Aussie Landscape Ideas

Walking at the local lake and wetlands provides lovely landscapes for future artworks. Australia’s landscape is often messy, full of undergrowth, birds and animal habitats.  It is common to sea black swans, parrots, galahs, cockatoos, swamp hens, blue wrens, magpies and even the odd pelican down at the lake.

I’m hoping to use these scenes to practise the watercolour skills I’m trying to develop. It is interesting, when you create art, how you look at things differently. That’s a great scene for a painting, lovely colours, shades, lights and darks, textures, all leading to a new art project.


Rippon Lea Watercolour Workshop

The stunning grounds of Rippon Lea in Elsternwick, Victoria was the setting for a wonderful watercolour workshop with the very talented artist, Mark Dober.

We tried to have the class two weeks ago but pouring ran prevented us from attending and what a stroke of luck that turned out to be because today was glorious.

We set up our site by the edge of the lake and watched Mark as he demonstrated the different aspects of mapping out our watercolour paintings. Mark was great at showing us the different steps and then letting us go for it but he also provided enough guidance and feed back to make sure we stayed on track.

As you can see, the day was stunning and we even had a visit from a very friendly duck that managed to walk over my painting, what a critic!

Rippon Lea began in 1868 when the Sargood family bought 11 hectares and built this wonderful mansion. It makes a beautiful venue for painting, picnics, weddings and even filming shows, which apparently they were doing inside when we were there.

So if you are in the area, stop in for a visit and perhaps try your hand at some painting.


Yarra Valley

It has been a magnificent Autumn day. You know those great days when the sky is blue with just a few fluffy white clouds, certainly too nice to be inside. So I spent the morning walking and the afternoon in the Yarra Valley trying to get some new ideas for print making and painting.

I am currently working on some bird Lino prints (I have a thing for birds and building) and would quite like to make a collection of them. Each bird would have a different scene inside it. The idea started with two collagraph pieces I did earlier on. I have kept the designs quite stylised but would like to add some colour. Two real options, first to hand colour and the other is to cut a second block which I think might be the best option. Perhaps a vineyard scene might work in the next bird.

The Yarra Valley really is a lovely area of Victoria and well worth a visit if you are here. There are plenty of tours that take you around the wineries and you can enjoy lunch and perhaps sample some of the wine.


New Lino prints

These two Lino prints were recently completed ready for an exhibition at Firestation Print Studio called ‘Built’.

The main focus of the exhibition is for talented artist Angela Cavalieri to display her work based on the Firestation. I finally decided on the colours for the 4 level houses, I think of them as 1,2,3,4 bedroom units as there has been a lot of apartments being built in the local suburbs, something we never really had here. Where I am, next to the Yarra Valley, we don’t have much in the way of apartments yet.

The other Lino print is Assisi, not that I have been, it is on the wish list to do one day but I made it for mum. She visited Assisi as a young woman, in her twenties and she is in her eighties now. I think it would be lovely to spend sometime over there working on my art! That’s on the wish list too!

Community Art

Visiting Geelong yesterday it was great to see the bollards that decorate the foreshore area. It is lovely to see councils spending money on good art to make their communities more appealing to visitors and locals alike.

Often we see sculptures along highways, in town centres and public gardens. I enjoyed these local art works while in Austria on a previous trip. The lion sits on the street of Bad Ischl and the straw people are created yearly to celebrate harvest time in Zell am See.

If you think about it, the beautiful Bernini fountain in Rome’s Piazza Navona is an art work that the community has been able to enjoy for a long time!

So the more good art work we see in our communities the more often we will see a smile on our neighbour’s faces. And that can only be a good thing!

Exhibiting opportunities.

imageI am planning on using this 2 plate Lino cut to exhibit at Firestation Print Studio for their up coming exhibition 3-27 of May. It still needs some cleaning up and deciding what colours I will use but I feel quite happy with the way it is going.

