into a rubbish skip or were used as weed suppressants somewhere on our little
acre where I still occasionally turn up multi-coloured fragments.
The silly thing was that whilst a number of paintings deserved their fate by
being, in anybody’s opinion, a waste of paint and canvas, there were a
number of paintings that I really liked. An example being a large painting (eight
by five feet in the old imperial scale) called ‘Doorway Cowboy’
. I painted it soon after I commenced my post graduate studies at the National
Gallery and using only the best Belgian linen and Liquitex acrylics - meaning
that it was rather expensive to make. I know it was based on an apparently lost
photograph of me sitting in a doorway wearing my new cowboy hat from Toad Leather.
The hat, which I still have, wasn’t made from endangered amphibians if
you are concerned but rather dark brown cow hide and made by some aging hippies
in East Malvern.
It was actually one of the only self-portraits I have ever done - if anything
so abstracted could be called a portrait. The only trouble is that, whilst I
had a strong memory of it, I couldn’t immediately find any reference,
neither original photograph, nor working drawing or the best of all, a slide.
However after much searching I eventually found a working drawing and a slide
in a squashed yellow packet with the word ‘detritus’ written on
it, which was apt as the slides weren’t exemplars of the photographer’s
art, in great condition or very well exposed.
But it was something. The first thing that occurred to me was that the drawing
was not the same as the painting in significant ways so I couldn’t use
it as a starting point. There may have been other later drawings or I had modified
the structure considerably over the period of time that I worked on it. So I
scanned the slide using a scanner from Aldi - which from either quality and
ease of use perspective I cannot honestly recommend to anybody. But it was cheap
and because it is produces two megabytes of rubbish often generates some rather
interesting effects. However if you were to blow up one of the images to any
size you could walk a dog between the pixels. So I ended up with a JPEG image
which I imported into Adobe Lightroom to clean and straighten; from there it
went into CorelDraw 6 where there is a component that turns it into a vector
graphic. It looked interesting but with a bit more work in that program it looked
somewhat better albeit it a somewhat lurid way.
But the intention is not to recreate the painting exactly as it was forty years
ago but to use it as the entry point that we be more like something that I would
do today. So the image went into yet another program – this time Corel
Painter XII which is highly complex and capable of doing just about anything.
I’m sure that I could do just about anything if I dedicated my life to
mastering the application but, unlike a set of paints and a paintbrush where
you remember pretty much how you did what you did the time before, this like
any complex program often leaves you marooned in some are of the universe looking
forlornly around for a familiar landmark. But it is probably as close to magic
that you can buy for manageable money.
At the moment the working version of Doorway Cowboy looks like this - though
there are other versions – and I’m sure that it will change more
over time. Quite painterly in places and capable of been printed at the original
size if one was so minded. Which I’m not.
In case you’re worried there are others paintings in various stages of
The other update concerns the Fasting diet which I owned up to commencing in
my last letter from leafy burbs of Melbourne. Is it working? What are the consequences
of having only 580 calories for two days of the week?
Firstly: yes I am lighter having lost almost 3 kilograms over the month which
is apparently to be expected. My pants definitely feel looser and my long suffering
wife; a lass, by the way, who needs to eat regularly and who is therefore standing
on the sidelines of this experiment. She is of the opinion that I am actually
slimmer though I think she may be buttering me up. Which would be too fattening.
Secondly: it’s not too difficult to do if you don’t mind being hungry
for the major part of a day. And progressively hungrier as the day goes on.
Ravenously hungry if you do any significant exercise.
Thirdly, you feel the cold a lot more on fasting days so Melbourne winters are
Fourthly; it is rather boring after a while. Even though you can eat what you
like every other day of the week two days with calorie managed food and no wine
can seem very tedious. I suppose I could just have two glasses of wine and no
Fifthly: there seem to be no other side effects - but I wouldn’t recommend
it unless you went to a doctor first as it is not scientifically tested. It
may work on mice but unless you live in a maze like Canberra you aren’t
a Laboratory Rat.