A site to share my drawings, paintings, photographs and thoughts.
Category Archives: personal history
Here I am
I exist. For now
What am I going to do with the rest of my existence?
What is my relationship with the world?
How can I be relevant?
How can I fit?
How do I fill in time?
At the end of every art exhibition I walk off the edge into nothingness…
“Once Upon a Wall” (detail) coloured pencils/oil pastels 2017
Disintegration, then reformation (hopefully) – maybe. Exposure equals vulnerability. This always happens.
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way/ And the stars look very different today/….Planet Earth is blue/ And there’s nothing I can do… (David Bowie)
A normal part of the artistic process. Nothing special.
“Café des Arts” (detail) coloured pencils 2018.
PS I recovered from my post-exhibition blues. It took exactly two weeks for me to return to my normal self.
Walking with Claude
“Walking with Claude” a drawing in oil pastels and coloured pencils of Monet’s house and garden in autumn. 320 x 400 mm. February 2018.
Does the spirit of Claude Monet walk in his garden? He said his garden was his greatest masterpiece – so perhaps he lingers within its borders. But all the tourists might drive him mad! He (like many artists) used to be infuriated by the interruptions of curious people.
I like to think he may come and go – leaving when it is busy and returning when all is quiet. The garden was nearly empty of people in late autumn of 2012 when I was there.
Who knows? Perhaps we walked side by side sharing in silence our solitude.
On a former occasion, in 2005, I visited Giverny with my family. Here I hand the page over to Matthew to introduce his song “Walking with Claude“…
Matthew, Emily, Lucy and Alicia on the Japanese bridge in Monet’s garden. August 2005. Photo by Julie
Walking with Claude by Matthew Clements
“In the summer of 2005 we spent time in Monet’s garden. It was during one of our last family holidays before Emily, Alicia and Lucy sprouted their own wings.
I wanted to write a song which somehow captured the artist in his idyll. My mother, Barbara, was a gifted gardener. I thought how she would have loved Monet’s garden but her advancing age made it unlikely she could ever make the journey. In fact, she never visited Europe during her life. So the song became my description to her of his wonderful garden.
By the time I wrote the song a year later, my own impending kidney failure somehow impacted the spirit of the song as I compared my mother’s mortality with my own.
The brilliant Perth guitarist and singer-songwriter Simon Nield, already with well advanced cancer that would soon take his life, found his own meaning in the lyric and recorded me singing it in his studio in 2007. He then overlaid some of his own gorgeous guitar. Thank you Simon!”
“Day Trip to Giverny” Drawn in January 2018
Happy Paris Anniversary
A celebration of what was, is, and what will be…
This weekend one year ago Alicia (middle daughter) and I arrived in Paris. I am celebrating the anniversary with a slice of “Opera” cake from Wild Bakery (to be eaten later) and a look at the drawings I have done so far from that inspirational trip.
Here is – basically – half an exhibition. The other half is still to come.
“Somewhere” November 2016
“Guiding Lights” November 2016
“Show Time” December 2016
“Alone in the Upper Marais” December 2016
“Nearly Dusk” December 2016
“Good Morning Paris” January 2017
“On the Road” January 2017
“Just a Moment” January 2017
“The Elegance of the 4th” April 2017
In Town Tonight April 2017
“Sideshow Alley” May 2107
“Once Upon a Wall” June 2017
“Rhapsody in Gold” August 2017
“Walk” September 2017
“Irresistible Blanche” October 2017
I mentally immerse myself in Paris long after physically returning to Fremantle. I don’t wish I was still in Paris now. I am there during the creation of each drawing. Can one be in two places at once? Without a doubt.
A photo of Alicia during one of our unforgettable walks together.
Today, members of Perth Kimono Club visited our art exhibition “Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto”.
Outside it was an incredibly stormy day. Only the bravest of the brave actually wore kimono as a strong bitterly cold wind blew non-stop while horizontal rain teemed. Inside the gallery we sat and discussed maiko, geiko and Kyoto – interrupted at regular intervals by the front door blowing open.
President of Perth Kimono Club, Izumi Woods, was given the task of randomly selecting the winner of 40 Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 coloured pencils (held by Robyn Varpins) donated by Kadmium Art + Design Supplies in Sydney. 220 names were in the bag. Congratulations Di Swain!!!
After a group photo, people chatted and looked at the art. It was a lovely way to finish off the exhibition.
Matthew (my Better Half) was given the task of photographer.
