How to paint wildlife in acrylics with Fiona Groom I Colour In Your Life

How to paint wildlife in acrylics with Fiona Groom 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 and mums and dads and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do. (Music Plays) (Graeme) Well folks, another great day in the studio of a fantastic artist. We are up in Ninderry, in the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland, Australia, and we are going to be spending the day with Fiona Groom. Fiona, (Fiona) Howdy. (Graeme) welcome to the show. Nice to be here. Fiona’s got a number of things that she’s put behind her life. I mean you’re a bit of an academic when it comes to your art as well – you’ve got diplomas and degrees (Fiona) Yes, yep.(Graeme) in what you’ve done, and has been in many, many, many art exhibitions, (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) tonnes of magazines. You’ve done some amazing things, but Fiona has a real love for animals and the natural world. I mean you literally surround yourself, if you look into the studio, there’s skeletons, and birds nests and a whole bunch of stuff. (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) So tell me about the motivation as far as painting the animals in concerned? I mean there’s a lot of satire and there’s a lot of humour in what you do as well. (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) Can you explain to me where all that comes from? (Fiona) I think I started off seriously painting animals more traditionally, and sort of wanting to have really photo realistic look about them. But as time went on it sort of evolved into this comic. I don’t know where it really came from. I guess I didn’t want to take it too seriously, so I sort of thought well, you know, lets ham it up a bit, so that’s sort of where that sort of started. (Graeme) But they’re fantastic because there’s, they juxtapose of characters that you probably wouldn’t normally see together, (Fiona) Yeah, yeah. (Graeme) and there’s a human quality in the work as well. (Fiona) Yeah. (Graeme) I think it’s fantastic, sometimes there’s a head just pokes around the corner like someone’s doing a what do you call it, a bomb? (Fiona) Yeah, photobomb. A lot of photobombing goes on in my work. (Graeme) Yeah. (Fiona) Yeah, I think I to have something completely different, you know, like the flamingoes and an emu and they’re sort of… I think too, that the paintings tell a story, and so the viewer sort of looks at the painting and sort of sees something there, and makes up there own story about what it’s about, (Graeme) Yeah. (Fiona) and so that makes it different for everybody. The experience is different and I also I think it engages the viewer, and sort of draws them in and they sort of, kind of puts a smile on their face (Graeme) Absolutely, it’s happy and humorous. (Fiona) which is very exciting and also well worth it, because I think my jobs done then, (Graeme) Fantastic. (Fiona) because I’ve made people smile and laugh. And I’ve had a lot of people comment and say you know, you’ve made my day, that was so funny. Or you know, that’s nice and that sort of thing. (Graeme) Well what I’m going to do is I’m going to get out of the way, so that you can actually start to tell people how you put these together. And we’re doing, is it emus today? (Fiona) We are doing emus, (Graeme) Okay. (Fiona) two delightful fellows just there. (Graeme) Okay, well I’ll get out of camera and we’ll let you get started. (Fiona) Okay. (Graeme) Okay, Fiona, well this fascination you have for the Australian emu, (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) how do we go about starting one of your pieces? (Fiona) Well, what we do is go onto my computer and look at my valuable library of animals, and I’ll pick something that I think will make a great composition. So then I print it out and I enlarge it on the computer, and I sticky tape it all together so it’s like a big jigsaw puzzle. And then I’ll lay that over my canvas, and then using graphite paper I will map out strategic areas so, mainly so I get the right perspective. Then I take that off and then I come in and use my image and then I’ll draw, draw over the top so I know where I’m going. And then I start from there. (Graeme) That’s fantastic. I mean it’s really, really great to be able to use a photoshop (Fiona) Yeah. (Graeme) in your work, as well, because you can sort of stretch things right out and re-change it all. (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) It’s just fantastic. (Graeme) But that’s a great technique