Thoughts to accompany the 2018 exhibition at Artsite gallery:
I enjoy and look forward to painting from everyday life, firstly because it is experiential. The experience is not only the act of painting but the shift of looking at the world from a different perspective. I found that this shift is accentuated when being away because you are already in that mode.
It's when you're not on your way anywhere but you are just hanging around for the sake of seeing and experiencing, this gives you a richer feeling of your reality.
There is a feeling for the place you are, even when you are painting your own street, and that feeling of the sense of place can sometimes last for hours afterwards.
When painting, I find the imagery emerges, from shapes, a dark patch, a green bit over there, it is a lot about being in the present moment. This is a difference I have noticed too when painting strokes and patterns, which is a more process-based part of making art.
I need that pattern making, that I have been doing, I don’t know why really. I need detail. I like to give myself more work for some reason. I like the unity it brings to the painting. If there's too much weight in any part of the image, I can see that higher contrast, it takes my eyes to it, but I would rather my eyes not to have a landing spot. I think these patterns unify the image and take the edge off the contrast.
What I enjoyed about painting in China is that the sky and the land are very much connected, and that's what helped me to create this lower contrast or unity within the painting. Because there wasn't a sharp edge or contour that was going on between the horizon and the sky, they melded into each other, and that's because the sun is behind a veil of atmosphere or pollution and this kind of diffuses the light, so the light is softer on the landscape and softer in the sky, and brings down a certain colour range that I really liked. That can really be seen anywhere, on a cloudy day and the late afternoon, which is when I would rather paint outside. I work in the cemeteries most days and on the many cloudy days, I see much more to paint. I see this in some of Leon Kossoff's paintings of London street scenes. I see straight away in the painting that it was an overcast day. One of my favourite artists is Grandma Moses, I had an image of one of her paintings on my phone screen background for years.
I’m not painting from the point of view of someone who has thought about why and what they are doing in any conceptual sense, I'm retro-fitting any ideas backwards. Why anyone goes for a certain visual aesthetic I don’t know. Why you choose those colours and not others, for example, I don’t think can be articulated, because these decisions are not word based, they are someone's sensibility or ideals that are formed in a visual context or perception, and for me those visual perceptions are my use of colour, the composition, and the pattern making. I think that the patterns give the paintings something, maybe a sensitivity and a consistency, also a kind of discipline that nearly everything has been approached with a stroke and a kind of marked dot, which all lend themselves subtlety to the depiction in the painting. Because they're of different weights and arranged in different orientations, they suggest some form of visual layout to the painting. However in some paintings, there is no indication of this where the patterns conform with the image, for example, I don't make them twist around the hands, or go around the background. I apply the mark making in series but also indiscriminately all across the painting, so in a sense it's not done to enhance the painting specifically in terms of perspective and so forth, but I do use that to lend a level of layer and unity and concealment to the image.
For me, plein air painting is a play between the figure and the landscape, and I have found myself thinking recently that trees are like figures. Because there are different orientations of directions where the paint is, for example, the ground will usually go down horizontally, the walls of a house will come forward and then there are these trees there and these things connote different forms of direction, like the tree is sticking up and its branching out, or the figure is walking across a background, moving somewhere, or standing still, like a full stop. All these things connote different levels of movements and connote different kind of placements or composition of things so that they all have their own place. I enjoy mixing the colours, I don't like to use colours straight out of the tube, they are too bright, I like paintings that have a subtly of the colour or a specific tonal range.
In the pattern making, I realised I like to hide things, I like the fact that you can get lost in it, that an image is there but is also not overtly there; I am not drawn as much to imagery that is too obvious; too high contrasted. I find it to be a more enduring sense of interest in work when there are things that are not obvious.
David Asher Brook
Doesn’t matter what you paint.
Representation vs substance.
In everything and art, everything comes at the sacrifice of everything else.
Music comes when I'm least familiar with the guitar when the combination of 2 notes is so foreign that it opens vistas on the gradations of fleeting new emotions.
Nothing’s in the books and everything is in the books.
