"Twisted Realism" A visual artist, creating moody black and white tonal drawings in charcoal, pastel and graphite. Inspired by the human figure, story telling and Europe.


VESPERTINE VISIONS - Woodford Folk Festival

New Years Eve at Woodford, and I was invited to create one of my drawings in situ. In Artisania, a very public display. One of my large works can take up to 4/5 weeks to complete, so in order to do anything meaningful in a two hour evening performance, I got myself organised.
  • The first day of Woodford, I went along with camera in hand, and photographed things that I thought captured the spirit of the place.
  • The next day in my studio, I collaged the images, and drew them with a 7B pencil, onto a large (200cm X 120cm) sheet of brown Kraft paper. The drawing was allowed to be free and distorted, to add to the drama and accentuate feelings about various objects in the work. Fluid, menacing, whimsical etc.
  • In the studio I then toned in all the grey/black areas with Extra Soft Pitt Compressed Charcoal, using my photos as references. 
I took this to Woodford and on the evening began to render all of the white areas with Art Spectrum Soft Pastels (Titanium White, which is very sharp on the brown paper)

After a couple of hours I had crudely filled in about a quarter of the area, then headed home. There was a lot of passer-by interest, lots of questions and photos, and often people standing two or three deep watching. Even a couple of interested buyers.

I've decided to complete the work at home. 
It's the first drawing I've commenced that doesn't have a European theme and I've found it really interesting to work on. Below is where it's at at the moment, but there's probably another couple of weeks work involved. I will post further photos of it's development.

The public performance was daunting.

Visual Art is somewhat unique amongst the Arts.
Rarely collaborations, so vital to other disciplines. 
We tend to squirrel ourselves away in very private studios, 
preferring isolation, 
loud music and particular rag-tag clothes that become our uniform of intent. 
Puts us in the mood, all necessary to create.
No phones, no visitors. 
The world can, and often does, disappear for hours.

ARTISANIA at the Woodford Folk Festival 2013

It's always been my mission as an Art teacher, to debunk the myth that being able to draw is left to a gifted few who are born with an almost divine trait. You can teach anyone a few simple tricks and ways of seeing to enable them to create something they thought was beyond their abilities.

 Woodford affords me an opportunity to do that in a unique environment. It seems to be a place of bravery, where it is OK to have a go at anything; eat untried things, wear what you want in a time-warp heaven, dance even if you're awkward, sing out loud though you may be tuneless, all without being judged. 
In fact it’s encouraged. 

Within Woodford is the village of "Artisania", a place that allows people to try arts and crafts that they wouldn't normally. Usually due to fear, self doubt, or a lack of time in their daily lives. Lots of people in the classes say they did art back in school and really enjoyed it, but had to move on in their lives, but the art kept niggling at them, leaving a lasting impression that they often wondered about.  

And in the non-threatening Woodford environment, where time slows down, where you can explore and are encouraged to have a go, they feel safe and comfortable enough to reconnect with those nagging questions. 

You get young kids and grandparents, practicing artists, mums that finally have time, stick-figure beginners, men who have wanted to try but felt it was effete, all end up creating works that delight and surprise themselves.

Unemployed and globe trotting professionals work side by side in a common camaraderie and engage in all sorts of conversation while creating their work. 
In the workshops everyone is an equal. 

And at the end of a class, there is always gratitude and appreciation for what they have learnt. A number of people tell me they are going go back to their communities and enrolling in art classes, that they have discovered a confidence that was lacking a few hours ago.

Thank you to all the great students who took a risk, and became artists for a few hours. May you continue to work on your creativity and develop what lies within.

I love Woodford!


"Peter Hollard" 

Produced by
John Perrigo and Nasim Fakhry


Drawing Workshop with Yanni Floros - Lethbridge Gallery

 A month ago I received an invitation to participate in a workshop with one of the stable of excellent artists associated with Lethbridge Gallery in Brisbane. Yanni Floros came to my attention a year or so ago, with an exhibition of exquisite charcoal drawings, rendered in something beyond a photographic representation. Stark, stunning, detailed and alluring, they displayed a unique mastery over the medium, and I became a fan.

Yesterday I attended Yanni's workshop. He showed us his unique way of working, using powdered charcoal and brushes to slowly build areas up, adding the effects of charcoal pencil to detail and strengthen areas, and then cutting back into the surfaces with chiselled edged erasers to create the lighter sections. And then on occasions, powdered white pastel or conte are brushed over some areas to bring out the highlights. The jacket below on the cover of Yanni's catalogue, would have started as a solid black charcoal block, and the light shades etched back into the surface with the eraser.

All of the materials used and techniques shown at the workshop were familiar to me, but I find I apply them in a different fashion in my own work. Whereas the surfaces of Yanni's drawings are almost "licked" and polished with little evidence of the techniques and even mediums employed to make them, I love the effects of the mark-making process in my own pieces. Cross hatch and contour strokes, the thick impasto chunks of tone, and overt evidence of graphite, pastel and charcoal line, all add an additional richness and "energy" to the work.

My workshop effort.
The hair is the result of Yanni's teaching,
the jacket shows the effects of
 Pete left to his own devices. 

Thanks to Yanni, a gifted and engaging communicator who was very willing to share his "secrets", and who lead us through an entertaining and challenging day. 


SALT Magazine - Autumn 2012 - Artwork

Since the 05/06 Summer edition of the beautifully produced Sunshine Coast magazine, 
I have been invited to illustrate Bernard Salt articles, and now, the stories of Brisbane writer Benjamin Law.
The stories are always presented to me about a month and half before going to press, and I am given open slather to treat them in any way I choose. Often difficult, but always fun. Invariably, an idea springs to mind on the the first reading, and despite all attempts to improve upon that idea, the initial gut response proves to be the most relevant. 
Below is the final proposal for the current edition.

