Action gives you traction


This blog focuses on my studio practice. How I go about my art, what I use and the challenges I encounter. My initial aim is that it offers some insight into the life of a practicing artist and some useful tips for other creatives. In hindsight I think it may help me more that others. The self reflection about what you do can uncover some sloppy habits and manic moments. Maybe it’s my self therapy? As an artist we spend a lot of time in our heads. This blog will expose my thoughts, focus points and revelations. I can’t guarantee it will all be pretty or insightful but I’m inviting you to join the ride anyway … strap yourself in for a seat on THE GINGERNUT EXPRESS!


Action gives you traction

The new year has started off with a lot of action. The plan is to get my work out to new areas. I hear a lot of comments like…it’s not that the work isn’t good , it’s just that you have to find the right audience … So this year it’s time to venture into new territory, throw lots of stuff at the wall and see what sticks! Meeting lots of lovely creative folk along the way is sure to make this adventure a positive one!

Arrivederci Venice

A fabulous start to the year with a great show wrapped up at the Yuga Café in Glebe. The new ArtSHINE Gallery space made it a great combo. Special thanks to Ben from the café and VinVan Lam from ArtSHINE for all the efforts they made that helped to make it such a success. Was so touched that my art connected to so many people and chuffed that some of the pieces are sure to be well loved in their new homes!

So long Venice, hope to meet you again in the future.


The Outliers on show in Hunters Hill

A small show of the works from my Outliers group will be up and about in Hunters Hill in April. Opening will be Saturday 14th April. This time I have some Sydney centric landscapes. We will be exhibiting at The Post Office Studio at 16 Ferry Street, Hunters Hill. Love to see you there!

Harbour Infux. Oil on Canvas 61 x 91 cm


Fragmented florals showing at the Mansfield Easter Art Show in Victoria

Eight pieces available on the Easter Weekend 29 March – April 1 at the show.

Little corner of Australia Street. Oil on Canvas, 122cm x 122cm.



Paint Brush Washer

 My favourite art products

I have a couple of these in the studio. If you’re not a fan of cleaning brushes this helps make the task a little easier and cleaner.

Make your solvents portable with this metal brush washer. It has a carry handle, three clips to hold down the lid and protective brush grill so that your brushes do not sit in the sediments. Designed with a wider base for stability.

Buy one >

Make your own >



The Masters as my mentors … what Pablo Picasso taught me…

Pablo Picasso in his Cannes studio, 1956.

For many years I was frustrated by my lack of understanding about Picasso. I just didn’t get the big deal. All the work looked so simplified? I don’t like ‘not knowing’ things so I took myself to Spain on a quest to understand him. I went into the Spanish hills of Malaga, Picasso’s birthplace and stayed on the street that Damiselles De-Avignon was painted in Barcelona. I visited the Picasso galleries and studied his pathways of progression. Now of course he is an icon of Spanish vision and skill but it wasn’t always like this. Now I have a great admiration for his ability to persist in pushing beyond what was acceptable. His ability to take painting to new levels of perceiving the world and his tenacity to persist when their were no supporters are just some of the things Picasso taught me when I visited his home land. Here are a few things he helps me with in my own painting practice.

Do lots of work
You don’t get better at painting just by thinking about it. Do good work, do bad work, just do work. It is estimated Picasso created over 50,000 artworks, comprising of 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 2,880 ceramics and 12,000 drawings as well numerous tapestries and rugs as thousands of prints.

Put your work out there and don’t worry too much if you don’t get a million likes!
In the world of social media putting your art out into the world has never been easier. But you can get wrapped up in the ‘likes’ and ‘loves’ of the moment. Don’t forget that doing the work is the most important thing. Having control over how many people see it or like it is often out of your control. Start getting your work out their for real. No place is too small.

The Entrance of Els Quatre Gats in Barcelona and the poster that now stands on the corner of the street outside the café designed by Picasso.

