Visual snacks to the tune of orange.
Earlier this year I teamed up with the good people at Stone & Wood to create a shirt graphic for a limited edition tee that celebrates the Galaxy hop harvest. For me, this was an extra special project – not just because I love Stone & Wood's beers and I love drawing spacey star-spangled graphics – but because Stone & Wood has such a great approach to everything from environmental impact and community involvement, to content creation and creativity... they're just the dream company to be involved with.
May is a magical time on the farm (but maybe all the times are magical, I'm remembering...): the mornings are crisp and sharp but the days are sunny. We're still seeing lazy snakes around everywhere, basking in pools of sun. From my desk, I watch the dappled gum-tree shade roll across the front lawn and descend into dusk. The clouds are unreal pastel-palette oil paintings heaped upon the horizon. Camellias drop petal carpets around the garden, soft purple magnolia buds appear and everything smells vaguely of mandarin skins and campfire.
In celebration of one of my favourite seasons in my old/new home, there's 35% off sitewide, using the code MAYMAGIC (ends midnight Sunday, Australian EST).
No worries: A colour story of floods and flowers and fires and autumn skies and standing with my back to the trees at night, as a big bank of cloud crawled across the full moon...
Just a quick note to let you know there's free shipping on my online store (here) until midnight Wednesday (April 5, Aus EST). Use the code: FREESHIP
Also, I'm including both the mini-prints above with all orders. And as always, thank you so much for supporting my work!
Half the house is packed. Things like super-fancy clothes and books and travel souvenirs and wall decorations and all my old sketchbooks – things I don't immediately need – are boxed up and slid to the side. We are ready to move and I am living with just the possessions I would have were I not a hopeless hoarder.
There are no shells and seed pods and kangaroo skulls on the desk. No embroidered ceremonial jackets hanging on the walls. No Aerosmith tapestry, no strings of foil stars, no stack of HST books and back issues of art magazines. No sliding avalanches of scrap paper sketches, no precarious piles of polaroids. No dried flowers hanging in the window, no Japanese fish flags and Icelandic post cards and Southwest serapes.
We are ready to move and I am ready to go.
I have vague memories of all the places where I used to hang out when I was younger. I remember the cliff edge we walked over to get to the best ocean pool, but that might only be because I long carried a photo of my friends walking along it.
I remember exactly the density of grass where I used to park my car by one of our favourite creeks, but I can no longer navigate my way to that creek with any confidence.
I remember standing on the edge of the big jump-off rock, but I couldn’t tell you how high it was – I would undoubtedly exaggerate it.
I remember parks and takeaways and riverbanks, but no specifics about the landmarks or what we would order or exactly how the land disappeared into the water.
Every time we drive out to the pub where I worked for a few months after I turned 18, I’m surprised by the winding road and how long it takes to get there.
Everything has blurry patches and blank spots; all the overfamiliar paths are just kind of unobserved, unrecorded for being so unremarkable.
Returning to these places, there is a strange feeling of walking through the warps and gaps of memory, the replacement and embellishment of things imagined, and the actual physical changes over time to a place preserved in memory.
This past summer, I visited the beachside reserve where we used to drink cheap box wine under the banksia trees. It now has a coffee cart on the weekends that makes it seem – like almost everything in the world – less waywardly bored and more upwardly entrepreneurial.
And of course, the version of me that walks through these places sees them very differently now, more wholly. Having seen, and lived in, more of the world, I can appreciate how unusual some of those everyday things are. How rare that it’s easy to find a park close to the beach. That on a perfect-weathered summer Sunday, my partner and I could be the only two people walking around the headland. That there are no guard rails or concrete paths or noticeable human fuck-withery apart from soft-worn foot tracks. That there are tiny wildflowers and monstrous banksia blooms everywhere. That from the headland, we can’t really discern any structures, just more thick coastal scrub, and the coastline sliding away, north and south.
These are the things, that in my memory, had faded in all their unremarkableness and now seem quite spectacular and special.
I resigned from my job this week. Soon we'll be leaving the city and homeward bound.
Good times today and better times tomorrow.
