Within without with James Turrell

I cannot recall being inside a work of art before. James Turrell’s Within without at the National Gallery of Australia is extraordinary. It is like an enormous brandy snifter that intensifies and makes more complex the light that enters it from above. I am lost in admiration for this work. If you are within travelling distance of one of Turrell’s skyscapes that dot the world, do not hesitate: go to it.

This painting is the view in one of the corners of Within without, looking up to a cloudless Canberra sky.

A Popeye for our times – revisited

Those of you with keen memories may recall I painted this updated Popeye a couple of years ago here. A friend asked for a bigger version. This is the result, as painted in oil on a 60 x 70 centimetre birch panel.

It turns out that the distortions and sheer anatomical weirdness of Popeye become more apparent the bigger you make him, so I had to modulate some of the oddness and alter the proportions a bit.

Popeye made canned spinach look succulent and delicious. How disappointed I was when I ate it for the first (and last) time. Nor did it give me forearms like anvils. It is almost as if Hollywood misled me.

‘I am what I am.”

I paint the battery electric

With apologies to Walt Whitman. A still life of some shiny batteries, electrical insulators and flex. This picture is intended to be in the manner of Chardin. I like to think he would have painted on a similar theme if he had had access to modern battery technology.

Plague dogs

When they were not having fistfights over toilet paper, during the pandemic lockdowns many of my fellow Homo sapiens (sic) were buying dogs. They bought so many that the supply of dogs ran out, something I had previously thought impossible. From what I saw, towards the end people were buying pretty much any dog-shaped object they could find. The local parks were crammed with owners pushing feeble, bulge-eyed, shivering creatures in prams (yes, dogs in prams), or they were being dragged along by muscle-bound monsters with rolling eyes and dubious temperaments. I suspect that in ordinary times these dogs would not have been bred, let alone bought.

Now that lockdowns are over, it seems life is going back to normal, the dog mania is passing, people no longer go on walks, and the redundant dogs are being packed off to dog shelters that are straining at the seams. By and large, dogs are almost inconceivably loyal to their owners, but I wonder if we deserve it.

I was heading home one night through the crepuscular forest by the river and heard the sound of heavy breathing labouring right behind me. I sped up but this only made the breathing louder and more insistent. Finally I wheeled around to face my tormentor: it was a French bulldog that looked like this, rendered in the manner of Gainsborough. My wife says this painting is hideous.

3 kilos of slavering terror. Gave me the shivers, and has the shivers itself.