Australian Fine Artist

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.

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