Saturday, December 24, 2011

Autumn Leaves (Liquid Amber) in Pastel

Autumn Leaves or Fall leaves seem very American. However in Australia we have the Liquid Amber Tree too. And Autumn time to bring out such wonderful  colours in these tree leaves. I am always in awe of the reminiscent atmosphere it brings. So in tribute and anticipation to Autumn, I wanted to capture the beauty of these leaves like so many have done before me.

In a well detailed 'study' I made a pastel drawing in anticipation of a future painting. I have a Liquid Amber tree in my backyard and last Autumn took some reference pics. :
Here is the stage by stage process of my pastel drawing (I say drawing and not painting because I was using a drawing technique). I used pastel pencils and a kneadale rubber. I worked top right/bottom right to top left/bottom left because I am a left hander, as well as using a tissue under my hand and a paper stump towards the end to blend the background. I worked leaf by leaf, not a layering effect like a base/background, then darks then lights over the whole area like I would a painting.

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Studio -Stage 3

Stage 4


 Here is a FREE TEMPLATE of my Liquid Amber Leaves drawing design.
Here is a copyright free template for Liquid Amber Leaves.Get your students to colour in in pencil.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Australian Artists

Most art followers could name a number of well known and famous Australian artists, but there are many I  haven't heard of who have contributed to Australian art history; depicting the culture, society, times and events of modern day life.

I would like to share with you these artists, some of whom have been brought to my attention, others who have provided a greater insight into their importance in the art realm. I have been reading Australian Art Brought to Light 1850-1965 (1998) published by the Queensland Art Gallery. This book has a vast array of essays on Australian artists (including international Australian artists) which describe their placement within Australian art history. The essays tend to analyse one significant or iconic artwork and has been a most enjoyable read of 'short stories'. There is an emphasis on Queensland and Brisbane artists as is relevant to the location of the gallery, however these essays address national artists.

Here is a list of the artists;
  1. Henry Short (Still lifes -Flowers)
  2. G.F. Folingsby (Genre Paintings of Domestic scenes)
  3. Chester Earles (Interior with figures)
  4. Nicholas Chevalier (Children)
  5. William Barak (Indigenous artist)
  6. Harriet Jane Neville-Rolfe (Female artit -rural/country life scenes)
  7. Isaac Walter Jenner (Landscapes)
  8. Arthur Lourier (Fantasy)
  9. Bertram Mackennal (Sculpture)
  10. Girolamo Nerli (Interiors with females -Cultural influences from Asia)
  11. Arthur Streeton (Landscapes)
  12. Sydney Long (Primitive like landscapes)
  13. Charles Conder (Figures, Landscapes, scenery)
  14. A.M.E. Bale (Lesiure paintings)
  15. Godfrey Rivers (painterly Landscapes and Interiors)
  16. John Peter Russell (Impressionistic landscapes)
  17. Rupert Bunny (Bathers; Women and children)
  18. George Washington Lambert (Portraits)
  19. Emmanuel Phillips (Figures and scenery)
  20. Vida Lahey (Female artist -Domestic scenes)
  21. Lloyd Rees (Drawing Architecture)
  22. Grace Cossington Smith (Female artist -portraits and domestic scenes)
  23. Thea Proctor (Female Artist -Printmaker)
  24. Margaret Preston (Female Artist -Printmaker -Still lifes)
  25. Christian Waller (Printmaker)
  26. Napier Waller (Female Artist -Religous printmaker) -Wife of Christian Waller
  27. Roland Wakelin (Impressionistic Fauvist -Surburbia)
  28. Hilda Rix Nicholas (Female Artist -Country life scenes)
  29. Max Dupain (photographer)
  30. Peter Purves Smith (Political painter)
  31. Eric Wilson (Cubism -Still lifes)
  32. William Dobell (Portrait painter)
  33. Ludwig Hirschfeld Mark (Watercolourist -Abstracts)
  34. Albert Namatjira (Indigenous Artist -Watercolourist -Landscapes)
  35. James Gleeson (Surrealist painter -Similar to Dali)
  36. Leonard Shillam (Sculptor)
  37. Albert Tucker (German Expressionism -depictions of society)
  38. Russell Drysdale (Surreal landscapes)
  39. Joy Hester (Female Artist -Female Portraits) -was wife of Albert Tucker
  40. Daphne Mayo (Female Artist -Acclaimed Sculptor for her time)
  41. Sidney Nolan (Figures in landscapes)
  42. Arthur Boyd (Landscapes)
  43. Charles Mountford (Indigenous Artist)
  44. Roy de Maistre (Cubistic and Fauvistic influence)
  45. Herbert Badham (Cubistic and Fauvistic influence)
  46. Grace Cowley (Female Artist -Abstract Cubism)
  47. Danila Vassilieff (Sculptor)
  48. Frank Hinder (Cubism)
  49. Margel Hinder (Cubism)
  50. Fred Williams (Printmaker -Etchings)
  51. Godfrey Miller (Cubist Pointalism)
  52. William Dargie (Indigenous Painter)
  53. Arthur Evans (Surburban Scenery)
  54. Ray Crooke (Landscapes of the Australia and Pacific Islands) -Similar to Guigain
  55. Yvonne Audette (Female Artist -Abstracts)
  56. Jon Molvig (Abstract Figures)
  57. Carl McConnell (Sculptor)
  58. David Boyd (Sculptor)
  59. Hermia Boyd (Sculptor)
  60. Ian Fairweather (Abstract Expressionism)
  61. Leonard French (Modern Abstract Geometrics)
  62. John Olsen (Abstract Expressionism)
  63. Colin Lacey (Decorative imagery)
  64. Mike Brown
  65. Ross Crothall
  66. Keith Looby (Abstract Figures and People)
  67. Ian Burn (Conceptualism)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Synchromism - a theory of colour and music

