SnacktimeOil on canvas


March Madness

2013Article posted by Gilly

A couple of things happened this month that put art into the background for a day or so. (Sad face!) We had some real-life dramas here that were quite frightening at the time, and they certainly put a lot of views on life into real perspective.

It all began one morning about 3 weeks ago when my dog, Shiraz, suddenly decided to start gnawing at the fatty lump on her flank. She’s had these lumps for years and the vet has been monitoring them. It was soon raw and bleeding so I made an appointment with the vet for that afternoon.

However, just after my husband came home from golf and we were having some lunch, we suddenly heard sirens fairly close by, and then a huge helicopter swooshed right over our house, very low and very loud! We ran outside and there was smoke everywhere and three of the massive water bombing helicopters (helitacs) were zooming around right above us, so low we could feel the downdraft from the rotors!!!  Then the ‘phone rang - emergency warning, bushfire alert for our area, too late to leave so you must Stay and Defend!!!!!

This was all very scary and I did throw a load of stuff into the car (including a couple of paintings, although this situation makes you realise what’s not important!!) just in case we could leave, or I thought if it was in the car and inside an enclosed garage it had a chance of surviving if we were overtaken by the fire. However, after constant surveillance of the maps as we listened to the alerts on the local radio and the emergency services website on the computer, we realised the fire was just beyond the golf course and travelling around the top, near enough to be frightening but not for us to be in any real danger unless flying embers should catch the tops of our trees.

It was a stinking hot afternoon, high 30s, and with a strong wind, but we stayed out in the garden patrolling for hours, watching the trees, wetting everywhere we could with hoses and sprinkler system. I was scared, I admit, at the same time it was incredibly exhilarating watching the helitacs dipping right above us to hover over the lakes on the golf fairways right outside our property, sucking up the water and swooping off to dump their loads on the fire. We didn’t see any flames but there was a lot of smoke. And it was all so noisy and visual and overpowering that I never even thought to take a photograph of any of it!!

Of course, all the roads in the area were closed (my parents were at the local shopping centre and had to detour to their home, taking 2 hours to travel a 1 hour journey!), so I wasn’t able to get Shiraz to her vet appointment. I also found out later that my next door neighbour had received the ‘evacuate now’ emergency call and gone, I’m wondering why we didn’t receive that call. Fortunately, by the evening the fire was under control ‘though fire trucks were still in attendance when we drove around to have a look next day. The fire did, literally, burn right around the top of the golf course, all along an area that we often dog walk, so you can imagine it was pretty close. As yet, we don’t know how this particular fire started.

Anyway, next morning we took Shiraz to the vet and they just took one look and said the lumps had to be removed, so they kept her in and performed the surgery that afternoon. Two lumps, one on her chest and one on her flank. We went home. An hour later we heard sirens and helicopters again!!!!! And from our back yard we could see a massive column of thick black smoke - and my husband said he could see flames - another bushfire was taking hold. Fortunately, for us, we could see it was some distance away and no helitacs were thundering above us this time, but it was a huge fire near the little township of Bullsbrook about 15 mins drive to the north of us, and a lot of homes, animals and people were in danger. Once again we were inundated with smoke. This fire wad apparently started by sparks from a passing freight train. Cost-cutting by the transport authority meant that vegetation near the tracks hadn’t been cleared!!!!! Can you believe the stupidity of that?!!!! That fire took over two days to be brought under control and, once again, the main highway north and many of our local roads were closed to traffic.

But we were able to collect our sad little dog from the vet, swathed in bandages and dressings and stitches and the dreaded plastic Hoodie! They suggested she wear an old T-shirt to help protect the dressings so she was quite a fashion statement for a few days. She eventually decided that she couldn’t negotiate around things with the Hoodie, so she just barged straight through - doors, walls, us!!!! But she has recuperated well, all stitches are now removed, as is the Hoodie, and she’s a happy dog once more.

The following Labour Day weekend I was booked to be artist-in-residence at a local winery for the inaugural Valley and Vines Wine Festival. For me, a lot of work for no gain. Carting easels and paintings to the winery, setting it all up, a long day with only about 50 visitors because it was a ticketed event, and then carting it all home and back to the Studio. The plus side was that I was in the air conditioning and painting for a good 6 hours. But, as I imagined, the main comments were: “Oh, your work is beautiful” (I can take that!). “You are so talented!” “How long does it take….” (impossible to answer that one!) “I wish I could afford…...” - yeah, right! Anyway, marked down to experience again. Maybe I’m just getting too old!!!! Whilst there I continued working on the black cockatoos oil painting, “Snacktime”, and have since completed it. With my wonderful daughter’s assistance, I’m hoping a small image of it will be shown on this ‘blog’. It won’t be ready for full display on the website ‘til I varnish it and have it framed in about 5 months. I’m thinking of entering it in an award exhibition later this year - either that one or the four kookaburras with fairy wren. Can’t make up my mind as yet.

Via my wonderful artist friends I’ve just made the acquaintance of another artist - Georgia Mansur. She lives in New South Wales and her paintings are very vibrant and spontaneous and full of richness. She works in several mediums so it would be lovely for you to check her out.

Ending on a funny note - my young grandson, he’s 10, had to write an essay for school choosing the life of a grandparent as his subject. He chose me and the essay was well-received. However, his teachers, it seems, were quite bemused, having asked him whether he interviewed me for the essay, only to be blithely informed - “No, I went on her website!!!!!!” They are still getting their heads around a Granma having a website!!! I wonder why?

‘Til next month, keep that colour flowing!!!!  Gilly xx



Cindy Lane | March 28, 2013

What a busy March you’ve all had! Glad to hear that you are all safe and sound (esp. Shiraz).

Your painting is just wonderful and yes, enter it in for awards!

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