Australian Fine Artist

Archive for August, 2012

Frida Kahlo

As part of our class discussing the directions for our arts practices we viewed a video about Frida Kahlo.

I had seen some of her work and knew a little bit about her. That was as far as it went as her style is not my preference (again) so I have tended to look at the work of a lot of other artists rather than hers.

During the video we were told about Frida’s family background and growing up in Mexico. Her family history and cultural influences it seems had a lot to do with not only life choices but also her art.

As a young woman Frida was involved in an horrific accident which had impact on the rest of her life. It left her unable to have children so during her life she lost or had to terminate three pregnancies that we know of.

Frida had a close relationship with her father, so I am not sure how much that had to do with her choice of husband. Along with his standing as one of the foremost artists in Mexico he was a much older man who introduced her to art in new ways and the relationship allowed her to pursue her art in any way she desired. The down side was that the marriage was rocky, with affairs and conflict on both sides. They divorced at one stage only to remarry in about a year. I am not sure whether it was so much for love as the need for a home and steady income on her part and how that came into the mix, although the two from the outside at least seem to have been devoted at least as friends and companions.

As far as her art is concerned, Frida painted over 70 self portraits. Along the way she painted portraits of other people and some other subjects but it is her self portraits that many people remember the best. I think that being married to a successful artist who was probably bringing in all the money to support them was the reason she was able to and had the time to explore painting in this manner. She became popular and gained interest overseas only later in her career.

Accepted into the Surrealists movement as one of their own, Frida, by exploring symbolism in her paintings had attracted their attention even though to her she was painting her reality rather than imaginings. Her journals are full of thoughts and feelings which are just as raw and sometimes confronting as her paintings.

Even when back in hospital and with failing health she continued to paint. Even if you don’t like her style or choice of subject matter, you can’t help admiring a woman whose love of her art and dedication to it was so strong.

Her symbiotic relationship with her husband I think was what enabled her to devote her life to her art. She had no children so her art, her pets and her garden took their place, as well as doting over her spouse and her nieces and nephews. Each received what they needed from the relationship and were able to peruse their seeming first love, which was their art.

Reactions to the Video by the Class

Gut Reaction to the story

  1. She portrayed a woman in self destructive mode
  2. Her art was confronting
  3. Her art was graphic
  4. Raw
  5. Gut Wrenching
  6. Stark
  7. Private
  8. Unhindered
  9. Honest
  10. Vulnerable
  11. Not Subtle
  12. A cathartic (providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions) experience

Analytical Reaction to the Story

  1. A story of traditional vs modern values
  2. Her husband was the commercial part of the marriage bringing in the majority of revenue
  3. She only became successful later in her career

What is the Value to the Broader Society of Her Work?

  1. She is inspirational as her story allows us to talk a bout and explore a wider range of subjects
  2. She identified the difference between traditional and modern values
  3. She showed that female artists can be significant in subject matter and not paint a “pretty picture”

Planning Your Arts Practice Direction

In this class we had a brief discussion about how we break down the direction we may wish to take our arts practice. What are we thinking may be the force behind what we do to build up our business? Many I think just go ahead blindly thinking “If I paint it they will come – and buy it” Which really is wishful thinking, especially in a very tight marketplace and a very slow economy for art and discretionary spending which we have had for the last couple of years.

What can I do to make my art marketable? How commercial do I really want to go? Do I want to paint just for myself and hope that it creates its own market and demand or do I need to analyse the arts market, who is doing what, what is selling, at what price range? Do I want to sell locally or try for a national or international market? Do I want to paint “fine art” or more commercial “wall art” which can be a different part of the market as far as galleries and sales outlets are concerned.

A lot of these questions have been floating around in my head for the last couple of years as I have been attempting to build up my own arts business. This is especially so as I have seen that I could possibly produce art that is of fairly good quality in a few different parts of the arts market. Eclectic could describe my art, but is that a good thing? Or does it just confuse your potential clients? I know that some artists have art they do for themselves and the other stuff they do for their business. This does come with the risk of being “typecast” as the seascape person, or the horse painter, or dog portrait painter, which I have been called lately. Thinking about that though, these have brought in my best income over the past few years so is that a bad thing?

David wrote down a couple of points about how we can decide on a direction.

