A Box of Art

An extremely hot and quite busy couple of days here on the surface of the sun western New South Wales. I have accomplished a spot of wood chip shovelling and garden maintenance, A little video editing, the results of which are embedded below as well as some digital painting and I’ve finally gotten a long running paper-craft project near to completion.

The second episode of my going story reading project. 

Today a box arrived from my mother. A box of art, mostly my art, mostly from ’82-’84. So 35 year old pictures by me the child. The boys and I had a lot of fun going through the box admiring and laughing at the pictures, comparing hand and foot prints to the boy’s and mine now and of course we were then inspired to make some fresh art of our own, which I’ll photograph and share sometime soon. For today here are a couple of the prize pieces:

Bravo indeed.

This particular Sith lord made many appearances.


One of the many bulldozer paintings had a treat on the back.

A Brandon Cavallari sketch!

Dust and Cobwebs

A new year starts with a clean, sweeping away cobwebs both physical, mental and metaphorical. Our house was a sty, my workshop looks like a whirlwind has hit it and I have at least seven projects on the go all untouched for over three weeks.

Today marked the first day back in Cobar of 2018. We arrived back home from our adventure in Queensland yesterday afternoon. Big changes are afoot for everyone this year. I have not accepted a class this and I’m limiting my availability for relief teaching at the local schools to three days a week. I will also be taking up tutoring again to keep the income flowing in. Five year old L will be starting school here and I will be taking at least one day a week as primary carer for F and L and devoting at least a day a week to my own art and projects.  I am thus reviving this blog primarily as a way keep myself publicly accountable with my creative output. I have quite a backlog of videos to edit and publish on my two channels and more than a few projects needing my attention.

In addition we are planning an exodus from Cobar later this year, most likely to the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland. The sooner the better as far as I am concerned, but a great deal has to be sorted out before that move can happen.


Back to It

The holidays as ever have flown past. We spent five lovely days in Canberra with my mother and step father and a night on the road in each direction, once with family and once at a motel. I’ve logged a bunch of our experiences over at Trip Advisor.  We had some particularly special meals out, saw more than a few museums and galleries and visited all the best playgrounds in town.

After months of talking and circling around ideas, trying to decide where and how we want to live. Including keeping voting tally sheets with pros and cons for each destination on the kitchen cabinets. We have decided that we will stay in Australia. The where in Australia bit remains nebulous, but we are effectively ruling out living in Scotland, Europe or Asia for now. I am still coming to terms with the next bit but it is likely that we will need to stay in Cobar for the duration of 2018 to build capital. Our key criteria in looking for a place to buy and build are quality school for the boys, proximity to family, proximity to a capital, affordability, proximity to wilderness, mountains, sea as well as climate stability, vulnerability and habitability. Nowhere meets all needs.

I’ve started a list of every good or interesting state or alternative school in Australia. As expected apart from a few really exceptional state schools I hadn’t encountered before, it is a pretty short list at the moment. I’m hopeful of being able to add more before we begin narrowing it down.

I’ve resolved to devote more effort to developing my creative abilities to combat the latent ennui of life out here. Finishing things is critical to progress for me and today I finally put finishing touches on two projects that have been lingering on my drive for years and months respectively. Both are being used for T-shirt design competitions the first is here on Threadless.

The second will go up on Woot! for a relevant competition opening there early tomorrow morning. Link to follow. Edit: It seems the relevant WOOT comp wont open until Thursday.


Votes are greatly appreciated on both. As with many such sites the winning entries get about $1k US, some store credit and a portion of all sales for the life of the design on the site.

Tomorrow is the first day of term 2 for me, though my student wont be back until Wednesday. As Tuesday is ANZAC day Monday is student free and hopefully productive.


Days, Pages and Books


The deep exhaustion of an eleven week term conquered all for the past week or so. The two weeks I have to recover before the next onslaught are a very welcome prospect. We will be spending almost a week of the break in Canberra with my mother and step father doing who knows what yet.

For the first time since entering the profession of teaching I have found myself wondering if all the attendant crap of education, the meetings, the record keeping, marking and behaviour management are worthwhile. I remain committed to my class and to the profession for some years to come but if, in a few years time I announce that I am starting a business, or pursuing a project instead that year, don’t be surprised. Another factor in all of this is that a masters is likely to become necessary at some point not too far down the line and the very idea fills me with dread. I love learning but my every experience of higher education so far has been disappointing if not down right infuriating and the idea of writing a thesis or completing coursework while keeping up with the day to day requirements of the classroom is deeply unappealing.

