Oil painting techniques and tutorial with Angela Walker | Colour In Your Life

Oil painting techniques and tutorial with Angela Walker | 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 theres’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 hi folks, well we are in Dimboola, central Victoria in Australia, and we are in a farm, a country property. And we’re going to be spending the day with a lovely lady, got some really, really interesting work. We are going to talk about it briefly. But Angela Walker, welcome to the show. (Angela) Thanks very much, Graeme. Awesome. (Graeme) Great to be here. We are on Angela’s farm and we’re actually in her studio, and it’s literally one of the best studios in a rural scene that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s just great to be here. You have a degree in visual arts and also, is it visual culture you call it? (Angela) Fine arts and visual culture. (Graeme) From Curtin University. (Angela) Yes. (Graeme) That’s pretty cool. And you’ve used that and gone on to create what I think is a series that, and I think this is what I think art is all about, is making a social statement. And Angela really does make this really strong statement about being a woman within the rural community or on a farm. How did that come about and tell me a little about your emotions as far as that’s concerned as well? (Angela) Ah well, it’s fairly complex I guess. It’s just sort of evolved when I was doing my degree I was looking at the incidents of cancer in the Wimmera, (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) as a science sort of background for my artwork I guess you could say, and how it related to what we were doing on the land. And so it’s really about what we’re doing to the environment we’re probably doing to ourselves a little bit. It sort of developed and evolved from there to talking about myself particularly on the farm. And although the images are of me, but they’re of women in the environment and giving females in an isolated agriculture setting a bit of a voice, I guess you could say. (Graeme) Yeah, and I just find it fantastic work, and you sort of juxtapose these images of machinery, in conjunction with the woman’s body, and how the operation sort of you know, goes to each other. (Angela) Yes. (Graeme) And obviously being a county woman there’s certain things that you simply just have to do you know, within the setting that you live in to make sure you survive and that you’re family’s looked after. So we’re going to move into the studio area and we’ll get started on this straight away. (Graeme) Okay Angela, where do we start? I can see you’ve already started it, where do we go from here? (Angela) Yeah, so I always do like an underdrawing, it’s just like an outline drawing, and from there I go on and paint in an underpainting, (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) and I just get a bit of DNA on there too, so get extra bonus when you… (Graeme) So we know it’s an original Walker. (Angela) Yes. (Graeme) So the inspiration for a piece like this is? (Angela) It’s really about you know, how we, how a woman is seen on the land in my, in my situation it’s on the farm and how I relate to that and what is on the farm, and the expectations for women on the farm and… (Graeme) So you’re pretty isolated? (Angela) Yeah, we’re isolated. My closest neighbour’s a kilometre away so, and I’m often spending lots of days here on my own, and don’t see people, could be you know, apart from family could be for two or three days you don’t see anybody. So it’s a place where I can actually put my emotions about what’s happening for me, (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) and possibly a lot of other people that are in that situation – isolated, on to a canvas. So it’s a visual representation of you know, how I’m feeling and what’s happening. (Graeme) Sure, you’ve got the perfect life basically, you just don’t know that. Everybody else is surrounded by people they don’t want to be around. (Angela) That’s true, yeah. (Graeme) The piece Balanced, and it looks like the top of a harvester. (Angela) Oh, it’s the top of an auger. (Graeme) Is it an auger is it? (Angela) Yes, so it’s an auger, yeah, (Graeme) Okay. (Angela) and it’s really about how life is a balance. So I spend a lot of time out here, I’m probably in the studio at least five hours a day on average, (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) so I do spend a lot of time. And a lot of the pieces have sort of got a bit of quirkiness and a bit of humour I guess to them. Because I mean, it’s not that serious a thing loneliness and being on your own and being a woman (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) in the environment. It can be so it gives it that sort of you know, the two edged sword I guess. So that’s pretty much what I would do for the drawing. Okay, so I’m just using some Burnt Umber and I would normally use that just to do the underpainting in. A little bit of odourless solvent is always nice. Does help it dry quicker as well. And just thinking about where the light source is coming from, it’s coming on her back, (Graeme) Yes. (Angela) so the back of the tree and things will be darker where the light’s not hitting on it. It’s usually a fairly quick process but then it’s the drying that often takes longer. (Graeme) I can see that you paint directly onto the linen. You haven’t primed that at all, you just? (Angela) It is primed. (Graeme) Is