Australian Fine Artist

Archive for September, 2012

Paul McDonald Smith

Subject: Demo of Landscape in Oils

Venue: Berwick Artists Society

Paul is a painter whose style is somewhere in between realist and impressionism. A type of painting style that I can totally relate to as that is about where I am aiming my pastel and oil painting style. A good reason to see his demonstration to learn some new tips from a very experienced and well qualified artist.

He has practised as a professional artist since 1978 and was influenced by the teachings of Max Meldrum and his mentor Sir William Dargie. Paul’s training included private tuition, tertiary studies in fine art from 1973 to 1979 and European study tours including a scholarship. He now has the letters OAM after his name which he thoroughly deserves in my opinion!

These days Paul concentrates more on studio work with some plein air painting, as landscapes artists really do thrive painting this way. Being where your scene is allows for seeing all the little details that a camera and especially a laser print out can leave out. Plus there is nothing like the tranquillity of painting a beautiful landscape or seascape with all the sounds and atmosphere around you (as long as you don’t have a ton of tourists etc popping by!). Paul believes that an artist should be able to tackle any subject. It takes analysis and working out how to translate what you see into what you want to paint or draw. This is why we practice so much and keep learning for the whole of our career. Every day is another learning opportunity, everything we see can be analysed as to how we would reassemble it as a piece of art.

Unlike how many of us are taught, ie: starting from our darkest darks and gradually working towards our lightest lights whilst building up a painting, Paul doesn’t have set formulas but responds to a subject as he sees fit. What a refreshing approach! As a tonal painter, Paul looks at his subject and analyses how best to build up the painting. This is a variation from the normal Meldrum method but he likes to be a bit more flexible and creative in his approach. In the case of the painting for this demo, he started with his mid tones, keeping the painting as loose and “soft” as possible so that as he built up his tonal range he could adjust and refine details rather than being locked into a composition.

Working with nearly all round brushes Paul had a huge selection with him, and he did use quite a few selecting one for each colour. The tips were kept in great condition by his attention to cleaning and storing with each head wrapped in cotton wound around it to help keep the shape. The painting was begun with thin paint mixed with terps. He also had the easel tilted slightly towards him rather than away, as he said this prevented the reflection from wet paint that we often have to deal with.

The large palette was set out in a very orderly manner around the edge ranging from white paint on the far  left going through warms to cools and with black at the other end.

As the scene did not have any buildings in it, no drawing in was done, as there was no strict perspective of edges or streets etc to consider. Respond to what speaks to you was his suggestion. Keep the painting loose for as long as possible so you keep your options open. Start “thin” so the paint remains workable. Starting with the mid tones and leaving lighter areas like the sky and darker details allowed for large areas to be painted in quickly and be painted over as the paint was thickened.

A good tip at this point was having little towelling offcuts to wipe back paint. Sometimes you want to remove paint from an area or just wipe it back a bit and these are a great and cheap little tool. I have a stack under my easel and use them often. The larger ones can help wiping off your brushes as well.

Another tip: Stay relaxed! Hold your brush not like a pen but with a light touch, stand back from your work and walk away to see what you are doing from a bit more over a distance. Hovering over it and labouring away with a tight grip on the brush will only produced a “tight” painting. Plus standing back will give you a better view of what you need to change or where you need to go.

In the early stages Paul said that painting against the form will help prevent you from trying to build up one area ahead of others and also help with preventing stiff edges on objects in the composition. The modelling can be left until later. Hence the stage the painting was up to at the break was still mostly areas of blocking in to work out the composition and little detail yet.

After a break come back to you painting as if you have never seen it before or you are adjusting someone else’s work. It helps to really see it. This is a time to analyse where you will be taking the work to complete it and any changes you may need to do.

Paul mentioned that his style which is a mix of realist/impressionist allows him to interpret with his painting. It is not a matter of merely copying or attempting to reproduce something. It is a process of translating, analysis and stating what we see and how we see it in our own style and method. This is the creation of an artwork not a reproduction or copy. I was so happy to hear these words. Paul’s style is similar to where I want to head with my own. I don’t want to copy something. The only time I am interested in getting details close to the subject is when I am doing an animal portrait – especially someone’s pet where getting the look and the personality is very important. Even then, I am still doing an artwork, so surroundings can be altered, lighting and the texture and application of the paint or pastel is still up to me. I am not trying to make a photographic reproduction or I would be doing it on the Mac with Photoshop.

