How to create wildlife painting using acrylics with Paula Wiegmink I Colour In Your Life

How to create wildlife painting using acrylics with Paula Wiegmink 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. (GRAEME) Well g’day viewers. We are in Western Australia for this
leg of our journey and we’re down at a beautiful little area at the bottom
end of Western Australia called Dunsborough and I’m with a very talented
lady called Paula Wiegmink. – How are you darling?
– (PAULA) Lovely to meet you Graeme. And welcome. (GRAEME) Thank you. It’s fantastic. This is going to be a
really special day because we’ve actually put the original piece that Paula’s going to be doing,
and it’s up behind me at the moment, – and it’s called “Tears of the Rhino”.
– (PAULA) Tears of the Rhino, hear my voice. (GRAEME) “Tears of the
Rhino: hear my voice”. This particular piece has become a really, really powerful
piece for conservation and the people you work with
at Rangers and the other… (PAULA) Wessar, and Rangers
predominately are the ones involved with this poster at the moment. (GRAEME) Yeah, and it really has.
It’s been turned into a poster, and the poster’s literally
gone around the world as far as rhino conservation is concerned. People like Sir David
Attenborough, Jane Goodall… – (PAULA) Virginia McKenna.
– (GRAEME) Virginia McKenna… (PAULA) …and we’ve got
the whole team from the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary in America
as well that have come on board. Some really high profile people. (GRAEME) It’s fantastic. And
the idea of your work these days, you’re very, very involved in conservation? – (PAULA) That’s true. Yes.
– (GRAEME) And you’re using your art to be able to facilitate,
to raise awareness and to also raise money for these incredible animals that we
are unfortunately killing? (PAULA) Loosing at an alarming rate. (GRAEME) Yeah, at a rapid,
rapid speed and it goes for our beautiful creatures
all over the planet. So you’re going to take
us through the process of how we get to this, and
obviously you’ll see a lot of Paula’s work screened up as we go through. A great show, a really, really powerful one with a very, very powerful message. And this is what art, in many
senses, can do and should do. (PAULA) Absolutely and
in this way my painting of “Tears of the Rhino”,
I feel now has a voice. (GRAEME) Absolutely and it’s a
magnificent piece, it really is. But Paula’s going to take us through how
she got to this particular piece here, and we’ll just enjoy the journey
with her. So come along for the ride. (PAULA) Lovely. (PAULA) Right I’m starting
off here with a canvas that I’ve glued on to
a board. An MDF board. I wasn’t able to get exactly what
I wanted, so I had to make a plan. After actually taking an image of a rhino that I took
while I was in South Africa visiting the Imfolozi Game Reserve, I made a colour copy and
I made a black and white. Obviously the black and white is
to help with the tonal differences. From then on I went and
I drew the rhino’s head on to the board and I
did a wash of red paint. Now bearing in mind that when
I started this I didn’t really have an idea of what I was trying to do, other than that I was
going to paint a rhino. So first of all I started off putting my board at an angle, and I just dripped red paint down and used a bit of water
to soften it in this area. Left the drips down at the bottom and on the original painting I didn’t purposely paint the tears of blood. But obviously with this run up now, I wanted to make sure I got
the tears into the right place because in the first instance it
was something that just happened. So I did put those in now to begin with. So next I mix up a mixture of red using some different kinds of paints, just to get to a colour nearest to blood. I know this is a very confronting image and a confronting thing that’s going on, but I felt it was necessary for this painting to
get the message across. So what I’m going to do next now, is to do the next wash, which is at an angle. (GRAEME) And it just sort
of drips down doesn’t it? Look at that, my goodness. – It really does look like blood.
– (PAULA) It does, doesn’t it? When I did this the first
time, as I said I didn’t particularly set out to do the rhino crying tears of blood.
I was really just setting up, a… I know it sounds awful,
but a bloody background. Meaning as in blood. Just to try and get that
feeling of the absolute disaster that’s going on at the moment. Now I’m using the squeeze
bottle here just to manipulate the paint and get it to drip where I want it to drip.
Obviously I don’t want this – hard line here at the top…
– (GRAEME) Yeah. (PAULA) So I’m just working it with
the squeeze bottle all the way down, and getting it to do what I want it to do. (GRAEME) It’s funny how
powerful an image it has become, because I suppose you could say, it was sort of a happy mistake, – in a very unhappy situation.
