Australian Fine Artist

Archive for February, 2013

McClelland Survey – Selected Works

Art Chat by Lani Fender, Damien Elderfield, Robert Delves and Chaco Kato

Date: February 28, 2013

Venue: McClelland Survey at McClelland Gallery

Out in the changing weather in Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, a hardy group which included a few students from TAFE walked around the 2013 Survey to hear artists talk about the experience of planning, design ing and building their pieces for the 2012 Survey.

The first was a cooperation between an architect and artist called “The Grassy Mole 2012”. Lani and Damien seemed to have a great rapport as they chatted about the process of design which was mostly from an architectural plan, to the building which was mostly done by Damien, the artist who also brought his vision for the piece into the design as well as the positioning in the park. From a small-scale design, the environment and surrounding landscape was considered as very important. How was the work going to fit in, reflect and interact with it’s placement. How was it going to work for viewers and all ages that would not only look at it but walk in and around it? this is where OH&S and engineering came into the plan as well as working with the organisers at the gallery.

The second piece was “Urban Wildlife” by Robert Delves. This was the result of a 3 year project motivated by the drawings done when Cook discovered Australia through to the drawings of George Stubbs, but applied in reverse. Instead of working towards lifelike and realist presentation of his kangaroos, Roberts started with realist drawings and moved away to his own stylised versions. By going out and asking for the cooperation of councils and roadwork crews, he was able to acquire road signs as a way to construct his vision of the natural environment via man-made materials and the impact of urbanisation. He also allows the site to influence his design and has been inspired to go larger and keep experimenting for future sculptures. Inspired by artists such as Rosalie Gascoigne, who he knew personally, Robert is enjoying the process of learning how he feels about being “Australian” through his art.

The last piece was by Chaco Kato, called “Himo Theory”. This large installation was also inspired by the surrounding area. Chaco spent a lot of time working out how it would fit in and around the trees and much of the work was not finalised until she was on site. The string, which is white, hangs like spider’s webs, overlapping and inviting you to walk into it at the same time. The hanging pieces in the centre look like elaborate light fittings or chandeliers and the views through the gaps in the string show interesting shapes and colours from the surrounding bushland. Light, wind and positioning are very important in the construction of this piece and it was designed from sketches on site with a lot of care. The interaction of viewers was also very important.

Common themes gleaned from these artists were consideration of the environment, cooperation with other artists and organisers, thought for viewers in a three dimensional space, creation of a safe installation and taking a risk to make something creative and outside their comfort zone.

Rather than hearing or reading from a third party, listening to the artists themselves talking about their journey of creation is not only interesting from a non-artist’s point of view but very informative and inspiring for practising artists as well. Reflected by the wide range of ages and types of people who attended in the rain and wind today.

Julie Goldspink

Venue: Berwick Artists Society

Topic: Floral Theme in Water Colour

I am borrowing from Julie’s philosophy on her website to introduce her here:

“Julie works in the area of traditional media but does a lot of experimenting in the area of Mixed Media, while she is probably best known for Watercolours. She likes to describe herself best as a Realist impressionist and doesn’t like to be governed by one style, medium or subject. Watercolours are wet into wet technique.

“Art is an addiction for me that never wanes, I hope to be able to enjoy painting and exhibiting for the rest of my life. As I travel around I realise that there wont be enough years to paint all the scenes I see in this life time. I will have to be reincarnated for a few lifetimes, I am sure of that.”

“You have to be passionate and self critical about painting when your putting yourself on show. For the public and hopefully selling to people from Australia and overseas.”

“The love and magic of creating a new artwork lives in the soul, and in my case consumes every part of me plus every minute I can spare Then when I do get an opportunity I go off on another plein air painting trip, or another workshop to learn something new. As life is an eternal learning journey and my inspiration is born out of all the beauty of this world and not the ugly as we see portrayed in so many artworks these days.”

I last saw Julie demonstrate at McClelland Guild of Artists last year. She makes water colour look fun and easier than we would think. Her wet in wet technique has the brush gliding across the paper or water colour canvas, with seemingly no effort at all.

The society has upgraded the video equipment this year, so not only can we see more, but the colours are much truer to real life now. In the case of watching Julie this is important as her florals have so much vivid colour and lovely washes in them.

