Barcelona – Oil 24 x 36 in

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Uncategorized

This oil is being exhibited at the Victorian Artists Society, 430  Albert Street, East Melbourne in the Artist of the Year Awards until December 10th, 2013

Monet’s Garden

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Uncategorized

Oil 1.2 x 80 - SOLD

This is the second version I have painted in oils of Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France.  It’s a very beautiful subject to paint, with many angles to view around the water lilly pond.  We were there in their summer (July, 2011) and I’d love to go back in the Spring to see other plants in bloom – sometime in the future.  I worked this image from three photos which I pieced together.  Of course, I have used artistic licence on the colours, however, this is how this picturesque scene made me feel while I was there – it’s a dreamy feeling.


People Painting People 2011

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Uncategorized

Here is the oil  painting I did of Dr Janine Kirk.  Unfortunately she was unable to sit on the planned day, so last weekend, she kindly sat for a few of us artists.  We had a lovely Sunday morning painting her portrait.

People Painting People Weekend

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Uncategorized

A great success at the Victorian Artists Society over the weekend with some fabulous portraits being produced.  We had 3 hours, which included breaks for the models, to produce a ‘portrait sketch’.    I painted Kenneth Ryan from Qantas (above).

Journey continues…

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Uncategorized

The people’s restaurants of Hanoi are very different to what we know in Australia.  Alfresco dining for the locals means sitting on a small plastic stool on the pavement of a busy street, delicious smelling aromas tantalising the tastebuds, while the frantic world goes on around them.

  It’s winter in Vietnam and the north is feeling the chill, everyone is rugged up against the lower temperatures.  Pho, the local soup is a favourite and delicious.  The makeshift restaurant cookers, are often a small wood fire built on the pavement, the chef coaxing the flames with a fan, smoke billowing, adding to the smog of the city which is covered in grey haze.

While walking around Hanoi, one needs to stay alert.  Motorbikes travel on footpaths as well as roads and crossing a street is nerve wracking, as rules seem non existent. 

The architecture is interesting with very narrow buildings squeezed together, which was a way in which people could avoid tax in the olden days.  The facades have been added onto, as have the top of the buildings.  Aluminium garages have been added to rooftops and you wonder how they ever got some of the structures up where they have.  If you let your eyes strip the extentions, you can imagine how it may have originally looked.

It’s a very fast city and not all that friendly, unless you are about to part with some money.  A city on the move, the pace is relentless with alot more cars here than Ho Chi Minh city.  The boulevards and lakes are very pretty and have an exotic oriental feel about them with enormous Jacaranda trees draping the lakes edge.  The Parisan style cafes are fabulous and are very chic.


Visiting galleries….

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Uncategorized

Finding inspiration and motivation should be sought through many sources.  Visiting galleries is what might just take your skills up a notch!

I advise all artists to take time to visit exhibitions of all sorts.   “What do I look at?” some students ask.   Every time you go to the gallery, you can look for a different reason. 

A painting can be viewed for its subject….what do I paint, what makes for a good subject.  Note what people paint and consider what is around you, when you go home, maybe a subject has been under your nose all the time!

Each time you go to the gallery, go with a reason.  It might be that you go to look solely at the subjects depicted.   Or it might be that you look at compositions, and how they move your eye around the painting.  Note their lead lines/ lines of movement.

I advise you to visit galleries regularly, monthly is ideal, and go with a reason to view the work.  Even if it is the same work you viewed the month before you can find more ways of seeing it.  

Breaking the painting down into elements will help you to understand the painting and hopefully enhance your own technique.  Look at brushwork, lost and found edges, deliniated edges, fuzzy edges, dragged scumbelled edges. 

 Then, the next time you go, look for colour schemes and relate it back to your colourwheel….is the artist using a triad, a split complementary, complementary or harmonious colours?  Why does it work and what mood were they trying to achieve?  

Another time you head to the gallery, look at textures and how they were achieved, or skies, or tonal arrangements.  What is their focal point and how did they make you look at it?   There are so many ways of viewing a painting, it is important to look for more than one reason.

