Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Rob McGregor I Colour In Your Life

Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Rob McGregor I Colour In Your Life


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, mums and dads, and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do. (Music Plays) [Graeme] Okay folks, welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we are in a beautiful area called Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty in the North Island of New Zealand, and the beaches out here are spectacular, some of the most beautiful in the world. We are literally right on the beach at the moment and we’re at the studio of an amazing artist, Mr Robert McGregor. Welcome to the show Rob. [Rob] Thanks very much. [Graeme] Great to have you here. [Rob] Welcome to be here. I’m welcome here. [Graeme] Thank you very much. This mans amazing, he does so many other things apart from your art which you are incredibly well known for. But you’re also a masters athletes as well, you’re one of the best athletes in the country for your age. We won’t tell his age. It will blow you away anyway. Plus you’ve also been an Art Adviser, an Art Consultant. You’ve been a judge for a lot for the National Art Prize as well. You’re a really interesting guy there’s no two ways about it. [Rob] Ah, thank you. [Graeme] Tell me a little about your history, I mean you’ve done so much. [Rob] I started as a teacher, I taught art of course along with science and maths and everything else. And then I became a specialist in that area and became a teacher of art basically. So I was an art teacher in intermediate school. Then I became an adviser to teachers so I helped them run their art programs for them in class rooms by running courses for teachers and writing material. And moved on from there to becoming a full time artist. [Graeme] And the area that Rob lives in is just magnificent. I mean you look out of his studio window and you look across at the panorama. Rob’s actually going to paint obviously some of the things that you’re passionate about the area, which is the area you live in for a start. And you’re are going to paint one of the trails around Mount Maunqanui [Rob] Correct. for the audience today. Really spectacular colors that you’ll see in Rob’s work, they’re bright they’re entertaining. One of the words that you actually use as far your philosophy in life is the word ‘play’. [Rob] It is indeed. Yes, I didn’t know you picked up on that. But I think play is probably the most important thing we do quite honestly, you know if we think of the things we have to do [Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] like our job and so on. All very well, but really when we’ve got spare time we want to. I call fishing play, but what we do in our spare time is the most valuable. [Graeme] Yep, absolutely. Well we’re doing a little bit of playing today with some color, and you’re going to see a wonderful, wonderful piece come out with, under the instruction of Rob. Lets go for it. [Rob] Thank you. [Graeme] Okay Rob, well I can already see that you’ve drawn the piece out, and we were talking before about the Golden Mean, and we you actually put the Golden Mean into a lot of your work. [Rob] Yes, I do. When I compose my piece of work I decide on a centre of interest, somewhere where I want to lead peoples eyes, the viewer. We all know about dividing in thirds like this, and finding one of those points and that is good. However I find that I like a little bit different from a third. Twenty-four inches across here, [Graeme] Yep. [Rob] I [Rob] multiply that by point six one eight, and that gives me forty and a bit there. So this is where my, about here’s where my centre of interest will be, and I’ll do the same up here. So That’s seven and three approximately, so it’s about here so I’m going to try and lead people’s eyes into this sixth. So I’ve drawn this track here which you probably can’t see and that will lead hopefully your eyes into the main part of my painting. [Graeme] Fantastic. [Rob] So first of all I’ll sort of outline this. [Graeme] And obviously the area that you live in which is a really beautiful area, influences a lot of the work you do. [Rob] It does indeed. Yes, and this could be a track anywhere in the world obviously, but it’s a track that I’ve run around many, many times. I’ve sort of done a lot of running – well over one hundred thousand K’s over the years, and this is one of my regular places to run. [Graeme] It’s amazing that your athletics and your art your outdoors so much anyway so you’re the inspiration of the area obviously comes