AGAINST THE FLOW


“Against the Flow”

80 x 60 cms

Luminance & Museum Aquarelle coloured pencils on Canson Pastel Board

Own references

Happy New Year to Everyone!

On one of my many visits to the Botanical Gardens in Cairns, I noticed a pile of leaves that had gathered in a corner of a small creek. There had been recent rains and although the creek’s flow had subsided, there was still enough water to make for an interesting spectacle of water bathed in sunlight lapping against a small, but defiant collection of leaves. It was a warm, still day with the surrounding forest full of the sounds of insects and birds. The dappled, flickering light caught my attention, especially when it was brought to a ‘halt’ by a collection leaves that had recently formed a substantial barrier on the water’s surface.

I returned to the same location last October to find no water and no leaves!

My fascination for floating objects either drifting or gathered in a backwater has been with me ever since I began trout fishing as a child.

Water can be a difficult subject to draw and taking photos is certainly one way of gathering information. Equally important is simply spending time watching the flow of creeks and rivers. I also practice this with waves, beaches and headlands. Looking, listening and staying silent can teach one a lot about the movement of water.

Let’s not forget the ‘layers’ of water; what can be seen below (submerged or semi-submerged) and what is reflected on the surface. All of these need careful observation and recording. I never take a few photos, I take lots from various angles. You cannot take too many!

Maybe this drawing is also a metaphor for life. Should we stand in the way or should we make a stand?

 

Richard

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THE IMPACT OF COLOUR


Top: “A Tropical Memory” Bottom: “Tropical Leaves”

Both measure 60 x 80 cms, Luminance & Museum Aquarelle pencils on Canson pastel board. Own references.

The latter part of this year saw my work enter a very colourful phase due to the impact of my recent trip to Cairns and in particular, my interview with Cindy Wider. I must admit that my subject choice, the Flecker Botanical Gardens in Cairns, had a lot to do with it.

Never underestimate the power of colour. It can have a profound impact on us, no matter where we are or how we feel at the time. My recent subjects have lifted my spirits somewhat. Bright colours can make one feel good no matter what you’re dealing with at the time.

Looking back over this year’s work and I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished despite moving house from Cairns to Port Macquarie earlier in the year. I’m by no means ‘settled’ and I’m looking forward to our next move (wherever it will be) as we will be finally ‘settling down’ and I’ll have a permanent studio. Yay!

My exhibition for next February in Tasmania, which will also be online, is finished,  framed and ready for dispatching.

Thank you for your support and interest throughout the year. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Richard

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A WIDER AUDIENCE


“A Cavalcade of Colour”

40 x 60 cms

Luminance pencils on Canson pastel board, own reference.

Early in November while I was in Cairns, I had the pleasure of meeting Cindy and Stuart Wider, both highly competent artists and co-founders of DrawPJ.com (Art Curriculum Designers).Cindy was keen to promote my artwork and this opportunity was too good to miss. It’s great when anyone takes an interest in your work, but it’s ‘special’ when such highly regarded professionals see something that they want to share with their world-wide audience. I invite you to watch the fruits of our most excellent morning together:

https://youtu.be/6jxBYHYU_NM

Cindy is a professional artist with over 20 years of experience and also one of the internet’s most experienced instructors teaching on-line since 2008. Along with her husband, fellow artist Stuart Wider she is a co-founder of DrawPj.com where she presents drawing courses.
Not only does she absolutely love sharing her passion for art with her students, but she is also on a mission to let the world know about similarly passionate artists. That’s where the interview with me comes in. I spent a very pleasant morning showing Cindy around the gardens, a place which I am very familiar with and which has been such a source of inspiration for me.
Cindy’s unique method of teaching students how to draw is known as ‘The Cindy Wider Method’. The course which is based upon Cindy’s method is the The Complete Drawing Certificate Course. Cindy presents her course worldwide online at DrawPj.com supported her team of international instructors.
Even before Cindy started teaching online she was presenting her courses in the real world. Before she moved to Far North Queensland (via the UK) Cindy ran the largest private art tuition program on the Sunshine Coast presenting her courses to over 80 students per week.
Cindy has an obvious passion for helping complete beginner artists to get started and with long experience in the real world she has developed a practical understanding of how beginner students really learn to draw. It’s with this empathy and deep understanding that makes Cindy’s in-depth course curriculum (supported by her team of caring and trained art instructors) so successful for her students.
If you are a complete beginner artist looking for a good solid start with drawing, and aim to eventually create your own completely original art, I highly recommend Cindy’s course to you. Interested? Click the link below for more!

 

Promoting one’s art is something that any committed artist should take if the opportunity arises. The problem is often cost (value for money) or even how to go about it. Effective promotion will see your work being presented to a broader audience that may result in more sales, even commissions. Promotion of one’s work is never easy as it takes time and effort. Artists want to spend the majority of their time in their studios!

