Oil painting techniques and plein air tutorial with Lynley van Alphen I Colour In Your Life

Oil painting techniques and plein air tutorial with Lynley van Alphen 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) Well hi folks, and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. We are at the bottom of the South Island in New Zealand, in a little town, or just outside a little town called Owaka, which is Maori for Canoe. Is that correct? (Lynley) The place of the canoe. (Graeme) The place of the canoe. And I’m with a lovely lady, Lynley van Alphen. Welcome to the show, Lynley. (Lynley) Thank you. (Graeme) Fantastic to be here. This is a wonderful area. We are going to be obviously painting this scene behind us today, which is a beautiful scene. And Lynley is a lady that sort of look a, took a journey in a sense because of your husband. Isn’t that correct as far as your art is concerned? (Lynley) Yes, my husband passed away three and a half years ago now from Motor Neuron disease, and he told me when he went, I had to follow my art dream, so I’m just being the good wife. (Graeme) Just doing what he asked you to do. (Lynley) Yes. (Graeme) But you’ve actually opened up a gallery in Owaka as well (Lynley) Yes. (Graeme) and you’ve got a studio in there, so that people that are passing through. I mean generally it’s pretty quiet down there, but you say in the summer time there’s just literally people come from everywhere, cause it is such a beautiful place. (Lynley) Yes, I open on Labour Weekend which is the end of October, right through to Easter (Graeme) Okay. (Lynley) every weekend. (Graeme) So Raymond really left you a great legacy. (Lynley) Even though it’s sad that he’s gone, he actually gave me the gift of my life. You know, women are always compromising – and I’m not being horrible towards men – but we’re always compromising for our children, our husbands, and our jobs. And then suddenly I was free to follow what I passionately wanted to do. (Graeme) And really encouraged you in the process as well. (Lynley) Yes. (Graeme) That’s great, but you’re pursuing something that you love, and that’s extremely important. (Lynley) Yeah, yeah. (Graeme) But I’m going to step out of shot, and as you can see we’re in an absolutely beautiful place. I mean New Zealand really is a glorious place to be. And I’m going to let Lynley take you guys through the process of how she puts a plein air piece together in oils, and I’ll get to the side – so lets make a start. (Lynley) Right, lets do that. (Graeme) Okay, Lynley, well I can see that you’ve got a board there, and we were just talking about that before we started. So what have you done with that board? What type of board is it? (Lynley) It’s just builders MBF, which I have sealed with a house sealer paint undercoat. And gessoed the side I’m going to paint on, sanded it off, gessoed again and that’s it. Cut it to A4 size so fits a standard frame. (Graeme) Ready to go. And you’ve basically got everything packed up in your vehicle, anything that you need is just a hand, hands step away. (Lynley) Yes, this is actually a box set my husband made me, so its a bit special. (Graeme) Oh, that’s great. Alright, so we’re going to do an oil painting today. And so what is this place called again we’re looking at? (Lynley) We are looking at False Isle. (Graeme) False Isle. (Lynley) Yeah, in Surat Bay. (Graeme) Okay, it’s a beautiful, beautiful place, my goodness. Alright, so we got Winsor and Newton paints. (Lynley) Yes. (Graeme) You don’t use too many colours, is that correct? (Lynley) I followed John Crump, who is one of your people, (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) and I use mostly his colours, but I even use less a lot of the times. (Graeme) Yeah. Alright, well lets make a start. (Lynley) Right, I’ve been looking at the scene and I think that I’ll just try and stick to Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Titanium White, (Graeme) Plenty of white. and I might just stick with that at the moment. (Graeme) Okay. (Lynley) I’ve got others in there but, oh, and Transparent Gold Ocher. (Graeme) Okay, there you go. (Lynley) So it’s quite, even though it’s bright it’s actually quite grey if that makes sense. (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) Everything looks bluey-grey so, yep. So I’ll just start with sketching with my bit of Liquin on my brush, a bit of blue, really thin and probably just slightly above mid centre for the horizon, and just roughly sketch in where I want to put the shape of the hills in. (Graeme) So you were mentioning John Crump before, but you’ve actually gone and done workshops with a number of influential artists over the years. I mean even going to Australia to meet up with people as well. (Lynley) Ben Ho, which is one of our well known New Zealand artists, John Crump, Wayne Edgerton is actually an artist down in Southland, who taught my son. And he actually introduced me to oils, and I followed others online and I brought numerous books. Richard Smith and Tony Smibert. (Graeme) That’s one of the things apart from painting, you just love reading and learning about art too. (Lynley) Yes, I have quite a lot of art books, and magazines. I subscribe to the Plein Air Magazine, and the South West Art. (Graeme) Yeah, okay, have a shout out to Mr Eric Rhodes, who’s the publisher of Plein Air Magazine. (Lynley) I