  1. Identify a gap in the market or a need in the market place which you would like to step into. This is outward looking.
  2. Respond to a current interest or skill that you have in the visual arts to develop for your business. This is inward looking.

I read these and was hoping that I could combine the two. This could be a bit ambitious or even unrealistic I am not sure, but why can’t your main interest fill a gap in the market? Then I thought as I am coming into contact with more and more artists all the time, I am finding that wow, there are seemingly so few gaps in the market.
For example for me:
Painting horses: There are quite a few very talented horse painters in the Melbourne area alone. One is client of our other division of the business as we handle her website.
Dog and pet portraits: I have done fairly well because I have been selling to locals, a business needs to do more than just sell to the neighbours. There are also quite a few very good pet portrait artists around Melbourne.
Seascapes: I have lost count of the extremely good seascape artists on the Peninsula alone. At the moment even they are having a slump in sales.

Because of all these reasons and my research into what is going on in the arts market place around Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula I have made certain decisions about what I wish to achieve in the coming three to five years.

  1. There seems to be places for arts training. This may not be full time but that may suit me better. As I have my Cert IV I decided last year to peruse gaining my Diploma of Visual Arts and possibly going on to gain an advanced diploma. This will give me the arts skills to back up the training skills to give workshops, demonstrations, short courses and private tuition. I can approach art guilds and societies who have already expressed interest in my ideas with business plans that will bring in revenue. I have also thought of approaching the local schools and offering workshops through local galleries.
  2. I wish to keep up the production of artworks. I want to exhibit in the well known and better run exhibitions around Victoria. I would also like to start having some solo exhibitions. When the studio building is completed I will also be able to hold regular in-house exhibitions as well as going the arts trail for open studio events. If the revenue stream can support it I will try for solos in such places as Victorian Artists Society Gallery, AGRA Gallery or Oakhill Gallery. As far as the content of my work, I am still at a loss really as I love doing so much. I think I will have to go with my sales figures and the feedback from previous clients and go with the seascapes, Australian wildlife and local landscapes mostly in pastel. The prices seem to be more attractive as they seem to sell better (mostly in the Mount Eliza area), my costs are lower to produce and I can get them done and out faster. I may have to do other things for in-house exhibitions or just for my own enjoyment for the moment.
  3. I am still a graphic designer with over thirty years industry experience. My part in our business division CommArt is to design websites and any other materials that a client may require. This is down in conjunction with my partner who builds the web sites and maintains them for clients. He also handles all the accounts. We have discussed the idea of helping artists to gain a professional foothold on the web through their own websites. My own site has been built as a showcase for this. We are also now handling the new site which I designed for the Berwick Artists Society so moving on to offer this service to other groups is an option as it has been my experience that a lot fall out of date, are poorly put together or are poorly designed reflecting badly on their group. My position as a fine artist and a graphic designer can give a better view of how we can help an arts group put together a site or even their total advertising and display materials.

OHS For Arts Practices

I have called upon my previous assessment tasks for a little support on this so I hope I’ll be forgiven in advance.

OH&S is a subject that I really do take very seriously. As an employee over the years I have seen some nasty injuries in art departments, dark rooms and print rooms from either poor OH&S policy by the company or by employees not following them properly (sometimes by just rushing to get a job done and the inevitable happening).

I was lucky enough at one contract at Allardice Graphic Arts to be involved in a full day of fire training with the CFA (I have a certificate somewhere but can’t locate it right now – I’ll look) Anyway, the training in the use of fire extinguishers was very useful as well as going outside to put out a real fire. We all received a pass and I was very happy to have this training.

Since then I have done two courses which had OH&S elements but the most important was in my management course last year. I spent two weeks researching and writing the assessment task and building an OH&S policy and training guide for our business. It has proved to be very helpful as well in giving our business a professional edge in this area.

I have applied an OH&S segment to the 9 week course I wrote for drawing last year for Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and also for the 2 hour workshop I delivered in Casey during my holidays this year. This is also included in here just in case people don’t have enough reading to do!

First however, I’ll start with my notes from today’s session.

There are three main distinctions or issues regarding OH&S for arts practices.

