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) Okay viewers, welcome back to Color In Your Life. Well as you can see, the gentleman sitting beside me does need any introduction at all, to all the people in Australia. Mr. Ernie Dingo. – Hey mate. – Thank you so much for being on the show. Fantastic. Now… A lot of people know Ernie for his amazing career in TV, film, stage. I mean he’s probably one of the best known celebs we’ve got in the country. Mate I’d blush but the color’s a little bit dark already. There you go. It’s gonna be a good day anyway. A lot of people don’t know that you’re an artist. But I mean, the art that you do is really very much a part of who you are as a man, and where you come from, from Western Australia. Yeah, I’m from the mid west and WA, on the edge of the western desert. Every time I fly back to Western Australia from the East Coast, where I’ve basically lived most of my life, you see those beautiful sand dunes, and you see the colors, and when you get down on the ground itself, the colors around you at different times of the year, like the summer with the glare and those peaches and those soft pastel colors, you know, the splendor of the sunset, and a spring sunset, and the light, the morning light hitting the escarpment and you get to a bit of paper and you just paste it down and you go ‘you’re not really doing it much justice but it’s your interpretation of it’ and that’s the fun thing about it. Yeah, and we were having a chat before we actually went to air on the show, and your culture and your people and the flowers and the land obviously have a great deal to do with the way that you express yourself on – on watercolor paper as well. – Yeah. Which is what you do. Thurdu in my language is flower. Thurdu Ngurra, the home of the flowers, the wild flowers. The mid west cost to Western Australia, wild flowers, you know, 360 degrees like a Peruvian blanket; the images that that conjures… And you go over another hill and there’s another ray of colors, go over another hill, and it’s over these horizons. So in my mind, I paint the horizons, each section up to each horizon is what you do in life and once you reach that level, if you peep over it there’s another horizon, distant as it is, and then you make your way to that horizon. I come from inland, which means that I’m a freshwater man. Australia we have two types of people, salt water and freshwater. You either come from the coast or you come from inland. Doesn’t matter whether you’re black, white, male, female, short, tall, fat, skinny. – Sure. – You’re either a freshwater person or a saltwater person. We have, in our language we have a Bimarra, and a Bimarra is a fresh water spirit, and he protects the fresh underground water. And he travels from water hole to water hole. The river I come from in Western Australia is called the Murchison River, and it’s hundreds of miles long. But we don’t call it the Murchison River. We call it by the different pools along the way, and the Bimarra he travels under the surface to those water holes to make sure that there’s water there all the time. When it gets a little bit too dry and he knows it’s not going to last for the summer period, well summertime this when he go to the jury the saltwater spirit, and he wants some water. So he’ll send the hot sand to the edge of the surface and then push the waves up there to try and cool the hot sand down, and what he doesn’t realize is that the steam behind him creates the clouds and while he’s wandering in this here the clouds build up and they go inland, and as the clouds go inland and then – the rain drops. – Creates fresh water. So we can get our fresh water on the inside. But the Warungudu is the rainbow. The rainbow… The saltwater spirit sends a rainbow to peep through at the earth that’s being saturated, drowning his cousin on the inside from a freshwater mob. And the rainbow is very flamboyant, and this beautiful arc that sits on the top. But you watch sometimes, that rainbow will go down and touch the ground, and when he touch the ground in Australia in early June, we have flowers that come out, and all the flowers that come out are pale in color. But when that Warungudu spread out across the sky, – when he touch the ground, all the flowers… – They take up the same colors. – Steal his colors. – There you go. So give us them. So it’s just a story that we relate to in the beautiful soft parts of world. How do we explain these wildflowers in our particular country. So it’s a story we’ve told. Putting them on paper… – We’re going to do it on paper. Alright. – Is a lot of fun Let’s make a start. I see by these guys that you probably tape your edges do you? Yes I do tape me edges. That’s just to hold it down so to stop fidgeting around cause I – get up and do a big dance around it. – Do you? Okay. Yeah, a lot of water. This’ll be a Corroboree going on today will there? – Yep, something like that. – Okay. – Alright, well let’s start with the tape. – Start with the tape. Okay, so you just tape it directly down onto that? – Yes. – There. Beautiful. Just give yourself a lovely border. Absolutely. It’s… The fun thing about it is just getting the paint on there. What I’d like you to understand is your life. And… How important are you? Not what people tell you, how important you are, but how intelligent you really are. Your dreams and aspirations, your little secrets of celebrations… shouldn’t be a secret. It should be open to everyone. So this painting is basically to give you your chance to show your true colors, and how to color your life. Add a bit of color in your life. And enjoy you being you. When you see sporting teams, it’s the team that run out, so-called gets all the glory I don’t see the person They don’t see the person who washes the uniforms or picks up the socks at the end of the game. See, they’re not acknowledged at all but they’re just as important as the final product. And in this, all the different