Australian Fine Artist

Archive for the ‘Context and Culture’ Category

Artist’s Showcase and Residencies – Heritage Hill, Dandenong

The Importance of Getting your Work “Out There”

Creating Art for the People

The depth of research, and explanation, must complement the setting and type of visitors attracted to the venue. The location at Heritage Hill, a listed residence including a restored homestead and buildings, acts as a base for the arts in Dandenong for residencies and exhibitions. 

It attracts tourists, and visitors wanting to fill in some time looking at the gardens and buildings. It follows, that an artist’s deeper meaning intended to inform and enlighten viewers, including art collectors, must be made evident by the resident artist.

According to Langer (1966), “The ancient ubiquitous character of art contrasts sharply with the prevalent idea that art is a luxury product of civilization, a cultural frill, a piece of social veneer”. She goes on to say:

“Wherever art takes a motif from actuality – a flowering branch, a bit of landscape, a historic event or a personal memory, any model or theme from life – it transforms it into a piece of imagination, and imbues its image with artistic vitality. The result is an impregnation of ordinary reality with the significance of created form.”

Assumption and preconceived ideas, such as the role of art in modern society, requires a catalyst to prompt discussions which a residency provides.

Consequently, the work space provided for a residency becomes a meeting place for artists, the art, and the viewer. In this modern context, the working artist illustrates to the public their skill, gained not so much by a ’natural gift’ or “genius”, as it is via practice, training, and education, and how art is relevant in modern society.

Art, therefore, now becomes a vehicle for the artist and viewer to connect on a very human level that predates written and verbal language.

Fine art, according to Kant in The Critique of Judgement (Kant, 1911), “has the effect of advancing the culture of the mental powers in the interests of social communication”. The pleasure from art, he goes on to say is “not one of enjoyment arising out of mere sensation, but must be one of reflection”.

Artworks typically capture a moment in time. The modern artist, due to current digital tools, can, however, create impressions of changes in the landscape. Such is the case in the sketches and paintings included in this book, that reveal how Dandenong grew from bush landscape, to a country town, and then to a thriving modern urban city with Heritage Hill as part of its historic centre.

The Residency Space at Heritage Hill

The residency space for artists is in Laurel Lodge, and for disabled artists, or those with large projects such as sculptors, the nearby outbuildings are also available.

The original bedrooms (upstairs) have plenty of room to draw and paint, and have tranquil views across the gardens. A small couch and seating was made available, along with a set of drawers, large table, and shelves in the master bedroom for this residency. Hanging space on the walls also made the room more inviting for tourists, and visitors to the property, who were welcome to come in to look at the work, and talk about the process of creating it.

The atmosphere of the property and the room itself encourages artists to concentrate on creating, researching, experimenting and producing artworks without the common distractions that can take them away from their work. Especially with a project in mind, it is possible to investigate and deepen artistic practice, and methodology, and pursue new subjects for substantial bodies of work.

As Heritage Hill was a part of the research I was investigating into the history and growth of the Dandenong area during my residency, it provided constant inspiration and a convenient location to base my research, and photography, sketching, and painting.

Research and the Artworks

It is thought by some historians, that the name Dandenong is taken from the indigenous word Tanjenong, meaning lofty mountain. This suits the nearby Mount Dandenong at 630 metres (2,066.93 feet) height, and its dominance of the landscape. As part of the Dandenong Ranges, it was formed more than 300 million years ago from volcanic rock, when a large area of sedimentary rock collapsed into an underlying magma chamber, creating ash flows along the vents.

This series of violent eruptions created four lava flows forming the mountain range, and leaving depressions called caldera, which have collapsed and eroded over time, to be hardly recognisable as the remnants of a volcanic event today.

It was this volcanic activity that laid the foundations for the lush soil, along with regular rainfall, that encouraged the growth of mountain ash, forest ferns and the proliferation of native wildlife like the superb lyrebird, honey eater and Leadbeater’s possum.

For thousands of years this area, extending into the wetlands near what is now Carrum, was the home of the Wurunjeri and Boonerwrung tribes of the Kulin Nation. The clans in what is now the City of Greater Dandenong were the Ngaruk Willam Bunurong and the Mayone Bulluk Bunurong. Sadly, the indigenous population declined severely as squatters took over large areas, with little understanding of the cultures they were disrupting and displacing. It has only been in more recent years that areas of cultural importance to original inhabitants have been protected by legislation and heritage management councils.

Artists are not often offered an opportunity to publicly work in a dedicated place of creativity and reflection. In the studio, we are bombarded with emails, phone calls, domestic duties and other distractions. The broken concentration, and inability to dedicate time to a single project can prove overwhelming at times, and can certainly detract from quality time in front of the easel.

Contrary to the myth of the solitary genius creating masterpieces by inspiration, most artists work diligently on not only refining their methods and styles, but also on research into the history of a topic they want to work on, how other artists work and what they are doing currently, and furthering their education. It isn’t unusual to spend 80% of your time as a professional artist on office paperwork (research, study, accounts, grants, exhibitions, supplies, studio management etc) with only 20% actually enjoying what you do best – creating art.