  1. Chemical
  2. Physical
  3. Psychological

1. Chemical: The ways we discussed to reduce risk were:

We identified the following items:

  • The use of and storage of solvents. (ventilation and secure storage)
  • The use of spray fixatives and adhesives (ventilation and secure storage)
  • The use of paints (keeping away from mouth and eyes, including water based paints as the problem lies in the pigments and binders)

We discussed the need to read labels on materials for hazards.

We talked about ging to websites for poisons and hazardous materials information such as MSDS (materials data sheets) and UN Numbers (guides made by the United Nations on the use of and medical aid required for hazardous materials.

There are three ways of absorbing chemicals.

  1. Inhaling
  2. Absorbing
  3. Digestion

The ways we discussed to reduce risk were:

  • Elimination or removal of the risk when extremely hazardous
  • Substitution for another material
  • Enclosing or storing in a safe place
  • Adopting safe handling procedures
  • Use of adequate ventilation (with fumes being pulled away from your workspace not directly over your head)
  • Limiting of exposure
  • Use of protective clothing and safety gear (I have just purchased a pile of gloves for my studio for this to add to other gear)

2. Physical: The ways we discussed to reduce risk were:

  • Making sure we do not produce “missiles” or flinging objects across a shared studio
  • Wearing proper shoes (at least closed toes even better, safety shoes)
  • Servicing power tools regularly
  • Tying back long hair
  • Keeping hands away from machinery when working
  • Care when setting up easels (the parts to hold up the art sometimes drop suddenly and can crush fingers)
  • Taking care not to wear loose clothing or scarves
  • Safe seating that is ergonomic
  • Taking time to stretch and take a break from your workstation
  • Correct lighting to help prevent eye strain
  • Ear protection if working in a noisy area
  • Keeping a record of how much you are exposed to radiation from monitors and other electronic equipment
  • A safe working temperature for the workspace (23° C is recommended by many)
  • Knowing where fire extinguishers are and having training in safe use on case of fire. Nathan gave a quick go through on the three types. The labels tell you which to use where. Red is compressed water – not all that useful, Black is carbon dioxide which is great for computers and electrical equipment, white is dry powder good for most but I wouldn’t recommend taking it near your computer unless you don’t want the mother board. It will melt all over it. Another idea is what we have as well as extinguishers which is a fire blanket.

3. Psychological: The ways we discussed to reduce risk were:

  • Reduction of stress (the need to be perfect or attempt to do too much)
  • Setting up schedules and timelines (plan your day etc)
  • Get clear guidelines so you know what is expected of you
  • Stay clear of office politics and poor public relations
  • Learn how to pull apart comments that can be thought of as rejection or criticism. (Don’t take it personally, try to find a positive in it somewhere, walk away if needed)
  • Work on your confidence by getting out and mixing with others and practising your craft
  • Isolation has been a big part of many artists lives for many years. We have guilds, societies, galleries, study groups, workshops, trainers, schools and many other ways to ensure we can mix with like minded people and not feel that loneliness of working in a studio for up to months or years without contact.
  • Many of us get so involved with our projects that we don’t get enough sleep. Know when to knock off and have a rest. If your work is keeping you up have a note pad beside the bed or in the house somewhere to jot down your ideas and then go back to sleep. I do this and it can help.
  • Lack of a formal career structure can be a source of anxiety for artists. We create nearly everything from nothing. Being organised and having a business plan can help, as well as learning what you want to achieve with your arts practice and setting up some small steps in that direction.
  • Finances are an eternal problem for artists. Go back and read Van Gogh’s letter to his brother, and letters other artists wrote to benefactors pleading for money to help them not only paint, but survive. If you don’t marry into money or inherit it, you have to plan a practice that may have several revenue streams or make it a part time thing and bring in your “living” money from another job. We can’t all expect to make ourselves rich as artists so need to plan a business that will hopefully bring in enough to give us an acceptable lifestyle.

Assessment Task Requirements

In the art-based profession that you intend to pursue, undertake a risk analysis of any Chemical, Physical and Psychological hazards that you might face within that profession. Identify strategies for overcoming or minimising these hazards. You should demonstrate an understanding of workplace safety requirements including emergency procedures.
Presentation: Can be presented in a chart form that can be attached to your studio wall, or a written report approximately 400 – 600 words.

