Gouache painting techniques and tutorial with Jo Reitze I Colour In Your Life

Gouache painting techniques and tutorial with Jo Reitze 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) Well g’day viewers and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we’re down in Melbourne again, and we’re in a place called the Cloudehill Gardens in Olinda. We’ve come along to see a lady called Jo Reitze who actually specializes in painting gardens throughout the world and her work is just wonderful, and these gardens are just amazing. You’ll be able to see some shots as we go through the show today. But Jo is a gouache artist and she has literally traveled all over the world to the gardens of Giverny where Monet used to paint and as I said, she literally specialises in painting gardens for people in Australia, all over the world and just loves to paint gardens themselves. So she’s in a marquee in a specialized place within the Cloudehill Gardens so we’re going to go and spend the day with her and watch what she does. It’s going to be really, really great and this place is just beautiful. So come along. Hi Jo. Good morning, Graeme. How are you? Lovely to see you. Great to see you too. How are you? Very well thank you. Fantastic. This is a beautiful place isn’t it? Oh its fantastic. I’ve painted up here sixteen times, but I haven’t painted under the marquee before. It’s just a fabulous garden as well isn’t it? Oh the garden’s stunning. It’s amazing. So this is what this lady does, viewers. I mean she paints gardens of the world. And it’s just fantastic what you do as well. But we’ve obviously got a shaded place, we’ve got a fantastic day in Melbourne today haven’t we? It’s beautiful and we’re so lucky there’s no wind. Unbelievable, it really is. But we’re going to be going through and showing the audience what you do today and it’s really, really specialized. I mean you don’t meet many people that simply paint gardens. Jo Reitze, one of the best garden painters in the world. We’re going to have a great day. Lets get stuck into it. That’s terrific, thank you. That’s great. Well Jo, thank you so much for having us down here today. And we can see that you’ve already made a start on one of your paintings but it’s a beautiful place isn’t it? Oh its just stunning Graeme. I just love it here. It’s just glorious you’ve actually had quite an extensive career actually as an art teacher… Yes. …for a long time. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Well I started teaching at Bacchus Marsh High in the 70’s actually; that’s where I won my first art prize. And from there I decided I couldn’t live on my college laurels forever. Yes. So I vowed that I’d do at least twelve paintings a year, and I mostly have done that while teaching full time. You’ve been around the world painting in various gardens. People like Monet, they’ve obviously been a big influence on you? I actually studied at the Paris American Academy in 1979. Okay. And then we went back in ‘88 and I painted Monet’s garden in Giverny. Beautiful, but it’s different because you actually paint in gouache. Well I started painting gouache in 1988 when I was traveling because I’ve traveled and painted with oils before but it was such a nuisance because they took about a couple of weeks to dry. It just was too inconvenient, because you’ve got the same intense colours as oils without the mess. So I could be painting and then a few minutes later I could be dressed in normal clothes and facing the world rather than being covered from head to toe in oil paint. That’s wonderful. You’ve actually made a start there and from what I can see some artists use various colours to outline things. It’s actually Phthalo blue, you’re correct.
It’s actually Phthalo blue, you’re correct. That’s wonderful. You’ve actually made a start there and from what I can see some artists use various colours to outline things. It’s actually Phthalo blue, you’re correct.
But from what I can see, it looks like it’s either Prussian Blue or Phthalo Blue that you’ve got there. It’s actually Phthalo blue, you’re correct.
It’s actually Phthalo blue, you’re correct. There you go. And you’re using that to literally outline your… And also the pencil marks tend to show, which I don’t like. Where as sometimes if you look closely on my finished works Yes, I’d rather that than drawing with pencil, which you can’t really get the same degree of detail with paint anyway. you’ll see the blue showing through but it doesn’t seam to matter. Yes, I’d rather that than drawing with pencil, which you can’t really get the same degree of detail with paint anyway. you’ll see the blue showing through but it doesn’t seam to matter. No, not at all. And its really just an outline. Maybe too many colouring-in books as a child?I don’t know. But its beautiful without a doubt. So well, we’re going to go on your journey today on your Plein Air art. Yes. That’s the beauty of what you do is that it is Plein Air. It is in beautiful locations. Yes well I’ve never had a studio. I’ve always worked on the spot. Which is fantastic. Why need a studio when the sky is your roof? Oh it is, absolutely and look at the sky toady, it’s just stunning. It is. It’s a magnificent day. I like my composition to be open so that rather than including all the full seat or making it fully balanced. And I like the viewer to feel as if there are things beyond the actual picture. So this is pretty close to finishing the actual outline that I do. Just working out roughly where things are. Sure. And I do make changes. It’s just a guide and I’ll start filling in. Sure. This is my favorite dark. I don’t use black. Yeah? So my favorite dark is a mixture of Phthalo Blue and Raw Umber. Okay. And depending on the quantity, if you use more brown it gets more an olive green, if its a lot of blue its almost black. Sure, sure. because it’s those darks that really make the paintings jump. That strong tonal contrast, which I love.
because it’s those darks that really make the paintings jump. That strong tonal contrast, which I love. Sure, sure. because it’s those darks that really make the paintings jump. That strong tonal contrast, which I love.