There is a simple beautiful pleasure to making a puzzle, locking all the pieces together has a strange sense of accomplishment. But why fit pieces of puzzles together when you can create the puzzle while it will exist simultaneously. It is a more difficult pleasure but is it your own. Making art is like unlocking your own mystery by solving the inherent problem that you created. A canvas has to justify its own existence in anyway you like and so by the time it arrives, you hope you have ended up with something meaningful and beautiful to you.
mixing/mastering music down is like a battle for parking, in the realm of sound.
One can learn all temperaments and character traits from jazz solos.
Please take your little white triangles
Your straw hat and blue sun
And place them in front of
my tiny little eyes.
Some paintings are virgins, some are pitiful, many I feel sorry for.
Some have never been rejected from an art prize or have never been exhibited
and some will never see the light of day.
Can be spooky and insane, the pursuit of turning
nothing into something and something to nothing,
while some whisper: good luck..good luck..
The sun and the coffee
And the grinding of sand under the legs of chairs,
And in between the teeth and jaws of the Pharaohs
from the 2nd dynasty Karnak.
While sun baking with coffee in a sunlight
that has bleached the blue right out of this sky.
Hole in the fence.
Making art is about searching, about looking to be able to stand so close to the fastest and dirtiest train the world has ever known.
It is not obvious that it has to be perfect.
That the spider will not jump in your throat,
and implant you with a thousand hatchlings,
and use your body as the base to take over
your kid's bedroom, as you try to take her outside.
Or that your wife will grab the tail of the snake
without spilling coffee all over the hallway piano.
Maybe art is about living with the choices you have made.
Shots taken from my phone usually while waiting in the car for traffic or some other reason.
With guitars by dBrook.
When your awake in the middle of the night,
go to your window and listen,
you can hear very softly the sound of sirens.
You will get to know your painting, if you sleep with it in your room.
When you lie down and wake up, see it in ways that you can’t see
when your doing your everyday life.
I will spend equal time in the past and future in my time machine.
All music is about death.
I spend a lot of time staring at the painting and painting it in my mind to avoid mistakes, trying this and that.
It can involve any aspect of the image, the dots or the lines that could be, which direction should they go, in which area, what size, how I’m going to hide this part and bring this forward etc. Sectioning parts off in the mind by putting a blind eye on certain aspects. There are so many variables, sometimes it was the right approach and others times I can’t imagine it that well so I have to paint it and see what it really looks like. It’s hard to hold so many moves in your head and that it’s not so unlike chess. Once you make the right move the next step becomes clearer, some times you can make the wrong move, or many of them. Sometimes your opponent lets you take your move back, sometimes they don’t.
Bagpipes and the Hurdy Gurdy are the sound of the primitive within the European.
Bring on the provenience
Shake the can until it turns cold then press very slowly
and little specks shoot out to create for yourself a global cluster.
I went to journey to paint outside but when I got there,
I realised that I forgot to bring brushes
so I chewed sticks to paint with and it didn’t go so good.
I bite my tongue and then my tongue tastes itself.
You are paying for the packaging.
She stood me up,
cause I stood her up,
because I thought she stood me up.
My friend says..
“an art exhibition is like a book launch but where everyone reads the book in front of you”
What is light.
When I look at a star, I know that my eyes could see that star anywhere, say 10 hours drive from here, if so what is it that is making its way to my eye, wether I'm standing here,10 hours away and every cm in between. I don’t see how something could make its way approximately everywhere at once.
When I was young I used to get this feeling a lot,
and only sometimes I have it now but very rarely,
It is having a feeling for the place you are in,
it feels good, it is like magic.
You cant control it – it just comes.
I remember being in primary school looking out the window
of my class room and seeing the top of a hill somewhere on a sunny day,
it was a park and i would feel what it was like to be there,
without being there, maybe it felt better than being there.
At night in my house I could sense it in the back streets around my
neighbourhood. I could feel what it was like out there -
i didn’t need to be there just to know that it was there.
It gave me a sense of comfort and made me feel very alive.
women are harder to paint
because you have to bring out their beauty
where as a man is just a man.
a drinker drinks because he believes that everything is better with it
whatever the situation but the problem is that it is only half true.
