by Dick Millott
I've been busy. The brush has been twirling like a home coming queen. Whatever one of those is. I don't think we have them in Australia. And I've been working big. BIG! There are upsides and downsides to this. Big things present certain problems - be they bellies, brassieres or bookcases. And principal among these drawbacks is the main problem that a lot of art shows won't allow them.
I trundled in with my major canvases and stood there dwarfed by them as Hilda Fotheringham unloaded her 12" x 8" 'Roses in a Mauve Vase' in a tasteful white and gold ornate frame, which she assured me came from the local Op Shop. 'It's amazing what you can find' she confided. She then looked at my monsters and grunted something about ostentatiousness.
The trouble with small these days is, that nowadays people have big walls. The omnipresent family/entertainment room is in every display home in every display village in every housing estate in Australia and measures roughly the same as a basketball court. On one wall goes the 400 inch HD telly and the remote control credenza. Which is Spanish for a low drawer lined thingummy for holding remote controls and the wires and plugs for things that you have long forgotten about. I have drawers of plugs and chargers and wire things that I have absolutely no idea about except that they came with something. But I know that one day I will need them. If the thing they came with still exists.
This leaves three walls, which are basically the size of a city bus. On one of these goes the wedding glamour photography where the bride and her entourage have settled into a public botanical situation. The gauze filter covering the lens suggests love and dreaminess, with the dress just revealing the garter, which represents the gateway to happiness, designed to keep the groom keen as mustard until the legal bit is over. Either way - they now have this humongous palace in the burbs with walls that would make the Mitchell Library jealous.
Now some people, in the interests of austerity do their own artwork. With very little training apart from that picked up on Australia's DIY networks. Three tins of paint, a sheet of left over Masonite, a couple of brushes and bingo, an abstraction is born. Shaynna Blaze has got a bloody lot to answer for I reckon. But for those who like something with a bit more professional sophistication, a 12 x 8 watercolour is not going to cut it. Is it? Which is where the 'big' bit comes into play. When you are in a room 40 x 40 feet you need to be able to see what that square thing is at the other end of the room behind the 18 person sofa.
So I have been knocking out canvasses that you can jog around. I have even taken to making my own floating frames to contain them, which look fabulous. I duly delivered three of these beauties to the Daylesford Art Show the other day. Sold the most expensive one there and the biggest one a day later. Can't say fairer than that. I was pretty chuffed. It's a nice thing when someone will lay down a nice chunk of hard earned on your work because they like it that much. Your wallet looks a little fatter and your ego swells a whisker as well. Plus you have been accepted by someone.
That said, there is a lot to be said for exquisite small things as well. On my studio wall I have two wonderful little acrylics from a Tasmanian artist that measure 8 x 6 inches each and are packed with detail. He is more surgeon than artist. I might do a piece on him one day.
With the Christmas break looming I will be turning out a body of work that hopefully, will embrace the two extremes. Big for sheer impact and small and perfectly formed. A painting a week. That is the plan. I have been inspired of late by even more artists on YouTube including a wonderful woman in California - a mere slip of a girl, who set out to paint a painting a week ten years ago and has never let up. To say she is successful is an understatement. Erin Hanson is in San Diego and works in oils principally, has her own gallery and her own amazing modern impressionistic style. People like this make me want to get up in the morning and keep cracking.
My best wishes to all our readers and to our perennial mentor Mark and his family and the sparkling Frankie Sharman who is the woman who keeps us all honest. I hope that by this time next year, Mark and I and a few others will be holding a joint exhibition somewhere. Because I have learned one little thing these past few months. With every painting you do - you get that little bit better!
-Editor's note - At time of publication Dickie has mentioned he has sold 2 more of his large works. Yeah!