Acrylic painting techniques and mixed media tutorial with Theresa May I Colour In Your Life

Acrylic painting techniques and mixed media tutorial with Theresa May I Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers, my name is Graeme Stevenson and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure
through the series Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family
throughout the world, and lots of times there’s an artist
deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads, and come and see how some of the best artists
in Australia do what they do. (Music Plays) GRAEME : Well g’day viewers
and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we’re in South Central Queensland today in a region called North Burnett and with a lovely lady called Theresa May. THERESA : How you going Graeme?
GRAEME : Good Theresa, how are you? THERESA : Good, thank you. GRAEME : Well we’re going to go through three different techniques today with Theresa. She’s got a really, really individual style. I think what she does is fantastic
but she uses a lot of different pieces of just about flotsam and jetsam
that the country has to offer. THERESA : Anything you can find. GRAEME : Anything you can find.
And Theresa actually lives on a cattle station. Well it’s a…
THERESA : We farm, we’re farmers. GRAEME : …cattle farm. I think I’m in America. But your history is that you actually did a graphic design course at Townsville at one stage? THERESA : Yes I did. I did twelve months
in Townsville, of commercial art. GRAEME : And I think that Theresa
has a really iconic style. I mean, I just love the way you present your work, it’s just fabulous.
THERESA : Thank you. GRAEME : But obviously
that really sort of helped you get to where you are now with your particular, it’s a very graphic style of work
in some sense isn’t it? THERESA : I probably moved away
from more of the technical side of the graphic side
and went towards the illustration. GRAEME : But it looks fabulous
and the paints that you use, I mean you use a myriad of different techniques, but also a lot of
different types of mediums as well when you put your works together.
THERESA : Yeah. GRAEME : But for the first thing today
we’re going to go through just with a blank canvas
and you’re going to show us various techniques that you do? THERESA : I am.
GRAEME : And obviously looking at this, this is a piece of old rusted metal that you’ve obviously found
on the property somewhere? THERESA : Yes, yes
it’s something I’ve found lying around. GRAEME : But look at it,
you can see the shapes, somebody said South Africa or Africa, but this could make a tree as well. THERESA : Exactly. That’s exactly right. GRAEME : And I think it’s great.
You’ve got other bits and pieces. You’ve got foam here as well.
THERESA : I do. GRAEME : And I’ve seen this
in the backgrounds of Theresa’s work and it really is just a fantastic technique. It’s just amazing.
So what are we going to do today and where are we going to start?
THERESA : Okay well first I’m going to use a stencil…
GRAEME : Okay. THERESA : …that I found.
And I’m going to just lay it in different positions and just get some colours down
and go from there. GRAEME : Let’s have a look then.
THERESA : We’ll have a go. GRAEME : Ah, there you go. THERESA : Away.
GRAEME : And you just… just lay it down there, just a template. THERESA : Yep, I’m just going to use it
and move it around… GRAEME : Oh that’s really cool isn’t it? THERESA : Well I’ll just keep layering it over,
and I’m just after some nice interesting shapes. I don’t want it to be too contrived. I mean I might decide
that I really like how this looks when I’m finished and
I’ll work with that or won’t. You know, sometimes that happens. Something will go down and you
see a really interesting pattern or a shape and you go,
‘wow, I’m going to keep that’. I’ll use that, and sometimes it will inspire me to create
something from that. GRAEME : But it’s sort of
an ongoing process for you. THERESA : Absolutely.
GRAEME : It’s just experimentation… THERESA : Absolutely.
GRAEME : all the way through the whole process. I mean, even if something
I’ve done doesn’t work out and you’ve put colours down, I just keep working over the top… GRAEME : Excellent.
THERESA : …and keep working over it until I’m basically happy with what I’ve got. GRAEME : That’s very cool, very cool. And these particular styles, I mean you’re obviously a big fan of Margaret Woodward, from what I can see.
THERESA : Yeah, I love Margie. GRAEME : So who else
has really influenced you on it? THERESA : I love Damien Kamholtz’s work.
GRAEME : Yeah. THERESA : Sydney Long.
GRAEME : Yep, Sydney Long, yeah. THERESA : And Brett Backhouse-Smith, I love the colours that he uses…
GRAEME : Yes, yes. THERESA : …in his paintings.
He has beautiful bright colours. GRAEME : And I suppose that in a sense, as we discussed before, there’s a lot of,
I mean you’ll pick out certain individuals whose work you really like and you sort of say,
‘do I want to take from that?’ I mean all the ‘isms’ have been done, and good artists steal they don’t copy. THERESA : No, that’s it.
