The GEAS annual Paint in the Park Day took place along the Koornang Road shopping strip on Sunday. A great change from Caulfield Park with more community interaction and far less in the way of verdant foliage....... It is both good and bad, as it is a more confronting and visible process for the artist.
It is not everyday in Melbourne that one walks down a suburban shopping street to find twenty or so artists painting and drawing their time away at an easel; maybe along the cobbled paths of Montmatre, France, but not along the flat, grey pavement of Carnegie's main street...until this weekend, of course.
The weather was perfect. The previous days heat had dissipated and the wind had eased considerably. I took the new easel along and discovered it a much easier process to undo the legs whilst the box was upside down...Thanks to Wade for the tip, it saved my back.
I had originally thought I would paint down at the station. Logistically, this was a bit tricky. Instead, I set up outside the library with a good view of the childrens playground. It is a spot I am more than familiar with given my eldest is 21 and my youngest, 9 years.
A constant stream of locals stopped by the playground with their kids. Some were a tad harried. Most, though, seemed content in soaking up the relaxed pace of a Sunday, and taking in as much leisure as time could afford them.
A few people watched me paint; kids, especially, curious in who and what figures I would place in the picture. "Is that me?" they would ask with any mark that bore resemblance to a figure....in scant, sketchy and washy marks they could see themselves.
Given the point of the project was a cityscape, I had begun with setting out of the environment and trying to create an urban feel. A bit like setting the stage. This part, for me, takes the longest: trying to establish structure and depth first, then I consider the figures, who they will be, where they are positioned and why they are, where they are.
So, as if on cue, and as I had begun to feel some degree of safety with the composition and the narrative, two young girls came by. They chatted with me and watched the painting progress for while. They noticed the spare lollipops lying beside my paints. I noticed their fluoro yellow nail polish, overlaid with coloured dots, like hundreds and thousands; I noticed the turquoise dress.
A short time later one of the girls came back to me. She asked me if I could put her and her sister into the painting. They suggested they could both pose. I couldn't say no. The timing was perfect.
And so the girls were painted.
This painting and the other eighteen works will be exhibited at the Glen Eira Town Hall Gallery from December 1 - 15 2014 details TBA