Australian Fine Artist

Archive for the ‘Janice’s Artworks at Chisholm’ Category

Victorian Artists Society

The Member’s Room

Exhibiting for the Month of July 2014

Tales of Things Lost or Forgotten
Some of the Major Pieces

I am very pleased and proud to have recent works on display in the Member’s Room at the Victorian Artists Society. They are available to purchase and I am very happy to talk to any art collectors new or current who may be interested in one or more of the pieces.

The Victorian Artists Society was started by some of Australia’s most prestigious Impressionist artists of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Membership is by sponsorship only and the standard of presented paintings and skill level are assessed before membership is given. It is because of this that I was honoured to be sponsored by the then President of the Society whilst talking to her on the phone.

My work was checked on-line and in the email I submitted as I didn’t know anyone in the Society to sponsor me. I have entered a few shows since then, but the Member’s room as part of my project for my Advanced Diploma in 2014 is the most ambitious venture I have done with them to date.

This preview of my body of work for 2014 will be in the book to be published at the end of 2014. As the project is still ongoing, comments and suggestions are most welcome. Enquiries about my other works can also be made through my web site at:

A hint of what the paintings will look like hanging in the Member’s Room.

RHS Wall-triptych space-LR










three sep paintings on wall-LR

Aztecs at the Melbourne Museum

Drawing Session for Advanced Diploma Students

We were treated to a visit in the Melbourne Museum this week, where we are allowed to spend time drawing the exhibits on display from the Aztec empire. I have been very interested in archeology and history since I was very young, reading encyclopaedias and any books I could get my hands on. My mother in particular encouraged my interest and by the time I was in high school I had read two encyclopaedias and was also watching programs about my favourite subjects.

The Aztec empire lasted for only around 200 years and spread from Mexico to parts of Central South America. It is a culture that had great strengths and some very, what we would call, cruel or even savage customs. Their art is beautiful, sophisticated and intricate and the Aztecs built some amazing pyramids and cities. Unfortunately for surrounding tribes they also practised human sacrifice of captured enemy warriors and even had ritual sacrifices of their own people. Some of the images in the exhibition are confronting in this regard so you need to be aware of this.



Oakhill Gallery Exhibition

I am pleased to invite friends and followers to my exhibition at Oakhill Gallery, Mornington.

The exhibition covers a body of work produced starting mid 2013 and leading to my Advanced Diploma Project for 2014.

All works are for sale and a price list will be available at the venue. I look forward to seeing some familiar faces during the month.

Kindest regards,

Janice Mills.


Oakhill Gallery Award for Emerging Artists

As a rule I try not to do too much self promoting on this blog site, as it is mostly reserved for education and information. I like to inform about events that may be of interest and promote the arts, especially fine and visual art to those that are already interested or are thinking it may be something that they can start to look at for a hobby or collector.

Today I am breaking my own rule a little to talk about the opening night at the Frankston Chisholm TAFE End of Year Art Exhibition.

Students, including myself as a second year visual art student, spent quite a bit of time in meetings to arrange the exhibition, working on getting the infrastructure of the night done, promoting, advertising, getting signage done, arranging catering, inviting a special speaker to open the exhibition and security etc. Following all of that come the clearing out of the studio spaces and cleaning, then the hanging of the exhibition and preparing the area for guests and entertainment.


Gordon Bennett

Australian Artist


Gordon Bennett is an Australian artist of Aboriginal and Anglo-Gaelic descent he was born in Monto, Queensland, and is now working in Brisbane.

Gordon’s work is quite varied from what I could see in the film. There were three dimensional installations with lights and mirrors as well as paintings and drawings. His style is very modern but calls on traditional themes to enhance and dramatise a story in an artwork.

In the movie Gordon spoke about being an Australian first and preferring to be called an artist, not an Aboriginal Artist, or any other descriptor that someone may want to tag on to the front of the word artist. He has a mixed heritage and even though seemingly a little torn between the two at times, he proudly talked about both.

Gordon left school in his mid teens and went to work doing anything other than art until he went to art school at Queensland College of Art where he did extremely well. Gaining some prestigious awards kick started his career and it looks like he has never looked back. A hard worker and dedicated to always producing the best quality art that he can, I admire him for his professional ethics as a practising artist.

It’s sad I think that our history in Australia has left such a scar on relations between races. Some would say that much of the racism is still going on in parts of the country and that is why the very confrontational themes in some of Gordon’s art is still relevant. That is a sad reflection on us as a nation. Nobody should have to allow people to think they of another race to be accepted. We should not have to apologise for who and what we are – especially racially.