GRAEME : Which is what we do. And part of that comes together to make
the style that you’ve developed as well. THERESA : That’s exactly right. Well,
you make it your own just by working really.
GRAEME : Sure. THERESA : I might add
a bit more colour to that, just so there’s a… I’ll do a gesso wash over it,
there’s an under colour. GRAEME : Yeah. Okay, so I’m just trying to get some colours down, just have some fun and get some coverage…
GRAEME : Sure. …on the board and… …then later on we’ll see.
I’ll put some washes over the top and try and pick out some of those
colours to come through the gesso. GRAEME : Definitely. And it’s really… this is very much about experimentation. THERESA : Absolutely.
GRAEME : It’s like… THERESA : There’s no wrong way.
GRAEME …there’s no wrong or there’s right. It’s just you’re putting down feelings with the information and the tools that you have, to sort of go,
‘I feel that’s okay, that looks good’. And then from looking at your work I see that Theresa actually says, ‘Oh okay there’s something there…’
THERESA : Yep. GRAEME : …that I can utilize and I’ll pick it out. Well we’re going to go through
a couple of other pieces later on and we’ll be able to see that in the process. THERESA : It’s a good way to loosen up. GRAEME : Yeah, it’s great.
THERESA : When you come in, just to loosen up and get started basically. So I’m just going to get a bit more
colour down and then I’ll leave it to sit. GRAEME : And you just
sort of going with the flow. THERESA : Well I am. I am today. GRAEME : But they are,
it’s very interesting in your approach. THERESA : That should give some colour
to come through gesso white showing. GRAEME : Sure.
THERESA : I might… …even after putting the gesso
wash on and it’s done, the other technique I’m going to show you, I can keep layering colours over the top…
GRAEME : Okay. THERESA : …and get
some more pattern and things. GRAEME : I can see you’ve got
a bit of foam there as well. THERESA : I do.
GRAEME : And it looks, if you look at some of
the backgrounds of Theresa’s work, I think it’s fascinating
because from what I can gather, you actually take some colour
and pour it on top here and then place it on to the canvas. And you can actually see all
these tiny little innuendoes of what foam makes coming up
in the back of the shape, which is really, really cool. So can we try that as well?
THERESA : We can, we can. GRAEME : Excellent, excellent. THERESA : Expensive piece of equipment that one. GRAEME : So how do we go about this? THERESA : Well I’ve got
a little bit of the paint here mixed up and I might just spread it on. GRAEME : You just spread it…
THERESA : Looks like vegemite. GRAEME : You just spread it across like that.
THERESA : Yep. And I’ll start pressing it on. GRAEME : Oh look at that. THERESA : Okay.
GRAEME : Look at that. THERESA : You never know with something until you actually try it. So you might see something and I think
I just picked this up by accident when I was doing something and
trying to smooth something off all of a sudden I had all these beautiful spots. And I thought wow…
GRAEME : How did that come about? THERESA : That’s, you know, it might be
the under pattern for feathers or anything GRAEME : Dinosaur skin?
THERESA : Exactly. GRAEME : So in saying that,
once again this is really a technique for layering down
Theresa May’s backgrounds. THERESA : That’s it, it’s grounds.
It’s grounds and it just, you know… GRAEME : There’s really no direction,
there’s just a lot of feeling… THERESA : That’s exactly right.
GRAEME : and experimentation with it. GRAEME : And then
you start to pick other things out. But you’ve prepared another one, which we’re going to go to now…
THERESA : I have. GRAEME : …and then we’re
going to do a technique called a gesso wash? THERESA : That’s it, just
a little technique that I’ve developed, yeah. GRAEME : And that’ll
bring us to the final result of where we’re going today so let’s go
and have a look at one then. THERESA : Okay. Let’s.
GRAEME : Great. GRAEME : Okay Theresa,
now we’ve put this one on the floor that you’ve prepared before hand.
THERESA : Yes. GRAEME : And it sort of looks like,
as you said, just a lot of experimentation and emotion in it. But there’s some other
techniques you are going to show us as well. THERESA : am. I don’t–
I’ve just gone over an old painting and I’ve just randomly put things down. So now I’m just going to…
I’ve got gesso and water… GRAEME : Okay.