Assessment Task

As we have no locking cupboards in the studio part of making our studio area safer is to restrict access to this area by anyone other than the directors with doors from the foyer. We have noticed that too many people can just walk into this area, including niece’s children.

Apart from an existing bell on the front door to the building, we are putting lockable doors on the access points to the rest of the building. Access will be for employees only so clients for the computer repairs and consulting business will also not be able to walk into the repair workshop.

We already have the doors, locks and all necessary materials to achieve this and only need the time from the senior director as this is a two person job. We are looking at being after the floor for the foyer has been painted as the next operational project.

We have priced an exhaust fan for my painting area and it may be achieved during summer as the outside of the building is very soggy due to it being a paddock area and a lot of rain this year so we can’t safely access it yet.

After talking about taking care of hands today I purchased a couple of varieties of protective gloves for the studio for handling solvents and also for working with pastels and certain paints. I had put this off and decided now was a good time to get on with it.

Long Term Plans

We have had many meetings regarding the direction of our business considering the objectives and requirements of each division.

As funds become available we intend on extending our office space to double what it currently is (14 squares to approximately 28). The extension at the rear of the present building which we own, will hold a new studio room specifically for fine art production and one for photography. This will totally separate it from the graphics, computer repairs and admin areas.

As we will be building the studio area from scratch I will be able to plan ventilation, lighting, storage and work areas to suit OH&S requirements as well as making them ergonomically sound. My graphics area will then be able to spread out in the room it now occupies. This addition will also allow for more storage for materials and artworks. We have discussed the idea that if long term archiving becomes a problem we may invest in a cargo container placed directly behind the building and renovating it for archival purposes as we have seen this done elsewhere successfully.

Additional Material

Presentation – Our Workplace Safety strategy

Premises layout

OHS Training Schedule

OHS – Ensure a Safe Workplace

Introduction to Drawing Workshop

Working Through Loss

Yesterday (Friday 24th August) I was reminded yet again how short a life is and how important it is to get on with it and pack as much living into a lifetime as we can.

My oldest friend, a lady who took over as a mother figure in my life after my own mum died in 1984, and whom I had know since my teens, was laid to rest in the Yea Cemetery. Joan was a woman of boundless love for people and huge faith. She went excitedly to meet her maker as if she was going to a meeting with a pen pal she had been writing to all her life, grown to love, have faith in and trust and yet never met.

For the rest of us, we are left with that awful empty feeling when a significant person leaves us forever. For me it is nearly like losing my mum all over again as Joan was so supportive of my getting back to my fine art and also in returning to study – just as my mum had been when I first started out in my teens.

I regularly sent Joan letters with colour laser prints of my newest works (she wasn’t a technical person even though she had a medical and science background and was highly educated). I also did a commission for her last year and we worked very closely in collaboration on the photo shoot and the whole project. It was an artwork of faith and symbolism showing the Bible, bread, wine and candles representing the light of faith – all to show her faith and who she was as a memento for her family and friends.

So many people at the funeral said to me, “oh, you are the artist who did her painting, she loved your painting. We love it too” Lovely to hear but also very painful.

Now it is a day later. I have been in the studio trying to get a few projects done for homework and assessment tasks underway especially for print class which I missed yesterday. In my head I can head Joan saying “Oh Really Janice!, I’m fine will you please just be happy and get on with it!” But I am really really sad and its hard to be on the ball and a creative whiz when you want to curl up in a ball and cry.

OK Joan, I will slowly pick up the pieces and try not to disappoint you and myself by failing to do my very best and succeed in this life that I have been allocated. But its not going to be the same without you, and that is just a fact. This week I will celebrate my birthday without that yearly phone call from you. I will go to school and I will do my best. I will have lunch with my brothers, dinner with my loving husband and show up for volunteering at McClelland Gallery because I know that’s what you’d expect of me, and I expect of myself.

I will do my best to make this life of mine mean something and try to achieve the best I can because I know that people who have had faith in me to do so would be disappointed if I didn’t. I am not going to give up, I will not fail if I have any say in it because there were strong women who had faith in me and taught me to have faith in myself too, you, my mum and my sister and I miss you all.