Click on the link below to read "Law according to Benjamin". 
A humorous story about being an Asian kid who couldn't swim, 
growing up on the Sunshine Coast and trying to make an impression.

Wednesday Night Life Drawing...

...with Karen, James, Andrew, Shane, Tom, Angela and a few others.
We've been drawing for about 12 months now, 
and love the challenges that life drawing brings.

Recently I've been doing smaller works in my A4 journal, 
deliberately keeping them simple line drawings 
with the view of taking them home and developing them further.

These journal drawings allow me to explore techniques 
that I might use in future large works, 
and to play with iconography from my photo albums. 

Backdrops from Byron Bay, 
Granville and Annecy in France, 
Le Defense in Paris...

...but sometimes it's the simplicity of line and colour I love.
I've always enjoyed the decoration of patterns, 
and using line to create contoured surfaces.  

These smaller works are a chance to push these areas, 
then combine them with layers of coloured inks and indian washes. 

A Difficult Pleasure Completed.

Pages from my journal.

The drawing I have been working on is titled "Lutte Et Le Desir" (Struggle and Desir) It is the accumulation of a lot of ideas that were teased out in my journal over a number of weeks. One thought was to include the picturesque Spanish village of Cadaques, a place I had visited on a couple of occasions, and the place where Salvador Dali holidayed as a youth. It was the source of many of his iconic coastal landscapes, and I wanted it to emerge from a flat photo into a 3D image as it rolled across the surface of the paper.    

I have also played with the idea of the graphite pencil, the basic tool to make a mark with, being some sort of spike that anchors me to my art, and torments me with it's insistency. As a younger person, there was always the visual power of Christ nailed to His cross. A similar inevitability and sense of persecution by my art exists within. 


Sketches trying to work out the best way to visually solve the problem, and create impact. The pages are also full of ideas that never made it into the final image.

 I wanted to show that the experience of creating is not one I have a lot of control over, and that it's not just a matter of removing the pencil to alleviate the need. Although piercing the wrist has religious connotations, I find it to be the point in my body where any emotional pain is felt immediately. At times my wrists and forearms are the first parts to recognise emotional anguish and respond instantly with a deep, dull ache.

I wanted the face and hands to create an embrace around the story, so pushed them to the far edges of the paper. I often use words as a speedier way to capture thoughts about an image. Smaller ideas around the page, eventually make it into the final image.

This drawing uses black pen and wash to try and capture the final expression on the face, and endeavours to work out the awkward relationship between the two hands and pencil, while not concealing any of the vital information in the drawing.

"Lutte et le Desir"

190 x 103 cm
Charcoal, Pastel and Graphite on Kraft Paper.

When the entire surface is finally covered, the fun begins. I love the notion of depth in my work, a sense that you can "enter" it, so then it's time to push areas back and pull some parts of the image forward. The quiet addition of warm red pastel to pull, and cool blue pastel to push, creates dimension, and subtle and interesting changes to the work.
I also seek out the confidence of family and friends to give feedback as to what works and doesn't in the picture. All drawings get to a point where I have no idea what I have created. Bit like not being able to recognise your own voice on a recording. It's so familiar I don't see it anymore. Invariably I will listen and change.
So when is the work finished? This drawing has sat on my easel in this state for about two months now, and I have not been tempted to touch it, to walk up and tweak some troubling square centimetre, even though I scan it constantly. There is this gut feeling, this intangible knowing that it is done.


New Work In Progress (The Difficult Pleasure)

I've just commenced my next drawing. 

The initial concept came from a drawing in one of my journals that refers to my personal struggle with creating work and generating new ideas. But it is also a direct link to the Australian artist Brett Whitely, one of my artistic heroes, who referred to his "affliction", that is being born with a gift that had to be  honoured. He had no choice in the matter. Whitely called Art "the difficult pleasure". One can speculate whether it ultimately cost him his life.

There are times when I feel I am a slave to the image. There is always an enormous internal struggle to honour, to create and to entertain the muse within. A week without making a mark on paper, is to feel the itch within the fingertips take hold. Something has to be made, and what that is isn't always obvious.

This new work honours those times.

The brown Kraft paper (205gsm) is 2 meters wide and 1200cm high, 
and is taped to a large sheet of plaster board left over from building the house.
The drawing is drafted out in Mars Lumograph 7B pencil.
 It's a rich matt black that doesn't shine, therefore complimenting the flat charcoal to come. 

I work from a photo I take of myself, but I'm not a slave to it. 
I draw quickly so as to encourage the subtle distortions that are a key to my work.
After the initial drawing, I add the black tonal components with Pitt compressed extra soft charcoal.
The titanium white soft pastel is then worked into this. Some areas are left raw, while others are blended.

Not all of the design is fully conceived yet. There are a lot of serendipitous moments, and long periods sitting in chair with a coffee and staring at the work. Ideas suggest themselves as I go, and final designs are adjusted according to the needs of the work. 
(Is it too black. Too white. No flow or rhythm. Components that can't be "read". The need for detail and patterns. Awkward shapes that don't fit. The story looses track, irrelevant components etc etc.) 

At these moments, everything is right in the universe.

"When you are working,
everybody is in your studio - 
The past,
your friends,
the art world, 
and above all, 
your own ideas are all there.

But as you continue painting,
they start to leave one by one, 
and you are left completely alone.

Then if you are lucky,
even you leave."

Extract from a conversation between John Cage and Phillip Guston.