G’day viewers my name’s Graeme Stevenson, and I’d like to invite to invite 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 through the world. Lots of times there’s an artist deep down in 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) [Graeme] Well hi viewers and and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. We’re in the Australian Capital Territory today, Canberra of course, and with a very talented pastel artist: Janet Thatcher. Welcome to the show. How are you? [Janet] Thanks, thanks for having me. [Graeme] That’s okay. It’s great to have you here as well. Now Janet really does some amazing wildlife and portrait art. I mean some of her stuff, particularly with the big cats. Your work with the big cats I think is fantastic. Living around the Canberra area, you wouldn’t think there was a lot of big cats to get too, but there’s actually a zoo in the area, or it’s sort of south down near Batemans Bay isn’t there? [Janet] Yeah. That’s right. [Graeme] So what’s the zoo called again? [Janet] Mogo Zoo, on the South Coast. [Graeme] Mogo Zoo, and it’s run by a friend of yours is that correct? [Janet] Yes, Sally. [Graeme] And how many cat’s has she actually got down there? [Janet] I’m not sure of the exact number cause it tends to fluctuate a bit, with animals come and go from the breeding program, but it’s quite a number of big cats, there’s tigers, and snow leopards, [Graeme] That’s fantastic. [Janet] a great variety. [Graeme] And part of Janet’s history was that your whole family really has been very involved in art in some sense. Going way back to your great grand father who was a botanical artist. [Janet] Yes, that’s right. [Graeme] So tell me a little bit about that, cause it’s sort of gone all the way through. I mean you’ve said you had a desire to be an artist since you were a child sitting in a tree with a little Silvereye, like a little finch. [Janet] Finch, yeah that’s right Graeme. [Graeme] And it was sort of the inspiration came from there did it? [Janet] Yeah well I had a real passion for animals. I was always out there with them, spending every minute I had with them, and then sort of going inside at night. And spending some time drawing what I’d been doing during the day. Just sort of became a natural relationship between the animals and the art. [Graeme] That’s fantastic. Then I look at your work, particularly the fact you’re a self taught artist, I mean your work is really masterful for somebody that really hasn’t had a lesson of somebody. So here’s a young woman who’s had a natural ability right from the very beginning. But we’re going to be doing a – I think it’s a leopard today. Is that correct? [Janet] Yep just a leopard, yeah. Its just from a reference photo,[Graeme] Yeah. [Janet] so its a zoo animal. But yeah, we’ll make it look good. [Graeme] And you paint it on, it’s a different surface when you sort of say paint – I suppose that’s what you have to say when you do pastels, but you use a surface that I don’t think a lot of people would know about. Tell us a little bit about that? [Janet] Yeah, It’s sort of a bit of an unusual paper. I use to be able to get it here but now I import it from the States. It’s a Velour paper. If you feel it, it’s actually quite furry. [Graeme] Yeah it’s like velvet, it’s fascinating. But it obviously would really grab. [Janet] It really grabs the pastel and allows you to do lots of layers, as apposed to paper. Sometimes you can’t really go over the top again and again. [Graeme] Yeah this is fascinating stuff it really is, and I’ve actually never used this before myself so it’ll be interesting. But lets make a start on this, she’s really going to go from the beginning, obviously Janet’s got sketched out, but you’ll really see a great process on how this all comes together. We’ll actually talk about the various pastel pencils as we go along as well. So lets go and have a look at a leapord. [Graeme] Okay Janet, well you’ve got pastels and pastel pencils, and you’ve got it drawn out out already. How do you go about actually layering all this color down. [Janet] Okay so what I’m going to do first, is I’m going to start with some little cubes, these are just Faber-Castell cubes. Ah, it doesn’t really matter with this stage what kind you use, as long as they’re light-fast. What I’m going to do is I’m going to just start with the cat itself, and looking at the reference photo, I’m just going to pick out some of the darker colors underneath. So around some of the eye you can see a charcoal, so I’m going to use a dark grey and just start doing that. Just lightly, you’re not exactly painting yet. You’re just stopping if the paper itself fades, that