Australian Fine Artist

Archive for August, 2013

Anne Howie

Painter

Visiting Artist Talk at Chisholm TAFE

I am going to borrow from Anne’s Bio for the introduction, as like several other visiting artists she comes with such great education and experiences.

Anne was born in 1958 in Melbourne. From 1978–81 she studied painting at  Prahran College of Advanced Education, Vic. and also studied at Monash, RMIT and VUT. She has been in several solo exhibitions as well as group shows and has won some recent awards for her work. Collections she is in include: Art Bank, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Shepparton Art Gallery, Richmond City Council Art Collection, Footscray City Council Art Collection, Private collections Australia, Germany and Great Britain. Commissions completed include: 1984 Three‐month commission for a violinmaker in Germany, 1994 Melbourne Theatre Company: cover design , 1996‐2000 Various cover designs for McPhee Gribble Publishing and independent publishing houses, 1997 Hillcrest Secondary College Mural 2009, Private commission Anglesea, 2010 Workshop with Hill tribe crafts women,  Izara arts, Chang Mai, Thailand.

The thing that was really enjoyable for this chat was the fact that Anne was born only a year after me! What does that have to do with anything you may ask? Well, it has to do with years of experience and life. As nice as it is to learn that younger artists are working hard to succeed, it is more relevant to those of us in the Baby Boomer generation to know that what we are doing is not only interesting, but saleable and creative. Anne said that she enjoyed the visiting artists’ talks when she was studying so it may have also contributed to the value of her talk to us.

Another good thing for me if nobody else was that she had a list at the start of her presentation. It let me know immediately what she was going to cover, where the talk was going and how to follow it as it progressed. Below is the list which I will address in order:

  1. Influences
  2. History
  3. Local Environment
  4. Moody Landscapes
  5. Pattern in Landscape (WIP)
  6. Still Life (a topic she likes to return to a lot)
  7. Community Art (her job at present)

Influences

A few of the artists that have had an influence on her work:

  • Stanley Spencer (UK): Pattern, Colour, Space
  • Clarice Beckett (AUS): Atmosphere
  • Bekmann (GER)
  • Bruegel the Elder (Flemish)

History

Presentation of past works. Themes were biographical, story telling, thick use of paint on the canvas, bold colour and shape used.
Studies from Germany in the 1980s were included where she experimented with different materials and styles. Aslo Spain in the 1980s and her early involvement in the ROAR movement in Melbourne during the early 1980s. The ROAR group was an artists’ cooperative running community space for working and exhibiting.
Late 1980s saw working with the Woman’s Gallery as she was having children it seemed like a good extension to include themes of family in her work. Anne said that her work subjects tended to jump around, but I saw a natural progression as she took on new style and topics as her life progressed. Her story telling collage like works included not only her own story but that of things and people around her.

Moody Landscapes

Anne likes the far east and west coastlines of Victoria. She simplifies shapes and brings in her collage look and patterning effects for unique and beautiful paintings. she paints plein air when she can and uses these works as references when back in the studio. She also creates imagined scenes so that she can further experiment with shapes and patterns. she calls them “moody” as that reflects what she is trying to achieve in the feel and message of her paintings.

Pattern in Landscapes

Referring back to the previous section, Anne is using the environment and natural objects to help her to create unique shapes, patterns and colour combinations. she likes to create pathways through works for the eye to follow, taking the viewers on their own journeys. She likes to add the rhythmic to the visual.

Still Life

This is a subject that Anne has gone back to over and over through her career. She has been known to buy over twenty canvasses to produce a series all at once. Usually two at a time, and smaller than her other pieces, she finds that these can be very creative as you are only dealing with a simple subject without too much detail, so your thoughts are clear to be as creative as you like. The items can be familiar things in the studio or found objects in the landscape.

Community

Anne suggested that we have a look at her most recent project at: foyerfence.wordpress.com as this is something that she is quite rightly proud of.

She made some important points for anyone wishing to take on a project, which reflects back to project management in general (even a small project you may do on your own). The points were:

  • Have structure
  • What is the proposed outcome?
  • Resourcing materials (they needed marine ply panels cheap or for free)
  • How you get your images contributed by artists
  • Cooperation. It can be difficult to get people on board a project and keep them motivated
  • How you can involve indigenous artists
  • Copyright
  • Storage (infrastructure, materials, logistics)
  • Large projects can be far more involved than you are prepared for. Plan and try to be ready for more than you bargained for.
  • Get cooperation from others
  • Plan
  • Get legal advice
  • Consider OH&S issues and preparation
  • Scheduling of tasks
  • Availability of materials
  • Costs
  • Getting everyone to get their part of the project completed to meet deadlines
  • Project management skills a very good idea

In General

Anne has worked full time in the past, trying to squeeze in her art as time permitted, which with the mix of family commitments as well has required a juggling act in some cases. She has been fortunate though that her spouse is a potter, so has an idea of the need to use your creative skills and how much time that can take up.

She encourages shared studio space as working alone doesn’t suit everyone. Collaboration and feedback by constant contact with other creative is important.

On the business side of her practice, she takes a one third deposit for commission, another on third progress payment during the work and final payment on delivery. At the very least if it all hits the fan, she has her materials costs covered. I liked hearing this, as so many artists are afraid to ask for money up front and get caught out when people just change their minds. I would also add to this, having a written contract signed by both parties is also a good idea. If it is writing – IT EXISTS LEGALLY.

Final Thoughts

A common sense artist, near my own age who is highly creative and productive. What was not to like? Anne gave an interesting and informative talk and I enjoyed it immensely.

