Some time ago I wrote about the apprehension of being interviewed for an arts podcast. Well nerves aside it went pretty well, largely due to the wonderful John Dalton of course. Gently Does it, Johns podcast, is a must listen for any artist. With his casual, over coffee chat approach it is extremely interesting with conversations and rare insights with some of the worlds finest artists (why he chose me maybe the exception). Anyway, I hope you will take time to listen to mine and indeed all the others. Take a journey with he links below

John Daltons podcast with Karl

Gently does it with John Dalton





More of – So the story goes

Outback prophet

He’s just a little strange, harmless but Alice and rabbit kind of strange none the less, noted Esmay Burton, chair of the Mt Betham ikebana guild. Always away with the birds he is, says they whisper and sing to him the secrets of the ancients. Messengers from the gods, he says. I don’t know about all that but the birds certainly do enjoy sitting in that crown of twigs he wears. Some in the town call him healer, sage, prophet but I just think he’s a little odd like his mother.



Jesus of the outback

jesus montelatt hated his name. As an only and somewhat otherworldly child he grew up in a small, blink and youll miss it outback town at the base of a hill , Mt Bethlan, ironically. His mother, small of stature but large in life brought him up as best she might with guidence from a dog eared, bible black book of poems. They called him a healer and brought their sick ones to be saved but it was the birds and their song, he always maintained, that repaired their ailes.


Chrisatabella Fontayne

christabella fontayne was starbright, celestial light. An unwinged angel who landed in the spit away from the desert town via diesel and dust road train. Whispers had it that she was wanted by the demons of another life. Her lover, lost as they oft are in the worst of fairytales, now just an empty truck-stop daydream. She manages a sigh over coffee black and bacon fat eggs as another truck hisses its morning intent and trys to remember his face, his smile, anything.


Old Dolores

Despite being a third generation inhabitant of the red dust, blue bush sour outback town Dolores Finklestien could often be found reminiscing about the old country just as her mother and grandmother before, though she had never been there and how the chickens would wander through the wood warm farmhouse searching for stale bread crumbs


johnny the cock.

Johnathon Cochran, or Johnny the cock as was more commonly whispered amongst the few maidens who trod the red talcum dust of Mt. Betham, loved old Noir movies. Cassablanca was the kick off. Despite the skin searing heat of the outback summer he only wore the tea bag wrinkled suit he found in a city thrift shop.


so the story goes

People are not always as they seem are they. What is their real story, how often we wonder whilst people watching in cafes or just waiting somewhere. I had an idea to do a new cycle of works exploring this idea. The people are fictitious but have interesting quirks I think


new works


For years I’ve said that using watercolour was to hard and I’ll stick to oils thanks. Well I finally gave it a bash and it just felt right, refreshing, inspiring, exciting. It gave me a whole new direction. I dont think I use the medium “correctly” but I’ve found my own way. The works are more like coloured drawings than watercolour paintings but hey, who makes the rules anyway.

Try new things, who knows where it will lead.


words and pictures


Oh God, those doubts are raising their ugly heads again, crawling up my back and tapping me on the shoulder, licking my ear with their forked tongues and whispering their sweet nothings in my shell like. Why? you ask. Well talking, thats all, plain, intuitive, everyday talking.

I was asked to do an interview the other day, no big drama, until I remembered how inarticulate I felt just talking. Mumbling and fumbling around for words that don’t come, scratching around for the right thing to say only to blurt out some irrelevant twadle. Its a nightmare. I find it difficult enough just to talk at the best of times.

Its so very odd because when I write the words just come, lyrically, poetically, they seem to just dance across the page. When I talk I feel like a five year old. It got me to thinking about how we communicate and as is my way it all became allegorical.

Its like tea.

Talking is like making a quick brew, tea bag in, water, milk, stir. That’s it. Writing is like a slow brew of loose leaf tea in a pot, waiting for it patiently, contemplating the lovely velvet warmth and reminiscing about your last cup. Painting is like brewing the tea in the pot, contemplating how lovely the pot looks in that chiaroscuro light, noticing the little crack or the chip on the rim of the cup. Wondering what the pot would look like with a different pattern, loving that stream of translucent sienna as you pour the liquid calm into the beautifully decorated porcelain cup.

interviewer, so Karl tell me about your paintings

me, well, er, um its sort of (as my mind thinks about a lovely cup of afternoon in Paris loose leaf tea)

interviewer, so how do you go about starting something new

me, well um, I um……

interviwer, you’re a waste of time,  interview over I’m going to Starbucks for a coffee.

how do you take your tea?