it? Okay. (Angela) It’s actually primed with what they call a transparent (Graeme) Oh, okay. (Angela) type of gesso. Yeah, so (Graeme) Wow. (Angela) it is primed. I wouldn’t paint on one that wasn’t. (Graeme) So what’s the methodology behind painting in these darker colours before hand? (Angela) I guess I have a passion for what the old masters used to do, and they would always do an underpainting (Graeme) Yes. (Angela) first and it’s actually probably the biggest part of the work. If you get the underpainting right, the rest will sort of, pretty much fall into place. (Graeme) Are they generally constructed with that sepia type base on them? (Angela) Yes, although I do, do work with sienna sometimes, especially with my portraiture work. That will have black and white and it’s not just for the tonal effect. I just really love the look. (Graeme) So tell me about the motivation of the picture Black Box? (Angela) I guess it’s a little bit like a Pandora’s Box, and just how we’re dancing with the environment and you know, our effect on what we, what we do to the land, and what we do to others has an effect on us. (Graeme) There’s a piece that you’ve got that I really think is just amazing, Feel the Rhythm. (Angela) It’s about the working machine’s on the farm I guess, you know the woman and the engine, because farming these days is very much about machinery and what’s happening there and yeah, so it’s really the two together. (Graeme) So, Angela, in producing your wonderful pieces of work, what type of paint do you actually use? (Angela) I’ve got a few, but I really like Michael Harding, his beautiful fluid paint. Yeah, so that’s what I’m using today. (Graeme) And the brushes that you use? (Angela) Well. I’m actually just got a Neef at the moment, but I’ve just brought some Rosemary and Co, (Graeme) Okay. (Angela) and I’m just finding them just magnificent. You have to send overseas unfortunately for them. (Graeme) Yes. (Angela) You can’t buy them in Australia, but they’re just a magnificent brush. And I think if you’re going to spend the time doing your artwork and be serious about it, you need to have good supplies. It’s important. (Graeme) Absolutely. Alright, Angela, I can see that you’ve got the second piece up there that you’re working on today. Still mapping in those base colours? (Angela) Yes, yeah just getting the tonal value and composition correct, and then we’ll start with the colours. (Graeme) Now you’ve got a piece called Farewell to Housework. (Angela) Yes, a bit of a fun play on how I’m always dreaming when I’m house working, dreaming about coming out to paint actually. (Graeme) Dreaming about putting on a red dress and going somewhere. (Angela) Yeah, feeling a bit special and not isolated and in with mundane. (Graeme) Oh it’s a great, it’s a great avenue of escape psychologically really when you think about it and that’s the beauty about art. You know, you’re obviously in a very isolated area, but you can escape because of your ability which is great. (Angela) Yeah, no it is it’s fabulous to be able to just come out here, and my family come out and they’ll just come and even have a cup of coffee out here while I’m painting away. So it’s a… and they’re very good at critiquing too, so they’ll say, oh no, I’m not just really sure about that, or whatever. And it is valuable to get other people’s feedback too. That’s probably a fair bit of what I would do like as a starting point, (Graeme) Aha. (Angela) and wait for that to dry and then bring in the colours and things. So I use a fairly limited palette as you can see, and I’m starting with the white. I place it in a around in a set area, so that I know where I’m working from. So I do whites, and then a Yellow Ocher, Naples Yellow, a gorgeous colour. And I go to the reds, I have a couple of reds, a cool and a warm, so Naphthol, Vermilion and Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine, and of course the Burnt Umber. I use a lot of Burnt Umber, probably more than anything else apart from white. So when I’m doing my pieces I’ll start with… for the colour part of it, I will start with the background first, usually the sky. So I’m going to use a fair bit of white for that and just a little bit of the Ultramarine. I could use Colbert, but I actually love the vibrancy of Ultramarine more, it seems to work better for a sky. We have so many clear blue skies up here it just seems to capture the essence. (Graeme) Yes, it’s a beautiful property that you’re on. (Angela) Yeah, we’re very lucky. Now I’ve got down to some flat brushes. This one’s the Rosemary and Co, that I was talking about. Gorgeous brushes. Just try and get it on as quickly as possible. The one thing about oil is you can actually move it around a fair bit. You’ve got a fair bit of time to get things how you want them. I’ll just do a little bit of a top like that, and then I’ll go straight in and add a little bit of Ultramarine up the top. The skies always darker up the top. It’s good to have a couple of colours in the sky. And sometimes at this stage I’ll actually put just little touches around the place too, because it’s good for unification. I think a lot of people get a bit, can get a bit bogged down in detail, and it’s actually really important to take your time and just block in to start with. So this, this process really is just blocking in the colour. So I’ve just finished the skyline, just a block in as I said. I’m going to just clean my palette a little bit, and then I’ll go the background. I’ll