Australian Fine Artist

Archive for the ‘Research and Analysis’ Category

Painting Workshop – Seacapes

Keeping it Simple

I had the opportunity to visit my painting teacher recently to catch up with my painting skills. University study has meant less time to paint, so very little has been done in several months.

When you are in this situation, it doesn’t hurt to go back to the basics, to reinforce the techniques that make an ordinary painting into something special.

As I love landscapes and seascapes, and a seascape workshop spot was available I decided to pop in for the day.

David Chen, whose practice is only growing Australia-wide, spoke about the need to look at any subject as a series of forms, colours and tones. We often get caught up in the little details in a photo in particular, before looking at the ‘bigger picture’. This means we start fiddling around trying to imitate ‘reality’ instead of planning how we are to create an artwork that reflects our responses to the land and sea.

If we approach painting with the right mindset, we can create rather than imitating, changing what, in the beginning may look like a pretty dreary looking scene into something striking.

Below, see how my paintings evolved under the instruction from David as he indicated how to add colour to areas, and simplify forms to bring out the drama in a painting.

The first three works were under his direct teaching with his additions in the second example. The following two show a quick sketch begun at the end of the session, which I enhanced in my studio the next day.

Have a look at how tonal values, vivid colour, and warm and cool colours, are used to push and pull form and add to the perspective in all the examples.

Final version. Note how the darkening of the area on the mid-left is brining the foreground further forward.

With David’s input.Note the addition of reflctive colour in the mid area and clean greens and blues improves the sea.
The spots of vivid red also attract they eye to the focal point.

Original version.

Finished version. Darkening of tonal values add depth, effectively pulling the crashing wave from the background, and depth to the scene.

Original version.

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.

Painting Nudes 2017

The Third Workshop Semester 2 with David Chen

The topic for this workshop was controlling tone. In a tonal painting you decide if you want to complete a dark, medium or light toned painting, you also decide on the temperature of your colours, which can be either overall warm or cool. The overall colour of the painting is decided as well.

So what you may decide on, depending on your preferences and taste as a painter could be an overall tonal painting that is in the cool reds and a middle to dark tone, to create some richness and drama.

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Mixing Greys in Water Colour

In my last blog I talked about mixing greys with acrylics and oils. I also mentioned in passing how to gain the best results when mixing greys using water colours.

In this blog I will address water colours and add a few more ideas for you to experiment with.

The same principle applies to water colours as it does to other mediums. By mixing opposite colours on the colour wheel, each will effectively knock out each others intensity, creating a grey. How much you mix of either colour will change to temperature of the finished grey.

The great thing about mixing your own greys is that you can make a range of cool or warm greys, or greys that hint at one of the colours you have used to create it.

Water colour painters during the last two centuries have experimented with greys as they produce a better dark than black, which is often too dark or deadens any colour it mixes with if the wrong black is used. This brings the point of different blacks as well, so if you want to add it to your palette, check with your supplier for the best mixing black if you want to try blending it in with other colours.

Returning to the greys, you will find that there are a few premixed greys on the market and they will also mix with your blues or reds to produce wrmer and cooloer versions of either the grey if only a touch of colour is added, or a coller version of your colour if a touch of the grey is added to it. Please note that each premixed grey has a colour base to it. This means that a colour like Paynes Grey will have a blue base, and others like Davy’s Grey have a green base, so you need to consider this when mixing. Winsor & Newton also have a colour called ‘Neutral Tint’ which is a great colour to use instead of black, and mixes very well with most colours to produce tints and tones.

Remember that mixing with white with water colours will take away their natural translucent effect, so if you want to lighten your grey thin it out with water allowing the white of the paper to come through and lighten it. White is avoided by many water colour painters, and some think it should not be used at all. There are different ‘school’ of thinking about this, but the safest thing to do with a white with water colours is to leave it until the last thing and you have the painting fairly dry to just add a few highlights here and there. Even better would be to cool it off or warm it up with just a dash of colour that you have used elsewhere in the painting so that your highlights will relate to the rest of the composition.

If you would like to leave white areas in your painting another method is to us maskign fluid. This will require planning ahead so that you can mask out the white areas in advance, but I highly recommed using it, as it will guarantee crisp white areas when it is removed, after the painting is absolutely dry. You can also remove it as a layer of colour dries so that you can paint a wash over it. This leaves a clear and clean layer of colour in the area you have had masked. This is also another method of making sure that any grey you have mixed will stay the same tone as what you have mixed when it goes onto the painting.

