Regression – Try It!

When I entered Newcastle Art School on a “Mature Age” Intake in 1979, I had already been painting quite a few years – mainly portraits and still life subjects.   I found some new direction through my teacher Ross Morrow, but after end of year holiday time, I came back with no inspiration for any new works.  Ross said to me  “Regress” – and I think I looked blankly at him.   After some time in thought, I decided he meant …Go back to childhood thinking”

I drew in pastels a funny cake with candles on it with someone’s breath blowing them out.   The icing must have still been wet as it was slipping down one side of the cake and so were the candles.  (Click on the photographs to see a larger version on a new page)  

I did some more drawings….a mountain with a rainbow round it and funny apple trees on the sides….another mountain with a rainbow and the lake in the foreground.   I wrote around the picture….”Rainbows DO happen at Speers Point SOMETIMES.”


These little drawing started my “Heaven & Earth” series.    As Westerly winds were prevalent at that time I painted the hill behind my home with a turbulent sky – lots of frantic brushstrokes and markings with pastel pencils as I portrayed those winds tearing at the hill…and yet not moving it.  My little home was safe in the strength of the hill’s comforting power.  It prevailed, though all around was turmoil.

More mountains appeared in my works gradually getting larger and larger….one even flew with the aid of a kite’s brightly coloured tail.  Another  was bursting with energy and fire cracker type markings that effused from the top of it like a volcano…but it wasn’t fearful it was celebratory and wildly happy.  I was painting out my journey from a hesitant little child (the one inside me) to someone with a burgeoning faith that was symbolised by my mountains….and a faith in a God that was reaching out to me from His Heaven

Because I lived close to a large lake that came alive at weekends with sailing boats and pleasure craft, the hill behind my home (now a mountain in my eyes) celebrated with the “boaties” in bursts of colour and I portrayed the lake area with colourful  expressionistic  & childlike exuberance in a couple of large 7’ x 5’ paintings…one in particular called “Sunday Special” had the candles and fireworks from my earlier drawings and a plane flying over with a kite tail behind it.

The change in me from those depressed days of seeming  “artist’s block” was so positive because I now felt energised and creative as I mixed large pots of acrylic colour…painted with my hands…and drew scribbly marks into the work with water colour pencils to convey the spiritual energising I was feeling – and I didn’t stop there, for I was soon soaring over the landscape in my works, looking down as if from some heavenly vantage point showing hills, valleys, rivers and I was revelling in being a creator.

There was no real ending to that series of works…just another stage in my growth resulted and I moved on to portray other aspects of my journey in  life with all its down and up times.  It has been a revelation to look back on my art works and see so many meanings in each one.

So….I say… If you have hit a down time and just “can’t think of anything to paint” – TRY REGRESSION.  BUT….be prepared…IT CAN BE A FAST RIDE !!