Australian Fine Artist

Archive for October, 2012

Pearcedale Business at Work


For Digital Studies to cap off the year in my Visual Arts course we were asked to follow a photographer’s idea that can be seen on the web. He went out and started taking shots of complete strangers, putting a little bit of a story about them as well on to his web site. The idea has really taken off and he now has literally hundreds of photos and his style has matured to some interesting interpretations and insights into his subjects.

We were asked to take five photos of strangers, taking this photographer’s idea as inspiration.

I am terrible at approaching strangers at the best of times, but these days people can be very suspicious of anyone coming up to them out of the blue to take their picture. I hope my compromise for this assessment task will be acceptable. I also ended up photographing six as I couldn’t leave out any of the ones that I had thought of!

For this project I decided to make a theme of semi-rural businesses and the people who work in them. I have used my town of Pearcedale and have approached some businesses that I have had some dealings with but of which I may not know all the workers very well. In the case of my farrier and his new apprentice, I have been dealing with their boss mostly and was just introduced to the apprentice on this visit.

This was such a positive and fun exercise. Everyone I approached said yes! They were all happy to have their part in my project and all agreed to be in this blog! How good is that!

I have really enjoyed working cooperatively with these business people and they even came up with ideas about how to pose for the shots. It is a chance to promote our town and businesses and to build up better networking and personal relationships with all these great people.

I am writing a little about each business to go along with each photo (note that I have done a “stylised” set of these photos which are also included). So here we go!

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1. Rohan – Farrier

Finding a really good farrier that truly cares about horses is a rarer thing these days. I have had the services of several terrific farriers over the years as I am very particular about who touches my horses. Rohan apprenticed with Peter who was recommended by the farrier before him who is now an expert remedial farrier in Japan. Rohan has just spent time overseas honing his skills and as you can see by the attention he and his new apprentice are giving my old guy, they are worth every cent. Another great thing about Rohan, he texts you to let you know when he’ll be arriving if he’s a bit early or late!

2. Dayle – Ron Whitney Pharmacy

Dayle was very happy to let me photograph her in the beauty room. Ron Whitney has run his pharmacy in Pearcedale for many years now and it has grown to include a terrific beautician service. I haven’t been very often but the few times I have had the opportunity I have been truly spoiled rotten. All the ladies and indeed the pharmacists working at the shop are friendly, informative and helpful and this has been a great chance to get to know them better.

3. Adrian – Pearcedale Hardware

I usually only pop into the hardware a few times a year to buy weed spray for the property. My loss really as after talking to Adrian I discovered that there are a lot of new services in his business. We are renovating our premises so I was very interested in his accurate colour matching system for paints. There is also a great display for the covering to go on to pergolas etc. This sheeting is something we have been thinking about for the back of the house so good to see information about it available locally. Adrian was fun to photograph, he suggested the pose and worked with me really well!

4. Shane – Pearcedale Butchers

Shane has a great face for photography, although he probably wouldn’t admit it! I haven’t had the opportunity to chat with him much over the years as things just tend to get away from you sometimes. This was a chance to reacquaint myself with not only his fun-loving personality but also some of his new products (and a couple of old ones!) as I could not leave his butchers without purchasing some of the goodies in the display counter. Shane posed for me really well and even though he rarely uses this chopper to cut up meat these days he was happy to help me create the shot I was after.

5. Matthew – Mr Fix It Mobile Mechanics

I have had a lot of work done on my ageing Commodore at this mechanics based in the petrol station over the past year. I know the boss really well but not his assistant – but now I know him a bit better. When I asked if he would like to help out he said yes straight away. They already had a car on the hoist so in a couple of shots we had a great pose. The guys were their usual fun and friendly selves, making me feel like the whole thing was no imposition at all. I know they are always very busy, so am grateful to them for their time.

