At last the painting commission from Provenance wines is on the move again. I managed to complete the paintings last year to a very happy audience but then a run of bad luck and timing on both our parts put a hold on things. This was sort of an act of grace in the end because I was able to put the paintings away for a while and allowed to indulge in them later.
What fun it was in the last few days to bring them out again for another look. Such a great thing to do as an artist and a bit of a luxury. When you are working on a painting series you are so often immersed in your own headspace and process that you don’t often see the bigger picture as such. Now a fair few months down the track it is like someone has pulled the blur into focus. What I may have seen as pictorial issues back in September are gems now.
Had fun photographing them with the pro photographer Greg Elms.
Here are the ones going tomorrow on appro.
Scott is definitely taking two works but he wants to be sure they have the right feel in his home. I am pretty sure he has already decided which ones, what is your guess?
These are the ones he isn’t taking. He loves them but the other paintings had a greater impact on him.
There is one more completed artwork in this series but Greg stole it for our home so no photo available.
I will have to look for homes for these at some point or exhibit the series.
All very exciting now.
This is where it started
Sometimes areas looked like this
This was my last look at Aqueous Field I at the mother-ship (studio)
Before I did this
With bubble-wrap, then it looked like this
And then the lovely guys from Chapman & Bailey picked it up and took it away for framing.
At this point I not sure whether to be happy or sad. I miss my big baby already. It is going to a beautiful home and will enjoy the attention, all framed and lovely away from the detritus of the studio. But I am kind of missing the journey I’ve been immersed in. I know. I know it is all part of the bigger adventure. But here, I have to say, this was an epic dazzling chapter of that rich creative journey.
Just to finish, I often used to like to look at it & work on it like this
My recent big commission completed. Wow and Phew!
Aqueous Field I is 155 x 360cm of canvas, paint, love, sweat and tears. Now it is the cosmetic stuff. Just need to varnish then off to the framers.
The clients have had a viewing and are thrilled. Clearly I am too and particularly that they are. An awesome venture and an honour to be commissioned to paint a work so epic. That is not to say it has been totally smooth sailing. It has definitely had it’s share of ups and downs, wouldn’t be art without those little oysters, but ultimately I had great joy in the process and would do it again any day.
After ticking off most of the boxes on finishing a painting, well I never really feel I totally complete an artwork. I more just move on in the continuum to the next painting. However, having said that there is a time, a blurry point when you know it is ready to go. My ultimate test at that moment to whether a painting is in the completed realm is if I can say ‘Yes’ to my conscience when it asks in big capital letters “ARE YOU PROUD OF THIS WORK?” If the answer is nearly, we are still not there yet. If the answer is a categorical ‘NO’, then the painting is incomplete or a real dud then relegated to the dank back cave of the studio. After a few weeks of artist tweaking, an extra blurr here an ovoid there, I was able to happily answer my conscience.
I have had such a beautiful response from my friends on and off-line about the painting. Thank you
Could that have been spring floating on the air yesterday morning. Had to steady myself on a veranda post in shock. Playful balmy breeze. Superb golden light that also happened to have some warmth. Splendid. Should I stay at home and plant veggies or go to work? Studio won out as always but also because I have my epic new canvas waiting for me. Yahoo…
My beautiful big canvas arrived last week. Thank you Chapman & Bailey. After admiring the scale under the protective wrap all week whilst finishing off my other commission paintings, I finally got the courage to unwrap it yesterday. It is a mighty big space of white to fill. That is, it was a mighty big space of white. I whirled in, all guns firing, possibly the result of spring in the air, and painted my first ground colour. I did not want to waste any time in case of stage fright setting in or even worse blank canvas syndrome, where sufferers are petrified into a state of procrastination for months on end. Ahead I forged.
I had forgotten how bodily physical it is to work on such a large canvas awakening me to the fact I need to, darn it, get fitter.
Thankfully at the end of the day, I was extremely happy with the groundwork I have set down. So good I cannot believe I did it, studio spirits working for me again. Let us hope I don’t get all precious about the lovely job I have before me and lose my nerve. There will be a few more layers going on before I can show you some pics. I get a bit superstitious around revealing too much too early. I don’t want to break the spell, the magic that is bubbling away inside. To those less mystical, I do not wish to count my chickens before they have hatched, which is really probably just a fear of losing my creative momentum.
Cheers, have to go now and caste some more spells, on the kids this time.
PS. This Artist’s new fitness regime: I am now determined to squeeze in an extra 30 minute walk each day. Had a lovely walk at lunchtime today, noticed all the deciduous trees are beginning to bud. It is actually quite a good idea to get away from the studio for a bit and return to the paintings with fresh eyes.
At last and as promised here are a couple of images of the paintings in progress for my first art commission.
