I love it when I see an Artist’s creations and they have that much of an impact on me that it changes the way I think about my own.
In this case I’m taking about the latest episode on Colour In Your Life, featuring Sydney Artist, Sandra Blackburne which was aired in Sydney last night, and which I have now watched for the second time.
I would class myself as a ‘Beginner’ in terms of painting as my creative background has been through Photography, over the past 35 years. It started as a bit of a hobby about 5 years ago, though and I only ‘painted when I could fit in it’ as I have had other full-time occupations in that time. In January this year I decided that I would allocate 2-4 hours per weekend to my Oil painting and so far I have only missed out once, and I made sure I doubled the amount the following weekend. 😃
As I watched the episode, taking notes (as I do with each one), quite a few things resonated with me and have given me food for thought, such as:
- Sandra does a few Plein-Air sketches of the subject she paints rather than photograph the scene. She mentioned that this allows herself to ‘put more of herself’ into the painting rather than be constrained by a photograph
- Sketching with Colour Gesso is a new technique to me and watching Sandra create, I can see the benefits of doing it
- The choice of colours which creatively evoke the Australian Landscape
- The concept of layering paint which helps give the image light and life
- The colours that were used and the way that they were applied. Sandra said that ‘tightening up when painting’ signals the death of a good painter
- Using Cobalt Blue on Gum trees to reflect the Blue of the rich Australian sky
My style (if indeed I have one yet) seems to be more to ’try to paint subjects in a pictorial way.’ I remember when I did a basic Drawing course 6 years ago, the teacher said that appeared more a ‘Line Drawer’ than a ’Tone Drawer.’
Part of the challenge for me I guess is that coming from a photographic background, I’m too used to seeing subjects in a pictorial presentation rather than a fluid, abstract way, i.e. when I paint a leaf, a tree, or a building I try to capture all the detail when I don’t need to…
Looking at Sandra Blackburne’s Art I see sheds, trees and other subjects as perhaps ‘how I would remember them after a period of time has elapsed’, rather than as if they are in front of me, right then.
Sometimes I paint from photographs, sometimes from my imagination. I know which is more fun! A bridge between the photograph and the imagination is perhaps a Plein-Air sketch or two, which will then allow me to ‘put more of myself’ into a painting.
Thank you, Sandra Blackburne for your Art and inspiration. I look forward to seeing your Art face-to-face. Thanks also to Graeme Stevenson and to the team from ‘Colour In You Life’ for bringing such Art and inspiration into our Lives!
The journey to find my personal style continues…
Written by David Johnson
21 May 2016
This is the first in a new series of Photography posts that will appear regularly on this Blog. I have known Michael for approx. 25 years and we first met at Campbelltown Camera Club (now, Macarthur Photographic Society) in Sydney, Australia. A big thanks to Michael for sharing his thoughts and images!
Currently favor and use Olympus micro 4/3 mirrorless system (E-M5 & E-M1)
I still however have (and will probably use in future)
2 x Olympus 4/3 DSLRs (E410 & E520), and
3 x Olympus OM system SLRs (OM2n, OM40, OM4)
1. Why did you choose Photography as your medium of communication?
I developed a love of movies from a very early age (my family were all film buffs) and I quickly warmed to the visual language of film in terms of both aesthetics, and in triggering an emotional response and in storytelling. In my late teen’s this translated to a love of a photography and still images and a desire to be able to capture images myself as a form of creative self-expression.
2. Which Photographers have been the greatest influences on you & why?
There are many photographers who impress me with their ability to capture wonderful images, master visual story-telling, and clearly share my sensibilities and world view. Some of these would include:
David Bailey; Max Dupain; Ansel Adams; Robert Capa; David Moore; Lewis Morley; Annie Leibovitz; Henri Cartier-Bresson; Bill Henson; Frank Hurley; Robert Mapplethorpe; William Yang; Harold Cazneaux… etc etc
3. What inspires you to create the type of images that you do?
To create strong images that are aesthetically satisfying, but also make an emotional connection to the viewer and have the ability to tell a story.
4. What do you think makes your style unique?
I don’t know if it is, however as we are all unique as people I like to think I bring my own character, personality, passions and sensibility to my creative endeavors and hopefully this is expressed in my images.
5. Do you have any advice for an aspiring photographer?
Follow your passions, be open to learning and be inspired by others, but above all stay true to yourself
6. What is the next big adventure for you, photographically?
Self-publishing books of my images; and exploring video as an extension to my love of the still image.
To look at more of Michael’s images:
As long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed looking at Art, particularly Paintings.
Many hours have been spent visiting Art Galleries, viewing books, magazines on Art and Art images on the Internet. I love investigating the different Styles and Movements that have (& are being created).
Prior to 2010 I hadn’t really given much thought to actually picking up a brush, except that I thought I might ‘have a go’ when I retired. ‘Out of the blue’ I decided to take a 6 week drawing course at a small Art Gallery about half an hour from home.
I learnt there that I (apparently) draw by line instead of tone and had a wonderful time drawing on A5 to A2 paper using Graphite pencil and Charcoal on subjects such as Architecture, Head & Shoulder Life Portraits and Nature.
It was after the Drawing course that I started to get interested in actually trying my hand at painting. I started playing around with Watercolour. At this point I did not even realise that Watercolour is considered to be the hardest medium. From there I ventured onto Acrylic and enjoyed playing with that, though after talking to the owner of a local Art store I decided to try Oil painting.
I am enjoying Oil painting immensely! I have not had any lessons at this point in time, just tips from my Brother, my Mother-In-Law and a couple of friends. Other influences are the copious amounts of Art books I borrow from the local library, magazines and You Tube videos.
At some point I do intend having some official lessons but for the moment I am enjoying exploring, experimenting and having fun. Sometimes I try to paint from a reference photo and other times from my imagination. I think the latter is my favourite.
Oil painting has become another ‘escape’ for me, much like the other forms of communication found in this blog. It allows me to leave ‘reality’ and it refreshes me.
Sometimes, I can vividly see the scenes that I would like to create via painting, but my technical skill is a fair way behind where it needs to be to be able to replicate what I see in my mind. In time I hope it catches up! In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the place I am at and look forward to the journey of self-discovery and learning.
Here are a few examples of of my paintings thus far…
Written by David Johnson
30 August 2015