G’day viewers, my name’s 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. 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 do what they do. (Music Plays) (Graeme) Well hi folks, well we are down in Green Point, near Gosford, of Woy Woy, in the South Coast of New South Wales, or just north of Sydney it is, and it’s going to be a really interesting day. When I first got this gentleman’s email and his information, I thought he’d actually sent me a book. So when I was printing all of his information out it was just amazing. But I would like to introduce you to the gentleman that we are going to be working with today. He’s got some amazing artwork, Mister Graham Austin, (Graham) Mister (Graeme) OAM. I’m going to discuss the OAM part about this a little bit after the first part of the interview. But you are a multi award winning artist; you’ve literally had numerous publications. You’ve been vice president and president of a number of different art societies across the country, particularly in this area. You were the president of the Australian Watercolour Institute for fourteen years.(Graham) Longest serving president. (Graeme) Which was a job that you only thought you were going to take on for three years. (Graham) That’s right, yes. (Graeme) It’s quite amazing stuff. I mean without sort of going into the whole thing because it’s really long, and we’re going to put as much as we can into this today. I mean you were originally involved in design and advertising, and then you’ve moved on to be part and parcel of the art world, so how did that actually come about? (Graham) Oh I’ve always painted, and in fact I was playing up as a child, and my grandfather said, “Give him a pencil and paper, that’ll shut him up.” (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) I was in a cot mind you, (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) and according to my grandfather, I drew the corner of the ceiling, and wall, and the light hanging down, fairly naively, but a true story and I’m stocking with that. (Graeme) Well it was at the age of seven that you actually got on an aeroplane, and you flew out over some of the, I mean this vast amazing country that we come from. And that’s really part and parcel of what Graham’s work is all about, is that you see these fantastic massive landscapes, and he paints in a style called pointillism. Originally, Seurat started that in the eighteen eighties. But it’s an amazing style and some of the stuff that you do, or most of the stuff that you do, is based from looking down. And it was about the age of seven that you actually hopped in an aeroplane with your dad, and then started flying and you looked down, and it was a sort of fairly cathartic moment for you when you sort of thought geez, look at that scenery. And that really extended through to the rest of your painting career as you went along. (Graham) Yes, well we were camping at a place called Lake Tabourie, down the South Coast. And a seaplane plane came in giving joy flights, and he offered me a ride in the seaplane, and I’d never been in a plane before. I was amazed looking down at the ground. Trees were dots; rocks were dots (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) and surf was like strung out cotton wool. (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) But it stayed with me all my life and then it was later I went up into Oberon, up in the Blue Mountains, looking down into the valleys. There were those steep mountainsides and the trees were dots, and I thought oh, look, I’m up in that aeroplane again, (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) cause I hadn’t been in a plane all that time. But the memories were strong and it came through to me there. And that immediately helped me change my style, (Graeme) That’s fantastic. (Graham) and I developed to what I am now. (Graeme) And your career has been really well respected; you’ve done so many great things for so many people. I mean you were in the Masonic Lodge for fifty years as well. You’ve really helped a lot of people, a lot of kids associations out over the years. And Graham received the OAM. They are basically accolades from the Crown and your own country for achieving you know, greatness within what you did. We both have an OAM. It’s the first time I think two Graeme’s have been on TV, and both have OAM’s and we got it for the same reason, which was for our contribution to the visual arts. So it’s a great honour for me to be here today with Graham, because I know how much I had to put in to get where I got to, and understand how much you had to put into to get where you got to as well, so congratulations. (Graham) You make it sound easy. (Graeme) No, it wasn’t by any means, but the main purpose of us being here today, is of cause to illuminate all of you about Graham’s life, but to also go through this fascinating process that he uses called stippling and pointillism, and find out how he puts these magnificent pieces of work