THERESA : And I’m just going to cover a lot of it really and let
the colour underneath come through. I’m going to use some of the alcohol that… GRAEME : Rubbing alcohol. THERESA : Rubbing alcohol yeah,
just a little trick, a technique. GRAEME : So what percentage of the gesso
and the water did you put in there? THERESA : It’s probably
the consistency of runny cream. GRAEME : Oh okay, alright. THERESA : And if it’s too wet, the gesso will come back in on itself. GRAEME : Oh okay. THERESA : But if it’s too dry
it won’t disperse. GRAEME : The thing I like
about your work is that as you begin them there’s no direction but when
you finish there’s an absolute. You can see that you’ve really had a purpose in getting where you needed to go.
But you’re not really quite sure at the start. THERESA : No I’m not.
GRAEME : Yeah. THERESA : I don’t even need
to cover it completely, I’ll see how I feel about it.
I can always come back and do more. GRAEME : That looks
fascinating just on its own. THERESA : It’s great isn’t it?
GRAEME : It’s quite amazing. THERESA : And you’ll notice the acrylic spray paint
it does resist a little bit… GRAEME : Yeah.
THERESA : …but I quite like that effect. It leaves, you know, colours
and things coming through. GRAEME : Yeah it sort of
pops in certain areas. THERESA : I don’t mind that. GRAEME : So do you find that, obviously, we’re out in Central Queensland, the drought’s been quite horrendous… THERESA : It has.
GRAEME : …for all you guys. But do you find that the
harshness of the environment that you’re living in at the moment
reflects in your work as well? THERESA : Absolutely.
GRAEME : Yeah. THERESA : Absolutely.
When you’re driving through, the whole landscape has changed. And sometimes when it’s dry, as an artist you’re lucky because
you can see beauty around you even though it’s dry and the grass is brown, sometimes that’s a lovely thing. So I’ve got it to this stage.
GRAEME : Okay. And I’m going to bring it up to the table.
GRAEME : Okay. When I’ve got to that point there, I can see there’s a glimpse
of something that I think, ‘ah’, it reminds me of the mountains
as we were driving in… GRAEME : Okay.
THERESA : …and I can see something so– maybe that might be somewhere
that I might head with that. GRAEME : So where does
the rubbing alcohol come in? THERESA : Okay.
I’ll show you that little technique. GRAEME : Okay. THERESA : Okay it’s starting to go off…
GRAEME : Yeah. THERESA : So I’ll just see how we go.
So… GRAEME : Oh look at that.
THERESA : …as we spray it on, just let it drop in from a little bit of height. Just watch it doesn’t get you.
But it’s a little bit exciting. I mean I think if you take a close
look at some of these here, it looks like that ceramic effect
you can get in pottery sometimes. And there’s just little pictures popping
up all over the place isn’t there? THERESA : Yeah.
GRAEME : Just with the rubbing alcohol. I mean I have seen people use the turpentine,
but I think from what I can see, is that the rubbing alcohol
is much more effective… THERESA : Okay.
GRAEME : …in getting those patterns. So from here, what would you do with this now? THERESA : I’d probably just let this dry.
Because I’ve got enough going on at this moment and I would probably just sit it
in the corner and watch it. And see what comes out and pops out. GRAEME : And generally you’d have
a few of these going would you? THERESA : Yeah. Definitely.
GRAEME : To keep the continuity going? THERESA : Yes, definitely. GRAEME : But what we’re going
to do now is that Theresa’s sort of extensively started on another piece and we’re going to go over there
and let her work on some techniques. Some really beautiful pictures
she’s done of some curlews, but we’ll cut to that one, and work on
that one for a while as well. GRAEME : See you soon.
THERESA : Okay. GRAEME : Okay well as you can see
we’ve moved on to the third piece that Theresa’s going to do today. She’s obviously made quite
a substantial start on it. But you’ve got some gesso in your hand there.
THERESA : I do. GRAEME : The funny part about… gesso is most people use gesso as
a layer to prepare the canvas… Where as you actually use it as a medium.
THERESA : That’s right. GRAEME : I like the fact that these geometric patterns are still left behind from the original gesso
layers that you’ve put down. THERESA : Yeah. I– Sometimes I use them for getting patterns
within it so I just keep working over it and finding what I like to pick out really.
GRAEME : Sure. THERESA : So yeah,
I’m just working into the painting and I will pick out shapes and things like that. GRAEME : I think that there’s a lot of, as I said, unconscious factor in what you do in finding those images and those spaces
that talk to you as you go through developing the picture.
THERESA : Yeah. I love that place,
I love when I get into that place and I’m doing my art.
It’s a nice place to be and you can just lose yourself in your picture.
GRAEME : Yeah. So what are you going to do now then? THERESA : Okay so what I’m going to do now, I’m going to finish filling in the white
and I’ll work from the computer. GRAEME : So this is a Stone Curlew?
