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 do what they do. (Music Plays) G’Day Views and welcome to Colour In Your Life in New Zealand Now the team and I have come over to New Zealand, we’re going to be spending a couple of weeks here and we’re circumnavigating the South Island of New Zealand to get some of the great artists of New Zealand onto the show. We’re going to have a fantastic time and as you can see look at the country, it’s just amazing. So we’re going to make our way all around the bottom of the South Island and see some of these incredible people so come along for the ride. It’s going to be fantastic. Well g’day viewers and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. We are in a beautiful little town called Glenorchy, in the South Island of New Zealand, up the road from Queenstown with a gentleman named Mr. John Crump. John, welcome to the show. Thank you. Great to be here. John, without a doubt, is probably one of the foremost landscape artists that this country has. His work is so amazingly iconic when it comes to capturing the beauty, the absolute magnificent beauty, of New Zealand, and as we go through the show you’re obviously going to see. We’re going to be doing some plein air painting with you today? Yep. Now, in our discussions over the phone you were telling me at one stage, obviously you started out your career, forty years now that you’ve been doing this as a professional artist, but at one stage you were actually working in a studio. Yes. One of your directors said something to you about ‘you know what, you need to get outside’. That’s right. Tell me a bit about that. Well I was exhibiting with a gallery in Wellington, and the owner Gordon said to me one time ‘your paintings are starting to look formulaic, you know? Yeah. You’re doing the same thing too often. So he arranged for an Australian artist to take me out painting. Okay. A fella who was committed to plein air work, Les Campbell, and he was a good painter, we went away on a trip together. For the first part of that trip it was a nightmare. Yeah? I just couldn’t catch up and I was too slow. He would be whistling away and happy as, finishing off his work, and I was still getting started. [Laughs] Cause I was so used to taking my time. But you’re used to… sorry… But I remember that month I sped up, and I discovered that my work was getting better and better outdoors. Okay. I’d almost been scared of outdoors. I’d tried it once. The easel blew away and the painting with it, and it wasn’t working. Yeah. And so things were coming right. Liz had shown me an easel design, which I still use, and things resolved themselves and I’ve never gone back to being a studio painter. Ninety, ninety-five percent of the time I work outdoors. Five percent of the time, maybe, I’m guessing, I work inside because I’ve got a commission to do that’s of a thing and I can’t go and get the subject on site… Sure. Or, the weather’s been foul and I’ll use a small painting that I’ve done outdoors and blow it up or something like that. Sure. But you’ve become a master without a doubt. I mean, John, as we’ve travelled around New Zealand and you mention John’s name, and everyone knows who John Crump is as far as art is concerned. But you can obviously see, with the beauty of the area that you live in, I mean the magnificence of this country side is extraordinary. Tis. Yeah, it is. It is just fantastic. But we’re going to go out today, with John, to a location that you’ve picked out? Yes. Now, it’s of a farm house somewhere is that correct? Old farm buildings, old shearing shed. Okay. Well we’re going there today and John’s going to show us how he does plein air. I would say, distinctly your style is very broad. I mean, you are not afraid to put the paint down. Should I explain that? Sure. Absolutely. In the very early days of my painting, Kay and I, my wife, had just got married, and I decided that I had had all this training at art school, and had even been a graphic artist for a couple of years, and I then decided to go teaching. And so I was doing painting as a hobby, weekends and evenings and so on. Yeah. And I started off just as bad as anyone else. I knew I wasn’t painting that well. I’d seen other art and new that my stuff wasn’t up to standard, and so I started going in to McGregor Wright Gallery in Wellington on Friday nights, and it was quite a trip, but I was committed to improving. Yeah. And so I went in there, and I would spend perhaps an hour or two gazing at the paintings on the walls, and by nature I’m very careful and finicky and I used to build model aircraft radio models and everything had to be right. And so that started to come through on my paintings, very careful work, but I noticed, when I went to look at the guys in McGregor Wright Gallery, the ones that appealed to me were the ones that had confidence and the paint stroked on easily… Yes, yes. And all that sort of thing. And I thought, that’s the way I want to paint really. I don’t want to try and look like a photo. I want my