Tomorrow people will come to take away the sculptures and drawings they bought. And I will go back to being a person who works quietly at home…at least for another two years.
Thank you to EVERYBODY who took the time to visit our art exhibition over two and a half weeks. Your interest, encouragement and support are hugely appreciated.
“Hurry Up!” is drawn with coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth. 250 x 305 mm. June 2016
I may be nearly 57 but my eternal inner child is alive, well and as insistent as she was when I was actually her age. A fortnight ago we travelled to Kyoto together.
“Hurry up!” she implored on each of the three nights we stayed out to photograph maiko and geiko. “I’m bored already. We’ve been out all day. I’m tired. I want to go back to my room. I want to eat.” And – “Buy me a macha ice cream”. [I did. It was delicious.] “My feet hurt. My knees, back and shoulders ache. I need a bathroom. I need a bed.”
I had to be firm. “Just another half hour”, I replied. “Wait until I get a couple more photos. I tell you what, after the next maiko or geiko shows up, then we’ll go. Just until 9, 9.30, just until 10.”
So the internal dialogue continued. Adult Julie simply HAD to hold out; resist the whine from within. This was a small window of opportunity (three days and nights) to acquire new source photos to draw from. I couldn’t waste precious time by giving in and going back to the hotel. I MUST HAVE PHOTOS! (Or to quote a famous lady, “I must have my share…”)
We agreed on one thing; when maiko and geiko appeared, enabling us to get photos, both adult and inner child were exultant. “YES!”
Maiko and geiko finally came out of various ozashiki and dashed in the rain to their next appointments. The drawing’s title refers to their speed as they hurtled (with grace) past one another beneath red umbrellas.
“Hurry Up!” is a drawing about movement; an impression of speed. Plus the title acknowledges Inner Child. It reminds me of our nightly reckoning as we endured mind-numbing boredom and fatigue on the dark wet streets of Gion – waiting interminably for a few quick bursts of elegant action.
Thinking About Paris
Marais Impression 2011
Tonight I felt moved to re-watch Woody Allen’s film “Midnight in Paris”. I was reminded (as if I needed reminding) what a sensationally beautiful city Paris is. Clearly Allen was as seduced by the city as I (and so many of us) have been – and will continue to be.
Moulin Rouge 2011
After watching the film, I decided to post a few Paris drawings which were made before I had a blog. I had spent December of 2010 in that city with my family. What a joy to explore Paris over a whole month and to capture images which I would spend the next three to four years drawing.
Luminous Morning 2011
It had been a particularly cold December. I encountered fog, rain, snow, sleet, hail and just the smallest bit of sunshine. Most of my drawings contain wet streets.
Place Blanche 2011
Café on the Left Bank 2011
The best place I found for getting views above Paris was The Pompidou Centre – at the top of the escalators. Focussing first on the view and then on the glass pane itself, I got very different effects – all of which I made extremely detailed drawings of.
Snow on Les Halles 2012
Snow Showers 2012
Back at street level, I LOVED the novelty of slushy snow – until it soaked through my inadequate footwear.
Tempête de neige 2012
Paris en hiver 2011
I returned in 2012 and 2013 and made enough drawings for two solo exhibitions. Those familiar streets became my friends, and remain my friends.
Conversations at Dusk 2012
Have you visited Paris? I wonder what your thoughts are?
Le Georges Rose 2012
November 2016: I never thought, when I wrote this post last November, that I would return to Paris within twelve months. I was there last month and am now starting a whole new body of work from this mesmerizing city.
“Somewhere” November 2016
So much more to follow…
Kraków to Kyoto: a costume drama
When I visited my niece, Marie, in New Zealand a couple of months ago, I noticed that she had an old drawing of mine. In fact it must be my oldest coloured pencil drawing in existence. My mother had bought me a set of 72 Derwent pencils in 1979. I sketched my Polish dolls and gave her the drawing as a thank you present. When I saw the framed drawing this year I was heartened to see that the colours still looked pretty good after 36 years even though the student-grade cartridge paper itself showed signs of its age.
I was given my first Kraków costume when I was four years old. Didn’t I love it! I wore it until it was worn out. Then in 1970 when Mum, Dad and I visited Poland, I was given a second Kraków costume. I still have it – though the shiny bits don’t shine the way they used to and bits of it are missing (but could easily be replaced) such as ribbon to tie the bodice.
My Kraków costume was surely a blessing from a benevolent fairy godmother. It has been instrumental in developing my appreciation of the drama of costume. Its invisible presence is behind every kimono, obi and kanzashi that I draw.