together. So once again, I’m going to step out of camera, and we’re going to let this man show us how he does what he does. It’s a really interesting style. First time I’ve actually had somebody on the show that does this, so I think you’re going to have a fascinating time looking at what he does, so lets get stuck into it. (Graham) Okay. (Graeme) Okay. (Graeme) Alright, so we’re going to start this. Now in saying that, your particular style, a lot of people say to you, “That’s an Aboriginal style.” But its really not. (Graham) No, it never, pointillism… (Graeme) It was actually developed in seventy-one by a guy called Geoffrey Bardon, who actually taught in an Aboriginal community. But it’s still a fascinating style under any circumstances, with the stippling and the pointillism, but you’ve, I think you’ve just taken it to a different level completely. (Graham) Well years ago, I asked myself what are people not doing? And pointillism was never taken very far. (Graeme) But it’s a fascinating style it really is; it just looks beautiful. So we’ve got this amazing big stippling brush. I’ve never seen one that size before, which is obviously the makeup of your particular style. So where do we go from here? What do we do? (Graham) Well that’s a smaller brush, but by putting some, putting some paint (Graeme) Yeah, and you stand up all the time when you do this? (Graham) Yeah, or get down on my haunches. (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) I put in three colours. (Graeme) And they just sit side by side or? (Graham) Sit side by side. (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) And I’ll put in a yellow, and I’ll put in a lavender and now I’m putting in a white. (Graeme) You use Matisse paints for this? (Graham) Matisse, yes. (Graeme) Yep. (Graeme) And away you go and it’s, it’s a fascinating style isn’t it? And you really work it up in layers then if that’s the case? (Graham) Yes, I do. (Graeme) Yeah, and always just starting with a white canvas at the base? (Graham) Yes. I need to just wet my brush a little bit more, (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) because the paint is a bit thick. (Graeme) And away you go. (Graham) Now I’ve mixed the colours too much that I make it look easy, but it’s a little more difficult trying to work the patterns with out being too mechanically minded. (Graeme) It’s such striking work that you use a lot of great complementaries in your work as well. (Graham) Yes, I try to get colour playing against colour. (Graeme) Yep. (Graham) The way I’m doing this, this is only a background (Graeme) Yes. (Graham) and probably end up being a waterhole I’ve seen. A rock pool from around the seashore. Yeah, even a lot of the pictures that you actually have, because it’s similar to cartography itself, which is the mapmaking, you call one of your pieces like this one I’m just bringing up now called Cartography Creek. (Graham) Oh, yes. (Graeme) And a lot of them are cartography or something to do with (Graham) A mapmakers painting. (Graeme) mapmakers painting. That’s the best way to put it. There’s another one here that you’ve got here, it’s called Costal Curvature, and a lot of your stuff really is taken from you know, you’re looking down five, ten thousand feet as you go across. (Graham) Yes, I imagine myself up even even higher. (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) Well that’s probably near enough. I’ll let that dry and work over it again for the shape of how the rock is formed of creating a hole and all that sort of thing. (Graham) I’ve just poured some paint in the tray. A bit of Burnt Sienna, and a mixture of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine, and I wet the sponge and it’s like doing a watercolour. I wet the canvas. (Graeme) Yeah, I mean some of the pieces that you do, do Graham, are really are quite large as well. You know, fantastic pieces, like the Cartography one, even the one that’s right behind you right now. Just amazing Ariel view looking down on a salt plain with rivers and trees. It’s a fascinating look it really is. (Graham) Well I mix the two paintings, two paints here together, (Graeme) Yep. (Graham) and it’s like I’m working on a watercolour. (Graeme) Yeah. I mean once you’ve obviously its got dried, and then that layer of sponge layer of water goes down, this is how you build up the rest of it. (Graham) I’m just trying to get a sense of looking down the edge of a rock and the flat surface on the top, (Graeme) Yep. (Graham) and allowing the paint to run as like a watercolour. And getting a bit dark at the moment for what I want. (Graeme) I think it’s similar to a piece that you’ve actually done beforehand called Rock Pool North of Avoca. (Graham) It is, I’m basing it (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) on that, those lines but not, not too strictly. I tend to be a spontaneous painter. And somethings don’t go right, or as I planned. But then that doesn’t matter, because I want to adjust