“Diagonals” 30 x 26 cm. June 2022

Bright directional light, deep shadows, a tilt of the head, and distant cranes of Fremantle’s inner harbour have come together to create a set of compositional diagonals. The seagull balances comfortably on one leg as if an anchor point for the whole.

It looks like silver gulls are going to make several guest appearances in next April’s “Home and Heart – Local Love Stories” exhibition. After all, Fremantle (a major subject in the exhibition) wouldn’t be the same without our eye-on-the-main-chance, casing-the-joint, feathered larrikins. I have a real soft spot for them!

“Box Seat” 28.5 x 33 cm.
“Good Day Sunshine” 28.5 x 41 cm.

If a Japanese Lantern were a Bird

If a Japanese Lantern were a Bird” Neocolor II and Luminance, 15 x 18 cm. May 2022

At the beginning of May I went searching for scarlet robins. I had seen images of them posted in the Facebook group ‘Western Australian Birds’. My mission was to find some of my own so that I could draw them. I did a bit of research and set off for Karnup Nature Reserve where it turned out a pair were waiting for me in the car park!

These striking little black, white and red robins remind me of Japanese lanterns hence the long title of this small drawing. After I thought of the title it occurred to me that it could be the first line of a verse – so I had better compose the verse.

If a Japanese lantern were a bird,
How bright its hues would be,
Illuminating scarlet globe,
Delighting all who see!

Some Japanese lanterns I have known and drawn over the years…

Wafting 2019.
Paper and Neon 2015
Interplay 2015
Minamiza Lantern 2015
The Art of Elegance 2014
Lit Up 2008.
Iluminating Dusk 2006

Now you can see why I had to find a scarlet robin, my Japanese Lantern Bird. This wee Australian bird takes me back to Kyoto.

Good Day Sunshine

“Good Day Sunshine” Neocolor and pencils, 28.5 x 41 cm, April 2022

While resting in bright morning sunshine, a silver gull observes life from its post at East Fremantle jetty.

The title comes to me on the final day of drawing. I expect John Lennon is reminding me of his and Paul’s catchy 1966 song. Once in my head the song plays on continuous loop – perhaps it will do the same in yours. (Google if you can’t remember how it goes.)

I particularly like the way the beak’s shadow descends down the breast terminating on the white post. That shadow speaks to the other verticals within the composition. I also like the placement of the car in relation to the bird. Did I wait for it to drive into position or was it simply chance? (I like to think it was intentional on my part!)

There is something about a restful gull in the sun – and I am reminded of a similarly peaceful scene from hazy Venice. Different hemispheres, seasons, atmospherics – and I can lose (find) myself in both.

“Quiet Time” 2020

A Late Night Conversation

For several days I have been “in training”. “Each night I stayed up as late as I could and each morning attempted to sleep in. My goal was to adjust my body-clock so that I wouldn’t only be awake until midnight on Wednesday 6th April but also lucid, lively and with a reasonable vocabulary at my disposal.

I had been invited by Ann Kullberg to be her guest on a webcast LIVE from America. West Australian time is 15 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific time. Ouch – hence my “in training” sessions!

Everything worked out perfectly. I had a great time in conversation with Ann and midnight came around as rapidly as it surely had for Cinderalla on another night long ago.

While people tuned in from various parts of America to see the webcast live, in my region you were all in bed fast asleep. Now that you are up and about – here it is.

While some of my artworks are seen on the webcast you can see hundreds of them on my website – from the 1970s to now. https://juliepodstolski.com

Our Place

“Our Place” Neocolor II and Luminance. 26 x 30.6 cm. March 2022

I walk into this scene on a blustery winter’s day in August 2020. A strong westerly air-stream prevails and the watery sun is setting.

A few people with strong constitutions brave the wind gusts (and probable approaching rain). Some hold fishing rods, others simply recline – staring into space.

Fremantle Inner Harbour – familiar, casual, a bleak kind of beauty. We know it intimately. Our place.

And…my place.

New View

“New View” Neocolor II and coloured pencils. 28 x 32 cm. March 2022

Last year I actively searched for new views. I studied maps and took myself on numerous reconnaissance missions in my car. I made a ‘directory of views’ which I could refer to when I felt like going out with my camera. For example what vantage points would be best for sunrise or sunset?

During my search for new views I found Mount Lyell look-out and gazebo. This is a wonderful bush-clad hill accessed from McCabe Street, Mosman Park. Ascend 20 limestone steps and from the gazebo at the top you can look east, west and south FOREVER!

On a winter’s day last July I got up before dawn and drove to Mt Lyell, ready to greet the sunrise. It was the morning after a tempestuous day of thunderstorms which had caused flash flooding and wind damage. There were still plenty of clouds about but in the east it was clear so I knew there would be a rich light-show looking west at sunrise. I aimed my lens at the cliffs of North Fremantle. The Swan River was in front, cranes of the port behind, with a glimpse of Garden Island in the distance.

I took photos as the rising sun cast its intense light onto my view. I expect the storms of the previous day were responsible for the quality of light. Everything including the air was as if gone through a washing machine cycle – dazzlingly bright! I chose to work from an impressionistic soft-focus photo. It had captured the light, rich colours and atmosphere without fiddly sharp details.

