Tarnished silver cup and rotting mandarin

I sketched this still life and then got busy with other things. By the time I got around to finishing it my subject matter (a silver cup and mandarin) was, respectively, tarnished and rotting. I had to finish it quickly, as the smell was becoming a bit obvious.

A dead fruit bat

It can come as a surprise to look up into the suburban Melbourne sky and see vast drifts of thousands upon thousands of chihuahua-sized fruit bats. Each night, especially in summer, they rise from their roost in Yarra Bend, in search of white cars and canvas awnings to spray with their inky, acidic faeces. They eat fruit and drink nectar, but you would never guess it from the end product. I used to live in inner city Sydney, and the bats from the Botanical Gardens did the same thing all over the eastern suburbs.

In early Sydney, gun clubs used to practice by shooting the bats in the Botanical Gardens on summer evenings. How delightful! Sadly in Melbourne the increasingly hot summers are killing bats in vast numbers. It is sad beyond the telling.

I found this poor stiff on the Yarra Trail. He was beautiful and had great dignity in his final rest.

Coffee and an ellipse?

Frequent readers may recall that I – like most people – find it difficult to draw ellipses. I have difficulty spelling them too. So, why not try painting four of them in a single picture?

I ran out of Gamblin Naples Yellow Hue. I liked its opacity, but do not miss its consistency; it was a bit too stiff and starchy for me. Winsor and Newton’s Naples Yellow is a beautiful alternative: a rich caramel colour, juicy with oil. It is warm and mellow, and took my mind off the ellipses. Combined with an underpainting of Gamblin Burnt Sienna, it made this painting a tactile pleasure to make.

The canvas I used was picked up from amongst the traffic cones and jousting poles on sale at Aldi. Several layers of sealing it with good, heavy gesso later, it presented a very pleasant, smooth surface.

The tea-room

“The tea-room was an oasis in the dreary waste of existence where weary travellers could meet to drink from the common spring of art appreciation.” Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea

The Art Gallery of New South Wales presents a tea-room amongst the works of art in its East Asian collection. Not many rooms you could do that with.