I have never experienced racial prejudice in such a harsh manner and was brought up to get along with everyone who was a decent and kind person no matter what race they were or beliefs they held. My brothers and sister when young played happily with Aboriginal kids and my mum was a member of the Aboriginal Advancement league in the 1960s and a strong supporter of Australia’s original inhabitants. This means that I have to really apply myself in listening to Gordon when he talks about his experiences and knowledge in this regard.

One of my influences towards being an artist and painting landscapes were the prints of Albert Namtjira paintings in our lounge room as I grew up. Not traditional Aboriginal art but it was lovely and I admired his talent.

Speaking of influences I thought I could see some Sydney Nolan influence in Gordon’s works. Not that it matters, we all call on artists we admire on occasion and many famous artists have other artists as their inspiration and we see their influence in their work.

Gordon finished off talking about his hopes for a better future for his kids. He has worked hard to give them a good start and a loving home and I also hope that the Australia they inherit is one where we all can start to appreciate and respect our differences and similarities as valuable assets.

The First Year – A Revue

I thought since I have a bit of time handy this morning that I’d write a bit about the first year studying full time and life in general as an art student.

At the beginning of this year, as we all made our way into the Frankston campus I was wondering what I was thinking going back to school full time. After working for nearly thirty years in the print/advertising/graphic arts industry and being made redundant in 2009 I was really totally burnt out.

It took me two years with a lot of medical help to bring myself to the point where I could do a couple of part time courses last year and do some contract work for a few graphics companies. When the work load got too heavy though I still found myself falling to bits and still unable to cope so again, why was I thinking I could study full time?

Well honestly, it came down to a few things. First, I was expected by Centrelink to apply for jobs that either were not there or I knew I was not up to anymore. Second, the economy was looking like it was not going to pick up for at least a couple of years so any business ideas for fine art were not going to take off in a hurry when people are hanging on to their discretionary spending money. Third, I dropped out of art school at the then Caulfield Institute in the 1970s and have regretted it ever since, so given all of the other factors, I thought it a good idea to take the time to get qualified and make sure that I had all the little bits of information about producing art covered. Fourth, A huge gut instinct to get back to my original “calling” to be a fine artist and to do it now.

My husband has been a great support in all of this and any friends I have had over the years were thrilled when I decided to get totally back to my fine art.

Because of them I can say that I have been able to apply myself as well as I have to this year’s efforts. It, however, still hasn’t been an easy year. First I discovered I had tendonitis in both Achilles tendons so have spent most of the year adjusting shoes and recovering to be able to walk, go up and down stairs and get to excursions without pain. Next came three very bad colds in a row. The second leaving me unable to breath for about four days and hanging on for several weeks of coughing and wheezing. Most recently came the death of my oldest and dearest friend who had been like a second mother to me. She was the last link back to my own mum and was very supportive of my fine art career. I have really felt the loss. A more minor loss, although still very upsetting,  in amongst all this was having to have my favourite pet cow put down a few months ago as she had cancer.

So as I said in a lot of ways a hard year. I am not sure if the work at school has been my saviour, but I am sure that the people in my life still around or not would expect me to do no less than my best so I have tried to make sure I didn’t disappoint them or myself.

With the end of this first year approaching I am now reflecting a bit on what has been achieved and what is to come.

Am I happy that I came back to school? Absolutely yes.

Has it been worth it? Yes.

Have I learnt anything? Yes, my life drawing skills have improved, my paintings are being produced more efficiently, I have been exposed to some new ideas, new artists and made some new friends.

Am I encouraged to keep going? Yes. In fact I am planning on going on to complete an advanced diploma if I can.

Right now I am compiling all of my work for presenting for assessment week. Even though several need to be completed, the stack building up shows some experimentation, learning of new techniques and refining of others plus a chance to try out some things like sculpting and printmaking that I would not have the opportunity to try in my own studio. Even this blog has been an expansion of my opportunities to write and publish.

So, approaching the end of my first year, I can now say I am confident in starting my second year of study and very much looking forward to it. I want to let my tutors know how much I appreciate their input and their patience with me. I especially want to thank all the students I have studied and socialised with for their friendship and kindness.

Whatever happens in the coming several weeks as we wind up the year, I know I have done my best and with any luck my results will reflect that. Thanks everyone!


Paintings at TAFE Bookstores

WHEN: Until the first week of the final semester 2012

WHERE: Bookstores at Frankston and Dandenong TAFE

I am happy to write that I have some of my smaller artworks on display and for sale at both campusses of TAFE for the next month or so.

The managers of both stores have offered me window space and I am thrilled to accept their kind offers. This means extra exposure for my art and a chance to sell some.

