Tuesday, October 25, 2011


'Transmogrify'  is a combination of 'transmigrate,' (to pass from one body into another) and 'modify,(to change the properties, form, or function of )

To transform into some other person or thing, as by magic; convert or transform in general.
To completely alter the form of.

Starting painting "Panorama of Moore's Wharf and ships" oil on canvas 25 x 152cm
This canvas was started on 2 August 2011, but has been through quite a number of permutations and still isn't finished. I wanted a record of the hidden side, the working side of this lovely heritage sandstone building, and I kept changing my mind about what to include or leave out. So buildings, boats and trucks got painted in and out dozens of times.
It's been a wrestling match between me, the surroundings, the workers and the canvas!

This is the original idea for the composition.
The perspective was complex and challenging, even before people started to move things around.

Then 'Fast Eddy' parked his truck in front of the blue container...
The bottom right hand corner of the canvas looked a little empty anyway, so I started to paint the truck.

Then the truck left before I had a chance to finish painting it.
'Fast Eddy' didn't know exactly when he'd be back, or whether he'd be with or without his truck or where he'd park it. So I scraped the truck off with a razor blade, to remove the lumps and bumps and give a good surface for the next application of paint. A frustrating day spent scraping off paint and re-applying it without making the painting any better.
The lone fisherman on the end of Wharf 8/9, Walsh Bay Wharves opposite called out to me as he left "Skunked?"
"What?!" I called back. There were a few little fish in the water, but no skunks. I wondered if he was referring to me and what he meant by it. I was unsure if I should resent it or take it as a compliment.
Apparently to be "skunked" is to go home without catching at least one fish!
No, I didn't "catch any fish" that day. However by pulling this painting apart and putting it back together again I've learnt a lot about perspective problems, plein air painting, the wharf and how it works.

The truck has been excised and I can now turn my attention to painting the 'Shirley Smith'.

The brilliant red and yellow of the 'Shirley Smith' is a delight to paint against the cobalt blue sky.
However, the format of this canvas is an extreme horizontal panorama, and now the brilliance of 'Shirley' threatens to overpower everything else in the painting.

I increase the size of the Moore's Wharf building to balance the composition.

It still needs some tweaking. I've added a little orange pilot boat, the "Port Jackson" between the crane and Moore's Wharf.

This is a small oil study from another angle of the "Port Jackson" being lifted back into the water after the blokes had finished cleaning her. I was made to move my position, as I would have been in the way.

However, the bottom right hand corner still looks too empty to balance the composition...

Fortunately 'Fast Eddy' brought another truck back, and someone obligingly left the little yellow forklift in front of the north end of Moore's Wharf. Now there might be enough red and yellow on the right hand side of the painting to balance the 'Shirley Smith'.
This painting has turned into a monster, eating my paint and my precious time.
I've no idea whether I'll ever be able to finish it, but it's been an ever changing record of everything that has happened on the wharf over the last couple of months.

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  1. "Excellent display of aspects of art, this is a wonderful masterpiece!"

  2. Thank you for your kind comments!
    This painting has at times tested my endurance, but it has helped me learn so much about the fascinating things that are happening at Moore's Wharf. I've painted Moore's Wharf before, but from the outside, looking in, so that the work that goes on there was hidden behind the building. This was one of my first attempts to paint the insider's view.
    Since this post, I've added even more complex details, as the workers started to clean the booms and started to spread a line of these out so close to my easel that I nearly trod on them! So now this painting also has a twisting line of vermilion and black curving its way from the crane in the centre midground to the far right foreground.
    I never know what to expect in front of me when I paint at Moore's Wharf,but these experiences have certainly sharpened my reflexes!