Getting back to Paul; during these latter stages of the demo he started applying more tonal variation. Areas of higher tonal contrast started pointing our attention to focal points and edges of objects became crisper. Paul doesn’t shy away from using black as a to of other artists tend to. Very handy if you have a border collie in the scene as he did, and it was one of the focal points for me. The paint was now applied following form and a mix of terms and oil used in the paint. The scene gained more depth and colours used gave the impression of “colour perspective” pushing the background back and the foreground forward. At all times the whole work being at the same level of completion.

In the back shoreline little dabs of paint were all that was required to imply buildings and even the human figures towards the front were not over painted. the whole work remained “fresh” and unmuddied.

Paul said that the process of painting is a constant evaluations and refinement from broad and loose to pulling together the composition as a whole with colours, tones and objects all working together. Shapes always being affected by the positive and negative space around them and how they interact. Great advice.

As a matter of fact there was a lot of usable and sensible advice in this demo. Paul spent a lot of time talking to us so didn’t get his painting finished. I for one am not worried about that. It was on the way and I could see how he would get it done. I was grateful for all the valuable information I picked up. I have been to a couple of demonstrations that were nowhere near completed because the artist chatted on about their pet interests, nothing to do with their methods, practice or materials – that did annoy me. This was not the case with Paul as the demo was full of tips and I had a great art lesson from him. He even spent time with me during the break and was a very friendly and generous person.

I hope I have the opportunity to do a workshop with Paul in the future, I think as his style is so close to where I want to go, it would be a great learning experience. Meanwhile I have everything I have picked up from the demonstration at Berwick Artists Society. Thank you Paul!

I received first place in section A (experienced artists) for my oil painting “Flame Trees” judged by Paul on the night so thanks again for that great honour!

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Vincas Jomantis and Clifford Last

Speaker: Charlotte Carter
Assistant Curator of the Vincas Jomantis and Clifford Last Exhibition at McClelland Gallery

Venue:  The McClelland Galleries 

Today I was following up on the exhibition currently at the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery with an art chat about the other two sculptors’ work on display.

It is one thing to go along and appreciate the artworks at a gallery but these art chats given by McClelland on a monthly basis (along with a very nice little morning tea) give more meaning and depth to all the pieces you may be looking at. Another good part is that extra things such as preliminary sketches can be seen, so as a practising artist you gain some insight into the creative process of these two important artists from Australia’s more recent past.

Clifford Last was the younger son of Nella and William Last born in England. After war service in which he lost his closest companion and was injured himself, he trained in art and emigrated to Australia in 1947, becoming a noted sculptor.

Clifford Last was a foundation member of Centre Five, a group formed in 1960 to promote contemporary abstract sculpture in Australia. The group, originally called Centre Four, was founded in 1953 by Clifford Last, Inge King, Vincas Jomantas, Teisutis Zikaras, Julius Kane and Lenton Parr. They shared common characteristics in their style and felt that exhibiting together and their aim was to foster the understanding of modern sculpture among Australian architects and the general public.

Lithuanian born Vincas Jomantas arrived in Australia in 1948 where he proceeded to work in a number of industries including graphic design before being appointed Lecturer and Sculptor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in 1960. Vincas lost family members during and after WW2 and as his country was overtaken by Russia his father was named an enemy of the state and he was sent to a labour camp. He eventually was able to make his way to Australia for a new start and it is here where he made his mark best as an artist.

Australia during the 1950s and 1960s was still culturally behind the arts developments going on overseas. The immigration of artist from Europe brought fresh approaches to the arts, although sometimes not appreciated at the time. What we can see with the benefit of hindsight is an injection of creativity and new approaches that broadened the arts and gave Australian artists new ideas to experiment with.