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Maxine Wade

Venue: Berwick Artists Society

Topic: Architectural/Cityscape Painting in Water Colour

Maxine has always had an interest in creativity and trained as an Art teacher at Melbourne University, going on to teach in a variety of secondary colleges for 27 years. She then operated a picture framing business for 5 years, before beginning tutoring adults in watercolour, drawing, life drawing and mixed media at many art societies in Melbourne.

She has been a member of Australian Guild of Realist Artists (AGRA) for 12 years and a member of the Watercolour Society of Victoria for 15 years. She has been recently made a member of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters & Sculptors. Maxine has won many awards for her work, most recently Highly Commended Kenneth Jack Memorial Award, Montsalvat 2010 and Best Watercolour at the 2009 Castlemaine Art Show Her work is held in many collections. Maxine has held many solo and joint exhibitions over 35 years and is currently tutoring at Brighton Art Society (watercolour & mixed media), Glen Eira Cheltenham Art Group (watercolour), Box Hill (watercolour & creative drawing) and at Woodend Art Group (mixed media).

Maxine is currently living in Chewton (near Castlemaine) and teaches one day workshops in her home studio twice a month. She also teaches workshops and demonstrates at many Melbourne and regional art societies thoughout the year.

Paintings of Italy, Venice in particular can tend to be overdone. By that I mean that a lot of artists tend to travel to Italy for inspiration and to learn. How many paintings of familiar and famous scene from this city are too many? No matter where you travel to or even if you are painting your yard, looking for that unique angle or view can set your work apart from everyone else’s. For Maxine, as it is for me more these days, it means zooming in on the details and little features that are so often missed whilst looking at the whole scene. The vista may be magnificent, but too familiar and too often painted.

Maxine likes to explore her surroundings and showed us through example at this demonstration that these expeditions to find the “roads less travelled” and the little features in scenes can make very attractive art.

The subject for her demonstration at BAS was of a little canal with a walkway and walled garden, leading to a feature doorway. Looking at the photo you may not think there was a painting in it, but after some preliminary sketches and decisions about the lighting and where new shadows would fall, the photo became more of a guide rather than something that had to be copied strictly. Changes of colours and decisions about how much in the photo would be kept or not included also changed how successful the finished painting would be.

Maxine suggests that you try to more composing in your camera, it helps you to maintain the focus of your interest. Although tools like Photoshop can be helpful, coming back to a scene days later means that you may not have the same link with what attracted you in the first place.

Maxine had two versions of the scene she was to paint and we voted on the one we wanted to see her paint. The outline of the composition was already drawn in lightly to the 300gsm rough water colour paper which was stretched and taped on to board. Unlike many other watercolourists Maxine works with her paper on an easel, the angle is more extreme which allows for some interesting blends as the paint is allowed to run into areas that have been wet in preparation for them. Choice of paper is very important, Maxine says that choosing cheap will not help your design work and certainly doesn’t help the paint to work. Good paper holds the paint, allows it to run, blend and dry without buckling or affecting the colours not to mention the archiving qualities of good paper with rag content versus cheap wood pulp paper.

The painting was started by wetting the sky area into which she painted in a thin wash of blue, this was then painted in for the canal water in a slightly darker tone leaving areas for ripples. The process of blocking in the rest of the painting was then done. Water colours as many of us know, in contrast to oil paintings are built up from light to dark tones so usually the blocking is done with mid to light tones. The lighter ones used to give visual perspective to the buildings in the background and slightly stronger tones for the ones towards the front.

At this stage it is important to plan where you want to leave white, as the white of the paper is used to represent white, masking fluid can be painted in to protect these spots if you are worried about paint running into them.

After allowing the blocked in areas to dry, you can then choose a smaller brush and start indicating the features. It is now that Maxine began placing hints of boats on the canal and architectural details on the buildings. The painting at this point may look like it doesn’t have enough light areas, Maxine suggested that as the darks and shadows are painted in the lights will show up in contrast. Strong light means strong dark shadows, overcast or dull lighting conditions means making your shadows less intense.

After a break to allow paint to thoroughly dry, washes were mixed using deep violets. This is where you need to be a bit brave as you may think your wash is way too dark, especially since you are about to use a big brush to quickly brush it over much of the shadow sides of your buildings etc. Make sure the paint is a translucent colour and remember that water colour usually dries lighter. Maxine went straight in and painted a couple of shades of her shadow colour right over the buildings, through the walled garden, in shadow areas of foliage and parts of the canal water. She used what she calls “negative painting” to cut in around foliage that was sill in the light, which immediately give them depth and pulled them off the surface of the paper.

A thick mix was then made up to dry brush in poles in the canal and to help define the feature door in the focal point of the painting. A final hint of the terra cotta roofs in the background and it looked great. Make sure that as you dry brush in, the surface is dry underneath as the paint will run and blur, losing the nice sharp edges you are trying for.

A final tip from Maxine, is to try to have some “studio matts” on hand. They could be matts out of frames that you are reusing, or ones that are marked and not worth using for works for sale, either way, popping them over you work when you think you are done gives a completely different view of your work. Suddenly what you think is not quite done, or isn’t good enough will really gain a new look. That clean edge framing the work makes a big difference.

When Maxine put a matt around her painting it took it to a new level, the colours looked more vibrant and you could “see” the painting better if that makes sense. It was all done in the short time of a couple of hours, with a lot of valuable information passed on as well as her great sense of humour and interaction with the group. Thanks Maxine, it was a fun and informative session.

