On the way home from the Nolan show Ruth mentioned art classes being held at the Centre for Adult Education in Flinders St Melbourne. I subsequently enrolled to do a cartooning class with Jack Montgomery on the following Tuesday night. Jack lived up the hills at Upwey and did paintings mostly of bush scenes and bush rangers. He was not a young man in 1987 but he was very active and generous with his knowledge. I have very fond memories of his classes and he invited ne up to his studio in the Dandenong Ranges where I spent a day with him. He showed me drawings he did of plaster casts of figures at the national Gallery school in the 40's.
That same week I went to the local Newsagent and bought a couple of 30cm x 40cm canvas boards and some brushes and acrylic paints. At that time I was living in Murrumbeena in a small, one bedroom upstairs flat, in Margaret St that ran off Neerim Rd. I knew I wanted to make a painting but I didn't know what to paint. Well, at one stage I had the door open and the view of the flats next door over the car port looked like an easy enough subject. So, I drew a pencil sketch of the scene on a canvas board and proceeded to make the painting above (Open Doorway 1987) in one sitting.
The next day I saw a b&w newspaper photo of an old man with a wrinkled face and made a painting of the image on my other canvas board. I have no idea where that one ended up but my first painting now lives on the wall in my parents bedroom in Mt Gambier South Australia. The one of the old man was mostly violet and yellow ochre and I guess it worked out okay considering they are opposite colours and I had know idea what I was doing.
Looking at the first painting now, I am sure the colours are influenced by one of the Nolan paintings I had seen at the NGV, although I don't remember which one. It was also a reponse to a Rene' Magritte painting that grabbed my attention in the NGV permanent collection on the same day that I saw the Nolans.
It was an inauspicious beginning but at least I was up and painting.