Even though a little different both in personality and method both these artists worked with materials such as Jarrah, bronze and newer materials that became available during the 1970s to make some amazing mixes of traditional icons, imagery and abstractions of figurative form. Walking around any piece, you see positive use of negative space, room for light to play with the forms and beautiful textures making best use of the materials. It is such a pity that you can not touch these sculptures, because their curves and textures invite you to do so.

Happy in their chosen country, both these artists lived and worked here for the remainder of their lives. Only Jomantis travelling occasionally to happily return as soon as he could. It seems for these artists there was enough artistic freedom and the lifestyle they desired for them to create the artworks we have now access to in galleries around Australia.

The Exhibition for Vincas Jomantis and Clifford Last will be at the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park until October 28 this year. The works are beautiful, organic, structural and imaginative. Well worth a visit for anyone interested in art or emerging/practising artists (especially sculptors).

McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park is located at 390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin.
Located approximately 1 kilometre past the intersection with Cranbourne Road on the north side of the intersection on the right hand side of the road, opposite shops and a restaurant.

Entry: By donation at reception.

Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm

Phone: 03 9789 1671

Web: www.mcclellandgallery.com

Paula Rego

Research and Analysis

Video of the biography and interview with the artist

Paula Rego is a British painter and printmaker of Portuguese birth, she trained at the Slade School of Fine Art where she met the English painter Victor Willing (1928–88). They married and divided their time between Portugal and England until 1975. Victor became ill with MS and his health went down hill over several years until his death in 1988.

During her career Paula has drawn upon her isolated and possibly lonely childhood growing up mostly in the company of her grandparents. Her father was a man who wanted to be a intellectual and her mother an artistically inclined woman but of a wealthier class so socially not really allowed to do anything other than be an ornament to her husband and the “lady of the house”.

From inside looking out sometimes to the world Paula seems to have concocted a fantasy world to use in her art works. She uses imagery of nursery rhymes, stories, imagination and a touch of reality. Her art is confrontational, sometimes violent in its undertones and raises a lot of questions as you look at them. Especially from the expressions on many of the faces and the threatening use of props by her figures.

On the video we saw Paula on the floor with toys and other props around her, drawing on them to create her own imagery. We also saw her drawing portraits from life. These were often used as preliminaries for a preparatory painting to work out all the shapes, lighting and design of the final painting. I actually liked her life drawings better than anything else of hers.

As a female artist, Paula doesn’t paint or draw “pretty” scenes. She doesn’t romanticise the female figure and again, drawing from her Portuguese heritage, depicts woman as they really can be, solid, sometimes “beefy”, with strength of body and spirit. Sometimes they look menacing as she paints them in stories of murder and the negative side of human nature.

As she was interviewed Paula spoke about the experience of being in art school. She went to the  the Slade School of Fine Art and found it both liberating and restrictive at the same time. Overall though apart from meeting her husband there, learning new techniques and being exposed to many other styles and methods was a positive influence.

I think Paula was influenced by her husband, as an artist he would have had comments about various parts of her works, and as he become ill and passed away, the strain came out in her art as she probably worked through all the emotions she was being confronted with at the time.

You can look at some of Paula’s work and just see a well designed and painted work, but in others if you look into the faces of the characters there is an undertone of sometimes sadness, other times evil intent if not action. I have produced a few works like this in my early years as I worked through some very strong emotions after relationships broke down, and have seen the reactions from viewers. It is a very powerful tool and method of communication. One which I think for the moment I am over, preferring to go in another direction. I would rather see someone cry from joy in front of one of my paintings rather than from guilt, shame, horror  or sadness.

The word Semiotics was brought up after the video, which I think we will be discussing further in another lesson, but in regard to Paula’s art and our understanding we were asked to think of a nursery rhyme and it’s superficial or general meaning and what we think may be an alternative meaning behind it, and then the real one if we could find it referred to anywhere.

Defenition:  From the Greek σημειωτικός, (sēmeiōtikos), “observant of signs. Pictorial Semiotics is intimately connected to art history and theory. It has gone beyond them both in at least one fundamental way, however. While art history has limited its visual analysis to a small number of pictures which qualify as “works of art,” pictorial semiotics has focused on the properties of pictures more generally. This break from traditional art history and theory—as well as from other major streams of semiotic analysis—leaves open a wide variety of possibilities for pictorial semiotics. Some influences have been drawn from phenomenological analysis, cognitive psychology, and structuralist and cognitivist linguistics, and visual anthropology/sociology.

