Australian Fine Artist

Archive for the ‘Videos and Visiting Artists’ Category

Cameron Robbins

Visiting Artist Chat at Chisholm Frankston

Cameron had me scratching my head wondering where I had seen him before. I knew that I had been in an auditorium listening to him talk about his weather driven machinery but couldn’t place him! Fortunately I have a husband who enjoys coming to talks with me when time permits. He reminded me that it was at a City of Kingston Arts event last year that we saw a video presentation and talk by Cameron. Then it all fell into place. To Cameron’s credit he gave a good talk that I remembered well, I just couldn’t remember where!

 

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Chuck Close

Video Presentation at TAFE

Portraiture “Photo Realism” to “Abstraction” on a Large Scale

The paintings of Chuck Close prove that what looks like a photo realistic painting from a distance, can be something very different when you get up close (no pun intended on his name by the way).

 

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Louise Paramor

Artist Talk at Chisholm Frankston

Louise Paramor was born in Sydney in 1964. She received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting from Curtin University, Perth, in 1985. In 1988 she completed a Post-graduate Diploma in Sculpture at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. Since 1988 Louise has actively exhibited in Australia and overseas and has held twenty-four solo exhibitions.

For her talk today Louise took us through a video presentation of her work from the 1980s through to the winning sculpture at the McClelland Sculpture Park Survey in 2010.

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Stu James

Painter, Sculptor, Printmaker, Conservator

Artist Talk at Chisholm TAFE

Here is a little about Stu: Australian sculptor Stu James completed a TOP year at Box Hill TAFE and followed that by completing a Bachelor of Arts in sculpture at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1988 and has worked as a conservator at the National Gallery of Victoria. Stu has held solo exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney since 1990 and has been included in group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia. He is best known for his sea sculptures, and has received commissions from the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Southgate in Victoria. He was awarded the Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch travelling fellowship in 1992. His work is held by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and the Australian Museum of Sport, also in Melbourne. A master craftsman, Stu creates intricate, delicate works from beaten copper.

The Talk

Stu started off his chat by stating that for him his art is his business. With his obvious country background, by his speech, I knew I was going to enjoy listening to him straight away!

Stu doesn’t rely on grants for income, he relies on earning income. He creates art to sell and has been running his arts practice for near to twenty five years. He has had commissions, sold directly from his studio and has been represented by galleries. The most current gallery selling his work is Australian Galleries in Collingwood. They have a very good reputation for working with their artists so that everyone feels comfortable with the commercial arrangement.

With his background in the country, Stu works from what he knows and has experienced. His fondness for camping and fishing and the wildlife that brings him into contact with is beautifully shown in the lifelike characters of his seagulls and blue wrens. He brought in a couple of the wrens which we were allowed to pick up and examine. They were stunning.

For Stu the secret of his work is not over thinking it. He researches the safest and best way to work with materials or to use them to create an artwork and is aware of which materials are safest to use for OH&S reasons.

We looked at a lot of artworks photographed over the years and the standard was always very high. I also noticed that the themes of his works have returned over and over as he has revisited them for new pieces. Even with growth and improvement in technique, the love of his environment and fondness for family and his personal memories were obvious.

For me also living in a rural setting, the seagulls, magpies, water hens, wrens and marsupials were very familiar. They were also subjects which I could relate to and enjoyed seeing not only as an artists but also as an animal lover with particular regard to our Australian wildlife.

Stu talked about the isolation of working as an artist in the studio for hours at a time He said the friendly rivalry of a local artist who works with plastic rather than the copper he uses, and impending exhibition deadlines helps keep him grounded, motivated and socialising.

The work produced can be from very small pieces to quite large ones, requiring a filling to be poured into them to help make them strong and stable for showing outside. Stu uses a combination of welding and pop rivetting to join his moulded metal which is beaten into shape to match cardboard stencils made from wrapping them around wire frames, that are the inside structures (or skeletons) of the works. He has a special mix to add oil paint to to help it dry and be ready for sanding back to help reveal some of the copper underneath. This mix of colour and copper gives a depth and interest to the work that the metal alone would never achieve.

