One of the great things about the International Artist workshops is the chance to travel to interesting places and accumulate information and ideas for exhibitions. Recent workshops in Italy and Sicily provided an enormous amount of inspiring ideas.

After gathering and sorting information, putting together a collection of paintings for an exhibition is a lot of hard work. It becomes an obsession for four or five months – sometimes frustrating and annoying, other times, satisfying and inspiring.
I like to have a theme or unifying element to an exhibition. It helps with the creation of the work and presents a cohesive and more engaging package to the viewer.
My current exhibition, “Tall Tales” is based on the loose interpretation of fascinating incidents, customs and beliefs witnessed in Italy and Sicily. Rather than try and find out the truth, I relied on my own interpretation of what I experienced. Not speaking the language, or understanding many of the local customs allowed for a much freer interpretation. The truth is fine for history books and anthropological studies, but for me, tall tales make much better paintings.

Tall Tales opens at Moulton Galleries 777 Military Rd Mosman, Sydney 6:00pm 29th October and runs for one month.

Here are a few of the paintings from Tall Tales

“Palermo Geraniums”
On a dusty window sill in the rundown center of Palermo, a small pot of geraniums are lovingly watered each day as the city slowly crumbles around them.

“Lovers Beach”
A small corner of Southern Italy where the day to day life of traditional fishermen mix with the opulent lifestyle of a five star Hotel. Walking along the beach before sunrise reveals fresh graffiti, religious icons and a discarded pair of red stilettos – all the ingredients for another tall tale.

“Dreams of The Open Sea”

(480×530 watercolor on Arches 300gsm paper)  In a tiny sea side village a Sicilian fisherman lovingly coaxes life back into a small wooden boat.

“Rain birds Whirl”
The spiraling arcs of rain birds echo the ornate flourishes of opulent Italian pre war architecture.

“Notes On a Door”

The Sicilian village of Taormina has some beautiful old buildings. This doorway to an ancient church was pinned with hand written notes, all scribbled in Italian. I could have deciphered them with the phrase book, but that may have ruined the tale that they were the guilty confessions of many strayed parishioners.

“Creatures in the Bay”

(900×1200 mixed media on watercolor canvas) The quaint and picturesque villages of the Cinque Terre attract crowds of magnificently decorated visitors.

“Under Gina’s Window”
Life goes on in Palermo, a city whose colourful history doesn’t seem to affect the daily life of its inhabitants. Pigeons are fed and an unlocked bike defies the history of theft, murder and corruption.

“Canal Life”

(530×760 mixed media on 600gsm paper) Tiny glimpses of life in the milky backwaters of Venice. This painting was done on heavy paper and mounted down on a gesso primed board using acrylic medium. It was finished with a satin acrylic varnish

“Stolen Fruit”

(590×630 mixed media on board) The risk of jumping the orchard fence makes even the greenest pears taste good.

“On a Dry Sicilian Hill”

(600×760 Watercolor and mixed media on watercolor canvas) A Sicilian farmer coaxes lemons, olives and cabbages from a dry dusty hillside.

“Pigeons in a square”

(530×760 watercolor, ink, charcoal and Gesso on textured paper) A flock of pigeons cut spiraling arcs against the formal, geometric facades of ancient buildings.

If you happen to be in Sydney on Friday 29 October 2010, drop in to the Moulton Gallery (777 Military Rd, Mosman)  for a glass of wine and a chat.

21 thoughts on “TALL TALES

  1. Great set of work john! Just a thought but maybe you could write a little booklet to accompany the theme. I bought a series of limited edition prints by some guy quite a few years ago, on the story of the ark, its construction and the animals – all with a twisted humorous bent / up your alley.
    Anyway great stuff, great lighting – you keep me inspired

    • Cheers Yards,
      A book to accompany the exhibition would have been good, but as usual everything gets strung out to the last minute. I have hires shots of all the paintings, so may do something in the future?
      Glad you liked the work – will catch up soon

    • Hi Liz,
      Thanks for your comments. I am doing two one week workshops in Bend, Oregon next June/July – not far from you.
      Details are on my website
      Glad you liked the paintings

  2. Hi John, I stumbled across your blog yesterday and enjoyed the visit. Came back today to look again at those lovely paintings. ‘Dreams of the Open Sea’ stands out for me, but they are all intriguing. Hope your show went well, i will look forward to seeing more of your work.

  3. Excellent work, John! I have recently started working with watercolors and a friend of mine recommended I go to you site to check out your lessons. Thank you for all you other. You are a tremendous help and guide.
    Have a great day!

  4. John – I just discovered you and I am blown away by your beautiful art. Please come to Texas and show us how it is done. You would love the Texas Hill Country in the spring.

    • Hi Barbara,
      Thanks for your comments. I’d love to come to Texas some time – I’ve heard lots about it and it sounds fantastic.
      I’m booked up for workshops for the next couple of years, but Texas will be on the list one day.

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