I have heard of synasthesia before - where art is responded to through listening to music and then the artist tries to 'paint the music'. Kandinsky was well know for this.

Synchromism sounds similar and could be one in the same (I haven't read enough about it yet) but it uses the music tone to represent the hue. The higher the musical pitch the lighter the colour key and reverse for low tone, deep hue -A formula developed for the 12 'notes' of the chromatic scale. The well known Australian artist Rolan Wakelin is said to have used this approach. International artists Morgan Russell and Roy de Maistre were too noted for creating art this way.

For me, I use music to dance to and get in the mood to create my art. As an exercise it would be fun to respond to the different types of genres; classical, grunge, pop.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where Art imitates life in entertainment

I have been aware of the influence fanous art pieces or artists have had on recent entertainment. I have just watched the new film "Midnight in Paris" by Woody Allen 2011 where many references to artwork and artists made for an art lover's dream movie escape. 

I have also been thinking about the other cases where I have seen artworks or artists referenced in entertainment;
  • Dr Who episode "Vincent and the Doc", series 5
Songs refering to Artists/Artworks/Art:
"Calafornia Dreamin" by the Mamas and Papas (Colour -All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey)

If you guys know of any other art movies/songs please feel free to comment.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A look back on my Art of 2011

Well it's close to the end of the year, and though I aim to create some paintings, I will show what I have done so far.

Check out my website for the paintings created in 2011 (labelled "New").

Also I had one commission, check out the "SOLD" gallery to view "Nesting"

  • I have recently been selected for the Flying Arts 2011 Queensland Regional Art Awards. My painting "Oriental Lanterns" will be touring next year 5 regional locations in Queensland
  • I had a couple of demos published in Fine Arts and Decorative Painting Magazine.

Painting Mitts

I was given some painting mitts from someone who works in a primary school for my daughter, who is nearly 2, to use. They are small enough for toddlers to use.

The brand is "Tudor Education" but a google search didn't show up where you can get them.
 I think they are such a great idea for young children with the different textures they can paint with. 
Starting from the left the materials are; a wollen fabric, a luffa, a sponge, mop-like string, and towelling fabric.

They worked ok. Maybe if the paint was thicker the textures could have shown more. The paint I use is Crayola Gel paint for children -so very thin and transparent. 

 Here are the results

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Artist Sketchbooks

Sometimes you want to see the before stuff that artists do -how they get to their end result of the artwork. It is great to see a visual diary or sketchbook and see how ideas progress and change. Here is a link (directory) to ALOT of links to other famous and non-famous artists' sketchbooks.

