Thursday, 25 September 2014

A message to my blog readers

Hi everyone.  Thank you for your continued support of my online efforts, talking about life both in the studio and on the land.  You inspire me to continue writing and painting more than you know.  

I'm writing to let you know that as part of the new website and future release of my iPad app, I'm moving this blog to the brand new Outback Artist website.  All the blog posts found here along with your comments have already moved to the new website.  

I ask that you update your bookmarks to my newly updated website at  

See you there!

Thanks again.
Sandy McLean, The Outback Artist.

Friday, 27 June 2014


I have been wanting to share this news for some time.
Over the past 6 months I have been working on creating my own App.
It has been a HUGE learning curve to say the least. But I think I can safely say that

 Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks......

The App icon 

The App will teach people to draw....I do believe that EVERYONE CAN DRAW. With this in mind I will show people how they can draw ANYTHING.

Like I said in my past couple of posts...I'm now into telling the let me tell the


Last year I was commissioned to do a drawing, I was having some trouble 'getting it right' it was a rather unusual view point for this particular subject. My husband was being used as a critic. I would do a bit of the drawing then show it to him and ask if it looked right...sometimes an artist needs someone to look at things with fresh eyes. Each time I showed him he would say it wasn't quite right. It was actually a drawing of a horse and having been round horses all my life, I know that the horse has to be right because people know their horses like they know their children.

But for the life of me I couldn't master it. I eventually decided to use the old try ed and true method of the grid pattern. For those that don't know this method it is where the artist draws up a grid on to the paper and the same sized grid on to the image they are trying to draw. Then they just copy each square of the image on to drawing their paper.

When I showed this to the husband he had never seen this method used by me before and was a little intrigued.

Some time later he said to me ..You should do an App that shows people how to draw using the grid method. My first reaction was

 ...A What??

I only had a vague idea what an App was...well that's probably not quite true ...I actually had no idea what an app was.

I wondered how the husband knew what an App was ...considering he is almost unable to turn on a computer let alone operate one!!
But he listens to the radio a lot when he is working and he had heard someone talking about Apps and I suppose the idea came to him. Of course because of this, if the App is a success he will take ALL the credit!! :)

After some convincing I thought well it can't be that hard.

Lets just say has been hard.....maybe if I had any idea what an app was before I started......

For anyone out there thinking about doing this.....the first requirement is to EDUCATE yourself ....don't just drive in at the deep end like I did.

I spent weeks trying to work out how to actually teach people how to do the same time I didn't have a huge budget so it all had to be very simple for the developers.... meaning the internal workings of the app had to not have too many bells and whistles ....I think I went through a couple of sketch books drawing up ideas. In hind site I should have trawled the App store and found a prototype app that I could use to base the operation of my app on.


...then I could have said to the App's what I want my app to look like .....just make me the same type as this.

Instead I eventually worked out how to do the 'lessons' and then Goggled App Developers. Told them what I wanted to do...or should I say Tryed to explain what I wanted......

Right here was where the real problems started......It was like speaking to a person from another country who has never even heard ENGLISH before.....don't get me wrong it was the same for them as it was for me...

We eventually came to an agreement on both design and budget and they started building the 'frame work' and I went back to drawing up my 'lessons'

I might add at this point that I am NOT very good with fact I think the Developers couldn't quite believe just how useless I was. After a while they started to talk to me in a very slow way you would a child. I wasn't offended by this actually helped me to take in what they were trying to explain.

An example from one of the pages of a lesson on drawing this Giraffe.

Now because of my computer skills or lack of... I did the lessons in a very basic way...
I would start a lesson and each stage of the lesson...or progression of the drawing I would explain what I had just done by writing on a strip of paper then placing the paper on to the drawing, I would then take a photo with my ipad.

Very labour intensive indeed.

When this was all finished I realised that the concept was good but I needed the overall App to look professional. I know that this was quite beyond me. At this point I came to a stand still, the producers offered to do some 'graphic desigh' but after seeing their efforts I realised I needed more...I needed a person who understood what I was doing ...a person who believed in it and who was really creative...after all this was an Artists App so it needed to look ARTY.

By sheer luck or just being in the right place at the right time...I found my man!!

