April 2023

April 2023

So the optimism that was lurking in the dense foliage all along, ventures out into view as yet another election result seems to confirm Australia’s distaste for the carcinogenic and depressing  neoliberalism that was engulfing us in a stinking brown fluid.

Its been a fecund and joyous end of summer/autumn this year in Big Bush.

I hope it shows in the recent  paintings.


Oils on canvas 92 x 122cm

Most years we see the Common Brown butterfly:  Heteronympha merope merope  in the bush and gardens.  Regular rainfall keeps native grasses growing and the larvae of H. merope feed upon these grasses and pupate and emerge as adult butterflies. This year there is a great abundance of these butterflies. They spring up and fly very close to my face as if trying to communicate something.

So I wonder if they could be um, spirits or ghosts???

Of What or Whom???

And what would they be wanting to communicate?

Having introverted misanthropic Asperger’s  tendencies my first sympathies always go to the megafauna and habitats that preceded humans.

But then, around January 26th every year I feel uncomfortable about “owning” Big Bush; aware that the previous human “owners” were probably murdered.

The ultimate truth telling can be found in “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Hariri. It should be compulsory reading for all humans.

We need to know what humans have done to this planet. It’s complex and uncomfortable to assimilate.

So maybe the Merope butterflies are trying to say:

“Thanks for noticing us.

 Actually we non-humans were around for millions of years before you humans with your, um, cleverness came along.

Maybe some of you realise now that you have made a bit of a mess of the planet.

 And maybe it’s too late already to do much about it…But good luck anyway…”

Yellow Cloud

Oils on canvas 92 x 122cm

I keep a kind of journal in my studio.

 Multi purpose: Sometimes to remind myself of something I want to proceed with next session. Sometimes “Important pronouncements” that come into my mind as I work (which are probably more smartarse than profound). Sometimes remarks to go into this blog; Sometimes remarks that may be helpful for aspiring young artists(?) Some are obscure, nay, unhinged.

So here is a sample of notes I made while working on Yellow Cloud:

28th. Now what about this:?? The way the profile along the top of the cloud seems to be presenting a theme: A Beethovenian skeletal melody that contains germs, secrets, seeds; that have awesome implications. Its offering me a challenge to make something of this throughout the painting. (Hint: It’s to do with spacing, shapes, size (of shapes) shapes (of shapes) repetition, rhythm) but don’t lose its insistence!

 “Yellow Cloud” in one word: “Whoosh”

Big Bush Mimics Shipton’s Flat.

Oils on canvas 122 x 92cm

Shipton’s Flat is a place near Cooktown and it is one of my favourite places.  Where the rainforest grows with great energy, beauty and imagination.  Magic music of rainforest, creeks and mountain.

After another rainy summer Big Bush is growing upwards and outwards with great density and optimism, like the forest at Shipton’s flat. I was trying to make eucalypts and casuarinas and callitris’s look like rainforest.

From the journal:

Feb 8th After a few days away from this job doing projects down at My Darling’s and tootling around in our new Atto 3… when I glanced at this job my first thought is: “Don’t be too precious. Do something fearless and reckless.”

 10th Feb. The finishing game goes on doesn’t it! When certain tonal, colour and design tricks co-ordinate nicely the word “joyous” becomes applicable? Not a word I use much, nor a thing I often aim for. But it’s nice when it comes and perches, like an uncommon honeyeater.

A shower of finishing dots and dashes and a couple of “new” colours…this final extra finishing is esoteric, but it’s terribly important.

There’s a certain careless lumpiness (in shape and colour) in the ¾” scale range that I like.

Februarial Flourish

Oils on canvas 92 x 122cm

It began with an aging Quandong tree that overhangs the path between my place and my darling Jeanette’s place.

It’s really about the beginning of autumn when certain bush characters are finishing off their summer jobs and slowing down for the cooler months. The Merope butterflies are getting careless and ending up in spider webs; and the spiders in turn are being taken by wasps…who in turn have just about filled their mud nests with paralysed spiders and wasp eggs.

18th Feb: It’s moving forwards without any mistakes. Gratifying; but beware Old Slunk! Behind every gumleaf lurks facile dreariness. Without struggle and mistakes and going back and smearing and scraping and reworking and maybe some cussing there can be no satisfaction!?!

Eventually this one was more or less finished in about 14 days. That’s quick for me.

Pastels: on Canson paper, about 50 x 75cm


I found some photos I took up on Dorrigo Plateau a few years ago in the “Coachwood” forest.

Rather un-Australian looking trees and shadow patterns. Good enough for a pastel or two.


Carpet and Diamond Pythons still turning up everywhere.

And then this one

Grey Box Blossom

Oils on canvas 152 x 122cm

I can usually manage to do a painting of a natural phenomenon in such a way as to emphasise the impact it makes on me; convey it to my imaginary viewers… Maybe this one works OK but the finishing process went on and on. Twice I decided to abandon it (something I almost never do) but next time I saw it I simply had to proceed…

This one is about the extraordinarily profuse blossoms on the grey box trees of Big Bush at the moment.

Maybe this is the last straight landscape I will do for a while. I’m back into sculptural architectural shapes in my current painting which should appear on my next post here.

Newspaper clipping.

From Temora Independent.

The event was very enjoyable. Lovely response from the citizens of Temora.

Big thanks to those who organised it. It was exceptionally well organised.

We bought an Atto 3. That’s an electric car. It’s delightful to tootle around in, but really some of the “features” are not entirely necessary, gimmicky and even downright silly. But loveable.

 And yes, it accelerates like a hypersonic missile.

We can charge it from the afternoon surplus of Jeanette’s off- grid solar power system or run into Temora and charge it at the NRMA fast charger, currently free!!

So we have been driving around for months now, absolutely free. And no carbon emissions.

Yes, there are times when the charger in Temora is not working; or a petrol vehicle has parked in front of the charger (“ICEholes”) and once or twice several days of rain or heavy cloud limit the surplus from the solar panels and make a trip to the NRMA charger more necessary.

It’s very important for all towns to install multiple fast chargers to cope with the numbers of EVs coming. Soon they will be cheaper than fossil fuel cars and everyone will want one.  Including hardcore petrolheads.

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