To see more examples of how to mix a variety of greys visit the Winsor & Newton web site at:
http://www.winsornewton.com/au/masterclass-video-mixing-water-colour-greys?utm_campaign=AU_MASTERCLASS_VIDEO_33&utm_source=emailCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=

Until next time, happy painting.

Janice.

Mixing Greys

A basic lesson that any painter needs to know is how to mix a variety of greys without having to use a blend of black and white, or Paynes Grey.

Greys are a very useful tone when painting “tonal” paintings, or for creating atmospheric perspective.

The basic method to remember is that opposite colours on the colour wheel will “knock’ each other out creating a very dark grey. By adding a small amount of white the grey will become apparent for each of these mixes.

The great thing about mixing your own greys is that you can make a range of cool or warm greys, or greys that hint at one of the colours you have used to create it. for example you may want a greenish grey, or a warm purple-grey, so you can use a mix of colours to achieve these.

Try mixing a purple with its opposite colour in equal portions and then add some white, or a mix of blue with orange then adding white.

Another mix to try that I also use instead of black, is an equal mix of Alizerin Crimson and Viridian. Together these create a beautiful near black, but when white is added result a beautiful grey. By altering the proportion of one of these colours to the other you can either warm or cool the resultant ‘black’ or grey.

These methods can be used with oil and acrylic paints, and I have also tried it with water colours, but thinned the mix with water to allow the white paper to do the lightening instead of adding white. In the case of water colours adding white will make the paint opaque and ‘milky’ which is not the best or traditional look for this medium.

To see more examples of how to mix a variety of greys visit the Winsor & Newton web site at:
http://www.winsornewton.com/au/masterclass-video-mixing-greys-using-acrylics?utm_campaign=AU_MASTERCLASS_VIDEO_44&utm_source=emailCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=

Until next time, happy painting.

Janice.

Painting Nudes Semester 2-2017

The First of Five Workshops with David Chen

Last semester ended with us understanding more about skin tones and how to use edges, tone and colour to place the model into a scene.

This semester we began by going over David’s philosophy for the workshops and his experience as first, an art student learning Academic Art Training at university (something that is not widely covered in Australia) and later as a practising artist and art teacher.

The technical issues that David has overcome during his 40 years as an artist and teacher are invaluable for students to learn as we take on the difficult subject of the human body.

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Painting Nudes 2017

The Final of Five Workshops with David Chen

During this workshop, we learnt about another method of working the model into their surroundings. Rather than having your subject, be it a human figure or even a still life or an animal, looking like they are part of their surrounds, and keeping the painting interesting takes planning and often altering what you see to what you want. During this workshop, we could either take from the objects surrounding the model and apply our imagination to make them work, or use vignetting (leaving areas of the canvas white) to merge parts of the model into the background and surrounds.

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Painting Nudes 2017

The Fourth of Five Workshops with David Chen

This workshop followed on fromthe previous subject about “loosening up” your painting style. One thing that I have noticed over recent years is how edges can make or break a painting. The softer and “looser” result that you may be looking for has to do with how you approach painting edges, particualrly those on you main subject in relation to the surrounding composition.

There are a few different methods to help with creating interesting edges that also bind your subject to their surroundings, rather than having them look like cardboard cutouts.

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Wet in Wet Water Colour Painting

Letting the Paint Do What it Does

Water colour painting  can be a challenge. A lot of artists avoid it as it tends to do what it will on the paper. Interestingly, you can have control over your water coloours depending on how you use them, and really, some of the beautiful affects gained when allowing the paint and water to flow and merge can be a delightful happy accident or surprise.

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Painting Nudes 2017

The Third of Five Workshops with David Chen

When I began training with David Chen, my goal was to not only learn the principles of Modern Impressionist painting, but also to ‘loosen up’ my style a bit from what i saw as sometimes ‘stiff’ and contrived results. Sometimes the details become so important that I forgot to place the subject within and connected to the foreground and background in which it was situated.

Context is just as important as your focus and main subject, and when the subject began to look disjointed, unrelated or worse, like it has been stuck or pasted on top of an unrelated scene, is when I start wondering how this could have been avoided. My thought was that if I could put more planning and less effort into my paintings, that would be a start, but what kind of thought and what kind of effort?

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