Most importantly, try to appreciate the edge in their technique,they have over your own work, and then see if you can get it into yours.  Envisiging good work before you start painting is quite important.   Trying to imagine what your finished work will be like before you start is a good attitude to have.

There is an infinite wealth of possibilities presented to us through galleries, each century producing new ideas and extending themselves further.  By birth you are guaranteed to be contemporary, however, only a few  of us are revolutionary artists breaking new ground. 

Not to visit galleries is to deprive yourself of a major source of inspiration.  It is elating  and instructive to discover that your own motivation resonates along the ideas of other artists in various ways, over many centuries.    However, dont think that your images  should necessarily imitate your favourite artists, just take an element of theirs and apply it to your technique and see how it works for you.  It might be for example, that you have a totally different colour sense to the artist of your choice, but you like their use of brushwork  or tonal keyetc. 

Reinventing a ‘modern’ or ‘today’ subject from an old masters’ work can be a source of inspiration  ….  ie. Pablo Picasso’s “Portrait of a Woman” after Lucas Cranch the Younger (1958) / Lucas Cranch the Younger, “Portrait of a Woman” 1564.   Translating the idea of past views into todays time can lead to whole new world of ideas.

So visit your local galleries soon and be inspired to perform better for it.


Soft Pastels….looking lively

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Pastel Painting, Uncategorized

I thought I’d talk about soft pastels and how to work with them, other than just colouring in.    A pastel painting should be ‘alive’ with colour, whether brilliantly or subtlely so.

When I look at a subject and am trying to access the colours and tones, I put down a colour which I see within the ‘actual’ colour.   Let me try to explain myself. …… if I was to paint a white porcelin jug on a white cloth, I would be using more than the colour white which is the ‘actual’ colour.   I would have shadow colours which may have colours in it that reflect it’s surrounds.   A beginner may just see grey and white until they look a little closer and try to see what type of grey they are looking at.  

Is it…a pinkish grey, a blue grey, a yellowish grey, a greenish grey ,a purple grey  or even an orange grey?  These colours do not have to be applied as pale as you might understand them to appear, as they will be the under painting colours we use as a base for the actual colour we paint on the top layer.  Actual colour is the colour that you know the object to be ie.  a red shirt, the ‘actual’ colour being red.  However when light and shade falls onto the red shirt, the actual colour of red changes, it appears to have a range of tonal values on it from light to dark, all of various colours.

Let’s say we are painting a portrait.  The shadows on the flesh may appear to have colours of violet, green or blue.  These should be applied in the tone and shape they appear to your eye.  Dont worry if your colour selection is too brilliant, it can be toned down using a complimentary colour :  example….if the colour selection you had was a bright blue, an orange of the same tonal value would grey it down to how you wish it to appear.  If the flesh colour is too brilliant, tone it down WITH THE SAME VALUE OF TONE in its complimentary.  Sometimes a brilliant ( loud )colour can be toned down with a complimentary, less loud, or duller colour.

Little flecks of the more brilliant colours amongst alot of  lovely greyed colours can be simply stunning.   They will work nicely if the tonal values are similar.   If you put too light a colour of flecks amongst a mass of a dark area, it will not work.  The contrast between the light flecks and dark mass will only confuse the eye as to where the correct depth is in your painting.  The contrast of tone should be very little.

Outlining in the underpainting with a strong colour then loosing it here and there as the painting progresses can also bring an object to life, as does the colour of the paper showing through your strokes.

This method of painting works well with very soft pastels.  The underpainting can be done with your harder soft pastels or contes, and let the soft buttery pastels sit on top.  It is always handy to have a pastel that is close to the colour of your paper.  This helps blend an edge and also breaks up an area where you should have left the paper showing.

The paper colour choice in pastel is an interesting one and should be explored.  I find that if you are going to paint a cool coloured painting, using a warmer coloured paper is a good base and if painting a warm painting, a cool base aids the work.  Personally I dont like using light coloured papers unless I intend to leave alot of paper showing.  A part of the paper should always be showing through your work, whether it is in a large area or just flecking through here and there.  Use the tone of the paper somewhere in your work.  For portraiture I choose the paper colour according to the shadow colour in and around the sitter. 