Maxine has given me permission to include her web address and email for anyone wishing to contact her regarding lessons or workshops:

Maxine’s Web Address: www.maxinewade.com
Maxine’s Email: maxnewade8@msn.com

Business Studies Week 6 Semester 2

TOPICS FOR ASSESSMENT TASKS

A Strength and a Money Earning Opportunity
Choose an Artist or Arts Practice that You Admire and Write about them

With our regular tutor back in the saddle today, we were back on track with work towards our assessment tasks as well as some new things to think about.

We began with a chat about what we have been doing in his absence and what we have been or are reading.

  1. Conduct Research
    We have been given a two choice task to complete by October 2nd. I have chosen to write an article about the McClelland Gallery Educational Program and its associated volunteer program. I am a keen supporter and would like more people to know what is going on that is of such an advantage for the kids who come up school groups and during their holidays to participate.
  2. Progress Towards Marketing for Niche Markets
    Possibly in conjunction with number 1. we talked about marketing to get us thinking about connecting people by the use of the arts. This covers governments, councils, galleries and arts practices and what they do in their marketing and event planning. This may also fall into the assessment task we are already putting together to be finalised with a submission to David as well as presentations to the class as representative of our target markets.

Class Discussion

We talked about marketing (our art). We brought in things like nostalgia and how important it is for most to have a sense of belonging and connection in their community. In a modern society where people are constantly on the move, working long hours and where established institutions such as the church are no longer the binder that they used to be, how does art help in making people feel less isolated?

This is where government and groups can create events and programs that can fill this need.

Question: How often do you engage with community? What method do you use? (face to face, person to person, community groups, social media etc)

Since some of this requires dealing with new things and the unknown, how do we get over that fear so that we can start to engage?

As artists we can learn to embrace the “different”, we as creatives are often looking for new and challenging, so putting that onto a wider social scale is just another step.

Arts can be used in the following forums to engage people:

  • Arts Therapy
  • Community Events
  • Regional Galleries and Museums
  • Festivals
  • Community Centres
  • Community Arts
  • Public Art

By showcasing the differences and exposing people to them, they cease to be so confrontational, they become familiar.

In light of this we need to know our strengths and how they can be used for the following:

  1. How they can be used to make a living
  2. How they can be contributed to the growth of the community

Artists are problem solvers, our discipline of continually assessing and critiquing our own work teaches us to have skills that can be applied to a variety of uses.

Using the SWOT analysis system identify the following (preparation for Task 2 below):

An organisation, person or department etc that can be used as an example of the career path. We need to research their path and plans, show a “snapshot” of their career path and why we respond to them. This is part one of a two choice task. I am painting enough at present and have a good idea of what and how I am trying to produce a unique style of my own, so I have gone to one of the other parts of my business plan.

An exercise such as this is intended I think to help us to narrow down the huge field of options from the overwhelming to the more focussed goals that are more achievable.

Artists, as more flexible thinkers can apply methods they use as artist to a lot of other applications, within these are required:

  • Persistance
  • Confidence
  • Willingness to try something new
  • Willingness to take up an opportunity
  • Ability to identify and overcome a fear of change or the strange and new

TASK 1 (completed)

Identify a link between an strength and a money earning opportunity.

STRENGTH

Over thirty years in the associated arts industry of graphics, added to with a Diploma of Management, training and experience in Fine Arts, connections in arts groups and with other arts practitioners and having run and co-directed a micro business for several years.

OPPORTUNITY

Build and run my own small regional gallery from either the current site I have my studio in or from acquisition of the property we are currently living on as a stand alone exhibiting and sales point.

Business Plan:

Depending on the availability to purchase property we are currently living on next door to our studio.

  • Develop old farm house into a gallery space for showing my own work, showcasing emerging artist form the local area and educational facilities and for volunteering by local artists to help gain experience in a gallery environment and as a reward for services, hanging space to be allocated on a regular basis.
  • Develop space in current studio space if property purchase is not possible. Same use as the above.
  • Annual exhibitions and community events to be organised through local schools ad art groups
  • Training and sales point through the current studio space (separate to the gallery if property purchase succeeds)

Involvement and Associations:

  • Local Schools
  • Local Shires
  • Local Art Galleries and Art Departments
  • Local Art Groups
  • Local TAFEs
  • Local Artists
  • Local Community
  • Vic Art (?)
  • Local Businesses

Results:

  • Hopefully a successful business (gallery)
  • Sales of artwork for myself and others
  • More engagement in appreciation of the arts in local community
  • More engagement in different groups with each other
  • More local education in art

Forecast Income Stream/s:

  • Sale of my art
  • Sale of art courses
  • Workshops
  • Commissions from sales of others’ art
  • Income from rental of gallery space

TASK 2 (completed)

Identify an Arts practitioner, public artist, art worker, public or commercial or public gallery, teacher or lecturer etc whose work you admire. Conduct research and provide a snapshot of their career and describe in some detail why your respond as you do to this arts practitioner.

Gallery: McClelland

McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park is near Frankston Victoria. It is mostly devoted to showing sculptures by Australian artists, but also has some beautiful work by overseas contributors as well. As a public gallery it operates by funding from donations, grants and moneys supplied by local, state and federal governments. Exhibitions are held on a regular basis and they also hold a biannual “Survey” competition for sculpture (outdoors).

Department: Educational

The gallery has incorporated an educational department into its function. Other galleries such as the NGV operate these as well, giving children and schools the chance to see art and learn about producing art in a relaxed and friendly environment.