Stu has produced seagull in the masses, and says that when they are all set up in a space, all with their individual personalities, they create quite a response from attendees. The nice thing he says, is that once you are on a roll creating seagulls for example, it is easy to keep going and make a lot of them. Plus I think he likes making all the personalities and seeing them all together!

A finishing great point that Stu gave us was about taking breaks in between projects to help keep “fresh” and not burn out. He admits that he has pushed himself to this a few times but has learnt to take breaks in the form of a holiday or doing some different type of work. He spends a few days a week doing building and if you ever visit a Nova Cinema, you will see his creativity in the look of the inside and the bars. Not just constructing a plain room, but making a public space that inspires and is interesting as well as creatively built.

My Impression

I very much enjoyed listening to Stu. He is down to earth, straight to the point and professional. His work is beautifully presented and stunning to look at. It makes you feel happy. It is not bleeding edge, it isn’t in your face addressing some social issue, it doesn’t make me feel sad or offended. Even his reliefs with Junk like plastic bottles and a deflated football in them in them looked great, just by how well they were done. My thanks to our tutors for bringing in another interesting artist to speak.

Business Studies Week 9 Semester 2

Video: Waiting for Sugar Man”

We had a stand in tutor who presented a video which was a documentary film about a little known musician (especially in his home country of the United States) but well known and nearly cult status in South Africa. HIs name Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, who is a Mexican American folk musician based in Detroit, Michigan. His career initially proved short lived, with two little-sold albums in the early 1970s and some brief touring in Australia. The movie addresses his interesting life through those he touched and the myth around his short initial career.

Based in Detroit, a city that even in the 1970s was decaying in many ways, this musician wrote and performed his songs in small venues, dark and often smoke-filled and often facing away from the crowd. He lived on odd jobs as his main source of income and was a private and quiet person not letting on publicly of his gift for music.

Little did he know that as his album sales failed in the USA they took off in South Africa, a country torn up by apartheid and filled with people looking for music that reflected how they felt about their country and their lives.

Through one person bringing in a copy of his album, the word spread about this amazing musician and his lyrics. Even though banned in the country, his music managed to reach many people who became avid fans.

Suddenly in the mid 1970s word spread that this talented artist had committed suicide. He seemed to disappear and most thought he had died. Even with this the music lived on in South Africa to the next generation.

So, what really happened to him? Someone in South Africa wanted to find out the real story. He created a web site and began the search by using the words in the songs to lead him to the home of Rodriguez.

Outside of Detroit and from a message from someone saying that they were his daughter, came the answer. Indeed, Rodriguez was alive and well and living a life in the USA. Rodriguez had gone back to work over the years doing demolition, building and construction. He had married, had daughters and had been active in local politics, social welfare and making sure that his daughters received a good education and were exposed to galleries, museums, libraries and music even though very poor.

Which leads to an interesting interview with the USA distributor of his records to South Africa. Initially congenial when talking about what a nice guy and talented musician Rodriguez was, when asked about where all the money went from sales in South Africa, turned quite abrupt and aggressive. To me, a true give away of someone who had feathered his nest on income that may not have been due to him. The story didn’t follow up on that and Rodriguez comes across as the easy going sort of person that would, if he knew, let it all go.

Fortunately, as is often not the case for the nice guys in the world, during the 1990s, after all the investigating into whether Rodriguez was indeed alive, contact as made with him and he was given a fantastic reception in South Africa. He did several concerts there which sold out and he was in his “place” in the world.

Rodriguez still lives in his same home of many years. He has passed on his new income to family and friends and lives just well enough for himself. He still works doing other things.