too, I mean I actually use that technique myself. (Fiona) I think anything is a, any technology is a great means to an end, and you should use it what ever, what ever you can to get want you want your final goal. So I mean the computer is a valuable tool; it’s a valuable tool for me, along with my camera, and I use it continually. So yeah, so that’s how I get these fellows onto the canvas. My husband makes all my stretches, so they’re all hand made and hand stretched, and them I prime them with house paint. (Graeme) Beautiful, okay, well lets get some paint. (Fiona) Okay, well I’m going to use a, for the emus I use a degenerated grey. So a degenerated grey is adding a colour to the black and white. So this time I’m going to use a medium blue, and it gives it that sort of bluey sort of tinge. I mean you can use brown and get a browny sort of a grey or whatever, but for this, for these people it’s going to be a blue-grey. So then I’ll mix that up in my trusty palette. (Graeme) You just, you just use plates? (Fiona) I use all kinds of things, sometimes I have a plastic container with baking paper in it, (Graeme) Aha. (Fiona) and I put the paint in that, and then I can use it over, with the lid on it, and I can use it over several days. (Graeme) And what brand of paint do you prefer to paint with? (Fiona) Ah, Matisse. (Graeme) Okay. (Fiona) Matisse I’m using, so yeah. So then I mix this up, mixing, mixing, mixing. And I don’t really, I’m not too fussy, if it’s got bits of white or black in it I really don’t care. It’s the underpainting, it dose’t really matter, as long as you get it up there, that’s all we want. So, let us begin. (Graeme) Apply it straight down, (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) nothing else? (Fiona) No, I don’t usually use much water. (Fiona) But the only time I really use a lot of water is if I’m doing hairs or stuff like that, then I really need to get it very sloppy. (Graeme) Sure, nice and fine. (Fiona) I have to say though, these emus are pretty creepy and they do freak me out a bit. When I go to the zoo, and I try and get in as close as I can, I do tend to run out very quick, soon as I’ve got my picture. (Graeme) Get the hell out of there. (Fiona) Yes, because are, they do that noise; I don’t like that noise. And yeah, so they’re quite a comical looking thing. I mean they’ve got this little head on this huge body, and that alone has got to set it up for something strange, don’t you think? (Graeme) They’re not real smart, they come from the Genius Ratite, they’re a flightless bird. Ostrich’s, and Kiwi’s, and Rhea’s, (Fiona) Yeah, (Graeme) emus. (Fiona) Yeah. (Graeme) You do the eyes and your work, I mean the eyes particularly on the emu’s (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) they’re incredibly reflective. (Fiona) Yeah, what I do is I, when I photograph the birds I try and make sure I zero in on some eyes, because you get the whole landscape in the eye. So… (Graeme) You paint a number of African animals as well, (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) and some of the animals that I absolutely love. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Africa a few times and see them over there. I mean giraffes are amazing, you just can’t believe how tall they actually are until you see them when you’re in a jeep. (Fiona) Yes, yeah. (Graeme) But some of the one’s you’ve got like Bath Time, and you’ve got the two mother giraffes, (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) and the two baby giraffes. The composition is that is just beautiful; it’s a fantastic piece of work. And also, the picture Buttheads, (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) which are black buck from India; (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) they’re part of the antelope family. I mean once again, it’s not just your painting, you put them into these compositions that are sort of quite abstract as well. (Fiona) Yes, now I’m going to do this fellows head. (Graeme) All in the same, so you basically put down the undercoat in the same colour all the way through do you? (Fiona) Yeah, sort of, I it varies, okay, so I’ll just get a bit of a nose in here, and another bit of a nose in here. Sometimes I do them both at the same time, (Graeme) Yeah, (Fiona) and other times I do one at a time. Just depends on the mood that I’m in at the time. So I’ll do his mouth here, so I know where that is. And he’s got dark circles under his eyes. He must have been up partying last night, (Graeme) Yeah. (Fiona) and so he has that there. And then