If I hadn’t mentioned it before, the commission is from a very dear friend, Scott Ireland, who happens to make some of the most delectable wines in Australia for his own range, Provenance Wines, and for many other boutique labels. He has commissioned me to do two paintings inspired by wine. So hard for me to get enthusiastic about wine…. NOT.
I am not your stereotypical artist in so many ways with this one exception. I do appreciate wine in a similar way to my appreciation of art and the way historically, many artists have enjoyed this nectar. I love wine. I love the taste. I love the colour. The chroma. The aroma. The feel. The process. Scott and I have had many long discussions, usually over a bottle of red, on the similarities of our chosen obsessions. The sameness in the process to art making and art appreciation. But more on this later.
My friend, Scott has requested that one painting be inspired by white wine varietals and the other be inspired by reds. The added excitement is the prospect of the artwork being used on the labels for a delicious Pinot Gris and luscious Shiraz, if all goes to plan. Well with the fervour of a wine loving artisan I have taken the plan a tad further. My enthusiasms lead me to create a mini series of works inspired by the heavenly ambrosia.
As mentioned last blog I have been experiencing some rather arduous trials with colour blending. The wine colours have been creating challenges for me. It is amazing how many times you create the right colours when you don’t actually need them and the nearly but not quite rights when you do. Despite all the mixing, blending, considering and tossing out, I feel like I am beginning to kick some goals and at last getting closer to where I want the paintings to be. As these were taken last Wednesday, things have moved a long way forward since then. I have really just about finished four out of the series of eight I am in the process of creating.
There has been much about trusting the process and knowing there are always going to be mistakes. Some good, some bad. Learning from these then making things right again. I dare say Scott would nod his head in recognition of the journey. Learning all the time and building on from this, all amazingly great stuff.
So with ‘a bin of wine and a spice of wit’* I voyage forward to complete my series.
Cheers, til next time
*Envoy, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1887
Have been painting in the studio just about everyday this last fortnight bar a couple of days when Holly had a virus, but that is pretty good going. I am very excited, and feeling more than a bit chuffed as I have recently been asked to do another painting commission. The commission itself is epic but more awesome than this is that the clients are so sophisticated and appreciative of art and artists, truly delightful collectors. Thus I am over the moon about doing a commission for them. Plus they found me online, via my blog, which I thought would never happen, and was told, would never happen.
I am now waiting with great anticipation for my beautiful big canvas from Chapman & Bailey to arrive. This week, hopefully very soon. It is a grand scale, which I have not done for a year or two, so it is going to be a challenge but I love the idea of that. Already re-arranged the studio to welcome it comfortably. Doing some colour testing and mock ups. Loving the process.
Another exciting snippet is that I sold the below paintings last week. Thank-you to Thierry.
With all the good news my artistic confidence meter is in the restored zone. I go forth and make more headway with my other important commission. My colour mixing and medium stickiness has been proving a challenge over the last few weeks but we moving forward with enthusiasm. As promised I will be putting some pictures up of the progress but so far the snaps I have been taking with the iphone have been dreadfully out of focus. You would think with a photographer for a husband I would master this. Hmmm. Nope.
Excuse me now, I need to create some more art….Cheers
Returning to this art life of mine post school holidays is proving a struggle. My routine that I was just getting right at the end of June is now in tatters. Organizing my time let alone Holly and Oscar’s busy schedule, yet again proves a challenge. But I am prepared to rise to it. Master my daily tasks planner, my weekly jobs to do, my monthly you must do or else list of lists.
I would love to justify my current first weeks back at school disarray as a lack on my part of left brain logical thinking abilities because I am an ‘artist’. But really after five and a half years of four term breaks a year, you would think that I would have this down pat. It just seems to get harder at the start of each new semester.
Tackling school lunches. Reporting for parent teacher interviews. Writing letters of encouragement, appreciation and warmth to each child for their class portfolio (a new parental requirement, just in case we are not taking responsibility for our children’s learning seriously enough), reading, homework, form filling, laundering, preening, feeding…blah… blah…blah. Remind me again who I am… I often think it would be easier if it were ‘Ground Hog Day’, then I could just do it all in automatic and get back to my artwork. But I guess that might not work with the artistic process because you would just keep coming back to yesterday’s painting problem…. Mmm… On second thoughts that does have some interesting possibilities.
I have always wanted a hospital bed table. Is not just so so grand. I love my trolleys and this one is a beauty. It even has brakes. And it does not just roll; it glides over across my crumbling studio floor.
Amazing. I went to Aldi for a carton of milk and came out with a hospital bed table. Where else in the world could that happen?
Out in my street the squeals and screams of boys in their element shoot through the air. Ah. At last. The end of semester One, the beginning of Mid-term school holidays.
Play dates are arranged. Playmates are aplenty.