The stroke you choose to use should be consistent throughout the whole of the painting.  Crisscrosses, angled diagonals, following the planes, dashes etc.  I find that some subjects need to follow the planes.  Water for example needs to have horizontal strokes for its surface and often vertical for deep reflections.  Hair too needs to follow the form of its drapery.  A slope in the land may also be accentuated by directional lines.

Have a look at the pastel paintings below, the man in the hat has some blue shadows on his face, this is the paper which has been left exposed.

The nude has been painted using diagonal lines throughout, and the portrait of the dark haired woman has many colours on her face.   I hope you have gained some information from this post.

Cheers, Gwendoline

A day in the Kingdom of Lanna…Chiang Mai

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Concepts, Uncategorized

Chiang Dao Caves by lantern light

Jostling along the highway, dodging weaving traffic, vying for the best spot on the road, thai taxis’ carry loads of people, stacked in like sardines, hanging on across the back step, swaying to the rhythm of the road. Workers balanced in the tray of utes, holding onto valuable trade tools, share a smoke and small talk before the shift begins.

The stalls and markets are being set up and already are trading. Women arrive to buy their goods before the fierce heat of the day. Prior to this, they woke at dawn, swept their doorways of the penetrating dust that the constant pulsing world throws their way. The children ride seated between their parents legs on the rattling, buzzing motorbikes which clutter the roadways and seem to line the curbs of every street. Small carts attached to them produce amazing delicious morsels of food. A truck of eggs hurtles past us, next a ute caged with pigs, squawking in what appears delight.

Leaving the villages behind, we continue into the countryside. The surrounding foothills are a pale cobalt blue, hazed in smoke from the burning off of the rice fields. From the middle ground to infinity, the edges of all objects are lost in haze. The sun, unable to penetrate the smoke, silohettes the trees in the foreground and our eyes settle on objects closer to us: donkeys and goats feasting in the fields, people working the land, sheltered by their large brimmed straw hats.

No time to sit and paint, but I recall the sensations I experienced, so my inspiration envelopes me once again when I recall these scenes in my photographs.

We reach the Chiang Dao caves and proceed to the entrance down a track which looks like it has been there for over a 100 years. The trees here are huge, maybe a 100 metres tall to match their age. A decorative facade, now crumbling awaits our entrance. The locals going about their business, just passing in more time.

Having purchased our tickets, we climb steep stairs and descend into the cave. Decorated with stone animals, buddas, and rustic bells, it looks like a very ancient archeological site. The cave’s floor has been carved with the movement of past floods from the wet season and swirls in ridges beneath our feet. The sand stone walls and ceiling are draped with formations, veils, shawls, stalegtites and stalegmites.

Some 500 metres onward, we come to a buddist shrine, amongst which is a monk, quietly meditating, oblivious to us and our banter.

We head back to the entrance and hire a guide with a lantern to lead us into another set of caves, not lit with electricity. It is pitch dark, except for the glow of the lantern which we follow closely like moths. The squeeking of bats sound above us and we see their evidence as we watch our steps closely.

The guide swings her lantern high and reveals the extensive chamber we are in, the bats twitch with the intrusion of the light.
Onward we go, through a hole in the side of the cave wall. It’s small, uneven, twisting and we have to contort our bodies and limbs on hands and knees through this keyhole to the next chamber. Ducking our heads as stalagmites try to reach the floor, we keep strictly to following the lantern light, for the unknown lays beyond the small circle of light.

Again the lantern is swung forth and lightens a massive area, draped in all sorts of formations resembling faces, buddahs, animals. Our guide points them out to us, with us adding a few more to her reportoire.

Occasionally she holds the light infront of herself and casts her shadow behind, hiding the uneven cave floor and our own footsteps. Swinging it to her side, she warns us of the pockets of uneven earth which she aptly names elephant footprints.

Onward we go, up and down corridors, through enormous caverns. In here too is a temple to budda, lit by a few candles. A few in the group kneel to show their respect, as does our guide.

Lifting the lantern against a wall, she reveals a spider, as large as a palm. It is spindly and the same colour as the reddish ochre earth. Down very steep steps, we are led back to where we entered. A very exciting experience.