this color behind it is going to stop that faded paper showing through. So I’m just continuing on with this, just picking out where that charcoal is underneath. Just light, try not to leave any streaks because you don’t want it to show through, so when I do the outline, I have to be very careful not to press too hard on to the paper because you don’t want to indent it so that it shows through when you’re finished. [Graeme] Okay, but I can see with the Velour it really, it’s really pulling the charcoal into it isn’t it? [Janet] Yeah, straight away. It’s, you do have to put a bit of pressure on it which is why I think some artists don’t like the Velour paper to much, but you just get so many layers on it. And I think it’s a beautiful kind of paper. So every now and then you might notice I rub one of these blocks on here. It’s just if there’s to sharp an edge and it’s marking the paper, I’ll just rub the edge until it’s soft and go back to what I’m doing. So now I’m just sort of filling it in a bit. As I said it’s to stop the paper if it’s fade showing through so I want to cover the whole entire image if I can. So I’ve used a lighter color and I’m just filling it in now. Now If there are any bright colors reflected on the surface of the fur or the background, it’s a good time to introduce those, you want to put them underneath. For example some times with white fur there might be a bit of blue showing through with the reflection so you want to put a bit a little bit of that in. Now I just see a bit a little tiny bit of a greenish blue down here, just going to put the tiniest bit in. So that’s the undercoat. Now that’s done, and so the next step is to start the background, starting off darker than I need to be. This is going to take a few layers. So I’m starting off with the darkest which is the black. As I go along you’ll see I’ll put more and more pressure, just darkening this up again now. [Graeme] I can see it just goes on very nicely as well. It’s just fantastic. [Janet] Very smooth, it’s really easy. I think with papers you have to really, really at work it and try and rub it in to the tooth of the paper. [Graeme] Yeah. [Janet] This is different, try it and you’ll see. Now I’ll choose another color and we’ll do for a dark brown. So you’ll see that this will actually change the black. Like it won’t stay black, it will actually become the brown. [Graeme] You do take a lot of your own reference photos but when you go to the zoo don’t you? [Janet] I do, yeah. I prefer to take my own reference images when I can. And like I said it’s a good way to get to know your subject and spend a bit of time with them. Ah, if you’re not there then you can’t do that so. I might need some more golden highlights in this I think. Some colors tend to take to the paper much easier than others. [Graeme] Look at that. [Janet] This is one of them. [Graeme] It’s like watching it go on with a roller. [Janet] Yeah, [Graeme] Isn’t it? [Janet] it’s very much like painting [Graeme] Yeah, it’s amazing. [Janet] when you see it like this. [Graeme] That’s a fantastic substance, you can actually see, I mean because of the amazing detail and the realism that’s in your work, that you can see that the material that you’re using helps you to do that of course. [Janet] Yes, very much makes a big difference. I mean for a while I did work on paper and you can sort of get a similar effect, but it just doesn’t have that softness. I think it’s almost three dimensional because of the fur on the paper makes the fur real. [Graeme] I can see by your CV that you’ve won some great awards for your wildlife paintings which is fantastic. And you exhibit at the Aawuan Gallery, in Nicholls in the ACT which is great. There’s not a lot of wildlife galleries in the country is there? [Janet] No there’s not a great deal. There’s some sort of popping up now but there isn’t a huge amount like there is overseas, there’s certainly is a lot more ah, bigger culture. Okay so moving to the pencils I’m going to find a black, and I’m just going to outline the eye. It’s usually very dark, very crisp and then I can start filling it in. [Graeme] So what type of pastel pencil is that? These ones are the Gioconda. [Graeme] Gioconda, okay. Yep. There a nice in between pastel – they’re not to hard and they’re not to soft. There’s also a little bit of shadow, there’s always a shadow with your eyes, and make sure you work that in. Following the eye around, eyes are nice and round so you want to keep the lines following that. [Graeme] I can see by your work that the photo you’re using as an outline but there’s a lot of stuff that you put in there as well. [Janet] Yeah, I think it takes