An Aspiring Artist’s Maiden Voyage


By Cher

When I was asked to write for Grog Boat from the perspective of an aspiring artist, I was thrilled, and then when it came time to actually writing, I felt a little intimidated. What could I write about? I started to think about my own experience with art. At thirty five years old I had no interest in art. I was a long-time subscriber to the belief that artistic talent was something with which you were born. You could either make art or you couldn’t. I certainly couldn’t. My artistic skill was limited to stick men or the occasional doodle. Art wasn’t something that could be learned.

My initiation into art was a form of therapy. Adult colouring books and doodling was recommended for relaxation. As a long-time anxiety sufferer, I was willing to give anything a try. Armed with a biro and printer paper, I began to draw patterns made up of simple shapes. These evolved into mandala-style designs, and I did find the process relaxing. The finer the required detail, the more relaxed I became, at times it was almost like meditation.

I soon swapped the biro and printer paper for a pack of fine liners and a sketch book. With practice I gained more control over my lines, and a better idea of which patterns worked together and which didn’t. This is where I discovered that practice really can pay off.


Eventually, I quite liked some of my creations and I showed them to friends and family who, to my surprise, also really liked them.

Support and encouragement from friends and family have played a huge part in my journey. If it weren’t for them, I don’t think I would have pushed myself to try new things, nor would I feel confident enough to show people my work.

Later that year, I stumbled across InkTober. This was an event, started by Jake Parker, wherein artists challenge themselves to do one ink drawing every day for the month of October. This was where I branched out in my drawings. It took me a half a day just on a sketch before any ink came into the equation. Some of them never made it to the inking stage, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

After InkTober, I had a nice little collection of drawings. Some I shared with friends, some I even posted on social media, and others sit at the bottom of the drawer, destined never to see the light of day. I wouldn’t part with even those drawings I didn’t like, as I found each piece to be a learning experience; each page of disaster was a lesson.

The next big step came when a visiting neighbour saw some of my work and told me that there was an art club every week held in a building opposite to me. It was there that I was introduced to other mediums, including my favourite: acrylics. I would also lean about the use of colour, but that is the subject for an entirely different article.


I get so much enjoyment from this new-found passion that I really encourage anyone who has ever wanted to sling paint at a canvas or grab a sketch book and pencils, but feels as if they just don’t have that natural talent, to just try! It’s not only about the final outcome; it’s about the process (although creating appealing works is a joy in itself).

There are thousands of artists on You Tube who create tutorial videos that can be really helpful. The internet is an endless supply of reference material. With these resources, improvement is simply a matter of practice.

I have a long way to go until I can call myself an artist, and I might never make it, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be an expert at something to enjoy it.

So I’m going to bring you along on my little artistic journey. I will share with you my many, many failures and frustrations, and, who knows, maybe even some success.

Pouring the Cosmos with Fraser Radford

“Cosmos”, courtesy of Fraser Radford


By Chris

We’re coming up on the first year anniversary of our Artist’s Cove series, and I wanted to take this opportunity to catch up with the subject of our first installation, Fraser Radford, and see what he’s been up to.

As it happens, Fraser has been working on a new abstract series called Pouring Galaxies. As the name implies, a pouring method is used to achieve this cosmic effect. Once he has carefully chosen his colours, Fraser then begins the mixing process.

Emperor, Fraser Radford, Acrylic on Canvas, 15x84, $2,900
“Emperor”, courtesy of Fraser Radford

“Some colour pigments are denser than others so it can be a challenge to break them all down into a even, liquid substance and not have too many paint chunks left behind in the final piece. When I have a rough idea of where I will pour the colours, I soak the canvas in water to make sure the paint spreads and pools easier, and seeps into the weave of the canvas. As I am pouring the paint, I watch where the colour flows, trying to make sure each colour doesn’t overpower one another too much. Once all of the paint is poured, I will lift up the sides of the canvas slightly just so the water/paint mix doesn’t flood everywhere, and finally after a few days to a week, sometimes two, the painting will be dry and ready to photograph.”

It was fairly early in the process of painting that Fraser noticed the emerging theme of his work. His first piece was even named Cosmos. Having been inspired by photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, Fraser set out to make impressionistic representations of these images. The hope was to produce paintings that drew their inspiration from the cosmos, but would be able to stand alone as pieces for reflection.

Artists from the Colour Field movement of the late 50’s to early 70’s are key influences on Fraser’s work, and his current line stands as a testament to his love for colour experimentation.

“Using colour as the subject of the painting, and nothing else, is fascinating to me. Artists like Friedel Dzubas, Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, Sam Gilliam, Leon Berkowitz, Morris Louis, etc. all just focused on colour and its potential. They all used different methods to portray colour but made absolutely sure that colour was front and centre. No figurative subjects, no still lifes, just bands, puddles, and stains of pure colour. The artists were also not afraid to create large scale works. Something that I am still working on as galleries are more interested in large scale works, and not small scale paintings. Dzubas, for example, created a painting that is 57 feet long and is considered one of the largest, if not THE largest canvas in North America.”

Still, there remains a perception of the role of these types of paintings. This is a perception that Fraser, with a growing sense of his own voice, seeks to challenge.

“The majority of critics only like to think of it as decorative art (paintings to hang over your couch), and nothing else, which I think is nonsense. I have only recently become truly confident in calling myself an artist, and having adopted the label of a Colour Field artist makes me feel more confident in knowing what kind of paintings I will create for the rest of my artistic career.”

You can view more of Fraser’s artwork by visiting his website at