Scroll through.

For example: Here is an example of one of my artworks from thumbnail sketches of ideas -positioning of subject matter, to a tonal and colour scheme to the final product.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Flying Arts 2011Online Regional Art Awards

I have entered the 2011 Online Regional Art Awards run by Flying Arts (Brisbane, QLD). 

You have the opportunity to support me and vote for my artwork "Oriental Lanterns" by Chrissy Dwyer (Page 2, 1st on 2nd row). 
Oriental Lanterns by Chrissy Dwyer. (c.) 2011 This image remains copyright of the artist.

Go to the website here and read my blurb by clicking on the thumbnail which makes the link to the theme 'Connections'.

Voting for people's choice closes 19th Sep 2011. The winner of People's Choice receives a voucher for Art Shed (which would be very cool!). I would appreciate your support and hope you find my artwork to be the best abd vote for it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Creativity and the purpose in Education

Sir Ken Robinson speaks on TED off Utube and raises some interesting points FOR creativity in education: "Do Schools Kill Creativity?"

Watch this 20min video (yes it is long but worth it. He is fun to listen to and not dry and boring).

As a soon-to-be qualified Art Teacher I am of course an avid supporter of the arts being taught in education. There are so many ways of learning which the visual arts supports as a vechical for teaching knwoeldge, such as; history, geography, science, english. The core learning areas can be supported by teaching information through art, for example, colour theory relates to science, as well as light, art reflects history, geographical locations of artists, artwork and art movements are taught etc. Being creative requires problem-solving and conceptual skills which influences the meta-cognitive learning.

Robinson comments on the heirarchy of subjects taught in school. He states, everywhere in the world more or less have the main core learning areas of english, maths and science as at the top, priority subjects. However, he stipulates this is a deliberate push for academia for the purpose of people getting jobs and professional careers. (I love what he coins 'academic inflation').

He talks about Multiple Intelligences by describing the senario of a girl dancer. Identifying who she is by what her learning style is. This changed how this child behaved and subsequently learned because people finally acknowledge her interests and learning style. Basically summarising, Robinson explains not everyone learns the same, or has the same interests.

It is important to acknowledge and accept our differences is the message I think Robinson conveys as well as his arguements for the benefits of the arts supporting education.

How to make a painting -Step 4 Final Detail

Ability Level -Beginner

So now you are near the end of your painting. Start to finalise by focus on detail, highlights and shadows (contrasts) and fixing up things which aren't working.
Trio, Acrylic on Board, C.Dwyer 2011. This image retains copyright of the artist.
So with this technique, constant reworking of brushstrokes of colour was used. I emphasied and exaggerated the shadow of the bowl by adding pure blue and red. Yellow was my highlight for the pears and bowl.

Looking at the finished painting now, what I would change would be the sharpness of the yellow highlight on the bowl and maybe blend the graduated colour of the purple tablecloth into the foreground more. But true to the nature of the technique (wet-in-wet), it is dry now and I have left it. But just because I am not correcting my mistakes doesn't mean its a bad painting. I was not wanting to achieve photorealism or proportional perfection. I recognise what needs to be changed, and thats the main thing. 

I am happy with this outcome, because for me it is loose and a different style. I hope this has been a simple enough tutorial for a beginner to follow. Choose a simple still life if your a beginner. Good luck.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Spectrum (Colour) Song

I have just discovered an amazing song about colour, and indirectly about blending colour.

A song created in 1961 by Paul Fress aka Ludwig Von Drake (Duck character), The Spectrum Song, for the Television series A Wonderful World of Color. The song was introduced as an educational segment for viewers for the transition from black and white t.v. to colour t.v.. 

