Uploading one of my digital images so a friend can see it. The image was started in Twisted Brush, worked up further in Painter and finished off in Photoshop. The name of the image is New Day and is one of those images that never needs any explaining. Although it is not obvious, the inspiration is at least partially in Gauguin's painting Nevermore.
It doesn't need pagan spirits in an exotic land to find the universal feeling of vulnerability that is at the heart of this idea. It is especially pleasing when the idea and the feeling come through so clearly in the finished image. It is just a moment in time, but one never to forget.
I am sitting on my balcony enjoying the beauty of city
lights. This view is across Sydney's Chinatown. It is the stage outside my
studio where the aerial dramas that inspire my artist's soul are staged each
day. It is the world I wake up to and go to sleep by. The players in my theatre
are light and the infinity of the skies. The city is the stage-set. Shakespeare
dreamed that all of the world is a stage. For me it is enough to simply
appreciate the nuances of this small part of it.
There are a few light clouds in the sky. The star Canopus
is high in the heaven like a theatre light illuminating actors. Achernar is a
star found toward the south, and Alpha Centauri and the Southern Cross
in the southeast are famous players in dialog with the clouds.
As the night progresses, one by one, more and more lights
in the apartment towers go out. It is interesting how in some buildings most of the
lights are on, and in other buildings many more are on. It is as if each building has
its own type of tribe and its own tribal habits.
It is a warm late summer night here in Sydney
so I have my shirt off and I enjoy the soft touch of the nighttime breeze on my
skin. It is such a relief after the heat of the day. There is rain and
increasing wind predicted for tomorrow, but for now the weather has a gentle
touch made for the maximum enjoyment of the view from the 12th floor.
There is just me, my iPad, a camera, and a bottle of
Drambuie (which grows more delightful with every passing shot glass) and the
view that draws my camera, and the sounds of the city. Those sounds of life in the
streets below mingling with the sweet honey scent of the Drambuie.
People in the country value their silence. There is no
possibility of any real silence here in the midst of all the skyscrapers and
their streets. A great metropolis is like an animal that has its own kind of
breathing sound. For all that the sounds come from massed air-conditioners, and
whole armies of automobiles, and perhaps not so loud but seemingly more
persistent, the noise of people, it ends up being animalistic in character and
marked by the lives of people. People laughing and crying, talking or being
passionate in every sense of that word, or snoring, or simply breathing. It is
their collected sounds that make up the flesh and blood of the organism that is
There are people who value the sounds of silence in the
country, but I prefer this tribal beat in these city noises. These noises I add
to with the relatively quiet click... click... as I take more photographs and
grow more in love each passing second with he beauty of the kingdoms of the sky
and city and my fortunate view and experience of it all.
The walk from the studio down William Street to the city CBD is one I love at any time, but I especially love it in the rain. Tonight the rain was teeming down. There was no wind, and the rain was the sort of warmish rain that is the best. The rain was streaming past the streetlights. That is a special delight seeing the rainwater turned into a stream of cascading jewels as if it is a sparkling carnival necklace draped around the lights.
As I walked past the Cathedral the bells were peeling and that itself gained a surreal quality as deep chimes of the big bells danced it time with the rhythmic plittering and plattering of rain in the street. Even the cars join into the chorus as the normal car sounds are modified by the swishes and sloshes of the wheels in the river of water on the road surface.
Ultimately, however, the greatest joy is the colors and the lights reflected from the sidewalks and street surfaces that turn the normal street view into a work of impressionistic art. Everything looks so different. The night rain increases the contrasts so there are more darks and grays so that the colors of tail lights and traffic lights increase in intensity and then are doubled as reflections mirror an up world with a matching down world.
I hear people complain about the rain and I wonder why. Can they not see the mysterious poetry that envelops the skyscrapers in the rain, the change that overtakes them as their tops disappear into the low cloud and they become like trunks of trees in a gray forest holding the sky up. Do they not see the softening of the world that occurs like some giant Pissarro had taken his paint brush to the city.
I think it is beautiful and I love rain so much I wish it rained like this often enough to satisfy the poet in my heart. Where I grew up in North Queensland in the rainforest near Ravenshoe it rained on average 120 days a year. That is one day in three and I never tired of the misty beauty that would come into the mountains and valleys and all the inevitable results like all the waterfalls, and the emerald green color of the grass and the way everything always had a luxuriant feeling of growth. Rain in the city has a different feel to in the rainforest and is much more about light and colors. It is a creator of a different kind of magic, and I love it just as much or more.
I love rain. It is a wonderful warm experience to wake up with heavy rain on the roof. It starts as a sound as if a distant part of a dream and then the realization that the wet is outside and the sheets are dry causes a womb-like feeling of protection and safety. It doesn't happen very often so it is a mixture of familiarity with unreality.