just clean that a bit. And for the background, I’m going to use a little bit of the Yellow Ocher and some Naphthol Red. (Graeme) Naphthol Red. (Angela) A beautiful colour, look at that (Graeme) What a great colour, yeah. (Angela) peachy cream. Again, a nice flat brush again. Just use a little bit of the odourless turps, I tend to use that a fair bit more than Liguin’s or anything like that just sometimes Liquin’s can give a bit of a shiny finish. (Graeme) So tell me about the piece Floating Red? (Angela) Yeah, so Floating Red, oh that’s still talking about the female perspective and how sometimes you just don’t have a voice, you just feel like you’re sinking in amongst it all. (Graeme) But she’s still in a ballerina type pose (Angela) Yes, yeah. (Graeme) I suppose you could say. (Angela) For me it’s very much about the dance. I love dance; I love the movement of body. (Graeme) Yeah, the Flower girl is another… (Angela) Similar themed. (Graeme) Yeah. Yeah, just really talking about women and how we just sort of sometimes float around and try to find our place in life and yeah, find our voice. So I alway’s loved to dance and my parents could never afford anything like that and it probably wasn’t really the done thing then either, you know. And even where I was brought up, which was the McLaren Vale area, there wasn’t access to that sort of thing so… Yeah, so I’ve always been interested in dance and movement and the emotions that, that can create. Okay, so I’ve nearly blocked all this in here, and once again, I’m just going to put a couple of slashes of colour of the colour, (Graeme) Yes. (Angela) and that’s all as I said, part of the unification. It doesn’t have to be much, sometimes just a little bit makes a difference. So that’s that one finished for that process, and on to the next one. (Angela) And so I’m just mixing up some colour for the dress. I tend to do a lot darker colours than what I’m going to finish with, and I’ll save the highlights for last. So the blues quite a strong blue. (Graeme) So you’ve got a picture of your lovely daughter as well. (Angela) Yes, Lau. (Graeme) Lau, so what’s the significance of the horse shoes welded to the back of her picture? (Angela) It’s actually not a horse shoe. Sorry, what it is and your probably aware a lot of young kids are into gaming (Graeme) Yes. (Angela) you know, they’ll go online games, and dress ups and all the rest of it. So that’s pretty much what it’s about, it’s a reference to war games. (Graeme) Oh, okay, that’s funny. (Angela) Yeah, so she used to do a lot of that. (Graeme) And you’ve still got a fairly large size brush that you’ve been using? (Angela) Yes, I have. I think the reason for that really is to maybe not be too precious about it. (Graeme) Aha. (Angela) It just makes you mindful that you need to use a smaller brush only for the details. (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) When you’re blocking in which we still are here at this stage is just about getting the colour down. (Graeme) So you also run workshops as well, out here in this wonderfully isolated part of the world. (Angela) Rather than doing classes and I can do individual classes I suppose, but I tend to do workshops so that people can actually have a full session. You know, if people are going to come the distance or whatever it’s better to do a weekend of it, and I think it’s better because you actually get a bit of continuity then. (Graeme) But you’ve got a fantastic studio space. (Angela) I have, yeah. I certainly have room for plenty of people in here. (Graeme) Oh, it’s wonderful, wonderful. And if anybody wants to join Angela and her property out in Dimboola, I mean it’s just beautiful. There’s a billabong at the black of the property as well, trees everywhere, birds, it’s just amazing. They can go to Angela Walker art dot com (Angela) That’s correct. (Graeme) and have a look at what she’s got in there. Her work, the workshops, anything else that you would care to have a look at, and then just have a chat to Angela about being out here. It’s a wonderfully isolated place, and I just love being here, I really do. (Angela) It’s only a… it certainly lends itself to plein-air if you wanted to do that too. So I am very fortunate, so I don’t just have a great studio, I’ve got a great place to be in as well. (Graeme) Yeah, you’ve got all of those big old dead and live gum trees down on the water banks down there, and they’re like character ridden through everywhere. (Angela) Yeah, lots of Aboriginal and indigenous heritage around this area. (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) We’ve got canoe trees and all sorts, it’s just a beautiful spot. (Graeme) The piece Little Mary, it’s one of favourite pieces of yours. Tell me a little bit more about that? I just love the fact that there’s a little girl there. We can’t see who she is and there’s a sheep that looks a little bit like an artificial sheep. What’s the story there? (Angela) Yeah, I wanted the sheep to be almost like a toy. (Graeme) Aha. (Angela) So its got you know, that soft fluffiness to match with the fact that its a little girl. And I think the fact that you can’t see her face lends it to be the imagination, lets your imagination decide who it might be. Yeah, I really enjoyed painting that piece, it actually was sold before I had even finished it. (Graeme) I can understand why. But then there’s pieces like Lunch Time, so there’s long legs, short red dress, red high heels. (Angela) Yeah, quite