experience over time and again that’s another reason to be spending time with animals or whatever it is that you want to draw. I did work experience and used to visit the zoo constantly. [Graeme] Sure. [Janet] And that gave me the knowledge of what is there, which sometimes you can’t see it in the photo. [Graeme] Yeah it’s so important to know your subject, it really is. You sort of can’t think of anything cooler than sitting down with a bunch of Sumatran tigers. Doesn’t get any better than that anyway does it? [Janet] Yep and I think the more time you spend with them, you know, the more you see. [Graeme] Yeah. [Janet] So it’s quite exciting. So I’m just adding some different blues and I’m going to add a little bit of green. So I’m sticking away from this edge because this is where the highlight is on this edge. I don’t want to add to much color and make it dark. [Graeme] And these are, these aren’t toxic at all are they? [Graeme] Not the ones I’m using now right now. [Graeme] Okay. [Janet] I do have a set which are a little bit toxic so it’s good to wear a mask. [Graeme] Okay. [Janet] But I always double check, so I know before hand when I need to wear a mask, and when I can just do whatever I want. [Graeme] Great idea, but it’s not just obviously the tigers that you do. You’ve got some beautiful bird pieces that you’ve done as well. There’s one, which the first bird that influenced you which was the Silvereye, which is just a delightful piece. It’s the little bird just sitting there. And the thing that impresses me is the light in this piece. And then the one of the gang-gang, its a male gang-gang, its one of our Australia cockatoos. And then also the tawny frogmouth, which is another fabulous piece that [Janet] Yeah [Graeme] you’ve put in there as well, which is just great. [Janet] That one’s a really lovely piece. I called that one too Early cause it almost almost looks like he just doesn’t want to wake up. [Graeme] You’ve got your little pencil there. Do you find that just the pencil sharpener’s the best thing to use? [Janet] Yeah I quite like, don’t think it has a brand name, but it is one of the brass ones and it’s one that you can buy different blades for, [Graeme] Okay. [Janet] which I think is important because the pastel will dull them pretty quickly. [Graeme] Okay. [Janet] And if they’re not sharp then you’re not going to get a nice crisp line. Adding some lights off that. Okay. And I might use a brown to do the shadows, so again very carefully not to make it too strong. Okay, so now that we’ve finished the eye, and we’ll start working from the top, down. And usually when you look at a reference image it’s either white or black on that last little tiny tip of hair. So I’m going to use a bit of black, trying to figure out where all those spots are now. [Graeme] Yeah particulatly on the spotted coats – its like oh my god. [Janet] I think another important thing is to make sure that you’re following the direction of the hair. Like for example, this ear is not going in the same direction as the rest, so we need to make sure that we follow that. [Graeme] Yep. [Janet] This leopard’s particularly a warm color, its very bright sort of oranges and vermilions so we’ve got to make sure we get that in. So it’s a very methodical, it’s sort of slow process you keep working it at following the lines using the map that you’ve created with the outline. And it’s just a matter of working it, and working it, until you get the effect, the desired effect. [Graeme] Now your mum’s had a big influence in you being an artist as well hasn’t she? Tell me a bit more about that? [Janet] Oh yes, definitely, definitely. She’s just always been a very good support for me. When I was little she’d lay out very beautiful sort of packets of Derwent pencils and that sort of thing. And tell us if you do a really good picture or maybe if you worked a bit harder, then I’d be able to let you use them. So it was sort of a reverse phycology that got me into spending a bit more time making the paintings just right, as apposed to just scribbling. Anything to sort of encourages the artistic sort of path. She always said if you had art you’d never be lonely. And she’s just been a very loving person towards me through the whole process. Every hurdle she’s been there for me. [Graeme] Also looking at your portfolio, you’ve got some magnificent pieces of horses as well. And you’ve got three of them that we’ll bring up now. One’s called Stone, [Janet] Yes. [Graeme] which is a fantastic piece. I think the names of your work is great too. Another one called Beauty, not necessarily black, but just a beauty. [Janet] Horses are a really interesting thing