Houghtons Exhibition - December 2014


The Long Break

2015Article posted by Gilly

My summer break was not the one I’d anticipated. A few days before Xmas our beloved and most beautiful dog fell sick and was diagnosed with inoperable tumours so, just after New Year, we had to let her leave us and trot over the Rainbow Bridge. We have been quite devastated at losing her and emotions are very raw within us still. Eventually, I will paint a montage of her life, just as I did for our previous little dog, so she will be with us always. Just as her ashes are now in a lovely wooden box sitting alongside the ceramic pot which holds our other dog. Side by side on a shelf in my Studio. It’s a comfort to have them both there.

Unfortunately, in her distress and my own stupid fault, trying to persuade her into the house out of the heat, she bit me on the hand. Despite instantly washing the wound under running water and drenching it in Dettol antiseptic,, the wound became horribly infected. My hand swelled up and was hot and red so I ended up having a tetanus injection and 10 days of antibiotics. I couldn’t hold a brush or a pencil so had an unexpected enforced break from painting. It wasn’t the dog’s fault at all.

My exhibition at Houghtons didn’t yield any sales - disappointing but not unusual these days. However, I am going to take part in an exhibition there in September of 2016 with two artist friends, so I have about 18 months to prepare and, maybe, produce some work that will sell.  I also received a rather curious email invitation to an exhibition in the eastern states. The person who emailed me seemed to know me, although his name was unfamiliar, but I’m now thinking he’s a person who contacted me through my website a couple of years ago and negotiated for quite a while about a painting, and then never followed it through without any explanation or apology! I wasn’t too impressed at the time! He says he’s trying to organise an exhibition for realist bird artists at the Queensland Caloundra Gallery, but although I’ve written to the Gallery to enquire if this is genuine, I haven’t received any reply in over a week. I did also Google this person who says he’s a dermatologist, and there is a doctor of that name listed who even has bird paintings on his professional website, but as there’s been no reply there either, I’m still not sure. He wanted me to pass the email on to other bird artists that I know, and if it is a genuine exhibition then I’m happy to do that. But not until I know for sure.

I’m not even sure if I’d enter an eastern states exhibition - the idea and the logistics rather frighten me. But, just in case, I do have an idea for a new painting which I’m going to begin. It can always be used elsewhere!

Despite being very sad throughout the holiday, once my hand was healed I did agree to pastel a small commission for a friend - his granddaughter riding her horse in the ocean. A while ago I stated that I will no longer paint portraits except for family and friends, I find them far too stressful, and this did involve a portrait of sorts. Unfortunately, the photo that was emailed to me showed her face in deep shadow and I laboured for almost three days to try to achieve some sort of likeness - it was also on a very small scale as the painting was only 30 cm x 40 cm. No problems with the horse and the ocean! But my friend wasn’t happy with the face and when I viewed the photo on his computer her features were a great deal more clear. I don’t know why the image was so dark when it was emailed to me, computers not communicating, I suppose. So, back to the easel with the photo printed from my friend’s computer. I scrubbed out the entire face and began again. Another two days of tweaking and stressing and, eventually, there was enough of a likeness that the pastel was accepted. Phew!

I also managed to complete the oil painting of the chickens - it has taken the whole summer break, not because of it’s complexity but because of the various circumstances. I’m not able to paint when I’m sad, and then my hand, then the little commission, but I’m quite happy with the result. Oh, there’s always room for improvement and some areas are much better than others, but overall it’s OK.

I was thrilled at Xmas to receive from my sister a wonderful book which is the biography and amazing bird paintings of William T Cooper. Known as The Birdman, he’s now in his 80s but still paints in Queensland. There was also a small book of his painting techniques and a DVD of a TV documentary about him. Fabulous gift and very inspirational. It also shows me how far I still have to go on my journey!

Closing on a happy note - we have welcomed a new baby into our family, a grandniece called Emerson Lilah. Amazingly, she was born on the exact same date as her cousin, Thomas,  who arrived last year! So my two nephews, brothers,  have children born on the same day a year apart. That is uncanny!

The year can only get better!


Cathy Forrester | March 11, 2015

Dear Gilley,  I have always admired people who can draw and paint.  It is a beautiful gift to recreate an image and make it look real.  Thank you for the privilege of looking at your paintings which I must say are astonishing.  I love nature and you have caputured it so well.  My favourites are the birds and the blue wrens.  Your work is truly uplifting and I have enjoyed perusing through all your work instead of putting the TV on tonight.
Thank you so much.

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