– (PAULA) Absolutely. Absolutely. And I’ve often talked
about that when I’m teaching. – (GRAEME) Yeah.
– (PAULA) And giving demonstrations… is embrace your happy mistakes. Take them and make them work for you. Right that’s about it. I probably
wouldn’t go any further with this one. Now we’ll lay it to rest and
go on with the next stage. – (GRAEME) Fantastic.
– (PAULA) Great. Alright we’ll go on to the next board that I’ve got with that second wash in. You can see it’s taken on the diagonal line and allowed to soften and drip in sort of the manner I think it was
in the original painting. Right, then from my little drawing here, or my black and white copy, I’ve marked out the
rhino’s head in charcoal, which stayed while I
was doing the dripping, so I didn’t loose it. So I’m going to come on now and just go over it slightly just to make
it a little bit more obvious to me, so that when I start working with this
I’ll be able to see it a little bit better. Right now what I’m going to do is carry on placing my charcoal just loose, rough, as I said not being precious.
Just getting the basic lines in. I’m very, very particular about eyes. When I say particular, to me they are the soul of the animal. And if you can get the eye
right and the expression right, you can tell the story,
which is what’s important. Right now I’m going to go on to my paints and whatever I can get my hands on. So it’s not one particular brand. I’ve
tried all sorts of brands with my teaching. I’ve experimented with a lot of paints. But I’m using a very expensive
palette as you can see. A plastic dish. I quite like
this because it’s able to hold water while I’m spraying as well to keep the paint moist because
I’m working with acrylic paints, which can dry very, very quickly. So now I’m just going to
quickly lay my paints on to my very expensive palette, just to get started. And I’m laying from darks to lights. I’m going
to just pop this up on here so I can see what I’m doing. And I’m going to start off on the horns; that’s the focal point of the painting. The most important thing are the horns because that’s what all
the controversy is about. That’s what the rhinos
have been hunted for. (GRAEME) And it’s funny, the fact
that they’re killed because of a substance that’s really much
the same as hair and fingernails. (PAULA) Well it’s keratin, which is
exactly the same as our fingernails. It has no… It has been
proven scientifically that the horn has no value what so ever. Other than being a horn. And that is the tragedy of all
of this. It really is tragic. (GRAEME) It’s just crazy. I mean we’ve
got five species of rhino in the world. Three in Asia and two in Africa and the two species in
Africa are getting decimated. (PAULA) Well, the western
black rhino is now extinct and there’s another
one that’s on the brink. And I reckon they’re going to
become extinct pretty quickly unless there is some drastic
action taken. Absolutely drastic. And I’m going to choose to
start with this horn here and work with, I’ve got a
little bit of Payne’s Grey. What I like about working
with the palette knife and again I don’t worry
too much when the paints tend to get, I know it’s a word
that’s used a lot, but muddy. (GRAEME) It’s amazing when you
look at the original close up, that there seems so much
detail when you step back, because of all the roughness and dirt and the grime. But you get up close and it’s really the
mark of the spatula that are doing it. (PAULA) That’s right and the
palette knight is a wonderful thing. They can be a little bit tricky, but the more you use them the easier it gets. I mean even
when I started on this canvas, it is slightly different
to the original canvas, the actual texture,
because it was a case of using what I had, so I
find it’s the journey. It takes me a while to get into the canvas that I’m working with and
what it can do as well. So it’s allowing yourself
to go on that journey and not being afraid. It’s not written in
stone, you don’t have to have everything perfect. You’re just trying to get that feeling of what you’re trying to achieve. And I take a bit of a squirt as well so that I can get a couple of
softened marks happening as well here, and drip marks. I don’t have a very specific way of working like left to right,
right to left, whatever. I tend to be a little bit more, form a bit of a dialogue with my painting as we’re going along and
just enjoy the process and let the painting
tell you what it wants. I’d like to soften this. I find sometimes when the
paint has gone on too thickly, I give it a blast… it’s kind of like sand blasting. Go for it. People ask me when I’ve finished painting “Paula how can you bear to
part with your paintings? Is it hard for you?” No. It’s not. Because I have had that
journey with my painting. When the painting is finished I know it will go on it’s own journey and find its owner. So whatever that is, who it is, where it is, just let it happen. (GRAEME) In saying that, you’ve got paintings crossing the world
theses days. Canada, England, France, Scotland, Ireland,
Mozambique, Portugal, you’re everywhere. But I think
one of the big thrills, me being a wildlife artist from
the past as well, and meeting some very famous
people, you’re in an exhibition called To the Point, that was adjudicated by a really famous artist
incredibly talented man, – David Shepherd.
