Sunday, August 21st, 2016

I wish I could dance: an exercise in nostalgia

 Dancing in the dust

The painting “Dancing in the dust” is painted on recycled canvas, 40 x 81 cm.  It is a celebration of spontaneous movement and the dynamic nature of dance.

Original piece on the same canvas not about dance

This is the painting I painted over with two tubes of Matisse Australian Sienna. There are many things wrong with the original painting. It also shows I can’t paint landscapes.


I wish I could dance. I have fibromyalgia and muscular problems severe enough that my movements have to be considered. I don’t always do this well – I’m a klutz. I can’t do spontaneous movement no matter how good it might be for my  anxiety.  Before all this I did swing dancing, which is a partnered dance which allows a great deal of improvisation. I was a follow which is the traditional female role for swing dance. I was good enough that I could lead if I needed to in a class.  I miss swing dancing, the level of exhaustion that taking a lesson now could cause other symptoms.

I had also done a little medieval dancing. Some friends have done more. I can still do a pavane. But as long as you can walk, you can do a pavane. There are large number dances that are simply too rigorous for me to do. One of my friends was very into medieval dance but now has chronic fatigue. I suspect I’m not the only one who misses dancing.

Monday, August 15th, 2016

A face in abstract artwork

Recognising patterns in the abstract

People see faces in all sorts of things. Jesus in a corn chip, a face on Mars. It is the brain trying to find a recognisable pattern in chaos. Today I started painting on one theme in landscape and ended up with a face in portrait. The painting is roughly A3.  If you struggle to see the face, compare it more to a mask and less to a face. A kabuki mask was one of the things I thought of when I finally saw what I had painted. It is called self evidently “Face”. Sometimes abstract art is meant to resemble figurative images and sometimes it isn’t. Now often viewers look for figurative meaning in abstract art that isn’t there. This week Dad asked me if there was a fish in “Dreamers Imagine“. I said no and we moved on.

This was a quick and dirty job because I’ve spent this week either exhausted or busy. Trying have appointments, lunch with Dad, tabletop games with a couple of the girls and get enough sleep, the art didn’t happen until this evening.


Monday, July 18th, 2016

Dreamers Imagine


“Dreamers Imagine” was inspired by the song “Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha. When I was eight, Auntie Jody sent me a large jewellery box made of dark wood. It played the tune of “Impossible Dream”.  When I was 15 or so I saw Man of La Mancha on stage. “Dreamers Imagine” is about hope. It’s about the creative impulse. All the colours are ones I see as upbeat except the red. The red is the irritant, the sand in the oyster shell. Some dreamers imagine because they’re bored. The brighter you are, the lower your boredom threshold. Others imagine because they dream of change. Yet a third group imagine to escape their circumstances. Sometimes it’s as simple as an ongoing daydream, others it is as complex a full novel.

Dreamers Imagine is also about the dreams that become hope for the community. I went to a biotech firm for my work experience in year 10. One of the scientists I spent the day with was working on the cure for AIDs.

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

I am a childhood abuse survivor


I am a survivor. My estranged mother abused me.  Mostly emotional abuse, often verbal abuse and rarely physical abuse. Like many survivors I have depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, a binge eating disorder (a form of compulsive behaviour). Not surprisingly as a survivor I find it difficult to trust. Recently my psychiatrist made mistakes in part because I wasn’t letting him far enough in.

I started being depressed at 15. Remembering being suicidal makes it easy to define. I didn’t tell anyone. Not my parents – Dad’s a nice guy but he tells mum absolutely everything, not my friends, not my teachers. I didn’t know I was being  abused. When mum locked me in the house at 19, my friends had to tell me I was being abused. My first reaction was denial. Not uncommon.  19 was when I first got some treatment.

The painting is called (Abuse) survivor. It is 11″ x  16″. The black is for the harm already done and the darkness still within. The maroon is for dried blood, for the feelings of shame, grief and guilt. The yellow is for hope. The green for growing in healthy ways. The brown is for feeling like dirt or feeling dirty. The red is for wounds still bleeding in the psyche. The pale pink is a Caucasian skin colour.  It’s not pale enough for my skin tone but I am the colour of a china doll. It’s there to symbolise psychological scars.

