Seen on the street

There’s been a lot of activity in our area with workman replacing old terracotta sewage pipes with new high density plastic ones. As a result all sorts of trucks and trailers have been around.

This truck and trailer conveniently pulled up on my neighbours nature strip, (the bit out the front of the house where the footpath might go, but hers is just grass).

Truck and trailer, pen and ink Copic multiliner, acrylic marker pen and gouache, 17 February 2015

Truck and trailer, pen and ink Copic multiliner, acrylic marker pen and gouache, 17 February 2015

I used a whole stack of different media on this drawing. The pen and ink was a bit dark so I used white gouache to pick out some of the elements of the truck. I also added some acrylic marker for the colour elements. I’m continuing to use my bits of newsprint stuck to thin Japanese paper as a substrate. I’m not sure what problems this might cause for long term survival of the drawing, but since I’m ‘mucking around’ I’m not too concerned. I really like it as a background. I’ll give you the hot tip, the best pages to use turn out to be stock market reports, TV pages and the racing form-guide as these are about the only pages in the newspaper these days that don’t have photographs on them.

A day later I was driving home in the evening and spotted one of the mini-diggers parked next to our neighbour’s dinosaur (yes there are quite a few of them in our area). By the time I got organised the following morning and got back down the street to make a drawing, the digger driver was getting in the cab ready to drive off. I got two or three quick photos and one very quick sketch. The latter I do intend working up into a drawing, sometime. So in the end all I was left with was Rex so here he /she is (how do you know?)

The T-Rex down the road, pen and ink and ball point pen, 19 February 2015

The T-Rex down the road, pen and ink and ball point pen, 19 February 2015


During August I read Hilary Spurling’s biography of Matisse, Matisse: The Life, (Penguin Books 2009, the cut down version not the two volume job). It’s taken time to work through it because alongside it I’ve had open my catalogue from the 1995 Matisse exhibition that toured Australia, so I could see more of the works that Spurling covers in her book.

The day I finished reading the book I went to the NGA and drew various elements from Oceania, the Sea. This work was inspired by Matisse’s visit to Tahiti in 1930, but remained unrealised until 1946 when he made the work as a paper cut out, which was subsequently printed on linen in 1948.

As I got rather carried away by drawing various elements of this work, (13 pages of drawings of which12 are double pages), subsequently painted in gouache, I’ve made some composite images of my efforts.


Spurling write’s about Matisse’s visit to Tahiti and the lagoon of Fakarava where Matisse

experimented with focus, depth and angle, staring down from above into the green floor of the lagoon, looking up from below at a watery ceiling opaque and wavery as medieval glass, plunging repeatedly between the two, schooling the retina to compare the different luminosities of sky and sea.“( p 401). 


The National Gallery of Australia also owns the companion piece, Oceania, the Sky. The NGA’s curator Lucinda Ward takes up the story.

When Zika Ascher visited Matisse in Paris in 1946, he found an assistant pinning cut-out paper shapes to the walls. Matisse, a virtual invalid since 1941, worked from bed and had adopted decoupage. Silhouettes of fish, birds, jellyfish and coral, the life of sea and sky, were arranged from dado to cornice on two adjacent walls, and the challenge was to translate this flimsy maquette into more durable form. The London-based textile designer worked to Matisse’s exacting standards. Linen was dyed to match the colour of the apartment walls—an off-white fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s, which had become, with the patina of time, a light beige. The shapes were printed using opaque white ink.”

I found a resonnance between the Matisse cut-outs and Kelly’s shadow drawings. Simplified forms, set against a plain background. I also found a similar response in the work of Branda Kesi’s Siechoutie – muddy bark, 2009, a stitched and painted bark cloth, that I also recorded on the same day.