Whatever you decide to do, make sure the first step is to create a personal business card. This is an essential requirement if you want people to remember who you are. There are plenty of online options for the design and printing of business cards if you can’t create one yourself.

Social media is the second place to consider. I use Facebook (as myself) and Instagram (as #portmacquarieartist). I’ve had success with the former, but none to date with the latter. I not only post examples of my work, but I include updates as I’m creating them. Blogging is another way of promoting your work, but it’s not for everyone. I’ve been blogging since 2008, with over 1,000,000 hits. It’s a big commitment, but I enjoy it because I like writing about my work and my art philosophy.

My represented gallery (gallerypejean.com.au) promotes my work and I’m very pleased with my association with them. Joining art groups on social media as well as in the community can help you promote your work and at least it will expand your audience ‘reach’.

Creating short videos is another way to ‘spread the word’. I have shown a few of my own, but there’s a lot to learn for any forays into professional presentations. It would be great if we could all afford a promotions officer, but that’s not going to happen. Believe in yourself, believe in what you do and go out and make yourself known, but keep on producing your art as well!

Richard

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Inside my Head


Blog 01“The Landscapes of My Mind”

60 x 80 cms

Luminance & Museum Aquarelle pencils on Canson pastel board.

We all (most of the time) think and act differently (thank goodness). We come from different backgrounds, different life experiences and different situations. I’m a product of Australia, with Poland and England thrown in for good measure. I class myself as conservative in many ways but when it comes to my creative pursuits I’m anything but. Art gives me a wonderful sense of freedom. As I get older the boundaries once set at Art School seem to be vanishing. I’m becoming radical!

I’m not really sure why I have reached this stage in my life, but I’m certainly enjoying it! For nearly 50 years I have engaged in my aim to create artworks. It’s only since I retired from full-time art teaching (almost 12 years ago) that I began to realize the value of ‘being yourself’ when it came to art.

The pressure to produce ‘sellable’ art is always there for artists who exhibit their work. You make a sale therefore you can afford a frame for your next painting. If you can afford a number of frames, there’s no guarantee of selling all of them and there’s a good chance you’ll start collecting your own artwork by default (I know).

Today’s featured drawing is the second in a series of ‘free-thinking’ artworks. I recently finished and had framed 21 drawings for my exhibition at Gallery Pejean in Launceston (Tasmania, Australia) next February. It was time for a change, something different.

BLOG Mind 01At art school I often painted abstracts but they weren’t (back then) commercially viable. What did I have to lose? My situation today is a lot different, so I thought ‘why not!’ I’m pleased with both the drawings as they were not only enjoyable to create, but they seemed to relax me and I never felt pressured to get a ‘result’. How did I do them?

BLOG Mind 02Looking at details from one’s work in greyscale often results in some interesting tonal variations.

Besides using my imagination, I went back and looked at some of my recent work that happened to have strong colours and shapes. I then chose parts at random and ‘played’ with a composition until I was happy. I wanted parts to ‘jostle’ each other as I wasn’t afraid about the rules of composition. As for the colours I made decisions as I went. The careful, thorough planning I was used to was discarded! The key to this type of work is to only concentrate on a small section at a time. Start anywhere you like, continue anywhere you like. Don’t be in a rush to finish as this type of work doesn’t need completion in one sitting (or standing).  Be patient. Be brave.

Don’t worry be happy!

Richard

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FREEDOM


“Freedom”

60 x 80 cms

Luminance & Museum Aquarelle pencils on Canson pastel board.

Own reference & imagination.

I recently began a large drawing that is as much about the history of Tasmania (Australia) as it is about its landscape. The drawing is almost finished, but I had to step back and take a break because I found the subject emotionally draining. I won’t go into specific details at this stage, but I was aware of the impact that my particular subject was having on me each day that I stood at the easel. The solution?

I decided to undertake a drawing that was the complete opposite, a ‘fun’ piece that would enable me to draw what I felt like, where I liked and when I liked. That’s how it started. I chose ‘parts’ of some of my recent work featuring bold colours and varied shapes, drawing them ‘randomly’ onto a half sheet of pastel board (60 x 80 cms). I joined the various sections together with some imaginative license, to end up with one complete drawing, but with many parts. The aim was to have little or no rules and just to rely on my own judgment when it came to composition and choice of colours. Freedom at last! Or was it?

A few days later and I was off to Cairns for a week. I returned last Saturday, well rested and keen to continue my latest drawing. There it stood on the easel half-finished as I had left it, waiting for more layers of coloured pencils. Two days later and the drawing was completed, but what happened in those last 2 days was in stark contrast to the sessions I spent before my trip away.

Freedom or ‘Free Choice’ work seems a sure-fire successful task to undertake in art, but it’s not. For such work one has to rely on experience (that breeds imagination) and that can only occur if one has worked in a disciplined way for a number of years including  some form of art training. The greatest danger is falling into the trap of repetition on these occasions. One draws what one knows, the more one knows, the more choice one has when ‘free choice’ drawing.

