Sometimes life creeps up and before you know it weeks have gone by and you find you have been busy doing 'other things'. I haven't been able to paint for a number of weeks, a medical hiatus...apart from some smaller stuff on paper at the kitchen table. My second youngest is also doing V.C.E.....
....What's for dinner? the texts have been coming in thick and fast all year.
Anyway, that part is nearly over! four down, one to go, albeit in six years time.
And then there was the footy.....well, that has added to my painting hiatus too, and taken me to another place and consumed all manner of time and emotional energy. Eleven games was my tally this year, a record for me since having kids divests one of precious leisure time.
That which is hard to believe is the fact that every game I went to was a winning one.
Over the years I have often sketched at the footy. This year I just couldn't. So much momentum and pace that built as the season wore on.
It was such an incredible year of footy for the Tigers. After the end of last season, there was not an inkling of possibility that the Tigers would and or could get up and win the grandfinal.
And so a different series of work has been elicited this year. Instead of looking at the motion of the game, the crowd and all the visual facts before me, I decided to instead work from memory, feeling, imagination. I decided to take bits from my own domestic scenery and build into these spaces something from each round of the season.
I’ve been able to continue flattening my colours and bringing in a stronger design element at times. My penchant for black sits comfortably in this style of work. Black can so easily deaden colours surrounding it if you aren't careful. I have also been able to take many of the footy euphemisms too, and play with these words in a visual and personal manner.
These paintings are still evolving. Many have been done at home, not the studio, in between house work and cooking meals. Most are acrylic on paper A3 in size and I want to expand on a couple and develop a few more into works on canvas. Whilst the method is quite different to that of my larger Melbourne Paintings, it is one that I am really enjoying as I am constantly thinking as to how best resolve both pictorial and narrative dramas.
I am also wondering if the distortion of style is, perhaps, more than apt. Footy, the ever present distraction from the daily grind of everydayness and these twisted little pictorials, also become distractions from that which is usual for me. Footy, especially Aussie Rules, allows one to escape with raucous abandon and channel unused energies within.
Over the years I have loved many an artist from the pasts' work. But one constant would be the work of German painter, Max Beckmann. His use of vibrant colour and black are always enchanting and appeal to my mind. His paintings are just so expressive. I saw quite a few last year at the MET in New York.
And recently, I came across the work of Jacob Lawrence, an African-American painter. His scenes of daily life in the Harlem district of New York in the early 20th Century are intriguing too for the way he flattens perspective but maintains a vivd and colourful narrative. His pieces are smaller and quite domestic in size. He first came to be known for a series of paintings he did that focused on the mass migration of African Americans from the south to the urban areas of Northern USA.
In the meantime, I'll admire the works of these other artists, but try to bring together these various elements into a singular working style.
This series, that I have dubbed Afternoon Tea for the Boys, is partially up on Instagram at @thisfootylife....search it.
Right now, my own boys have arrived home and Nicola too, from her Vis Com exam, and I have just caught the Anzacs in the oven, before burning them, yet again.
If you visit my shop katebirrelshop.bigcartel.com you will also find some prints recently added along with some greeting cards. These smaller items help to achieve some income to cover my painting costs. I am still building it up.
Recipe for My Anzacs Today
2 tablespoons of honey
1 cup of Rolled Oats (traditional, not the fast cook porridge ones)
1 cup of plain flour
1 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of coconut
2 tablespoons of boiling water
1 teaspoon of Bicarb
Melt butter and honey together over the saucepan. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl except the bicarb.
Add bicarb to the 2 tablespoons of boiling water and stir. Then stir into the melted honey/butter mix...it should bubble and fizz a bit.
Then mix this butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
Then take out approximately 1 dessertspoonful each and plonk onto a biscuit tray that is covered with baking paper.
Pop the tray into the oven at approximately 150 degrees for about 10 minutes or until just lightly browned.
Warning....they cook very quickly and burn if you are distracted by your phone, iPad, desktop or other things.