to paint. They’re not like the big cats that they’re very different. A lot of emphasise on the muscles and the veins, getting them just right. People who work with horses are very passionate about their horses and they won’t settle for anything but perfect. They want the details correct. [Graeme] I think one of my favourites is the one that you did on the Sumatran tigers called Brotherly Love. [Janet] Yeah. [Graeme] It’s fantastic. [Janet] It’s definitely one of my favourites. [Graeme] Yeah it’s a beautiful piece; it really is. [Janet] I have a real fondness for the particular tigers, we visit them quite often there at the Mogo Zoo on the South Coast and one of them is just particularly personable and entertaining. So he’s always good to take photos of and spend time with. So now not looking quite so sparse, its starting to look a bit more like fur. [Graeme] Now your workshops, I’m sure that there are a number of people out there that would like to know how to do this. Particularly even working on the Velour itself. What do you normally teach and what methodology do you use when you take your workshops? [Janet] Okay to start with, usually on the first day we focus mostly on looking for the colors, and the texture, and trying pick out those things that you’ll need to focus on. Having a bit of a play around with the Velour paper, that sort of thing. And then on the second day, then we’ll spend a little bit more time getting an actual piece together. Something small, but so that people have enough knowledge to go off and do something of their own. [Graeme] And is it generally animals that you work with or? [Janet] Yeah, I supply some of my reference images and some outline so it will be the wildlife, but obviously the techniques are the same, so people will be able carry on with whatever they feel like painting. [Graeme] So this is really a great opportunity for people from Yass to Goldburn, to Canberra, really right across the country to be able to come and learn from you, and be part and parcel of something that’s a really original technique. [Janet] Yeah I think so. I think there’s nothing, even in Australia there’s nothing really like this, so it’ll give people an opportunity to do something a little bit different. And yeah, there’s plenty of zoos in Australia to go visit once yo know what to do. [Graeme] That would be fantastic. [Janet.] Now we’re moving down towards the edge of the nose. [Graeme] Okay. [Janet] So usually with most animals with a mussel, they’re going to have a highlight here, because it’s the furtherest extremity. So if we’ve got nice good light source, they have lots of white. [Graeme] So in the process of you doing this type of work, who would you say was the major influence that you’ve had to bring to where you are now? [Janet] Well generally I try to keep away from other artists, but one of the major influences for me has been Lesley Harrison. She does some beautiful work in the pastel on Velour. And yeah, she’s just an amazing wildlife artist. [Graeme] Yeah Lesley’s a United States lady. [Janet] Yes that’s right, she’s over that way. [Graeme] Yeah, I remember when I was in America I used to see her work quite a lot; she’s a very talented woman. [Janet] Yeah she is. She’s definitely beautiful work and a lovely person too. [Graeme] Yeah, yeah. [Janet] Now I’m going to use some black as a undercoat, because down around the nose here there’s an indentation, and you need to sort of shade that in even though it’s underneath. I think with the dangers with painting and pencils is that you can get things too sharp, too perfect. The lights to exact and life isn’t like that. Cause now I’m just going to out line the nose in black. It’s more really dark around here so I’m able to do this. It’s not going to show out too much. Where that nostril is, we’re going to be able to just color that all in, not going to have to worry about any little details. I want to keep this edge around the nose really soft, because it’s not a crisp line, it’s the curve of the nose. Okay so this is one of my favourite bits to do, choosing some different colours. We’re going to add the texture to the nose, and this is really simple and a lot of fun. And all you’ve got to do is just make soft, tiny little dots, and this is isn’t unlike how you would do reptile skin. Okay we’re just about to add some final touches. I’m going to start off with the black – nice and sharp for whiskers. Not quite as many whiskers, but it will just help add that contrast. Okay, so just a couple with the black, and now we’re going to add the white over the top – nice and strong, nice and sharp. Cats have a lot of whiskers in a lot of interesting