by Dick Millott
In 1980, back when the world was not a lot dissimilar to how it is today in many respects, but dramatically altered on many more, I would front up at my South Melbourne office with its gleaming linoleum floor and my very own oak partner’s desk and sit in front of my mint green, golf-ball typewriter (yeah I know kids - look it up) ready to tackle another day of writing and illustration. I was impossibly svelte and always wore a slim bow tie teamed with a crisp shirt- with the bits you could see ironed – and polished brogues and a slightly racy sports jackets. Wear gear like that today and people would shrink from you, but then as a cadet journalist I looked the business, which was half the battle. I belted away on my latest electric ‘word processor’ with inbuilt printer churning the articles out for a variety of publications and presentations day in- day out.
One publication was monthly so I had to have had an idea, sorted out my storyline, interviewed people and belted it into shape by the third week of each month. It exposed me to a lot of wonderful people, from World War 1 soldiers who talked about Gallipoli first hand, to amazing men and women who had spent their entire lives helping others as well as a raft of fascinating characters from all over the globe. If my working life had some halcyon days, then these were them.
After eight years of this regimen, I was seduced and wooed by the advertising and marketing industries and finally caved in to their wiles and promises of future excitement. This then meant I had to think on the run. I slept with a notepad and pencil in case some sort of brainwave occurred during the night. Many were the catchy slogans or slabs of seductive copy that were scribbled at 3 am when I should have been dead to the world.
Today 33 years later I am still belting out the words but my priorities and lifestyle have changed forever. Today it seems, I am becoming increasingly irrelevant. I cannot type like a Gatling gun with two thumbs on a mobile phone, I need glasses to read messages and I haven’t got the vaguest idea what teenagers are actually saying anymore. I have a nephew who greets me with “Wazzupdude?” What this means I have no idea. I was then highly offended when he looked at my latest painting on the easel and said “Sick dude. That’s snatched.” See what I mean? Haven’t got a blind clue what he was on about.
This may be why I have been seduced by the wizardry of people I can understand like Mark Waller. About five years ago I think it was, I decided to paint again. I had not picked up a paint brush in anger in decades and I was looking for a clean, no fuss painting medium that did not involve petroleum based solvents, oily ingredients and hours of messy wash-ups and lingering odours. While I recalled that I loved the creamy blending qualities of oils, I didn’t like their cost and drying time. Like all fresh artists, I wanted bang for my buck, paint today- sell tomorrow. And only acrylics can offer that. Then I landed on Waller & Co. and his Acrylics Anonymous E-magazine. I wrote to say how thrilled I was with the content and to record my appreciation for the man’s mastery of the medium. I then spent a small fortune on paint and supplies and set to work.
The question is I suppose, have I met with any success? To be totally transparent, I can show you a small stack of canvasses that fell well short of expectations. But I can also say that if it wasn’t for my art in 2020, I would have had very little income at all. Add to this a ‘Best In Show’ at a well known and respected Art Show and a dozen or so sales and I am feeling somewhat empowered to take this painting caper forward with all seriousness and invigorated ardour.
This is the 100th edition of AA. Which is a huge achievement for something that started as an idea between Mark and his Director of First Impressions, CEO and Virtual Manager - Frankie Sharman who drives the whole thing. She has asked me on a number of occasions to contribute a column or two over the years and I am delighted to comply again in this instance. It is required reading each month. Congratulations on a first-rate magazine you two and also all those people who swell its content with their art and stories every month.
Thank you Mark and Frankie for your fabulous output, for sharing your knowledge and for inspiring people like me to keep at it. I have met other artists through this E-Mag and learned an awful lot from them. We are after all- a community of like minded souls with a parallel passion. And there is no greater buzz at this stage of life than to stand back from an easel and be surprised that you just painted something that you are actually proud of.
May I also add my weight to the best wishes of most in this troubled world at the moment, for 2021 to be a year of healing, good health and increased fortunes for all.
PS. See below my second last painting – the 7 foot wide ‘Best In Show’ award winner which has since sold to a leading architect and wine producer for his Vaucluse home. I might be wet behind the ears – but something is starting to work. Soon I’ll be calling myself a full time artist. Wicked- right?