He now plays his music to a wider audience and has the recognition that many of us as artists work so hard for and long for before we die. He was so well grounded, such a centred and sensible person, so willing to turn his hand to other important things in his life such as family and take what came with grace, that you can’t help but admire him.

He is a modest man, talented and driven to make his life meaningful in whatever way he can. It was just great to see that things came around in the long run to enable him to return to his passion of performing his music and enjoying sharing it with many followers.

My Main Lesson From the Movie

I started off life wanting to be an artist. I started learning and producing art until my early twenties. I then had to get work and pay rent etc so spent the next thirty years as a graphic artist/designer etc for the print industry in different segments of the trade. Not what I had hoped for but I worked and travelled, kept trying to improve myself and met a great man and married. After being made redundant in 2009, I thought we were in big trouble however, life was just turning around for me also. My husband encouraged me to return to my passion, to go back to school and begin again that journey to fine art.

I am on the way again. You just can’t think that the first red light in your life means that it is the end forever. It may be a necessary different road for you to come back even better than you would have been had you not taken it. It may be a family you may not have had, or meeting the partner you married, or learning the basic business skills that will now be a solid foundation for an arts practice. Like Rodriguez you need to be open to what happens and make the most of it.

Philip Faulks

Painter, Sculptor, Printmaker, Tutor

Artist Talk at Chisholm TAFE

Philip was born in the United Kingdom and his family had a history in mining and farming (similar to my ancestors who came to Australia). He was sent off to boarding school as a child and I got the impression that he didn’t take to it. In 1976 as a 17 year old his family moved to Australia where Philip enrolled in a TOP year at RMIT. I understand what this course was as I participated in the same one at Caulfield in 1978, only I didn’t finish mine. Philip however, was a bit smarter and went on to complete his course and to study the Victorian College of the Arts, completing a 3 year diploma.

Philip has been exhibiting since the 1980s both in group exhibitions and solos. He has called on his love of history and other cultures as well as history of his homeland and decoration and symmetry from ancient cultures and those of the middle and far east. His travels over the years have left him with a wealth of memories and mementos to use in his creation of ever changing series’ of artworks.

The role of father, son, partner and artist have influenced his paintings and his interest in the grey areas of social issues and the world around him are used as inspiration for the sometimes very intricate and elaborate pen works that make up his most recent pieces.

We were treated to seeing works in various mediums including sculptures and prints, showing Philip’s wide range of abilities. Subjects were sometimes humorous other times moving or thought provoking. Some were more realist, especially the oil paintings which is a shame that he no longer produces due to allergies to the paints. I think these were my favourites.

Philip’s career is a great example of how artist’s can spread their wings to take on public art projects, even including the floral clock in Melbourne and a tram. He is still exhibiting and producing a huge amount of work as well as teaching. This is really inspirational stuff, it shows us that we can make a future for ourselves in the arts if we are willing to apply ourselves.

Final Thoughts

Although I may not paint or draw like he does, I admire Philip for his dedication, skills, creativity and for the kind and approachable tutor that he is. He has been very encouraging and is a fantastic listener. He is also a prolific practising artist. He gave a professional and enjoyable presentation and it was a very interesting talk. For that I thank him.

Business Studies Week 8 Semester 2

Video: Ian Fairweather

With our regular tutor away again today, we had a stand in tutor who presented a video that we had seen last year, but as with most things, especially when learning, a repeat visit is not a bad thing.

I want to cover a few other issues that I have thought about concerning this artist’s life and art.

One is his inability or lack of desire to have a plan for his work or indeed his life. A lonely childhood led to a life of not fitting in with structure of most types. His travels in search of that life and ability to produce to art he was wanting to produce was aimless to the viewer and I wonder if at least a loosely constructed plan would have at least led him to his best work earlier or not.

Some things that did stand out were that his family’s money had to come to his aid when his adventures led him back to the UK, where he didn’t want to live after being shipped back their by Indonesia. The money of the tax payer had to save him from his raft trip in the Timor Sea. A trip that nearly killed him. Money from well meaning friends and their time and effort had to be brought in to give him a home that would protect him as age and ill health took over, as well as making sure he could stay on Bribie Island and not be evicted by the Council.