Three wise ones

                                                                                                                                     Three wise ones  

This was actually the first painting completed in the series and sets the tone for the rest of the works. Theres an obvious Australianess in it’s being, with savage pepper hot light burning the strangely harsh, sparse yet serene landscape. Red dust dances like flame across the scene. There’s a down to earth simplicity here. The witnesses, more like town gossips than anyone important, bring simple gifts and don’t seem to awe inspired by the whole scene. A kangaroo, the very spirit of the land, watches on as does an angel, or is it in fact the muse, a messenger from the other. There’s a quiet whisper on the breeze here as to my own sense of place  

There’s an obvious reference to the nativity in the painting of course but without the pomp and ceremony. None of that in an outback town. The three wise ones are women and why shouldn’t they be, after all who are the wise ones amongst us really. Anyway, they just heard a new baby had arrived and wanted a look, as women do. It was with this feeling that I wanted to bring forth my prophet.

  Seemingly we have always had these individuals who try to light humanity’s path, wheather they be prophets, druids, oracles, shamen, priests or any manner of the like but are they born to this path or do they just become. Are they just normal people who gain an awareness of how things should be through say nature or are they guided by the divine. Do they hear the gods? Is it just a tap on the shoulder and whisper in the ear from the muse, or indeed just the sight of a morning yawn from the world around them.   We need these illuminated ones. They are our conscience even if we don’t listen to them. They are our ground and the light on the horizon. Their message is essentially the same but foolishly we always think we know better. We twist their words, mould them to suit our ego’s until we lose the way.

  So, I’m on this treadmill chasing the prize that dangles deliciously before me because someone told me, that someone thought, that someone said, that someone wrote, that someone heard, that the prophet fortold that this should be so.  

He actually said, does anyone want an apple, theres enough for everyone


The annunciation


Its all well and good to have one of those great light bulb moments, curtousey of the Muse of course but it’s another thing to do something with it. So here I was all excited about the prospect of this new series of works, where would they lead and what would they tell, but where to start.   Obviously one has to revisit all the religious iconography of the past and come to grips with some of the paths previously explored.

In the case of this particular work, the Annunciation, there are many fine examples. However I wasnt exploring an overtly christian paradigm. This was to be something much more personal in nature. On reflection though, I didnt see any harm in using some of the ideas and themes used by generations of other artists. They are well known and could be easily comprehended by a viewer of the work. The trick I felt was to explore my feelings about them and in the process weave my own beliefs into the work. Beliefs that may even change as the series  progresses and I try to question myself in depth. I fear some will be quite illusive when push comes to shove.  

So, the Anunnciation, a good place to start. Bring forth my new prophet.

First belief to be scrutinised. Do I believe in the immaculate conception ? No, I don’t think so. Now thats not the same as do I believe a man called Jesus walked the Middle East. Thats another question entirely and will take some consideration. ( I recall here a quote from a devout christian friend from many years past who once said to me, “keep thinking and questioning, assume nothing and remember Jesus was just a working class man” )  

Ok, so no immaculate conception but who’s to say a woman wasn’t forwarned about her child. Call it what you want, intuition, premonition, a dream. I mean a person who thinks he got this whole idea from the Muse, a voice or subconscience messenger from the other has no right to argue that one.   A simple setting then, quiet, evening perhaps. A time when one would usually reflect or be open to suggestions from the other, intimate. An angel or messenger for obvious reasons keys the painting but with subdued radiance. The room is sparse, these are simple people. Wonderful things do and should happen to the humble.   I laugh heartily to myself on reflection. Is that winged being from the other letting that painted minx know she’s actually having my child. Maybe there is a pretence for the immaculate conception after all. Now I have to wait for this new prophet of mine to be born.  

Bring on a new canvas and hot towels please.


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