6. Lisa – Pearcedale Nursery

I wish I could get in to this business more often! I usually do business with the guys here, and they are all very knowledgeable and so polite to ladies with lots of plants to carry! This nursery has to have the most reliable plants I have every bought, I lose very few after planting. The prices are fantastic and I have sent several friends to do business with them. Lisa is one of the owners and she made taking her photo really easy. She is a lovely person and we had a chat about all sorts of things as I worked out where I wanted her to stand. She was taking care of a customer as I took the shot, which was just what I was after. Thanks Lisa!

Personal Note:

I want to thank every one who posed for me in Pearcedale today and yesterday. We are so very lucky to have such wonderful people working in such well run businesses in our semi-rural community. That is why I love living here and why I am so dedicated to supporting and promoting all our local businesses. You are all champions!

Art Spectrum Presentation

Presentation by Jack Borland, Art Spectrum Australia

Venue: Pastel Society of Victoria, Australia

The small turn up at the AGM for the society and presentation was no reflection on the quality of the evening. For one thing it was one of the more enjoyable AGMs I have been to anywhere with the president throwing in some great humour to lighten up the proceedings. We also had a very nice supper. So for those of you who were not there you missed out on a good start to the evening.

At the end of the AGM we had a break and were able to vote on the artworks presented on the night. Art Spectrum supplied us with prizes for the raffle and three lucky attendees won these.

Jack brought along a variety of products from Art Spectrum and what was great to see for me especially were the new items. Apart from being a major sponsor of the society, another reason for supporting Art Spectrum is the fact that they are an Australian company. They are passionate about art and supporting artists in this country and supplying us with high quality materials. They are also one of the rare businesses that listen to what we have to say and when possible will add to their product range in response to our needs.

So let’s get on with talking about some of the products. First we had a look at the new oil paints just released. I have a leaflet showing the new colours and Catherine happily spread some of these on to paper for us to get a close look at the quality of the paint. The colours are transparent or semi transparent. They are very suitable for Australian landscapes and also portraiture. With the addition of a little white all look like they will happily go opaque if you wish. I personally can’t wait to get my hands on a few of these! To remind everyone of the new colours they are: Titanium Yellow, Australian Yellow Green, Transparent Pink Oxide, Transparent Orange Oxide, Transparent Red Oxide, Transparent Brown Earth, Quinacridone Maroon, Flinders Blue Violet Dark.

We then had a look at the Colorfix pastel papers and boards. Jack spoke about the various sizes of sheets available and how and why they are cut to the sizes that we see on sale. When you have it explained how a large sheet is divided up to get the optimum amount of smaller sheets without wastage the sizes on the market make more sense. There are seven sizes so we should be able to find a size that suits our painting style. I was happy to hear about the quality of the paper that is used as a base for our pastel papers. Good quality 300gsm from Italy says to me that my artworks have a better chance of archiving.

An interesting new item on the market is the timber reinforced with aluminium canvas frames. The inclusion of silicon in the manufacturing means that the frames can flex over time without warping. There are various sizes and they can be purchased with or without linen. The linen on these frames is triple primed with acrylic primer. It is good quality Belgian linen and on the back of each frame is a registry number so you can log into a their web site and register your finished artwork for free. This is a great service for artists wanting to make sure that their artworks can be tracked and not forged.

Jack then went on to talk about the differences in priming with gesso, acrylic and oil based primers. I have been learning to do all of that for my visual arts course but his description made the reasoning behind using one method over another so much more clear. It seems that the adhesion between oil based paint and an acrylic surface is not strong over time as one just sits on top of the other, not fully bonding with it. Also oil paints can leech into linen or canvas and rot it so we need to be careful if we are painting for longevity. It seems that oil primer for canvasses is the better choice especially if we are going to the expense of using linen. The new oil primer from Art Spectrum can be touch dry in an hour and dries over night or the next day. Jack also mentioned that if we are going to use gesso, like any other product, if it is cheap it is most likely to be poor quality. That old saying is true. You get what you pay for.

On a topic of safety for artists I was very happy to hear that the cobalts and cadmiums in the paints from Art Spectrum are not toxic. They refine these to ensure that they are less toxic from ingestion and absorption through the skin. He still recommends that we keep a well ventilated studio as inhaling fumes or dust can still cause health problems. This is especially true of anything we may purchase from overseas. Other countries may not have the safety requirements we have in Australia and some are still using lead and other toxic materials. As Catherine said, if you see the skull and cross bones on your art materials take it very seriously! Read your labels on all your art products. OH&S is very important for artists considering all the materials we handle on a regular basis.

On to a lighter subject. We had a look at the Colorfix Suede paper and board. Some samples were handed out and they felt very nice to the touch. A little less tooth than normal pastel paper but they come in a new range of colours which gives us more choice. The rounded silica in this product is what makes it smoother and it still holds several layers of pastel.

Catherine gave us a demo of Art Spectrum suede paper using some of the beautiful vibrant inks that they supply (and they were gorgeous colours!). The paper holds inks, charcoal and I think would accept most mediums. It’s smoothness showed up when used wet in wet, allowing the colours to remain strong but drawn over very easily when dry. This 500gsm paper is very hardy and I was given the opportunity to try out the Eureka charcoal on it. All I can say is WOW! Both the charcoal and the paper surface worked just brilliantly. I am purchasing some of both for my studio as soon as they are available locally.

Last but not least of the products I found of great interest were that applicators for pastel (and possibly charcoal). Some look like brushes from a distance and a couple looked like tooth brushes! These variety of “knives” and covers, shapers and covers, applicators and art sponges are a big step ahead for creating professional pastels. They will give so much more versatility to your pastel paintings and will wear better than things like erasers which I have been using for the same job. They are also washable! Some more items for my shopping list! Pan pastels are something I have only started using recently and found that they give a result I could never have achieved without them. These little applicators are going to make using them even more fun and a lot easier!

A final bit of information gained during the evening and a very important one for us all. The use of fixative. Some artists shy away from it all together, some use it lightly, some get really carried away with the stuff. What I found of importance was learning that fixative, especially when heavily applied to the top of pastels, contracts and expands over time. This means it can form large areas on the surface and drop off taking the pastel under it away from the paper or board with it. It seems that if lightly used in the layers underneath it is not as bad, but this is something to really think about before you spray your pastel painting. How much and where should I be using it? Also as with all other products, make sure you are using quality if you want your painting to last.

As you can see from all the above information we had a valuable session from Jack. He gave his time freely which is most appreciated by the society. I had a very enjoyable time as well. I hope we can have some more evenings learning about new materials so we have a chance to broaden our horizons and have more fun with our art.

This editorial will also be published in the bi-monthly edition of the newsletter for the Pastel Society of Victoria, Australia and in the commentaries in my professional web site at

New Membership

I am very happy to announce that I am now a member of the prestigious Victorian Artists Society.

The history of the society is a reflection of the growth of art in Australia with some of the founding members being names that we hold in high regard. I am including a little history from their web site.

The Victorian Artists Society had its beginning as long ago as 1870 when a small group of artists and lay persons met in magistrate James Robertson’s house at Blessington Street, St Kilda, to form the Victorian Academy of the Arts – the direct ancestor of the VAS. Among the founders were Louis Buvelot, J A Panton, Thomas Clark and Hubert de Castella. This heavyweight group were instrumental in not only securing the Crown Land Grant on which our building now stands, but in the early establishment of the Society as a legal entity.

Immediately following the grant of land in Albert Street (1873) a small blue stone building was erected which although almost totally subsumed by the present building, still serves both as a studio and a reminder of our Colonial past.

In 1886 the professional artist members led by Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Charles Conder broke away and formed the Australian Artists Association. This split did not last long and in 1887 talks commenced to reunite the two groups and in 1887 the Victorian Artists’ Society was born of this union.

The building and the Society are historically significant because they have been associated with the early career of almost every eminent Australian artist of this and the last century.

As you can see this is a big step for me and I am very honoured to have been accepted into this society! The Pastel Society of Victoria is having their 2012 exhibition in the gallery of Vic Arts soon, and as I am also a member there I hope to have a work displayed. The beginning of many more to be shown in this magnificent building with any luck.

Vic Arts can be found at the following web address.