think that’s really great, a great magazine, and I recommend anyone who paints Plein Air should buy it, because it’s just great. (Graeme) That’s fantastic and he’s love to hear that too, (Lynley) Yeah. (Graeme) I can assure you. (Lynley) I found it when I was on a trip in Aussy, and the first thing I did when I got home was order it online. So I shall order it every year religiously. Right, so I’ve got this bigger brush which I’m going to swap cause I’ve got that dirty, (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) and I’m just going to do my sky and work my way down it really. (Graeme) Okay. (Lynley) I put Liquin on the brush before I touch any paint. That is a thing John Crump taught me. (Graeme) So there you go. (Lynley) Yeah, and I just use quite big strokes. (Graeme) Yes, I find that particularly with plein air painting, is that sometimes the bigger the brush the better the picture. (Lynley) One of the things I learnt in the Ben Ho class, (Graeme) Yeah, was big brush, big brush, round the outside, and little brush where you want your, you know, at the very end. (Graeme) Yes. (Lynley) So this is just ultramarine and a bit of white. (Graeme) A very limited palette by any means. That’s a great thing to do anyway, mainly because people, you can see sometimes they’ve got twenty-five colours out, and they just don’t know where their palette’s going at all. (Lynley) If I put twenty-five colours out I make beautiful mud. (Graeme) Yeah, pretty much what it turns out to be. (Lynley) And I just had wildlife land on it. (Graeme) You can hear the birds in the background, and bell birds, it’s lovely – really is. So when did you make the decision – the conscious decision to say, I’m going to get a building in Owaka, and turn it into an art gallery? (Lynley) I didn’t really, I wanted a house that opened to the road that people could come and see me in my space, but I needed space to hang my artwork. And I though well why not open the doors and let other people enjoy it as well? (Graeme) Great idea. (Lynley) And yeah, that’s probably a year, I’ve been here a year and a half. Right, so that’s the sky done really. I’ll probably come over it later. So I’m going to work down now to the sea which to me looks almost a grey-green. (Graeme) You’ve got a great area around here to do seascapes and landscapes, and we’ve got Cannibal Bay that’s just on the other side. (Lynley) It’s nice to go there when the sun is just coming up. (Graeme) Yeah, and there on the other side of us, on the southern side we’ve got Jack’s Bay. (Lynley) It’s a lovely beach. It’s very easily accessible to people who aren’t so good at walking to Surat Bay, or even Cannibal Bay. It goes down a windy road to get to Cannibal Bay, but Jack’s Bay is a good road. You park right at the beach and you can walk out and it’s just beautiful. And you may see sea lions, birds, and there’s a whole lot of wee creeks and holiday homes around that if you’re an artist – go paint. (Graeme) Great place to be, I heard you had elephant seals down there as well? (Lynley) I’ve not seen any, but the sea lions are quite, are quite good. (Graeme) Aha. (Lynley) I’m just going to mix orange and blue. (Graeme) Yeah, it’s actually surprising how limited your palette is, and you’re still getting all the colours that you need. (Lynley) Yep, blue, orange, Yellow Ocher, that’s it – Gold Ocher actually. (Graeme) You don’t need much more than that. (Lynley) And sometimes that’s even too much. I’m trying to put the darks in which I’ve just made a mess of, so I’m just going to scrape that off. (Graeme) So you can always… (Lynley) Fix. (Graeme) Yeah, you can always fix. Well that’s the beauty about oils in comparison to say watercolours, is they can be pretty unforgiving. (Lynley) No, you’ve just got to remember that watercolour is like a flood plane, it’s just sediment settling into the hollows. (Graeme) Yeah, (Lynley) So I’m actually just putting a bit of a base underneath here (Graeme) Okay. (Lynley) just scrubbing it on. (Graeme) Well you’ve done a lot of paintings around the Catlin’s area. You’ve got one called Purakaunui Bay, which is a pretty outstanding piece. (Lynley) That’s south of where we are. (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) That has a Dock Camp, that a lot of people go and camp there over summer. (Graeme) Yeah, pretty area, and then the Otago Rail Trail. (Lynley) Now that was a series I did when my husband was ill, and he was still able to bike. So we use to shoot up to central Otago, we use to live at Tikinui, and we use to shoot up the central Otago, and do the rail trail. But at the time like ten km’s up, and ten km’s back, and (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) while he was able to do it. So we completed nearly the whole rail trail. It’s quite dull, like the colours are quite dull, and it was a challenge for me to come home and to make something interesting out of what was really quite flat. But yeah, many, many years ago, as a child I actually road on the railway line in the rail cart. We use to live at Ranfurly, and I went to school at Alexandra, which is down the road. And I went on the original rail car, so (Graeme) Beautiful. (Lynley) it still meant stuff to me, and it’s a beautiful part of New Zealand. I’ve actually added a little bit of Permanent Rose, (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) cause