A Commentary Comparing Views and Comments
(Written without Prejudice)
“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
“How can you tell the story of a culture when you don’t include all the voices within the culture?”
Khalo (Gorilla Girls)
While it could be said that since the beginnings of the Australian Feminist movement women have made inroads into professional acceptance, this may not be the case for generations of women artists. Depending on the sources that the general public may read, a vastly different view of a particular artist may be perceived, and resulting impressions swayed by the research position, personal biases, or emotive rhetoric by the writer. Although I believe it isn’t possible to completely omit a personal interpretive lens, as far as possible, I will endeavor to critically analyse the comments and conclusions made about artist Jane Sutherland in the texts reviewed in this commentary.
Blacks in Oil Paints
When I first began painting I was told to avoid using black. It was a colour (or tone) that was to be avoided in preference for colours. It was never really explained to me, I just accepted that it was the case.
Without really examining paintings from the past, and how blacks have been used by master artists like Rembrandt, it could be easy t take the word for a well-meaning teacher or colleague about the use of black, but it is there in the paints, for a reason.
Many of us who are training to be professional artists, or are keen amateurs attend regular workshops with professional art teachers.
Learning from established artists is a long tradition going back to prior to the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance it was common for artists to take on apprentices who over years learnt about the materials as well as methods and techniques to painting and drawing. Later in their training, they were allowed to participate in completed works with their ‘master’. Leonardo da Vinci is a prime example, whose marks are clearly seen in a couple of paintings done by his tutor.
The difference between then and now, is that copyright and intellectual property are more strictly enforced now than they were then, and because of social media and the growth of on-line sales what is done at a workshop, and touched by your tutor may not be yours to sell without their permission, or to say is your own creation.
One of my students recently asked my about the use of masking fluid for water colour painting. This useful tool was introduced to me only a few years ago, and it is very helpful for keeping areas of your paper pristine for later washes or for the white to show through.
The accepted way of painting water colour is not to use white, but to allow the white of your paper to show through and around your colours. this method also helps the painting to look more ‘painterly’ and can create a sarkle and added dimension to the light.
If you are fairly new to oil paints, you may not have encountered transparency in the various colour yet. Even for those of us who have been painting for a while, remembering which colours are transparent usually means double checking the back of the tube.
To begin with I will talk about what I mean by transparency in oil paints.
The Second of Five Workshops with David Chen
Have you ever noticed when you paint a subject, that it looks like a stencil sitting on top of the surrounds? Painting along the edges when we paint can result in the subject, in this case, the figure, looking like it is popped on top of the background with no relationship to it.
There is a place for edges, or clear defining changes of colour and tone in a painting, but suing them all through the work can result in somethign that looks ‘stiff’ and lacking in life or movement.
How to avoid this when painting, so that the model is placed within the context of the background and a narrative is created is something that we see in the examples of artists that we admire in galleries, and somethng that we can achieve if we work at it.
I have been using acrylic paints for several years now and something that I have known about them but have not investigated is why some acrylics tend to change colour when they dry.
You may have had this experience before. You mix a nice bold colour and apply it to your painting, then when it is dry, the colour has lightened or changed in some way, becoming less vibrant for example.