Australian Fine Artist

Archive for June, 2012

Mid Year Holiday Practice Artworks

This proves I am either dedicated or silly!

It definitely shows I like oils and pastels most out of all my mediums as I keep going back to them!

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Man Made Landscapes in Oils

Artist: Sue Jarvis

Venue: Berwick Artists Society

Sue has been an artist and teacher for over thirty years. Her CV includes some of her achievements from 2004 to 2011 in exhibitions around Australia. Being a local to the Dandenong area much of her works have been centred around the change in the greater city of Dandenong from what was nearly a rural town to a large suburb on the eastern side of Melbourne.

Sue’s most recent interest has been not so much the normal subjects of landscape as we might think of them, but the story of change and tearing down the old to make way for the new. Much of the subject matter is what has happened to the old.

Many of us would not find too much to be excited about if looking through the local tip or a building site, but the play of light and patterns of building materials and left over industrial waste are something that Sue finds interesting enough to paint.

For this demonstration Sue had already drawn in the layout and blocked in with her own mix of sepia colour to start getting the tones right. The canvas was a whopping approximate 4 foot by three foot and divided into nine segments taken from 9 photos that she had selected to complement each other. With a very limited palette she goes over the whole work in one colour and then another. This way there is a continuity and balance of tone and colour.

She uses a neutral to balance out complementary colours and nothing is too dark or too light. Her colours are mixed and not straight from the tube and the reds and yellows in particular are always of a very high quality.

Most of the demo was about using complementary colours and balancing a painting. Analysing what you are painting and why was also discussed. Look at your subject and really decide why it is that it attracts your attention and then mentally pull it apart to see whether is will make a good painting and if it needs you to make some decisions about simplifying or changing colour or lighting to make it work.

Sue works with large and cheap brushes to begin with and as the painting progresses changes over to smaller and better quality, finishing off with some very good small brushes for finer details. The under-painting needs to be worked into the canvas so why wreck a good brush. She also works from photos and manipulates pictures on the computer with filters for some interesting effects. She uses a program called Nero, but Photoshop can also be used and has more filters.

The painting was not finished during the demo as it was a large and involved piece. We did get to see many of the processes in various parts of it and got some valuable tips. Even if the subject matter is not “your cup of tea” there is always at least one thing you can take away from every demonstration you attend, even if it’s a style you haven’t seen or subjects you hadn’t thought of but still are not interested in, at least you have had a look to help you decide. On the other hand you may make a great discovery that leads your art in a new and exciting direction, you never know until you attend.

Half Yearly Results

Oh Boy am I Stoked or What!!!!


I know that a LOT of hard work and regular homework hours went in so far this year, but I am also thankful for the encouragement and guidance from my tutors! PLUS the networking and suggestions from fellow students.

This is just amazing! It really has cheered me up from a couple of really shitty days and a nasty head cold which by the way was good enough to wait until holidays before arriving!

I am so looking forward to getting back to work in the next semester!

Published by Pastel Society Newsletter

I am pleased to say that another one of my editorials has been published in the bi-monthly newsletter for the Pastel Society of Victoria Australia.

I joined the society about two years ago and last year began writing about the demonstrations held each month at all the guilds I attend for my web site. The Pastel Society and the Peninsula Art Society have published me during 2011 and even though I have not been able to attend as many demonstrations at the Pastel Society or Peninsula this year due to study commitments, they still happily accept my write-ups for any demonstrations I can get to.

The artist I wrote about this month emailed me to thank me for the story about her, which was terrific feedback.

I’m not too sure what all the writing will lead to if anything, but it has fostered some new friendships and networking with some very established and talented artists. Well worth the effort and good experience that could go on to anything in the future.

Inform Artistic and Design Practice

Just so it can be seen, I have created a PDF of my Keynote document for Assessment. It doesn’t have the lovely Gadfly Romance music that I have in the Keynote file but oh well, you can’t always have everything!

David was having trouble with the file so best to be safe rather than sorry!

