On being an artist: lost for 2 hrs staring at an eye

 by Ruth McIntosh

Sibylesque Paul Klee quote

I have just spent two hours staring at an eye I’m painting. What happened? Where did the time go?…and I still haven’t done the other one!

Being an artist is a lonely business but wonderfully transporting at the same time. Transporting where though? Well, transporting away from everything except those colours and that purpose in front of me to achieve Charlottes’ eye and all that it conveys.

Charlotte's Eyes 2014  Ruth McIntosh

One of the most important and difficult things I have come to terms with in painting is that most of the art I produce is simply practice and therapy, not some end product. The image is usually being wiped off, or painted over.

However the therapy is blissful. Putting on the music, singing at the top of my voice intermittently after making some strokes, having moments of immense energy accompanied by beautiful quiet interludes. Not thinking about dinner, children or any domesticities. Ahhh, bliss!

My studio is full of visual evidence of my whimsical thoughts. Sometimes it’s a bit depressing and sometimes it’s very comforting. My visual diaries document my life with amazing accuracy even without words.

Well, that’s enough of this little interlude and its back to Charlotte and the other eye and the smell of paint, turps and the heavy decision of which music to play. I’ll see the world in another two hours!


Ruth McIntosh

Ruth McIntosh

Ruth McIntosh is an extraordinary  and passionate artist, who has been involved in art and art education for many years. She has held various solo exhibitions and has been involved in group shows. Ruth specializes in portraiture using both traditional methods of oil on canvas/linen and incorporating experimental use of media. Ruth is committed to extending her art to enjoy the riches of traditional workmanship alongside the excitement of contemporary application.

Her website is: Ruth McIntosh


The grief of an empty nest

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Empty Nest Quote

Kate Legge Life Matters ABCIn her article, The bittersweet silence of an empty nest, The Australian (9 JUN 2014), Kate Legge openly and honestly describes the feeling of loss she experienced when her children finally left home.

‘The upheaval I felt at this shift in family rhythms surprised me’ wrote Kate. A working mother she just assumed that the stay-at-home mothers would feel the wrench of a childless-home more than a busy journalist, who loves her work. This was not the case.

Kate, who explained in the article that she had negotiated menopause without much ‘psychological disruption’, was surprised at the grief she felt when her children left. There is no one instance of sadness. ‘The pangs simply come upon me. I know I’m not alone.’

Sibylesque Empty Room Hammershoi

So much quiet wisdom can be gleaned from Kate’s writing. Those of us who have been or still are working mothers, often assume that we can schedule our days, our emotions, our lives. This is not, of course, how emotions work. We want our children to grow up and become independent adults. Yet we feel the loss of the touch, the smell, the voice, the face, the laughter and the coat on the chair, the shoes in the hall and even the dirty plates in the sink belonging to an adult child. And we feel this loss at a deep mammalian level. We grieve. No amount of logic can counter this mammalian response. We grieve.

I think Kate puts this best:

‘The anguish that wraps its arms around me stems from accepting that a wonderful period of my life is over.’

We, THE SIBYLS, declare Kate Legge an Honorary Sibyl for her openness and willingness to share her inner feelings, thoughts and wisdom.


Kate Legge NovelThe Marriage ClubKate Legge is a Walkley award winning journalist who writes for The Austraian. She has published two novels. The Unexpected Elements Of Love and The Marriage Club.




The Portrait of the Mother by the Artist

by Kerry Cue

sibylesque Old Age Quote

Rembrandt's Mother Reading (c. 1629) when she was 60 years old

Rembrandt’s Mother Reading (c. 1629) . Cornelia was 60 years old.

In her book, How to Age (The school of Life, 2014) Anne Karpf writes about the imagery of old age as a ‘hideous ruin’. Sociologist Mike Featherstone called such imagery ‘a pornography of old age’. And don’t we know it. We are surrounded by such images daily including the shriveled and stooped portrails of old geezers and crones in comics, birthday cards, cartoons, advertisements, horror movies, sitcoms, TV crime series and more. And don’t forget the witches in literature from Macbeth to the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is the aim of Sibylesque to provide the postive balance to this negativity. You can find such imagery at The Sibyls Salute: Jennette Williams.

The artist, however, runs into a dilemma when painting their own mother. Should they be sympathetic or realistic? Even artists can portray their own elderly mothers as ‘hideous ruins’. This was especially cruel as often their mother sat for the portrait when the artist’s model failed to appear. The painting that made Whistler famous resulted when the model didn’t show. (Below). The end result, however, was sympathetic. I will not dwell on the cruel images except for this sketch one sketch by Durer. I feel he was being very harsh on his own mother.