And it’s a fantastic colour I keep even though I was taught to put my darks in first, which I do to a certain extent but I keep going back, because it’s those darks that really make the paintings jump. That strong tonal contrast, which I love.
because it’s those darks that really make the paintings jump. That strong tonal contrast, which I love. Yes. So I basically scribble. So you’re using a scribbling motion all the way across the top. Yes. I tend to do that right through. But you’re one of those artists that are not afraid of green. Well I wish I was given, you know a dollar for everybody who said you handle green so well and greens are so difficult. colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Just take a point.
I think it’s green that unifies my paintings. There are just so many greens in nature you seam to be able to put Well I wish I was given, you know a dollar for everybody who said you handle green so well and greens are so difficult. colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Just take a point.
Just take a point.
colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Well I wish I was given, you know a dollar for everybody who said you handle green so well and greens are so difficult.
colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Just take a point. Just take a point.
I do yes, so I can do the bricks and things. colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Well I wish I was given, you know a dollar for everybody who said you handle green so well and greens are so difficult.
colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Just take a point. Just take a point.
There you go. colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Well I wish I was given, you know a dollar for everybody who said you handle green so well and greens are so difficult.
colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Just take a point.
Just take a point. Just take a point. colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Well I wish I was given, you know a dollar for everybody who said you handle green so well and greens are so difficult.
colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Just take a point.
Just take a point. I mean I don’t know why green should be any more difficult than any other colour. colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Just take a point.
colours that you think would normally clash and it doesn’t seam to matter. Just take a point.
Just take a point. So do you actually use that piece of cardboard as a perspective marker as well? Just take a point.
Just take a point. Yeah, fantastic. Our garden doesn’t have anything of architectural interest in it.
Our garden doesn’t have anything of architectural interest in it. Yeah, fantastic. Our garden doesn’t have anything of architectural interest in it.
I learnt to paint bricks at Cloudehill. I really hadn’t done many bricks at all or architectural things. Our garden doesn’t have anything of architectural interest in it.
Our garden doesn’t have anything of architectural interest in it. Yeah. Also it doesn’t matter if a plant sits next to a leaf but it’s painfully obvious if the… The perspective’s out? …perspectives funny. All over the place. Yeah. Because you’re using gouache and not oils it’s very much patchwork. Yeah, I’ve heard that my work is a bit like tapestry but I use the same approach in oils. Okay. I have never been taught to paint in gouache, I just use the same techniques and this is Bill Hardy’s responsibility too because when I first started using oils, I just found that I was making these muddy messes and my lecturer at the time said ‘coming along, coming along’, you’re supposed to know what you’re doing, and I didn’t have a clue. And Bill Hardy just said ‘put the darks in first, mix the colours on your palette’ and I’ve never had any trouble with muddiness… There you go. …since then. Yeah. And you know it was such a simple thing and I do the same with gouaches as I do with oils. The only difference is, you know, I use water as my medium and it’s good. We did this project called Beyond the Garden Wall where I painted twenty gardens of older people and in Boroondara. And it was a wonderful project that was devised by Sue Barnett who picked up a brochure about me somewhere on the Mornington Peninsular and got in contact with me. Yeah? She lived in Surry Hills too. And anyway she devised this thing that showed the significance of gardening in the lives of older people. So the project evolved in all history of these twenty people that were selected and then a film maker also shot various artists. It’s really something that can be part of your creative soul as you get older. I mean the one thing you don’t want to do is have boredom in your life. No, it was just fantastic, and the thing about older people’s garden is they are whimsical and interesting, not just the boring set arranged gardens. And certainly my garden improved so much from the cuttings I got from other people. There you go. Some of the original pieces that you did at Cloudehill when you first started… there’s one called ‘Warm Border in Summer’ – it’s a beautiful piece. Actually that was the first one I did, and Jeremy had asked me to come and do a workshop on the long weekend in March. The time he told me to do that there was a drought in Melbourne and our garden was looking so sad. It was dry and thirsty and there was no colour at all, and Cloudehill was a riot of colour. So I painted there and there’s such a vast array of plants at Cloudehill. It’s beautiful and you’ve got some of the others, because you’re actually resident artist here as well aren’t you? Yes. And obviously the ‘Cool Border’ was very detailed and then there’s… Yes. Yes, well Jeremy, once he did the ‘Warm Border’, he said ‘oh gosh you better come back and do the Cool Border’.