Looking for the hole in the fence. And a corridor under a fireplace.
Waiting for the day I catch the thief but more for my reaction.
We become ourselves by quietly rejecting the things we are NOT.
There is something complicated
but simple and beautiful about knots.
– - .
Does it not feel good to have scars?
When your painting outside it means not so much what people say,
but what kids say is meaningful, because kids know and mean it,
when they say wow or nothing they mean wow or nothing.
When you want a small paradigm shift - dunk your head in cold water
I think the most powerful thing is fear.
Over the bridge.
I had a dream:
That a Chinese emperor came crying to me.
They say there are 100 billion galaxies with 100 billion stars in each one.
But I feel stressed because I can’t seem to find a forgotten headstone
in the corner of the cemetery of a deadman.
I'm taking the water to the horse and he just keeps on drinking.
The primary reason for tiredness and drowsiness is boredom.
My earliest memory of being in an art class was the teacher telling us that artists like to go to deep into the country so they can paint with no sounds to distract themselves from their painting, but I think she was just trying to shut us up.
Seeing is so entwined with knowledge,
what you see is what you understand.
If you don’t understand you don’t see.
Aldous Huxley understood this and he explains it well.
Some people saw it.
We are expected to be:
I'm trying to imagine the composition for:
A sunset on a moon, which are both setting on another sun,
with other moons above and a walking figure below on the surface of the sun,
and it’s not easy, but I like to try imagine.
The realisation that I’d rather be with you sober,
that I'm nothing more than somebody
that likes to lose himself because I'm hopelessly
devoted to something that I don’t understand it myself.
Painting is about not being stingy to yourself.
Never lose sight of the vision of your daydream reflection notion cousin.
Like the apple core in the middle of the road and the moonshine by day.
And the paint that makes its way from my hand to my shirt and then onto yours.
I will be here for you.
Love is the feeling, that nothing lasts forever.
All we got to do is figure out the how and the what or the what and the how
then follow through and the rest is history.
I’m living consistently, based on juxtaposition.
Feel like sighing a thousand times to the cats and the moon,
because I'm foolish. Living in a world of words and people,
going faster than they have ever been before…
good music is about the sensitivity of mankind in practice.
If you paint>
If you paint the trees before the skies
or the sky before the trees, there is a huge difference.
Making art is about the actions of ideas becoming the ideas of actions
and a play or a march is the other way around.
Urgency is death, patience is dead.
And longevity is in denial, so where is the virtue?
Unless love loves you it doesn’t feel like love.
The feeling of what the night will be, can be more important than what the night will become.
This world is like the night before.
And the next is like the morning after.
The landscape existed first, people come into the landscape and they can walk out of it. People come at the end of a painting, they are placed above the previous paint. Similar to earlier days when man and woman came late into an existing world. As if it’s for them.
We have become people of moving images.
History is speeding up.
We are satiated by the speed of things.
But painting is the staple diet
of someone who would want to create something.
How do I look at the art of somebody, u cant stand.
This person could be a murderer, who has made a great piece of art,
how do I feel about it? there are numerous gradations of this example,
but the point is clear, how do you feel…..about it.
If you know the answer, maybe you are already wrong.
“An amateur is someone who supports himself with outside jobs which enable him to paint. A professional is someone whose wife works to enable him to paint.” (Ben Shahn)
The Bougainvillea is out, the Jacaranda is out.
The yachts are out, the clouds have gone.
Amateur guitar players are out.
Tap dancing is out. Donkeys are out.
One dollar is out. The Bakersfield font is out.
The coach is out. The dream time is long gone.
Money is rolling to me and back on to you.
The sunflowers are out. The fire is out.
Midday is out. Scrapbooks are out.
Karoshi has begun.
Art is many things. But when I was recently in a hospital I was reminded of how the function of art there is a good one. A hospital is a place of mixed emotions and seeing all the art up there lining the walls. It says to you, you are here, and there is a world and try to remember that we are able to choose the way we see things, try to see things differently and make things different out of the anguish of our selves and the world.
We all stand alone
with nothing other than a rock and a dripping tap
and the moon setting fast and hard over this city
we all live in,
we stand alone.