McClelland has a small studio on the property as well as space in the gallery. Children are also often taken on walks around the property to look at the works, learn about the environment and gather materials for creation of their own pieces to take home. In the short time I have been volunteering, we have taught kids puppet making with found materials, 3D sculpture with feathers, wood, paper and other material as well as origami for the peace park in Japan and painting with inks using Asian methods of painting.

Artist and curators are invited to hold art chats on a monthly basis at the gallery as well, where the general public as well as students and volunteers are welcome to come along and learn more about the artist’s speciality or the role that a curator or gallery manager may have.

The artists are also invited to run workshops for the kids and introduce them to their exhibited work at the gallery. Long term the gallery would like to look at expanding to adult involvement and possibly artist residencies.

Arts Worker: Imogen Good

When it was suggested by a fellow artist that I might like to volunteer, Imogen made me very welcome. She has given me help gaining a working with children check, suggested ideas about a police check as a practising artist, volunteer and teacher and has been very supportive of my education in the arts. I asked her if she could talk a little about her career and below are my notes from our chat:

About Imogen and the Program:

Imogen has a background in teaching. She filled in temporarily at McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, in the Educational Department and was quickly taken on full time. Her energy and enthusiasm has encouraged volunteers to come on board who also have teaching backgrounds. Some other volunteers like myself, have arts experience with a little teaching training to add to the mix. Imogen uses her skills as a teacher to design workshops and arts experiences that suit the ages of the groups or schools booked for each session. She makes sure that each workshop fits in with the exhibitions currently running at the gallery.

Imogen also encourages volunteers to continue their education by attending the regular art chats, held monthly at the gallery. There are also regular meetings to go over any new plans and to discuss ideas that volunteers may have for workshops.

By encouraging practising artists to volunteer their time at the gallery, everyone wins. Artists are included in community, community engages with the artists, the gallery gets valuable help running their programs and the artists gain experience they would not normally get.

Focus: Education for Schools Groups and Children’s Community Arts Programs

My Interest and Response in regard to my own Business Plans:

Part of the business plan for my practice will be holding workshops, classes and courses to help children and adults to be introduced to art via drawing and painting. Holding a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment was a start, but not the complete picture.

The regular workshops for kids held at the Gallery enable me to get practical hands on experience holding workshops, planning them and creating the type of artworks that both engage and interest various age children and young adults. I may not have considered teaching children until I had had the experience with Imogen. She has shown me how enjoyable it is not only for the kids but for me as well.

We do not have artists teaching from their studio in our area, there are lessons available in most directions from us but there is a gap in the local market that I feel I fill. This means that parents don’t have to travel far to find a tutor and local kids can learn about their local environment through art.

Involvement of the local community in arts practices I feel helps close the gap of misunderstanding about how artists practice and our part in the community, what we do to contribute and how what we do can be of benefit to most ages and cultures.

For me personally, I have gained confidence to be able to run a group activity, teach kids and to interact with the teachers and parents. I enjoy the time with the other volunteers and it is a good networking opportunity. Imogen also shows a great interest in my development as a professional artist. Her comments and input are valuable additions to my education and growth.

Schmooze II – Collect and Be Collected

Free Event for Artists and Art Collectors held by the City of Kingston

Venue: Woodlands Golf Club, Mordialloc Victoria

Along with several other Councils and shires around Victoria, Kingston is busily building up it Arts contacts and interest for the community. This is not only good for artists, but everyone who has an interest in any of the arts. Bringing together people who would normally be isolated helps to build community and more understanding of cultural differences. It also educates and entertains.

As a practising artists who is still studying and building a business I am interested in these events as they are an opportunity for me to make new contacts and learn more about how I can expand and grow not only as an artist but also as a business. Listening to the voices of experience can help to avoid costly and time consuming mistakes or directions, which I am keen to avoid.

For the session I attended we heard from Bridget McDonnell, gallery director for over thirty years who is interested in encouraging emerging artists and who spoke about collecting art. Why a person starts and why they continue. Why they may choose a particular artists or style and what the long term benefits are.

Jon Cattapan is a successful widely exhibited Australian artist, who showed a presentation of his work and talked about how he approached galleries and got started and has kept his business going over they  years.

Emma Davies is also an Australian artist who uses found materials for her three dimensional works. Not exactly a sculptor, not exactly a craftsperson, she builds her eclectic mix of artworks of mostly netting materials into different finished designs. She also showed us a collection of her work in a presentation.

This event was held in the same building as the Kingston Art Show, so I also came to check out the venue, how the works were hung and the type of people attending to look at and hopefully purchase the art.

My partner made himself busy by checking off the solds and award winners whilst I caught up with a few familiar faces from Chisholm Frankston. As has been the case for a few years, there were only about six paintings sold out of the over one hundred and fifty two hung. A colleague from the pastel society did very well both winning the pastel award and making a sale out of the two works she submitted. (well done Lyn Mellady!!!) Overall though, sales this low are disappointing as those of us who are making a living, or trying to, as professional artists can not survive on sales as poor as this. After costs to produce the art, entry fees and delivery costs, most of us end up making a large loss on these events unless we make sales.

For this event the plus was the networking event held in conjunction. These are often something we have to pay to attend so at least this time there was some benefit. For me it was having a chat with Jon afterwards. He gave me some valuable advice about how to approach a gallery owner after they had an initial introduction to my work by a mutual friend or acquaintance. I was not sure about whether to just ask to show my work or look at it from another angle which is more to how I am as a person and friendlier. He went for the friendly and helpful approach which I am pleased about. He gave me advice on how to do it and the wording to use so I don’t come across like a used car salesman (apologies to car sales people!)