If  you have been abused or still being abused, there is a wealth of information out there on the internet. If you are south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, I recommend Connections who I have worked with in the past. I haven’t linked to them because at the time of posting they were having server problems.  If you have a friend being abused, keep in mind you can only help them as much as they want to be helped.


Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

My regular nightmares

I have been having nightmares since 2005, after my parents locked me in my own house. Mother is a frequent visitor in my nightmares, with classmates from high school also being common recognisable characters. Dad and my brother sometimes turn up with mum. But my sister-in-law has never been in my nightmares. In fact there are only three people who I met post high school who have been in my nightmares. They have been in the protector role; my partner, his mother and a sweet older man I have a crush on. In this format I have to struggle to get to the protector to be safe.

I have nightmares of being back living with mum, of rape and of pregnancy. (Pregnancy is a nightmare because I’m not healthy enough to put the child always first). Anything that makes me feel trapped. Saturday night I had a nightmare where I was kidnapped by space pirates. Generic cast of characters but these pirates were less talk like a pirate day and more Edward Teach.

Treating my sleep apnea with a cpap machine has decreased the frequency of nightmares. However when the depression is worse, they increase again. It’s been a bad six months.

The artwork “Nightmares” was painted over what was originally intended to be the background for a landscape. The canvas size is 12″ x 24″.

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Remember the dead of the Pulse, Orlando shooting

I was wake at in the early hours of the morning of June 13 (local time) when I heard about the shooting at the Pulse Gay Nightclub. My e-mail was the first my Auntie living in small town, MA heard about it.  It hit me hard. I’m bisexual or if you recognise the term pansexual. I’ve been going through a grieving process about it. Sadness, scared feeling targeted, anger in that “Fuck you homophobes” way. Our clubs, bookstores and bars are meant to be safe places in a life where you can’t count on your family of blood respecting your gender or sexually.

The painting is called “Remember Pulse, Orlando shooting, 2016”. The  burgundy paint looks very much like dried blood smeared over the Gay Pride flag. There are 49 gold splodges of paint one for each of person who died at Pulse. They went there to dance but instead they died. One of the many moving stories from the night is the mother who pushed her adult son down protecting him with her own body, She died, he didn’t.

Reactions among the LGBTIA community have varied. A middle aged dyke wrote this was never meant to happen to you A number of people have come out because of the anger reactions. Others are more afraid of public displays of affection because they feel targeted. I’ve been out to my family and friends for years.  This isn’t my first artwork that uses the Pride flag. My anger has made me want to be more visible. I ordered a rainbow necklace the day after, I’m thinking of making one of glass beads. I’m also thinking of buying a couple of t-shirts. My health is such I’ve only marched once in the Midsumma Pride, which is the one for Melbourne. But I want to be visible every single day.

At the end the most import thing is to remember the dead. Therefore here are their names.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old
Christopher “Drew” Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
KJ Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Lestat Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald “Jerry” Arthur Wright, 31 years old


Saturday, June 18th, 2016

How I came out as bisexual

The shooting in Pulse Gay Night Club, Orlando has the LGBTI community grieving and re-evaluating how visible we are. As anger kicks in as part of the grieving process, members of the community  are choosing to be more visible as a “fuck you homophobes”. I bought a rainbow necklace because I want to be more publicly visible than I already am. I was always going to create art about the years I hid my whole identity.

The Teen Years

I worked out at 12 there was something wrong with my family. I didn’t feel like I could be honest with mum about who I was. Mum is emotionally abusive. She wanted me to be like her. Therefore I lied. It is not possible to lie so thoroughly and so long without loosing much of the truth about yourself. During those years I was hiding my identity I didn’t even realise I was bisexual. Never mind I was a teen at an all girls school. I would sometimes look at my classmates boobs, and I had crushes on some of them.  Once I was 15 I was depressed and suicidal but didn’t feel I could get help.

Interpreting “The Years of Hidden Identity”

The yellow oval in “The years of hidden identity” is about what I was pretending b, a happy ordinary teen. The cross is yellow because once I started dealing with my mental health problems I left the church, for the simple reason the Christianity as practiced by church goers was making me feel worse about myself. The black is for the depression, red for the anger, and combined for all the pain I lived with. The red and other colours breaching the yellow oval is about how sometimes what I really was sometimes leaked through. Particularly the anger. After a fight with mum, Dad would ask me to try and get along with mum. I’m not sure what made it my responsibility; mum was the adult. Dad likes a quiet life, he may have asked mum too. The remaining colours are from the bisexual pride flag.