Though this song was before my time, and I am only now discovering it by chance, I LOVE it! I find it very catchy and funny. I checked out Utube and found a clip of the original video, and another presentation someone created. Here they are:

Here are the lyrics:
 The Spectrum Song Lyrics
Red, yellow, green, red, blue blue blue
Red, purple, green, yellow, orange, red red
Red, yellow, green, red, blue blue blue
Red, purple, green, yellow, orange, red red

Blend them up and what do you get?
Cerise, chartreuse, and aqua
Mauve, beige, and ultra marine, and every colour in between
Hazo ka li ka no cha lum bum

Colour has it's harmony and just like I have said
Red, yellow, green, red, blue blue blue
Red, purple, green, blue, purple, red red

Blend them all and what do you get?
Cerise, chartreuse, and aqua
Mauve, beige, and ultra marine, and every colour in between
Ing za ri ka fo zi brun brun

Colour has it's harmony and just like I have said
Red, yellow, green, red, blue, pink, grey
And white, and plaid and blue,
green, white, yellow and toodinz 'n' and and and
right and and strips with blue and a black and Plaid and a....a

oo and ...vut vut, vait a second, vut vut's going on wid all da colours?
Blue, red, green, green, white, white, black....
vut ever happened to just plain old
lavender blue dilly dilly dilly dilly.......dilly...silly
Text sourced from:

Description of Colours:
Cerise = Deep pinkish red. Think of a cherry
Chertreuse = yellow-green
Mauve = also known as Mallow is a pale gray purple (sometimes more blue or more pink)
Ultramarine = deep ocean blue
Plaid = Not a colour but refers to the type of cloth pattern.

Please if anyone has any other information about the funny lyrics and what some things mean like "Hazo ka li ka no cha lum bum" please leave a comment. Also, if anyone else has discovered some good colour theory songs and other song about art related topics, do share.

Friday, July 8, 2011

How to make a painting -Step 3 Blocking In Colour

Ability Level -Beginner

Step 3 -Block in Colour:
Once your have completed the tonal underpainting of your composition, whether in greyscale or monochromatic, now block in your painting using the colours (hue) which match the tonal underpainting. You may choose to use the same process as working your darks, midtones or lights first. 

When you have blocked in an area with colour, work back into it with highlights and shadows/contrasts. 

In this demo, I have taken a Cezanne inspired approach to my painting technique. This kind of technique would probably suit beginners because you don't need to worry about blending.
Cezanne was a post-impressionist artist. His technqiue was to use brushstrokes of colour next to and overlapping each other. He saw the world in planes (geometric shapes) and painted to the shape of objects using squares and rectangles. So pears, rather than looking nicely and smoothly curved, look blocky to show shape.

Unfortunately in my demo, as I mentioned my process, I block in using colour and then add detail. So this image here shows just passed that step. I had forgotten to take a photo in between, but as you can see, the pears still have the original underpainting. What I would have done, was just flatly and smoothly painting the colours, for example, the cream of the wall, the purple of the tablecloth (with graduated variations to show dark and light patches). Here I have started to use the Cezanne technique of blocks of colour brusk marks.
Don't get caught up in detail. Use a short or long flat brush of a medium size so you can't fixate on detail.

This image is copyright of C.Dwyer

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to make a painting -Step 2 Blocking In Underpainting

Ability Level -Beginner

Once you have decided on your composition, or if working from a photo, and have made a tonal drawing, and a colour scheme drawing  if you wish, the next step is starting your painting. (See How to make a painting -Step 1 Tonal Drawing).

I always re-gesso my canvases even though the pre-stretched premade ones already have 2-3 coats. For me it helps me get in the frame of mind. Plus I feel it is nicer to have a fresher grip. 

Gesso is a white undercoat base paint primer with a chalky texture to give better grip to the paint. Apply 2-3 coats and if you want a smooth finish sand in between layers. Apply with a brush or roller, again depending on the desired effect.

Next, draw in your composition outline. I use charcoal or pastel pencil, as using graphite pencil can come through thin layers of paint and is harder to rub out.

Outline drawing of composition on canvas board using a light blue pastel pencil. First stage of blocking in underpainting

Blocking in the underpainting in greyscale (variations of black and white paint using shades of grey to make your tonal scale). You may also choose to do a tonal underpainting using a single colour (monochromatic) either similar to the overall tone of your paint or the opposite or complementry colour to add a different effect. By using greyscale or a colour, this helps you get the tones correct before applying paint. If you jump in and use colour straight away, you may find yourself repainting over areas again and again because you just can't get the colour right. Especially as you continue to paint, because as you paint in more areas of colour, it affects the colour next to it.