– (PAULA) Yes. – The painting was called To the Point.
– (GRAEME) Okay. (PAULA) The exhibition
was the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the
Year exhibition in London. And my “To the Point” got
into that exhibition last year. And I was incredibly thrilled, more thrilled by the
fact it opened the door for me to meet David Shepherd in person. Oh, be still my beating heart, what a man. He’s just
achieved so much in his life, not only with his art,
but his conservation. He’s now got the David Shepherd
Conservation Foundation in London and they are achieving such great things. So to meet this man in person, when I did I must admit my knees buckled, going all wobbly. – (GRAEME) There he is.
– (PAULA) But he was a real gentleman. When he said to me “why Paula you’ve got a painting exhibited here, let’s go and have a look”,
I thought “oh my God, this man’s going to be
looking at my painting!” But he was a true gentleman. So it was very special. Now you see when, just in this area here, I’ve got paint that’s slightly
thicker on areas of wet, so you’ve got a kind of wet… dry on wet happening and its caused a bit of
a crackle all on it’s own. – (GRAEME) Yeah.
– (PAULA) I love that. I wouldn’t try to change it. It’s not on my original
painting but who cares? I was very lucky last year. I hosted a safari for the Save African Wildlife Foundation in Perth. And I wanted to help them raise funds. I said to them one way
I can do that is to offer myself as artist in residence and tutor. So we put together a tour and during this tour we
were very, very lucky. Because we, one of our host
venues that we stayed at in Amalinda. The owner said to us one day, he said “how would your party like to go on a rhino walk?” I said what? What? I said definitely. I said to my people, “who wants to stay and paint at the lodge, and who would like to go
and walk with the rhino?” Well of course there was no
contest at that point in time. I said we’ll walk with the rhino. We met with two armed guards with their AK47’s who lived with the rhinos
twenty-four hours a day; they guard them. Obviously
they keep their distance but the rhinos know they’re there. They’ve got used to them and our little tour set off. I’ve got to say that experience put my life into perspective. It really changes how you
feel and think about things. And that was a really,
really beautiful experience. (GRAEME) So when you actually
finished Tears of the Rhino, did you realise the impact
that picture was going to make? (PAULA) No I didn’t. It was only when they launched the Facebook page or the rhino pages that invited me, posted it onto their
website and it went viral. And I was getting comments
from all around the world and it was just amazing. Some people felt it was too confronting, they didn’t want to see it. It was too sad. Other people said, especially people involved
with the rhino and the cause, said they felt it really
got the message across. And that’s when I realised that I
wanted to keep Tears of the Rhino and somehow get it to work for the cause. And I’m so thrilled that it
finally has found its voice. (GRAEME) Yes, it’ll be a
sad day when the only thing that we do have is a painting. (PAULA) Very, very sad day.
Very, very sad day indeed. If everybody got involved, they would put enough pressure on the powers that be, to actually do something. But unfortunately we are
dealing with a lot of corruption. (GRAEME) Money and greed. (PAULA) And it all boils
down to one thing as you say. – (GRAEME) Money and greed.
– (PAULA) Money and greed. And that’s all its about, at the expense of the poor
rhino who’s doing nothing but – going about their business as rhino.
– (GRAEME) Yeah. (PAULA) You know why get
involved? Why get involved? Well you know we can’t, I think if
we all stand by and watch and say “well it’s somebody else’s problem”, but it’s not is it? We’re all connected. Just quietly going on the journey with the
rhino. Listen to your painting, it will talk to you. I know my family think I’m
a bit nuts when I say that. But it actually will. I think anybody who paints a lot, actually anybody who paints will say the same thing. When I’m
painting I don’t think about anything else. How brilliant is that? – (GRAEME) Just hear that voice.