want to make a bit of a purple, a lilac-purple colour just to add into the water to add a little bit of life. (Graeme) And I mean the beauty about plein air, is you can come out here with an A4 board, you could probably do two or three or four of these in a day if you wanted to. (Lynley) And I have done that before too. (Graeme) Yes, just the shear enjoyment of being outside in a beautiful place. (Lynley) I use to really love the outdoors when I was younger and fitter, but as I’ve got older, it’s become harder to do trekking and stuff, so I do this instead which gives me my dose of… (Graeme) The Outdoors. (Lynley) Yeah. In the front these rocks have been exposed a bit, (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) so I’m just sort of putting them in as little bit. (Graeme) See the reflection off that water down there? But apart from the oils, you actually work in watercolours as well, and you’ve got Catlin Series that you’ve done. (Lynley) Over the winter I was lucky enough to go see Tony Smibert, a Tasmanian. He is someone whose work I’ve admired for a very long time. And so I’ve come home and sort of used his style a wee bit were he just lets it – well it just seem to flow, and he uses uses quite strong colours. And another lady I follow quite a lot is an English lady called Jean Haines, who many of the viewer may have heard of. She talks about letting the watercolour find the essence of whatever you’re painting. And I try now not to paint my picture so much as it is, but just to let the colours run, and just move it a bit and (Graeme) Yeah. see what happens. (Graeme) You said it before hand, it was a lot like layers of sediment (Lynley) Yes, (Graeme) settling in. (Lynley) that is something that Tony Smibert said in his videos many, many years ago on a video that I have of his. (Graeme) Layers of sediment settling in. (Lynley) Yep. But it is, it’s like a flood plane where it all just goes. So we’ve got bits of green out there, that green sort of sea-weedy stuff. (Graeme) So you were saying that you put a little bit of palette knife in there as well on occassions? (Lynley) Yes, I’ll just get through it a bit more yet and then I’ll just knife it at the end. I go by the motto, less is more. (Graeme) That’s, that’s good. I mean if you look at John’s work, John Crump, (Lynley) Yeah. (Graeme) I mean the broad strokes are so broad sometimes, you can literally he’s just scoping the paint off the palette. (Lynley) Well one of the faults of palette knife work I guess, is your painting can look busy cause it’s got a lot of texture, so I’ve actually found myself sometimes scraping lots of it off, and it actually looks better believe it or not. (Graeme) Okay. (Lynley) Because you don’t actually want all this texture, it makes it look busy. You need some restful spots in your artwork. (Graeme) Yeah. Okay, Lynley, well since you brought the gallery, also made available in your place, and across the road a B and B for artists to come and stay. And you also take people out on small workshops in this beautiful place, so that they can experience your ability and also the beauty of the area. I think that’s fantastic, and a lot of people out there that have got a bucket list. This is one of those ones when you come right to the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand, and catch up with Lynley, and then spend some time with her. I think that’s a great, great idea. (Lynley) I met a lot of people last year, the first year that I was open – my shop, and there’s a lot of people who are artists, but they, and if they are anything like me, before I had the courage to do this on my own, I wouldn’t do it. So I would welcome people to come and, come out and paint with me in the day. You know, hopefully we’ll get fine weather that we can do this, cause down here we don’t have good weather all the time. (Graeme) Yeah, well we had some today. But if they want to come in and see you ,they can go to art in the catlins dot com. (Lynley) Yes. (Graeme) It’s got all your information in there, and people can catch up with you there and look at your beautiful work. And then you know, basically say, well what do you do and how do I get there? (Lynley) That’s correct, they can do that. There is a map on the website that’ll show you exactly where I am. (Graeme) Right down the bottom. (Lynley) Not quite, same latitude as Invercargill. (Graeme) You’re pretty close to it. (Lynley) Some times it feels like it. (Graeme) Yeah, a bit. It’s still a beautiful place. (Lynley) Yes, it is. I went up the West Coast not so long ago, and I used to live up there. And I used to think that was the most beautiful place in New Zealand, but as I drove up I thought this is very masculine, very masculine sort of, sort of country side. But down here in the Catlins, I feel it’s very feminine and very welcoming, and it sort of looks after people who need looking after – their souls, because it’s just fantastic really. It just gives one peace, (Graeme) That’s great. (Lynley) or it’s given me peace anyway so. (Graeme) Absolutely. (Lynley) But yeah, it is, it is very feminine our country with the rolling, rolling hills and up the valley there’s even mountains that have nipple so. (Graeme) There you go. (Lynley) There you go. Well I shouldn’t call them mountains. Hills. (Graeme) Hills. (Lynley) I’m just about finished with the undercoating, just