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"Talking to the Muses about Art"


Joined May 2007

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 29

Artist's Description

Oil on canvas tryptich.
The painting is a large oil on canvas diptych approx 2metres X 120cm and features three painters at the end of a table (Brett Whiteley, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Vincent Van Gogh). The table is also a barron Australian landscape with the foreground area being a resting spot for various art materials and a cup of coffee which has an actual handle petruding from the canvas (I dropped a cup one night whilst painting and collaged on the broken handle).

There is a lot of text scratched into the paint (with the back of a brush) which I have reproduced below for readability. There is also a fair use of collaged material scattered about the painting. A letter from Australian artist George Gittoes, a CD of Miles Davis along with a notepad with some of the other music I have been listening to in recent months whilst painting this work. Jigsaw pieces, pencils, pencil shavings, a loaded paint brush, a matchbox and even a reproduced letter in Vincents pocket to his brother Theo (the original 1883 letter had a sketch included aptly titled “People in the Studio” More..). I have also included a reference to a letter from an artist friend in the US who used a Andy Warhol stamp on the envelope. Painted within the landscape are two small easels with two of my previous paintings on them (“Miles Davis” and “Pots” which hangs in my studio at present).

More information plus reproduction of my own prose for this painting here:
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Here is the full text which I scratched into the background of the painting featured here at Red Bubble titled “Talking to the Muses about Art”.
These are my own words and thoughts.. a tone poem if you will..

*Paint on regardless.
Paint on through expression & meaning. Paint on through metaphor and symbolism. Paint on through elaboration & simplicity. Paint on through caffeine & turpentine. Paint on through the early hours. Paint on through imagination & mystery. Paint on through inspiration & interpretation.
Paint on through self doubt & apprehension.

Paint on through solitude & crowded thought. Paint on through fashion & trend. Paint on through stumbling blocks & open doors. Paint on through dishonesty & distraction. Paint on through routine & boredom. Paint on through broken charcoal & broken spirit.
Just paint on.

Paint on through broken rules & pushing boundries. Paint on through textured passage & scratched thought. Paint on through form versus content. Paint on through figuration & landscape. Paint on through reality & exageration.
Paint on through infatuation & interpretation . Paint on through motivation & passion. Paint on through responsibility & deadline. Paint on through key & contrast .
Paint on, Paint on, Paint on.

Paint on through expectation & surprise. Paint on through 3AM & exhaustion . Paint on through exhilaration & dissapointment . Paint on through misunderstanding & enlightenment. Paint on through stereotype & label . Paint on through collage & memory. Paint on through spontaneity & laboured thought .
Paint on through ignorance & envy.

Paint on through music & silence. Paint on through the sound of brushwork & the smell of linseed oil . Paint on through circus, canvas & colour . Paint on through age & beauty. Paint on through influence & originality. Paint on through Modigliani & Miles.
Paint on through blank canvas & empty palette.
Paint on through exhibition & inhibition.
Just paint on.*

-Leith O’Malley

Talking to the Muses about Art" is more a case of elaborating or building on all that I liked about a previous painting I did called the “Talking to Picasso..” . One thing I did start to develop however was turning the table top in the foreground into a landscape and yet retaining the idea of it being a tabletop at the same time. I have carried this through to more recent paintings and am enjoying mixing my love of figurative work with the landscape elements.

The text in the background of Muses is a sort of tone poem. It is reproduced in full on my website and talks about the struggle to paint and the obsession with wanting to keep painting (“paint on through”) no matter what.
Sometimes I feel like the painting is telling me what it wants rather than the other way around. There is definitely a sort of love/hate relationship with some of my work and I often feel empty after a painting is completed. I scraped the text and thoughts into the paint with my fingers, stick and a brush handle mostly and they represent my thoughts and the imagined conversation with Whiteley, Basquiat and Vincent.

The painting has a road running from the foreground which sweeps up and around to the central figure (Basquiat). There are several motifs along that road which deal with struggle and decision making (eg. The hurdles). There are also collaged pictures of paintings I have done along the way and references to the circus via the striped tents. My parents traveled Australia with Ashton Circus when I was young and I have recurring imagery about this time in several of my works (clowns and tents).

There are also some collaged quotes scattered about the painting. One of my favourites is a line I reproduced from a Laura Viers song which reads “all the time spent dreaming is never lost” and another unrelated quote “art is never finished, only abandoned” which also struck a chord with me.

In the lower left of the foreground I have made reference to my love of graphic art with a painted colour chart and just below the bowl containing the collaged pencil shavings I have presented three pencils. One is real (glued on), one is painted realistically and the other is a photograph of a pencil. There is also a collaged article on Picasso’s use of collage in his work.

Just writing this brings back so many good memories about the painting, and upon reflection it is very interesting to look back and think about the motivation behind the work.

“Talking to the Muses about Art” was recently purchased by the Chairman of Country Arts SA (Adelaide) so I won’t get to see it for some time unfortunately. Photographic reproductions don’t really do it justice as there is quite a significant amount of texture, thick paint and glazed areas throughout the painting.
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Artwork Comments

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