This underpainting I choose to use a red underpainting to contrast with the overall green focus being the pears. I added black to the red to create my darkest darks and white to the red to create my lightest lights. I used clear painting medium to help dilute and spread the light colour.

If you start by applying your darkest darks first, this establishes the value range and I think makes it easier to go backwards in value. Or you may wish to start at mid value range and go either side.

Now is the time to check your values as close to correct. Use the greyscale chart from Step 1 to assess if your close. I do this before I put the paint on the canvas. 

Next is blocking in the underpainting using a mid tone range of the colour for that area.

How to make a painting -Step 1 Tonal Drawing

Ability Level: Beginner

First do the very basics; select reference photos, or choose subject matter and draw/sketch compositions.

Then do a tonal drawing. It doesn't matter if it is abstract painting or realistic, by making a tonal drawing, you are making sure you get the foundations of the painting right first. Think of it like a house, if the frame isn't good and correct, you will encounter problems later on. 

So what is tone and tonal value?

Tone is the scale of lightness to darkness of a colour, but you are not looking at what colour (or hue) it is. You are assessing the colour value (ie Tonal Value). When assessing tonal value, you match the colour to a tonal chart; the lightest colour value is 1 and the darkest colour value is 9 (some charts vary and value from 1-10). Check tone by squinting and if the colour or tone blends in then it is a match.

This is my own Tonal Value chart I made. You may print it out and use it. Cut out the above squares. Place over your colour or tone or paint and match it up. Adjust your paint until you achieve your desired tone.

So by doing a tonal drawing and identifying the values, you are setting the foundation of your painting and can make corrections. Once you have made your tonal drawing, and if you choose to make a colour scheme drawing, you may choose to make your first painting layer an underpainting (which is the base layer and can be a greyscale or monochromatic painted version of your composition to then apply colour over the top).


When I make a tonal drawing, I actually write the value number in that area as a quick reference -think paint-by-numbers.

Tip: Do not have equal parts of tone in the composition. If you have 1/3 light, 1/3 medium, and 1/3 dark tones, it  probably would not be a very interesting composition. As a general rule, mix it up to vary tonal range to create more interest. 2/3rds dark and 1/3rd highlights or vice-versa. 1/5th dark and the rest a combo of medium and light values would create interest. You be the judge.

Next: Step 2 -Blocking in the underpainting
Step 3: Blocking in the colour has some good activities, see links here

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ramblings on being an Art Teacher

I wanted to post my thoughts prior to my first Prac (which I have just completed) and then afterwards to see how my thoughts on being an Art Teacher or being a teacher of Art was any different. I have been pondering this for many years in the lead up to my becoming an Art Teacher (of high school students). This distinct difference is key to understanding how the two roles, though very similar in nature are also quiet different.

A number of years ago I had posted a thread on an art forum I am a member of, asking if an art teacher needed to be good or a least competent in a majority of art forms to teach. Those that replied, some speaking from an art teacher background or experience answered my query with what I assumed to be the answer. Yes, you have to be proficient in a variety of art mediums and techniques to teach art. Also you need some greater ability then your students. 

Bearing this in mind then, I pondered about the differences between being a Tafe or Uni Art teacher, to a high school art teacher, to a workshop art teacher. As mentioned, all these roles are vastly different yet still cater to the single purpose of teaching their pupils about art and creating/making art. 

Having been through the institutions (TAFE and Uni) and now being on the other side as an Art teacher (Prac) I have come to realise the difference as a teacher of adolescents or school students. A high school art teacher is just that; someone who teaches art. It is mostly about mimicry by default. That is the way students at this level can learn; getting the foundation skills and knowledge down pat in junior working into more conceptual and wider thinking in senior. So how does this differ to a teacher of art?

I believe a teacher of art is moreso a guide to teaching and learning about art and how to make and create art. I feel Tafe and Uni, and workshop teachers cater more to this style. Neither way is necessarily wrong or negative, it is just different in approach. That is not to say you can't change your approach to teaching high school art. It is about knowing your students and making judgement calls about the best way they can learn.

