A box of English watercolour paints changed that. At the end of each day, after I returned from work (to the small room in my father's house where I was living), I would sit on my bed, open the box, and lose myself in experiments with unlikely textures, colours and ideas. I would also make one tiny painting that I would send the next morning to a new friend. He received hundreds over the next few months, each completely different.
These paintings saved my life. I ignored pressure from the galleries then representing my work to return to the large enamels they identified as 'typically Dooney'. But eventually I gave up my job at the shoe shop and committed once again to the idea of myself as an artist. My 'come-back' exhibition, my first in two years, was titled Venus In Hell and comprised fifteen torrid watercolours inspired by Voodoo rituals and beliefs.
I still do the small watercolours every day for the same friend and for this blog. I have sold some to first-time collectors for whom my larger works are out of reach – the works on scraps of Italian cold-pressed paper range in price from $US400 to $900 – but they're unlikely ever to be exhibited. Of all my art, they are the most intimate and telling. The white walls of a gallery are entirely the wrong way to share them.