from a lot of these you do. [Rob] Yes I suppose that’s true. [Graeme] All you’re doing is using the blue to outline, make it a bit bolder than what it is. [Rob] Yeah, I can of course make all this disappear, this blue if I want, and quite often I’ll leave the outline as well because I sort of like it. [Graeme] Over the years you’ve actually had some quite influential people influence your work, or teach you as well. One of them was Dame Doreen Blumhardt. [Rob] That’s right. When I through teachers collage I specialised in art, and Doreen Blumhardt was one of my tutors, and she was very well known, became very well known in pottery. [Graeme] Sir Paul Olds, ah for painting. [Rob] Yeah, Paul Olds was also down there, he was a painter. He died quite young. I remember a thing about Paul, and I’m not sure if it was his talking to me or someone else, and the person and I’ll say it wasn’t me because that feels better, brought the painting up to him and said have a look. And Paul had a look at it and he’s put it on the floor, put his foot on it, screwed it around like that and said “now carry on”. And that kind of was a lesson that I learned not, and it still effects me. And another thing, he sent us out to the bush to do painting, drawing, and I came back with my drawing and he got it like that and I was about to start working on it, and he turned it upside down and – yeah away you go. So he immediately made me start thinking differently about things, you know, don’t get precious. Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] And look at things from a different point of view. [Graeme] Absolutely. [Rob] Yeah. [Graeme] That’s fantastic. [Rob] I’m using the primaries. In this case my primary here is turquoise and I use the magenta as my red, and a yellow. [Graeme] Okay. [Rob] A mid sort of yellow. I’m going to block this in, these will become trees later on. [Graeme] You’re works been produced in Limited Edition as well, and you’ve literally sold thousands and thousands of these images of New Zealand [Rob] Yes. [Graeme] to people all over the world. [Rob] Yeah, I’ve been very fortunate with my prints and reproductions and my work. I think people relate to things maybe in color. But they also I think relate to associations with something they experience. [Graeme] Yes. [Rob] Even though everyone’s experience is different, there are some experiences which people feel they must be similar to mine. [Graeme] Yeah, [Rob] But then again, say I was to do some flowers and their experience might be very – they had their garden and they work away growing their flowers, and putting them in vases, and maybe even selling them. And so their experience with flowers is different from you who’s just been to a funeral of someone you loved and the flowers remind you of a funeral. [Graeme] They represent something else. [Rob] Yeah and so even though you can have the same image, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the same feeling that you might get from that. It’s the experience that go with it. This is a liquid medium. [Graeme] So what sort of medium is it? Oh, it’s a binder. [Rob] Yeah it is a binder. I kind of think of all the mediums as being the same. I know the people who sell them wouldn’t like that. I think they’re all interchangeable, just sort of stuff that glues the paint. Because basically an acrylic paint is the pigment, the color, and then it’s just something that glues it to your surface. And that’s what this is and it can be thick, or it can be thin, or yeah, so basically I believe them to be pretty well interchangeable. [Graeme] Sure, and one thing that’s very distinctive about your paintings is that they are colourful. [Rob] Yeah, I think I must like color. I do tend to like color and ah, my sort of basic philosophy I often say can be summed pretty well and something that Alberto Giacometti said He said the purpose of painting a person, the purpose of art is not to reproduce reality. Produce a new reality. It’s not a picture of a track. It’s not a photograph, is a reality that you produce and it should stand on its own [Graeme] Yes. [Rob] as a painting. And you either feel something for that painting or you don’t. And really it’ is nothing to do with the source that I’ve stated with. In this case I’ve started with the track as the source, but it’s for me to be able to put in plenty of colour and things and lead you to look at and enjoy, and for me to enjoy doing them basically. [Graeme] Yes. [Rob] It’s more important that I enjoy doing it, than you might enjoy looking at it. And the other thing is too, I don’t preconceive it so I know what it’s going to look