Australian Fine Artist

Archive for March, 2012

Art from Pt Leo Camp

Here are some samples of work done at the 2012 Pt Leo Camp. Enjoy!

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Context & Culture – Materials Demo

Canson Representative Glen Touric

Papers, Paints, Pastels and Inks

I know a lot of people nearly dozed off during this demonstration but I believe that as professionals we need to know as much as possible about the materials available on the market. Not only for our own use but as some of us may venture into teaching, giving demonstrations at art guilds or even mentoring other artists we should be armed with the best advice we can give. If we want to produce art that will last the test of time we also must be aware of what materials to select. Galleries and some collectors will not purchase art make from inferior materials, and rightly so. They are making an investment and want to make sure it is a good one.

I have previously had separate standards and quality of paints and surfaces in the studio and have divided my materials into about three categories. The demo has given me cause to plan changes.

1. Stuff I use to experiment and learn on
(lower grade artist quality)
I think I will be gradually culling out this lot as sometimes I do something I wish I had done on better canvas for example because it has worked so well.

2. Stuff I intend to go out into the market place but at a mid range price
(mid grade artist quality)
My goal is now to have this as my my lowest grade of materials in the studio in future.

3. Really serious stuff that I hope will last a long time and be passed on to the buyer’s descendants.
(the best I can afford – hopefully gallery quality).
It’s nice when you have leftovers from this lot so you can use them to experiment with and get used to using the better quality.

As I already use Canson products I know they are great quality. Now that I use Tex paper for pastels I can’t go back to anything cheaper. Similarly for watercolour paper. The only other brands I have used and liked were Saunders and Fabriano.

I have a great selection of pastels and can attest to the quality of Rembrandt and Schminke and they are great to use. Rembrandts can be layered without anything major falling off the paper – my framers love me for this.

What I didn’t understand as clearly before the talk was the mechanics of pre-production for paper making as far as the additions and that no brightening agents were in Arches papers. I also enjoyed the learning of the differences between Foundrinier and Mould Made papers. Learning about the extra long fibres and the extra final process that Arches put their paper through was very interesting.

I wasn’t aware of the technique used for making sure coloured papers held their colour all the way through or that special orders can be made for extra large sheets of Tex (up to 10x100cm).

The chart showing how colour works for various paints and pastels was very interesting, as the binders and fillers are sometimes a mystery. I just knew that Schminke were about the best but not why.

I learned about Schminke inks and how they will last longer as they have more intense colour and better coverage and will get some better acrylics when I get to using them again in future after seeing the difference.

I already have some W&N watercolours that I have had for many years so they are from before they moved their manufacturing plant but am looking at Art Spectrum Artists Quality or Schminke for replacements now I have seen the difference.

I enjoyed seeing the practical demonstration of how papers reacted to water and it was a bit surprising to see the 300gsm buckle so much. It has made me more aware of being careful when selecting a paper for specific tasks with water colours or inks.

In future I think I will be able to ask my art supplier more specific questions and zero in on more appropriate materials when purchasing for a project because of this demonstration.

A bonus was the generous gift of some of the samples at the end, which I am very happy with!

Context and Culture – Visiting Artist Steve Cox

Born 1958 in Harringay, London, England Steve moved to Australia with his family in 1967. He studied art at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne and was awarded a travelling scholarship in the early 1980’s and spent approximately eighteen months overseas exploring different methods and varieties of art. He was particularly interested in the hillside sculptures in Dorset and the cultural imagery of maleness through history.

With the use of a video slide show we were introduced to Steve’s artworks based around the Moors Murders in England and criminality centring around child murderers. I found these very confronting and difficult to look at.

During the nineteen eighties a series of works were produced with the central theme of the Rave culture. Around the year 200 large format portraits were based on the gay nightclub scene. Many watercolours using some experimental techniques were produced to give the faces a new expression and life.

Steve seems very keen to strongly get his message through via his art. He is more recently producing artworks, mostly portraits, from photos. These have included reflections on the effects of ageing on the human body and themes he experimented with in the past but has decided to revisit such as witches through history, prejudice and what he called “impossible animals”.

My impression of Steve as an artist was of a man who wants to be as honest with himself and the viewers of his art as possible. He believes in the integrity of his subject and not being “precious” about how he portrays it. He is willing to push and pull at any medium or subject he believes in to create a unique artwork that reflects his view of the world or internal dialogue.

Steve’s artworks, style and methods in comparison to and possibly as an inspiration for my own journey as an emerging professional artist confirmed that I can appreciate the dedication he has and how hard he applies himself to achieving the output that he is happy with. I like his use of watercolours and the portraits he showed of faces were quite moving albeit sometimes very sad.

At this stage in my life and considering my own personal history I can not go to too many violent or negative themes without consequences for my own health. It is an area that at this stage in my life my art is not going to be reflective of. Social or political issues especially where hate, violence or bigotry are involved, whilst appreciating the technical aspects of the artworks do not “connect” with me. I want to take viewers of my art in another direction – on another journey rather than Steve’s. His view of the hillside sculptures led him on a completely different direction than I have taken after learning about them as have my personal studies of archeology, ancient and more recent history which shows how two or more people can look at exactly the same thing and come away with a totally different slant on it or direction to pursue.

My two main lessons from Steve’s presentation were:

1. Be honest with yourself and have integrity in your art.

2. Don’t be precious with your work. It’s OK to experiment and stretch yourself.

Pt Leo Camp 2012

Here are some photos produced from this year’s camp. Enjoy!

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