I think as a high school art teacher, alot of personal artistic sacrifices must be made in your own creative being as the students depend on your ideas and guidance so deeply. I think as an Art teacher, it is still very important to keep your own passion and ideas flowing, and still maintain your own craft. Though the reality of this happening is silm. Just like any job being so draining, with all your ideas being zapped out of you by the end of the day, and the workload, I imagine there would be not much time nor well to keep your own practice doing. Though I hope I still keep my finger in the pot so to speak, as I feel it is just as important to your job as it is to yourself and your well being. Though it may be your job, being an artist is part of who someone is. And I know for me, I feel more fulfilled when I have done some art. They still needs to be something that gives!

Graffiti Vs Street Art -There is a difference!

I went to an artist talk/forum at the University of Queensland a couple of weeks back to see the travelling show 'Space Invaders'. Space Invaders is a National Gallery of Australia travelling exhibition featuring their collection of street artworks collected over the last 10years. I was lucky enough to participate in an artist talk given by Ghost Patrol and Miso (two well known and established street Artists in Australia). 

It was interesting to hear their perspective of graffiti and street art, describing the difference and explaining the ideas behind their art process. Whether or not you agree that what they do is morally right or wrong is your own opinion, however in the eyes of the Australian Law, this type of art is typically done illegally therefore classed as vandalism. Putting the law aside for the moment, it is interesting to take this artform for what it is and better try and understand it, as once you come to understand an artform you can become more understanding of how and why something happens.

Ghost Patrol and Miso made it clear that what they do is Street Art and it does not necessarily fall under the umbrella of Graffiti. They are two different yet similar art styles. Street Art, though still is illegal, is more about the artists creating art and then displaying it for the public to freely see and enjoy. They get pleasure out of sharing their art, however, they still pertain the copyright of their art.

Graffiti is done more for the thrill of the action -doing risky stuff and not getting caught. Graffiti becomes territorial and some is more about 'tagging' then about art. It is also done usually and 'hidden' places such as alleyways where the focus isn't on the public necessarily viewing it but other gangs.

It was interesting to talk to Ghost Patrol and Miso about their view on what they do with their art. They explained that where they are from , Melbourne, it is more prominent and accepted as part of the city's culture. However, somewhere like Brisbane, the council very much stamps down on Graffiti, and it is not ridden in our streets as described by the duo in Melbourne. 

They don't feel like they are 'vandalising' the city or the community, if anything, they defend their actions by saying they are sharing their creativity with the people for their enjoyment for free. This type of art makes cities interesting and creates an artistic community. They describe it as beautifying their city.

Miso is so spiritual in her artistic process. She describes how she loves her work being ephemeral, and that something that was made on paper and glued as a 'paste on' somewhere is not permanent. That over time the artwork deteriorates until it is no longer or another artist has stuck their work up. Though she says, unlike Graffiti artists who deliberately overtag other's art, she says street art is very much respected by other street artists and to create over another's work is disrespectful.

Then there is the issue of copyright. People think because their artwork is placed around in public (freely) that it is there for the taking. Some can argue that it is due to it being unlawfully displayed and knowing shared for 'free' while others will argue it is still copyrighted no matter the circumstances -it is still artwork which needs to be protected and values. But, like I said, copyright is another issue.

Since hearing their talk, I did feel more of an appreciation for what they do -street art- and that by understanding it better, I can now see their point of view and don't necessarily look at it like it is vandalism anymore. They said they are conscious of where they place their art and ensure they do not display it so to damage private property ie shop owners walls etc. I agree with their ideas of displaying their art for all to see...and for free, which helps make a city culturally aesthetic. I however don't understand how they could part with their art so freely? As artists we value our work, protect it, and not just give it out. And that is what they do. Each and to their own.

Please bare in mind, the text is my opinion in relation to my knowledge about graffiti and street art, and paraphrasing information from an artist talk I attended. I do not pertain that the information in my article is a correct recount of the artist's opinions. I have to the best of my knowledge and understanding interpreted the artist's talk into my own meaning. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'm in Fine Art & Decorative Painting Mag!

I have been published in Vol 18 No 9 (April 2011) of the Fine Art and Decorative Painting Magazine!!!! 

