The Boating Party – with Sue Dale.

Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Well, it’s been a while…

Welcome to the first Boating Party interview of 2014.

The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are one of the most important aspects of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society.

To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this interview, I am delighted to welcome Australian artist, Sue Dale.

Sue Dale

Sue Dale

1. What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?

My greatest personal achievement is raising a beautiful daughter who turned out to be creative, intelligent, funny and with strong humanitarian values. She’s made her decisions and I did have some help but I like to think I did something right along the way to get her there and the right things outweighed the bad.

Career wise, I’m not finished yet, but to date, running my own business was a highlight – nothing better than turning up to work and opening the door to the smell of coloured pencils.

Painting wise, knowing how I want to paint. Finding my way was a great moment when it all fell into place. I’m still learning but I know it’s me when I pick up a brush. I feel confident, or maybe that should be comfortable, and that’s a remarkable achievement for me.

2. What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

Jervis Bay, it will always be my home. I miss it.

3. To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

My daughter, for making me laugh every time when I could’ve easily cried. My painting and drawing teachers and Willem De Kooning.

4. Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by great artists who took the hard road in order to paint everyday. I admire those early landscape artists who would lug their gear out to remote places and paint on the spot. Music and poetry always help to inspire my work.

5. What was the last thing that inspired you?

Jellyfish and Nick Cave. Both are beautiful and a little scary.

6. What makes you unhappy?


7. What makes you happy?

Painting, drawing, music – usually all three at once.

8. What are you reading?

“Old Masters”, Australia’s great Bark Artists. I’ve recently visited the exhibition at our National Museum in Canberra. Marvelous curation and excellent show.

9. Who, or what, are you listening to?

Amy Winehouse, Meatloaf and Madame Butterfly. Not on shuffle, it’s too confusing to sing along to.

10. What’s your favourite film?

It’s a difficult choice between Pulp Fiction & Moonstruck – I’m a hard-edge romantic.

11. If you could go back in time, where would you go?

The Cedar Tavern, New York, 1950’s, to drink, smoke and talk paint with those hard-arse abstractionists.

12. What frightens you?

Gallery directors.

13. What do you do to relax?


14. What do you do when you’re angry?


15. What can’t you live without?

Paint… and maybe red wine.

16. What’s your motto?

You never know what’s around the corner.

17. Where’s your Utopia?

A huge painting studio, big white walls, massive canvases, overlooking the Shoalhaven River.

18. If you only had one year to live, what would you do?

Paint. Visit galleries and museums in London, Paris and Hobart

19. Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

Tony Abbott. [Australian Prime Minister.] For his views and treatment of refugees coming to this country.

20. Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

The cast of Seinfield. Or maybe Billy Connolly; I love to laugh.

21. What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve taken close-up images of jellyfish, and want to use those colours in painted studies. They create some wonderful, subtle greys and I want to test some glazes in oil to capture that weird translucency.

22. What is your ambition?

To paint. To finish my Boatshed series.

23. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I’d probably abolish religion – it seems to cause more trouble than it’s worth.

24. Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Hans Hoffman, Willem De Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, John Olsen, Helen Frankenthaler and Mick Jagger.

25. What would be on the menu?

Anti pasto plate, red wine. If it’s a hot day, seafood and cold, cold beer.

26. What question would you have liked me to ask?

What’s your favourite painting?

So far Portrait Group, 1907 by George Lambert.

I have only seen it in person a few times but find it so hard to tear myself away from looking at it, especially the folds in the baby’s dress. It mesmerizes me and I can never understand why.

Studio Bundanon 2

Studio Thirroul

Studio Bundanon1

09 - Rivered

Thank you, Sue.

Just click on any of the images to see Sue’s work on her website.

Artist’s statement:

My past art practice has been primarily landscape painting. This involves not only painting but also a constant study of the landscape that evolves from drawing and sometimes gathering of material. I have been able to produce works inspired by the world around me but become frequently fixated by signage in the landscape and my last
exhibition at Project Contemporary Artspace was a series of drawings based on the road between my then studio at Thirroul and the South Coast of NSW.

Signage not only becomes essential information to the driver but also a disruption of shapes and sometimes colour and I like the way driving becomes a frame for the landscape.

My current art practice has been influenced by my recent move back to Lake Illawarra and my place within a remembered landscape and due to studio space limitations I have been working on smaller drawings and painted gouache studies of the Lake where my family owned a boatshed.



Filed under Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration

6 responses to “The Boating Party – with Sue Dale.

  1. She sounds like a bit of a dork but her works not bad! Thanks David

  2. She sounds as obsessed with art as I am with writing. Not sure I share her choice of music though. I like what she said about babies’ dresses, although for me the fascinating folds are not in the dresses themselves but in babies little dimply hands and feet that stick out of the dresses. That being said, I did like choosing pretty dresses for my daughter as a baby.

  3. I completely agree, Sarah. My youngest is only 5 and she still has that baby like quality about her fingers, skin not yet taught over her little knuckles. 🙂 It wasn’t silly at all.

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