My little darling arranged for a buddy to come over straight after school. And, in his very military fashion, organized his mate to bring an arsenal of Nerf Guns and ammo. The corps in the street has grown now with curious boys from other houses arriving with motorized vehicles and more types of armory. They have hurriedly developed a plan of attack. Three are armed, the keepers and shooters for a time and the others are on bullet retrieval duties and posted as scouts and runners. They swap. The battles run with military precision.
Of course, I am nervous of the properness of these games. Ten years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of my child ever having a toy gun of any description. But, somehow, something happened between those soft cuddly days of believing I held the future of my child’s temperament and personality solely in my hands. Perhaps the realization that kids are kids, not clay. Boys love boy toys and will always dream and play out being heroes.
I so adore ten-year-old boys and I still get my sweet cuddly times, just not in front of his martial’s. We kiss farewell around the corner from school nowadays, if at all. Sweet.
Sad news this week.
Just found out that 775 Gallery at Flinders is closing its doors. Big shame. It has been so lovely working with Michelle Calnin. She has been a wonderful supportive and positive Gallery Director. I wish her well with her next adventures.
The gallery closes on 30 June so any of you Art Cats out there want to catch a final peek of not only my recent paintings but those of many other cool artists; you had better skedaddle down to Cook Street Flinders before it is too late.
I will be picking up my big paintings later next week and my smaller works on closing day.
Address: 2a, 41 Cook Street, Flinders, Victoria. Ph: 5989 0584 open Saturday – Sunday from 11
Oh, well its back to the studio for me. Moreover, this week I will be trying to nut out how to balance storage space with workspace. Stay tuned for some more updates on my commission.
Went and saw this exhibition on its final days. Problem is it has finished now but that is not going to stop me writing a bit about the art, having my say. On the other hand, that is all the more reason I should write something, just in case you missed it.
Artist: Benjamin Armstrong
Where: Tolarno Gallery, Melbourne
When: Was 28 April – 26 May 2012
Okay dates are past, we got to it on the last day, hey would have made it earlier but we were hit with a few nastiness’s of our own to deal with. Might tell you about those another time.
Absolutely awesome exhibition. Surprising, tranquil, slightly scary and very quirky.
On entering the main gallery, you are joined by five large sculptures. I say ‘joined’ because they seem to have this quiet animated yet welcoming presence. Quite homely as if waiting awkwardly for a receptive embrace. I am pretty sure I saw one move an arm as I turned around. On the left wall, there are three large ink works on paper. Washy yet figurative. Overflowing with presence and a tad more allegorical than the sculptures.
I am more than happy to say I am not totally sure what it is all about but I loved the other-worldliness of the works.
The sculptures appear animated, it really did look like they took a step each time I turned my head away. Part triffid, part mandrake, part squid and vegetable but all very alive. Kind of figurative without being confined or defined by a realistic form.
My favorite aspect of this exhibition was these kinds of contrasts that became apparent. It was at one moment quirky yet demure, serene. Beautifully quite yet animated and huge. Familiar yet unknown. Figurative without being something known to me.
Each piece (drawings & sculptures) although a bit unnerving was also quiet, peaceful and at ease. Majestic in proportion yet not bombastic. I loved that I did not know whether I was looking at some ancient creature, relic or some yet to be discovered creature from the deep unknown.
Were these the Carnivorous. Venomous, Vegetative creatures from John Wyndham’s 1951 novel ‘The Day of the Triffids’? (A personal favorite of mine)
You probably would have enjoyed this exhibition if you have a passion for the quirky and love science fiction. For all things that are a bit weird and unexplained. ‘The Day of the Triffids’, ‘X-Files’ & just maybe the original ‘Twilight Zones’ fans. But really, for the most part, if you love sculptures that are elegant, peaceful, and profound, this show would have rocked your world.
I give this exhibition ***** that is a 5/5
Here is the link to the Exhibition http://www.tolarnogalleries.com/armstrong-benjamin/
But wait there is more
It is time for
‘What I would do if I ruled the world, had unlimited resources and had this artist’s talent, will, desire, imagination, dreams… In short what would I do to make this show better… now that would be difficult. Probably absolutely nothing. I think it was pretty damn perfect… I could not make it better
In fact, the only thing I might contemplate doing may be to take these creatures to the moon and let them roam. The sense of being so alive also gave them a sense of being entrapped within the gallery. Free them that is all I would do. But I guess most were sold so they have home they can roam about in when you are not looking.
Apologies, this exhibition has finished so my little review is really more of an ode to Ben and his work. I am doing this because I think the work in this exhibition is amazing and I know Ben is going to keep doing amazing things. So all you art cats keep watch for what is next.
FYI: Yes, just for transparencies sake, I do know Ben. We were at Art School together and although I have not touched base with him for a while, I still stalk his shows.