places. And try and keep the line as solid as I can. [Graeme] Yeah, nice steady hand too. [Janet] Yeah, I will come back later with one of the softer pastels, just to make sure that’s really white. There we go – whiskers. [Graeme] Fantastic. [Janet] Now we’re going to move down to the chin. When you look closely at big cats they have all these sort of spots, they’ve got black skin underneath and it’s going to show through the hair a bit. So we’re going to add some of those spots, so when we come through with the white it will look like there’s just a bit of skin showing through. A bit of black hair. I did one called Ankle Biter, and ah, it was a little lion cub and covered in spots; [Graeme] Yeah. [Janet] it was not an easy piece at all. It’s interesting painting an animal, it gives you a whole new perspective on what they’re really like. Like you see all these details and nuances that you just wouldn’t have picked up if you were just looking. [Graeme] Absolutely. You do a lot of commission work for peoples pets. There’s a couple you’ve done were the animals are either passed away, or [Janet] Yeah. [Graeme] like unfortunately they are going to pass away. [Janet] Yeah. [Graeme] But some memorability that people would love to have. And obviously with the skill that you have, would be a fantastic gift for anybody to have one of your works. [Janet] Yeah I think so. I think it’s sort of a nice reminder, even if they’re no longer with us, that you’ve got that image of them. I try and capture their personalities, there’s a bit of life in them. Something to always remind you of the bond that you’ve had. [Graeme] Yeah and in saying that, there’s a picture that you did called To the Stars, and it’s a really beautiful picture of a fox sort of looking up and there’s a really touching story behind that. Do you want to just covey that to us?[Janet] Yeah that was a really special picture that I got to do recently. A friend of mine had a child and unfortunately the child was quite sick, and happened to passed away. And that child’s nickname was Mr Fox. I happened to be working on a picture of a fox, a young fox at that time, and it just all sort of came together at the same time. And the ladies mothers group very kindly came together and chipped in, and were able to purchase that picture for her. And I was able to ship it out to her; it was named for her son anyway – just was a beautiful, touching painting. [Graeme] Wonderful gesture absolutely it was. [Janet] Yeah. [Graeme] Okay Janet, well you’ve shown us some absolutely fantastic techniques today, and I think the audience can see by the enormous amount of work that you’ve put in, how much you’ve got left. But because of the beauty of TV and the genius of Sophia Stacey, that is our editor, you can obviously see the finished work in front of us now. Magnificent work and as I said, you’ve got some amazing things coming up as well with your workshops. Which I think is fantastic, and I think if anyone wants to get in touch with Janet about those because this is an original. There’s not a lot people in this country or this is the first time I’ve actually seen somebody use Velour and this particular techniques. I think it would be great to spend some time with Janet, in Canberra at the workshops as well. Just amazing stuff. [Janet] I’d definitely like to have everybody come down and see what I do, and get to share with everybody – that’s half the fun. [Graeme] Okay guys, by any means a young lady with a simply amazing ability. That was fantastic; thank you so much for being on the show, Janet. [Janet] Thank you. [Graeme] It was really great. Obviously looking at these pictures you sort of go wow, I mean it’s amazing that you can do what you do. You’ve also got, as we said before at the Arrwun Gallery in Canberra, you’ve got your workshops coming up. So if anyone wants to find out, your website details again are? [Janet] ligerwolvedesigns.com [Graeme] And you can also come in and see some of the fantastic artists we’ve got in our website at colourinyourlife.com.au and go to our YouTube site as well. We have literally tens of thousands of people in there these days watching the shows and subscribed, just to see all of these amazing people from all over the world, I mean literally sixty-four countries now. And Facebook as well, come in and see us at Colour In Your Life on Facebook. But we’re going to head off again. We’ve been down in this magnificent area: Canberra. We don’t do many people down here, but this is great – absolutely with Janet. And until we see you again guys – remember – always: make sure you put some color in your life. See you next time. Bye now. [Janet] Bye.