Research and Critical Analysis

Individual Style & Method in Art

Art History June 12th

Tutor: David Salter

In order to facilitate preparation for next week’s assessments and to help us with our presentation we were asked today to look at the following items and discuss them in small groups:

  1. How well do you know yourself and articulate what you’re trying to say through your art?
    Most of the group I was in voiced the opinion that they were still in the process of learning how to use the materials and different methods. They thought that they had little to say yet apart from slowly developing certain tastes and preferences for some subjects and mediums over others. They felt that they were not trying to address any social issues or make any political points. Creating art that they considered to be good to look at, either fun or aesthetically pleasing was mostly their priority.
    I am a little further advanced in my career so have some better ideas about where I want to direct my work. Even though I have been market driven (client asks for a particular painting etc like a still life or a pet portrait) I do have a say in what medium I use and how I do them to a degree.
    My choice when not doing a commission is “Australia”, my home. I can and have taken photos on our property and in our street, showing the great wildlife we have here. Depending on the season, I like to respond to the weather and the call of the countryside and the sea to represent them to the rest of the country and to the world in whatever style comes to mind for that image.
    In a nutshell, I guess what I want to say is:
    “I love my country, its fauna and flora, it’s light and its, sometimes – fierceness, and I want to share my view of it through my art.”
  1. Is the content in your work about conveying a particular message or is it more to do with the process of interacting with certain mediums and processes. If so, what has been revealed through that process?
    “What have I come to know?”
    “Could it be related to changes and developments in my emerging career?” IE: A study of responding to various briefs.
    Mostly the others in the group said the only message they had was that they loved art and the process of doing it.
    My message if there is one is probably what I have spoken about above. The love of my country and its animals and weather, plants, landscape, seas and oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains and even some of its cityscapes. More often than not the scene tells me it wants me to paint it. I nearly get stopped in my tracks and yelled at – “Paint me!!! … and by the way, I want to be a pastel (or oil painting or whatever) – and while you’re at it do it in this style!”  Sometimes I can’t sleep until I make a start on a work and have had to get up in the middle of the night to work on it. This can arise from a quick glance from a car window or a single scene on the TV, whatever. Sometimes they just appear in my head complete, and I just have to paint it. I can’t rest until it is done.
    The medium is the vehicle, although I am zeroing in on oils and pastels as my main ones with others as secondary considerations (but ones which I want to keep skills up in). This is mostly because I like using them and I get the effects I want with them. I am also improving in both mediums and becoming more efficient with my time planning and completing works completed using them.
    My pastels are  a little more realistic in style but my oils are becoming more “loose” and I am enjoying taking on more impressionistic styles with my own twist. Some have been compared to Turner, some to the French Impressionists, some a little more like the Heidelberg School. People have seen different influences in various paintings I have done, which in many cases was not planned, I just painted the subject in a manner I thought suited it. Perhaps as I keep on my journey into my career, I will be able to consolidate my styles into something a little less eclectic. I know I am very happy with the improvement in planning and applying paint for my oil paintings in the past few months as well as the resulting artworks. I am fiddling less which is great.

We then went on to watch a video about an Australian based artist named John Wolseley.

According to the University of Melbourne Web Site:

John Wolseley was awarded a Doctor of Science (Honorus Causa) from Macquarie University in Sydney in 2005.

Influence and experience 
Born in 1938 in England and settled in Australia in 1976, he has travelled and painted all over the continent – from the deserts of central Australia to the forests of Tasmania and the tidal reaches of the far north west.

I have to say the Doctorate came as a surprised after watching the video. John rambled a lot and it was hard to keep track of what he was on about. I noticed that several people were finding it hard to take him seriously, especially when he was crawling around on all fours describing the landscape in the national park in Northern Victoria.

Many water colourists would have had a heart attack watching the way he laid paper on the ground and ran the paint all over it. Many have a high respect for the expensive papers they use and tend to set up with keeping their materials in good order in mind.

John’s love of the landscape was no joke however. I may sit on a chair or a grassy bank and use easels etc to draw and paint in our beautiful landscape but admit that I also get up close to learn how things are put together or admire subtle beauty in a plant or object.

I related to taking the time to understand textures and the flow and rhythm of our natural world in contrast to man-made structures and influences in the landscape. Taking on the styles and methods of Chinese art for application to the Australian landscape was interesting, as taking out traditional perspective and composition of western art does give a new slant on the “traditional” Australian bush scene.