After spending a few days in London you will notice bricks – everywhere and in all colours, it became an obsession to me and I took a lot of photos and made a video about it. Not sure why there are so many bricks there but I know the great fire of London had something to do with it. You can see that there is beauty in every brick – in some, it just takes longer to see. They are all set in a pattern known as the English Bond.
I never have seen so much art in my life.
There is something mysterious about Gauguin.
Nothing has been overrated about Van Gogh.
Barcelona loves Gaudi. Felt 13 looking at Dali.
Miro uses a good green. My shoes remind me of Miro
I will never understand how Bruegel did that.
Francis Bacon made me feel quite young.
Loved Rousseau and Renoir. Still unsure about Oscar Kokoschka
There was something that blew me away about Cezanne’s card players.
But I can’t remember what that was now.
Walking the busy streets of London, and it keeps reminding me, of a Leon Kossoff painting of the muted colours and the people walking in London. It sometimes seems as somebody has gone a turned the contrast down here. But then you notice how the colour does come out, look at the English back garden, honestly there is something greener about the grass and the fences are a warmer off white and that's because it’s so dull. It's because it’s so dull that the hues appear deeper to me.
From the inside.
Something creepy about being a tourist. Meaning you can't just look and look, it is so indulgent and mindless to stare, you have to give back a bit…trying to blend in and see things from the inside. Once I came really close to getting paint all over the carpet of a UNESCO world heritage site. If I did, do I pay? It like the time when my kids nearly broke a set of Perceval and Boyd potteries displayed waist high and haphazardly… I won't talk about it anymore.
There are 2 ways to see things when drawing from life, from the outside in, meaning turning things into lines/outlines and a line is a very personal thing. The other way is from the inside, which is less personal but more interesting, it keeps telling you what you thought was black is not black and what you see as white is not white. And you see the way you see things eg a glass cup you realise how smart your brain/eyes are & you can’t see this as clear until you try and draw via staring a lot.
Suddenly in an English garden.
Hard in an English toilet.
Under pressure in a British airport,
and on a plane.
In a Spanish airport.
In the lobby of the hotel Condado,
and in the hotel room.
I’m finding it hard to sleep in Barcelona,
and I don’t speak Spanish anymore.
A hangover is the cells from the edge of your nose to the tip of your feet telling you, that you are better off dead, that you never appreciated just being alive, to simply wash the dishes and work, that it wasn’t good enough for you. - If only we felt the joys of just being alive and what a pleasure it but then we forget. And forget this over and over again.
Thinking about how somebody can live or spend years of their life comfortably in a small location as we all do. We spend chunks of our lives in certain spaces ie our bedrooms. A little space has so much to offer an individual that they could spend major parts of their life in this particular space.
Yet when we move through space, as we travel in our car we travel through the distance of properties, we traverse space so quickly, it totally defies the importance and preciousness of space that it’s almost meaningless.
A while back when there was a Sidney Nolan exhibition on at the Art Gallery of NSW. There was a small brochure printed, I had one somehow from somewhere. On the cover was a photograph of him in the studio and very far in the background was painting leaning against something it was very insignificant in the image. However when I saw this painting in the background of this photo I was totally locked in with it and inspired about something in terms of shape and how the paint was to go down. I went to the exhibit and I really liked the show but I was more inspired totally from this image that was about 2cm or less.
I find this happens often, another example I was pulled over on the side of the road (I'm not sure why) and I was looking through the window of a restaurant, quite far back on the side wall I saw an image which was so intriguing to me. From the blurriness of distance I saw a smallish painting of a woman standing on a beach the dark blue ocean intersecting her and a sky above, from the top of the sky was a huge dog leaping down from the sky with its paws outstretched above her, what a strange image, lady and dog from the sky. I told my wife in the car that I needed to take a closer look at this and I quickly went inside to see it for myself, as I approached the image, it started to disassemble itself and suddenly I was looking at a generic image of a rose...
Out working thinking about my grandfather who is buried say 400 meters away, I’ve only visited once the stone that bears his name- I’m so busy and there is do much to do again today, as I speed away from the gates of the cemetery.