paints, all the different lines, all the different mental images that I’m about to put down on paper is a result of what I’m thinking and what I enjoy about celebrating who I am and in a lot of cases celebrating who you are. Okay Ernie, where do you start? First of all, – Mlagu. – Mlagu. – Oraeludgee. – Oraeludgee. Guru Gilaaji. Guru. Gilaaji. – Eye glass. – Eye. Glass. Oooh, look at that, it’s all clear all of a sudden. So trying to… first of all imagining. You have to start somewhere in life and you know where you started but when did things start to be important to you? So in my case, just one line starts everything off. And that line can be as thick or as thin as you want it to be. So then everything else falls into that. Because I want to put a multitude of colors along here, I’ll need lots of small breaks that go through here. Making sure that they don’t overlap. Making sure that they symbolize a day, or event, or moment in your life. So I’m trying to pretend that my life has been full, and in your case too, there’d be a lot of events in your life that you and people may think insignificant but to you it was a little moment of celebration so the more lines… Remembering also the more lines is the more paint you’ve got to put on but the paints that I would be putting on would be pure lines. Pure paint. Just to celebrate that particular event. Yeah. And I can see that you’re actually using Archers… like it’s about 600 gram Archers watercolor paper. Mainly cause you do use a lot of water. You use Matisse acrylics. But you use a lot of water there so it just prevents the whole thing from buckling on you. Oh yeah. I’ll be painting each line in water first before I have my little moments of celebration, and I’ll get to that part a little bit later, where, once the water’s all through there, the surface is prepared, the scene is set, and as soon as you add the color and it… boom. That explosion of color, that’s how I’d like to remember those little events in my life that I’ve celebrated. You spend a lot of your time helping kids and other charitable companies, and this is part of the explosion of color is you actually do this with the kids so that they can see the enjoyment of what paint’s all about as well. I love when kids… cause most kids you work with, their attention span’s pretty limited. ‘I don’t really want to do this. I’d rather play on my computer’. But when you show them what water can do, what paint in water can do, and the fun thing, they go nuts. But you tap into certain areas of your personality by drifting away in the color and the idea. – Yeah – Very therapeutic. Oh it’s a lot of fun in that way. Just what I call lock off. Lock everyone else out and just imagine all these horizons in your life that nobody else even contemplated celebrating. From here on in, I’ll just put my colors up and then just paint every second line going through. Soon as that finishes up that end, – I’ll paint everyone that I missed. – That’s what I thought you were going to do, – because you don’t want it to bleed. – No I don’t it to bleed, yeah. But then I’ll put the journey where life started and then where it finishes or where it is now. So that’s it in black and white. – Okay. – So basically from here, put some color in my life. – That’s what I think you should do. – Okay. – So, a bit of water? – A bit of water. Babararla. You’ve only got three jars there because you always want clean water. Yeah. Well this to rinse, and after rinsing you need a little sub rinse… – And then that just keeps it nice and fresh. – Yeah. Yep. So, free hand, go down the easy path first. Down the line. And then following the contours. And then trying to even it out, so that it got a nice flow through it. You know I know that your art style is very ‘Ernie Dingo’, but was there any influences that you’ve had along the way? In my family, a niece and a nephew, a niece by the name of Loretta Egan, is sort of like the benchmark. She does some beautiful stuff. And a nephew, Russell Boddington; brilliant stuff. A lot more elaborate, and the stories at home in picture form. You sit in amazement of their work. And looking at what you do Ernie, I think that it’s very, very cathartic. It’s very mesmerizing and meditative – in the way that you go about things. – Oh thank you. I love lettin’ it just do itself. The thing about painting it before in water, it just helps it spread. Nothing worse than streaks. Yeah, particularly on that paper you’ve got because it’s so stable as well. And when you see sand dunes about in the bush, and you see the colors, different times of the day, as a different vibrancy, and you think ‘oh I’d love to put that down on a piece of paper’. And it doesn’t matter how many photos you take, or how many times you paint, it still doesn’t justify those beautiful bush colors. With the extensive career that you’ve had, which would all be pretty intense, I’d say this would be something you’d use to escape? Yep! Totally escape from the film, cause in… you’re probably aware of in film too when you got all these individual people wanting to press the button on the camera and one to set the camera up and one to put the camera in position, one to level. They’ve got all these different people doing all these different things, but eventually in the end you have a nice product and that’s all that matters. Everybody’s got a beautiful story about their life, and everyone’s life should be celebrated. I really wanted to do the similar stories from home. I’m proud of the mid west and the colors and the flowers and stuff, but I didn’t want to paint the same as everyone else so I wanted to do it this way just for my own sanity. – Yeah. – I love it when you’re of nowhere, and you pull up because of the colors or the time of the day, and then you go to the cities, and there’s just a constant one light that just forever glows. I don’t see no stars in the city like you can see out in the bush. Yeah, the Milky Way actually