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Henry Thornton - Lifestyle: A discussion of economic, social and political issues Diary of an Artist, H2, 2008 Date 28/04/2009
Member rating 4.8/5
An account of the daily struggle, the highs and lows, in the life of a full-time, self-employed, professional artist.
Anyone interested in commissioning a painting by Peter, or buying one priced on this site, or offering to help Peter set up an exhibition should CONTACT HENRY .

By Peter Byron Email / Print

27/4/2009. Time to catch up on recent activities in and about the studio.

Peter Jonson aka Henry Thornton 


Oil on Canvas   48Ē x 52Ē 2009

I'm sorry to report that once again I've added my $230.00 to the coffers of the A.G.N.S.W. and carrying company.

This painting is intended as a coming out of sorts; ďPeter Jonson aka Henry ThorntonĒ.
For those of you unaware of Peter Jonsonís full involvement here at Henry Thornton he is the author of numerous articles penned under the Henry Thornton moniker in addition to those of his own.

In making of Peterís likeness I worked on a series of key words.

These came from numerous conversations weíd had over the past years: experience, measure, vision.

The choice of colour palate was inspired by Chinese political poster art.
I like the play of red against yellow; it creates an emotional charged dynamic.

ďwww.henry thorntonĒ is emblazoned across the bottom of the portrait, adding to the overall feel of a poster.
Iíve keep the brush strokes larger and more textural than I would usually, to counteract any notion that this is in fact merely a poster weíre viewing.

The multicoloured shafts emanating from the portrait are intended to represent connections between ďHenryĒ and the world outside his square.

Within the shafts (intended to represent the internet) are concealed company ASX codes which Peter Jonson has a direct working relationship.

I am very pleased with the results, but it obviously didnít hit the mark with the Archibald judges.

Iím happy to have received the work back promptly and in good order this time.

Iím hoping there is still a chance the portrait may get a public hanging, nothing firm yet, Iíll keep you posted.

Iíve a new bronze in the making, I delivered the wax model to the foundry before Easter, and so I expect it will be ready sometime this week.

I have also made plans to get into new landscape/cityscape work.

I was reminded how much I enjoy the plain air, when I recently spent an afternoon with Peter Jonson dabbling with our paints on a rural property.

I really enjoyed the process of trying to represent, the challenge of ever-changing colour, light and shadow.

As a result Iím endeavoring to spend Friday afternoonís painting landscape.

And while on the subject of working Iíve realized it is high time to get a new canvas on the go.

8/01/09. Happy New Year to all,  Iíve been preparing for a new portrait.

The new canvas measures 48Ē x 52Ē, so far Iíve been trying to get as much colour into it as possible.

Points will be awarded to the first to guess the sitter (well, anyone outside his or her direct family).

We have decided the finished work should be entered into this yearís Archibald Prize.

The delivery deadline of the 2nd of February is looming (to the A.G.N.S.W. ).

Time is going to be tight indeed, I'll try to refrain from faint hearted jokes.

One of the biggest challenges is going to be the paints drying time.

From past experience I know oil paints take a long while to dry through when applied with thickness.

In the design of this work paint application will be liberal, Iím banking on the inclusion of a medium to help out here.

I'm using Lukas Medium 5, to thicken the paint as well as accelorate the  drying time.

I wanted the finished work to have textural structure.

Sittings begin in the middle of next week and I can hardly wait to get going.

This portrait has been a long time in the making, which is a good thing as I now have a very clear idea of the way Iíd like it to look and what I want to capture.

Itís time to pick up the remaining works from the exhibition that closed on Sunday just past.

The effect of the economic crisis was felt in full, with art sales down across the board. These are indeed worrying times for we the self employed artists.

If timing is everything, then on this occasion the timing of my comeback to exhibiting circles couldnít have been worse.  As a good friend says ďwe live...Ē

If I have a disappointment itís that the bronzes were not promoted as Iíd envisaged and subsequently werenít seen by as many as Iíd hoped.

Thereís no time to lick wounds as Iíve got to get to work on this yearís Archibald Portrait Prize (detail to follow).

In addition Iíve received good news regarding a permanent public hanging for some of my recent portraits.

Back to work.

15/11/08. The opening of the group show at the Katrina Manton Gallery was a great social success and sales disaster.

There were many in attendance some with lofty and informed opinion.

An example is when I, let me qualify that everyone in earshot heard the boffin who sailed through the front door announcing ďstraight away I hate the landscapesĒ.

I tell you sometimes it takes an even temper and a thick skin in this business.

From that distance he couldnít  have seen any of the hidden images, he couldnít have seen the content or understood the subtext.

He could never have known how it felt to sit in the paddocks on those glorious spring days not knowing if heíd see out summer.

If there is one in every crowd the opening night had more than it's fair share.

I could complain about this and other mechanical things, but I wonít. 

That would be too negative, the general response to the work was very positive indeed.

There were very many familiar faces in the crowd and I was thankful for the support on such a sultry and humid night. 

Collaboration with David Porter - "Along McMillan's Trail".

Oil on Canvas 

10/11/08. Itís been a busy time tying loose ends, polishing bronzes, glazing paintings.

The bronzes I picked up from Perrinís Sculpture Foundry over the weekend are a joy to behold (even if I say so myself).