John Orlando Birt

Subject: Demo of Landscape in Water Colours

Venue: Berwick Artists Society

John is best known for his water colour paintings but is also a very good oil painter and pastellist. He actually spent a lot of his early working life designing cars for Ford and other companies not only in Australia but also overseas, including Italy where it is possible that he was more interested in changing his career to fine art than what he had been doing up until then. With all that beautiful scenery who could blame him.

For this demonstration we were treated to watching him paint form a photo he took on one of his yearly trips to Italy. John does prefer to paint on site but as we all know, you can’t do that all the time and photos have made artists’ lives so much easier! There is also the fact that really, we don’t have to copy every detail from a photo, as we are artists, we can put it aside and finish off any scene as we like.

For this painting John was using 300gsm Archers paper, not stretched or wet prior. The paper was held by the corners and as the paper moved John merely adjusted the tape to suit. the brushed were squirrel hair and the paints were Daniel Smith, which John says has lovely vivid colours and he is now using a lot.

All his colours are mixed on the palette before John begins work which means he is very efficient in getting the paint on to to paper. There was minimal mixing later on in the process.

Working from the sky at the top, John applied his blues, preferring to use cobalt instead of ultramarine and adding some warmth as he approached the horizon behind the buildings.

The roofs were done next in a very warm orange and he then moved on to blocking in the bushes at the base of the buildings. Everything was blocked in with mid tones except the water for the canal at the bottom. Keeping the paint nice and loose at this stage and leaving some white paper meant that the painting was kept fresh and loose.

The darks and details were left until after the break when the paint had dried by itself as John doesn’t like to use anything to hurry up this process. He went from top to bottom again, creating shadows and windows for the buildings and adding depth to the bushes. He then painted in more detail on the little row boat in the canal. He also painted in the reflections in the water. By painting in these and going over with the water later he said that the reflections will pick up on the colour of the water and look more natural and correct.

The very last thing he did was to lightly paint in the water which he said must be kept lighter than the sky colours but using similar blues etc.

We received some great tips whilst John was painting so I have left some time to list them in this editorial.

  1. Light is very important in every artwork. Your use of light and shadow will take a good painting to the next level
  2. Drying water colours with a dryer or painting in hot conditions where the paint dries very quickly can leave the painting looking “chalky”
  3. Do not underestimate the value of sketching on site. they can be the basis of some great works down later in the studio
  4. When you get to the point in your painting when you ask yourself “what do I do next?” put it away or go for a walk, do not do anything as overworking a painting a a major problem for many artists and can kill what may have been a great piece if you had left it alone.
  5. Cobalt blue and burnt sienna make a great green for Australia
  6. As much as water colours can be more trying than oils – enjoy your painting, it’s not meant to be a nerve racking experience.

Lisa Roet

Visiting Artist at TAFE Wednesday 21st August

Topic: Sculpture focussing on Bringing Attention to Protection of Primates Worldwide

Lisa Roet was at one stage an art teacher at TAFE and has a huge list of credits to her name including overseas residencies, awards and grants. One of her large pieces is on display at the McClelland Sculpture Park, having won an award there in recent years.

Lisa loves primates, of all sorts. It is a lifelong passion which she has based her art practise on. She is a good example of following your passion to create a lifelong and enjoyable career from.

From an early age with a love of drawing, which she said is great as you can draw just about anywhere, Lisa developed her skill as she believes that drawing is the basis of most if not all art.

She has worked collaboratively with other artists, governments, galleries, clients, animal and wildlife sanctuaries and scientists to learn more about the subjects of her work. Her growing understanding of not only the anatomy but the behaviour of many different types of apes, monkeys etc has made her works seem more alive and given her the ability to give justice to each and every animal she portrays.

Lisa keeps the stories of every animal she works with, often keeping track of them their entire lives. Her works vary from her very large sculptures showing sometimes only a finger, an arm or the bust of an animal to silk screen prints and very large drawings.

She is now collaborating with others to branch out yet again and incorporate sound and light into her exhibitions. She is also bringing the newly discovered species of primates that are being  brought into the view of humans because of invasion into their habitat into her works. Her records of these newly found animals sometimes are the first representations that many people see.

Lisa is looking at working with an actor in China to put together an interactive performance and sculpture event based around one of her large pieces. Some of her new ideas are also creating more abstract sculptures based on the lines and marks on the hands and bodies of primates, with possibly lights and sound incorporated.

