Australian Fine Artist

Posts tagged ‘arts’

Reflections at Half Year

Sometimes it is good to just have a sit and think about how things are going. Sometimes your are prompted into it by others such as teachers or spouses. Sometimes it all seems to happen at the same time, which leads me to think that karma or something similar is at play.

Whatever it is I have had all the above happen recently whilst painting and assessing my artworks, and where they were heading.

For me it is easy to keep producing an “eclectic mess” as I call it, motivated by lots of things I see that look attractive, or move me to paint them. Not often is it by memories of my life or the need to reveal anything too personal to viewers.

Thanks to very “digging” chats with teachers I have been motivated to try to put a little more of myself into painting to see where they lead, and to push the story telling capacity of may paintings. This has led to new bodies of work that I had no idea I could produce.

Thank you to those who have had faith in me to be able to do this. It has incorporated into one of the best years in my life. The paintings are flowing out in abundance and thanks to my extra studies with an artist that I admire, the technique and the understanding of my medium is fast improving. It is such a buzz to stand in front of a painting and think “I get it”, I understand what colours he/she has used, what method they are using and why it is working! Even better to be able to start to apply these to my own work.

Apart from all these, my confidence is improving and I feel that I have a future not only producing art but also passing on my understanding to others via lessons, workshops and demonstrations.

Deciding to participate in the Visual Arts course was one of the top 5 decisions of my life. It has been life changing, life confirming and has given me back the soul and spirit of an artist that I truly believe I was born with – and the permission to myself to be that person.

In two weeks we present our work for the first semester. I have a huge collection of work and I am very pleased with what I have done. Not content to stay as it is, but rather excited as to where it may lead.

To anyone reading this that I study with or learn from, all I can say is that you have all made it an interesting and exciting journey and I thank you for being here, it wouldn’t be the same without you!

I am looking forward to the next semester and am already making plans. Wow, I can’t wait…

Holiday Update

To finish off I thought I might add some projects I have been working on so far during my holidays. The parrot is about half done, so is a progress shot, the pastel of geraniums is a study for the oil painting. The paint is literally piled on to this work which is a big change in direction for me – and fun I might add! I also wanted to see if I could balance out the composition with just paint texture and light with the vase and flowers. The seascape is a merging of two photos to get double the impact of two big waves, it is a pastel, which seems to be my best medium for seascapes.

I have also worked on a couple of paintings from TAFE. I took them for appraisal at AGRA and had a few bits of great advice which I have done – improving the colour perspective a lot in both of them.

Today I hope to finish the parrot as I have another project in mind and am keen to get started!!

Many of these works are being prepared for the coming Spring exhibition season so that I am not overwhelmed with work from school, monthly workshops, art society demonstrations and showing work. If you see one that you like, you are welcome to make an offer to purchase.

Pastel on a full sheet of buff Tex pastel paper.

Pastel on a full sheet of buff Tex pastel paper.

Oil on board.

Oil on board.

Pastel on a small sheet of Tex pastel paper.

Pastel on a small sheet of Tex pastel paper.

Pastel on a full sheet of  green Tex pastel paper.

Pastel on a full sheet of green Tex pastel paper.

Canson Presentation

Glenn, our lovely local Canson man gave another talk this year. Even though I was at last year’s there are several very good reasons for going to this one.

  1. There are always things you can learn
  2. There are always new products coming out
  3. Products are refined and improved so it is good to keep track
  4. You can’t remember everything so it doesn’t hurt to go again
  5. Goodies! He brings nice things for us to use.

Canson Australia distribute the following:

  • Schmincke
  • Art Spectrum
  • Derevin
  • Matisse
  • Princeton Brushes
  • Pebeo
  • Faber Castell

Amongst other topics, the difference between a good and very good canvas was talked about. Look at the back is the suggestion. You need to see the unbleached colour of the linen if you are purchasing a very good linen. Also look for the wood stretchers the material is mounted on. Pine is not the best choice for longevity and gallery quality requires a different wood.

As with many other things, price indicates the quality. You get what you pay for. If you want your work to last more than twenty years, you need to make sure the material you are painting on and with will last.

For the most part linen will outlast canvas. Cotton based paper will outlast wood pulp paper. Good quality paints with more pigment and less filler will last better and you will get more from a tube. All of these will behave so much better than cheaper alternative as you use them. Also keep in mind light fastness. Poor materials will fade faster, this is aside from storage, display and archiving issues.

We had some hands on experimenting with some paints and markers. I tried out the Schmincke acrylic and have to say it is lovely. I was told it stays usable for 45 minutes rather than the ten to fifteen I get from some others. It also felt like it didn’t need a spreader or any other medium to get tones and graduations. I am tempted to get a few tubes and give it a try in the near future.

The colour in the Schmincke water colours was also stunning. Very intense and the colour lasted longer as you spread the paint out with water. I have some old Winsor & Newton paints and these would give them a good run as far as quality is concerned.