Yes, well Jeremy, once he did the ‘Warm Border’, he said ‘oh gosh you better come back and do the Cool Border’. Yes. Yes, well Jeremy, once he did the ‘Warm Border’, he said ‘oh gosh you better come back and do the Cool Border’.
…the other one just called ‘Cloud Hill’. Yes, well Jeremy, once he did the ‘Warm Border’, he said ‘oh gosh you better come back and do the Cool Border’.
Yes, well Jeremy, once he did the ‘Warm Border’, he said ‘oh gosh you better come back and do the Cool Border’. And so this is the painting that I’ve worked on longer than any other painting. Because I mean Jeremy, because every spot is a different plant. Cloudehill is so beautiful the way you just work through the archway and one minute you’re in this riot of warm colours. And then the softer cool palettes of the cool border. Cloudehill is just regarded as one of the finest gardens in Australia. It is beautiful. And it’s just been a real pleasure to paint up here. I actually did Cloudehill’s 20th anniversary year. And Jeremy opened, which was nice. That’s fantastic. I can see that you’ve also been awarded A Fellowship from the Victorian Art Society and also the Lord Mayor’s prize, the Royal Overseas League. The Mountbatten Award, the WSA Kenneth Jack Award. I mean you’ve got all sorts of awards; if you had medals you’d look like a military person. Well they sort of go over a long period of time. In the 80’s I won a number of awards. Lucky enough to win the Mountbatten Award, my painting actually got to travel to London but unfortunately as part of the prize but the artists didn’t. But my painting had a lovely trip. You’ve also got the very prestigious position of being President of the Melbourne Society of Women’s Painters and Sculptors. And you call yourselves MSWPS – is that right? Oh we do, yes, bit of a kinky name. I’m telling you. But it’s a wonderful society that’s been going for… I think our 105th annual exhibition was last year. Wow. So it’s quite a prestigious society and there’s been a lot of famous artists that have passed. And it’s been fantastic. They’re just such a lovely group of artists who are very supportive even though they work in such a diverse range of subject matter. So how many members would be in the society? Oh roughly one hundred, I mean I can’t remember… Okay. …exactly, but… Still, one hundred very talented ladies. Yes. And some at a great age still painting well into there 90’s. And then younger member as well, so its a diverse range of people Yeah but you obviously you find that part of the factor as we get older some of the great things that we can do for ourselves is creativity.
Yeah but you obviously you find that part of the factor as we get older some of the great things that we can do for ourselves is creativity. Yes. And some at a great age still painting well into there 90’s. And then younger member as well, so its a diverse range of people Yeah but you obviously you find that part of the factor as we get older some of the great things that we can do for ourselves is creativity.
Yeah. Yeah but you obviously you find that part of the factor as we get older some of the great things that we can do for ourselves is creativity.
Yeah but you obviously you find that part of the factor as we get older some of the great things that we can do for ourselves is creativity. Yes, yes. And it’s really reassuring that these older people are still painting because when I grow up that’s what I want to be doing whe I’m at eighty-five or ninety. There you go. Yes. I’m quite sure you will with all the beautiful work you produce. I hope so. Now you can see with this little bald plant at the front there’s a lot of small leaves and things so it’s really a matter of just getting in tiny little strokes. One thing about painting outside is you have to battle the elements. Today it’s flies. Yes sometimes its wind and sometimes its rain. Yes I’ve worked under a trusty beach umbrella for shade and for the wet. Yes there are great advantages and disadvantages of being outdoors painting. Well my vitamin D levels are good. Yes. I’m sure they would be. You also through your teaching ended up in Japan for some time. Yes I was lucky enough to be an exchange teacher at the Christmas holidays of 2000 to 2001. by examples and things. I think art and music is an universal language no matter where you go. and then I went and worked with him. That’s fantastic. So when I watch you paint, it’s almost… there is a sense of pointillism in there as well. Apart from the impressionist. Yeah, it’s not as controlled, it’s more of a scribble. Yeah. So that’s what you would say – there’s a scribble involved in the style? Yes, yes I think it’s a very free movement. Yeah, it’s amazing how everybody is just so different in their approach. Yes. You know we all hold a brush in the right or left hand but it’s amazing how the interpretation is very different. Well I found that I just use smaller and smaller brushes over the years. You know, my work in the 20’s when I stood to paint I mostly use a size eight brush and get into it and do a three foot by four foot in the day. Now I have an array of brushes, this is the size at the moment. I studied at the Paris American Academy in 79. And how did you find that? Oh it was lovely just living in Paris and the course was probably run for rich Americans but it was just a great experience working there and painting there. And I painted the Luxembourg Gardens. Do you use the gouache itself, the light gouache to actually highlight lighter areas? Right over the top or do you just put all these colours side by side? Mostly it’s side by side but the advantage of gouache is that it does cover areas