– (PAULA) Yes, just hear that voice and just be. (GRAEME) So Africa has obviously
had a profound influence on your work and even your
mission in life as an artist. But you know, I’m just going to
mention the painting Mumbo Jumbo. One of my favourite animals, I think
the elephants are so regal as well. (PAULA) Absolutely. When you
see an elephant in the wild, you actually can’t describe
the feeling that you feel when you see that
majestic creature up close. And they are such gentle creatures. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. (GRAEME) You’ve got the African Wild Dog, which is actually on the wall behind you which is a magnificent picture. I think the thing about that painting is the eyes. I mean that animal is staring through you. (PAULA) When you’re painting
anything that actually has eyes, if you can get those eyes right,
you connect with the audience. You can somehow get into that being. And for me that’s of paramount importance. It’s not just an eye. I know it’s been said before
but it’s the soul to the animal. (GRAEME) I think the other
picture Gorilla In Our Midst, once again another
beautifully majestic animal. (PAULA) And another animal
that’s on the endangered list. Beautiful, gentle creatures. If anyone’s watched Gorillas In The Mist you will understand that
wonderful family unity, and they really are the most
incredible and amazing animals which we’re going to lose very soon, if we don’t do something about it. (GRAEME) When you look at the
picture there it looks like the skin has been stripped off the rhino leaving him bare and bloody naked. (PAULA) Yes, and that’s virtually
what’s happening to them. They are being stripped and unfortunately the way they are slaughtered is so violent and awful. If one is brave enough
to look at the images. (GRAEME) A lot of the time
they are still left alive. (PAULA) Most times they are. Unfortunately, the horn apparently grows below the surface of the face. – (GRAEME) They take the whole lot.
– (PAULA) They take the whole lot. They don’t want to miss anything. And that poor animal suffers. (GRAEME) Also part of your philanthropic position with your work, you’ve donated a lot of work
to various auctions as well, which is a wonderful thing to do. You’ve donated to a number
of conservation fundraisers. Painted Dog Conservation, which
is about the African wild dog, which suffers from canine distemper. Zimbabwe Wildlife Fund, African Dream Fund auction, Westpac Bank, White tailed Black Cockatoo as well. You’ve done some pretty amazing things. (PAULA) Well I feel it’s one way I
can get my art to help in some way. Which is important I think. Right now I’m going to move to the eye because at this point I want to really start to feel this animal. They have fairly small eyes and what I wanted here was to have
the eye but have it fairly downcast. That feeling of hopelessness. (GRAEME) Now you and your darling husband literally travel the county
doing workshops as well. So if anybody’s really interested, I think there’s some fascinating
techniques that you have. They really should just get in
touch with you at your website. – What is your website?
– (PAULA) paulawiegmink.com.au. (GRAEME) I think it’s a great idea because
Paula’s just got so much to show people. And obviously having a tremendous
background particularly with wildlife and African animals,
there’s a lot that she can teach people all over Australia.
So if you would like her to come to where you are to do a workshop, please make sure you get in
touch with her at her website. (PAULA) Lovely. (GRAEME) Okay Paula I think we’re going to let you paint for a
little while. You’ve obviously still got some ways to go. But fantastic progress
anyway. We’ll come back shortly. (GRAEME) Okay, fantastic day. Paula, – thank you so much.
– (PAULA) Thank you very much, Graeme, it’s been an absolute pleasure. (GRAEME) It was wonderful. And this was part of the journey
to get to the major piece, which is an iconic picture,
which is really changing the way people look at
rhinos across the world. Some of the best
environmentalists on the planet are part of this situation as well. Thank you so much for having us. It’s been a pleasure to
have been with you today. Also Paula’s also been in the
environmentalist artist book for 2014 and some of the best wildlife
artists in the world are in this book. So this is a fantastic piece as well. Your website is? (PAULA) paulawiegmink.com.au. (GRAEME) And you can also
come to colourinyourlife.com.au and obviously our Facebook page as well. We’re going to head off again. – Thank you so much for everything you do.
– (PAULA) You’re very welcome Graeme. (GRAEME) This lady is important with conservation throughout the
world and it’s fantastic. But until we meet again, remember guys, – make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Lives.
– (PAULA) Put Some Colour In Your Lives! – (GRAEME) We’ll see you next time. Bye now.
– (PAULA) Bye.

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