like. [Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] Because after a while it sounds very corny, but the painting does start to tell what’s necessary next. You think ah, well that sounds very arty doesn’t it? But really, as you work your painting says needs a bit more yellow down here, or I need a bit more red down here, or I need more white over here. And so the painting does – and when you get to that stage, then you feel you’re in the zone, some people might say. And that’s what happens and I think it happens in most activities in life that you get really involved in. [Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] Basically I’m blocking it all in now to add, my task here is to cover all my painting so there’s no white actually showing. I’ll put the white on if I what white I’ll paint it white. [Graeme] So you’re taking some of these things straight out of the tube. [Rob] Yeah it saves putting it on there and wasting it all. And the other thing is that if I’ve got some paint over, I’ll put it somewhere else. [Graeme] Now this particular piece that we’ve seen today is really just part of the overall teaching that you do at your retreats. You and your darling wife Joanne, enjoyed a very adventurous life with each other. You’ve traveled all over the world painting and taking people with you, to do these art retreats which is just amazing. [Rob] Well a retreat – you have to get away from everything, so no TV, no newspapers, all you can do is paint, and socialise, drink wine and eat a lot. [Graeme] And you take people out to these magnificent areas of New Zealand, where there’s waterfalls and there’s streams. The combinations fantastic. [Rob] The beautiful bush, yes. [Graeme] The food’s fantastic. [Rob] The food is brilliant. The accommodation I think’s wonderful. [Graeme] But I think that’s a great idea for people to get in touch with you at your website. Actually what is your website? [Rob] It’s all one word robmcgregor-art.com [Graeme] robmcgregor-art.com Okay, that’s a great, great way to have a holiday. [Rob] It is indeed. [Graeme] You’ve got a picture called After Renoir, which is actually a representation of the Luncheon of the Boating Party [Rob] It is. [Graeme] by Renoir. But yours has got more of a phycological twist to it. [Rob] Yes. [Graeme] Can you explain that to me? [Rob] Everywhere I went there were people using cell phones. And I’d see three teenagers walking down the road all on cell phones. And I’d go to a cafe and there’s people all having a little, apparently having a coffee together, but they were actually on their phones and nobody was communicating any more. And I thought this is a sad thing, so I just like to bring peoples attention to it. So I made a little exhibition of about ten paintings called the Fine Art of Conversation. [Graeme] Yes. [Rob] And there wasn’t any conversation in any of the paintings of course. What I’ll do now is put all the foliage in [Graeme] Foliage, okay. [Rob] and just show you the method that I sometimes use and if you intend to use today. [Graeme] Sure. [Rob] I’ll just put this out of the road and bring this down. [Rob] I’m just going to put a few blobs of paint on, [Graeme] My goodness. [Rob] about where I might want the foliage [Graeme] Yeah. And it’s red foliage. [Rob] Well of course, of course. Yes, I want it fairly realistic in this case. This binder, is because what I’m doing now is spraying it. [Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] Now if I make the paint too weak by watering it down too much, [Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] it looses its adhesion. Because as I said before this is really just pigment with a binder or something to hold it – glue it. Now if I water it down too much, like maybe three times as much, then I’m worried that I’ll loose some of the adhesion and I don’t want that happening. [Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] Now I’ll get a bit of plastic or anything I’ve got lying around – that’ll do. [Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] And I can just spread it a bit thinly, get it out to the sides, just push it where I want it. [Graeme] Goodness. [Rob] And I can leave some of those fairly loose at the ends, and they are they kind of, [Graeme] Poking through.