A shorter presentation than last year, but still very informative. Glenn is also a fun guy to listen to … and yes I did walk away with some nice goodies to “play” with and experiment with!

Monet’s Garden Exhibition

TAFE Excursion to the NGV

I want to begin with the fact that I rarely if ever cry at art exhibitions – the last and only other time to my best recollection was at an exhibit that caused shock and sadness rather than tears of joy or any positive emotions. This time it was from overwhelming beauty. The colours, the story, the texture of the paint, the life of the artist, the atmosphere he created and the dedication to his art all came together for an experience that ended up being so much more than I had expected. I cried several times and may make a return trip to this exhibition in risk of doing so again.

This was not just an exhibition for me, or a learning experience, it was one of those moments in your life where life changing and enriching seeds are planted – where you rededicate yourself to your calling in honour of those amazing artists who have gone before and those that are yet to come.

The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.  Claude Monet.

Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. To such an extent indeed that one day, finding myself at the deathbed of a woman who had been and still was very dear to me, I caught myself in the act of focusing on her temples and automatically analyzing the succession of appropriately graded colours which death was imposing on her motionless face.  Claude Monet.

Claude Monet also known as Oscar-Claude Monet or Claude Oscar Monet (November 14, 1840 December 5, 1926) was a French impressionist painter, to many he is a leader of the Impressionist movement in France. During a time of wars and social change through the industrial revolution, there was Monet. Struggling at the beginning of his career, but later on gaining enough patronage and sales to be able to purchase the house that he had finally settled into with his now sizeable family of his own children plus ones of the women who became his second wife.

As I moved around the gallery from one work to another the things that struck me the most were the colours and textures of the paint. Cool colours blended and balanced with warmer ones, muted and sometimes bold and striking, with the paint laid on in thick lashings in places to bring the points of interest right off the surface of the canvas. As I moved closer the colours laid over the top and around each other were visible, stepping back across the room, they blended and merged together retreating into the background to allow focal points to stand out.

The water lilies were not just one layer of paint but layer over layer of warm greens, cool mauves and blues, pinks and creamy yellows. The water was also made up of layers of colour that looked like they were glazed over each other to get a richness and depth to indicate reflections from the sky and surroundings. Varying brushstrokes and thickness of the paint also gave form and direction as well as texture and interest to the paintings.

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” Claude Monet.

Paintings in the exhibition varied from smaller rounded canvasses to very large panels, many were not painted edge to edge and the canvas can still be seen inside the framed area. It didn’t seem to bother me as I was so entranced by the paintings themselves. I particularly liked the “Waterlillies Nymphéas” painted on the square panel. The flowers were so striking and the layering of the colours gave it a luminescence that captured my attention. Another was “Roses – Les Roses”. Painted after Monet had his operation to fix failing eyesight due to cataracts. There is almost a joy in this painting as the marks skip across the surface creating the foliage and limbs of the meandering rose bush and the scattering of the colours to indicate the flowers. Even the sky seems to flow around the roses as if playing with them in some sort of game.

Monet’s stronger coloured paintings produced from around 1922-24 show his struggle with his eyesight. At first I didn’t take to them as I had the other works, but as I moved away from them and had another look across the room, the depth and perspective were very clear and I gained a new appreciation for them. I can understand how Monet was very happy to again be able to see his lovely blues better after his operation. From one room to another his love of certain colours for me seemed very clear. I loved his very large panel of the wisteria with its gorgeous mauve and blue colours with the tiny dashes of crimson red.

It came as no real surprise that during WW1 Monet donated paintings to help war victims and that even though two of his sons enlisted, he was horrified by war. His weeping willows are in homage to the common soldier, who suffered in this brutal conflict. I love that Monet didn’t see the need to paint the horror of what went on around him, he could paint to inspire rather than to confront.

The paintings from his travels show his dedication to his art. Even when faced with personal tragedy, he only stalled once that I know of in his pursuit of painting. From the Rouen Cathedral, to the city of London, the colours are vibrant and enthusiastically applied. The river Seine and even the few portraits he did of his sons have beautiful use of colour.

I am so happy that Monet’s garden and home have been restored for us to visit today if we get the opportunity. I know that in the peace of my own garden space, there is a quietness that comes over you, a retreat from the noise and rush of the everyday. There is something in the handling of the soil, the connection with the plants and interacting with the birds and other creatures of the garden. Your artistic mind gets to create the form and the range of colours in your garden, the textures and the way the light will play its way through it.

For me it is another way of exercising my creative brain and giving it a kind of rest at the same time. The clutter and noise of the rest of the world fades away and leaves you with just the garden and you in it. I hope that is what Monet found in his garden. I would love the opportunity to travel to be in this space and experience the atmosphere for myself one day, and maybe, if I am lucky, find some of the inspiration that Monet found in it.

