Demonstration of Semi-Abstract Landscape Painting
Venue: McClelland Guild of Artists
Ron came along to the demonstration loaded with cards on which he had written his tips and thoughts on his art and producing art. I will start with a few of these as they show where he is coming from.
Look at the masters but to see that you absorb the timeless principles in their work – not the surface effects of mannerisms.
Avoid stylistic straight jacket. Conquer technique, make it part of you – then forget it.
If you can’t surpass t – leave it alone. Great “aide memoirs” for revisiting the motif.
Ron began his painting career by painting more towards the realist/impressionist style. He studied to obtain a Diploma of Art and teaching qualifications and was a member of the prestigious Victorian Artists Society (Vic Arts). More recently he has developed his style towards a more abstract style and has been experimenting with colour and line. He also teaches art privately.
Influences over his art vary from Post Impressionists to Fauvists and Abstract artists. He brought along a few books of his work as it developed over his career, as well as one of his visual diaries. The translation of a photo to simple line drawing in his diary was I think, the most interesting of the demonstration. Some may think you would have one or the other, but using everything at your command for developing a concept I think is a wider use of any materials you need to create for yourself and how you think and develop your work in contrast to how someone else may do it. This doesn’t take away from the importance of knowing how to draw, which I think every artist should know how to do.
Ron draw in his composition with Indian Ink and a small stick. The lines were loose and free-flowing allowing for him to change the layout as he wished as the painting built up. the advantage of using ink is also that when dry it will not contaminate your paint like charcoal can. Some her artists use a thin wash of paint such as an ochre or neutral grey to draw in their layout with the brush, a method that I have picked up for my own work. It also allows for the painting to stay painterly and loose as long as you remember not to overwork it later.
With his first drawing and smaller simplified drawing as references (he doesn’t use his photos), Ron began applying paint, using the traditional method of then and dark first to establish the shadows and thicker and thinner lines. From here he allowed the painting to evolve and with a very limited palette, applied alternating cools and darks, and light and dark colours not too concerned if one colour “contaminated” another by remaining on the brush, but incorporating them into the painting. It was interesting that he only used at most two brushes for the whole work, wiping them with a rag and sometimes mixing colours on the canvas from previous to the next selected from the palette.
Rather than attempting to produce a painting with perspective or reference to realism, Ron was more interested in the flow of line and the relationship of one colour to another and where they were located on the canvas. Some of the lines and marks were nearly in the style of calligraphy or oriental art where western thoughts on perspective, space and tone were of no importance.
With more like a back hand tennis grip on the brush, Ron scurried his colours around his line work. His goal for the day, he said was to take us through the process and thinking rather than producing a completed painting, which may or may not tell us anything about how and why he paints. He said that what is important in producing a painting was to create something that stopped people and invited them to make up their own stories as they worked their way through them. I agree with him that there may be a lot of art on the market at the moment that fails in this regard. It doesn’t engage the viewer, by either challenging something in their thinking or tugging on an emotion.
Even though Ron doesn’t paint in a style that I am particularly interested in, especially as far as producing it, when you go to a demonstration like this, it is a good idea to try to come away with at least one thing you can say you have learnt or that conforms what you are trying to do in your own practice. You may think that you really don’t like that style at all – well that has taught you something and that is to look in another direction for yourself. As along as you haven’t been offended or upset by overly confronting themes or images, you have had a learning experience that you can build on.
This was the last demonstration for the year at McClelland Guild of Artists and possibly the last one I will be writing about from this venue. After being a member for nearly eight years, next year I will be continuing my studies at TAFE for either an advanced diploma or a bachelors degree in fine art and hopefully working towards a solo exhibition at the end of the year as well as taking on tutoring and demonstrating myself and increasing my involvement in both AGRA and Vic Arts events. I hope that readers have found these stories interesting and informative. As always, comments and suggestions are most welcome.