THERESA : It is a Stone Curlew. Yeah. they’re gorgeous little birds. We saw some when we were on holiday in Cairns in the backyard of a friend’s house. I thought they were just beautiful,
didn’t know they were even alive. When I saw them I thought
they were statues in her garden so… GRAEME : Yeah pretty little birds aren’t they?
THERESA : …took lots of photos. GRAEME : But you’ve obviously
got a great synergy with, particularly living in the country, with wildlife and obviously the land. Alright Theresa there is another
technique that I have seen you using, that I’m quite sure the audience hasn’t seen. I’d really like for you to show us that. It’s actually a pen that’s got a brush
on the end that you put ink in. THERESA : It does.
GRAEME : And you use ink like a brush? THERESA : It does, yes. GRAEME : So can we have a look at that?
THERESA : We can. GRAEME : If you look at it, it’s actually a brush. It’s got really quite a fine point on it.
THERESA : It does. GRAEME : And you unscrew it
and you put ink in it. THERESA : I’ve got
a little bit of water in there first. GRAEME : Yeah.
THERESA : And I’m going to put a couple of drops of the acrylic ink. That’s quite strong in pigment, the acrylic inks. GRAEME : And you just use it
like a pen but it’s a brush. You squeeze it and the ink comes through. GRAEME : Let’s have a look.
THERESA : Okay. Okay so it’s just on a dropper.
I’m just going to put a couple of drops in there. And it depends how strong you want it.
GRAEME : Yeah. Is that all you need? THERESA : I’ll see how it goes, if I need it
stronger then I can add a little bit more. GRAEME : There you go, look at that. THERESA : It’s pretty intense, the inks.
GRAEME : It is isn’t it? Yeah. But it really gives just a subtle hue… THERESA : It does.
GRAEME : …to everything. THERESA : But it does dry
with a little bit of a sheen to it. So I like that fact because
it’s a good contrast with the gesso. I’ll just sit it on my knee
here and I’ll just squeeze it… GRAEME : Holy-dooly.
THERESA : …and let it run. GRAEME : And they’re
just still those random patterns. THERESA : Yeah. GRAEME : But that’s obviously going to… dull down from where it is there? THERESA : It will as it dries off. It depends on how much ink
that you’ve got in there. GRAEME : Yeah.
THERESA : But if you’re happy with… If I’m happy with where
that is I can go over it again and make it more intense if I want to. I don’t mind it overlapping the birds
because it ties it through the picture. I don’t want a real hard edge. GRAEME : Yeah, I just love the subtleness
the subtleness of what that pen can do. That’s pretty amazing.
THERESA : It’s gorgeous. GRAEME : Yeah, just beautiful. THERESA : You can get them
in sets of different size tips. GRAEME : And obviously
a myriad of different inks as well? THERESA : Oh absolutely, yes. And they go a long way the inks. I find you can get a lot of
mileage out of a bottle. I like to have some areas dark
and some a bit lighter and it’s always making patterns
and I go over some of the gesso, take that harsh edge away
and get into the painting. GRAEME : Great stuff. THERESA : From there
I can just set that flat on the table so that it can dry and I can work back into it. GRAEME : Excellent.
Well let’s just, because it’s pretty hot today… THERESA : It is. GRAEME : We’ll put it out in the sun
and come back to it. THERESA : Allright. Great.
GRAEME : Okay. Great. Well as you can see that ink has actually dried, we just left it out in the sun
for about ten minutes, and it’s really just a great technique. I just love the effect that it brings up. But in the process the beaks tended to disappear. THERESA : It has and you know,
that’s the nature of the way I work. GRAEME : Yeah.
THERESA : I will bring his beak out again. GRAEME : Okay let’s do the beak. So instead of painting the beak in, you’ve just changed the aspect of the background. THERESA : I like to work in negatives. GRAEME : Very good. Okay well you’ve got some… THERESA : Got some Conti.
GRAEME : Okay. THERESA : I do work into my picture
with a little bit of Conti into the canvas. And I’ve worked out a bit of
a technique of sealing the Conti down, or charcoal. In some of the paintings
I’ve used charcoal onto the canvas, then seal it down, then worked
over the top with charcoal. GRAEME : Okay. THERESA : I’ll just demonstrate
a little bit with the Conti I’ve put on. I don’t know whether you can see that. It’s another little technique I’ve developed
to balance my light and dark shapes. So I can put Conti down and if I don’t like where it’s at, it’s more movable than paint
so I can just wipe that off. And I can go in and work out,
okay this light area is… trial it, trial that light area
and see how it fits. GRAEME : Yeah, the thing I like about
your work is you use a lot of different mediums. THERESA : Yeah.