There is actually a web site which goes into many of these at rhymes.org.uk. If you are interested it is a good place to start.

Our group chose a few to look at but settled on Three Blind Mice.

General understanding was a farm with too many mice and scaring the wife and her retaliation.

Undertones we gave it were a bit off, in that we came up with chopping off men’s body parts, adultery and some other pretty sadistic ideas I’d rather not repeat.

The web site said that it referred to Mary 1 of England (Bloody Mary) who was Catholic and decided that three noblemen who were protestant, were plotting against her and had them burnt at the stake, followed by taking over their properties. More to do with just wanting to take all their stuff as far as I could see! Still, a disturbing story to base a tale for kids on.

We are following up with an assessment task to listen to three different news casts on the same day and record the order of stories, length and compare the differences and then draw some conclusions. Another task for the holidays, No rest for the wicked.

Further info from the above task to come…

Vounteering at McClelland

School Visit for Nine/Ten Year Olds
Creative Workshop in Sculpture Using Found Object

The first session was run by an experienced volunteer and I was in support, which is great as this gives me time to settle and get my “sea legs”. The next session was the one I was in charge of. I was so happy that I was so much less nervous in front of the kids, teachers and parents! The introduction went well and as I had asked the other volunteers to ask questions and help me fill in any information I may have forgotten, so all the information was covered.

We created little “Boggarts” from found materials as we had done in my first workshop, so the hands on work was very easy. It is very surprising to me in a happy way, that I really enjoy teaching the kids and getting creative with them, showing them all the bits and pieces they can use to make their puppets even more interesting. We then make up stories and ask questions of the kids to help them broaden their imaginations and help them to have fun with the whole process.

I even got to talk to one young boy about how being creative means that he can use it later when he decides what he wants to do as a job because creativity can be applied to anything including engineering, software, computers, maths… it is all over the place. Creative thinking means that you can make things that maybe someone else hasn’t thought of yet. He got really involved in the process after that which was great to see!

Wow, I never would have imagined if you had asked me even several months ago, that I had it in me to have fun doing art workshops with kids! Again I walked out of the Gallery on a “high” and so happy and feeling really proud of myself. The kids said thank you and several came to me to personally thank me for having so much fun! BONUS!!! What a terrific morning!

No doubt there will be more blogs about the adventures at McClelland. Watch this space… as they say!!!

Eddie Zammit

Visiting Artist Business Person Wednesday 12th September

Editor and Owner of T-World magazine

Eddie started off life at TAFE in Frankston and mentioned more than a few times that he still has his heart in the area even though his business is based in Melbourne. A chat and presentation of going on to an hour and a half went very quickly with this very confident and chatty presenter. His video presentation was informative and funny at times which kept the usual snorers in the room awake and challenged for a change.

Eddie was quick with a one liner and also came out with some gems to keep in mind for running a business. How he got started was also interesting as he simply followed his obsession (or passion). After leaving TAFE he applied to nearly every university he could and instead of walking in with a folio of artwork as many of us do, he wore in a huge layering of 15 T-shirts and when the awkward moment came to come up with the goods, he simply started stripping of T-shirts showing all his designs. It must have impressed because he was offered positions in every uni he applied to. (wouldn’t we all like that!)

After accepting a position at Swinburne the T-shirt obsession was accompanied by training in graphic design. Eddie believes that for an artist this type of training rounds off your understanding and is a central and key part of your business (Good news for me! I have over thirty years industry experience). Swinburne supplies on the job training for students which can lead to full time offers, which is another reason this uni was selected above others.

The education and on the job learning led to Eddie being in partnership in a company at the tender age of twenty three after clients pretty well refused to deal with anyone else. I have had this experience in the past but it only got me demoted and shoved somewhere the clients couldn’t find me or out of a job, so maybe I was in the wrong companies, actually on reflection, I WAS in the wrong companies.

