"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.


What To Do Now?

I've just finished this inspirational trip and accumulated so much information 
about places that I love and feel some strange familiarity and connection too.

So what do I do now? 

What to do with all this stuff?

How do I maintain momentum?

As I travelled I not only maintained a blog about the journey, 
and took nearly 2000 photos, 
but I kept a journal, a written account of each day of the trip. 
I've always kept visual journals.

These journals, of which I now have 14 spanning 21 years, 
are a constant source of inspiration. 
They are not filled with finished art works, 
but words, doodles, cut-outs and pastings, ideas, thoughts and 
musings that have entered my being over time. 
It's like hoarding mental stuff that I can't afford to throw out, 
just in case I need it one day.

First book, Adelaide, 1990

Most recent book, number 14, 
started about a month ago, 
in Paris. 

Euro trip 2011, first entry
Paris-Lausanne train ticket
Prawns and Dali

So it's a little bit of overload at present and I'm not sure where to start.
And what's more,
the work I had hanging on my easel before I left is still there,
 and annoying the hell out of me. 
I can't reconcile it. It grates, it frustrates and played on my mind constantly as I travelled, 
because I knew I would have to come home and face it one day.

It's strange when you invest so much time in a piece of work, 
and it fails to "sing".
I've spoken to a number of people about this work,
to get some feedback and they tend to agree.
It's safe, too easy to read, and doesn't intrigue.
There is a lot more unpredictability and energy with my other pieces.

So that at least is my starting point.
I love the story telling/comic book/words aspect but need to find a new dynamism.

‘Valleydreams’ (114.5 x 76.5 cm) Charcoal, Pastel, Graphite on Paper

Lonely in Paris, I needed some clear air.
I sped through Normandie on a silent, smooth Gallic train, heading for fresh Atlantic breezes. 
As I approached Flers, I caught a glimpse of a handful of old farm buildings, boarded up and lying in a green valley that nestled beneath the shadows of large rolling hills. 
In that moment I was there. The artist, snuggled away in one of those ramshackle stone buildings for the evening. Beeswax candles, a small stove to make coffee on, a thick sleeping bag, some pens and my art book. A sanctuary I had quietly inhabited. Nobody would care. A place of solitude, peace and gentle thoughts to keep me company.
I marveled as the possibilities whizzed past the window of that train and were at once processed and entertained in a matter of seconds. 

Those moments haunted me in the days to follow.


Last Days

From Chinon we drive back to Paris and return the car.

The little Citroen C3 has been great and served us well.
But what we really enjoyed was that roof!
The roof rolled back to the 'B' pillar, 
and the huge windscreen 
allowed the driver and front passenger to have a panoramic vision 
of everything around them.
A lot of fun!

A final stroll around Paris. 
Pont Neuf, the famous bridge across the Seine, 
that every artist has stood on throughout history 
and painted from.

 Just on the other side of the bridge, a final fling with Sennelier.

A matter of timing.

Even the Louvre has a sense of humour.

We got our old room back for the final evening in Paris. 
Tea on my Van Gogh chair in the loft. 

Midnight light on the ceiling.

Lost and in love. 


Along The Loire To Chinon

Tonight Wendy pre-books a hotel on line.

The lane leading to the hotel.

The Manoir de la Giraudiere.
Built in the 17C.

Chinon sits on the banks of Le Vienne, a tributary of the Loire River.

Tea that night at the local Pizzeria in Chinon.

Loire Valley

From the Bretagne peninsula, we decide to make our way back across France, 
and head in the general direction of Paris, to eventually return our car.
We drive through the Loire Valley.
Looking for a hotel late in the day, 
we drive into the rather large city of Angers, 
and again, another revelation.

Chateau D'Angers, High on a hill overlooking the city and river.

I love what they do with trams in French cities.
Stylish, colourful and quiet, the trams run down the major roads 
on tracks laid in thick, lush, grass.

And in the nearby town of Saumur, dealing with dog droppings.

The Lady In The Tourism Office...

... at Huelgoat, told us about a little coastal village to the south named Pont Aven. 
She said it was full of Artists. 
We headed off.
There were no Artists, they're all off painting as winter approaches, and then they return to their galleries in Pont Aven in spring to sell their works.
No artists, but certainly evidence of their presence here. 
Must have walked past 50 galleries around the little town. 
There are whole roads of galleries.

Again, this place is beautiful and real. Everywhere is evidence of people's lives as they go about their daily business. The town sits on the upper reaches of a tidal river, and is lined with small fishing boats. Many of the stone houses ford the small river that feeds the estuary, and the locals have channelled sections off to drive small wheels and water their gardens.

The use of rock and stone throughout Bretagne is delightful. 
There is a wonderful harmony between the way the people work with it, and how it appears in nature.


From the northern coast we head inland and to the west of the Bretagne peninsula, 
up into the hilly region known as the Monts d'Aree, 
which is part of a large regional natural park. 
In this area is a little town named Huelgoat,
 which sits amidst magnificent forests on a serene woodland lake. 
We arrive during the the annual food and wine festival, and the town is buzzing.

But later in the day, it becomes eerily quiet.

The town is old and lovely, but it seems like no-one lives here any more.
A beautiful 3 storey building right in the heart of the village, 
has a large shop (gallery) and storage area on the ground floor; 
2 bedrooms, bathroom, toilet, kitchen and living on the first floor; 
3 bedrooms, bathroom, toilet, kitchen and living on the second floor; 
and a large loft that could be turned into accommodation
a group of artists studios!

There was a lot of evidence of the Arts, 
empty galleries and art schools in grand old buildings,
and an open air ampitheatre in the woods, 
but I was told they all move out when it starts to get cold.
Rich pickings for a bunch of artists from Australia to move into and revive the little towns 
art and soul.

At the end of the lake are the woodlands.
Enchanted and fairytale like, everything Robin Hood would have dreamed off, 
and a Hobbit would die for!
You walk down to the woods through a river gorge filled with huge tumbling granite boulders covered in thick lichens and mosses.
The path leads under rock bridges and down into waterfall caverns.
 Light filters through the canopy of elm, birch and maple, and because the season is slowly turning, there is the constant flutter of auburn-brown leaves creating a soft carpet under your feet.

The woods were also the hiding place for the French Resistance during the war, 
and there are a number of grave sites dotted along the walk.
In  another area there are remnants of a large rampart, dating back to the times of Julius Caesar.  

Like the forest, Huelgoat intrigued and enchanted.
But where is the fire?


The Tour Of Bretagne

From Mont St-Michel
 we wander along the northern coastline of the Bretagne Peninsula (Brittany).
The coast looks out onto the English Channel,
and is dotted with rugged islands, and small bays and inlets.
We make it up as we go, 
and there are always delightful discoveries.
We come across

As we drive around the little streets, we find Hotel Jacquet.
Very friendly, large room, delightful breakfast.
Above, the hotel and the views from the rooms.
Another gem.

The boardwalk from beach to marina.                      Beach house with cat and art gates.


Early morning fitness group.