With the birth of our two daughters, life in Gertrude’s cottage was enjoyed on a steady forward path. I remember it mainly as a very bright sunny yellow reflection on the timber floor with a shimmering expanse of water in the distance. A few years of uninterrupted family bliss. I had my own business. The painting of pictures was done in between shooting out to deliver material or organise meetings with builders, clerk of works or quoting for new contracts. I can’t remember if I had an easel or just painted on the floor. Most of my work was entered into municipal competitions and I had a list of dates and places of when and where to send the paintings. I do remember that the size of the paintings became larger and larger perhaps in tandem with the growing of our little family. An expression of exuberance? The paintings also became braver.
It was one of those inexplicable fates of lucky circumstance that I met a Hungarian painter who taught art in the very heart of Sydney. It was at Sydney’s Rocks, just metres away from the Harbour bridge. His name was Desiderius Orban. He had established himself as a modern and successful painter. He had also published a book on art and was a well-known teacher. He did not really teach in the sense that he showed you a skill or technique. He encouraged rather than taught and very much pushed the students in expressing whatever was in them and did not care if you painted with a brush, a stick or your fingers. He was already very old but even so, lived on forever. Some people when getting old seem to get a new burst of live when already well past the age when most people are happy to take a permanent rest in the urn or the reserved plot of no return. He died aged 101.!
Another of those artists that seem to deny or defy the welcoming (but icy embrace) of the dearly departed is John Olsen. Readers might remember I took art lessons at the Mary White school of art where he and Robert Klippel were doing some teaching. This was before my marriage while still living at home. Both were free spirits and indeed used to go to the local pub and imbibe a couple, only to return rather jovial and praising all students no matter what they had cobbled together.
John Olsen is still alive today ( 30/7/2015) and one of the only too rare an instance where his paintings are selling for millions and the artist able to enjoy it. How Vincent would turn is his grave?
With the continuation of entering my paintings in competition it would be outside the law of averages, if sooner or later, I would not hit the jack-pot. Hitting the jackpot might be a bit exaggerated seeing the prices were rather within the limits of the Shire’s income forever struggling with keeping rates low. It was more of a way to climb the ladder to getting known and even more important, able to sell the work. I did win a couple of prices and more importantly had a painting accepted in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
It was also in that year that Helvi visited her family in Finland with both our daughters. I stayed behind to continue the decorating business. I had promised to look after the eldest daughter’s teddy bear by giving it porridge. The KLM flight included a photo taken of Helvi carrying the youngest in the Papoose which at the time was a novel way of traveling with very young children. This photo went world wide in the KLM’s magazine. It was a great shot and just wished I could find it. Alas it is ‘somewhere’ in our apartment but hidden in either boxes, linen- drawers or even albums, …