paintings to have a distinctive style, because of the brushwork. And so I guess, those guys back then, Peter MacIntyre, and all those… David Shepard you’re keen on as well? Yeah, and a fella… Don Neilson from the Wairarapa and other artists overseas. Richard Smith would be a good one that comes to mind, and Emile Gruppe, guys like that, and I looked at all their work, studied it, saw how they did it, did my trips to Wellington every Friday and gradually started to develop. And that’s why I think now… and of course, I should go back a step, when Liz started taking me outside, you had to be quick. Yep. And you want to capture the light in that moment when it really appealed to you, not sort of spend all day doing the painting and changing with the light. You’ve gotta be quick. Sure. And so I learnt the techniques to do that, putting in the shadows and the darks first, and all that sort of thing so that you sort of freeze the light. And of course, you’re going like crazy. Yeah, I bet. [Laughs] So, it’s in big strokes. Big strokes. Well we’re going to go out and actually see this. I mean I’m excited for a start because when you look at John’s work you go ‘oh my God, this is amazing’, but I’m very excited to see how you do this, so let’s get in the four-wheel drive… Yep. …and we’ll head out into the country and have a look at this farm house. Sounds good. Great, see you out there guys. You’ve got a pretty good set up here John. This is what it’s like to plein air paint. Yep. Particularly with all this. I mean it’s just fantastic. If there’s one thing I can’t Graeme, it’s working in a shambles. Yeah. No, it’s very, very well organized isn’t it? So you’ve literally got… Everything here. That’s the set up, you set your easel up and away you go. Yep. This is tremendous. That’s what we’re looking for. So what you… Oh, here you go. I knew I had a canvas to do this building on. It’s linen is it? Linen canvas, yeah. It’s an American canvas, made by Fredericks. Yeah. And it’s nice. This easel is a great design. It’s not my design, as I think I said, but it works so well, and it can stand. It’s quite a heavy easel, so that it can stand quite strong wind, doesn’t wear out. Right, there’s the palette. It’s a great little piece of work. Sensational isn’t it? Yeah. There’s what holds the canvas And you’re ready to go. Alright John, let’s start another Crump masterpiece. Now I’m just mixing myself a very thin coat of blue, just to sketch out the scene. Now what I’ve got to do is position it. That’s my focal point, obviously. Yep. So, what I need to decide now is where am I going to put it in this painting. I don’t go to a lot of fuss with the preliminary sketch, because it only gets hidden under paint anyway. Yeah. You may be thinking ‘why so high on the canvas? You’ve got all this blank canvas down here’, but I love the idea of being able to lead the viewer into the picture. Sure. Sure. And that blue that you’re putting down; it’s not going to greatly affect the colours that you put on top? No, not really. Okay. And because I’ve thinned it so much, it will dry quick anyway. Okay. And you’ve just got turps in there? Or is there… No, no. I’m using Liquin. Okay. Windsor and Newton product. Okay. I find it very good. It’s a good dryer. I like the texture it gives the paints, and I can whip my painting I’ve done the previous day, I can whip it out and take it off the panel that it’s attached to the next morning really, and it’s fine. Now I’m just looking at this and I’m thinking ‘I wish I hadn’t made it quite so big. See that there? Look at that! Yeah. Boy oh boy. You’d think I measured it. [Laughs] You been doing this for a while but. Well that’s exactly what I don’t want. That’s the annoying part. [Laughs] Yeah. So I’m going to reduce the size of the buildings slightly, move them slightly to the left, but also reduce the size of them a bit. So that I get them well off center and just push them back a bit. Our door’s going to be… Our big black hole in the wall is going to be about there. And under the soffit on this building there’s a… I presume it’s a ventilation gap? Yeah. Yeah. Must be cold to work in there in the winter. Now that dark tree over there, I’m going to drag that in and bring this lighter willow or whatever it is in here. We’ve got that dark… We’ve still got that dark macrocarpa up in there, and we’ve got another tree, I don’t actually need it all that much but, in there is another tree. Right, here we go. Now the first step at outdoor painting is to give your eyes a register of tone. Now what I mean by that, this isn’t a pure white canvas anymore. Sure. But it was a pure white canvas. It’s just been dirtied by a previous painting. Yeah. But normally that would be white, and that would be as white as you could get. So that would be your highlight, and actually, that’s pretty light. The next tone you want to know about is your darkest dark and so… Because that then allows you to judge the tones in between. What the darks do of course, is they also… Today, we don’t actually need to