going to tidy up my sky a little. (Graeme) Okay. (Lynley) Then I shall whip out my palette knife. (Graeme) But it’s a fun, it’s fun thing to do. (Lynley) Yeah. (Graeme) I suppose that’s the thing with plein air, that you’ve got to have the weather. I met Bret Trelay on the coast, and he told me him and his wife were out painting somewhere, and Grace was holding the easel as he painted. (Graeme) It was that windy, goodness. (Lynley) Right, so I’m now going to attack with my palette knife. (Graeme) Palette knife, here we come. (Lynley) Now I’m going to mix some ultramarine and orange, just in the front here we’ve just got some little bushes. (Graeme) Yes. I’m just going to so them quite dark, and roughly with my palette knife. (Graeme) That sort of tends to centralise the picture. (Lynley) Just to give it a bit of foreground really. (Graeme) Yeah. So how often would you come out to paint plein air? (Lynley) I try at least once and week, and in the summer, I quite often shoot out in the evening, or first thing in the morning. Right, lets have a look at this. So we’ll just stick one here a bit randomly. (Graeme) They really are quite odd looking bushes aren’t they? (Lynley) Yeah, I don’t know what they are – some native. I’m just really, just giving a bit of life to it really. So when I do grasses, I actually use my knife on the side, and turn it and just really let the paint come off where it wants. Yeah, it just gives a bit of texture, (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) and even when it scrapes the paint off, I don’t really care cause it just sort of adds life. (Graeme) And you’ve also got some pretty impressive red deer paintings, of stags that you’ve done. And you have real close, close up information because you used to breed them. (Lynley) Yes, after we sold our dairy farm, we decided we’d do deer. My husband used to be a bit of a hunter, and we’d actually caught some wild deer, and then we brought some quite expensive red deer, and started to breed them. I guess that’s where the paintings for them come from, cause they’re quite special animals. I had an exhibition a few years ago with the paintings. (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) But even though they’ve been domesticated, they’re still to me, they’ve still got that proud arrogance of being just wild. (Graeme) Yeah. (Lynley) And it’s, yeah, and I tried to put that into my paintings. Yeah, they’re special animals. (Graeme) Yeah, they’re pretty impressive looking beasts, there’s no two ways about it. (Lynley) The thing to do when you’re plein airing is to stop soon rather than later. (Graeme) Yeah, you’ve definitely captured the mood out there, there’s no two ways about it. Looks great. (Lynley) Yeah. (Graeme) It’s beautiful. (Lynley) When I did the rail trail pictures, I actually painted the base painting with acrylic, and then I just palette knifed all the oil over and quite thick. So that is finished. My hands are just perfectly dirty. I’m a very messy painter. (Graeme) Get your wet wipes out. (Lynley) Yes, wet wipes – my favourite, most essential tool. (Graeme) That’s fantastic. And a lady in Australia told me a secret. She said “put baby oil on your hands.” And on the occasions that I remember, yes it does work. (Graeme) Just stops the paint from sticking to your skin. (Lynley) Yes, I have some here. So there we go. (Graeme) Well done. Very, very well done. (Lynley) I’m not quite finished. I have to put my signature on it. (Graeme) Okay. (Lynley) And I always, I never paint my signature on my plein airs; I use the end of a brush and I scratch my name in. (Graeme) That’s a plein air signature. (Lynley) Yep, and while the paints wet, if you make a mess of it, you can just wipe it off and start again. (Graeme) Beautiful. (Lynley) Yeah, done. (Graeme) Very well done, very well done. (Graeme) Okay, guys, well it was a great day in Owaka. Lynley, (Lynley) Thank you. (Graeme) thank you so much for having us out at your beautiful place. This is a beautiful area. As you can see, she’s really done a great job with this scene out the back here. Absolutely fabulous. Now once again as I said, this is at the bottom of New Zealand, but it still is quite a beautiful place. And I would suggest that you come down and see Lynley, and be part and parcel of what she does in this great area. Now your website again is art in the catlins dot com. (Lynley) Yes. (Graeme) So you can come along, go to the website, and have a look at what she’s doing; lots of interesting stuff in there. And as I said, really, really beautiful place. And as always, come and see us at colour in your life dot com dot au. Subscribe, come in as well, and be part of our membership and what we’re doing – Facebook and YouTube. And we’d also like to put out a big hello and thank you to New Zealand Artist. New Zealand Artist has been great in supporting all of the artists, and what Colour In Your Life does in New Zealand. So thank you very much to New Zealand Artist Magazine as well. But, fantastic day. (Lynley) Thank you. (Graeme) Thanks for, thanks for being here. (Lynley) A pleasure. (Graeme) And remember guys, as we alway say, remember you’ve got to put some colour in your life? (Lynley) Yes. (Graeme) Remember: make sure you put some colour in your life. We’ll see you again next time. Bye now.

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