Fairweather’s story has me at odds, as I understand the desire to opt out of the rat race that can be modern life that can overtake a creative mind. On the other hand my practical side says that for every decision we make, someone has to pay or be responsible. My business mind says that an arts practice needs to support itself, we need to work within the environment and the society we live in to make a living. Also, that if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Ian may be an exception, having been picked up by prestigious galleries and having successful sales even if he didn’t keep track of the income and paperwork involved in running a business. I think that this would be more difficult now that twenty years ago.

For me, I feel that a practice based on this type of lifestyle would be an exception rather than a good rule to base my practice on.

A Few Words About Ian Fairweather:

 

“Ian Fairweather was an Australian painter. Fairweather was born in Scotland in 1891 and arrived in Melbourne in February 1934. He is considered one of the greatest Australian painters of all time, combining western and Asian influences in his work.” He died in May 1974 on Bribie Island, Queensland, Australia.

Ian seems to have been a lone soul for most of his life, starting with is childhood in the care of aunts then in the Jersey Islands wandering around teaching himself to draw and paint.

A solitary man with a devine spark in his eyes and a wonder about the natural world around him, I can understand his inability to cope with humanity and his desire to paint in peace. The main message I took from his words were from a question he was asked.

“How do you live your life?”

“I paint, dammit!”

Bill Haye

Painter, Sculptor, Printmaker, Tutor

Artist Talk at Chisholm TAFE

We were to have a talk about art and the law, concentrating on intellectual property and copyright (which I was actually looking forward to as I think it is VERY important), however, the presenter called in sick and Bill, who seems to be the guy to fill in when things hit the fan, did so again with a well put together presentation covering most of his working career.

Bill was educated at University in the arts and is a very well-travelled artist. Even with this he admits that his art is not always planned and he doesn’t always know where a project will end up when he starts it. His interests vary, but usually come back to the human condition.

Starting with a very traditional slide show, we were treated to seeing works created by mixing oils with found materials culminating in three dimensional pieces that hung off walls or stood independently. Bill likes to use current events in the news as themes but has also calls on his love of ancient history and what he has seen on his travels through Europe, the USA and Australia.

Bill’s work is mostly non-realist and playful. He will combine images from different perspectives to make narratives and will use any object to make a statement. This means he has often has a lot of bits and pieces lying around just in case he needs them. He says that you have to have more than you think you need when starting a project so that you can make creative decisions on the fly.

He has been in several group and shared exhibitions over the years, some with our other tutor Phil, with whom he has had a long friendship. His constant and dedicated application of his arts practice comes out in the amount of work he was able to show us in this talk. Lots of experimenting, use of different mediums and materials as well as changes of style and method were shown from his busy career. How he fits in teaching is amazing. He is a very good example of someone who loves what they do and making it a passion and priority.

Final Thoughts

Although I may not agree with his views about certain things, and I don’t paint like he does either, I admire Bill for his dedication and for the kind and approachable tutor that he is. He has thoughtful comments and suggestions and is a fantastic listener. He is also a prolific practising artist whose love of the arts is very obvious. He gave a professional and enjoyable (mostly) presentation and filled in at the last minute with a very interesting talk. For that I thank him.

Anne Howie

Painter

Visiting Artist Talk at Chisholm TAFE

I am going to borrow from Anne’s Bio for the introduction, as like several other visiting artists she comes with such great education and experiences.