How does one plant relate to another, how does the texture and the light of the soil and the bark, the shadows and the scarring on the landscape get applied to your painting in your own unique manner?

So briefly, we were asked, what was John on about?

  • Connecting physically, emotionally and mentally with the land
  • The natural flow and rhythm of the natural environment
  • The textures of the organic
  • Hard and soft surfaces (contrasts) in the natural environment

I am approaching my art in a different way to John Wolseley, but honestly the guy is making around $20,000 a painting and obviously loving what he is doing. I think he must be connecting with people on some level and it can only help to listen to what he has to say and think about it whether you like his style of painting or not.

Glen Morgan

Visiting Artist 
June 6th, 2012

Today we were visited by Victorian artist Glen Morgan. Glen taught at Warrnambool TAFE until recently and is now devoting his time full time to his art.

The ABC in 2008 described his work as: …”busy, bright, socially aware, and often includes handles and levers you can move for added excitement.”  That is the impression I got whilst looking at the presentation today.

The ABC went on to say: … “Glenn Morgan’s studio is surprisingly clean – set in the attic of his house, it’s an interesting space with a pair of small windows looking out to Warrnambool’s Lady Bay, not that you’ll ever see that scene depicted in any of Glenn’s works. Instead, he prefers to concentrate on other aspects of daily life including sex, love, social commentary, and footy.

The title of the artist talk today was “Social Commentator” so that fits right in with the description by the ABC. Glen’s topics vary widely from very light and funny to socially aware to very personal and sobering. His dioramas were an interesting twist on the norm, with moving parts and handles to encourage viewers to not only look at his art but be involved with it by being able to turn and move things in the pieces.

Sometimes fine art especially (in my opinion) can be a bit full of itself, as many of us have probably experienced. You can get the impression that unless you are a bit highbrow, you are not really part of the “accepted” art society. Very down to earth art like Glen’s may not be the type of art you want to do yourself, but putting that aside, it brings art “to the people”. It makes art approachable and widens its scope. As in life we don’t want to be serious all the time, so our art can be a little lighter and more fun sometimes too.

Glen impressed me with his work ethic. His art is his business and to succeed he said, you need to work hard. Effort PLUS the talent, as there are lots of gifted “bums” on the street.

Glen has developed a style of artworks that he enjoys doing and he has been able to exhibit and make the business connections to start getting his work noticed and collected. He uses found materials for sculptures, does combinations and mixed media pieces, very large paintings in acrylics sometimes covering several panels and has also exhibited drawings.

Glen was also very approachable and friendly for any questions after his chat. Something we all need to keep in mind for the future. I personally don’t know where my future career is exactly heading or whether my future output of artworks will succeed or fail, but I do know that the lasting impressions you leave with the people you meet whilst out and about talking about your art and theirs is very important.

Another interesting and informative session.

Research and Analysis of Your Artistic Style

Art History June 5th

Tutor: David Salter

Today we looked at what makes our Art and Design unique. What makes us different to anyone else?

David asked us to consider two items.

1. As today was the second last of the semester, we should look at our content with regard to our work, with particular attention to such distinctions as:

  • Aesthetics
  • Philosophical content
  • Sociological issues
  • Personal preoccupations/issues

In small groups we were asked to discuss how we feel about our work, and how we would describe it. As we are going to have six minutes to show what we have achieved for the first half of the year and have the opportunity to say something about why and how we do what we do, we need to have an idea as to what we will say.

We had a few different ages in our group and it was interesting that the foremost thing on everyone’s mind was aesthetics, followed by personal preoccupations and preferences. If social issues were addressed they as a bi-product of main concerns. Being happy in what we were doing came across as important.

For me personally – as this is my blog ;-), I think that as I am trying to build a successful business there is more to it but I still want to produce art that I consider to be aesthetically pleasing, it then has to be marketable. I am not interested in raising any social issues in particular. If any do come across in my work it hopefully is in a positive manner by for example showing the fantastic ocean beaches or wildlife we have in this country. By default it means that they are important and cared about.

I made a list of the thoughts that came to mind when we were discussing why we produce art and how we approach it.