Early adulthood

When I was 18, I kissed my first boy who was also the first boyfriend. My friends at uni were in the majority either bisexual, hetero-flexible or heterosexual. One of those quirks of demographics meant we had few lesbians or gay men. By the end of the year I was out as bisexual. I figured it out and came out to my friends very quickly because I knew I would be supported.  When I  had I came out as bisexual, I had already amicably broken up with my first boyfriend.  The next year my relationship with mum deteriorated further and she ended up asking if I was dating my now ex-girlfriend in the middle of a fight. I told her the truth,

Next week I intend to have a painting commemorating the Pulse shooting. I didn’t have time to do one this week.

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Depression causing a rough patch

Another reason I make art about depression is that sometimes mine becomes debilitating. It’s been six weeks since I’ve been ok – for my normal averages. My psychiatrist encouraged me to start the process for reconciliation with mum. I’ve been sleeping more but not better quality.  The nightmares and complicated dreams are increasing. My art has slowly ground to a stop. One of the diagnostic criteria for depression or in this case worsening depression is not enjoying things you normally enjoy.

I don’t usually do action painting. The action painting above was done during the last time for a fortnight the psychiatrist actions increased my depression, I do sometimes find it cathartic. There is only one action painting right now. But even if there were more I wouldn’t be selling them.

In better news, I have an idea for another series. I’m bisexual or at least that’s the simplest term for my preferences. This time about a bisexual and her partner down the years. This resulted from watching the lesbian classic movie ‘Go Fish’. It would involve lots of sketching before starting the works. Therefore the cat series comes first.

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

How I prep my canvases

Rectangles in the shape of a city. Some have been painted after the LGBT flag.

Society has always been influenced by Queers (c) Anita Morris 2014 $500

Every artist who uses canvas uses it differently which means different preparation. One of the more obscure uses is to mount textiles on it. However I am going to talk about how I prep canvas for paint or mixed media.

I buy cheap canvas. My last 30 x 40 cm canvas cost me $AUD5.50, my last 20 x 25 cm cost me $AUD3.50. I start by using gesso (acrylic primer) applied with a roller so it is smooth. The notable exception being Anxiety where I used a palette knife to create a textured background which unfortunately doesn’t show up well in photos.

A brief digression that probably belonged with last week’s post on pigments. Modern paint can be described with one or more Color Index Number.

I then apply antique white (PW6, PY42) with the roller.  The picture at the top of the page is called “Society has always been influenced by Queers”. It was painted on the initial layer of antique white. Other times I paint another background over the top of the antique white such as “Aset: Goddess of Sovereignty“.

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

A little history about pigment, paint and dye

Pigments used in paint and pigments used in dyes have overlapped at various times in history.

The Forbes pigment collection  at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University has over 2,500 specimens. It’s mostly used for scientific analysis for verifying paintings and checking authenticity.


The oldest forms of paint were pure pigment. Ochre was used from cave paintings to Ancient Greece. Black is straightforward to produce in the form of charcoal from the fire.

Different forms of paint are made with different types of binders. Egg tempera is made with pigment, egg, and clear alcohol. It dates to the Middle Ages and was used to illuminate manuscripts. These days it’s most commonly used to make Greek Orthdox icons. The one time I had the chance to try the technique, I had codeine in my system and I got tipsy off the vodka fumes. Whoops!

Oil paint became popular in Europe in the 15th century. It had been used in India and China much earlier. While various oils have been used over the years, I understand that most modern oils are based on linseed oil.

The specific pigment plus the specific binder will affect the chemical composition. Some have very specific timelines. In 1826 synthetic ultramarine was discovered as the result of a competition. Natural ultramarine was rare and therefore expensive.


Madder was used as both a dye and a paint pigment. It’s a plant based red which needs a mordent to set it to cloth. Lots of onion skins can produce a pale brown through the same dye process.

Modern dyeing processes can be toxic and dangerous.  A some Australian textile artists specialise in Natural dyeing including Belinda Evans, Myf Walker, Belinda Sheekly and many others. Most of these artists are interested in the ecologically friendly but usually mordent still has to be used. Mordents include alum, iron, copper and tannin, and all except for tannin need to be disposed off carefully.

All content © Copyright 2016 by Anita Morris.
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