Lisa took questions after her talk and was very approachable and friendly. She mentioned that a lot of time is devoted in her practice to applying for grants, gaining new funding for projects and basic paperwork. Something that I think many would like to think they would like to avoid in preference to just doing the art, but in reality from everyone I have spoken to who is currently working seriously at their business, is just a fact of life. It was interesting and enjoyable to learn about how an established artist is working on getting this balance of producing the art and running the business right.

Psychological Space

Over the space of a couple of weeks we were asked to go out and do some photography in preparation for some images to be created in Photoshop. The filters and tools in this program allow for some amazing merging and changing of not only colours, but combining images together, distorting, and heaps of other things – the list too long to go into.

I have used Photoshop since version 1 and there are multiple ways of doing nearly any task in it. It is changed and added to with every version so keeping up with what it can do is a job in itself. Given this, I have had the opportunity to keep fairly up to date with version 5 on my personal Mac in the office and even with a cheap camera was able to come up with some mages that I am fairly happy with.

I am putting them in here for all to see what can be achieved in less than three hours in front of your Mac with Photoshop. Enjoy the view!

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Peter Biram

Visiting Artist at TAFE Wednesday 15th August

Topic: Landscapes via “Environmental Expressionism”

Peter Biram visited us earlier in the year and we had the opportunity to do an all day drawing workshop with him. Today he was back to give a presentation to all the visual arts and illustration students about his art, his history and his goals.

Peter began by asking us “What is the definition an artist?” Some would say it is difficult to define especially when you add the word “professional” to the front of it. Is it when you start selling your work, when you become qualified or when you decide to start taking your career as an artist seriously? (by the way at this point I recall the strict term for professional as being someone who has qualifications that are recognised such as a degree, doctorate, masters etc. which is where I tend to fall when I think of a professional – which is also why I am a bit shy about calling myself one until I gain my qualifications even though I am exhibiting, selling, training and running a small arts based business). Anyway, I digress. For Peter his moment came when he really started taking his art career seriously and gave it his full time attention. His early career was in photography and as a cameraman for television rather than painting.

Many of Peter’s early works were on the scale of 6ft x 6ft, concentrating on mark making and exploring visual language or stories to convey his message. He uses cameras and feels that whatever technology you have to use to active the results you want should be acceptable. His early career as a photographer and cameraman helped him zero in on what was working or not in those mediums and change from using them as his main form of expression to an aid in producing it.

Peter’s post graduate work looked at exploring surfaces and concepts, later he began looking int o past civilisations and the impact that they had on the land. He asked us to think about any landscape we may look at. What does it look like now, what did it look like before man-made his marks on it? Have cultures had an influence on what you are looking at? For example Peter spent time working with Koori students and gained the opportunity to work with members of the different groups. He took on the stories and the creative influences to give his own view in later paintings.

About this time he a started thinking about the environment more seriously and how we can use the land in more sustainable ways. Not leaving it totally alone, but having a positive impact rather than a destructive one. With his good working relationship with the Koori community a gradual evolution of mark making came into Peter’s work. Symbols came into use as well as showing not only the more traditional “figurative” presentation of a landscape, but also in the bottom half of the works, a more symbolic representation, by icons or patterned marks. The interpretation of these he leave to the viewers of his work. He is quite happy for one person to see one thing and someone else to see something else.

Splitting paintings into halves I think could be a bit tricky when combining two methods, but the thing that pulls them together is the story. Whether taken from mythology, other cultures around the world or even from science and the interesting theory of parallel universes as long as the overall story pulls them together, I think the concept works. This is what Peter is aiming to achieve in his work.

Some of Peter’s later works are taken from a “bird’s-eye” perspective. The landscape is split by roads showing their impact on previously untouched wilderness, this with the addition of geometric shapes subtly worked into the painting makes interesting and though provoking artworks. The paintings of the landscape after the Ash Wednesday, Lorne and Black Saturday fires were divided up in similar ways. The symbolism of the tree ferns returning to life and left over house stumps showing where a family once lived amongst the still blackened surroundings was quite striking.

