22 November 2023


Lucille Tam

Warm Autumn Sun, Carlton Exhibition Building (22x29"gouache on paper)
During lockdown, locals soaked up the sun in the couple of hours of exercise time permitted outdoors. After a few days, you would run into the same dogs and their owners.  Since I did this painting, I spotted that large hound again for four of five times!

A Refreshing Dip amongst the Reeds (12x16"gouache on paper)
If ever I forget the meaning of simple pleasures, I remind myself of this scene I came upon.

Picnic at Trentham Lake (16x20"gouache on paper)
My friend and I were painting by the tranquil lake a few years ago and suddenly noisy children burst into the scene before us. The style of the little girl's dress evoked a bygone era so she got to be in this painting! (If you're wondering where the picnic is, look at the opposite bank and you'll just about see the children's parents.)

Peonies by the Window (20x24"gouache on paper)
A rather challenging painting this was when the natural light kept changing in a confined space.  I'm glad I persisted though because I do love a dynamic subject which offers opportunities to depict many different textures - timber, glass, metal, fabric, plant life, ceramic, brickwork, mirror... a still life painter's dream (or nightmare depending on the outcome).

Blossoms and Bluebells in Argyle Square, Carlton (16x20"gouache on paper)
What is it about bluebells? I'm so hooked on them that I would wait year after year for their arrival in spring.  Then dah-dah they would take over the gardens and transform dull patches of lawn into a page out of a storybook (one which I could walk through!).  Does it get better than that?  Yes!  When the blossoms try to steal the show away from the bluebells.  How could I resist a subject like this?

Botanica (21x29"gouache on paper)
The set-up of this rather large subject was inspired by the Botanica bowl, a treasured gift from a dear friend.  The intricacy of this mixed bunch of flowers somehow stood up to the complex floral and nature motifs in the vase and tablecloth.  Busy on busy actually works for me.

Christmas at The Block Arcade (16x20"gouache on paper)
I have so many lovely memories of this arcade in Melbourne CBD.  My piano teacher used to take me to the original Hopetoun Tearoom for afternoon tea after shopping for sheet music.  It was a bit of a ritual.  Cakes! Scones! And at Christmas, it was Magic.

Lone Jogger, Carlton Gardens (17x23"gouache on paper)
The title is probably a tad misleading.  I painted this as a little love letter to that magnificent plane tree; the jogger going past at the perfect moment was just a lucky happenstance. This tree is near a footpath so its overhanging branches get trimmed more often and more brutally than its neighbours' but, hey, it is still the best looking one in that spot. 

Coffee and Dog Walk, Carlton (16x20"gouache on paper)
Why did I paint this?  No special reason except that dogs make me smile.  The fact that there were interesting old buildings in the background was just a bonus.

Pierre de Ronsard Roses (11x16"gouache on paper)
These absolutely stunning roses were cut fresh from my friends' farm.  What a joy it was to paint them.  They were surprisingly cooperative too, never once did they move about (like tulips, daisies, gerberas, sunflowers do, chasing the light nonstop).  These roses behaved like the most professional models, holding their elegant pose uncomplainingly till I put my brushes down.

Grazing (8x11"gouache on paper)
Horses are funny old things.  When they think you have treats, nothing much gets in their way of checking your pockets.  However, this particular horse had me figured out after a few short minutes.  No treats = not worth a backward glance.  Little did he know that the real treat was for me when I caught him grazing in the afternoon sun.

Port Fairy Reflections (18x24"gouache on paper)
This is such an iconic view, the postcard-perfect scene which greets visitors when they drive over the bridge into Port Fairy.  This was one of those rare occasions where the reflections in the water intrigued me every bit as much as the main subject.

Sunflowers and French Press (17x23"gouache on paper)
I was in the middle of a particular busy week when a dear friend gave me these gorgeous flowers.  I remember working at the easel on this painting into the wee hours for several nights in a row, a desperate attempt to nail it before every stem wilted.  At the end, most of them did and, no surprise, so did I!

Punting on the Lake (12x16"gouache on paper)
I showed this painting to a friend and he said it reminded him of something out of The Wind in the Willows!  I suppose there is something enchanting about a scene like this.  I must go back and read that book.

Happy Gerbera and Lisianthus (11x15"gouache on paper)
A pure delight to paint this.  The secret to painting gerberas which haven't been wired is to cut them really short and crowd them in with other flowers or foliage so they won't wander about, swinging from one side of the vase to the other.  

Quiet Sunny Afternoon, Carlton (12x16"gouache on paper)
Carlton can be quite busy but there are quiet little pockets if you know where to look. I have a real weakness for old houses with chimneys - they always yell out "Paint me!"

Sidewalk Cafe, Carlton (11x14"gouache on paper)
What a paintable subject! This is action-packed to someone like me who's tickled by the dappled shade, the many different kinds of grey, the cheeky sunlight skimming over big tubs of geraniums, and traffic in the distance contrasting the idyllic lunch setting.  It makes me so happy to be a painter.

Springtime at Montsalvat (20x24"gouache on paper)
I've lost count of how many overseas friends and relatives I have dragged off to Montsalvat over the years.  Any excuse will do to visit the place.  I have also painted there on a number of occasions.  The last trip was perfectly timed - the magnificent tree outside the Great Hall was in full bloom.  

Red Orchid and Silver Jug (14x20"gouache on paper)
It was interesting to handle the orchids after painting many blousy flowers.  Orchids allow me the opportunity to do some crispier edges. The little silver jug belongs to a dear friend.  Still life artists are constantly on the lookout for good props.  Or good friends with good props!  

Twilight, Princes Bridge (8x11"gouache on paper)
When I first finished painting this little work, I thought it was totally bonkers.  Lights and street lamps were twinkling everywhere and creating chaotic patterns in the reflections.  But it grew on me over time and I hope someone else will come to like it too.

Blue Sail, Sandringham Yacht Club (18x24"gouache on paper)
I wouldn't recommend going for a subject like this if you didn't have a good night's sleep.  It could do your head in.  Everything was background to everything else. A small mistake in one area could have a domino effect on the entire painting.  However, I'd like to think that high risks of this kind can bring a big pay-off in the end result.  I hope I have pulled it off!

Summer at Parco Canteen, Carlton (22x29"gouache on paper)
For years, this old power sub-station was sitting on the traffic island doing not very much.  It took some enterprising cafe owners to turn it into the vibrant neighbourhood haunt that it is today.  It was so lovely to see it bounce back after the lockdowns.  This sun-drenched scene makes for a fabulous subject.  Oh, and I recommend the almond croissants!

Lucille can be contacted at lucille@lucilletam.com

Website: lucilletam.com

   Lucille Tam Warm Autumn Sun, Carlton Exhibition Building (22x29"gouache on paper) During lockdown, locals soaked up the sun in the c...