worry too much about shifting light. Yeah. I’d rather we did have to. But normally, when you get all your shadows in like this and your darks and things, it also freezes the light, which is a very handy thing. Yeah. You don’t need to worry about the light moving after that. Now that brush I’ve been using has been dealing with a lot of reds and warms and so on, and I want to whack in, basically, my next darkest dark. So what I’m doing now is mixing a colour that I can use for my macrocarpa at the back. Yep. That’s going to go in there. And I’m getting that in quick, early in the piece, and there’s a good reason for that. I’m making a bit of a meal of it in a way, I’m really going to make it a fairly solid dark tree, because it forms a lovely background for the roofs in front of it. Graeme, these sand flies are going to drive me silly, can I get you to chuck us my hat please mate. I’ll get that hat for you mate. There you go. Thank you. I try to tell people at classes ‘don’t assume that your colour is right’. Here we are out in this huge surrounding, big environment, and what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to condense it onto this little wee panel, and get the same impact as we feel here. And somehow, to be too accurate with the colour can often appear dull when you’re finished. Now I think I’m going to paint that light orange coloured roof next. Okay. Now you’ll notice that there’s a tree out the front of the building, and I am going to reduce it to a minimum. Artistic license? Yes. It’s got leaves on. I happen to know that in the winter of course that tree loses its leaves. So it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to be super careful about representing it exactly. But it’s coming across… it’s cutting across the building with all its leaves on. I can convey it just as nicely later, as just a skeleton of a tree. Not that I have to put it in; let’s face it I can do what I like. So how many times would you have painted this particular scene? I think this is probably the fourth time? Okay. From different angles. Each painting has been from a different angle or a different spot. And I mean in this valley that you live in, there’s a painting every time you turn around. Oh yeah. My intention was to do a mountain scene today if we could have, but seeing as it’s so flat that was out. So one of the things I had discovered, I take quite a few people out painting on paintings treks and lessons, and one of the things I’m aware of so often, if you go out on a flat day, there’s very little that you can find to paint, if you’re intent on doing mountains. But if you decide to take in old sheds and all that sort of thing there’s heaps. Especially around Arrowtown and places like that; old stone buildings look really good. I love broken colour. See I’m just adding… Yeah. …with patches of colour here and there? Just to give the area more interest then if you just paint it absolutely straight. You know, flat-ish. And you were just saying, which I thinks interesting, I mean with an artist of your caliber, that you do art treks. Yes. And I think that’s… Honestly, with the beauty of the country here and your vast experience and you know, one of the greatest artists that New Zealand’s got, I think people would be crazy not to come and do this with you. I do really enjoy taking people out painting Graeme. Yep. It’s beaut. I don’t take big numbers these days but I feel, in fact of course, people probably get more of my attention without too big a numbers. But the other thing is that I feel that, my experience anyway, over the years I’ve discovered that a demo, painting demonstration, is one of the best ways there is to learn how to paint. Yes, absolutely. You can’t beat it. Because you can watch somebody else overcoming many of the problems that you’ve met and don’t know how to solve, and you can see them doing it. I can see that you’ve actually got a lot of colour on your palette there. Do you ever clean that at all or do you just sort of use those colours to sort of ride over each other? These colours are all clean colours. They’re beautiful pure colour, so it’s quite hard to make them become muddy, as you say. Yep. When I’m deciding what colours I want, I am not saying ‘what is the exact colour of that hill?’ See, when I look at that hill, it’s actually slightly darker and more blue. It’s actually closer to that colour, but I wanted that colour to be a bit darker because I wanted to bring this roof out, you see, and make it project forward, give the painting depth. So I’m not considering ‘what’s the exact colour of that hill?’, I’m considering ‘what does my painting need?’ That’s the crucial bit. You’re in a few galleries. I think you’re in one in Wellington, but obviously because of the GFC in the last few years, it’s been pretty tough on all the artists hasn’t it? Yes, I was with five galleries at one stage, and they’ve all gone. Sad really. I’ve just been very grateful that I’ve got my own gallery at home that’s kept me going. Yeah. And I’m actually becoming involved with a couple of other new galleries now, so… One in Wanaka just over the hill a bit. It’s a tough game these days I think, being a gallery, because the rents are so high, the power, the staff; everything’s so expensive, you don’t have to be very short of sales for it to start to really hurt. Yeah. And so… yeah. It’s tough. When I’m doing fence lines like I am here, I quite enjoy when we look across at those fence line, you can see there’s a little bead of light along the top. Yes. Yes. All the time. And after I’ve done a few darker strokes like that, that I’m just using to… The colour of the timber there is actually so similar to the background and everything in the back that it’s not that obvious. So what I’ve done is darkened it and dragged it forward, and now what I can do if I want to, I can just pick out the odd little top bit. Still very effective but. See this is where the artistic license comes in. Very much so. Yeah, see I love that. You’re really just getting the effect of that grass with that one big, broad brushstroke. Yep. One of the things that Richard Smith, I guess, taught me through watching his videos was that soft and hard edges are so important. And a lot of people don’t realize that when they, especially if they paint from photos, they sit down at home and they start laboring away, copying a photo, and they’re considering every little bit as they go. Yep. And so they tend to give equal attention to everything, because they’re sort of working… Unless they’re a reasonably accomplished artist who’s aware of these things, and has seen enough stuff to realize when we focus our eyes in on something, everything else becomes blurred. We don’t see it sharply. It’s only the very narrowest bit, and that’s of course while we shift our eyes and shift our heads, because we’re focusing in on one little bit. I think it’s about five degrees, isn’t it? Of clear vision. Yep. And so when you start painting a thing like this, I want the eye to go to here, so that’s my sharpest area. Now, I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but as I’ve been painting, I’ve been occasionally grabbing a clean brush or a clean ish brush, and you can see what I’ve done here, I’ve whisked across it, so that the eye doesn’t go to any hard edges there. And see how quiet and gentle all those edges are really, and back in here. It’s all fairly… Actually, that tree there is really starting to irritate me. It’s going to have to go. Because, notice it’s competing? See that? How one’s fighting with the other? Sure. So what I’m going to do, is I’m going to scrape that off. It really sort of focuses the picture back in again, just by doing that. By removing that dark tree? Yeah. That’s come back in to the middle of the picture now. You notice I use the big brushes a lot just to flick up, not drawing in. You see a lot of painters doing this the hard way with small brushes and putting in zillions of blades of grass, you know? But that’s not for me, because as an outdoor painter, you haven’t got time for that. Okay John, you’re making some amazing progress there bud, but I think I might just let you work for a little while and we’ll just amaze the audience with your brilliant ability. Thank you Graeme. Great day mate. Really, really great day. Thank you so much for being on the show. It’s tremendous. Thank you. You know, the rest of the world is going to be able to see the talent of this amazing man. But we gotta take off the tape, haven’t we? To really expose this. We do, we do. So… Yes, let’s do it. If we can do that, we’ll be able to see the line… Yes. It’ll be sensational. There’s nothing like this. This is the big thrill, the big moment, when you feel you’ve got a painting, to reveal it with a clean edge, cause it makes the world of difference to it. Fan – Can you see that? — tastic. It just tidies everything up… Unbelievable mate. And looks better. One of New Zealand’s leading artists, one of the best landscape artists I’ve seen in a long time pal. That was just amazing what you did today. Thank you. Your website is? John Crump dot co dot nz. And John, you’ve also got some really great DVDs available as well; ‘John Crump Painting the Great Outdoors’, and ‘Painting Landscapes with John Crump’. I think they are fabulous for anybody’s collection so go to John’s website and pick up some of those as well. Thank you so much again, it’s been just an amazing day with a very, very talented man. Now you can come and see all of our great artists, John included, on the website at Colour In Your Life dot come dot au, go to our Facebook page at Colour In Your Life as well. We’re going to continue our journey around this magnificent country of New Zealand, the South Island anyway, and we’re going to head north again. Fantastic time mate, we really appreciate it. Thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed it. Absolutely. And as we always say, remember guys, make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Life. We’ll see you next time, bye now. Bye, bye! See you guys!