Picasso and the 4 Cats
Els Quatre Gats (Catalan for “The Four Cats”) is a café in Barcelona, that famously became a popular meeting place for famous artists throughout the modernist period in Catalonia. The café opened in 1897 and became a central meeting point for Barcelona’s most prominent modernist figures.
The name of the cafe was derived from a Catalan expression which means “only a few people.” Artists would have shows in the cafe pinning their art to the wall to display it. They would often joke that they would only get 4 people to the shows. Picasso began frequenting Els Quatre Gats when he was 17 years old. .  It was here in the main room that Picasso held his first solo exhibition.

More info about the cafe >

Workshop your idea… do a series.
After viewing this whole series in Barcelona I really learnt the value of creating a series of artworks. If you have a good idea, then it should be good enough to do a series of 20 plus paintings. Pushing your concept and revisiting what got you excited about making it in the first place is a great way to craft your skills and consolidate your direction and developments. Picasso showed me this in his series of Las Meninas.

The ‘Las Meninas’ is a series of 58 paintings painted in 1957. Using  spanish artist, Diego Velázquez’s artwork painted in 1656 Picasso reinterpreted the work in various sections, colours and in his modernist style. The series is both a confrontation with one of the most important works in the history of Spanish painting as well as a commentary on contemporary events in Spain, observed by Picasso from his exile in France.

Picasso understood the power of a series. Wanting it to be viewed as a compelete body of work he donated it to the museum in Barcelona in May 1968

See more in the series >


On the left, the original Las Meninas painted in 1656 by Diego Velázquez and on the right one from the series painted in 1957 by Pablo Picasso.


A sketch for an artwork in the series.


Reinventing sections of the original helped see the artworks in new ways.

New ideas are always a hard sell
There were times in Picasso’s early twenties that he was so poor that he took on the offer of an art curator who gave him free accommodation for all the artworks he created while staying there. He lucked out as he never knew how prolific an artist Picasso was.

It took Picasso twenty years to sell ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’. The Young Ladies of Avignon (originally titled The Brothel of Avignon) is a large oil painting created in 1907. The work portrays five nude female prostitutes from a brothel on Carrer d’Avinyó (Avignon Street) in Barcelona.

The title comes from the street name. Situated in an older part of the city this street saw a lot of ‘night action’. At the time of its first exhibition in 1916, the painting was deemed immoral. The exhibit was organised by the poet André Salmon, who gave the work its present title Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to lessen its scandalous impact on the public. The artwork resides in the MOMA Art Gallery in New York today.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907.

Never lose your wonder
Picasso was always seeking new ways to see and portray the world. To many he is perceived to be arrogant. “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. ”
But it’s not until you see his earlier work that this quote has any gravity. His drive and productivity illustrate this obsession to portray the world around him in a new way. He realised the value of keeping growth mindset.

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up ” He realised the importance of maintaining your wonder at the world and sustaining an inquisitive mind. He believed that your wonder at the world is what makes it (and hopefully your art) appear magical.

“Everything you can imagine is real. ”

Understand what your the purpose of your art is
This purpose can be different things to different people. Of course Picasso went for a universal approach. “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Love or hate his work, one thing you have to admire is his dedication to create new and different ways to see the world. He is a great pick me up if you are feeling a little flat with your own progress. I always like to remind myself that even a master such as Picasso didn’t avoid the challenges of paying the rent, selling his work or struggling to get others to come to his shows.  I have no dificulty agreeing that art could be the cleanser to our daily troubles. Fill up the bathtub, pour the bubbles and lets float away to the magical places art may take us to!   



The new Coastal Series is coming along. Lots of cool blues and fresh greens to keep you calm. You can see here that they have made me so relaxed I almost slipped into a coma!”
Sketch, the inhouse art critic  >••<
Calming blues in the studio makes for a sleepy cat.


Here’s some of my artworks available inspired by Picasso.

Balconies of Barcelona
Morning on Milans
Torrox Blooms (Homeland hills to Picasso)


To those lovely folks who have heard me bang on about some of these topics before I send my apologies. It is sure to happen again as I bang on a lot.


The Gingernut Express is a monthly blog, written and produced by Visual Artist and Arts Educator, Kristine Ballard on
© Kristine Ballard 2018