  • Research
  • Plan
  • Design
  • Spontaneous ideas
  • Complete pictures in my head demanding to be painted
  • Is it good enough to sell?
  • Is it a marketable subject?
  • Where should I market it?
  • Put a price on it (materials, research, time to complete, size, type, commissions, tax, where it’s being displayed/sold, margin)

Apart from, but not totally disassociated, is what I do just for me. The fun art and the practice and learning. This is all just aesthetics and relaxing and learning to get into that zone for creativity and other side of the brain thinking. I find it healthy for me personally but also productive for me as an emerging artist.

2. Whilst still on an Australian theme from last week, we were asked to look at a video about three Australian photographers.

  • Max Dupain
  • David Moore
  • Wolfgang Sievers

These three men came from very different backgrounds but all ended up showing their own views of the works and of Australia from about the 1940s through to the 1980s.

Dupain: Formal set up, Simple images, Proudly Australian, Heroic images

Moore: Honesty, Revealed the truth, Told a story

Sievers: Influence of the Bauhaus, Strong sense of design, interest in the “perfect” image

Even when working on the same project, these photographers brought their own vision. One looked at the architectural and the other the human side of a scene as the major focal point. I particularly identified with Max Dupain, who stayed in Australia loving the curl of the ocean waves and the brilliant light and unique landscape we have. For similar reasons I have produced pastel paintings along the Victorian coastline. The colour of the sea and the power of the waves was something that I really enjoy depicting and seeing viewers of my work appreciate.

Another point of interest was the photography using the daily lives of the poorer people living in Sydney during the period after the second world war. The change of direction of the lens away from the glamorous to the simple and daily life reminded me of Vermeer who did similarly with his beautiful paintings of women doing their domestic tasks of the time. Not ugly at all, but in their own way, noble and beautiful.

The video helped remind me that the subject does not have to be “high and mighty”, sometimes the simplest subject can be the most charming and moving. You don’t have to travel far from home to find great subject matter. You can be different to “the other guy” doing the same subject if you use you own style and your own view as an artist. (I have seen this in life drawing class as we all work from the same model and also at paint outs and workshops where ten people can all be painting the same subject – and all produce a unique piece of art)

Floral Painting in Water Colour

Venue: McClelland Guild of Artists

Demonstrating Artist: Julie Goldspink

Julie is an experienced artist with a long history of exhibiting and working in the arts. I didn’t have any first hand knowledge of her before the demonstration so everything was new for me. It was handy that she brought a book of prints showing us previous paintings that she had completed. Most of which were florals showing her love of roses in particular.

I picked up a couple of very handy tips from this demonstration which I would like to skip to rather than describing the usual techniques of building up a water colour painting.

The first was the surface which Julie was painting on. Rather that the usual water colour paper which we expect, we were shown a water colour canvas. this type of canvas is made especially to except water colours. The gesso for preparing the surface is for water colours and helps with a water based paint. These can be purchased pre made or you can get the materials separately and make the canvasses to your own specifications. Either way at least three coats of the gesso are recommended to prepare the surface properly. This way you can pull off the paint to early white again if you wish and also scratch into the surface for some interesting effects. If you buy the ready made canvasses, like the ones for oils, you really should add another couple of coats of gesso before you use them as they are rarely coated well enough.

We were introduced to Daniel Smith Water Colours. I have heard of Daniel Smith for other paints and have heard that they are very good – but a bit dearer (some tubes are over $26 each depending on where you get them) so you need to be aware when costing a painting project. The colours as Julie painted were quite vivid and luscious though, so I would be tempted to give some of them a try.

Julie showed us her brushes which were very good quality. She had a Needpoint brush which looked a bit like a rigger and produced some lovely fine lines. The Arches brushes held the paint beautifully and bounced back to a great point after each stroke.

Although we can not always afford to buy a lot of expensive brushes, Julie showed us that having a few very good ones for the right job can make your task so much easier.

Julie also had a little spray bottle with clean water in it to wet down any areas she wanted to go back into and the water colour canvas was very forgiving with no cauliflowers in sight and blends working very nicely. She told us that she seals her paintings with spray varnish when they are dry. This takes away the need for framing similar to oil paintings.

I hadn’t thought of working on any other surface than paper for water colours before, but after seeing this demo, I must admit that if I get the opportunity to give it a try on the water colour canvas in the future I will.

My thanks to Julie for an informative demonstration.