Anne was born in 1958 in Melbourne. From 1978–81 she studied painting at  Prahran College of Advanced Education, Vic. and also studied at Monash, RMIT and VUT. She has been in several solo exhibitions as well as group shows and has won some recent awards for her work. Collections she is in include: Art Bank, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Shepparton Art Gallery, Richmond City Council Art Collection, Footscray City Council Art Collection, Private collections Australia, Germany and Great Britain. Commissions completed include: 1984 Three‐month commission for a violinmaker in Germany, 1994 Melbourne Theatre Company: cover design , 1996‐2000 Various cover designs for McPhee Gribble Publishing and independent publishing houses, 1997 Hillcrest Secondary College Mural 2009, Private commission Anglesea, 2010 Workshop with Hill tribe crafts women,  Izara arts, Chang Mai, Thailand.

The thing that was really enjoyable for this chat was the fact that Anne was born only a year after me! What does that have to do with anything you may ask? Well, it has to do with years of experience and life. As nice as it is to learn that younger artists are working hard to succeed, it is more relevant to those of us in the Baby Boomer generation to know that what we are doing is not only interesting, but saleable and creative. Anne said that she enjoyed the visiting artists’ talks when she was studying so it may have also contributed to the value of her talk to us.

Another good thing for me if nobody else was that she had a list at the start of her presentation. It let me know immediately what she was going to cover, where the talk was going and how to follow it as it progressed. Below is the list which I will address in order:

  1. Influences
  2. History
  3. Local Environment
  4. Moody Landscapes
  5. Pattern in Landscape (WIP)
  6. Still Life (a topic she likes to return to a lot)
  7. Community Art (her job at present)

Influences

A few of the artists that have had an influence on her work:

  • Stanley Spencer (UK): Pattern, Colour, Space
  • Clarice Beckett (AUS): Atmosphere
  • Bekmann (GER)
  • Bruegel the Elder (Flemish)

History

Presentation of past works. Themes were biographical, story telling, thick use of paint on the canvas, bold colour and shape used.
Studies from Germany in the 1980s were included where she experimented with different materials and styles. Aslo Spain in the 1980s and her early involvement in the ROAR movement in Melbourne during the early 1980s. The ROAR group was an artists’ cooperative running community space for working and exhibiting.
Late 1980s saw working with the Woman’s Gallery as she was having children it seemed like a good extension to include themes of family in her work. Anne said that her work subjects tended to jump around, but I saw a natural progression as she took on new style and topics as her life progressed. Her story telling collage like works included not only her own story but that of things and people around her.

Moody Landscapes

Anne likes the far east and west coastlines of Victoria. She simplifies shapes and brings in her collage look and patterning effects for unique and beautiful paintings. she paints plein air when she can and uses these works as references when back in the studio. She also creates imagined scenes so that she can further experiment with shapes and patterns. she calls them “moody” as that reflects what she is trying to achieve in the feel and message of her paintings.

Pattern in Landscapes

Referring back to the previous section, Anne is using the environment and natural objects to help her to create unique shapes, patterns and colour combinations. she likes to create pathways through works for the eye to follow, taking the viewers on their own journeys. She likes to add the rhythmic to the visual.

Still Life

This is a subject that Anne has gone back to over and over through her career. She has been known to buy over twenty canvasses to produce a series all at once. Usually two at a time, and smaller than her other pieces, she finds that these can be very creative as you are only dealing with a simple subject without too much detail, so your thoughts are clear to be as creative as you like. The items can be familiar things in the studio or found objects in the landscape.

Community

Anne suggested that we have a look at her most recent project at: foyerfence.wordpress.com as this is something that she is quite rightly proud of.

She made some important points for anyone wishing to take on a project, which reflects back to project management in general (even a small project you may do on your own). The points were:

  • Have structure
  • What is the proposed outcome?
  • Resourcing materials (they needed marine ply panels cheap or for free)
  • How you get your images contributed by artists
  • Cooperation. It can be difficult to get people on board a project and keep them motivated
  • How you can involve indigenous artists
  • Copyright
  • Storage (infrastructure, materials, logistics)
  • Large projects can be far more involved than you are prepared for. Plan and try to be ready for more than you bargained for.
  • Get cooperation from others
  • Plan
  • Get legal advice
  • Consider OH&S issues and preparation
  • Scheduling of tasks
  • Availability of materials
  • Costs
  • Getting everyone to get their part of the project completed to meet deadlines
  • Project management skills a very good idea

In General

Anne has worked full time in the past, trying to squeeze in her art as time permitted, which with the mix of family commitments as well has required a juggling act in some cases. She has been fortunate though that her spouse is a potter, so has an idea of the need to use your creative skills and how much time that can take up.