[Rob] they look quiet good to me. And I want a few dark areas in because they’ll be the shadows later on. I’ll just put a few blues, oh that’s quite thick. Just get a little bit here and here. Dip it in water. I’ll spread those around as well. Just gives a more loose effect than painting with a brush, [Graeme] Yep. [Rob] and so it just enables me to sort of be a bit kind of random. Right okay, so I now need to dry that, so I’ll get the hair dryer on to it after I’ve washed my hands. [Graeme] Excellent, okay. [Rob] Right, it’s not quite dry but I’m going to start on the track itself now and start putting some different colors in here [Graeme] Beautiful. I know you are au fait with all the mediums but what draws you to acrylics most of all? [Rob] The fact that you can it’s fairly instantaneous, I like to move quickly. I don’t like to hang around and wait for things to dry. I can make as many changes as I like. With watercolor once it’s done it’s done, sort of speak. Again this in any sense is just another blocking in sense, and I’m keeping in mind that I’m going to have shadows here, which is going to make the path more interesting than it is at the present time. [Graeme] Yep. There’s some other pictures I’d like to screen up. One called Kombi which I think is great. I mean a lot of the stuff that you do has got the old cars in it, the old vans. And also Putting Around, which is a great picture. [Ron] Oh yes, both of those were commissions, [Graeme] Yeah. [Rob] and I quite often do commissions for people who want something special just for them. [Graeme] Part of your resume with your work is that you do, do a lot of commissions as well don’t you? [Rob] Yes, I like commissions actually because they’re not something that I’d necessarily paint myself. [Graeme] Yep. [Rob] And I’ve done historical paintings, like a family home from whence the people came from Scotland, and their ancestors and other family homes that had remained their homesteads for generations over the country. This type of thing I find really interesting. [Graeme] That’s fantastic. And some of your other work like Barbecue Beetles, which I think is really cool. It’s of a red VW [Rob] Oh, I had a VW when I was a young chap. [Graeme] and a whole bunch of kids. [Rob] I had a red VW as one of my early cars. [Graeme] I think VW’s are pretty popular in your paintings somehow. [Rob] Yeah well, they were quiet good years. [Graeme] There’s another one that you’ve done I really like which is called Macrocarpa. [Rob] Yeah, Macrocarpa is one of our trees. I like the shapes of it and so on, and that’s no doubt why I decided to do that. [Graeme] It’s a fantastic piece that one, it really is. [Rob] Oh thank you. Whenever I put a color in I make sure I repeat it. I usually change it a bit when I repeat it so it’s not really boring, you know so I add more something into it, some other color. With greens I think I tend to add a bit of red into them quite often to subdue them a little bit. [Graeme] I’ve noticed today that you don’t have any visual references; this all comes out of your head. [Rob] Well I’ve run around here a few times. But the important thing about something like this is that it doesn’t have to be the exact place. [Graeme] But you’ve done a whole series called The Track series. [Rob] The favourite spot of mine. Alright I think I shall put a few shadows in now; I’m going to use purple. Shadows are going to come up here somewhere, and then I’ll just have them sort of coming down in this kind of stuff all you know, just random [Graeme] Purple shadows with yellow ground – working those complimentary beautifully. [Rob] Yes, well that’s true and I’ll explain a little about complimentary for anyone who’s not sure what a complimentary might be. [Graeme] Please do. [Rob] I think there of having three major colors really as we do. A regular blue and we make all our other colors from that, with the perhaps the addition of white to make the tint. When you add white it’s called a tint, add black it’s called a shade. Okay, so if you have any one of those colors, it’s the mixture of the other two is its complimentary. So if I want the complimentary to blue, it’s the other two. If I want the complimentary to yellow it’s a mixture of those two. The complimentary of that, those two. And of course green, that comes in between here and red. [Graeme] There you go. [Rob] Alright, so it’s just those, that triangle. that tells you all about your complimentaries. Now complimentaries really catch your eyes and so using quite a bit it makes paintings jump. And not everybody wants a painting to jump, because you might want a very restful, peaceful sort of painting in which case you may use all harmonious colors all much the same, blues and greens, nothing standing out because you want a restful sort of painting. But if you want a more vibrant sort of thing, then having complementary and strong contrast of dark and light help quite a lot. And so I tend to be a bit that way. I’ll just mix up a