I had gone to the Mac Choice shop for some training, the tutor and I got to talking and she mentioned her husband was into graphic design and was also a photographer amongst other things. He sounded we got together, he loved what I was doing and in no time saw what was need and got to work. Grateful doesn't even start to explain how I felt. Looking back I probably would have given the whole thing away if he hadn't shown up.

He has also become the go-between man with the App producers, which has been a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders.

So as I write all is coming together just as it should. Hopefully with all the little bits and pieces that Aaron has suggested to make the whole thing sing, we will end up with a very beneficial and pleasure giving App that will help lots and lots of people get back in touch with their creative side!!

Until next time

Friday, 13 June 2014


It's been HECK TICK round here lately.
In mid March I received an email from a New York Gallery, at first I thought it was one of those prank emails that come through every now and again, after reading it 3 or 4 times it sounded better and a little more believable.
So I eventually did what all good researchers do I googled it....and there it was as large as life ...completely 'ridgy didgy' as we say here in Australia.

 I didn't quite know what to do as still a part of me said...'as if '...another part said... well ..stranger things have happened.....but after I dwelled on this for about 2 seconds I realised that nothing that strange was springing to mind.

You see this came completely out of the blue...I hadn't sent off random requests for gallery representations to the US of A. I did do that last year ....I sent out 10 Cd's with self addressed return envelops included to Gallery's in Brisbane Sydney and Melbourne on the off chance that one of them might give me a second look.
 No such luck.
 I received 2 replys ( by email CD's not returned.)
 One from a Gallery in Brisbane which said they liked my work but didn't think it would fit in with the other work in their Gallery.
 No sure what that meant.
 The other said I basically needed to pull my head in and do a lot more work....maybe find a style...before I came back to them...this Gallery was in Melbourne. So of course I did what I always do with rejection....I slunk away with my tail tucked firmly between my legs and licked my wounds for a week or 2 then told myself to build a bridge and I continued on.

So here right before my eyes was a person called Mary who had the  title of Gallery assistant, asking me ...if I would like to put in a portfolio of my work for possible gallery represention....!!!!
Lets by pass Australia and go straight to the art centre of the world.

Since then it has been a rollercoaster ride with putting together and submitting a portfolio....waiting for what seemed like for ever for their acceptance.
Now they want work to go up on their on-line gallery...pronto!! (Australian for straight away)

Lucky I can do Pronto as I'm a pretty fast painter and I seem to be having a win with the stuff I'm pushing out right is just the most amazing feeling to know that I'm painting for THE WORLD now and that the stuff I do has been looked at and 'seen' and accepted....I am soo grateful.

So moving on I said in my last post I'm going to tell THE STORY of each and every painting or drawing I do from now here goes

Painting Number 1


This is called " Guman", which is Aboriginal for Grandfather.I saw this black and white photo in a book that I found amongst a lot of old books I inherited from my mother's family. These relatives were two old aunts who were great readers. Their home library was very large and had some wonderfully interesting books. When it came time to share up this collection amongst myself and my sister's, I some how ended up with this amazing old book, the author was a man who had ventured out into the Simpson Desert to live and record the way of life of the Aboriginal people. He also took many great photos.

For some reason I find these old Aboriginal's so amazing...their faces are so interesting and so unlike any white face you will ever see. I have so much respect of them and for their love of the land and feeling for it. I also want to show people just how magnificent they proud and strong.

This old man is to me truly magnificent ....I love how he is looking away into the I was painting him I was wondering what he was seeing.
The interesting thing about this work is it took me no time and the compulsion to paint it was very very strong.....strange as it may seem... some times I think the subject picks me and then helps me through the process...especially this one.


Before I started I had an idea that I would paint it with the one basic colour..Payne's Grey...which is a colour I love and use a lot, it is very versatile. But I started with another colour or a blended colour which I don't use much at all ..called Black/ Brown. I also put out some white and some cadmium red on my palette, other of my favourites.

So off I went.

 All I did was add the white to make the various tones of the black/brown, then added some red to the mix every now and again. The eye was very quick and all it is just the full strength Black Brown in the centre and a tiny touch of watered down white in just the right place... got it right first time...pure accident.

You can see that I added some straight red to his cheek and other small bits here and there... I just thought this would bring out these areas and also add some lift and drama to the whole thing.

I knew that it didn't need a back ground and that the stark white  and clean canvas that surrounded this old man was in direct contrast to him and his world.

And that is pretty much it.

