod to the unfortunate phenomenon of entire coral reefs dying out, transforming into ghostly graveyards where once a vibrant and colourful life thrived in abundance. She is a memoir to the vast turbulent ocean, breathing salty sorrow, inspiring myth and mystery.

To me the ocean is a great and vast expanse, an alien underwater world. The salty wind is restless and tireless, traveling across great distances, bringing tales of faraway mythical places not traversable by land. The ocean is our planets greatest mystery, the only realm humans have not been able to fully explore. She is a watery grave, a deep darkness, an endless source of inspiration for melancholics and poets.

The Demand

Another decadent piece for the upcoming Baroque-themed Ball and mini Solo exhibition at the Zichy Palace in Győr. This time, a demanding young member of the spoiled aristocracy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Poznan Children’s Book Illustration Salon

Back from Poland! The Salon went really well, and we’re now safely back in Győr, with snow softly falling outside in the darkening dusk. Poznan itself was a wonderful little town – the Centre square looking like something straight out of a fairytale, with its candy coloured quaint little buildings.

It was incredibly cold, between minus 8 and 20, but luckily it was fairly warm inside the Salon Hall. Our stand was lively, with children stopping by to make paper-crowns, following with the theme of Janusz Korczak’s children’s novel “King Matyko I.” It was nice to see that the language barrier didn’t pose too much of a problem, we were able to mime most of the time. Smiles and encouraging nods were all the language we needed.

(You can see how strangely I hold my hand when I draw...)

Personally, one of my highlights was stumbling upon an incredible café down a small side street. I fell in love with the amazing interior, and the delicious array of drinks on offer weren’t bad either. We spent a lovely afternoon hiding away in here, the soft glow of the many lanterns bringing a smile to my face.