I also caught up with the deputy director of the McClelland Gallery who was there, for a quick hello, and was able to look at art by a tutor I have done workshops with and several fellow artists in the exhibition.

The overall message of the three talks was perseverance and determination. If you decide you are going to build your own arts practice, you need to keep at it. It isn’t a part time job, as a matter of fact it can be nearly life consuming. It has become my life recently. Not that you feel like you are “working” because you are following your passion. But you need to keep putting your work out there, keep showing it, keep talking about it, blogging about it, entering exhibitions, showing it to any one who will look at it, do the not so comfortable thing of approaching galleries and collectors and searching for new and innovative ways to market your art as well as product it. Hopefully that one “break” will come along and you will actually recognise it when it happens, in time to take advantage of it. It may be the “launching pad” for some of the future successes you desire.

That is why I try to attend these functions, and why it is important to actively and without fail, work and work to succeed until you achieve it.

Painting Nudes and Life Paintings

David Chen’s 9 Monthly Art Workshops

These notes are from my most recent all day workshop with David Chen. Each full day covers over five hours of theory and practical work, and are planned by David to help us to understand an important aspect of planning, composing and creating our paintings so that they not only look beautiful but also look “right” as far as tonal contrast, perspective, composition, colour mixing and application of our paint.

Our session today was based around David’s methods of painting and drawing nudes. As David was formally trained in China and spent a lot of time learning to draw from life drawing and learning the human anatomy, this was a very important class.

Colour and mixing skin tones are a complex matter, which each artist need to conquer if they are to paint humans. We come in a variety of colours and each ethnic mix brings new challenges for the artist to depict. There are also the different methods of painting to be considered. We briefly touched on two of these:

  1. Classical Style
    Classically taught methods of painting involved in most part of the use of glazes over either a mid tone or dark background. Glazes were usually left to dry between layers making this method time consuming. This technique can be used in alla prima in the setting up stages before the final thicker payers of paint are applied. Often the subject is the focus of the painting, such as in portraiture and nudes with little or no background or setting to put the figure into a scene or stage.
  2. Academic Style
    This stems from the 17th and 18th Centuries when academies of art were set up to establish artist as professionals rather than craftsmen. Entrance was difficult and exams were held, letters from professors were required to show competencies. The style of art placed figures into settings, often ones from legend, myth and history so were more formal. The Paris Salons and Academies were part of the establishment of how the public was introduced to and supported art as the Impressionist Movement began.

The basic understanding and mastering of drawing was a foundation of both these schools of thought. Students had to master drawing before being allowed to paint. The theory held by many today that you do not need to be able to draw to paint is in my opinion misleading, and I share that with thought with my tutor for this course of workshops.

David referred us to some outstanding examples of drawing skills and they are worth looking up to see how much they knew about their subject matter and their materials.

  1. Lucian Freud
  2. Pierre Bonnard
  3. August Rodin

We then discussed methods such as dynamic form, which is making life and movement with the use of brushstrokes. Mixing colours to ensure you always get clean colours and not “mud” and which colours can be mixed together well. For example mixing colours with a green hue or basis rather than a red based with a green based and getting a muddy result. We also touched on light and shade, which you would think is simple. There is light, mid shade and shadows.

When you look at a picture, you see colours with values. These values need to translated into how dark or light they are in tone. The understanding of colour values and mixing along with a deep knowledge of your subject means that a photo or life model is less important, as these are all now in your head. You can use them but to create art, you can rely on your knowledge to take a copy of something to the next level.

Light and Dark

Just to make light and shade a bit more complex, but to help us see why things look the way they do in a painting that looks “right” here are how you can break down light and shade:

Light Area: (all tonal values)

  1. Highlight
  2. Light Area
  3. Mid Tone

Shadow Area: (all tonal values)

  1. Core Shadow (the boundary between light and shade)
  2. Shadow Area (the edge of the form)
  3. Occlusion Area (the darkest area)
  4. Casting Shadow
  5. Reflective Shadow

As you can see light and shade is not just a division of three simple tones, but a mix of several components that help to create form.

The colours that support the look of skin according to racial background are the same, simply broken down they are:

  1. Asian – Base on burnt sienna
  2. Black – Base on reds
  3. White – base on yellows such as yellow ochre

Here are the colours recommended for more “Anglo Saxon or European” skin types

  • Yellow ochre
  • Raw sienna
  • Cadmium red
  • Permanent crimson
  • Titanium white
  • with introduction of : greens and blues for shadow areas

Day Six Workshop Plan:

  • Skin tone colour schemes and tutorial
  • A nude based on a personal reference or one of David’s works
  • A second nude based on a personal reference if time allows
  • Paint-on critique

Exercises

Start attempting more human drawing exercises, even if you have to ask family and partners to sit for you. The measuring of the human form and the practice of finding where muscle and bone are, as well as training yourself on the proportions of your figure will help teach observational skills for any other subject. Good lighting will help you learn how to apply light and shade in all its steps to get realistic or believable results.

Final Thought

David looked at all our works at the end of the day and showed us where our paintings could be improved. For mine, he suggested that I need to pull my work together by painting some of the background colour into the subject and give the artwork a more unified look. ( I also need to lengthen one of the arms a bit. ) When showing how to improve my painting, he softened the shadow area and pulled some of the shadow into the bottom of the figure. He basically said that if I can stop seeing the figure and the surrounds as such separate entities but as a whole by using more similar colour through both I will have better results. I have been working on this painting again today and will post the result below. I started a portrait as well on the day and have it done to my satisfaction. David has told me not to overwork it as he likes some of the background colour showing through the face etc and the loose style going on so I have taken that suggestion on board.