Julie has a liking for strong contrast and light and darks for her florals, or even her landscapes for that matter. This means with such great tonal range she creates paintings that jump off the surface and are striking artworks that capture the attention from across a room. Her use of the wet in wet technique means that colours are allowed to run into each other and edges can be kept soft.

Using Daniel Smith paints and 300gsm water colour paper, which was pre stretched Julie was in control of her materials. If an area dried off a bit too quickly she had a little spray bottle to dampen it up again. With only about two brushes for the whole work she was able to achieve some broad washes of colour as well as a lot of mark making and harder edges as she got to the completion part of the painting.

Over the space of the demonstration Julie built up layers of lighter colours moving from cool yellows in the centres of the proteas to the very warm reds and cool greens of the leaves, with deepest purples overlaying warm pinky reds for the background washes.

“Don’t be afraid” she said, “just think about the colour”. “Practice using your darks, so many people are afraid of going too dark with water colours, but the darks balance the lights and add tonal contrast and depth – practice and get used to them’.

From thin first layers, the paint got stronger and thicker. The modelling of the flowers became visible and the painting began to pop off the surface. In areas Julie also used an old credit card or even her fingernail to scratch in lines for texture. The brushes which were a mix of natural and man made fibre held their tips and some very fine lines and dashes were added.

Dry brush marks over the top of colours also added texture to the painting. The finish was to add refined edges to the leaves and flowers and also to to add some depth to the background colour. This helped to push the focal point forward.

Julie brought along some samples of her work done on both paper and water colour canvas. Another way to present water colour paintings which is attractive to buyers these days who do not want paintings that need framing. The canvasses have specially made gesso and the work can be covered with a varnish to protect them instead of glass. For more contemporary or modern styles of painting, or even impressionist to realist paintings, this is a good option as well as needing lees materials and turnaround time to produce.

Julie is an enjoyable demonstrator and keeps the attendees involved and interested right through her process. She always leaves you knowing more than when you arrived and inspired to give something a try.

Revisiting the Neo-Impressionists

Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists at the NGV

A nice thing about a second visit to this exhibition is the opportunity to select your favourites for a study, both close up and from across the room. For example Maximilien Luce’s San Tropez paintings, in particular the one with a path and man walking towards you. there is no doubt about the sunlight and shadows in it. As you step back the colours merge to a scene that you feel you could walk into. The feeling of the warm sun and cool shadows is so evident in this painting.

Revisiting also gives an opportunity to try to examine how the paintings were done. How important the composition is to each work and what happens if you cover a feature in a painting. It is interesting that one item links to another, holds the composition together and leads the eye around the scene. If you take out one of them, the painting doesn’t “work” as well. This shows the amount of thought and planning that goes into a successful painting. Even a little object in the background can be very important in holding the composition together.

As we have our upcoming camp and production of 9×5 paintings looming, I was very interested in the smaller works in the exhibition. How can I keep the application of paint simple, direct and clean and still make it understandable and interesting, as well as having a clear subject? For this I studied Georges Lemmen. Side by side was two paintings with one having bold larger strokes of paint to indicate things like the foam on the tops of waves, with the painting to it’s right having loads of small dabs of paint that blended together as you stepped back a little. The alternating warm and cool colours blended together to create form as the warms came forward in the eye and the cools receded.

As on my last visit I was drawn to Lucés evening and night paintings with their strong contrasts, crisp edges and beautiful use of pinks, cool vivid greens, mauves and deepest blues. These were city scenes which usually are not my favourite subjects, but these were stunning. Not that I was so star struck that I didn’t take the time to try to pull apart how they were done. I spent quite a bit of time during this visit to examine paintings that I particularly like. My best estimate is that some blocking in was done to cover large areas and then the work was done, possibly in several session to layer in the huge amount of dabs, dashes and dots to build up the layers of alternating colours and temperatures. He again caught my attention with his piece “Coffee 1892”. The form of the pots and jars plus the attention to detail and interesting perspective as well as the story being told, the movement in the figures, all made the painting interesting both from a technical and mere observer’s point of view.

In some of Seurat’s work such as “The Bec du Hoc” you can see the painted in lines marking the edges of objects such as cliff edges. He seems to have then gone in later with the familiar dots and dabs of paint.

Probably my favourite painting of the exhibition was the lady in the blue dress. “Portrait of Lice Sethe” by Theo van Rysselberghe. From a distance you can’t tell the quantity of dots of paint that go into making the folds of the dress, the textures and the lovely skin tones. This painting is also BIG, it hangs through the doorway  in a space that allows you to observe it from a fair distance – and for me, it dominates the room. In contrast to Seurat’s sometimes stiff looking women, this young lady is “soft” with gentle curves and flowing lines and a real “far away” look in her very pale blue eyes.