To create good or great art requires dedicated hard work and practice, it is a profession, a calling, and a passion. With that said, the opportunity provided by a residency to spend time away from the office, and outside pressures, to commit to creating art is one with an importance that should not be underestimated. 

Authorities and organisations that provide artist’s residencies and exhibition space understand the need for artists to have the time to work on creative projects, and it is appreciated by artists when we are approved to complete them whilst collaborating with the public arts sector.

On a personal note my Artist’s Showcase, the result of my research project at Heritage Hill, is in the Benga Homestead and will run until April 2019. All the paintings are for sale and the venue provides EFT facilities.

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Public and Regional Galleries

How Important Are They? Why do they deserve your suppport?

There may be a lot of people who wonder why we have public and regional galleries. Surely they are just for people who love art or who are in the arts professions? What is not always explained about visual art in particular, is that even if you are not an artist or even in an accepted creative profession, or learning one, the methods of creative thinking and problem solving that artists do, is also useful in science, engineering and other professions.

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A Brief Comparison of Texts Regarding Artist Jane Sutherland

A Commentary Comparing Views and Comments
(Written without Prejudice)

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Edmund Burke

“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.

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Painting Workshops – Ethics and Copyright

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.

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Views of the Universe from Van Gogh to the Hubble Telescope: A Comparative Study of Sublime Beauty

Essay for Bachelor of Fine Art and Visual Culture Curtin University 2017

The sublime fascination with the night sky began very early in human history, evidenced by early records of the movement of the stars, moon and sun in stone monuments. The dwelling place of the gods in ceilings of the tombs in Egypt later became the firmament of heaven for Christianity, and with the advent of the telescope, the night sky increasingly became a place of investigation into our place in the universe. During the 19th century, the paintings of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) revealed his fascination with the night sky inspired by literature, religious beliefs, and prominent artists like Rembrandt (1606-1669) and Whistler (1834-1903). An examination of van Gogh’s three most prominent night scenes contrasted with contemporary 19th-century paintings, historic and contemporary sources, and current views of deep space will argue that the Sublime beauty of the universe is clearly evident in his paintings and that they are forerunners to the images viewed by the Hubble telescope. It will provide evidence of how visions of the night sky have expanded from ideas based on myth or religion to a broader interpretation of the Sublime, and comprehension of a universe in which the earth is but a tiny spec.

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Advanced Seascape Painting

Final in the Series of Five Monthly Workshops with David Chen

Loosening up Versus Painting Against the Contour

If you are like me, and admire the work of the Impressionist painters, you may look atyour work and think that it looks too ‘tight’ and wish you could ‘loosen up’ your method of painting.

Like me, you may also be confused as to how you go about doing this. This is where the concept of loosening up is usually confused with the method of painting against contours.

In this final workshop for the semester, this very portant method, that will help your paintings to gain some of that more immediacy and freshness, so often seen in the finest impressionist artworks, can begin to be understood and applied.
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Advanced Seascape Painting

Fourth in the Series of Monthly Workshops with David Chen

Relating Objects in the Background to Those in the Rest of Your Composition

Most of us are aware of the concept of the foreground, middle and background divisions in compositions. These planes help the artists to create depth in a scene so that the viewer gets the impression of looking into a painting, not just at a two dimensional flat surface.

When creating these planes, however, we need to think about the relationships between items and objects in each of these areas. without a flow, or reltaitonship in a painting, we end up with a load of disjointed and unrelated objects that have no ‘conversations’ going on between them.
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Advanced Landscape Painting

Painting Workshop with David Chen

Understanding the Use of Intense Colour and Grey Tones

I sat in on an extra workshop this weekend, and this extra session was very helpful in pushing my use of colour. As a mainly tonal painter, my paintings tend to not push colour to extremes, I paint in a manner that uses a realist/impressionist crossover so my application of the paint can be conservative in a lot of areas.

The reason why I, and other artists, attend workshops like this one, is that they give you a new perspective and challenge you to go outside of your comfort zone. For me it means using more paint, lashing it on with broad strokes, and looking at my subject with new eyes. It means taking reality and bending it to my will, and creating a new vision. This may mean replacing one colour with another one, or several others. It may mean adding or deleting things from what I am looking at. It pushes me to be a creative painter and not just a copier of the real world around me.
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Advanced Seascape Painting

Third in the Series of Monthly Workshops with David Chen

Creating Emphasis – Edges and Lines

There are several ways to create emphasis or direct the eye to a focal point in a painting. The variety of edges in your painting is one of these methods. Soft edges allow the eye to move on to another area whereas sharp edges automatically attract the eye and this is where you want your focal point. Another way of describing this method is ‘lost and found edges’.
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Life Drawing with Ink

Life drawing doesn’t have to only consist of using one medium, like charcoal or pencils. The nice thing about drawing the human form is trying it out with a variety of materials. Pastels and coloured papers are a great way of getting tonal values into your drawings, and can add colours to liven up a pose.

Inks, which can also come in a variety of colours, are another way of portraying the human form whilst creating some soft and flowing lines and highlights and shadows. Inks can be thinned out with water, if they are water-based, allowing a huge range of mid-tones that give the body depth and form.

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