Oil painting on Canvas done as a painting exerecise at monthly worshop with David Chen.

Oil painting on Canvas done as a painting exerecise at monthly workshop with David Chen.

Life Painting with David Chen

Oil painting on Canvas done as a painting exerecise at monthly workshop with David Chen.

Thank you David for yet another fantastic workshop! It was hard work and my head was swimming at one point, but it is starting to sink in … at last!

Image Filing for Beginners

From Camera to Computer to Folders

We are studying Photography as an extra subject at TAFE at present. Having just received a beautiful Canon digital SLR I wanted to get a grip on more of the functions.

During the classes which are also going through some of the basics of Photoshop and taking images from camera to computer several of my classmates who have not had the advantage I have of working in the graphic arts industry for over thirty years, are having a little trouble with what I take for granted.

I have decided to do a simple step by step of taking files off the camera and creating a good filing system for images as you alter them and prepare them for uploading to the web for sites such as Pinterest.

So here is my suggestion:

  1. Have a folder for your photography course
    Mine is called Photography
  2. Create sub folders for each Assessment Task
  3. If the task has several components create a folder for each of these
    For example I have three called Lines, Patterns and Crops and Rule of Thirds for one of my Assessment Tasks
  4. In each of these folders I have three folders:
    Originals (for files straight off the camera)
    TIFF or PSD (for files that I am manipulating in Photoshop)
    Low Res (for files to go to the web)
    If I was creating printed material from the photos I would also have a folder named High Res with a TIFF file in CMYK saved in there.
  5. I copy my original file from the camera to my Originals Folder
  6. I then SAVE AS TIFF or PSD to my TIFF or PSD Folder (Note try not use any Compression when saving to TIFF, the menu will come up, just use “NONE”)
    It is in this file that I can change the size, resolution, colour space, crop, apply filters etc etc without losing my original file if things go wrong and in a format that will not lose quality as I work on it. I usually work at 300dpi in RGB as it allows all the artistic filters to work. I can always change the file to CMYK if I decide to use the file for a hard copy print later. This is the time to decide on the size (in millimetres or centimetres) of your file as well.
  7. Once I have done everything I want to with file I then SAVE AS again if sending to the web (my website, blog site or something like Pinterest. Pinterst in particular will not accept TIFF files and will not accept CMYK files. CMYK is for printing to paper and RGB is for the web.)
    The file for the web can be JPG (JPEG). Pinterest will happily accept that format.
    72-100dpi is large enough resolution for the web. The file does not have to be as large and large files take too long to upload.
    When you have saved your low res file to your LOW RES FOLDER as a JPG, check that it is RGB (under the IMAGE/MODE Menu) and that the resolution (under the IMAGE/FILE SIZE Menu) is either 72dpi (recommended) or what I use which is 100dpi.
  8. You can now upload your low res file to Pinterest.

The above method might seem a bit complicated but I have found over years of using Photoshop and having to create files for both the web and printed material that I need to have a filing system that keeps an original just in case, and has a file for each use kept separately to avoid mistakes.

Naming your files with their purpose helps. For example: Tree-trunk pattern-LR.jpg (the LR = Low Resolution), or Tree-trunk pattern-Web.jpg (the Web part will tell you it is a low res file) or Tree-trunk pattern-HR.jpg (the LR = High Resolution).

You could also include the colour of the file in the name. For example: Tree-trunk pattern-LR-RGB.jpg or Tree-trunk pattern-HR-CMYK.jpg

I hope this information is a help and as always comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Rosie Weiss

Printmaker and Painter

Visiting Artist Talk at Chisholm TAFE

I am going to borrow from Rosie’s Bio for the introduction, as she comes with such great education and experiences.

Rosie Weiss is a Melbourne / Mornington Peninsula based artist & educator. In 1992 she won the Moet & Chandon Australian art Fellowship with a painting titled ‘lung’ a reaction to the chemical fire on Coode Island the same year. In 1996 she completed her Master of Arts at RMIT with ‘Intimate Patterns’, a body of work that examined our relationship with nature. She has exhibited in Australia, Asia & France over the past twenty years, and her work can be found in collections across Australia including The National gallery of Victoria, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Artbank and The National Gallery of Australia.

Rosie has a Masters in Art, a B.Ed and was awarded the prestigious Moet & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship in 1992. These are only some of her amazing accomplishments so I was very much looking forward to hearing her speak and seeing more of her work.

The slide show began with Rosie’s work from the 1980s. One success can change your whole outlook she said. For her it was a teacher catching her before she changed a plate for good and running a series from it himself, which was followed by a very helpful purchase from the AGV of one of the prints. I called this her “point of departure” as it looks like it was from here that things really took off.

From a beginnings in printmaking Rosie has built up a sizeable portfolio of work. Her interests from this beginning, to drawing, painting and mixed media bound up with her passion for the human form and the environment have resulted in some spectacular creations. She even spent time experimenting with photography whilst ill, which showed her considerable talent in composition spread to this medium as well.

Rosie has used wood as plates for printing and has produced some beautiful works on paper using ink washes in the background with white pencil line drawings from such simple things as parts of plants from her garden over the top.

The little things in the natural world invite her to draw and paint them. The roots of trees, the intertwined branches and lines of garden plants or leftover bits and pieces on the beach after a storm. All hold interest for her to use along with her imagination to create a unique artwork.