What a lovely 8page feature they gave me (this makes my read art mag publication). 

The demonstration is on my Whimsical Bird Tree Painting you can see in earlier post in this blog. Just a brief background on the painting; I was preparing for a competition inspired by the Hong Kong bird and flower markets. This idea was one I wanted to do first to see if I wanted to enter it or not. I decided it wasn't the vision I wanted to enter for the exhibition, however this is one of my favourites as it is so simple yet effective.

Here are some scanned pictures of the feature if you haven't seen the mag. (Click on the images to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blue and Yellow makes Green!

How the wonderment of discovery kids have when they discover something is just delightful. I had two of my nieces visit and of course I encourage all my nieces and nephews in art and craft when they visit, so out I get the paints and a couple of cheap canvases.

I told them they could do whatever they wanted with the paints I had (cheap ones for the kids). I said they could experiement with making colours on paper first before mixing and putting on their canvas. My nieces who are 6 and 9, just about every time came to show me or tell me what colours they had made. They were amazed! It was such a wonderful process that they felt good sharing that new knowledge with me.

Here is what they painted.

6 year old

9 year old (not finished)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The (Simple) Art of Pricing your Art

Well the ever asking holy grail of questions "how do you price your art". Many Artists before me and many Artists after me will comment on, question and give advice on this very question. The variables are so great. The fact of the matter is NOT as simple as plucking a number out of the air. It is NOT uniform -one size doesn't fit all. And it IS personal and subjective. It is dependent on many factors including;
  • quality of materials used
  • your labour/time
  • your professional status or level. Are you emerging, or hobbyist or semi-professional etc
  • factoring in the cost to produce, how much your materials costed you
  • is there an additional mark up involved because your factoring in the cost of a frame, entering a competition, delivering the artwork, commission etc
  • the economy or competition
These are just suggestions to think about. You could just say it is X amount and that is that, no thought, no consideration. But just like trying to sell a house, one major factor is PRICE, and getting the price right is a must. Then you can worry about your potential buyers. Look at Artists of similar calibre to you, see what similar artworks like yours are priced at in Galleries (depending on the gallery, consider subtracting 33-50% commission) etc. 

Here are some example forumlas some Artists may use: 
  1. Some work out their pricing by using an additive formula. For example; Materials + Labour + Margin = $x
  2. Some use a subtractive formula. For example; there know they want to get $y profit for the painting so then they subtract Labour, Materials from $x to get on or more then the $y amount.
  3. Others go with a 'feeling' what they think it is worth. I feel this is a good start for hobbyists or emerging artists who could not possible work out the price of their art based on labour as that alone would work out to be too much due to the nature of the learning process, that learners (and now I am generalising) would take a long time to complete a work of sellable quality. So therefore it is not so much about recouping your whole costs, just the satisfaction in selling. 
  4. $x amount per inch or centimeter. Times the length x width of canvas and divide by $x per inch or centimeter. For example, some may charge $2 or $3 per inch as a hobbyist, so working on a standard small size of an A4 sheet 12x8inch = 96inches x $3 per inch = $288
These are just some ideas on examples. I have gone through the stage of "feeling" what I think the value is as a hobby artist and as I have progressed I have worked my way to using Artist quality materials, not student quality anymore, I mentally I feel I have made the transition from hobbyist to semi-professional/professional and therefore consider Labour and Materials costs, and add on a margin.

I hope this helps a little when you think about pricing your art. I know as I progress I change and modify how I work mine out to suit so that I price more desirable to my target.

ARTISTS, please feel free to share some of your strategies on how you price or art or know of another Artist pricing methods. 

Here are some links which may be of help:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An explosion of colour

Inspired by 2010's News Years Eve celebrations of the FIREWORKS display I decided I wanted to capture this burst of colour, celebration and excitement. I wanted to do something very 'freeing' and use my body for movement to create the effect. I choose old 'student' paint to 'waste' and use up. 

I gessoed the background of a used canvas (as this was just a fun one) and once dry, I made my masterpiece within 15minutes! Hows that for record time!

Here is the result:
This image is copyright of the Artist, (c) Chrissy Dwyer. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

INSPIRATION. Where does it come from?