Most recently Peter has been experimenting with combining more western pattern making along with traditional older cultures. Showing a kind of ancient meets more modern western culture combination. He often uses anything including doilies from Spotlight as templates to achieve his affects and is currently working on a more technical adaptation of this idea to work in with his paintings.

To finish off we were also shown some striking and colourful portraits. These well known figures were painted in poses that reflected their true interests in most part. They were relaxed and very expressionist rather than photo realistic (after all if you want it that realistic just take a photo). Peter also talked about his “movement” which he has named “Environmental Expressionism”. The name has been registered to him and he is taking the whole thing very seriously. Artists of all sorts are invited to join and you don’t have to paint like him to participate. The web address is: (although Peter, you need a better web site designed – talk to me, I may be able to help you with that)

A final note about Peter which shows how important it is to understand your materials and mediums. Peter is red/green colour blind! His paintings glow with colour, they have complementaries working with each other and colour used as highlights as you would expect from an artist who sees colour as most of the rest of us do. Something to think about isn’t it!

Building an Arts Practice

In preparation for an upcoming Assessment Task today we talked about what projects we may be thinking of taking on to help build our arts practices. For this we broke into groups of about four to five making sure we had a good mix of ages.

David asked us to consider these points: the projects must be;

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Action Oriented
  4. Realistic
  5. Have a Deadline

Our group thought of the following things that may be attractive to them to help build their presence in the community and showcase their art.

  • Build a professional Facebook page (I already have one of these which I update fairly regularly)
  • Show works in local cafes and public spaces (I already have an agreement with the local cafe)
  • Enter competitions and exhibitions advertised in art magazines (I am concentrating on local ones as these can be expensive and not local)
  • Enter art exhibitions and competitions in general (I enter about a dozen per year as of last year, that’s all I can afford)
  • Ask friends and neighbours if they’re interested in hanging your work. (I have work having in a few neighbours and relatives houses as gifts and several done as commissions)
  • Give art to family as gifts (I have also done this)
  • Create a Web Site ( I have one of these which I designed and our business built)
  • Talk to builders, contractors, architects etc about hanging in new housing estates ( I haven’t had much response with this)
  • Talk to local school about having art in their premises (I haven’t been able to get past reception at local schools to meet the decision maker)
  • Get business cards printed ( I hand these out everywhere!)
  • Set up in a local market to show drawings and to draw on site to attract viewers of your art and promote (I tried this with fairly poor results)
  • Open a dialogue with a local council or shire and their arts officers (I have recently had work through this and have been told more will come)
  • Look into “Arts’ Trails” and open studio days in the area (when my studio is finished I have this planned)
  • Find a mentor (I have a couple of casual artist mentors)
  • Find an artist to work with cooperatively ( I haven’t had time to get on to this yet, but have had own offer for possible future ventures)
  • Photograph and document all works so you have a good record of every piece you produce ( I have files and keep photos in iPhoto on the computer and in files on it)
  • Place work into internet based galleries such as Paintings I Love, Fine Art America, Put Some Colour in Your Life, Red Bubble etc (I have been in several for about two years)

We had a good chat about our art and whether we all were even considering going commercial, as a few attending only want to do art for pleasure and not profit. Being different ages also meant that some are at the beginning of their careers and others have worked for decades and may be changing careers (like me, going back to what I should have done in the first place).

It promoted a good deal of thinking and since I had to produce project plans for my management course last year within only a fortnight, having until October to complete this assessment task shouldn’t be too difficult. Before leaving today, I had already sketched out a two part plan, the first section in two parts and the second in three parts. Some segments are already underway and only need completing and others have been a goal for a while just waiting on funds. So here is the opportunity to take my practise to the next step. We will see how it goes.

Stay tuned… the next blog will hold all the details of this master plan! … also hopefully, a whiz bang assessment task with a resultant amazing grade 😉

Unexpected Career

I get an email newsletter from a group called Artinfo. This week I received a great link and story about a guy whose love of outer space and art took him to a new career and a new country!

The story is amazing and his artworks are seen all over the world even though we may not know who does them.

His name is Doug Ellison and he now works for NASA! The story is an inspiring one of following your dreams and where art can unexpectedly lead you in your career. His job is taking immense amounts of information from satellites around the solar system and using them to model images for press releases and animated videos on NASA’s website.

Have a look at the link below and you will see what I mean.