For Rosie, art has been not only her passion, but her healing as she recovered from a major illness. She has taught art and is a great communicator. Recently she returned to acrylics – enjoying the quick drying time they provide as well as working collaboratively with other artists. Her showing of some of her very private thoughts, fears and feelings written in a visual diary with sketches and little paintings, completed whilst very ill was not only revealing but I thought very brave.

Final Thoughts

For some of us, if not most, producing art can be a solitary thing. We may spend a lot of time in a studio with little or no contact and not a lot of feedback either. Sometimes, I think we may feel that we are the only ones going through hard times, illnesses and struggling to get ahead or noticed in the art world or even by any one. When we share like Rosie did today, we learn that we are not alone, others go through similar experiences. When we see that she worked her way through it, and she continued with her art, she still enjoys her art and is producing such outstanding results, we find it in ourselves to do so as well. Thanks Rosie for a fantastic talk!

Business Studies Week 5 Semester 2

Art Collectors and Enthusiasts

Our regular tutor has been away ill recently so we had a stand in for this session with a an interesting positive video for us to watch and consider. This week was more about some of the more positive aspects of being an artist and the relationships we build in our practices.

Before we started we had a brief chat about art collectors and philanthropists. We have examples in Australia from such people as Elisabeth Murdoch and the Felton Bequest in the NGV. These people and the trusts they set up enable galleries to purchase artworks and collections they normally would not be able to afford. Keen collectors often donate their collections to galleries and museums so that the work of certain artists will not only be archived and cared for properly but also seen by the public in years to come.

Collectors of any sort can be a bit obsessive about buying more and more of their interest, such as art by a certain artist. For them it is not about the money, it is about the passion. They simply love that particular art or artist. Sometimes a personal relationship is built up over time between artists and their collectors, blossoming into friendships or even the feeling of extended family. It becomes symbiotic, the artist enjoying the chance to produce freely and the collector having fun collecting what they love from artists  as they build what looks like happy relationships with them.

The Vogels, for example had 4,782 works when they were donated to the museum, which was carefully selected as well. Once clear of these works from their little apartment, they simply began collecting all over again!

Here, I think, is a good place to begin my thoughts on the video:

The Vogels
(Herbert Vogel (August 16, 1922 – July 22, 2012) and Dorothy Vogel (born 1935)
A married couple devoted to not only each other but also to collecting art. A shared passion.

This story was a delightful one that is some ways reminded me of my own marriage. A couple who when they met, began sharing a passion. Even thought they were not rich, and both had jobs, these two decided that they loved art and started by studying it. After a while they began collecting more than they were producing themselves and the long story of their love of other artist’s work began. With no children in the picture (just like us) these two were able to build up a collection over more than forty years together (we are building a business and property).

From Minimalists, to surrealists to Concept Art, if the Vogels saw it and liked it, they often built up a relationship with the artist and began collecting. They collected so much early work by emerging artists that when they finally donated it to the gallery, there were over five truck loads to move it all safely! Then they began collecting all over again!

To some this may be more of an obsession than a passion, a bit like hoarding or OCD, to others, especially the artists that they have supported over they years, it has been income that paid the rent and fed them, or paid for new materials so they could keep practising.

After watching the Art Bubble recently, this was a relief to see people who genuinely loved the art and the artists. Not in it for get rich quick schemes, for the ego trip, for prestige and the cult of personality. It was all about the art. What a breath of fresh air.

  • The money was not the point.
  • Ego was not the point.
  • Prestige of owning a particular popular artist’s work was not the point.
  • Knowing the right people was not the point.
  • Being seen in the right places was not the point.

The important messages in this video for me were the need to build up relationships with those that show an interest in your work. To be approachable, friendly, informative, professional in your behaviour so that potential buyers feel comfortable approaching you to make that initial contact. Talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it, show joy in your work and bring others along with you. The enthusiasm may be catching! The next thing for me after that is how to keep those relationships going without being a sales person (which I am not naturally). I want to sell, but that is not the main reason I paint, draw or sculpt, I do it because I love it and believe that I am good at it. I want to have good relationships with my buyers, bring them along with me on the journey and hopefully some will become collectors and friends. I already have a few people who have shown interest in my art and made multiple purchases but I am still unsure how I should nurture these relationships without appearing pushy. Hopefully as this year and the next couple unfold, I will gain more skills and confidence in this area.

It was good to learn that keen collectors of art do not have to be multi millionaires. They can be neighbours, business people, just people who love art and put aside enough to purchase things that catch their eye. Hopefully we have enough of them living in Australia who love the art of emerging artists who are working so hard to make amazing artworks right now.

Wednesday at MPRG

For some this trip would have cost a small entry fee, but as I have made the decision to become a member of both the NGV and MPRG, I get into a lot of events for no extra cost, as well as the perks of coffee and a bikkie! MPRG is an easy drive so I always enjoy going there. It also gives me a chance to call into the nearby Oakhill Gallery of which I am also a member.

Three exhibitions would normally be a bit of a task but MPRG keeps their exhibitions to reasonable sizes due to the size of the gallery, so they aren’t too tiring. OK, on with the impressions of these events.

Sherrie Knipe: “Comb Over”

This comprised of large panels on the wall with wooden carved varieties of combs arrayed to create a pattern. there were also two free-standing wooden sculpture with slots cut in to them and what looked like a seat shape in the tops. Even though nicely finished and a clean and professional looking piece, it didn’t hold a lot of interest for me.

David Larwill: “Ten Years On” Retrospective

This part of the exhibition showed the final decade of this artist’s work. A resident of the area, our tutors felt he was an artist of importance. The interest in desert art and primitive art was very evident in the paintings some reminded me of graffiti and others of tribal masks. Again not the type of work that I find interesting, so I was happy to have a look but not to linger.