People are funny, someone can paint 1000 paintings, pour himself into each of them, and she or he can win a little art prize and it means more to most people most of the time.
Wedding under a green sky.
Wedding after seeing a quote from hitler: ”Anyone who sees and paints a sky green and fields blue ought to be sterilized”.
No squeezing outside
Here is a photo of my paintbox and palette, I'm always trying to make myself lighter when outside,
so no tubes and no squeezing takes place.
I received the Art Spectrum prize, good feeling to be able to open all these boxes of paint, thank you Art Spectrum. Opening the 500ml buckets removing the lid smelling the saffron oil. I just stuck my thumb in the Naples yellow. This seems to be the colour that the sun turns things into. There’s dark green which would be the colour of grass in the shade, mixed with Naples Yellow the grass is now in the sun. The black tar road often seems to me to be a kind of black Naples Yellow whens the suns around.
Having these weird sensations while driving and I will actually feel it, that in the deeper part of my upper thigh, all of a sudden a large crouching spider appears in a sort of spontaneous way as if from nowhere until I push the feeling away of these dammed thoughts.
I found a drawing on the floor in my house, (because the kids go through things when we sleep and bring things out), that I haven’t seen for years. Interesting process on a clear plastic sheet, I used a needle to scratch lines into it, then I rubbed black ink or something and it stained the scratched lines, like a tattoo.
Found a stop - called Johnson’s lookout, looking down over all those trees, seeing pale yellow-greens, yellow-greens, warm yellow-greens, copper yellow-greens, off yellow-greens, neon yellow-greens, suicide bomber greens, blood greens, bright red greens, light blue-greens, purple greens, warm purple greens, cobalt greens, Turquoise greens, purply blue-greens, ultramarine greens, party greens, warm brown greens, dark brown greens and black greens…
Hansel and Gretel.
Some times you can be somewhere where everything seems so paintable, and it’s not raining and it can make you sick. Reminds me of the story of Hansel and Gretel when they came to the house that was entirely edible, but how much did they eat.
When in the streets the main thing that grabs me to paint something, I would say is colours. I was in a park one day walking around in a circle for quite a while and then I saw a parked bright yellow bus, it was a warm yellow. I got excited that I ran to get my things frantically, just to have a go at the yellow (which is my favourite colour). After about 5 mins, the engine made that roar and it continued on, I watched it swing around, leave the park and fade away. It could be a black dog, a football team in blue and white stripes, or a pink building.. a few of my favourite things.
Won a bid on ebay for a heater, but we only realised much later, the heater was in the Northern Beaches which was a long drive, so we made a trip out from it. Got the heater & found a beach called Dee Why (a beautiful beach) and started painting there.
I found that Phthalo blue has to be the most saturated paint around, so don’t forget to put the lid on it when you go out unless you want black and blue hands. I kept getting this feeling because of where I was standing that there was always someone standing behind me and watching me and I’d turn around and there was no one there, it must of been from shadows that lingered after the people walked away. Also its funny to see that when one person does stand and watch you, it makes more people stand and watch and so forth until it gets creepy and you have to kind of break it all up to introduce yourself.
@ Westfield shopping centre Bondi Junction. Painted on the top floor. Looking downish. I always loved this idea of painting around such an environment because of the advertisements of giant people in sunglasses, and women in poses. After about 25 mins was approached by the security guards, it was so obvious to them that I wasn’t permitted to paint there, “unless you have a special permit” so I had to pack up and leave. A few days later a guy committed suicide from that top level.
Only white water
It was a rainy day and a windy day, and I was feeling resistance to go out. I ended up at Bondi Beach. The place was empty and the water was only white from the wind. It was the type of wind that you can’t hear yourself speak in. I turned the car around opened the back door and painted facing out the back with legs getting wet. After a while the water was getting into the car, so painting had to be done through the windows. It was getting dark and the car wasn’t starting because it died on me. The NRMA came about 1/1/2 hours later. This was one of the first times finishing the painting there and then. When I got home the dinner was cold, the kids where asleep, but the night was young.