Anyway, getting on with the graphics thing, Eddie talked briefly about good typography, proof reading and understanding page layout and design. Having done all of the above and seeing good typography and proofreading disappear from the workplace in recent years I can only agree that this is a very important part of design which has been lumped into the tasks of designers and graphic artists along with a huge amount of other tasks. I also find that many designers don’t produce good typography in recent years either in the race to get jobs out the door or from poor teaching in their courses. I have been asked “what’s a widow or orphan?” and  “what’s a contraction versus condensing in text?” and don’t get me started on total lack of understanding of proofreader’s marks or kerning and tracking or how to indent text properly!

Where was I? Oh yes, Eddie talked about the need to follow your passion, find your thing and pursue it vigorously. Show initiative, it takes you further in life. Also remember, you are only as good as your last project. (people have short memories and short attention spans) then he came up with our favourite phrase in our business!

“Good, Cheap, Fast – Pick Any Two”
We have this on the wall of our office! It ensures that we and the clients know exactly how much ownership to take in any project or part thereof!!

Eddie then went on to talk about artists and young business people he has met and some of which he works with on projects. All found a niche in the market that they were passionate about and went for it. Eddie and probably these others he has met, works long hours, he says that dedication and application via hard work and being willing create your own product and put it out into the market place with vigour and a certain amount of confidence is a key to success.

Eddie holds T-shirt parties, he holds events in collaboration with artists and event holders as well as exhibitions. He doesn’t design so much these days as coordinate and manage the events, marketing, editorial and production of his business, bringing in designs from artists he finds whose work he thinks will fit in with his branding.

Even though a very lively and funny guy, Eddie was a very astute business person, expecting no less than the best quality in all his products. He will watch every part of the production process if necessary to make sure it is exactly what he wants. Having pulled a run of a magazine and making the printer reprint the entire thing years ago, I can understand where he is coming from, but then I was mates with the managing director of the printing company and name dropped! It was reprinted very quickly. But even so, why put up with inferior workmanship? Always do your best is how I was brought up and it seems Eddie has the same philosophy. He is a proud Australian, and so am I so even with age and gender differences, there were quite a few commonalities.

I liked the idea of a hard cover magazine which Eddie is producing from his business. At only $20 it is very reasonable considering the price of others in news agents I have seen lately. A good printed product like his is worth keeping in your studio for a reference guide for best practice in production and I try to have samples like his in mine.

Overall a very interesting presentation from a lively and funny presenter. Just a pity that I tried to ask a question of him and felt overlooked as he responded to nearly everyone around me. Well I tried, but in the end gave up as younger and more enthusiastic students got involved in the session. Really, I don’t know that it was going to be understood by many there as it was industry related regarding workloads and trends of required knowledge for designers, in the print industry in particular, in relation to his business and hiring practices. I was interested in this in regard to his high standards and expectations for quality in his finished and printed work. (IE: its great to have high standards but how do you pass that on to the workers in all levels of your business and to your suppliers and their workers, you do have to delegate and pass on responsibility to others or you end up doing everything yourself).

Thanks Chisholm for another afternoon session from an interesting speaker.

Who Am I?

After watching the video about Gordon Bennet today in Research and Analysis, we had a discussion about who we are as artists. We were asked to list the things that we think describe us.

OK not as easy as you may think. I for one do not go around trying to think of brief descriptions about who I am in this time in my life. Anyway, gave it a good go and below is the result.

Australian
Artist
Female
Wife
Business Partner
Student
Writer/Blogger
Teacher/Trainer
Animal Carer and Lover
Gardener/Rural Property Owner
History Buff
Movie Buff
Reader and Lover of Books
Sister
Auntie

OK that list was a lot longer than I had anticipated.

We were then asked to what extent the above list is recognisable in our art.

  • My love of Australia’s landscape and wildlife comes out in and is a major part of my art
  • My care for animals shows in my animal portraits (including commissions for clients)
  • I often put in objects from ancient history as part of a design for an artwork
  • I like to draw on artists that I admire from the past as inspiration and to learn techniques from (Turner and Australian and French Impressionists for example)
  • As a practising artist I attend a lot of demonstrations by established artists to learn from them and take on ideas and techniques to apply to my own work
  • The tasks assigned at TAFE this year as a student have given me new directions to explore in may painting in the future

How much has my identity changed in the last five years?

