• Kirsten Johnston


I recently saw the Ben Quilty exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia. It was a real mix of his work from early years, through his time as the war artist for Australia and other pieces including his Archibald-winning painting of Margaret Olley.

I was particularly taken by the way that the lightest areas in many of the works were left unpainted; the white canvas providing, what we call in the art world, the highlights. More commonly, in oil and acrylic painting, these highlights would be added with light-coloured paint. Instead, Quilty had left NO paint, more akin to the preservation of the white of the paper that consumes watercolour artists. I loved it.

It made me think about the times in our lives that we call highlights. Maybe these are the uncluttered times, not confused with other layers? Perhaps they are the pure experience, stripped back and with a similar clarity to the blank canvas. Could we create more of these times by avoiding the extra ‘noise’ that tends to crowd so much of what we do? My thinking challenge for the day!

Until later,



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  • Kirsten Johnston Arts