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Awards and Rewards

It's been a busy month with one painting in the finals of the Tasman Art Awards and another in the Suter Nelson Art Society Spring Show, which seems a fitting way to celebrate 12 months in this amazing region. Selling work to a close friend was even lovelier.

The sense of privilege takes me to the studio almost every day. Walking through Purpose Gallery to get there, greeting the latest works, is pulling me up by the bootstraps. Dare I really connect with what is racing inside me now that settling in is done?

The Suter painting and another which didn't quite make it (they don't love florals here in Nelson) both painted themselves. I have begun to use a palette knife and cold wax which gives me access to chaos, while a brush encourages order and placement. So I can stop thinking. A study I made of Jeanne Rosier-Smith's waves became "The Sea is Very Wide and My Boat is Small", a smallish square oil of the Fisherman's Prayer now in the Suter.

Out of the studio, I have begun a three-year training in Ignatian spirituality and I fully expect the doodles I'm making to reflect the backflips my assumptions about God are doing. It's a humbling experience.

Doodles seem an irreverent response, but enter Swedish artist and mystic Hilma af Klint whose groundbreaking work changed the course of art history. Hilma's paintings are giant doodles. The show opens at City Gallery, Wellington, on 4 December and I will be there soon after.

In school I doodled endlessly. (Apparently Picasso did too. I wish I had known,) and now a version of childish doodles are finding their way on to raw linen the colour of cave walls. The current one depicts Auckland's Te Henga Bethell's Beach where I painted last January and Indi, a horse from nearby Piha. The colours are intense, like New Zealand's light. Can I find the simplicity of becoming entirely lost in them? If I disappear, will the work appear?

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