Our homework assignment from all of this: Identify what I see as sympathetic or challenging to the identity that I have described. IE: What circumstances etc will help or hinder my achievement of growth as an artist? Identify the big changes in my self identity in the past few years. (I was able to ask for a period since May 15 2009 for a specific reason)

In May 2009 my then employer did me what was to become a big favour. He made me redundant. At the time it was devastating – especially financially as we were paying off a mortgage and barely getting by as it was. Why it was helpful is because I had been burnt out by years of stress, deadlines, office politics, nasty co-workers and generally rotten employers and long hours. I was very sick and had no idea how bad it was. It took me two years to recover with the help of medication and some great doctors and the support of an amazing husband.

I have had a few contract jobs in the mean time but after a lot of consulting and some gut instincts I made the choice to make my priority gaining qualifications to help me run my own business and to teach. I then thought of going on to complete the art qualifications that I failed to get in the 1970s.

So the pros are:

Supportive spouse and business partner

Supportive friends and family

Support and positive networking with other artists in guilds and at school

Positive feedback from suppliers and clients of my art practice

A growing supportive network of business professionals and suppliers

Art Awards

Self respect and confidence and a surety that I am on the right path

Joy in my work and study

Great grades at TAFE

The Cons:

Less than half the income per year I had before

Stress of living month to month on a small income

Loss of some acquaintances from work life

Long hours dedicated to study and building a career

Having to put off having a home of our own

No holidays due to low income

Going without “stuff” like a night at the movies, a dinner out, new shoes, hairdresser etc.

Conclusion

Since May 2009 my life has changed a lot. I carried the financial burden for us and the stress of employment that was probably going to kill me. I was very unhappy, very tired, very stressed, not sleeping, shaking, emotional, basically a nervous wreck ready to fall in a huge heap. I had lost all confidence in myself as a person, a wife, a woman, a professional and an artist.

In the first six months after losing my job I gained some direction with my therapist who also studied art. He helped me to direct my path back to fine art. My husband and friends were also pointing me back in the same direction.

In the following 18 months I was able to hold down a few different graphic design contracts and the temporary work suited me. It allowed me to paint and enjoy getting in touch with a lot of new artist friends and find out for sure that I wanted to devote my whole attention to a future producing art, running an arts practice and teaching art. This was to the point of going back to part time study and doing very well to obtain a Diploma of Management and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment in 2011 (two twelve week courses one day a week).

This along with winning artist of the year at art guilds and some sales and commissions really boosted my confidence.

The financial meltdown worldwide, although a nuisance in my plans has given me the opportunity to decide to study full time whilst the country works itself out. My plan is that by the time sales begin to pick up in the lower to mid area of the arts market, I will have completed my diploma and an advanced diploma. Another great foundation for my arts practice.

I have been able to help get our business premises furthered and work on projects for the other divisions of the business as well as improving my studio and getting a good list of exhibitions to show my art in for most seasons of the year. I have also started volunteering at McClelland Gallery in the educational department, something I couldn’t have done a few years ago.

At the end of three years I am now a healthier and more confident person (even given the tendon problems and colds this year which I think I have recovered from better than I would have a few years ago).

I have a new direction (or actually the original one) and am learning that I have the skills to make a go of it. I have a secure relationship and supportive partner and we are working on making a future for ourselves. Stephen has really stepped up in supporting us and being there for me.

Things have changed a lot. Three years ago (the future) the light in the tunnel was a freight train rushing to flatten me. Now its a bright new career and it can be anything I want it to be. All it needs is for me work hard and get it done. I have all the support I need!

I am Janice Mills. I am a Talented Fine Artist, Art Student and Art Trainer. A Business Woman and a REALLY Great Wife! 

Gordon Bennett

Australian Artist

VIDEO DOCUMENTARY AND BIOGRAPHY

Gordon Bennett is an Australian artist of Aboriginal and Anglo-Gaelic descent he was born in Monto, Queensland, and is now working in Brisbane.

