Launceston artist Margaret Baker, ‘on location’ at the historic property, Cheshunt in Northern Tasmania earlier in the year.
Do you ever create your art on location?
I don’t, but I do spend time at various locations taking photographs, collecting samples (objects), sketching and taking notes. I know several artists who paint ‘plein-air’. They rarely finish a painting outdoors, preferring to spend time in their studio putting the finishing touches to their work.
Artists don’t need to work on location, but it is a great help when you want to capture the real nature and character of a subject that is unobtainable in your studio. Photographs are sterile when it comes to actually being there. The sounds, sights, smells and general feel for a location cannot be gained by looking at a photograph.
I am very interested in light and shadow, particularly that which is found in the Tasmanian landscape. We have a very strong light, but its ‘colour’ varies depending on the surrounding land mass. For example, the light on the Central Plateau is a soft pink; on the West Coast and East Coast it is soft orange. The Tamar Valley’s light is often white, I think because the valley is a geographic inversion, and often retains smoke and fog, especially in Winter. The geology of the mountain ranges in Tasmania influence the colour of light as does the vegetation that is often composed of eucalypts.
Actually standing in the area you wish to paint gives you a wonderful insight into its character. After a day’s painting and drawing on location, you can return to your studio ‘full’ of information, ready to create art that is truly representative of your experience. The sounds of the sea, the wind as it races through the tree tops, the crunch of the ground under your feet, are all experiences that will never be found in a photo, but they can be recorded in a drawing or written in a visual diary.