This year I'll be taking part in the Yarra Valley Open Studio Tour which is held over three areas and three weekends between September and November. The Warburton area will be on the 11th and 12th of November from 10am-4pm.
You can come and visit me in my studio at 21 Woods Point Rd in Warburton (in the YREC Business Village opposite the caravan park). I will have original artworks for sale, including paintings on canvas, paper and a exclusive collection of hand painted original ceramics.
To find out more about the Open Studios, including the other participating artists, you can visit the official website at https://www.yarravalleyarts.org.au/yvaopenstudios
I've spent the last few months working on lots of landscape inspired paintings for my exhibition. While I do love a good landscape, after a while doing the same thing gets a bit draining. So now that I've finished I've started playing around with some still life paintings instead. I wanted them to be quite loose and expressive and I wanted to work in some softer more pastel shades.
Sometimes a slight subject change is all that's needed to inspire creativity again. I spent some time working out a limited colour scheme to begin with then I spent no more than 40min on each painting. The first was on a small canvas I had left over and the other two were on paper.
These small studies will be added to my store in the original paintings section once I have a few more to add to the collection. I will be doing a few larger versions as well once I get through a few private commissions that I have lined up.
Here is a quick little peak into my process. The paintings for my upcoming exhibition were all directly inspired by the Yarra River. Some were sketched interpretations and others, such as this one below, were inspired by photographs.
I never try to copy a landscape exactly, I always like to use my own interpretation which gives my paintings their imaginative and dreamlike quality. As you can see, although I was directly inspired by the photo, the finished painting has taken on a whole new feeling of its own. I tried to emphasis the feeling of the sun going down and the last warmth from the day hitting the riverbank to the right.
Last Light (152cmx101cm Acrylic on Canvas) will be in display during my exhibition Yarra, which is being held at Cambridge Studio Gallery in Collingwood from the 8th to 26th of March. There will be opening drinks on the 12th of March from 2pm, it would be lovely to see you there.
Many beginner artists start painting because they enjoy the process. They enjoy the feeling of mixing and adding colours to canvas, the challenge of representing something in paint, of creating something from scratch and saying “I did this”. It’s for the love of it.
If that desire to create goes further and they begin to feel as though this is how they want to make a career, a whole other world of problems are opened up. When moving from the world of amateur into professional suddenly there is a whole new set of expectations put upon you. Suddenly you can’t just create something just because you want to, because people will begin to ask that one elusive question…why?
Collectors, critics and fans will begin to want to know why you are doing something, what is the deeper meaning behind it. What message are you trying to get across? What point are you making?
To begin with I really struggled with this. Even way back when I was completing a Diploma of Visual art (back in 2002-2004) I would be asked by my tutors “what are you trying to say with this piece”…my answer would be a shrug of the shoulders followed by “I dunno”.
I was never interested in creating a political argument with my art. I never had religious views that I felt needed to be expressed or a statement that I was trying to make. As a result I always felt inferior and as though my work wasn’t worthy of anything important because I wasn’t trying to make a point or send out a message. Everyone around me was creating artistic statements and deep hidden messages within their art about the environment, racism, social issues, feminism…the list goes on. There is of course nothing wrong with that, but I personally really struggled with it…because I didn’t have any. Even back then, all I wanted to do was make pretty paintings, but that never seemed to be enough.
So does every painting need to have a story?
It has taken a very long time for me to realize that the answer to that is…no. It is ok to create purely for the love of creating. It is ok to not have a deeper meaning behind each stroke of the brush. There is nothing at all wrong with painting JUST because you want to paint. Does that make my art shallow? Not at all!
The purpose of my art is not to make a statement, first and foremost I want my paintings to be seen as beautiful. I want the viewer to look at it and say “wow…that’s so pretty!”. I want to create a reaction within them that sees the piece for exactly what it is….a pretty picture. I want the colours to be pleasing to the eye, calming and attractive. I want the shapes and composition to remind the viewer of nature and tranquility. I want the details and textures to be noticed once the view comes closer and becomes engaged in the piece. I want them to be able to look into the layers of colour and pattern to see the work and process involved. I want them to WANT to have this hanging on their wall in their home and not have to explain the deeper meaning of it all to everyone that comes over.
In my opinion, creating something that is beautiful, peaceful and calming to look at is just as important as creating something that is challenging, thought provoking and has a strong message to put across. There is a space for both within the art world.
Now all this being said, some of my paintings do have more of a story to them than others but that story usually has more to do with what inspired the piece than a particular subconscious message I’m trying to make. For example if someone approaches me to create a painting based on a mountain view near their home, and I am to include the flock of pigeons that the neighbor releases each afternoon into the skyline…then obviously this piece now has a story connected to it.
Or if as I am creating a painting, the images that are coming forward remind me of a particular time or place or event then I can happily match up that piece with such story and give the painting more meaning. But at the same time I no longer feel the need to do this with ALL my paintings. Sometimes it is just what it is and nothing more. The piece was created spontaneously with little to no thought and it is now just a pretty picture.
What do you think? Do you have trouble finding meaning in your work? Or do you totally disagree with me and believe that if there is no meaning behind it then there is no point creating it?
Blank canvases are scary. Anyone that has stood in front of one will know this. The stress that you can feel sometimes is crazy. You worry about ruining that perfect white flat surface. You don't want to mess it up. What if you make a mistake? What a waste!
Then you have to think about what you are actually going to paint. How do you decide? How do you pick one idea out of a million that are in your head?
Its a struggle.
The easiest way to get over this overwhelming fear is to just do it. Pick a colour (or three) and cover up all the white. Just slap it on. It doesn't matter how just cover it up.
There you go... the white is gone. The canvas has been messed up and now it doesn't matter what you do next.
Even now, after painting pretty much my whole life I still have that fear and anxiety when starting a new piece. Even when I know exactly what I need to do, I procrastinate starting because I worry that I will ruin it. But as soon as I cover the surface with paint the feeling disappears and I can focus on getting the work done.