Australian Fine Artist

Glen Eira Art Collection

A Visit to the Old Caulfield Town Hall

The main entrance to the old Town Hall now leads to a dedicated art space. I haven’t been in the building for over thirty years, so after discovering that art is now within its walls, I had to visit.

Of main interest were the paintings by the Boyd family (or at least parts of it). Only a few paintings on view, but worth the trip. The ceramics were a bonus and a nice addition to the lovely water colours by Arthur Merric and Emma Minnie.

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Clarice Beckett at The Gallery @ BACC

There were other artists represented at the mid-winter exhibition in Brighton this year, but I attended to concentrate on Beckett’s paintings. This was my first opportunity to see a collection of her work in real life, in the one place. It was also the first visit I had made to this gallery space, so I was interested to see how the council had transformed the town hall space for artworks.

Beckett, as many may know was the prize pupil of tonal painter Max Meldrum. She was restricted by family commitments so most of her remaining paintings are based close to her bayside home. Beckett’s work sat in a shed for many years until rediscovered only just over forty years ago. Since then her work has become an integral part of the story of women artists in Australia.

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Drawing Degas

Drawing at the NGV

The Winter Exhibition at the NGV this year brought us a huge collection of works by Edgar Degas (1834-1917). This is the most works in one place by this artist that I have seen in Melbourne. So big in fact that it warrants several visits to take it all in.

As an artist and art student, who loves pastel and paint, I love his work, particularly as he depicts the human form so beautifully. Degas’ observational skills, from his years of sitting and drawing show us a glimpse of the every-day, the less than elegant, or the more than serene, going from ballet dancers to brothels, the races to the living room.

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The State Library holds a couple of William Strutt’s paintings in their permanent collection, on display, but this exhibition holds a lot more for art lovers and artists to enjoy.

What I found of greatest importance as an artist and art student, was the inclusion of so many preliminary sketches and water colours that accompanied the finished oil paintings. This is a fantastic way to get inside the head of an Academically trained painter, to see how he studied so many aspects of his work before he laid brush to canvas for the completed oil painting.

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Workshop Number Two of Five 2016

Tutor: David Chen

Attending life drawing classes whilst learning portrait painting, I have discovered, is a very good thing! The observational and drawing skills learnt at one place are very transferrable to the other.

The first thing we are asked to do at the portrait workshops is to do a drawing of our model to get our eye in, and start to understand what we are focussing on for the workshop. This is a great opportunity to get to know all the little differences in your model’s face and body that make them unique.

Learning how to merge these two methods of representing the human form, in pencil and paint, is very useful, after all how can I be a good teacher if I don’t practice what I preach? I hope readers will enjoy this series of painting workshop blogs, and get some valuable information from them.

As always I defer to my tutor David Chen if readers would like to follow up by attending workshops to learn more about what I am covering. His contact details are at the end of this blog.

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Life Drawing

Venue: Frankston Chisholm

Tutor: Bill Hay

 

The process of learning to draw has its good and not so good days. What you should never do, however, is give up if you have a day when you think that you could or should have done better.

I always start off my drawing and paintings thinking they look like a disaster. It seems to be part of the process to punch through the negative thoughts  to get to the result which may be less than desirable, but on the other hand, may come out better than I expect. The most important thing is not to listen to the voice of doubt, and to take a breath and keep going.

This may include standing back to reassess where you are going, having another look at your model and comparing it to your work to see where you need to go next, or just emphasising a section and de-emphasising another part that is not in your focal point.

(NOTE: Drawings of nude female figures follow in this article)

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Life Drawing

Venue: Frankston Chisholm

Tutor: Bill Hay

The value of life drawing can not be understated. Not only as a tool for learning observational skills, and the understanding of the human body, but also for the general improvement of drawing skills for any subject.

There are those around today that say that you don’t need to be able to draw to paint. This type of thinking is flawed and there are examples I can cite to prove my statement. Not only do art tutors with many years experience disagree with this concept, but in practice and by historic examples, it is a necessary and basic skill.

(NOTE: Drawings of nude female figures follow in this article)

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Lecture at VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) by ADS Donaldson

Notes and Personal Impressions

Sydney-based artist and lecturer Andrew Donaldson gave a very interesting lecture at VCA that prompted a lot of questions about how painting has been written and talk about for over a hundred years.

Donaldson attended university in the 1980s and has noticed that the dominant model for teaching art has stemmed from that period. The traditional method of Academic training was replaced by a preference for theoretical investigation and Post-Modernism.

This is something, that as a current university student, I have noticed and have been a little disappointed about, as for me as a practising artist, it is the foundation training and understanding provided by academic methods, that is an important underpinning to any further investigation of my style and method of painting.

Donaldson continued his post-graduate studies in Germany and was surprised  by the method of teaching that put together all years and media to work and network with each other. The emphasis on practical training and learning to master the student’s chosen material and style was very different to Australia and a lot of other overseas universities.

Thinking that he was the only Australian to have studied in Germany at the school, proved to be a misconception for him as well. It seems that over the years there had been a continual presence of Australian artists every decade.

This led to Donaldson talking about how contemporary art came to be the way it is today. Citing Gombrich, in the book The Story of Art (Gombrich 1972), he reiterated, “There really is no such thing as art. There are only artists”. The story is about artists during history continually challenging themselves to develop and grow, and not as much about the outside ‘mask’ placed upon their work and motives.

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First in the Series of Monthly Workshops with David Chen

Seascape Using Impressionist Methods – Finding and Emphasising Shapes

When you decide to paint a lovely seascape, perhaps plein air, what are you looking for? What do you see? The emotions and responses you have as an artist to the scene before you, whether it be in real life or in a photo is an important consideration in painting. Every time you paint you reveal something of yourself to the world. You tell people how you see things, how you respond to what you see and how much of yourself that you want people to see.

This is where painting can diverge from photography, as there is so much room for personal expression in the application of paint to canvas. What you decide to leave in, take out, move or alter says something about who you are as an artist.

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Workshop Number One of Five 2016

Tutor: David Chen

Many of us tend to continue attending workshops that teach us in the subjects that we enjoy the most or that we are best at. Whilst that is enjoyable, and can help us to keep improving in areas that we like and get the most out of personally, it doesn’t help us to become more well-rounded as artists. Plus by taking on subjects that we are weakest at, we have the opportunity to discover where we really need to make improvements, as we are not calling on well-practised habits. There is, of course, the other aspect of taking on our weakest subjects and methods, and that is that we don’t always know what are good or bad habits that we have used for months or possibly years.. This leads me to the reason why I am doing a series of portrait workshops this semester. The human figure is probably my weakest subject, I avoided it for years and thought that I could get away with doing nearly any other subject. Then I went to Chisholm, and one major subject was life drawing. After which I decided that one focus of my emerging arts practice would be to teach drawing, so how can I be a good teacher if I don’t practice what I preach? I hope readers will enjoy this series of painting workshop blogs, and get some valuable information from them. As always I defer to my tutor David Chen if readers would like to follow up by attending workshops to learn more about what I am covering. His contact details are at the end of this blog.

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