Later I had to go to Macquarie Street to take photos to upgrade a website. On the way back I saw dozens of Sacred Ibis digging worms in the park. Photographing them lead to photographing reflections on the path and then to leaves and then to two leaves that seemed to interact with the lights and darks on the wet path in an extraordinarily beautiful way. I couldn't stop. Well, I could, but only after around 300 photos and the battery was getting low. I loved those leaves.
Walking further I discovered blue shed like constructions around two large equestrian bronze sculptures. A Japanese/German artist, Tatzu Nishi has enclosed Gilbert Bayes bronzes so that they now appear to be inside a room. My favorite is the one in the photo that looks like the horse and rider are stepping onto a bed. I know that it is a rather fashionable idea to dress up someone else's artwork to give a new appreciation from a new perspective, but this was a particularly good version of that genre. Like the rain on the roof it had a delicious unreality about it, as if it was a Magritte painting that had just come to life.
St Mary's Cathedral is an important part of my life. Its beauty and elegance have always inspired me and now that my boys are attending or have graduated from the Cathedral College my appreciation of this special place has multiplied. Over the years an extraordinary set of memories has revolved around the wondrousness of how choral and organ music rise up and fill that great space.
When Gian graduated as part of the class of 2009 I captured some of that magic on my iPhone. The intention was merely to record the graduation ceremonies but it was me who was captured by the music and as I edited the video of Gian I discovered I had 40 minutes of music and a similar amount walking around capturing the visual magic of the building itself. This YouTube video is the result. It is three of my favorite pieces of music from the night woven with St Mary's visual magic.
Note in 2012 Unfortunately the organist decided he didn't want to be heard in a video and complained to YouTube and the video was taken down.
This morning the dawn didn't happen as usual instead the whole sky gained an eerie orange red glow. I went downstairs to dump garbage and it looked magnificent so I just pulled the iPhone out and started taking photographs. 173 photos and 2 hours later I am back at the studio needing sleep but also wanting to get a couple of the photographs on the web.
The cause is a dust storm. They are rare in Sydney but apparently high western winds that are starting to hit the city were very strong yesterday out west and we have the result. It is strong in the lungs - I wouldn't want to be an asthmatic out in this but it does make some beautiful visual effects in the city.
I went to the shopping center on Broadway for some RCA plugs and walking back took about 80 shots on the iPhone, mostly of the old brewery site which is in the process of redevelopment and other subjects along Broadway. I love that area for taking photographs but the old brewery half demolished as it is is particularly attractive. I know most people see such industrial urbanscapes as an eyesore but I love it - to me it is like a dystopian monster in a moonscape and I love that sort of thing. To me it is pregnant with the poetry of the city. By being so empty now it is as if it is full of ghosts of stories and speaks more of people now than when it was a busy working factory such a short time ago. I have intended for photography and painting for quite some time.
It is a huge site but now it is largely leveled dirt with the core of the complex and the old chimney eerily alone in the center. It reminds me of Hopper. Hopper never actually painted scenes quite like this - it is a subject more typical of George Bellows, but the feeling of the emptiness in the midst of the city, that is pure Hopper.
The second photo is actually off the brewery site on the other side of Broadway. I loved the scraggly old tree hanging on for life with just a few lonely leaves among the upper branches and twiggy bits. Of course we all know that as new apartments get built that the city council in its infinite aesthetic wisdom will see such a tree as a blight and replace it with something "pretty" and new with lots of leaves - a botanic version of the cult of youth. I must be one of the odd ones because I see such things as this tenacious old tree as pure beauty, but then, I am just an artist - what would I know about beauty?
A lot of people seem to struggle with understanding what it means to be a digital artist. Sure they know that we work on the computer but apart from that they just don't understand. For people like that traditional media like paper and charcoal and oil paint and canvas are "real art" and everything else isn't quite the same. They are right you know - it isn't the same, and if anything, I look back at my time painting with paint as being a bit limited.
Tonight Saturn is so very bright and strongly yellow in the northern sky. I don't remember it being so bright before. In the city I don't use a telescope in recent years. I cannot escape bright street lights at the studio. Years ago when Pablo was young and Leif was an infant we put together a 6 inch reflecting telescope. I painted Johansen & Sons on the tube. That was in Cairns. I remember the first time we saw Saturn in the telescope. We found it low in the eastern sky. It was the strangest sight. The rings were nearly edge on and it looked like a ball with a nail through it.
100,000 fireworks, 20,000 on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a further
80,000 on 6 barges strung along Sydney Harbor, and on city buildings, 1
giant animation 36 meters by 36 meters on the bridge, and 13 minutes of
stunning pyrotechnic display set to music.