Australian Fine Artist

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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