This week, I'm thinking about colour studies and quick captures and Talking Heads tributes and fashionable flowers and good times rolling and star capes and the pressed flowers of a summer just past.
I've been working on some big, detailed commercial projects over the past couple of weeks, so the sketchbook is a bit light on... But hopefully the bright colour buzz of Morning Glories and a fresh cut grapefruit can fill in some of the creative gaps.
Those of you who tune into this journal regularly will recognize that lately I’ve been on a bit of a trip about self-evaluation and self-evolution in the creative practice, about development and exploration. About checking out what you’re trying to say, and thinking about whether it really is resonating in the way you’d like. Anyway, like Bowie said: changes.
Inking drawings with a fineliner is the kind of precise process that sings sweetly to the more neurotic and controlling side of my personality. Especially if there are several pencil draft lines underneath to shore up the intention. But the whole precision thing also restricts, and creates a very literal output.
So I’ve stepped into messing around with brushes and ink and organic wild unpredictable bleeding colours… A welcome change into the uncomfortable. However, I’m still taking it in increments; there’s a lot of mapping and composition, and some of my ‘normal’ drawing practice in there for balance and comfort.
I’m also curious, what do you guys do to break out of routine or habit or comfort zones? Let me know your good avenues for challenging and exposing the creative process...
I've just released a new limited edition fine art print (Into the Mystic, here), and wanted to share a little snapshot of the process.
At the end of last year, I started mapping out the individual drawings in rough pencil scribbles, fitting them together and filling the page. But after laying down the initial black ink outlines, I felt a bit disheartened – the ideas were too disparate, ill-fitting, not cohesive enough.
I eventually added in the first layer of colour anyway. And once the blue was across the whole page, everything locked together. (An aside: that Mint Blue marker is my new favourite thing... I'll be a loyal Posca addict forever, but that blue has convinced me to expand my marker scope).
Anyway, that's a part of the process that I should be familiar with by now. That there's always a point in any work where you're sure the whole thing just sucks and isn't going to work. But it's actually just a lapse in vision, I think. A synapse failure between what the initial, imagined idea looked like, and how the physical, real output is going to manifest.
Because once the final black layer was down, it realigned exactly as I'd imagined. It was precisely what I'd been trying to pull together, the page I had thought about at first. So, there it was... Into the Mystic.
Things are always in a constant flux between lazy complacency and wired-excited-fiery sharp focus. And that focus needs to be adjusted and readjusted all the time; as motivation is lost, intention obscured, meaning waylaid... But I'm trying all the time to be honest and purposeful in what I create, instead of just running through the motions of what I know I can do.
And I think the results are starting to emerge...
Tomorrow is Australia Day/Invasion Day/Survival Day/nothing for some.
I don’t want to write about it, but I do want to share some people who have – because there are always powerful, heartfelt stories being told by Indigenous Australians, and they need to be reverberated.
First, read this from Amrita Hepi – I cry every time I read it, and I have read it a lot. It is true and right; our country is at once easy and painful to love.
The Fabric Social journal kinda nails it in suggesting that a good place to start for all non-Indigenous Australians is to make this this day a day of listening, and to continue listening to and supporting Indigenous voices. There’s a list of talented women you should be following, listening to, and learning from.
This insightful and intelligent piece from Katie West digs into colonisation and inter-generational trauma via her artistic practice. So important in helping non-Indigenous Australians to understand why the date matters, and why the past is still here, all the time.
For those of you in Aus looking for a way to show your support for changing the date, or to deviate from the head-in-the-sand get-drunk-and-swim approach, maybe go and check out these rallies and events.
And while we’re on adding more diverse voices to your daily media clamour, a few creatives from Instagram (please pipe up in the comments if you’ve got other artist recommends too) to check out are Otis Hope Carey, Zachary Bennett-Brook, aforementioned Katie West and Lauren Freestone. Also, the Martumili Artists account shares Indigenous art with the most incredible colour palettes. And finally, Thelma Plum is not only a talented singer and possibly the most beautiful lady I've ever seen, but she's also honest and funny and tough.
So: read, listen, learn, appreciate. Remember that when you stay silent on an issue, you condone the status quo. And keep these voices in your head.