Archive for July, 2009

abstract thought




oh, sorry!

The effects of parenting a 4 year old who is inquisitive, creative, likes food and is independent.  And pursuing a body of work that is more abstract, has been affecting my brain in peculiar ways.

A few minutes of thought progression is interrupted at regular intervals by an accident, the need to assist, clean up a mess, provide materials, seek a palatable and healthier food option that is immediately wanted.  NOW.  I get  back to the stream of thought to be interrupted by humming, a spectacular and frantic display of dancing, laughter, screams of frustration, cuddles, a proposed outing or elaborate plan which must be discussed.  Could you do this for me? The phone rings – ‘thank you for your support in the past we REALLY appreciate it, would you take a book of raffle tickets, we’re not asking you to buy any yourself, just ask your family and friends….” Um, no, actually,  not today, all the best with it though. Can I watch this? Oh, OK. I’ve changed my mind, can we watch this one instead? Ah, alright.  Actually I’ve changed my mind, can we go to the park? Oh dear.  No not today little one, Mummy has to paint.  Can I  paint too? Well not really, this stuff is a bit dangerous for you to paint with.  Can I use my own paints? sigh.  alright.  I’ll set you up.  Oh.  sorry – the water spilled.

I find I have the resulting attention span of a gnat.  That hours fly by without anything concrete to show for it – despite the fact that I have been incredibly busy.  Paintings that I would have done in 10 hours are taking 20, and while they hold more detail, consideration and depth, the lack of time in the lead-up to the next show concerns me somewhat.  I want them all to be perfect.

And abstract is not as easy as it appears.  There is the need to distill an image, thought or experience down to a very few elements.  It’s not as simple as patterning, or an overwhelming use of a few colours, there needs to be indefinable harmony, and what I am striving for is that knife-edge balance where something is recognisable but on closer inspection is twists into something much less obvious.  Which requires reflection, inspection and quiet observation.

In some ways this shattered reflection is helping, in other ways it is hindered.  Having only a few moments in my planning days has provided insights that I wouldn’t have otherwise had – brush in palette and deep in work.  My brain has become abstracted; darting, intuitive, condensed, harried, a direct channel from soul to hand.


So a day trip to the snow last week was delicious.

Beautiful.  Crisp, bright, deep, uplifting, energising.  Transformative.

There was peace, devonshire tea, giddy frolicking, and no responsibility.  A surrendering to family and basking in the glow of how marvellous we all are, building a snowman, catching shadows, chatting merrily.  A delicious re-connection which feeds back into daily life.

Thinking abstractly can be dangerous.  looking at the big picture, without studying the smaller patters that make up the whole is easy to do.  Condensing the subtle can lead to a glossing over of those delicious moments when the sun streams through the window, the mug is warm in hand and a smile lights up the room.  I need to remind myself that life is comprised of patterns, not expanses.


And life. is full of delicious diversions.


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Caramelised onion risotto (serves 4 hungry adults)


Caramelised onions

  • 9 large brown onions sliced into rings
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • big knob of butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Put oil and butter into large saucepan with onion rings, bay leaf, rosemary and salt.  Don’t be scared of the amount of oil – most of it comes off at the end of the cooking and can be removed.

Put the lid on and cook for 15 minutes over a moderate heat until the onions have softened and started to reduce.

Start the rice cooking*

Then remove the lid and keep cooking, stirring every 5 minutes or so until they are quite brown and have started to give up the oil.  Approx 40 minutes, but it will vary wildly depending on your onions and the heat you are cooking them at.  At this point remove the bay leaf and taste.  If there is some bitterness you will need to add some sugar.  I put in a whole tablespoon but it really depends on the onions.  Some are much sweeter than others.

Click here for song to stir by. 🙂

At the beginning of the cooking you would have had a large saucepan of raw onions, when cooked they will reduce to about a 1 cup quantity of intense, soft deliciousness.  There will be oil visible, which is very easy to remove and use for something else another time.  The oil is good so don’t throw it away!  Course, you could keep it in the dish if you like as it will get absorbed by the rice.


  • 1 & 1/2 cups of basmati rice
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of chicken or vegetable stock powder
  • 1 tsp salt (if your stock powder is the no-salt variety)
  • 3 cups of water.

