Australian Fine Artist

Art History May 29th

Tutor: David Salter

Today we looked at what makes Australian Art and Design unique. What makes us different to Europe or the USA for example?

For the first part of the session we broke into groups of six to seven and were asked to discuss two questions.

  1. Describe the range of identifiable Australian themes in art and design
    We identified several things that we think make up or influence Australian art and design.
    Colour – we have unique colours in the Australian landscape especially
    Closer access to the country and rural areas
    Unique wildlife
    The influence of the Heidelberg School (Australian Impressionists)
    Being an island continent, a massive amount of beautiful beaches
    Iconic Australian brands – Mambo, Billabong, Rip Curl
    Great light all year round
    Iconic Australian landmarks
    Young cities (compared to Europe)
    Australian sense of humour
    A youth based culture
    The spending power of the younger generation since the mid 1970s
  2. How your own art may be shaped by Australian themes
    Colour – I love the colours of the bush
    Closer access to the country and rural areas – I have spent time in the bush and in rural areas and now live in a semi rural location
    Unique wildlife – I have grown to love Australian wildlife more as I have matured. Birds, marsupials – all sorts
    The influence of the Heidelberg School (Australian Impressionists) – I love their style of painting.
    Being an island continent, a massive amount of beautiful beaches. Over the last few years I have discovered the beauty of beaches in pastel!
    Great light all year round  – I don’t have to suffer months of poor light through winter!
    Mild weather means that I can always find something to draw or paint. Our coastline is especially great all year round.
    I consider a single tree a great landmark, which in some places they are.
    I have discovered the beauty of some of our older buildings and bridges lately in Melbourne.
    I am on acreage and have livestock so I love being out with them. I also love researching and doing artworks in our beautiful outdoors.
    Appreciation of ancestors migrating here. I want to succeed to make my ancestors proud. They made the right choice coming here and I am so glad they did.
    The “have a go” way of thinking – I try lots of different styles and methods. My mum used to tell be to give it a go because if you don’t you’ll never know. I think that is an Australian way of thinking from her generation.
    Camaraderie of other artists. We can gather together any time of year to support and encourage each other plus exchange ideas about where our art is heading as Australian artists.

I used to stay with my sister and her family in Healesville during the 1960s. I would disappear for hours into the countryside and hills. I loved the peace of the country, I loved exploring and finding wildlife and wandering through the back paddocks of farms and along creeks. I didn’t know at the time how much of a bank of knowledge and appreciation I was building up for later life.

I started off loving to draw horses, as I had been a mad “horsie” person from about the age of three, however, it developed over time with all this wandering into placing the animals I loved into the landscape that I was growing to love. The landscapes then became seascapes and glimpsed of urban imagery, the wildlife and the plants. Then the mediums were added to as I discovered oils, watercolours, acrylics, charcoal and mixed media. All with their own way of showing things I become interested in.

During the 1980s I went overseas several times. It was then that I really started to love Australia the most. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane in Melbourne and smell the air – that hint of gum trees that we often overlook in our busy lives. The light is different here, the colours are different. I missed gum trees, wattles & banksias, I missed the sounds of home, the animals and birds. Only when I went away did I understand how much I love being here. When I realised that, I understood that my art would always reflect one way or another my love of my home.

When I came back to “fine art” a few years ago full time, this lifetime of acquiring of imagery and experience at last became a useful library to call on. I have been adding to it ever since. I have been able to start refining what I want to say and what I want to show in my art. It always comes back to those early years of wandering around loving the countryside, loving the beaches, excited by the animals and wanting to show others the colour, the light and the wonder I see.

The big decision in the near future will be what I choose to market as part of my business and which bits I will keep just as art I do for myself. I haven’t quite worked that part out yet.

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