looks like the Milky Way doesn’t it? So from this point on now, we just literally let this dry off, – and then… – This is dry, this end. Okay. So you’re ready to go on that end there? – Yep, start again at this end. – Alright. Finish off. I want to paint for the fun of it. I don’t want to do the Mona Lisa with every painting, because the Mona Lisa is already painted. I just wanna have fun painting. To me the story is in the telling of it. Somebody buying a painting and then wondering all about it. Absolutely. This is sort of why we did Color In Your Life in the first place, so people could get that message. – And have fun doing it. – Yep. If you’re not having fun don’t do it. So where do you think your work’s going to develop from here? You got other ideas that you wanna put down on paper? I think the wildflowers will keep me busy for a while. There’s a lot of other colors of the Murchison, with that droughty bush and the oranges you oranges the the Greens the columns Go out there and walk around on country where your family had walked around, what we call our Ngurra. – Our home. – Ngurra… In my culture, my language, when we die we become pebbles in this rock pool on the Murchison River. – Yeah. – There’s plenty of pebbles in that pool. – And one of them’s got your name on it? – Yep. Got my mom’s name on it, all my family. Brothers and sisters, and also a lot of the ancestors that’s gone before me, and that makes you feel good when your time’s up, that you just go back to being basic again. Another little pebble in a pool on the Murchison River, knowing full well that all the other pebbles in there are family. And it doesn’t matter how far or wide you wander, eventually you still do come home. So you’ve got some work in the Wind Horse Gallery in Bangalow as well. – Mmmhmm. – Which is a great, great, great little gallery up in the village of Bangalow, up in the North East Coast of Australia. And the gentleman that owns the gallery is a good mate of yours, and his gorgeous wife. – Yep. – Caroline and Peter. Caroline and Peter, yep. So that’s where people can obviously see your work too. Yep. Put some on display there. So what is your website address bud? erniedingo.com. erniedingo.com. And And the gallery in Bangalow is windhorsegallery.com. So they can go and see some work in there as well. This basically is only the chance to stop before I go dotty. Before you go dotty. Ahhhh he’s a funny one. But the dots to me have a very significant reason. I’m still incorporating my family and have a respect for my mom’s eldest. There were three sisters in the family. But the dots are very iconic Aboriginal signs in their artwork, but extends back to millennia before paintbrushes were ever even invented. – The dots? On the paintings? – Yeah. Yeah. Well, two major types of art was the x-ray style, which came down from Arnhem Land – and the dots, which came from the Center. – Okay. Alright Ernie, from here you’re about to throw some… On the home stretch. …of the white on there. Straight into that jar. Yep. So do you mix that with anything at all or just straight… – Yeah, with water. – Water? There you go. – Is it fresh water or salt water? – Ah fresh water. Can’t get much work done with them saltwater mob. And um… – Skewer? – Nice little skewer. Yeah. Best thing about the skewer is the fine point on the end of it. You can use either end for dot work, but using the flat end gives a nice little circle. Get that first one down there – first so then you can get your line. – Yep. And away you go. Well to me, using white dots is like the first flowers that come in, – in pre winter. – Yeah. In early June in Australia, southern hemisphere, is is what we call Thurdu, the first flowers that come. And the first flowers are always pale in color, until we – have a yarn with the Warungudu. – Yep. Warungudu is the rainbow, and that’s how the flowers get their colors. So the white flowers have been touched by the rainbow, and the rainbow gives up the color, otherwise all the flowers will be white. Eventually, there’ll be over two thousand dots, two and a half thousand dots on this painting. Done one… – One dot at a time. – At a time. So basically you’re trying to get the same width, so you can’t really work with a brush that’s accumulating a lot of paint on the side. You keep trying to keep it dry. – But it’s really fun when you get closer. – Yeah. You can not only see the dots but you can see the – separation of the colors. – Yeah. And that dark line; that dark line just fades away. Mmm. And each horizon. And good, because you can cover your overlaps. Yep. So you just see the softness of the color all the way through. Yep. It’s given its own merit. Okay folks, well a fascinating day with a fascinating human being. As you can see by the amount of work that Ernie puts in to his paintings, it’s going to take him quite a while to finish this one, but its been a fascinating journey with a fascinating man. – Thank you, mate. – Thank you so much bud. – ‘Preciate it. – It’s been extraordinary. It really has. And as I said, you can see that there’s a great deal of work in Ernie’s work. Now if they wanna see your work, where do they… your website? erniedingo.com. And also they can go to the windhorsegallery.com as well. That gallery specialises in stocking Ernie’s work as well. And you can also come to the Color In Your Life webpage at colourinyourlife.com.au, and also on our Facebook page as well at Colour In Your Life. – But it’s been a great day mate. – I’ve had fun. – You’re an extraordinary man. – Very colorful day today. Just quietly. But fascinating human being. One of Australia’s great celebrities, but also as you can see one of our great artists as well. But we’re going to head off again. As I always say, remember, till we see you again, make sure you Put Some Color In Your Life. Do they call suntan color or? It’s something like that but I don’t know, yeah. – Bit of color, yeah. – Thanks again guys, bye!