I put all the above in the microwave rice-cooker for 12 minutes on high.  That gets it to the point of almost-cooked and ready to absorb the rest of the ingredients.


Tip the (almost) cooked rice into your onion mix and give it a good stir to combine.  Have some boiling water on hand, and keep adding it to the rice/onion mix until the rice has finished cooking.  How much you need will vary, but about 1/2 a cup added gradually usually works for me.

This is SO good!  Because the risotto is slightly sweet you need to counter-balance is with something a bit salty and intense.  I added parmesan to mine, but had a bowl of crispy fried chopped  bacon for the carnivores in the house.

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Apologies for the quiet of late.

It’s just that I have gotten myself into a bit of a twist and need to untangle for a bit.


Pre-show nerves, approval of ads and invitations (just over 4 weeks to go).

Wrapping up of the mural for a school.


Painting and composing new paintings in my head, on scraps of paper, looking for said scraps, taking photos and struggling with my overloaded computer that will need some technical assistance I imagine at some point soon (and not really being able to afford that at the moment).


Being happy and sad, and worried by a child with a condition that is slowly unfolding and presenting itself.  I will blog about that at some point because I think it’s very, very important but right now it’s a bit too raw.

Being busy and confined by the chill of winter has left our house in terrible disarray.  Washing needs to be folded (yawn), knitting would like to be done, canvases lie stacked waist deep in various states of completion.  Ideas spill over and make me crabby because they want to get out and there is not the time to allow them to unfold as they come, the fabric pile mocks me from its perch on the washing-machine and topples – creating another task.

And I had a car accident – my first.  Which was a blessing in some ways.  Nobody was hurt, the driver in the other car was lovely and practical and as it was all my own doing, it will be resolved by insurance and hopefully not be too much of a bother to anyone.

It was one of those times I think where the universe provided a slap on the face and said – ‘pay attention’ and then the process of taking a long slow look revealed a need to take stock.


A bit of slow breathing is required.

A bit of untangling.

A bit of hard work, and some sunshine and warm air to flow through our windows (which also need a wash).

Some lazy days in a clean house doing nothing instead of trying to do everything.

And some chocolate and peppermint tea.

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Diversion, oil on canvas, 102cm x 76cm

New one from me.

I’m having fun exploring a bit more detail in the shadows – still working with abstract shapes but putting a bit more detail and patterning in them.

I wonder if this one is a  bit soft?  I was aiming for restful.  I hope it captures a lazy afternoon….

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This meal has been officially stamped #1 fave by Mr 8, so I thought I’d better share. 🙂

Leek & Potato Soup

  • 2 leeks
  • approx 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 litres of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 6 large potatoes (diced)
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Head and tail leeks, then slice them down the entire length and wash to remove grit.  Slice leeks across to make 1cm rounds and put into a big pot with the melted butter.  Fry until soft, stirring for about 10 minutes.

Add stock, potatoes, salt and pepper and cook for approx 30 minutes (until potatoes are soft).

You could blend this soup if you like, but we prefer it chunky and served with naan bread.

Mmmmmm. 🙂

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Fig, oil on linen, 41cm x 51cm

New one from me.  Painted from a photo taken during the summer while the sky was red from the bushfires.

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I reckon all of us goes hunting for the perfect jeans.  sometimes we find them and then after a while you get a hole in the knee, or they stretch a bit too much ( I HATE stretch denim with a passion for this reason) and you are back to square one.

I had made it a personal goal this year to learn to sew my own jeans but after finding Make your own jeans I abandoned that and just ordered some hand-made ones instead.


They arrived yesterday, 3 weeks after ordering them and what do you know.  They fit!

The process is really easy.  They have a step by step process where you enter your measurements, and then the fun stuff begins.  Choosing the type of denim, treatments, style and embellishments.  When you are happy you order and sit back and wait.

I will definitely be doing this again.  Next time I’d make them a bit longer – my fault, I should have asked someone else to measure my leg, and perhaps choose a different kind of denim.   But I think this is the first time in recent history I’ve had a pair of jeans that actually fit everywhere without the need for a belt or a sewing machine.  Too fun and too wonderful, and – considering how much designer jeans cost and that these are hand made for you to your measurements damn cheap!

Too fun.  Go play! 🙂

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