Having lived in Cairns (tropical Far North Queensland, Australia) for pretty much all my artistic life, sourcing inspiration from where I live; tropical lush mountainous rainforest greenery, I started to ponder what my new found inspiration would be as a result of my impending departure. A scary thought, about loosing what inspires me, though I was not being ridiculous thinking I would never find inspiration again, just worried a little about the direction my art would take as a result of a relocation.  

I have moved to Brisbane about half way down to the South East corner of Queensland, halfway between the East Coast of Australia. Brisbane is sorta an inbetweener in environment. I would describe it as more bush/country with gum, eucalyptus, and paperbark trees, and a bit more ruggered, but it still has some rainforest qualities. Brisbane has a different beach/seascape scenery -it actually has a surf!
Though I will be ever so missing the tropical rainforest elements of inspiration from Cairns and surrounds, I have many reference photos to still draw inspiration from, AND a new environment to explore -different animals and landscapes. 

My point about inspiration though is...does where you live influence your art and make your art what it is? How has a relocation altered your art? If your an abstract artist, would your art really appear different? If your a realist artist would it be just the subject matter thats different however your 'style' remains the same? How did you cope artistically with a change. Please feel free to leave a comment with your replies.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chinese New Year -Year of the Rabbit 2011

I wonder what all the hype about this year's Chinese New Year is all about and why this year seems to be soo different and 'mediarised'???

Well it doesn't matter so much what all the fuss is about as I have celebrated it in my own way anyway. Late last year I was asked by a fellow artist to participate in an exhibition to celebrate the Chinese New Year sponsored by the Cairns and District Chinese Association (CADCAI) and shown in the Cairns Regional Gallery. See snippit of exhibition here in this UTube clip UTube: Birds of a Feather Exhibition

The theme of the exhibition was to be inspired by the Hong Kong Bird and Flower markets. My research through google images very much inspired me and as a result would consider travelling to China in the future. So I guess you can conclude that this celebration is about cultural awareness and tourism and an in direct way.

My artwork I produced for this exhibition is a painting, acrylic on canvas, 40x90cm. I choose to paint, and is the title of the artwork "Oriental Lanterns" as these objects are iconic of Asian Celebration, and and keeping with the theme of the exhibition, typically have patterns or flower designs. I did not want to do every lantern in the common red colour (though is symbolic of this culture) because I wanted to differentiate between the lanterns with slightly changing the colour and bouncing and reflecting colour and light. What is different about this painting is I started with a black gessoed canvas. It was liberating and ususual to do this. I used a palette knife to create the textures of the flowers on the lanterns as I wanted to create a 3D look.

 This image remains copyright of (c.) Chrissy Dwyer 2011.
Brief History on the Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year -Spring Festival or Lunar New Year are other known names- is one of the most important holidays for the Chinese culture. It is a festival which runs for 15days (ends with the 'Lantern Festival' -how appropriate for my painting).The symbolic colour of red is represents fire and is belived to drive away bad luck.

In a very simplified interpretation: The celebration is thought to originate around 2000BC with the legend of the Nien (meaning Year) was a beast who ate the villagers on the New Year's Eve, so to keep the Nien away, fire, decorations and loud noises resulted in the celebration.

Related Art:
Origami -The art of papar folding resulting in folded shapes
Kirigami -The art of paper cutting resulting in shapes cut out

Links on Chinese New Year
Brisbane Valley Chinese New Year Festival

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to package a painting for delivery

See link on how to package paintings for delivery

Use your own disgression on your own artwork, this approach is just my way, and depending on what medium, canvas/support, size etc you use it may vary, use this approach as a guide and adapt to suit you. I hope this helps you. Please leave a comment if it has or the way you package your artwork to send for delivery.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How much TIME does an exhibition take?

Just as you may wonder about how much does an exhibition cost so too may you wonder how much time you need to allocate to producing your exhibition, from brainstorming and researching to the launch night. 

From my experience with my first solo exhibition, I tried to keep tabs on the time I spent on different tasks to get an idea. (Also I was curious to see how long it really took me to do a painting).

Here is a table of tasks and timeframes in an  exbition time sheet example: