Working Methods

Spring Beach soft rain with sun-showersMost of my work is in robust sealed pastel. Some of my work is painted in acrylics on canvas.

Pastels are my passion, applied over a tempera base, taught to me by Jonathan Bowden, similar to the technique developed by Degas and De La Tour.  I have found this to be ideal for conveying the quality of Tasmanian light, which varies between soft and misty to brilliantly clear with vibrant colours.

If you look closely at impressionist paintings, the images are built up from a myriad of small dots and strokes of colour which blend optically from a distance to produce their images.  In both pastel and acrylic I have adopted this approach, learning from Jonathan Bowden of Launceston.

An innovation that assists in this building up of layers when using pastel, is a fixative I have made, that keeps the pastels true in colour and preserves the “tooth” necessary for other layers to be applied.  Some of the fixative is applied in many layers of mist, drying in between each layer to avoid pooling of liquid.  Others are purposely applied to give a wet surface which can then be manipulated by brush giving a soft water colour effect using a pastry brush.  Colour can be taken off using a clean brush, washed and wiped well inbetween strokes.  The effect is so soft and fragile, allowing the future inclusion of other images on top of the misty background.  It makes my pastels very robust.  I forgot about a pastel thus drying in the sun one afternoon.  Overnight a fierce storm broke out, and I remembered that pastel painting outside with horror!  Because of my use of fixative, it was unharmed and still bears its strong pastel colours unchanged.

From Jonathan I have learnt to create images on two levels:  one is abstract language, a colour field alive and sensuous in its own right;  the other is a vision of reality where the viewer is constantly moving between the two where he can not stay in either, but dances between the two in exploration of the environment thus created. This is the power of Art – to entice the viewer to enter the mindspace of the artist, and be entranced upon entering the picture, enjoying the suggested multi-sensory three and four dimensional vision, the ultimate optimistic, ambitious  gesture, considering humble two dimensional is the only one used.