This was also a painting that I knew without  doubt, when it was finished.
It was also one of the very very few paintings I know is good...or as good as I can achieve at this stage of my learning and development as an artist.
It was also a painting I needed to do at the time I did it. The reason for this is, I was feeling a little artistically inadequate and wondering what on earth I should paint for the New York Gallery....and out comes this answered these two nagging doubts straight can do it, you are good enough and this is what you should do....
Life just blows me away sometimes.

Hence THE STORY is complete.

Thursday, 12 June 2014


I showed a painting to some prospective buyers recently.

They woooed and areeeed and said how lovely it was......and went away and didn't come other words the work just didn't 'touch' them enough for them to want to part with their well earned money.

Some time later they explained why they didn't like the was then that I realised that they actually hadn't understood what the painting was all about.

I was completely shocked when I realised this.

As an artist I automatically thought that the reason for creating the work would be obvious to the viewer.

 I'm not sure why I thought this, but I did.

I now realise how naive I have been. I now also know that things have to be explained....people have to know and understand  THE STORY behind what ever it is they are looking at.

In a way showing a painting with out explanation is a little like trying to sell a book with out a's just another boring book.

For me though the hard part is actually knowing what has happened in the process of creating the painting.
It may sound rather silly that I am suggesting that I do a work of art with out knowing exactly what I'm doing!

Well to me it does SEEM like I don't know what I'm doing...because I just do it!

 There is not a lot of thought going into it.

Getting back to THE STORY and telling the story of a painting...because I don't really know what I'm doing I do find it very hard to TELL someone about the creation of a work...

So with the last few paintings I have done, I have made a conscious effort to take notice of my thoughts....seems weird I know.

Today I was painting and I realised that I wasn't thinking at all ...I was just doing.

 But every now and again I will step back from the work and sit on my stool and just have a good look at the painting and what's happening.

 This is when I think,
 I think....

I will take note of what looks OK and what looks like sh..t and I will think about how to fix it...or I will say to myself that all looks OK ....a then I will make a few decisions on how I will continue. After mix a bit of colour or what ever and I start again I really do think that's when the thinking stops.

 I am actually getting off the subject a little lets get back to trying to sell a painting and the prospective purchaser doesn't get it.

This is a very interesting thing...myself (artist) says well too bad someone else will see what I'm getting at ...I then say to my self that this painting is not meant for this person and as far as I'm concerned that's the end of that.

But my husband and others say that is not the case at all is up to me as the creator of this work to explain to them so that they do understand and they then go AHHH!! now I see.!!

I probably think both of the above are true...but I do think I have to try a bit harder to sell something and the way to do that is to sell the STORY!!

So from now on every time I finish a painting or drawing I am going to write a little story to explain what I have done and why I have done it.

That's my little rant for today

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Just going to share some lovely 'green' photos of our place after wonderful summer rain

Looking north 

Cow and calf 

Looking south east

 Mt O'Connell which is very impressive.

lots of cattle in this paddock.

Taken from the same spot just moved the camera a little to the north east.
 Looking towards the sea.

My trusty steed 'Menthol'...if you wanted to caption this ...he would be you didn't 
bring me something to eat...can't you see I'm starving!!!

The caption on this would be...I know I'm beautiful and I've just learnt to pose!!

That's it until next time.

Sunday, 2 March 2014


                                    Just thought I would share with you my latest drawing.

This shows the back end of the horse ...his belly and on the left the spur.
 Note the information I have written for my self on the right hand margin.

 If any of you are wondering what that strange thing is beside the pencils...that is what is called a kneadable rubber. It is an amazing piece of equipment.
 It is actually kneadable and it sort of takes the pencil into itself . This one in this picture is very 'used' so therefore is rather dirty. Every now and again you must 'knead' it so that when you rub something out it is clean. They are also very good for rubbing out small areas as you can make them into a point.

Another view of working on the 'darks' All drawing is basically varying degrees of dark and light.....and a lot of practise.

 I have just finished the girth and under the front leg. It was important that I get the right 'dark' there which gives the look of shadow rather than a dense black area.
 Another use for the kneadable rubber is it will pick up pencil and that is how I have got that effect in the 'not too dark' places of this drawing.

Here I have continued to work under the belly of the horse and also the 'off-side' foot of the rider.