I am very glad to have had the opportunity to revisit these paintings. I have had a chance to discuss them with tutors, as well as other students and learn more from many of them.

As an add on to this report:

We called in to see the Bea Maddock exhibit (printmaker). Which even though I have decided not to follow up with print making this year, had some lovely techniques and interesting applications. Just because it’s print making it doesn’t mean you can’t apply some ideas to other mediums.

We also went through the Contemporary Indonesian Art exhibition and in one room was a brilliantly done video using traditional Chinese style drawing with loads of layers of video of traffic, waterfalls, boats, the sea, tiny video screens, cranes etc. They were stitched together so seamlessly and had me going around for quite a while looking at all the little bits that were moving around. That for me was a really stand out piece.

In Flinders Lane we visited numbers 185 and 45 galleries. The preliminary drawings for jewellery making were very interesting, but to be honest I often find modern contemporary art leaves me a bit cold and the prices hard to believe. I actually enjoyed some work in a gallery that was not on our list, done by Josh Robbins. He leaves out parts of his subjects (in this case beautiful colourful birds) leaving you as the viewer to fill in the gap. He also used the natural patterns and knots in the wood panels he painted on as an important part of his designs.

Last call of the day was the Old Treasury Building. Not only is it enjoyable for me to wander through this building appreciating the architecture and feel of this place with it’s very high ceilings, ornate paint work and wood panelling but it was interesting to see the exhibit about the painted trams we had during the 1980s and 1990s. Nice work Philip, what a great gig to get! It reminded me that my dad was a tram conductor in the 1940s. I have a picture of my mum posing in his uniform for fun, so the personal connection is there.

Overall a great day out, in good company, an enjoyable lunch and more broadening of the horizons and clarifying what really attracts my attention, what doesn’t so much and how it was done – hopefully.

Pan Pastels and Suede Paper – Practical Application

Venue: Pastel Society of Victoria, Australia

Speaker: Cathy Hamilton

The first demonstration for 2013 at the February meeting for the PSVA, was a very friendly and informative evening. Old friends were meeting up after the holidays and it was good to get back into the routine again.

As the first demonstration for the year, this one about PanPastels was a fantastic way to start. Many members have never tried these and I have only used them once without really knowing what I was supposed to do with them. As exciting is it is to get new materials it can be frustrating when you are not sure if you are using them to the best advantage. This is why this meeting was such a good idea.

Catherine Hamilton has done a wonderful job coordinating with sponsors of the society and again Art Spectrum have been very generous in supplying samples for us to use to help us become the best pastellists we can be.

We were introduced to Art Spectrum’s Suede Paper. Cathy said that it is hand screen printed on very heavy and robust watercolour paper, making it very good for not only pastels but nearly any other medium such as acrylics, watercolours or even oils. You can soak it in a tub of water to remove pastel and it will come up in good condition and be able to be used again. This ability to handle such use doesn’t take away from its other ability to give very delicate effects, as the tooth is finer than such papers as Tex for example.

The surface on suede, however, for PanPastels makes it an ideal surface. I found this out when experimenting with it during the break. After not handling it before and taking on new applicators (which Cathy lovingly called “socks” in handles) I was very surprised with the beautiful blends and shading I got within a minute or so. If you could do this after hardly touching these materials, I wondered how far I could go with some dedicated practice!

Along with the viewing of these new materials Cathy included (as she is a great teacher), chats about the nuts and bolts of creating artworks. As she showed us how the PanPastels could be applied to a sheet of suede to block in an outline she had prepared, she talked about the importance of not totally relying on photographs for our paintings. “Photos are a static memory” she said. “They are not life, they are not moving in front of you, we need to keep going back to life and sketching from what is living in front of us, so that we breathe life into our work”.

As the first darkest darks were going in, Cathy talked about knowing where you are going with a piece. Don’t be afraid to work out where you want your lights and darks to go, or have a plan before you put a mark down. Go in lightly think about what you are doing and why, and this will help you avoid making “mud” from laying down too much colour too early.