GRAEME : There’s stuff going on everywhere. It’s incredible.
THERESA : Yeah. So, and I’ve sort of got an area here
that I’m working towards breaking up. Once I’ve achieved that with my chalk and there’s an area I’m really happy with, I’m going to seal it into… GRAEME : Okay.
THERESA : …the canvas with the spray. GRAEME : Okay.
So you don’t just– Okay. THERESA : Same technique…
GRAEME : Sure. THERESA : …as I used
on this with the charcoal. So it fixes it on to there
and it creates a layer over the top of the Curlew.
GRAEME : Sure, so I mean, once again you know, sort of somebody might have thought use a brush but you’re going
to use a stray bottle? THERESA : I am. GRAEME : So that
nothing actually touches the surface. THERESA : No, that’s it.
I don’t want to disturb what I’ve just put on there.
GRAEME : There you go. THERESA : So I’ve got
an Atelier Flat Medium Varnish, because it’s workable. But I don’t leave the spray bottle on
because it gets clogged up… GRAEME : Okay.
THERESA : …really easily so… I’ll leave it like that,
and then I’ll replace the squirt bottle. GRAEME : Oh so you’ve really
sort of got to make sure it’s clear. THERESA : When you’ve finished using it…
GRAEME : Yeah. THERESA : …put it upside down in the water so it doesn’t wreck your…
GRAEME : Sure. THERESA : …spray bottle.
GRAEME : A great little tip there guys. Okay, medium? THERESA : Okay so that’s my matte medium done. And I’m happy with this, and I don’t want to loose
those lovely spotty effects so I’ve also got this bit here with the Conti. GRAEME : And just spray it on, how’s that? THERESA : Just a light spray like, if there’s Conti or charcoal or anything like that, I lightly spray it over and let it dry…
GRAEME : Yep. THERESA : Come back and give it another coat. You can do that– epending on if it’s a real drawn on piece, the more layers the better…
GRAEME : Sure. THERESA : …to hold it there so… GRAEME : But I think it’s a great technique… THERESA : Yes.
GRAEME : …in using the medium as well. THERESA : So that’s a good
stopping point for there. I’m still gonna work into these birds and bring out their features and
do all those sorts of things. GRAEME : But that’s excellent. GRAEME : Well okay guys, another
really sensational day of education. THERESA : Thank you.
GRAEME : Thank you, Theresa. It’s wonderful to be out here in North Burnett. As I said before, the guys are really
suffering out here with the drought. It really is quite extraordinary what’s going on. THERESA : It is.
GRAEME : Yeah, it’s amazing. But there is still a great deal of creativity…
THERESA : Yes. GRAEME : …you know, apart from
cows and gold and the drought. THERESA : You need to have
some sort of brightness. GRAEME : Yeah absolutely.
THERESA : You do. GRAEME : And we hope
to get out here a little bit more. There are some really, really creative people… THERESA : There are some fantastic people…
GRAEME : …in this area. THERESA : …in this area
that are painting wonderful things. GRAEME : Fantastic.
We’d also like to thank Arts Queensland once again for enabling the
Colour In Your Life team to come out here and be with you guys.
THERESA : Yep. GRAEME : If it wasn’t for the
support of Arts Queensland and their vision to really support the
regional areas in Queensland. It would make it impossible…
THERESA : That’s right. GRAEME : …for you and I GRAEME : to get together, which is…
THERESA : Yeah absolutely. It’s a great experience, yes.
GRAEME : Absolutely. Don Moore who is the
Major of the North Burnett region… Thank you Sir for what you’ve done.
And also Jeanette Hollerin, and Jeanette was one of the key factors
in putting everybody together. THERESA : Oh she was.
GRAEME : A fantastic lady, and we applaud her THERESA : She’s wonderful.
GRAEME : …for her efforts as well. Your website before we go is? THERESA : artwork2theresamay.com GRAEME : And also come in
and see us at colourinyourlife.com.au and also on our Facebook page
at Colour In Your Life as well. But we’re going to head out of here. It’s been a fabulous time
up here in North Burnett. THERESA : Thank you, Graeme.
GRAEME : Thank you once again GRAEME : so much for having us in your studio.
THERESA : It’s been great. Remember all those creative people
out in the whole of Australia, hopefully we’ll be able to get
to you at some stage as well. But until we meet again guys, remember, make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Life. See you.
Bye now. See you.

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