Anyway apart from a small pile of marking and a big pile of planning. My goals for the break are to finally get a photo shoot done of L in his costume, and to try and knock out F’s costume to match. The helm of F’s is already done and the other pieces should all come together with relative ease.  I would also like to begin playing with modelling software in earnest and gets some drawing done.

Perhaps I need to add a more active diarising art activity to my routine. 

The cover and 'The Passiona of Chris' comic from Arielle Gamble's zine.

From ‘A Year in a (shit) country town

The Baroque Cycle

Yesterday I finally finished ‘The Baroque Cycle‘ by Stephenson. A seven book long odyssey that has taken me almost a year of listening. I shared the first book with N in Scotland but she was not as hooked as I so I have listened to the rest myself and it’s a good thing too, else N and I would still have months to go. I myself had plenty of interruptions and have listened to and read many other things along the way. But it has been an amazing journey through the Europe of the 17th and 18th centuries that I have enjoyed being able to jump in and out of for months.

These books managed to treat the origins of currency and the markets as lively and dramatic sequences of events. Although plenty of artistic licence has been taken it is clear that meticulous research was required and drawn upon regularly by Stephenson. The origins of science in natural philosophy and the political battles between the fiercest minds of the age are the central and recurring elements and are fascinating in and of themselves. All is weaved together into a compelling narrative with destitute princesses, vagabond scoundrels, pirates, alchemists and geniuses battling over the fundamental nature of reality and creating the world anew. It has been a wild ride.


N and I are a few episodes into ‘Legion‘, which is so far pretty compelling and disturbing viewing. There is a lot of quite Kubrikian elements of style and an aesthetic that pays homage to British sci-fi from the 60s and 70s.  I am impressed by the accuracy and discomfort with which the filmmakers are able to capture the uncertainty of mental illness, the slippery transience of dream and memory and the disturbing nightmarish intensity of childhood fear.

More as we progress.

The Fold

The Fold

This is a bad book, spoilers ahead. I grabbed it as it was in a bunch of peoples favourite SF of recent years book lists. N and I listened to it together and both were felt kind of embarrassed by how easily we guessed the nature of the problem from very early on. Both hoping that it could not really be that simple, like seriously he cannot really be expecting his entire audience to not have seen ‘The Prestige’, can he? Anyway by then it was too late we were committed and had to see it through and my oh my it just got worse, and worse, and worse.

It really was embarrassingly bad. From the grievous stupidity of the protagonist with the ever more preposterously good memory functions to the hilariously awful enemies from the ‘other side’ by the end we were groaning and offering exasperated counter commentary on every action.


Build Complete

A visitor from the other side of the globe enlivened our weekend.

My good friend Nils, who is over from Berlin to see his partner, drove with her up from Melbourne. They stayed Friday and Saturday nights with us, availing themselves of our camping equipment to pitch tent in the garden for privacy and defense from early morning pounces by little boys. We took it pretty easy, lots of good conversation, rich food and late nights.

Printed him a pinhole camera:

I have requested sample images when such have been developed.

I have finally called build complete on the Sir Vader Costume.

I am hopeful of finding time to do a full dress photo shoot on or before the weekend. Getting ready to get started on the matching costume for F using what I have learned making this one.


I’ve also nearly completed the set of three photography sitting boxes for N’s soon to be studio, sanding and painting remain. At work I’ve been decluttering my storerooms and preparing to get an aquaponics system online.


N and I watched ‘La La Land‘ last night.

Occasionally I love a good musical, not to often mind, and only if they aren’t too heavy on the soppy songs.

To me this film was beat perfect, a genuine unadulterated pleasure. The vibrant colours, the on point comic timing, the emotional maturity and the ever present set and prop homages to golden era greats. Musicals aren’t for everyone and a glace at the IMDB reviews reveals that even among the musical aficionados this is clearly a contentious film. I contend that it is worth your while, impressive, emotional and fun.



Printing my way through the week.

Yesterday, or the day before, it was this lovely d20 which is unfortunately by my limited testing not a fair die. But it might make a good master for some resin casting.