It will be an extra special exhibition, as Angela Cavalieri will be exhibiting her work that she is currently researching and creating about the Firestation Print Studio in Armadale, Victoria. It was actually an old Firestation which now houses the print studio, runs workshops and is home to a number of individual and shared artist studios.

It really is a great opportunity for an artist to participate in group exhibitions like this and for the public to see a wide variety of artworks. I’m always so impressed and amazed with the work that people create. It really is such a pleasure spending time doing something creative. I just need a bigger spare room for all the work!



Should you specialise?

Works in progress.

Have you ever wondered if you should focus on one area of art rather than doing too many things? I have.

I love trying new techniques and learning new skills and I usually find that each new skill improves what I do in the other areas of art that I enjoy.

Some schools of thought say you should work on one thing and become a ‘master’ of that. Others suggest do what you enjoy. Take Da Vinci, he seemed to enjoy having a go at a variety of projects, although perhaps you could call him a master of all of them! What about David Hockney, not only does he paint but he also uses the iPad very skilfully to create fantastic artworks and surely his skills and knowledge in painting carry over to this other medium. A very clever Scottish based artist, Hilke MacIntyre creates beautiful ceramics, Lino prints and paintings. One of my other favourite artists, Bryan Angus is a painter and linocut artist.

Matisse was not only a painter but collage artist and printmaker. Picasso created prints, sculptures, paintings and ceramics.  There are so many artists practising a variety of mediums, why not enjoy them too.

So I have decided that if it is good enough for all these wonderful artists then it is definitely ok for me to continue dabbling in Lino printmaking, painting, collage and collagraph work. I certainly have found that each area has improved my other artworks.

Emerging Artists

Getting started as an artist can be hard work and getting your work out there and noticed can be just as hard as creating the art works!

A great way to get support for you and your work is to join a studio or art society where you are able to participate in group exhibitions with other artists.

One of the best things I have done for my art was to join Firestation Print Studio. The people have been wonderfully supportive and generous with their time and knowledge. I have learnt so many new techniques and participated in exhibitions both here and overseas, ( Japan, Atlanta, London, Ireland, Townsville) which has only been possible by being part of the studio.

Bronwyn Rees, an amazing print artist, is always willing to share her skills, advice and experiences. At our most recent exhibition ‘By the Book’ I was chatting with Karen Neal about her work and she generously shared the techniques she used to create her beautiful book, seen displayed on the wall in the above picture. Also John Hinds, who always has something positive to say about my work, thank you John. His amazing book, ‘This Ferral Australis’ can been seen on the table just behind a couple of my books.

I have also been encouraged to start using Instagram so I have and it is also under the name theartfields.

Thanks to Vivian from VBI fabrics for encouraging me with this and to Brad for setting it all up.

Creating texture

I have been having a go at creating texture in my Lino prints rather than just using line work. The first picture is my dad when he was young and building a garage, the second is of rock formations in country Victoria and the third The Cathedral Ranges also in Victoria.

As you can see still plenty to learn. A wonderful Australian Lino print artist is David Frazer and his use of mark making to show shape and form is incredible. Well worth checking out his work. Simply amazing. You can also watch him carving on YouTube.

This gives you an idea of summer in country Victoria in summer, dry and rugged in parts and yet still quite lush as you drive through the ‘Spur’ just outside Healesville.

Collagraph making.

At Lino and Print club today I had a go at making a collagraph. They turned out ok but there is a lot to learn about rubbing back the ink in order to get just the right amount of colour. Sometimes it is too pale and at other times the ink spreads into areas that you don’t want it to.

A collagraph is usually made by gluing layers of cardboard or textured materials to make a design. You can also incise into the card to make more patterns and add or remove parts of the cardboard to make shapes. It is important to cover the matrix with a layer of sealer if you wish to keep using your design for a while.

It is a simple technique but what can be created with collagraph techniques can be intricate and beautiful.

Why not give it a go!