Gordon’s work is quite varied from what I could see in the film. There were three dimensional installations with lights and mirrors as well as paintings and drawings. His style is very modern but calls on traditional themes to enhance and dramatise a story in an artwork.

In the movie Gordon spoke about being an Australian first and preferring to be called an artist, not an Aboriginal Artist, or any other descriptor that someone may want to tag on to the front of the word artist. He has a mixed heritage and even though seemingly a little torn between the two at times, he proudly talked about both.

Gordon left school in his mid teens and went to work doing anything other than art until he went to art school at Queensland College of Art where he did extremely well. Gaining some prestigious awards kick started his career and it looks like he has never looked back. A hard worker and dedicated to always producing the best quality art that he can, I admire him for his professional ethics as a practising artist.

It’s sad I think that our history in Australia has left such a scar on relations between races. Some would say that much of the racism is still going on in parts of the country and that is why the very confrontational themes in some of Gordon’s art is still relevant. That is a sad reflection on us as a nation. Nobody should have to allow people to think they of another race to be accepted. We should not have to apologise for who and what we are – especially racially.

I have never experienced racial prejudice in such a harsh manner and was brought up to get along with everyone who was a decent and kind person no matter what race they were or beliefs they held. My brothers and sister when young played happily with Aboriginal kids and my mum was a member of the Aboriginal Advancement league in the 1960s and a strong supporter of Australia’s original inhabitants. This means that I have to really apply myself in listening to Gordon when he talks about his experiences and knowledge in this regard.

One of my influences towards being an artist and painting landscapes were the prints of Albert Namtjira paintings in our lounge room as I grew up. Not traditional Aboriginal art but it was lovely and I admired his talent.

Speaking of influences I thought I could see some Sydney Nolan influence in Gordon’s works. Not that it matters, we all call on artists we admire on occasion and many famous artists have other artists as their inspiration and we see their influence in their work.

Gordon finished off talking about his hopes for a better future for his kids. He has worked hard to give them a good start and a loving home and I also hope that the Australia they inherit is one where we all can start to appreciate and respect our differences and similarities as valuable assets.

The First Year – A Revue

I thought since I have a bit of time handy this morning that I’d write a bit about the first year studying full time and life in general as an art student.

At the beginning of this year, as we all made our way into the Frankston campus I was wondering what I was thinking going back to school full time. After working for nearly thirty years in the print/advertising/graphic arts industry and being made redundant in 2009 I was really totally burnt out.

It took me two years with a lot of medical help to bring myself to the point where I could do a couple of part time courses last year and do some contract work for a few graphics companies. When the work load got too heavy though I still found myself falling to bits and still unable to cope so again, why was I thinking I could study full time?

Well honestly, it came down to a few things. First, I was expected by Centrelink to apply for jobs that either were not there or I knew I was not up to anymore. Second, the economy was looking like it was not going to pick up for at least a couple of years so any business ideas for fine art were not going to take off in a hurry when people are hanging on to their discretionary spending money. Third, I dropped out of art school at the then Caulfield Institute in the 1970s and have regretted it ever since, so given all of the other factors, I thought it a good idea to take the time to get qualified and make sure that I had all the little bits of information about producing art covered. Fourth, A huge gut instinct to get back to my original “calling” to be a fine artist and to do it now.

My husband has been a great support in all of this and any friends I have had over the years were thrilled when I decided to get totally back to my fine art.

Because of them I can say that I have been able to apply myself as well as I have to this year’s efforts. It, however, still hasn’t been an easy year. First I discovered I had tendonitis in both Achilles tendons so have spent most of the year adjusting shoes and recovering to be able to walk, go up and down stairs and get to excursions without pain. Next came three very bad colds in a row. The second leaving me unable to breath for about four days and hanging on for several weeks of coughing and wheezing. Most recently came the death of my oldest and dearest friend who had been like a second mother to me. She was the last link back to my own mum and was very supportive of my fine art career. I have really felt the loss. A more minor loss, although still very upsetting,  in amongst all this was having to have my favourite pet cow put down a few months ago as she had cancer.