She encourages shared studio space as working alone doesn’t suit everyone. Collaboration and feedback by constant contact with other creative is important.

On the business side of her practice, she takes a one third deposit for commission, another on third progress payment during the work and final payment on delivery. At the very least if it all hits the fan, she has her materials costs covered. I liked hearing this, as so many artists are afraid to ask for money up front and get caught out when people just change their minds. I would also add to this, having a written contract signed by both parties is also a good idea. If it is writing – IT EXISTS LEGALLY.

Final Thoughts

A common sense artist, near my own age who is highly creative and productive. What was not to like? Anne gave an interesting and informative talk and I enjoyed it immensely.

Rosie Weiss

Printmaker and Painter

Visiting Artist Talk at Chisholm TAFE

I am going to borrow from Rosie’s Bio for the introduction, as she comes with such great education and experiences.

Rosie Weiss is a Melbourne / Mornington Peninsula based artist & educator. In 1992 she won the Moet & Chandon Australian art Fellowship with a painting titled ‘lung’ a reaction to the chemical fire on Coode Island the same year. In 1996 she completed her Master of Arts at RMIT with ‘Intimate Patterns’, a body of work that examined our relationship with nature. She has exhibited in Australia, Asia & France over the past twenty years, and her work can be found in collections across Australia including The National gallery of Victoria, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Artbank and The National Gallery of Australia.

Rosie has a Masters in Art, a B.Ed and was awarded the prestigious Moet & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship in 1992. These are only some of her amazing accomplishments so I was very much looking forward to hearing her speak and seeing more of her work.

The slide show began with Rosie’s work from the 1980s. One success can change your whole outlook she said. For her it was a teacher catching her before she changed a plate for good and running a series from it himself, which was followed by a very helpful purchase from the AGV of one of the prints. I called this her “point of departure” as it looks like it was from here that things really took off.

From a beginnings in printmaking Rosie has built up a sizeable portfolio of work. Her interests from this beginning, to drawing, painting and mixed media bound up with her passion for the human form and the environment have resulted in some spectacular creations. She even spent time experimenting with photography whilst ill, which showed her considerable talent in composition spread to this medium as well.

Rosie has used wood as plates for printing and has produced some beautiful works on paper using ink washes in the background with white pencil line drawings from such simple things as parts of plants from her garden over the top.

The little things in the natural world invite her to draw and paint them. The roots of trees, the intertwined branches and lines of garden plants or leftover bits and pieces on the beach after a storm. All hold interest for her to use along with her imagination to create a unique artwork.

For Rosie, art has been not only her passion, but her healing as she recovered from a major illness. She has taught art and is a great communicator. Recently she returned to acrylics – enjoying the quick drying time they provide as well as working collaboratively with other artists. Her showing of some of her very private thoughts, fears and feelings written in a visual diary with sketches and little paintings, completed whilst very ill was not only revealing but I thought very brave.

Final Thoughts

For some of us, if not most, producing art can be a solitary thing. We may spend a lot of time in a studio with little or no contact and not a lot of feedback either. Sometimes, I think we may feel that we are the only ones going through hard times, illnesses and struggling to get ahead or noticed in the art world or even by any one. When we share like Rosie did today, we learn that we are not alone, others go through similar experiences. When we see that she worked her way through it, and she continued with her art, she still enjoys her art and is producing such outstanding results, we find it in ourselves to do so as well. Thanks Rosie for a fantastic talk!