‘The colour in Japanese armour depends upon the lacing; there is scarlet, or white laced armour, or purple lacing, like as many clans of coloured lobsters, but specialization, as always, is carried further still into silk braid of ‘rotted leaf colour’, or deutzia blossom, and then, again, fern, or water plantain or, more beautifully, jay’s feather, it must be the blue wing feather, lacing.’
Sacheverell Sitwell, Bridge of the Brocade Sash
I have written before of the beauty of Tokugawa era armour. Luckily for us the traditional skills used to make that armour are carried on in the creation of miniature, often very beautiful, helmets for Children’s Day. Here is a still life of one of these, next to some Fuyu persimmons, and accompanied by a wooden plaque bearing the signature of the helmet maker.
And here it is, in a second hand frame that cost five dollars. The painting is on a free MDF off cut. Why pay more?
There is a local restaurant that is slightly below ground level, so offering passersby the unusual experience of seeing diners’ heads from above. When the restaurant was closed for the pandemic, the view was of empty tables like this one.
To celebrate Bastille Day I knocked up this adaptation of a Chardin still life.
I had found a picture frame on the footpath and had to squeeze everything within its small, square confines, thus the adaptation. Also, it is the middle of winter here in Melbourne, so it had to look warm. I aimed for this brownest of all possible ‘brown gravy’ images. I know the Impressionists professed to hate ‘brown gravy’ in a painting, but (as in life) I find brown gravy in a picture appealing in moderation.
This locked rusty gate protects a nearby neighbour’s chook shed from chicken rustlers. I know that rust is just the product of iron deteriorating in contact with water and oxygen, but I like it very much. I used a lot of Burnt Sienna and Cadmium Orange in this painting. I might try using some actual rust next time.
Art seems to thrive on decay in the same way that drama thrives on conflict. Why is that? Why is it that things seem most interesting when they are falling apart?
The sky is almost the definitive everyday thing and is easy to take for granted. A great artist forces you to see everyday things as if you had not seen them before. This is what James Turrell has achieved in the Skyspace at the National Gallery of Australia.