turquoise here – a bit of blue, a bit of yellow, plenty of white. And I’m going to use use a painting knife now instead of a brush, because I want to sort of slightly render the texture in these sort of parts and I’ll just see how the paint just goes and once more how I can control it. Where I’ve got the dark areas in behind, they now become shadows and things like that. And so I also need to repeat. I’ll put more, maybe about as far as that. And while I’m at it, I need to put some over this side to balance. And I’ve started this as a kind of turquoise hill here, so I’ll probably put some here, maybe a bit more later on. But many of the paintings I do tend to be seaside or related to the water. Over the years I’ve done quite a lot with yachts. [Graeme] There was one you did of a lass, [Rob] Yes. [Graeme] the picture’s called Sculler. She was a champion rower as well wasn’t she? [Rob] Yeah, that was a nice painting. The girl who went to the world champs was a sculler, many years ago. And that a commission. Her parents asked me to paint it for her. It was a present for her when she was going to the worlds. That was very nice. [Graeme] Fantastic. [Rob] So what I’m doing here by painting the negatives, I’m actually shaping up the positives that I want. And now that I’ve got the color there that’s better, I can start putting it in other places a little bit. Maybe show it up on some of the trees, a little bit of light here and there. One of my main points is going to be a little tree here. And I’ll have a couple of figures here I think. Whenever you put people into a painting, your eye’s can’t help but go to it. Wouldn’t matter if I had someone sitting on a rock down here – first thing, your eyes will always go to it. But I want peoples eyes to actually go to here. [Graeme] Yep. [Rob] That’s my centre of interest we worked out before. So we’ll have some little figures down here to catch our attention, and the light above it will be quite strong. I think I’ll try and put some little branches in there, so I’ll use a finer brush. This little Rigger is quite nice for the darker sort of stuff. So I’ll go to my dark color which is in this case purple. These verticals I have very twisty sort of branches and it at Christmas time – December, January, they burst into a brilliant red in flower. I’ve had Australian people who have brought them, they call it Flame Trees. [Graeme] Oh yes, yeah. [Rob] So they’re known by some Australians as Flame Trees, but we New Zealand as Pohutukawa. [Graeme] Okay. [Rob] While I’ve got this dark color mixed up I’ll just put purple in. As I said if you have people in a painting, your eyes can’t but go to it. Just the way it is. So we’ll have a little couple here walking down the mount. [Graeme] Okay viewers, a fantastic day. Rob, that was wonderful. [Rob] Thank you. [Graeme] Thank you, bud. As you can see the finished piece and it looks fantastic. Now you put a cover over this would you? [Rob] Just to protect it with a clear acrylic, just a medium without any pigment in it. And a couple of coats and that protects it. [Graeme] That’s fantastic. And that enables you to go in and re-change it again when you need to. [Rob] I can because acrylic goes on acrylic. [Graeme] Fantastic. Now your website is? Again? [Rob] Rob McGregor, all one word [Graeme] Yeah. dash art dot com. [Graeme] Okay, now if you want to go and see more of Rob’s work come in there. He’s got a really fantastic, diverse, very eclectic style of work which is just wonderful. And also I would really highly recommend I mean you live in a beautiful area of New Zealand, the Bay of Plenty. It’s just a fantastic place. All the island, you can see the all Islands from his front deck. My goodness. But to go to the retreats, and go up into the mountains. The waterfalls, the people, the music, the food, the wine, really, really entertaining. And just have a fantastic time with these people. [Rob] Yeah. [Graeme] Yeah I highly recommend that. Also come to colourinyourlife.com.au of course. We’ve got plenty of DVD’s out these days as well, so come and grab some of those. There’s some fantastic stuff and some great education to be had for the whole family. And also come and see us on Facebook and on our YouTube channel as well – we’ve got tens of thousands of people in these days subscribing to what we’re doing. It’s just really fantastic. We’re going to continue on our journey around the Bay of Plenty. Great people, wonderful place, wonderful people. And until we meet again – remember guys: make sure you put some color in your life. We’ll see you then. Bye now.

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