So as I said in a lot of ways a hard year. I am not sure if the work at school has been my saviour, but I am sure that the people in my life still around or not would expect me to do no less than my best so I have tried to make sure I didn’t disappoint them or myself.

With the end of this first year approaching I am now reflecting a bit on what has been achieved and what is to come.

Am I happy that I came back to school? Absolutely yes.

Has it been worth it? Yes.

Have I learnt anything? Yes, my life drawing skills have improved, my paintings are being produced more efficiently, I have been exposed to some new ideas, new artists and made some new friends.

Am I encouraged to keep going? Yes. In fact I am planning on going on to complete an advanced diploma if I can.

Right now I am compiling all of my work for presenting for assessment week. Even though several need to be completed, the stack building up shows some experimentation, learning of new techniques and refining of others plus a chance to try out some things like sculpting and printmaking that I would not have the opportunity to try in my own studio. Even this blog has been an expansion of my opportunities to write and publish.

So, approaching the end of my first year, I can now say I am confident in starting my second year of study and very much looking forward to it. I want to let my tutors know how much I appreciate their input and their patience with me. I especially want to thank all the students I have studied and socialised with for their friendship and kindness.

Whatever happens in the coming several weeks as we wind up the year, I know I have done my best and with any luck my results will reflect that. Thanks everyone!

Cheers.

MPRG Works on Paper 2012

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery

National Works on Paper Exhibition 2012

Today for Context and Culture we visited the MPRG for a viewing and a guided tour of the National Works on Paper Competition and Exhibition.

I submitted a work for this about three years ago but was not selected. After seeing the work on display today I now have a better idea why. The artworks are contemporary and much more modern than my style so I really wouldn’t have fitted in with what I did then. I thought I had gone more contemporary than my usual style but really it wasn’t enough.

Having a bit of time prior to the event was handy as it gave me the opportunity to have a rest and clear my head a bit. Rushing in to any exhibition to me is a bad idea as you can’t stand back and really take in what is in front of you.

Mind you, I am finding that a lot of modern and contemporary art is just not appealing to me at all. Many look like they aren’t finished and some just look poorly done. That is just my opinion of course, as obviously someone else thought they had merit or they wouldn’t have been on the wall in from of me.

After a wander around to see everything, I took a slower walk to list the pieces that really did stick in my head because I found things in them that prompted a return for more viewing and exploration. Below is a list of artworks that I particularly liked and looked at a few times.

Patterns of Speech by Mandy Gunn

Cage by Rolf Kempt

Remember by Graeme Peebles

Emu by Jonathan Delafield Cook

Whorl by Liz Schreeve

Amori Fati – Love of Faith by Antonietta Corino Beehre

There were over 400 entries this year and of them 65 were selected to be hung. The art was arranged in groupings to help them associate with each other and the height from the floor and lighting was strictly adhered to for best showing.

It was interesting to see and hear how carefully an event like this is planned and executed as well as seeing the art. I may not love every piece but it is usually fun to go out and see it!

BTW congratulations to TAFE Tutor Philip Faulkson being one of the 65 selected for this year.

Paintings at TAFE Bookstores

WHEN: Until the first week of the final semester 2012

WHERE: Bookstores at Frankston and Dandenong TAFE

I am happy to write that I have some of my smaller artworks on display and for sale at both campusses of TAFE for the next month or so.

The managers of both stores have offered me window space and I am thrilled to accept their kind offers. This means extra exposure for my art and a chance to sell some.

I have a small biography so that buyers can get to know the person they are buying from and contact details as well as prices are clearly marked.

For those without cash on them I can arrange for EFTPOS, VISA, Mastercard, Paypal, Cheque and even layby for a few months with an initial 50% deposit.

I am also interested in people’s impressions of the artworks, so I have included my web address which has a feedback page, on the biography.

Other art students are also welcome to display after my turn is over, so why not call in and have a chat to the manager of the stores!

UPDATE:

Two of my paintings at Frankston have now SOLD!

A couple of replacement artworks have been brought in from my studio and are also on sale at special rates for TAFE staff and students.

To see more of my art visit my web site at: www.janicemills.net