For me this trip was more than seeing a collection of paintings. Some see just that, a pile of lovely paintings. I see a man’s life, his loves, his losses and his work. He looked for material in travels and in his garden. He kept experimenting and evolving his methods, style and subjects. The luscious paint in the garden scenes seem to pop off the wall inviting me to walk my eyes in to each and every work. OMG I am in love.

Revisiting the Neo-Impressionists

Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists at the NGV

A nice thing about a second visit to this exhibition is the opportunity to select your favourites for a study, both close up and from across the room. For example Maximilien Luce’s San Tropez paintings, in particular the one with a path and man walking towards you. there is no doubt about the sunlight and shadows in it. As you step back the colours merge to a scene that you feel you could walk into. The feeling of the warm sun and cool shadows is so evident in this painting.

Revisiting also gives an opportunity to try to examine how the paintings were done. How important the composition is to each work and what happens if you cover a feature in a painting. It is interesting that one item links to another, holds the composition together and leads the eye around the scene. If you take out one of them, the painting doesn’t “work” as well. This shows the amount of thought and planning that goes into a successful painting. Even a little object in the background can be very important in holding the composition together.

As we have our upcoming camp and production of 9×5 paintings looming, I was very interested in the smaller works in the exhibition. How can I keep the application of paint simple, direct and clean and still make it understandable and interesting, as well as having a clear subject? For this I studied Georges Lemmen. Side by side was two paintings with one having bold larger strokes of paint to indicate things like the foam on the tops of waves, with the painting to it’s right having loads of small dabs of paint that blended together as you stepped back a little. The alternating warm and cool colours blended together to create form as the warms came forward in the eye and the cools receded.

As on my last visit I was drawn to Lucés evening and night paintings with their strong contrasts, crisp edges and beautiful use of pinks, cool vivid greens, mauves and deepest blues. These were city scenes which usually are not my favourite subjects, but these were stunning. Not that I was so star struck that I didn’t take the time to try to pull apart how they were done. I spent quite a bit of time during this visit to examine paintings that I particularly like. My best estimate is that some blocking in was done to cover large areas and then the work was done, possibly in several session to layer in the huge amount of dabs, dashes and dots to build up the layers of alternating colours and temperatures. He again caught my attention with his piece “Coffee 1892”. The form of the pots and jars plus the attention to detail and interesting perspective as well as the story being told, the movement in the figures, all made the painting interesting both from a technical and mere observer’s point of view.

In some of Seurat’s work such as “The Bec du Hoc” you can see the painted in lines marking the edges of objects such as cliff edges. He seems to have then gone in later with the familiar dots and dabs of paint.

Probably my favourite painting of the exhibition was the lady in the blue dress. “Portrait of Lice Sethe” by Theo van Rysselberghe. From a distance you can’t tell the quantity of dots of paint that go into making the folds of the dress, the textures and the lovely skin tones. This painting is also BIG, it hangs through the doorway  in a space that allows you to observe it from a fair distance – and for me, it dominates the room. In contrast to Seurat’s sometimes stiff looking women, this young lady is “soft” with gentle curves and flowing lines and a real “far away” look in her very pale blue eyes.

I am very glad to have had the opportunity to revisit these paintings. I have had a chance to discuss them with tutors, as well as other students and learn more from many of them.

As an add on to this report:

We called in to see the Bea Maddock exhibit (printmaker). Which even though I have decided not to follow up with print making this year, had some lovely techniques and interesting applications. Just because it’s print making it doesn’t mean you can’t apply some ideas to other mediums.

We also went through the Contemporary Indonesian Art exhibition and in one room was a brilliantly done video using traditional Chinese style drawing with loads of layers of video of traffic, waterfalls, boats, the sea, tiny video screens, cranes etc. They were stitched together so seamlessly and had me going around for quite a while looking at all the little bits that were moving around. That for me was a really stand out piece.

In Flinders Lane we visited numbers 185 and 45 galleries. The preliminary drawings for jewellery making were very interesting, but to be honest I often find modern contemporary art leaves me a bit cold and the prices hard to believe. I actually enjoyed some work in a gallery that was not on our list, done by Josh Robbins. He leaves out parts of his subjects (in this case beautiful colourful birds) leaving you as the viewer to fill in the gap. He also used the natural patterns and knots in the wood panels he painted on as an important part of his designs.

Last call of the day was the Old Treasury Building. Not only is it enjoyable for me to wander through this building appreciating the architecture and feel of this place with it’s very high ceilings, ornate paint work and wood panelling but it was interesting to see the exhibit about the painted trams we had during the 1980s and 1990s. Nice work Philip, what a great gig to get! It reminded me that my dad was a tram conductor in the 1940s. I have a picture of my mum posing in his uniform for fun, so the personal connection is there.

Overall a great day out, in good company, an enjoyable lunch and more broadening of the horizons and clarifying what really attracts my attention, what doesn’t so much and how it was done – hopefully.