My problem was that the further I went with this drawing the more concerned I became with composition, focal point, tone and balance. It got to the stage where I had to flip the board over after the drawing was finished, because the drawing was upside down! Despite all of this, I enjoyed the experience/challenge and I’m pleased with the result.

Maybe in future though when undertaking this type of art I should employ a ‘Controlled Freedom’ approach.

Richard

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Stitching & Beyond Workshop


Last weekend I conducted a Caran d’Ache coloured pencil workshop with members of the Stitching & Beyond group in Hobart. I had been looking forward to this workshop for months due to the challenging and diverse work that the group continually produces and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the results. Coloured pencil with a craft group? This is no ordinary group, as its members continually cross the ‘great divide’ between craft and fine art; lateral thinkers and ‘brave’, qualities essential in the pursuit of challenging and stimulating creativity.

Most of the 17 participants were members a few being non-members from the ‘fine art side’. Everyone enjoyed the challenges and the great camaraderie made for a very pleasant weekend. It was wonderful to share with such passionate, organised and creative people.

Luminance & Museum Acquarelle coloured pencils were the main focus, with Neo Colors also featuring. Canson Mi Teintes papers of varied colours (no white), Canson pastel board (coloured), Canson drawing paper (white) and a range of fabrics were also on the menu.

This was a ‘discovery’ workshop where there was much experimenting. Exercises and challenges were set to enable the participants to fully test the art materials and also to see what they could produce, although the emphasis was more on experimentation than the creation and completion of ‘serious’ work. Having said that, some of the drawings were of ‘framing quality’.

The pencils and crayons worked extremely well on both fabrics and papers, with the exploits on fabric of particular note, so much so that I hope to conduct a return workshop incorporating Impressionist-style drawing with stitching using a range of fabrics, plain and dyed.

Having noted that the majority of coloured pencil artists worldwide work with paper (often white hp, smooth w/c paper), canvas and wood panels, it astounds me that there isn’t more ‘adventurous surfaces’ (supports) being used. This medium has so much potential! I have included a cross-section of photos featuring some the work covered in the workshop.

Working with the best coloured pencils in the world and with a group that thrives on challenges made for a first-class workshop!

Richard

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Landscape Warming


“Landscape Warming”

44 x 60 cms – Luminance & Museum Acquarelle pencils on Canson Mi Teintes paper.

Own reference.

Lately I have returned to one of my favourite art themes, ‘Climate Change’, the result of a renewed interest in the subject of late. I’m amazed at the lack of understanding of the changes currently happening in the Australian climate by our politicians who spin a great deal of rhetoric, but seem intent to do very little especially when it comes to the perceived possibility of losing votes at the next election. Our climate is warming and we can do far more to control it than is being done.

The wine industry in Tasmania for example, has seen a steady influx of growers from the mainland who have come set up their businesses because the mainland climate has become too hot and too unreliable in some wine growing areas. This will no doubt benefit the local wine industry that is already enjoying great success locally, nationally and internationally. But then again, how much wine can one grow given the size of Tasmania and its share in the general wine market?

There’s another side to this issue that has begun to emerge in Tasmania; irrigation. On the ‘surface’ (excuse the pun) it all seems quite innocent, even enterprising to suggest that pumping water from a reliable source to a ‘arid’ area has merit. In theory this is quite a sound proposition. What concerns me is that the ‘reliable’ source is the Great Lake in Tasmania, a large volume of water that for many years has struggled to maintain any reasonable depth due to the demands placed upon it for Hydro Power generation. The ‘arid’ area is the Midlands region, more often than not, a tough, straw-coloured series of plains that is home to sheep and some cattle as well as cropping. This is a tough area to farm, where rainfall is scarce.

The aim is to grow a broader variety of crops on a commercial scale now that abundant supplies of water are available. Sounds great, but what of the water table? Is there a danger that the soil will become too saline and therefore become useless? How reliable will the supply of water be given that Tasmania’s rainfall patterns have changed over the years?

Tasmania is predominantly a ‘Hydro State’ when it comes to power generation. As has already been realized, when the lake levels are down, there is less power produced. Will this situation be repeated?

“Landscape Warming” is an aerial view of a section of landscape in Tasmania’s Midlands region. The ground is warming, bleached hay bales lay in one field, burnt hay bales in another, while salt (representing the rising saline level) can be seen in another. A smaller field is covered in rocks while nearby trees deal with the increasing salinity in the soil. This landscape is struggling. There’s no sign of vineyards here, but I suspect that it won’t be too long before this happens accompanied by a range of ‘new and exciting’ crops. In the meantime, new markings appear on the ground indicating a different direction in agriculture. Will the land cope?

Is the desire to produce ‘new’ crops because of the promise of irrigation and a warming climate visionary, or are we playing Russian roulette with the environment?

Richard

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