Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sand angel

Sand Angel
This Easter weekend
I learned how
to make
a sand- angel.

Here's how:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The charm of very early morning

This morning at 6am I woke to a full moon streaming through the window. Outside, the dawn was just breaking and I took photos looking up and down my suburban street.
Full moon and street lights
Dawn breaks and the last star shines

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spider time

The calendar says it is autumn and spiders know it too because despite the summer-like heat they are dancing their autumn dance. 
we can see you
The garden is full of leaves hanging in mid air between branches, off washing lines and fences, each one curled, with a spider inside the curl patiently waiting for a prey who don't see its gossamer web. They are spun quickly and a path that was clear one minute is an obstacle race the next.  

patiently waiting
Not only leaf spiders but every other type seems to be active as well, scuttling up walls, spinning webs along the ceiling, hiding in every nook and cranny. 

Where were they in summer when we needed them to catch the evening mosquitoes?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Sydney

Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a special sort of pianist, one of those musicians who translate music with their whole body, a phenomenon you sometimes see with string players who stand to play but seldom with pianists, even the most active and virtuosic. Aimard played  Olivier Messiaen's Vingt Regardes sur l'Enfant-Jésus (Twenty Contemplations of the Christ Child) last night at the Angel Place concert hall.

It was an extraordinary concert that got a standing ovation, not so common for solo pianists.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays colours
Firstly to the music: I had heard the excellent pre-concert talk by David Garrett, who spoke about Messiaen's religiosity, his detailed knowledge of Roman Catholic music (he was Church organist for years) and his use of this knowledge in the music he wrote. I prepared to hear something I could relate to church music but if there were references to church liturgy and music (and I am sure there were many) I missed them completely. 

David Garrett - pre-concert talk

Instead I heard very modernist piano music, mostly discordant, very colourful, sometimes melodic and despite the title of the piece, only occasionally what I would call contemplative. I found it unexpected, riveting, mesmerising.

Which brings me to the player, who undoubtedly had much to do with how his audience received the music.  Aimard had been a friend of Messiaen and was a piano student of  Messiaen's wife Yvonne Loriod, herself a virtuoso pianist so he knows the world of Messiaen better than most. As I mentioned above, the music seemed to take over Aimerd physical presence as he played . In the quiet beginnings of this two hour marathon it was only the mouth you noticed, a clenching and un-clenching that made him look as if he was chewing gum. As the concert progressed and the twenty contemplations became raucous this involuntary response enveloped more of Aimard's body. It was as if electrical waves were being transmitted by the piano strings. At times he rose off the stool, sitting a few inches above it with twisted body looking like a contortionist trick. At other times he seemed about to swallow the piano whole, such was his concentration and determination. It was impossible not to be swept away by his playing and the music.

The music was played with brilliance but I still wondered why I found it so very disarming. Was it the religious significance Messiaen gave it that added something I couldn't define?

This evening I have been reading the notes from the concert booklet and discover that the piece was written for Loriod in a period when their love could not be acknowledged. His next major piece was inspired by Tristan and Isolde. Suddenly I feel the pieces clicking into place!

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Sugar plums

Sugar plums
(61 x 30.5 cm)
I went looking for some paintable fruit last week and found sugar plums.  I love Pflaumentorte (German plum cake) which is made with sugar plums but it is expensive to make in Australia because the plums are less popular and are offered in small prepacked quantities. Enough for a painting, but not enough for Pflaumentorte.

Sugar plums are purplish with a whitish sheen which makes them interesting to paint. I painted a narrow canvas then couldn't resist painting a larger version as well.I am not sure if the whitish sheen got more pronounced over time or whether I got better at painting it by the second canvas; perhaps both.
Sugar plums II
(60 x 50cm)

Friday, March 04, 2016

Bottles and pears

Bottles and pears
My January exhibition was time consuming to manage and left me little painting time. Once it was finished I had a real urge to paint. The exhibition space influenced the sizes of the canvases I chose as I saw the paintings hanging in the cafe as I bought them: long and square canvases with a 61cm (24") edge.
What fits on long canvases? Well, bottles for one thing; the green (wine) and pink (bubbly) bottles from the exhibition opening party which happened to be still standing on the bench.

I added green pears and wine glasses but it took me a long time and many trials to make the painting interesting.
Progress: bottles and pears

Liquid in the glasses (detail)

Finally, as I was about to paint the whole canvas over, I sat my filled wine glass beside the bottles and noticed the interesting pattern made by the liquid in the glass.

I added some wine  to the second glass and had fun capturing the patterns in paint.

In the meantime the pears had turned a lovely golden shade of yellow, much too beautiful to discard (ie eat) without trying to paint them anew. 

I put them in a bowl and immediately started on a second painting.

Bottles and pears 2
(30.5 x 61 cm)

 This second painting was finished in no time and I like it better than the first. 

I don't know whether it was easy to paint because of the time I had already invested in the first painting or whether the autumnal colour combination made it more inspiring and therefore easier to paint.

Recent pictures on the wall