don’t forget your light source, so we are going to be dark on this side. (Graeme) So why in your career you decide to get a Bachelors? (Fiona) It was a natural progression from certificate and diploma. (Graeme) Aha. (Fiona) And I like studying. (Graeme) But you got your degree from Curtin University. (Fiona) Yes, Curtin University, and it was really full on and really good. And I have to say that I did not paint one animal that whole thing, (Graeme) Did you? (Fiona) because they want you to think outside the box, and the animals just weren’t in box. So yes, so that was a very different experience. And I liked it, you know, I liked it, it’s challenging and you know, there’s so many different aspects of art that you can do. Painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, all kinds of things. (Graeme) Yeah, and you’ve actually achieved a lot of that as well. (Fiona) I like photography, and I like printmaking too, but I don’t get to do much these days. (Graeme) Yeah. (Fiona) Painting is my passion, I’d say. Oh, and then we’ve got to do his little bit there, cause it sort of a pinky sort of a colour there. and we add that to the grey, so I’ve got now to changed the blue-grey to a more brown-grey, because I’ve added that orangey sort of a colour, and that sort of, see that’s a different sort of a tone of the grey. There’s just so many grey’s you can make, it’s amazing, and you sort of don’t think about it. Okay, so now we’re going to do the eyes; the all important eyes. So I’ve mixed a up, actually, this is just a left over from another painting. But I like to do a base coat of an orangey-brown (Graeme) Yeah. (Fiona) for the eyes to start with, so I’ll do this here. I do both eyes at the same time usually. I say that usually so I get it kind of right so we go here. Right, now I’m going to get some blue, and I’m going to put in the… lets dunk that in the water. Oh, that’s not the brush. I like these Princeton Brushes, but I’m really having trouble getting hold of some of them, but they’re really good for dry brushing, and blending – very good for blending. (Graeme) They are excellent brushes. I’ll have to talk to Howard Kaufman for you, he’s the CEO of the company. (Fiona) Oh, well tell him that he makes great brushes, (Graeme) Yeah, they are very good. (Fiona) and fabulous for blending – love it. Okay, so I just map in where things are going to be. So I’ve already drawn in a kind of reflection sort of thing happening, so I know where I’m going, so I’ll put that in. (Graeme) You said before hand you actually put some mediums into these paint jars. (Fiona) Yep, because I hate varnishing – it is the bane of my existence. I came up with this idea, I was looking on YouTube and this fellow was talking about putting a medium in, a varnish in, or something in the paint. And I thought why can’t you mix them in? So I experimented and I use a gloss medium varnish, (Graeme) Aha. (Fiona) and a matt varnish, mix them together into a big thing, jar. And then I pour that into my paint, so I’ll have so much paint and then so much medium, mix it all together, and then I don’t have to glaze. Its sealed. So it’s that much ratio to the paint. And then I mix, mix, mix, and it’s exactly the same viscosity – it’s very technical. Viscosity and yeah, and it works well, seals the paint. And I also put it in the house paint that I use on the backgrounds, so that’s also sealed. What I’m going to do now is, I’m going just do a quick, grab my liner brush, because I need to see for myself what this eyeballs going to look like; it’s a long way off yet. I use lots of liner bushes. I used to be a show card ticket writer, so I don’t have any trouble controlling a liner brush, and my liner brushes go down to about three hairs. (Graeme) Oh, do they? (Fiona) But I have no trouble doing them – using, some people have trouble controlling them. But see I’m making a really sloppy, sloppy soup sort of mix here. (Graeme) Yeah, you can see on a number of your pieces, I’ll just bring some of them up now. This one’s pretty hilarious, Not In My Pouch, which looks like they’re red kangaroos. (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) They’ve been photobombed again. (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) And then Mummy and Me, (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) and you can see all the fineness of the little hairs (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) on the back, around the chin. (Fiona) Yeah. (Graeme) So those Rigger Brushes obviously come into good use. (Fiona) Yeah, so I’ll just do