Cathy took us through the process she had for her latest series of artworks. They include site visits, photography, then working up a sketch to resolve the kinks and then going on to produce the final work. If your initial sketch works out well you can always do what Degas did and trace it onto your sheet for the final painting or drawing. (This Cathy did by covering the back of her pencil sketch with a light colour pastel and then going over it on to the suede paper, so that she could see her placement of the shapes of the buildings’ roofs of a street in London), without having to draw it all again.

On the subject of cost of the PanPastels, Cathy told us they are more expensive, but they last for a long time and hold more than two to three pastels in the material in the pan. She said that a box of 20 is good value and should give enough colours to get started. The handles and little “socks” are a great idea and keeping some for specific colours and shades will make your job a lot easier. They can also be washed for reuse – a bit like how you organise your brushes when painting.

Cathy went on to apply her lights to her work. All of this was blocking in to get the composition and light and dark areas sorted out. She later added cool and warm colours to push items back and bring others forward for visual perspective. All of this was done with the little handles onto the suede paper. It gave a lovely underpainting look without having to use paints or normal pastels to get it done.

Another great feature of the PanPastels was that the application was so very light. This means there isn’t a build up of pastel on the paper surface filling in the tooth, leaving ample room to add layers of pastels. I can’t emphasise too much how light and easy this was for someone who had hardly touched these materials! Cathy had so little pastel on the paper, even when she decided she had lost concentration and was a bit “lost” in her work, it was easy to go back to a central point and work out from there.

At this later stage of the demonstration, Cathy showed us how well our usual pastels go over the PanPastels to create some very nice mark-making and textures. If you wish, give the work a little spray with a very good quality fixative (not the cheap stuff and NEVER hairspray as the perfume will eat your paper and it is not archival). Cathy recommends Schmincke. It is $25 a can, but it is made to last and will not damage your paper or pastels. By the way, the new gesso for pastels making drawing and painting onto canvas possible, is also very good and is manufactured by Schmincke as well.

To finish off, Cathy showed us how a simple black and white (or dark and light) sketch can quickly be put together: using the edges and the flat areas of the handles and “socks” can create some effective little drawings that can be done on site nearly anywhere. You can take smaller sheets of paper and sit at a cafe or in a park and draw loads of observations and have fun doing them.

Don’t be afraid to get out there and try it for yourself. All those little five-minute sketches will help you to observe better, get your eye in and build your skill at observing your subject and help you to be able to efficiently use your materials.

This was an information-packed evening. Cathy gave us a lot to go away with and apply in our practice. She also gave us some great samples of paper with which to experiment ( courtesy of Art Spectrum) and raffled off some PanPastel sets. I would like to thank the sponsors again for their generosity in allowing us to have these great products. I am going to use some of my paper to go out and experiment with “plein air” and the rest to try to do a very well-planned artwork. Many thanks to Cathy as I know these presentations take much planning and hard work. It was great fun and I can’t wait for the next meeting!

This story will also be published in the next issue of the Pastel Society of Victoria, Australia newsletter.

Glenn Hoyle

Venue: McClelland Guild of Artists

Topic: Seascape in Water Colour

I am borrowing from Glenn’s bio on his website to introduce him here:

“Glenn Hoyle was born in Lancashire, England in 1951 and from an early age he loved to draw and paint. At The age of 15, following advice from his art teacher, Glenn enrolled as a student for three years at the Rochdale College of Art.

After working as a commercial artist for an advertising agency, he felt it was time to broaden his horizons and travelled extensively throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and visited Australia in 1974. He returned to live permanently in Melbourne in 1981.

It was here that he considered painting full time. He Joined the Peninsula Art Society, entered Art Shows and exhibited in local galleries. His first exhibition was sold out in the first two weeks. This was all very exciting but he knew that relying solely on painting sales wasn’t going to be that easy, so in 1989 Glenn started to conduct art classes and workshops from his studio. This proved to be very popular and still is today. He now teaches at the Peninsula Art Society, McClelland Guild of Artists and the Mordialloc Mentone Art Group.

Working in oils, acrylic, watercolour and pastels, Glenn strives to capture the effect of light on this treasured land and coastline. His work has won many awards and the hearts of many buyers and are represented in private collections throughout Australia and overseas.”

I’d like to add that Glenn has recently done some amazing works in oils covering the topic of still life. They are so life-like, the textures and reflections are so vivid you just have to stand in awe of them. His works based around horses are also stunningly beautiful. Some of the best examples of horse paintings and pastels by a recent artist I have seen come from the hand of Glenn.

