Today's sketches…

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Sketching

From life…..

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Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Exhibitions

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Flinders Ranges Painting Trip

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Painting Trips

I’ve just returned from a two week painting trip to the Flinders Ranges. Some people who had been before, said I’d be in for a treat, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Flinders Ranges has an atmosphere like no other, forever surprising you with unpredictable colour changes. The mountain range melts into all hues of violet, blues and reds, sometimes even gold. depending on a multitude of circumstances. This year the rain had made new grasses sprout, covering the landscape with a sea of various greens against red soil.

Along with 30 artists, I painted every day amongst the elements. Fortunately the first couple of days were off to a stormy start, producing the most wonderful skies. The cloud formations were challenging as they constantly churned across our view.

Down to the creek which had recently been flooded, huge rocks dislodged, were hanging in precarious positions amongst exposed tree roots. The rocks and pebbles are beautiful colours of blue, dusky pink, olive green and ochre. Some roots looked quite bizarre and unbelieveable if put in a painting. The river gums are very interesting in colour and shape, making for a good subject. I found that being mostly a figurative painter, doing a portrait of these old gnarly fellas was a better option than the panoramic scenes available. The Merna Mora woolshed and contents was also absorbing with wool bales and baskets, shearing equipment, tool workshop and discarded rusty oil drums.

I bring home just over a dozen paintings, remembering the experience whilst painting plein air – the day and all that it presented: whirly winds, glowing reflections, bothersome flies etc. With me also are over 800 photographs, snapped throughout the journey. My observations from life have allowed me to store information I need, should I paint from these photographs in the studio. I will hopefully be able to convey the sensations I experienced, in my studio paintings.

Making good greys………

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Oil Painting

PRIMARY COLOURS: RED YELLOW BLUE
SECONDARY COLOURS: ORANGE VIOLET GREEN
Red & Yellow = ORANGE
Red & Blue = VIOLET
Blue & Yellow = GREEN

If you can remember the above, it’s easy to work out your colourwheel. Opposite colours on the colour wheel are called complementary colours. Complementary colours when mixed, create greyed colours,
eg. if an orange is too bright and you want it dulled, mix in a tad of blue.
eg. if your green is too brilliant, mix in a tad of red

Once you know how to mix your secondary colours (as listed above), the rest is simple.

To grey or dull a colour (making it less brilliant), you mix the opposite colours on the colourwheel.
THE OPPOSITE COLOUR TO WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR WILL BE THE MISSING PRIMARY COLOUR/S.

If you wish to dull a RED…..the missing primary colours are YELLOW & BLUE (which make green when mixed)
so the opposite colour to RED is GREEN

Complementary Colours are:

RED = (Yellow & Blue) GREEN
YELLOW = (Blue & Red) VIOLET
BLUE = (Red & Yellow) ORANGE

If you need to lighten the colours, use your white.
Think about whether your red will be a letterbox red (Cadmium Red) or an earthy red (Light Red), Ultramarine Blue is a good all round blue to use, yellow could be (Cadmium Yellow) which is bright or (Yellow Ochre) which is earthy. Is your painting requirements bright or earthy in hue. If you need to darken the colour, add a little black into it, or choose a darker red eg. Alizarin Crimson, a darker blue eg. Prussian Blue, a dark yellow, Yellow Ochre.
I will add to this post with a bit more information, so keep watching.

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.