this, because I’ll just get an idea of what the eyes going to sort of look like in the end. Is that bit at the top where his, under his eye lid, and I’ll bring that around. And then I see, I do this because I also see where I need to change things, or what have you. (Graeme) Well, Fiona, your work takes a little bit of time, but you’ve very graciously painted a second piece today, of the same subject, which really helps everybody out. (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) So we might go over to that one, and then you can explain some more techniques on how you put the hair and the fur and the feathers on top (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) as well, and how we really sort of tweak the picture. We might do that. (Fiona) Yep. Yep, okay, cool. (Fiona) So now I’m going to show you how I do the fuzzy-wuzzy’s on the emu. Okay, so what I use are Neef Brushes, (Graeme) Yeah. (Fiona) and they have these tiny little cut outs on there, so that give you a more a defined line. (Graeme) Yeah. (Fiona) So I make up a sloppy paint again, and basically all I do, is just all these really wild marks; a lot of mark making. We’ll start off here, and I’ll start doing this, and it goes in different directions, because you know, their furs all goes in different, well not fur – feathers – go in different directions. (Graeme) They’ve got a pretty wild hairdo at the best of times anyway. (Fiona) Yeah, and I like to give them a very funky hairdo, so that it’s a little bit more fun. So that might go there like that and he’ll, and the hair will be going in that way, and then now it will start to come this way. See he’s already looking very groovy. (Graeme) So what about this Meet Ralph Senior? (Fiona) Ah, I think Ralph Senior was an evolution in emus. He just sort of developed, and someone suggested to me, I don’t know if it was my daughter, or someone suggested do a comb-over because, because I do all these wild, sort of hair. (Graeme) Yeah. (Fiona) Yeah, I thought oh well, I’ll give him a good comb-over, so he’s got that beautiful, attractive comb-over, that some gentleman prefer to have. And there’s Ralph’s Cousin, and there’s Ralph’s Cousin from Another Mother, and Ralph’s Cousin on the Other Side. And there’s many Ralph’s, many Ralph’s. (Graeme) You’ve got them all over the place. So is Ralph the one that keeps popping up and doing (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) the photobombing? (Fiona) Yes, it is Ralph. (Graeme) Sort of like, Not You Again. (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) There’s a whole bunch ofOstriches standing around and Ralph’s got his head in there. (Fiona) Yes, yes, sometimes it’s his relatives, but basically yes, it is Ralph. I’m going to show you how I do the feathering on their neck. (Graeme) Okay. (Fiona) So I get a relatively sloppy sort of a mix going on there. And it’s just basically flicking, and you sort of get, because those little hairs on the brush are divided, you get this really cool, soft feathering. And then I might do a few round bits, and then I just keep going. The hard part is going the opposite way – my brain doesn’t seem to like to do that. But yeah, we get there in the end. But anyway, yeah, so we do this. Then I will get my liner brush. Okay, so now I’m just going to do some thin lines, and then I’ll do them in different directions, because their hair is so wild and funky in can be going in all kinds of different directions. (Graeme) So you’ve got some other pieces, I mean you’ve got one called the Gerenuk Gathering. They’re funny looking animals. (Fiona) Yeah. (Graeme) Sort of like they wanted to be an antelope and a giraffe at the same time, but didn’t make it. (Fiona) Yes, yes. (Graeme) And there’s another one that’s called the Bongo, which I think personally is probably the most beautiful antelope of all (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) over there. I mean their stripes and their colour, they’re actually from the of highlands of Kenya. And in the Congo as well, so, but that’s a great, great piece. I think when you do what you do, particularly when you’re painting animals, you sort of really get drawn into (Fiona) You do. (Graeme) the character itself. (Fiona) You do, you do. And they have their own personalities, and I really love how they evolve. How they’re coming off the canvas, they’ve come from another idea, and an image, a photo, and, and then they sort of come to life on the canvas. (Graeme) Now tell me about some of the work that you’ve done with children’s