With all of this in mind, you can understand why I enjoy watching Glenn work so much. I have also had the opportunity to participate in workshops with Glenn and he is a wonderful teacher.

Today we were able to watch a seascape built up from a pencil sketch to a completed water colour painting. The work was about A3 in size on 300gsm rough water colour paper. Glenn only used about three main colours for the entire painting, which is a skill in itself, but which yields great results by tying the scene together without having to resort to a heap of colours or distractions for interest.

Glenn is what I call a very considered artist. He doesn’t just jump in boots and all, but likes to think about his composition, how he is going to arrange it, what colours he will use, how he going to build up his tones and the methods he will use to gain the result he wants.

I find this way of approaching a painting makes it easy for me to understand the techniques required for any medium to complete a successful painting. Glenn makes water colours or any other medium he uses, understandable and non-threatening. This doesn’t mean that he uses the exact same methods for every work, he looks at the result he wants and makes a plan which on this occasion had his painting in some of the darks for the underside of waves and foam on waves first. He was then able to go in with a lot of washes to slowly build up his tonal values pushing the background back by keeping it lighter and bringing his feature wave and foreground forward with darker tones and more detail.

Glenn also put masking tape across the paper in the beginning and painted in the lightest tone of the sky first – and with the paper up side down so that the paint wouldn’t bleed under the tape. When nearly dry, he pulled the tape off and started on the feature wave well away from the horizon, until that area was totally dry.

“When painting in water colours”, he said, “you spend a lot of your time waiting for paint to dry.”

Over the space of the first part of the demo, Glenn built up washes not only between the waves but entirely over them and in between, only leaving the areas he wanted to stay white untouched. The shadowy side of the foam on waves was also painted over to give them a full 3D effect. Running a wash through all the water with the paper on a slight angle and letting the paint bead along the bottom stroke, created smooth and seamless washes. By the time we had a break for coffee you could almost have said the work was looking completed as things were very much starting to give the feel of waves rolling into shore on a late summer afternoon.

After the break is when the painting really started to “pop”. Clouds were added to the sky after another wash with a little more blue was done. Glenn added some white and an opaque blue to help the clouds cover the sky a little better and they were in with a few light strokes of the brush.

Glenn’s “trademark” reflections and ripples were achieved by the application of his light washes leaving areas where the wash underneath showed through as well as little random strokes of paint across the area in front of his main feature wave. He also made sure that the shallow waves in the foreground had quick “scumbles” or flicks of paint for texture. He said that all through the process of putting together a painting like this one with sun reflecting on waves is to constantly remind yourself what areas you want to leave white, so that you just don’t paint into them in you enthusiasm.

Another good point, especially aimed at water colour, was not to paint too “light”. You can achieve a good tonal range with water colours and many artist’s paintings look washed out because they didn’t keep going and add those extra washes or layers of paint. We need to remember that water colour gets lighter as it dries, so what looks a bit bright or dark when wet may not stay that way.

Have a test sheet of paper next to your work – like Glenn does (and I do now also), test your colour before applying to the painting and just give it a go if you feel confident about the colour working. I would even suggest that you should just have a go anyway, after all it is just paper and some paint. You don’t know until you try in many cases, and with water colour especially, there are such things as “happy accidents”.

Demonstrations only go for two hours not including afternoon tea, so anyone doing a demo has less time than usual to complete a work (unless they are the rare speedy painter). Glenn said he usually spends up to four hours to complete a work the size he did today, which is about what I would do as well. It was amazing, but not unexpected from someone as professional as he is, that the work was pretty-well done right on time. Know when to stop, was a well known and often heard statement repeated by Glenn. He then popped the painting behind a double matt board, and wow! It looked absolutely beautiful!

The main wave which he had built up with multiple layers of glazes and strong colour underneath popped off the surface of the paper and the soft reflections and ripples in the water in the foreground, actually everything – looked great.

I want to thank Glenn for his time today and for showing us again that we don’t have to be afraid of water colour. We can have fun with it, it can give us some beautiful results that you can’t get with other mediums – and it is OK to be organised and methodical (and patient!!!) when producing a painting!  Something for all the other “Type A’s and Virgos out there!! 😉

Glenn’s work can be seen on his website at:
Glenn also teaches during the week during school terms and can be contacted through his web site or any of the guilds that hold his classes.