Lisa Roet: “Monkey Grip”

Lisa has given a talk at TAFE before and I have seen her work at McCelland Sculpture Park. this exhibition covered her drawings which I like very much, her sculptures including some lovely little bronzes as well as a video with included animation, a stained glass piece which was quite lovely and some of her larger sculptures. all of these based around her passion for the great apes, orang-utans and chimps and their interaction with, relationship to and dependence on conservation by humans.

Lisa gave a talk about each piece on display and answered questions. She was very generous with her time. It is obvious from how she speaks and what she does by travelling around the works to learn more about her subject that it is a lifelong passion.

I really did love her large drawings, the lines and tones she gets from confident use of the drawing materials creates a piece that looks like it is moving ad has bulk and form. Her display alone makes a visit to the MPRG worth the trip.

Art Chat by John Wolseley

Venue: McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park

Topic: Works Including those in the Current birds inspired Exhibition

I am borrowing from his biography on the web to introduce John:

Artist John Wolseley was born in Somerset, England. He studied at St Martins School of Art between 1957 and 1958, the Byam Shaw School of Art, London, in printmaking from 1958 to 1963 and later in Paris between 1961 and 1963. He lived and worked throughout Europe before relocating to Australia in 1976, where he travelled extensively through the outback. He has been artist in residence at studios at Deakin University, Bendigo, the Joye Art Foundation, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and George Cottage Launceston, and has taught painting in Northern Territory Communities since 1978.

John has held solo exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra and survey exhibitions of his work have been held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the University of Melbourne and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

He is the previous recipient of the Geelong Gallery Capital Permanent Acquisition Award in1979, the Art Gallery of New South Wales Trustees watercolour prize in 1982, 1985, 1988, 1995 and 2004; and the Alice Prize in 1982, 1985, 1988, 1996, 2004. He received a bicentennial commission from the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1988, and Australia Council Grant in 1998 and an Honorary PhD in Science from Macquarie University in 2005. His work is represented by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; most state galleries, Parliament House, Canberra; several regional and tertiary collections and internationally in collections in England and Yugoslavia. A monograph of his work was published in 1998, and a collection of artworks accompanied by poetry ‘Lines for birds’ was published in 2011.

As you may imagine, after reading this I was more than impressed and eager to hear what John had to say as well as hopefully seeing some more of his work and what motivates his subjects.

So, on with the chat!

We had an amazing turnout today for John’s chat. Not only general public but two teachers from TAFE and a lot of art students as well, which was wonderful to see!

With his large water colour of wetlands behind him, John gave an entertaining and insightful talk not only about his art but also his travels and the people he has met. He quoted poems from his collaborative book with poet Barry Hill which nearly had me in tears (again) because as he read  I was looking at his painting, the words flowing over me and transporting me to that quiet place in your mind that you go to when you paint.

Within the space of just over an hour John told us about travels in northern Australia, travels in Europe and his love of nature and the animals and particularly the birds that inhabit wetlands in many countries. Australia, in particular, he said, has been painted in the arid desert and the coastlines but not so much in the beautiful wetlands that attract so many varieties of birds. He likes to get them painted before they are taken away by development or change due to other human interferance.

In amongst other things today John also touched on the philosophy behind his work. I heard names that were new to me and have had me running to Google whilst writing this piece. The first is Jakob von Uexküll born in the Keblas estate Estonia. Needing to support himself after his family lost their fortune, Uexküll took a job as professor at the University of Hamburg where he founded the Institut für Umweltforschung.

Uexküll was interested in how living beings subjectively interacted in their environments. Uexküll called these subjective spatio-temporal worlds umwelt (German for environment). These umwelten are distinctive from what Uexküll termed the “umgebung” which would be objective reality should such a reality exist. That is a bit to take in on the fly. I think what he was ultimately aiming at was the artist and the environment becoming in harmony with each other. You go out and not only observe but interact and become a part of what you are painting. Another name quoted was Emerson. “The mind and the world are inseparable.” WOW I just looked him up and have book marked his quotes as they are amazing and I feel like I should read one regularly, especially on those days when I get a bit down or discouraged.

“Art doesn’t impose – it exposes”

John’s Methods of creating his paintings, apart from his philosophical leanings, are very in tune with what he finally produces. I picked up a copy of his book today, which he kindly signed. In it is a photo of his 300gsm paper rolled out on the ground. I don’t think there is another artist of western heritage that works quite like him. The materials are in touch with the earth, he lays down washes freely and in tune with everything around him. There are lots of greys in his paintings – warm greys, cool greys, neutral greys, so often overlooked but so important for linking other colours together. Even  with modern tools such as masking fluid and even a dremmel to sand back to the bare paper, the immediacy of the experience of painting still comes through. The birds which are intertwined with the reeds and flowers, wind their way in and around the composition. Everything is related, everything belongs. The muted colours are highlighted by the clever and limited use of higher key colours, the whole painting looks alive.

The very important message to art students from John, I thought, was to keep experimenting. Take a day every now and then or even regularly and experiment with all your materials. Put fear aside and try anything that pops to mind so that you really do understand your tools and materials and how far you can push them. Learn your subjects and topics so that you can concentrate on creatively portraying them once you get started with the brush.

John is such a great speaker, I could have listened to him for hours! His smooth accent and amount of knowledge as well as endearing sense of humour were very enjoyable. I am looking forward to taking time each day at TAFE to read a few pages from his book and soak in his paintings.