Thursday, May 12, 2022

Photowalks Resuming (at last)

The lengthy covid-19 lockdowns and some personal health reasons, meant I stopped running Photowalks some time ago. I'm pleased to announce I am resuming them in conjunction with MGA (the Monash Gallery of Art). There will now be a small fee (to help cover the administration), and I encourage anyone with a camera (including phones) to come along.

Sunday June 12th. 1:00pm

Meet at Monash Gallery of Art

860 Ferntree Gully Road

Wheelers Hill, VIC 3150

Note registration is now via the mga eventbrite site or events on their web page,

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

The Connections Exhibition is OPEN


22 artists (including me) are represented with 82 works. If you want to "Meet the Artists" you will have that opportunity on Saturday & Sunday 5/6th March; 1-4pm

Friday, February 25, 2022

Unfortunately, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi died last year. His wisdom from living through the second World War, his father being the Hungarian Ambassador in Rome at the time the communist takeover of Hungary in 1949. It is probably just my fantasy but it would have been great if he could have sat down for a quiet chat with Putin and explained the misery, tragedies, insecurities that are the toll of losing freedoms, jobs, homes, can impose on the innocent. His deep wisdom into the secret to happiness is still very relevant today. 

This is an important TED talk that Mihaly gave in back in 2008 covering the lead into how he started describing the flow experience. It is wonderful context told in a series of stories,

His book (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, will give you greats insight in the Flow State

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Wednesday Wanderers and the Flow State

The wanderers began by happen-chance. Three of us started our own small plein air painting/sketching group out in the real world. Soon after Victoria began it first lock down and after a couple of rocky test, we started meeting on zoom on Wednesday at 10:00am. It was a welcome get together and we started painting a shared photo supplied by one of the participants since it was the free zoom meeting we only had 40 minutes for the session before we got cut off. Not a lot of time to carry out a watercolour painting of a scene you had not seen before.

The Watercolours Society of Victoria had purchased the Pro version of zoom and kindly allowed us to use their service so we were no longer bound by the 40 minute limit but kept the rough timing and format.

There is a Chinese proverb attributed to Lao Tzu

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

It is this being in the present when you are painting, that probably explains lot of the popularity of the Wanderers

Mihaly Explains
Mihaly Explains [watercolour on Canvas by Norm Hanson]

I believe it has a lot to do with helping the participants slip into what the Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi identified and calls the Flow State. In which the duration of time is altered, hours pass in minutes, minutes can stretch out to seem like hours.

After interviewing many successful people for his study of the Psychology of Optimal Experience, he concluded that there were seven common experiences shared by these people. He calls these the Elements of Enjoyment

  1. Confronted by a task, with a chance of completing it.
  2. Be able to concentrate on the task
  3. Task has a clear goal
  4. Immediate Feedback
  5. Could participate with a deep but effortless involvement (remove from the constraints and frustration of every day life)
  6. Be enjoyable (allowing people to exercise control over the actions)
  7.  Concern for self disappears (yet paradoxically the feeling of self emerges stronger after the flow is over.

Mihaly liked to explain this in two dimensions, the challenge versus skills.

He believes you can most easily move into flow if you are aroused (but anxious) by the challenge and you take the opportunity to practise and improve your skills, or you are confident in your skill (but bored) until you get inspired by the challenge. Flow occurs when a task’s challenge is balanced with one’s skill.

A very important aspect of the Wanderers is the group dynamic. Mihaly studied and advised many sporting groups including the successful  Australian Women’s Hockey team, Australian Olympics cyclists and ice skaters. He lists these important characteristics for teams to Achieve Flow and thus improve their collective performance by achieving group flow.

  1. Group empathy (including helping others to achieve their desired performance)
  2. Activity has clear goal
  3. Opportunity to be both autonomous and at the same time cooperating in the group.
  4. Immediate feedback (both personally and shared with the team)
  5. Skill required matches the difficulty of the task. Some individuals can focus on different skills 

Whilst we were not always in focused together, and seldom on all aspects. Those participating were generally focussed in the present challenge testing their skills and often reaching the flow state.  Mihaly says it is this flow that allows the enjoyment of experiencing that you are good at something while you are doing it. It didn’t matter so much if you had or had not finished or looked the same as others.

 Norm Hanson
Febraury 2022

Monday, February 07, 2022

Connecting What and Who are the Wednesday Wanderers?

 What were you doing during the lockdowns? (well assuming they are over

Here is something I did and we are having an exhibition, If you are in Melbourne or allowed into Victoria please come and have a look.

Wednesday Wanderers was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Unable to meet or paint en plein air during strict lockdowns, three committee members from the Watercolour Society of Victoria were feeling isolated and fed up with their own four walls.  It’s easy to forget that before COVID, many people had never used or even heard of Zoom.  We used it to connect a diverse community of watercolourists interested in escaping from the pandemic blues once a week.  We adopted a quirky speed painting format that challenged our skills and fit in with the technology requirements. 

Immediately it became apparent that there was a need for something like this, as membership quickly grew.  It has enabled artists who could never have come to a real-world paint-out to spend time some enjoyable time painting together in a safe environment.  Time poor artists, artists who live far from Melbourne, housebound artists, and those caring for family members. 

 We continue to meet fortnightly now that lockdowns are presumably a thing of the past.  We now have Wanderers in many parts of Victoria, as well as New South Wales, Western Australia, and the United States.  We have become a warm, welcoming community that continues to grow.

,,, Jane Elliston

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Another Sponge Tip for Watercolourists

Carting around water pods at the beach, if your sketching can be just one extra task too many. I decided to try out using a couple of pieces of foam/sponge. One to clean pigment off the brush to other to hole clean water to wet the brush.

Friday, January 28, 2022

The tropics come to Gwondanaland

Melbourne is famous for having 4 seasons in a day. However we seldom actually see a tropical style downpour. My Cretaceous garden has been suffer through some summer heat (and no rain) but today the rains came (about 26mm in a little over half an hour. Other parts of Melbourne had more.

Anyway my little garden, for a few moments took on the mantle of a true rainforest.