according to what’s going on. (Graeme) Now part of your journey in life is that you had a really interesting and fascinating beginning. You’re actually adopted when you were two months of age. With the information that you sent me, I’m quite sure that you could either do a mini series, or a movie, because it’s quite fascinating the journey that all of your family took for you to be born, and get to where you are now. (Graham) It was interesting to me. I must admit I was surprised when I found out things, and yeah, I’m pleased that I found my birth family. I’m pleased, I’m pleased about the upbringing I had. (Graeme) Aha. (Graham) My parents were fairly strict, but then that gave me a good sense of discipline, self discipline. And I think as an artist, a lot of artists lack self discipline. (Graeme) Yes, I agree. But it wasn’t until two thousand and three that you actually were able to get the information you needed from the Adoption Information Act, to find out who your birth mum actually was. (Graham) Yes, well I did it before. My mother never wanted me to make enquires, and suddenly she changed her mind. So I did. They… after I made enquires and they were surprised at what I found, and I kept an open mind. I accept whatever is, and I was actually rewarded with what I found. I love my birth family as much as I love my adopted family. So… (Graeme) It sort of, it completed your mission in the end. (Graham) Yeah, it was an important, important discovery. (Graeme) Now if you’d like to hear more about this story, and this is a story that you simply couldn’t make up; it is movie script type of stuff. You can go in to his website at Graham Austin dot com dot au, and go into the watercolour section and scroll down. You can see some of the other beautiful paintings that Graham has in there. They are, it’s like looking at opal from high above, they are just extraordinary. But this amazing story is in there as well, so go in there and have a look, it’s Graham Austin dot com dot au. (Graham) Well I need to stop for a bit because I like to see what I’m doing. But I’ll just put a couple of little dabs in here which should soften up a little bit. And look, I think I want to make, let this dry now. (Graeme) Okay. I’ve brought this painting in to show what I’m using for inspiration, or a reminder of a waterhole at North Avoca, that I’ve already painted, but I’m not sticking strictly to the rules with this painting. It’s another painting but slightly inspired by the older one. (Graeme) Aha. (Graham) And you’ve seen what I’ve done so far. You haven’t seen what it actually is, because you’re looking at it upside down. I want to lighten some of these bits. I really want to emphasis the sense of the top of the rock, and when the the drop of the rock – the vertical. So this will, this will help to do a little bit of that without doing too much. (Graeme) And also, as part of your training as a young man, apart from being involved with your photography, and your design and your advertising, you also went to the National Art School in East Sydney Tech. So how did you find that? (Graham) I loved it. I used to go at night after a full days work in a display company in those days. And I… it gave me a second life in a sense. As I also like meeting with a whole lot of other art students, and others with a similar interest. Okay, I want to work on the shadows a little more, even show where I’m casting shadow. Looking at this painting, I’m wanting to achieve a similar effect to what I have going through here, even with that bright blue shadow. But at this stage, I’m really trying to build up the form of those, call it a cliff edge. (Graeme) There’s another piece that you’ve got here called Rock Pool Flow, and you can really see the depth of the water, the refraction, the reflection. It’s a really nice piece. It actually almost looks like a bit of a Dali piece, but yeah, just a lot of depth in the water – it looks great. (Graham) I had that one in the Gosford Art Prize. (Graeme) But even saying that, you’ve won thirty-five major prizes in your career, which is pretty damn impressive. So how often do you, I know that you’ve got crows or even birds in some of your work. They’ve got one called Upper Reach, and there’s the silhouette of these two black crows, so you’re even above the crows looking down. (Graham) Yeah, I thought that was a fascinating thing to do. (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) So now I’m going to paint some water in here, which will show the underpainting through it as well, and I’m using a turquoise-green. (Graeme) You can see that coolness coming through. (Graham) I may even, well probably will paint over this that I’ve got down. I’ve wet the canvas and even maybe the Gods will smile, and you should be essentially an electricity, or whatever colour energy appearing now. And those white bits of canvas that I’ve left before, are turning up paler turquoise and the colour over the yellowish sand colour will, should, or