I have a small biography so that buyers can get to know the person they are buying from and contact details as well as prices are clearly marked.

For those without cash on them I can arrange for EFTPOS, VISA, Mastercard, Paypal, Cheque and even layby for a few months with an initial 50% deposit.

I am also interested in people’s impressions of the artworks, so I have included my web address which has a feedback page, on the biography.

Other art students are also welcome to display after my turn is over, so why not call in and have a chat to the manager of the stores!


Two of my paintings at Frankston have now SOLD!

A couple of replacement artworks have been brought in from my studio and are also on sale at special rates for TAFE staff and students.

To see more of my art visit my web site at:

Cathy van Ee

Subject: Demo of Portraiture from a Photo in Oils

Venue: McClelland Guild of Artists

Cathy would have to be one of the nicest and most knowledgeable portrait artists around! I totally enjoyed her demonstration today and it was jam packed with valuable information for artists of all levels. She is also a true professional as she also brought along a small slide show on a screen for us to look at and a folio of her works.

As she was setting up for the demo, I noticed how Cathy carefully selected her palettes (two of them) for her painting. She had one set up with large dobs of colour for her backgrounds. These were from larger tubes that she uses for landscapes and backgrounds. The other was for the face using more expensive paint. I liked seeing that she had her palette arranged with warms to cools from left to right and tonal range from top to bottom. So she had effectively three tones mixed and ready to go for all her major colours in skin tones.

The painting was to be done on particle board, which had been coated with “suede” wall paint to give it some texture and then painted over again with a light burgundy colour gesso. The drawing in which was actually done with raw umber paint and a small brush, was already done as Cathy likes to measure all her facial features to make sure the painting is accurate to the sitter. The photo for the painting was set to the right of the painting area and to the left was a small pastel of the photo which is a great idea for working out the kinks you may encounter as you begin a painting. The design and tones etc had been nutted out before she even started on her oil painting.

At the beginning of the session, Cathy took the time to talk to use about the importance of drawing as a basic tool for all forms of art. She said it is very important the we develop our drawing skills and spend time doing small pieces so that we can find our own “path” as far as style and subject matter are concerned. She also talked about the colour wheel and using complementaries and then went on to tonal values and how painting relies on tonal values more than actual colours.

Cathy spoke about how important it is to set up your palette leaving you free to think about what you are doing with your painting. She included talking about vibrant and soft areas, which means selecting colours that are usually straight out of the tube to keep the colour pure and using it in a spot on your work to highlight it and create focal points and drama.

For her darkest darks, Cathy mixes her own blacks so that she has the choice of a warm or cool black rather than the rather “dead’ effect you may get from a black straight from the tube.

I noticed the paints were a mix of Monte Mart and Lukas for her larger tubes and Windsor & Newton for her smaller ones and the solvent for today was odorless so were didn’t get overwhelmed in a confined area. The amount of solvent used for mixing was just enough to get the right resistance as the paint was applied to the board.

As a tip Cathy said that she puts her brushes into two baths of turps and then washes with soap and water afterwards. She then showed us a bottle of Eziclean, which she has used to resurrect some very hard and what you would have thought of as “dead” brushes.

So on to the painting. Starting with nice big brushes, Cathy put in her darkest darks keeping the strokes loose and broad. The darks on the face were just little strokes put in as points to paint into later. The reddish colour over the board was allowed to show through on the background area, a nice contrast the dark and medium blues. The hair was loosely painted in which framed the face area very nicely.

Using a brush for each tone to go on to the face and neck, Cathy built up the image by establishing her lightest tone for the face and putting a sample on the face as a reference, and working from her darker tones to finish off with he lightest tones last. With a huge arsenal of brushes, Cathy selected the tightest and springiest brush for each purpose.

At about this point we were treated to a quick lesson about measuring up a face to paint. We saw the lines to draw dividing up a face into measurable areas to make sure that everything falls into the right place and at the right size.

Back into the painting, we were reminded that we must keep working around the whole painting – especially the main subject. As attractive as it is to get a lovely set of eyes completed, it does help if the rest of the work is lagging behind. We need to work the paint into areas to make sure tones are working and that we have edges in the right places. This means working paint into and out of areas as you build up tone. Keep your brushes large and strokes broad and loose for as long as possible and don’t panic if your work enters an “ugly” stage.

A lighter tone of the skin is a good colour for the whites of eyes, or what Cathy called a “dirty white” using burnt umber, ultramarine and white.