During the drawing’s execution I photographed several stages…

Neocolor II undercoat stage finished
Pencil work begins with sky
Moving down with my pencils
Now picking up the gold reflections in the apartment blocks
“New View” completed

A note to local readers – I highly recommend taking a picnic or merely a coffee to Mt Lyell gazebo, especially on a calm sunny winter’s day. I took Matthew up there last winter during one of our lock-downs when cafés were closed for dining-in. We spent a beautiful hour, mostly in silence, sipping our coffees and – gazing.

Beautiful Bird

“Beautiful Bird” drawn in February 2022, 19 x 23.5 cm.

When I was nearly finished this drawing Matthew walked past my easel. He exclaimed, “Oh what a beautiful bird!” Well that was that. I couldn’t call the drawing anything other than “Beautiful Bird”. Somewhere in my head I made a link with John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy“. (And now the Lennon song is playing on a loop inside me… “Beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful bird…”) I also think of my mother who might once have exclaimed with just the same enthusiasm as Matthew’s.

I took the photo for “Beautiful Bird” in early December. The male Purple Backed Fairy Wrens were in their full breeding colours then. But look now – in February. See how they are beginning to change into their more subtle autumn/winter fashions? I took the following photos just the other day…

On the 2nd February the change is clearly taking place.
On the 12th February there is even more change.

Let us not forget the Splendid Fairy Wren. Here is a male photographed on 11th February. He is also losing his breeding solid blues and purples as white and grey feathers replace them.

My December 2021 drawing “Blue Muse” is a reminder of how the male Splendid Fairy Wren looks in his breeding colours –

“Blue Muse” December 2021

I am awe-struck by nature. I never knew any of this until recently. And so I spend my time these days – observing, photographing and drawing – away with the fairies.

The last word goes to the female fairy wren – who doesn’t need to change. She is perfectly perfect in her one outfit all year round.

A female Splendid Fairy Wren photographed on 11th February 2022.

Box Seat

“Box Seat” Neocolor II and coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle paper, 28.5 x 33 cm. February 2022.

At Fremantle inner harbour a Silver Gull commandeers the best seat in the house. The distant objects – usually hard-edged – are diffused by light drizzle. How can a working port be a peaceful space? Yet the resting seagull, soft light and horizontal forms make it so.

Below you can see the drawing’s progression.

Stage 1: Neocolor II undercoat covering everything except bird.
Stage 2: Bird undercoated with coloured pencil only (no Neocolor). Why? Because I want the bird to have a different quality from all that surrounds it.
Stage 3: Starting to build up layers with pencils over Neocolor on lower area (except bird and box seat).
Stage 4: Coloured pencil layers moving upwards and outwards over undercoated Neocolor.
Stage 5: I attend to the sky and cranes. The picture is at a stage where I decide to begin on the foreground.
“Box Seat” completion. Because I used coloured pencils only on the bird, he stands out from his Neocolor-influenced surroundings, drawing attention to himself. He is pure – pure coloured pencil!

Up at Sunrise

“Up at Sunrise” 35.5 x 27 cm. January 2022

Who is up at sunrise? A silver gull is up and so am I. We are standing about at North Mole waiting for the sun to rise. As the sun peeks up from the east, the silver gull’s white feathers turn rosy while surrounding objects bask in gold.

I took the source photo for the just-completed drawing on 7th March 2017. Last year I did another drawing of North Mole, working from a photo I had taken back in 2002.

“Maritime Morning” drawn in 2021 sourced from my 2002 photograph.

Drawings come in their own time which can be years after their source photos were taken. I might appreciate my photo’s potential when I come across it my album but not be in the right frame of mind to do anything with it. Since 2017 my mental space has mostly been filled with Paris and Venice. Now my concentration is right here. And I must say, to dwell daily on West Australian birds and light is an antidote to Covid-19/climate-change anxiety. I self-soothe with form and colour.

Small Wonder

“Small Wonder” – a drawing of a male Purple Backed Fairy Wren. 21 x 19 cm. December 2021

I have witnessed some big wonders – and drawn them with my coloured pencils. Big wonders in Kyoto, Paris, Venice, Rome, Milan and Florence – seen and drawn from multiple overseas trips prior to 2020.

In 2021 my new wonders are local and tiny, nevertheless they are as gorgeous as the Grand Canal, St Germain des Prés, or geisha of Gion.

My latest muses take patience and stamina to even get a glimpse of – let alone photograph. They lurk in tightly packed undergrowth and fly with kamikaze speed, pausing for mere seconds. The powerful zoom lens I recently purchased to get close-ups weighs a ton. Buzzing biting insects never leave me alone and the sun beats down leaving me hot and breathless. Phew! It’s hard work.

When I took Matthew to see the Purple Backed Fairy Wrens last week, he said we were observing ‘inner space’. I like that. He meant we were peering into a hidden world which many people are unaware of. ‘Inner space’ could also refer to a state of mind – a good, peaceful and receptive one perhaps.

Photos from last week of the Purple Backed Fairy Wrens…

Female Purple-Backed Fairy Wren

Fly away 2021. 2022 is about to land. I wonder what it will bring us? Happy and safe New Year Dear Reader!