Two on One please Dad

Now that I have redefined the light and shade, and the contouring of muscle, I have come to realise the background isn’t working. Its too busy and is fighting against the simplicity of the figure. It needs to be toned down which is a shame because I quite like it, however I have to remember I am doing one painting on one canvas, not two on one as my father would say when taking the morning egg orders…

  • Take a picture of a Billabong

My father was a retired Merchant Navy sea captain and he hung onto regimented routine with grim death. On hindsight, I think it was his only form of control in a world gone mad around him. Anyway, I digress. Part of the workday morning routine was the taking of egg on toast orders. We would still be in bed, rubbing our eyes open in preparation for his timely visit. It went something like this,

“Two on one please Dad”
” One on One please Ted”
“Three on Two please Dad” (The greedy one was my brother)

To translate, two eggs on one toast. The eggs were always without exception perfectly poached, not a burst yoke to be seen.

Ida Outhwaite

Ida Outhwaite

But again I digress, back to the painting, I was wondering how to fix the background when Stephen suggested I have a look at Ida Outhwaite who was an Australian illustrator of children’s books. He explained the wonderful simplicity of her work, the background acting as a backdrop to the figures centre stage. “Ummm” I’m thinking looking back at my painting, wondering how to pull that one off. Well, this week I have a plan and my plan is to prepare a small canvas and have a wee play.

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About Ellis Burgess

A number of people have said that ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ is) is in Ellis’s genes and to some extent they may be correct. Her grandmother painted and so did her mother. Marge Barley started painting when she was 9 years old and achieved some acclaim in New Zealand. In turn, her mother, Ellis’s Grandmother started much later in life more from compulsion than conscious desire. Ten years ago a well-intentioned friend shoved a paintbrush into Ellis’s clenched fist, forcefully moving her hand between paint pot and paper until it moved of its own volition in a frenetic frenzy attended by a torrent of tears born of bewilderment and frustration, unaware of the wild colour patterning the fury within. Ellis’s mother had passed away three years earlier from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. From these inauspicious beginnings Ellis began to paint, and for a short time attended classes at the Hamilton Society of Arts in New Zealand. Seven years ago, Ellis and her husband moved to the Gold Coast where she met Stephen Buntrock of the Gold Coast Art School. With his encouragement, painting became more than just something to do. It became a passion. Another passion is dance. Ellis loves the musical synergy of movement, the human form working with rhythm mood and emotion, sensing the freedom as the dancer soars across the floor with effortless ease. Like a lot of little girls, she was sent off to ballet in a somewhat desperate attempt by her grandfather to stop her stomping around the house. Eleven years later Ellis was selected to dance with NZ Ballet Company in a season of the Nutcracker. Did Ellis stop stomping? No. Ballet was to be her life; that was until she met the man of her dreams. Never the less, ballet has featured in much of her adult life by way of teaching and outlets of involvement. Ellis quickly discovered another outlet was painting. She spent a long time pondering on the skill set required to achieve her vision; how to portray the artistry of movement, the musicality and rhythm of dance, and the genius of the human form on canvas. Attempting different techniques, she learnt she is not an illustrator, but a painter who gravitated towards free movement. In her quieter moments Ellis often wonders what her mother would say if she were still here, left only with her paintings languishing against the wall. As an apprentice in the art of painting Ellis hopes the path ahead will be clear, perhaps meander elegantly at her will. Maybe it will broaden out to a huge piazza where she may sit for a long while, then later choose the many paths that transverse the piazza or continue again down the main road.