This is about the end I think. As you can see the last thing to go in is the shadow under the horse and the beast. Also the addition of some dirt. This 'grounds' the whole thing. 
Shadows are very important in my drawings as they go towards telling the story.
 I always look at the shadows to tell what time of day the action is taking place. 
 As 'viewers' we sub-conscientiously look at the shadows to make that work of art just that much more 'real'

Hope you enjoyed this PROCESS

Until next time

Thursday, 6 February 2014


That's what they are saying about this current drought. For a while I wasn't convinced that it was 'the worst' you all know... Queensland has been regularly effected by extreme weather conditions...either floods or droughts

Remember the poem..'.land of droughts and flooding rains'

This shows the extent of the drought at the moment. There is no real rain forecast for the near future.

But now I see why it is so...there are people in the north of this great state that are going into their 3rd year with out rain!!

Can you imagine what that must be like?

I heard a story from a 'truckie' yesterday (he was here delivering cattle)...and truckie's love to have a yarn...I asked my husband once why they are this way..and his answer was that they spend a lot of time driving and don't see people they make up for it when they get a chance.

Which reminds me of a time a few years ago when we had a property out at Bollon in the south west of Queensland. We had bought cattle from New South Wales and they ended up arriving in the middle of the night around 2 am. It was also the middle of winter and it gets very cold in that part of the world.

If it wasn't bad enough having to get out of your warm bed and unload a couple of trucks of cattle ...we then had to stand around shivering while listening to the truckie's 'tall' story's......he didn't seem one bit concerned that he was keeping us out of bed......maybe he was enjoying himself at our expense.!!

Anyway, getting back to the story at hand.

Yesterday's truckie story was about a farmer and his wife up north, who because of the on going drought had completely destocked their property...all 400,000 acres of it.

There was not a beast, not a horse, nothing except he and his wife.


Can you imagine them sitting out there on their ruined, parched land with nothing. They can't leave as they would have no money to go. They have to stay and protect what is left. What will happen to people like this?

They are not alone, there are probably hundreds out there doing it tough like that ...just going from day to day, looking at the sky, hoping the rain will come.

I was speaking to my sister recently and they are really suffering with the dry as well. Their biggest problem is they are quickly running out of water.

This water problem is one of the reasons this drought is worse than others,   people can see an end to their water supply.

A dam gone dry

What to do next?

You can buy feed to feed your cattle or sheep but you can't buy water...well maybe you could but it would be impossible to cart enough water to keep a mob of cattle  alive.

A cow with a calve will drink up to 120 litres a day. In drought conditions this could reach as much as 150 litres.
Over a mob of 500 head of cattle that would be 60,000 litres a day, 420,000 litres a week and 1,680,000 litres a month.

It is not ' if ' they run out of water it is ' when '.

People on the land have an incredible ability to look at things in a completely optimistic way. They all know that it WILL rain ONE DAY. So they just focus on that event ...and just keep going, getting out of bed each morning to face it all again.

This is all the water this farmer has left.

Making decisions that would break the spirit of lesser humans beings. These decisions are based mainly on HOPE and not much else.

They know there are cut off points. Like when they have to cut off feeding their cattle because they just can't borrow any more money and they also know they are fighting a losing battle as the cattle are dying faster than they can keep the feed up to them.

And as I mentioned before they have to work out, as best they can, how long their water supply will last, so that they can sell their cattle before they have to watch them perish.

Sounds unbelievable doesn't it?  But it's a reality. It is happening every day. When you are driving to work sipping on your early morning coffee, think of a farmer going about his morning shooting starving cattle and trying not to do the same to himself.

I heard that our treasurer Mr Hockey saying that he will ' look ' at the multi million dollar proposal put forward by Barnaby Joyce to support the cattle industry..part of that being a ' rural reconstruction type bank ' which would lend money to farmers at a reduced rate...something like the rate of a home loan. His comment was,'  why would you lend more to people who are already in trouble..'

But it looks like our treasurer is looking into spending zillions to bale out our failing the car industry.

The thing that people like Mr Hockey don't seem to be able to grasp is we are not dealing with a car industry or a shop owner ...we are dealing with animals and human beings. We are dealing with suffering.

 I'm sure there is a difference between a car and a cow!

Some how we have to get the message across that things are out of control for people in the bush. They need money to keep cattle alive and them selves.

They also need support and understanding from the rest of Australia.

The good times...lets pray the storms come soon!!

Until next time