so I’ve had to. This flowers just come out so I had to cover over a dark area. But I mean that’s the beauty I suppose of gouache in comparison to watercolour. Oh absolutely it’s forgiving. And it’s a fantastic medium for traveling. Yeah. It’s been wonderful. So I’ll start with the brickwork here. Now these bricks are a little bit unusual because a lot of them are chimney bricks, so you can see they go in that direction rather than just a normal square brick. I tend to my slap my colours a bit together for the bricks because they’re all different variations. So they’ve repatriated them out of condemned buildings have they? I think so, yes. Okay. Because I you know, I was most amazed when I was up here I was talking to Jeremy and I said ‘oh, your bricks are such interesting shapes’ and he said ‘they’re chimney bricks’. So what other gardens, I know there’s some fantastic gardens throughout the world, is there any gardens that you haven’t painted that you would love to be able to get to? I’d love to go to Hidcote and paint. Now where abouts is that? It’s in England. Yes. Sissinghurst. All the famous English gardens. Okay. We went on a botanical tour there a couple of years ago, and that was really fantastic but I didn’t really have time to paint. I’d love to go to some of the American gardens. I really haven’t seen… I haven’t been to America since I’ve really been into garden paintings. Yes. And the Butchart Gardens in Canada are stunning. So one of these days. Well my most recent garden I think you probably tend to remember the ones you’ve just done. I’ve painted La Trobe Cottage Garden near the botanical gardens. Yes. It’s for the C J La Trobe Society. That was a challenge and that was nice to do. I did that in oils. And then I did another garden not far from here called The Nook and that’s a most stunning, stunning garden. They’re such peaceful, tranquil places aren’t they? They are. It’s… I always find sitting in a garden like this that you really reflect on your own life in the world. So you do a lot of commissions? I’ve painted some really, really beautiful spots. A number of gardens from people moving house. And also at other times I’ve painted where people, groups of friends have gotten together and rather than for a 60th birthday or something just giving lots of little presents, they’ve all got together and got me to go and paint the person’s garden. So that’s been very nice too. I think that’s a good point. That the folks who are watching the show, because Jo specialises in gardens, I mean if you would like a commission of your garden, get in touch. Go to my website. Yes, what is your website? www.joreitze.com.au. Okay well Jo, you’ve got a lot to do. So what we’re going to do is to let you work on this for a while longer. And once you’ve put a bit more together we’ll come back and see how you’re going. Oh thank you, painting bricks is a bit like watching grass grow, I think. Okay, well we’ll let you work for a while then. Thank you very much. Okay. Okay Jo, well it looks like you’ve made some fantastic progress while we’ve been away and you’re on the last stages of your painting, which is the sky. Yeah, thank you, yes I have. Getting there bit by bit. So once again looking at that, do you use a gouache to lighten up as you go down, or do use the water to lighten up as you go down? Ah, probably mostly with white. Okay. Or a bit of both. It’s probably a bit bright I may go over that and lighten it. It looks wonderful and you can see the softness in the garden and the light. It’s just extraordinary. Some of these paintings I’m fiddling around I’ll probably go back and make sure that the trees grown over the sky, rather than the sky growing Sure. So Cloudehill’s obviously been very good to you. Are you going to continue to paint these gardens on an ongoing basis? Oh I’d like to do some more. Really I haven’t done a theatrical lawn that’s really been improved. Today I saw the sunflowers and the vegi garden, which the vegi garden’s actually developed during my time here. My big view across Cloudehill was done when they bulldozed the area for the vegi garden and then I’ve come back and painted it in the following Autumn and the next winter. Yeah. So look, you could paint Cloudehill for the rest of your days. But you know, I’ll have other gardens and commissions and things. I think sometimes when you’re painting skies, if you just scribble the paint on, the eye tends to blend it for you, even if it’s not blended yourself. And what type of blue did you use to get that there? Oh it’s a mixture. I’ve found that Art Spectrum have now put on a Sky Blue, I haven’t used that before. It’s got a bit of that and quite a bit of Ultramarine. A combination of colours with other colours to give you the feel of a summer day. Yes, that’s very intense. Okay guys, another beautiful day at the Cloudehill Gardens at Olinda. Jo, thank you so much, it was a fantastic day. And as you can see another beautiful piece of work put together on these magnificent gardens. Now if they want to see more of your work where do they go? www.joreitzeartist.com.au Okay, go to that website and see some of Jo’s magnificent work. Obviously as always you can come to colourinyourlife.com.au and go to our Facebook page as well. We are selling tons of paintings in the shop these days, and we’re selling them to all over the world as well. So if you want to put some of your work in the store please come along and do so as well. But until we meet again – remember guys – until next time, make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Life. And we’ll see you again. Bye now.

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