Seven kilometres up the road, into the deeper jungle, a temple is perched on the foothills of the Malay mountains which reach into Laos, Burma and China. The haze still hangs in the air making the mountains only slightly darker than the sky. Their presence towers around us, as do the tall trees and vines growing up them. 500 steps through an adorned entrance of colourful ceramics we see a square man, festooned in costume, jester like, galloping toward us down the steps at great speed, pushing a soiled cloth in his grip of the handrail. He comes level with us and for a split second grins with his toothless mouth, blind in one eye and pride written all over his face. His job is done, then he is gone.

We commence our hike up the steps, the jungle is alive with cicadas and bird calls, though we see no movement except for some large blue butterflies and an occasional large buzzy insect. The steps have been brushed clean of any leaf debris and give uninterrupted procession for the ants.

Perched high up the mountain, the spire of the temple gllistens in the sunlight against the cool greys of the haze. It looks very peaceful and inviting. A few monks are also making their way in our direction, their orange/golden silk robes just brilliant. They are quiet and we lower our voices.

Up to the temple which we discover is a cave of jagged rockface, canoped with a modern roof. Inside a staircase adorned with a colourful ceramic dragon each side, leads us to the roof of the temple which we had seen from below. The spire has bells dangling around it and they tinkle gently with the slightest movement of air. The view over the treetops is spectacular, stretching up to meet us.

Inside the temple a young monk sits quietly, we hardly realise he is there, surrounded by golden buddahs and figurines of monks, the young monk blends. Another monk comes to greet us and asks us to sit with him. He has a very kindly face and looks animated at the pleasure of answering our questions.

It’s been a wonderful day and we are ready to indulge in a late lunch at the Chang Dao Nest 2 which is delightful.

By keeping notes or writing short descriptive essays, they will bring back to you the sensations you experienced when taking your photographs. Feeling the moment when you paint, puts a little bit more of you in the painting and becomes more convincing of the portrayal you hope to capture. Write down words which describe the reason for being inspired to take the photograph in the first place. Search your senses to make interpretations: visually – how did it affect you, what did you hear at the time, how did the scene make you feel emotionally, was there texture involved – what did it feel like. When you are painting, hopefully these sensations will be felt.

Concepts and Rules to follow….

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Uncategorized

Last week I talked about inspiration and I would like to further that with ‘how to carry a concept’ into your work.

Whatever subject you have decided upon, choose what will be the focus: the point of interest. Imagine that you are looking at a stage at the theatre. You have a lead singer, the chorus at the back of the stage, the orchestra pit at the front. If you turn all the lights on, you no longer have a focal point which would be the lead singer. You are given no direction of where to look. However, with control of the lighting, we can direct the audiences eye to what our focal point is. Hence, that is why the lighting on the stage is so strategically placed, and this needs to happen in your paintings.


A few rules to follow which will work in your paintings :
.Work out your composition and find the lead lines that take your eye around the painting. Spend time getting the placement of the objects in your painting correct.
.Adjust the value and warmth/coolness to show distance in your painting.
.Always place your darkest tonal value against your lightest tonal value around the centre of interest, which is always the lightest area. The biggest contrast will attract attention first.
.Make the area around the focal point slightly warmer and the peripheral areas cooler (not cold).
.Keep your darks thin with paint and fatten the paint on the lights.

.Mass your dark areas together so they don’t get too detailed.

.Leave some areas of the painting less finished than your focal point.

.Work out your colour scheme.  Use a triad or complementaries.  If you have a warm painting, then add a little cool colour throughout.  If you have a cool painting, then add a little warm colour throughout.

.Use less white and more light colours to gain light.

.Consider the tonal value and colour brilliance of neighbouring paint.  Each piece of paint should be a leading tone to the next piece.

.Start each new work with the view of making a beautiful painting.

 .Make some sharper marks around the focal interest, and softer edges throughout the peripheral areas. A soft edge can show distance and is also a turning edge, showing continuity. A hard edge gives accents to the painting and anchors an object to the ground.

 .In order to learn more about painting, you must take risks to see what happens.  Worrying about the outcome of your painting will inhibit your learning…..take time and enjoy the journey.