workshops, (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) because that’s a big part of what you do as an artist and as a woman is helping the female community, and also the kids as well. (Fiona) Yep, I’ve been involved with several other artists and we’ve done over the years, we’ve done workshops, lots of workshops with children. (Graeme) But you’ve been very active in your community under any circumstances, and volunteering in a number of different places (Fiona) Yes, yep. (Graeme) so you are to be congratulated, (Fiona) Oh, thank you. (Graeme) without a doubt. (Fiona) I’ve been a curator and a gallery coordinator at the Yandina Historic House since 2005. So there I’ve been meeting up with lots and lots of local artists, and trying to showcase their work. And we’ve had, we have artist of the month, so we tried to I tried to get them all out on social media. And then also I’m involved with the Cooroy Butter Factory, who have this wonderful gallery, and art shop, and all the local artists have their things there. And I’m going to be having an exhibition there, a solo exhibition there next year. (Graeme) Now one animal that you have done a number of pieces on is the zebra. (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) You’ve got one there called Family Ties. (Fiona) Yes, I love them. (Graeme) I’m not sure if most people are aware but there are three different types of zebra in Africa. (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) Everybody thinks there’s only just the one. But they’ve got the Plain Zebra, and the Grevy Zebra, and the Mountain Zebra. (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) But they’re all fantastic pieces of work. Now these paintings of yours, they have been sort after from all over the world. You’re in private collections in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) USA, Europe, (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) Hong Kong, Singapore. (Fiona) Yes. (Graeme) Like it sounds like everybody across the globe got the same love for your work as you do. (Fiona) Well that’s wonderful, and it’s always humbling when somebody buys your work, it really is, and it gives you a real good buzz. (Graeme) Now, Fiona, you as I said, you do a lot of volunteer work, a lot of work helping people out. I think it’s fantastic that you’re so community minded. But you also did a series of painted cricket bats, (Fiona) Yep. (Graeme) refurbished cricket bats for another charitable situation that you were involved in. (Fiona) Yes, Will Clarke, Will Clarke is living with autism. They have set up a business for him to help support him, and he refurbished cricket bats. (Graeme) Okay. (Fiona) And once he’s done that, he’s had, he’s been mentored by the Men’s Shed, down there in Bowral, and has a train carriage which they’ve purposely made for him as a workshop. And artists can apply, and paint the bats, and then they sell them. They were recently in an exhibition down in Melbourne, and they sell the bats to help raise funds for Will. (Graeme) Cool, that’s very, very good. Very good. (Fiona) Well that’s about it. I’ve gone as far as I can at the moment. There’s plenty more work to be done. (Graeme) Well viewers, because of the beauty of TV, as you can see, Fiona has finished the painting and it looks absolutely fantastic. It was a great day spent with an amazing lady. (Fiona) I’m glad you enjoyed it. (Graeme) Thank you. (Fiona) Thank you. (Graeme) Okay, guys, a fascinating day. That was really, really interesting today. (Fiona) Good. (Graeme) I thought that was really cool. Thank you so much. (Fiona) Thank you very much. (Graeme) It’s been a great day. Now if somebody wants to come in and look at what you do? (Fiona) Yes, you can find me on FMG Fiona Groom visual artist dot com. On Facebook Fiona Groom, Fiona Groom Artist, or on Instagram. (Graeme) But you’re pretty social networking savvy anyway (Fiona) Yes, yes. (Graeme) which is good. I think that’s important as well. I mean to do stuff like that. But if you want to see some more, you’re going to put some more work up in our website. (Fiona) Yes, yes. (Graeme) Okay. Come to colour in your life dot com dot au, and then go into our Facebook page as well. And go and see us in our YouTube page as well. We have literally tens of thousands of people coming in there, and tens of millions of views these days; it’s quite amazing. But come in and see what we’re up to. Until we see you guys again -remember: always make sure you put some colour in your life. We’ll see you now guys. Bye now.

16 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *