"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.


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.