I think the only twinge of sadness is that as I complete the collection it is time for it to leave the studio.

Part of me (a substantial part) wants to keep everything, who knows in the current economic climate I just might get my wish.

I thought Iíd take a moment to jot down a few notes on the major series of painted works to be exhibited.

The Magpies depicted in the series of four submitted were inspired by the female that has lived on and about the nature strip outside of my studio window.

Iíve had a lot of time to watch and mark seasons as every year she raises a new chick. She is one strong independent bird in the prime of her reign over her territory.

Iíve become fascinated by her terrestrial performances, her determination, strength and belligerence.

Mother and son -Moving on

Oil on canvas 2008

In many ways the magpie has been inspirational during my recovery, I feel I know her well.

And for her part she has grown tolerant of my constant invasions of her space.
The White Backed Magpie has come to represent much to me (outside of obvious reference in football made Melbourne); the very existence of this sub species is in doubt due to the dominance of the black backed variety.

She is a prowling T-Rex in my garden, I look at her and I see dinosaurs.

The Twins   "Trevor and Kevin"  Bronze

Edition of six sets before mould is broken

5/11/08. On Friday I get to see the remaining three bronzes from Bill Perrin.

This will complete the series of seven bronze sculptures to be exhibited next week.
Of the seven each is unique, with the exception of the twins Trevor and Kevin which are an edition of 6 sets.

A final production meeting will be held next Monday at the Katrina Manton gallery before the Thursday 13th of November opening.

Recently Iíve been busy glazing the collection of painted works, there are still several  to do before I can sit back, rest and assess.

Up,up and away  
Oil on canvas   6Ēx 7Ē    2008

Itís been an interesting couple of years that brings me to this show, from a hospital bed I was not expected to leave, through the hard months of rehabilitation.

To have enjoyed the support of close friends and to emerge energised and ready to move onward and forward with my art is more than I had hoped.  In many ways this upcoming show is already a success, but I must add I do feel a sense of excitement.

29/10/08. Iíve been putting up images available for inclusion into my upcoming show, keeping in mind that my primary objective is to showcase the bronze collection.

Not knowing how much wall space I have to work with Iím figuring to have choice between three series of paintings (Plain air landscapes, Magpies and Birds in flight)is a good place to be.

It feels good to have everything ready on time if not early, if it wasnít for the nagging voice in the back of my head...timing...recession...crash.

Oh well, letís not worry too much over that which we have no control.

Collaboration with Emma Keep 

Water and Oil on Canvas 2008  730cm x 1034cm

Emma Keep and David Porter
At work in David's St Kilda Studio 9/2008

25/10/08. Iíve been mailing out invitations to the upcoming show at Katrina Manton Gallery, that and finishing up the short list of paintings.

Of course all at Henry are welcome to attend the opening, contact me for an invitation.

Itís an exciting time, Iím waiting to see the remaining Bronzes,  these should be ready sometime in the next week.

To add to this I have a new commission which will (when ready) be entering the dreaded Archibald Prize.

I hear some of you say this was never going to happen, well, it is and whatís more I aim to win.
(Just thought Iíd put that on the record early) Trueisms arenít always accurate, but, ďnever say neverĒ has often haunted me.

Itís time to test the Archibald waters armed with amended theory, and  a worthy and willing sitter.

It feels good to be busy, Iíll be updating the gallery over the next week.

Towards the Grampians  Oil on canvas 48cm x48cm 2007

Little Bulla  Oil on Canvas 50cm x40cm 2007

Detail "The Decoy" Oil on Canvas 2008

The Decoy  Oil on Canvas  63cm x100cm 2008

Lost in the Strathbogies  Oil on Canvas 50cm x 72cm  2008

Eastern Snipe "At work in the Valley"  Oil on Canvas  43cm x 60cm  2008

Saint John's Church from Orrong Park  Oil on canvas 25cm x 29cm  2008

Magpie  Oil on Canvas  64cm x 64cm 2008

12/10/08. Itís been a good while between diary entries.

I guess part of the silence has been due to my illness I think whilst rehabilitating I allowed myself to retreat too far into my shell.

Even so Iíve been working steadily towards the first show since the heart problems.

Itís a group show, three of us involved, myself, Emma Keep and David Porter.

It will be at the Katrina Manton Gallery in Albert Park opening on the 16th of November.

For my part it will be an opportunity to display some of the bronzes Iíve been working on over the last 18 months.  Thereíll be six maybe seven. Perrinís Foundry should be calling sometime this week to advise pick up of the final two pieces.

In addition to these Iíll be showing a selection of recent works in oil.

Iím still trying to decide what painting to exhibit.

There are a the series of landscapes from Mt. Bulla and the Grampians; a series of four documenting my resident Magpie family and a series inspired by birds in flight.

Iíve been offered the opportunity to make a new portrait for the next Archibald Prize. The subject  must at this stage remain ammoniums until work begins.

Itís taken awhile but I feel like Iím making good progress creatively.

Indigenous       Oil on Canvas 26Ēh x 38Ēw

Grass Tree Grampians National Park Victoria   Oil on Canvas 26Ēh x 16Ēw

Summit of Mount Bulla  Oil on Canvas  14Ēh x 24Ēw

The previous item in this series is linked here.

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