look a little more green. Now as that dries, thats helped that section to recede, which helps me to put some more life into that sand base after if I choose. Thats suddenly brought that whole canvas alive more now. (Graeme) It’s popped out hasn’t it? (Graham) But at this stage, I’m best to leave it to dry. And my approach is slow where it doesn’t take me long to put it down, but it takes me a while to let it dry, and then also, decide what I’ll do next because I want to create. We talked privately about a sense of spirituality to my work. And I try to achieve that, that there’s a a sense of something – a mood that, a deep seated feeling within yourself, you know. (Graeme) Would the word be reverence? (Graham) Reverence, could be, yeah. I think that’s a good word. May I quote you? (Graeme) You certainly can. (Graham) I think I already have. (Graham) Right, now I’ve just mixed up this electric blue that I’ll paint on these shadows. The shadow cast on the water echoed a secret weapon I have that I quite like, and it keeps appearing in my paintings. (Graeme) Yeah, I really love that blue. It’s in a lot of your work. (Graham) It sort of does resuscitates the work in a sense. (Graeme) Yeah, that blue that you’re talking about, you’ve got a piece called Dancing Flood Plain. And that blue it’s almost like a, God I mean, it’s almost like a rich Colbert Blue. It’s got a luminescence of its own. The thing I love about a lot of your work cause is it looks like opal. You use those colours, I mean it really really does bring out the colours that are actually under the ground. in those areas. (Graham) Yes, that’s probably a subconscious thing. (Graeme) There’s another one that you’ve got there called Golden Mungo Landscape. And you get these great, (Graham) Ah, yes. (Graeme) yeah, you know, you get these great swirling salt flats, and then they’ll be surrounded by scrub and mulga and they make a little path, or a stream that sort of pops up occasionally when it rains. (Graham) Yeah. (Graeme) There’s a really abstract and geometric patterns when you look down from the sky. Yeah, as you described before there’s a great sense of spirituality and reverence when you look at the landscape from those distant aspects. (Graham) A lot of it is a salute to the Aboriginal people and their beliefs. (Graeme) Yeah. (Graham) I can’t put it into words, it’s a feeling. (Graeme) Alright, now you’ve mixed up some white, and you’ve got your giant stippling brush again. What are we going to do now? (Graham) What I want to do is put some stronger highlights in the rocks. (Graeme) Yeah, now you’re putting the white down, it reminds me of another piece looks like you’ve almost got an alien creature in there, but it’s another one that’s looking down on a salt pan of somewhere called River Spirit Cartography. And I really like the Cartography Series that you’ve done, because they, they really do display the rivers and the inlets, and the sand flats, the salt flats. Yeah, they’re great to look at. (Graham) What I want to do is now make it look more sunsetish. I’m bringing this orange glaze on. Some of the white is still wet, and bits of it might wash off, but it gives me that original texture of pointless texture brings that back. Now look at that, that’s getting something of a glow. (Graeme) Its come up a treat. (Graham) You’ve given me a good chance to show what I do and how I do it, and I appreciate that. But I won’t be able to finish it now, because I would like to spend a bit of time looking and reworking a couple of bits that just bringing it up tickety-boo. It’s not looking too bad, but its a little more time I would prefer. (Graeme) Well it’s been a fantastic day with you Graham, and we have learnt a whole bunch of amazing things. And got to understand the life of a pretty amazing man, thats had an amazing history, and has the accolades of the Order of Australia Medal. So congratulations on everything you’ve done. It’s been quite spectacular. And because of the beauty of TV, Graham has finished the piece and here it is, and it looks spectacular as well. But thank you for a great day. (Graham) Well thank you very much, Graham. (Graeme) Alright guys, from Green Point, down in Gosford, in Australia, Graham Austin, OAM, thank you very much for having us in your studio. (Graham) Thank you, Graeme, (Graeme) What an amazing man and what an amazing history as well. I mean talk about a life, just incredible. And Vic president and presidents of all of these different associations, it’s really well done. Now your website address is? (Graham) Graham Austin dot com dot au. (Graeme) Don’t forget that guys, you can go in and see all those amazing stories. And once again you can always come and see us on YouTube and on Facebook. We’re on Pinterest, we’re on Instagram, just about everything you can think of these days. But until we see you all again, remember, down in Gosford, remember: make sure you put some colour in your life. We’ll see you next time guys. Bye now.