Yesterday I finally came upon a solution for a problem that has caused many failed prints and succeeded in printing the plunger for this cupcake paper press, also a working set of the golden mean calipers that were my first failed print. It turns out that coating the build plate with glue stick is sufficient to stop builds curling up at the edges and being knocked over.


The class pet has gotten comfortable with me


It turns out that I look pretty good with a monobrow.


Spent what little light I’ve had after work continuing building photo stool boxes.






Planning ongoing.



Planning ongoing and N is planning ongoing on a Dubbo run independantly tomorrow.

I’ve finally got a more cohesive plan of what and how I will teach English to my mixed grade classroom. I went into this term with less planning than I have ever started a year before. Mostly as a function of a lack of handover from the previous year’s staff member but coupled with a change of system and a whole host of familiar things relabeled with new acronyms.  Anyway We are going to do narratives, persuasive texts in two forms and letter writing as our overarching English and reading themes.

With this in mind, I spent the morning giggling and crying my way through famous letters from history some familiar, most not, searching for excellent examples to use in reading and writing. My intent is for the class to compose real letters to their grandparents/elders and actually post them (republished post marking). I settled on a few examples, most notably the best cover letter ever and one of the great mic drops of history. but Ill need more than one a week through the term so the hunt continues. For narratives I’ll be using what is available of the Pixar/Khan Academy story writing course, supplemented by reading a class set of YA Fic fantasy novels in class.

I’m struggling to find really impressively good examples of the most hated format in writing, the five paragraph essay. But I’m not giving up yet and we will be making print ads as a second persuasive text type. For ads at least I have a mountain of very good examples.

L and I had a play with Dreamscope this morning. It has been a while and it has definitely improved and increased the number of filters since my last try. While impressed by the tech I haven’t yet managed to produce a really strikingly good piece. Inserting images into the post is being problematic this evening.



Art is a major part of a good maths curriculum.
We began using compasses on Thursday. Beginning Tuesday we will be using them and protractors to produce fraction diagrams and building from here.


Wed 22nd

Making it through the day is an achievement with a sick infant in the house.

Running the help of psuedoephedrine today  as I am fighting the same cold. Very glad to have a long weekend to look forward to.  We have a mid term break, four day weekend in the middle of each term to allow people to make trips to regional centres etc.

Class work is consuming almost all waking creative thought. Today making split booklets for when, if I am unwell and relief is not available my class will be split into other rooms around the school with busy work to occupy them. Also checklists to ensure students make it through all the essential weekly literacy activities during rotations.

N and I have begun tracking our daily shifts in opinion about what to do next year in the form of tally sheets with options and pros and cons on the kitchen cupboards.



One Infant down with the first day care flu of the year.

I blame the lack of UV in the little kid space. Completely anecdotally of course but I swear the colds are less common from the bigger outdoor kids areas. His big brother is now also showing possible early signs of infection.

Dog help us all.

The book tree has sprung some leaves, I’ll share another picture when it is a little more verdant.

L insisted on a costume test after yesterdays undercoating.

Leaving off with the joy of Infinite Immortal Bens


Shopping Run

Two very expensive days later. We have been to Dubbo and back, had a date night with film and dinner, visited, Bunnings, Clark Rubber, Big W, Target, Aldi and Coles. We have new tools, new underwear, classroom prizes and cupboards packed to the brim with food.

We have been needing to make a shopping trip since getting back to Cobar as we have spent more than the total cost of fuel, accommodation and meals from this Dubbo trip as extra on food alone by shopping exclusively in Cobar over the past three weeks. The start of work crept up on us and it became Sunday or not at all for a few more weeks. We bit the bullet and as shocking as it is driving home with $600 worth of food in the car, if it can last us a month supplimented only by milk, bread and fresh veggies when these run out it is definitely worth it.

Tomorrow we all have Dentist appointments and I have classroom setup to do. Work begins for me on Wednesday and my students next Monday. Eager as I am to break out my new tools, first I will need to make space in the shed for them to live by tidying it up.

We went to see Lion. Which is moving and beautiful, a perfect date film, if a bit harrowing for parents of a four year old.  Not a dry eye in the theatre by the end, The cinema was roasting and became positively humid. Patel is a joy to watch and the role is well inhabited, the children are excellent.  As the film is clearly Oscar bait, I feel it is probably only really a contender for Cinematography, which is sublime. Somehow the protagonist’s journey is not, despite the rich storytelling, enough to carry best actor.