After the major tones were completed Cathy moved on to add some smaller brushes so that she could work on building up the form of the eyes, nose and mouth. She likened this process to sculpting the face, as it involved using tone to build form and shape. Nostrels can be a pain for many of us and were described as a tonal area not a black dot, so we need to really look at how they are formed and fit into the face. A light red with brown added a good colour to start with for these. Light red, yellow and white mixed together and made into light, mid and dark tones also good for skin tones.

As the lightest tones and little highlights were added to the tip of the nose, the eyes, chin and above the lips the face really did gain a degree of depth that was very realistic. Highlights using a tone of skin with a bit more red added made the hair gain texture and where the face meets the hair was defined very softly.

At this stage of painting Cathy said it is usually a good idea to take a break so that you can come back to it with a fresh eye to complete all the little details. Unfortunately at a demo you don’t have this luxury, but that doesn’t take away from the value of doing this as habit. In this case Cathy was given a little more time to refine certain features which really were to parts that made this painting pop. Walking back and forth as she had all through the process, to check from a bit of a distance, final little blends of tone, highlights and edges were refined – maybe not to complete the painting, but at least create a very stunning and lifelike portrait.

After the demonstration, I was very privileged to have some tips about improving my own work on show for the day. She gave me some great feedback. Her understanding of process for building a drawing is amazing and she talks to you in a way which is totally understandable. We also talked about teaching and the process of building a career as an artist. I very much want to thank Cathy for being so kind and spending some of her valuable time with me.

Cathy Van Ee is a teacher at the Peninsula Artists Society and does paintings by commission. Below are her contact details.

Mobile number: 0413 337 024

Web site:

I have by permission from Cathy included a photo of her demo painting as it stood at completion of the session. Please note  that the painting is not completed and she was intending on doing some more work with it.

Personal Note: This story will also be published in the bi-monthly issue of the newsletter for the McClelland Guild of Artists and in the commentaries section of my web site at

Clive Stephen – Sculptor (1889-1957)

Speaker: Ken Scarlett
Curator of the Clive Stephen Exhibition at McClelland Gallery
Australian author specialising in Australian sculpture

Venue:  The McClelland Galleries 

Last week I took the time to have a walk around to preview the new exhibitions that are in both rooms at McClelland. These in contrast to a few other exhibitions recently were immediately to my liking. I don’t know how long exactly it takes to set up exhibitions like these, but Ken confirmed today that a few people had put in some twelve hour days and worked very hard to collect, catalogue and present the works we were looking at today. What made Clive’s work a bit more difficult was that he rarely signed and dated his pieces and rarely kept records about them either. More annoying would have been that the NGV hadn’t produced a catalogue for his exhibition in around 1959 as they had been so short of funds they couldn’t afford to print one.

The collection at McClelland was a really lovely mix of Clive’s work. Some from collections and some from his wife’s store of his work. Since Clive was a full time practising GP it is interesting that he took the time to fit in his great love of art. Since he had not travelled extensively during his life he drew on the inspiration from the contacts he made in the arts world  and from Africa and the Pacific, which at the time not many other artists were doing in Australia – if any.

Ken spoke about how on an early trip to Europe with a family Clive was working for, styles that began to influence him were from Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Henri Matisse. In Melbourne Clive joined a group of which Russell Drysdale was a member and which was run by George Bell. The artist and printmaker Eric Thake is also thought to have influenced his work as seen by the lovely little linocuts we saw on the wall over his sculptures.

Also talked about was Clive Stephen’s dedication to and love of his materials. The original form of the wood or stone is still allowed to show through the creation. The little sculptures of animals are simple but not simplistic. You just want to touch them they have such beautiful curves and form. Each is elegant and not over stated and the personality of the artist and his subject both shine through.

We saw some photos of Clive Stephen on site looking for materials such as Buchan marble, well known for the fossils that can either make it more interesting or a bit busy. We were told he also resourced from a local monumental stone mason where he may have picked up some tips about carving into stone.

Not exactly an artist who used “found materials” but rather went out and accessed from the source rather than relying on someone else to do it (maybe to cut costs or just to get exactly why he wanted) I personally found a new artist from our recent past to admire and respect. His life drawings are full of life and his watercolours are creative, well balanced and interesting. His sculptures are sensuous, curvy, full of life and even fun in their reflections of animals we have around us today. He calls on the inspiration of Africa and the Pacific cultures with respect and his own tasteful interpretation. Clive Stephen, Australian Sculptor, Artist, Doctor and a fine example for us to draw our own inspiration from today.

A Little Experimentation!

I was kindly given a repainted canvas board at school last week and was going to completely paint it out but after the first coat changed my mind and decided to go in another direction with it.

This is my first progress photo, forgive the blurriness my hand shakes a bit sometimes! The painting is going to change a bit more so I will try to improve the photo for the next version.