Drurer’s mother at 63 years of age. She had by this time experienced 18 pregnancies.

Durer’s mother at 63 years of age. She had by this time experienced 18 pregnancies.

Durer was not always so unforgiving in his portrayals of his mother. Here is an earlier oil painting by Durer of his mother. As one friend pointed out, Durer’s mother has a look on her face that suggests she’s thinking ‘Go on. Get on with it.’

Durer's Portrait of His mother,1490. She was 39 years old.

Durer’s Portrait of His mother,1490. Barbara was     39 years old.

Aging is often portrayed in modern media as some kind of failure. This is the price paid for living in a youth culture, I guess. Old age, however, can be presented with love and empathy and the result is an image, as Karpf notes, of dignity and beauty. Here are the portraits of artist’s mothers with their ages included:

Paul Cezanne The Artist's Mother c. 1866  when his mother was  52 years old.

Paul Cezanne The Artist’s Mother c. 1866. Anne was       52 years old.

Whistlers Mother,  1871. Painted when she was  67 ld.years o

Whistler’s Mother, 1871. Painted when she was 67 years old.

This painting by Whistler was a tribute to his mother. Here is a photograph of Anna Matilda Whistler.

Anna Matilda Whistler, ld.1850. She was 50 years o

Anna Matilda Whistler, 1850. She was 50 years old.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec portrait of his mother,  Countess Adele Zoe de Toulouse Lautrec, 1883. She was  42 years old.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec portrait of his mother, Countess Adele Zoe de Toulouse Lautrec, 1883.   She was       42 years old.

Van Gogh  Portrait of the mother of the artist, 1888. Anna was 69 years old.

Van Gogh Portrait of the mother of the artist, 1888. Anna was 69 years old.

Picasso's mother, 1896. Maria was 41 years old.

Picasso’s mother,1896. Maria was 41 years old.

Juan Gris, mother,  1912. At least Picasso painted his mother before Cubism etc.

Juan Gris, mother, 1912.  At least Picasso painted his mother before Cubism etc.

Lucian Freud, The Painters Mother,1983 .  Lucie was 77 years old.

Lucian Freud, The Painters Mother,1983 . Lucie was 77 years old.

Photo source: If it’s hip, it’s here blog.



Roman border  dark red

dark red quote 1


We cannot let others define aging for us.

….We must, as we have done before,

dark red quote 2

…………….redefine this stage for ourselves.

Sibylesque Signature dark redRoman border  dark red


What the media doesn’t tell you!

Frankly, my dear, they’re over you!

the-tibertine-sibylIf you have found little of interest in the lifestyle pages across all media platforms, there is a reason. After 54-years of age we are of no interest to Marketing. Apparently, we are ‘too set in our ways’. So, apart from some tragic and cheap ads spruiking pre-paid funerals and incontinence pads, we do not attract the advertising dollar. Therefore editors of magazines, newspapers, websites and blogs aimed at women couldn’t care less about our issues.

There are lots of ads for dubious anti-aging and slimming products, much like the 1950s ads (below) but with their own Facebook Page. But the anti-wrinkle creams and slimming products do not target us. They are aimed at 40, 30 and even 20 year olds. They have more to fear from aging and being overweight than us.50s chin strap We’ve already had to face certain realities. Besides, we’ve been applying goops for 40+ years and we must have tried scores of diets with little success!!! We’ll look at the real science ( and not the ‘radiessence’ or ‘luminosity’) of face creams and rubbish diets later.

But there are many issues such as health, sex and self-perception that change after 54 years of age and that we want to discuss. If you are looking at retirement and your daughter wants the BIG wedding, do you have to pay for it? What if you are divorced? What if it’s her 2nd wedding?

How do you deal with a neurotic daughter-in-law? Or a control-freak son-in-law? Or vice-versa?

Cole Swimsuit Ad 1953 And we wanted those curves!

Cole Swimsuit Ad 1953
And we wanted those curves!

Are you prepared to look after grandchildren one day a week? Two days? How would you react if your daughter handed you a spread sheet scheduling every minute of that one day?

If you didn’t have children, are you now being swamped by the 2nd wave of child-centric conversations as your friends become grandparents?

Moreover, how did any of us even produce children with the hilariously vague ‘sex education‘ we received in the 60s or 70s?

We, The Sibyls, are smart, vibrant and interesting women. It is the intention of this blog to reinvent aging. We’re doing this for ourselves. Welcome.

Sibylesque Signature dark red