evocative, yeah. Just like I said, the womens role you know, and our expectations, or the expectations for us as a woman on the land. (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) Yeah, so it’s just a bit of a fun piece really. (Angela) Okay, so we’ve got this to this stage so we’ve done the pencil drawing, blocked in all the colours with the underpainting, and then sorry, blocked in the colours, and now we’re at the stage where I’ll put in a few just fine lines that make it go off into the distance. Okay, so I’ve got my skin tones now, and I’m just going to add with this fancy little dagger brush in some colours, the darker colours in the shadows. And as I said, I keep the tones fairly dark, because I’m going to come back over with highlights. (Graeme) Now there’s one piece that you have that really stands out for me, and it’s almost a scene from Alice In Wonderland, is the best way I can describe it. And it’s called What Kind of Fairy Tail Do You Live In? So tell me about that? (Angela) It’s a self portrait in a way, (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) but a fun take on it I guess I’ve got a bit of a sense of humour; I think humours always important. And it’s just about things that have impacted me, and I think life’s a bit of a game hence the you know, the black and white checkers (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) and there’s lots of other aspects about it you know, that are relevant to me. So the paintings on the walls are ones that I’ve done, and the copies off old masterpieces. I think everyone should probably have a go at coping old masterpieces, cause it’s a great way to learn and improve technique. (Graeme) And you also do commissions for people as well. I mean I think that there’s a lot of imagination involved in what you do personally for your work, but this is something that you could convey onto other people’s lives with the capacity of the paintings that you do. (Angela) Yes, I think so. You know, sometimes people might see one of your pieces or something and say, oh I really like that but I would like it you know, (Graeme) Yeah. (Angela) perhaps saying something else or in a different, different colour or something like that. So yeah, I certainly do commissions and I enjoy doing that. But when I do it, I like to find out as much as I can about the person, so that it’s portraying what they want. So it’s not just a simple you now, reproducing something that looks pretty. It’s important that it actually means something. (Graeme) Yeah, and you’ve been in a few galleries as well with your work. The Horsham Regional Art Gallery, (Angela) Yes. (Graeme) the Redrock Books Gallery, the Lake House Gallery and currently you’ve got some works showing at the Goat Gallery as well. That’s an unusual name for an art gallery I must admit. (Angela) Yeah, that gallery’s named after the rock climbers of the area. It’s a very notable area and Mount Arapiles, if you’re a climber you would have heard of it, cause it’s one of the world heritage listed sites for climbing. Great, great spot and a great little town, really nice little town. So yeah, I’ve got a very cute little gallery and I’ve got an exhibition on there, a combine exhibition with some other artists as well. Okay, I’m probably not going to finish much more of the painting now cause it’s pretty much done. You’ve seen all the technique and that sort of thing, that’s what it’s about. But really just to have a voice as a woman and that you can do whatever you want to do really, no matter how isolated you are go for it – paint. It’s awesome. (Graeme) Fantastic, and as you can see there’s the finished picture. Thank you do much for having us in your studio today. (Angela) Thanks so much for coming. It’s been awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome. (Graeme) Well folks, another fantastic day with a wonderfully talented lady. Very emotional and expressive about what you do, I think it’s just fantastic. Also, as you can see much to my surprise when I walked into the studio today, that Angela’s actually done my portrait which I think is fantastic. I was looking at this picture going, that looks like me. But great day. Now if somebody wanted to do your workshops or see more of your work, your website address is again? (Angela) Angela Walker art dot com. (Graeme) Yeah, so come in and see Angela. It’s a fantastic area out here, it’s very isolated, but there is a great sense of peace within this area. And as I said once again, you’ve expressed your life through your work, and how you feel about the world that you live in which is just amazing, it really is. Also, come and see us at colour in your life dot com dot au, and come and see us in Facebook and YouTube – come and subscribe in there. Lots of great things going on these days. But we’ve had a great trip down in Victoria. We’re going to head north again. And great time, we’ve had a great time in Victoria; it’s been wonderful. But until we see you guys again – remember: make sure you put some colour in your life. We’ll see you again next time. Bye now. See you. (Angela) Bye.


  • 4PAWS says:

    Beautiful paintings with great messages, love the colour and whimsical nature in which they are painted truly original. Thank you for sharing your techniques it was fascinating to watch. I wish you all the best  for the future 🙂

  • James Holder says:

    Awesome work!

  • Lis Engel says:

    I love the statement – what we are doing to the surroundings we are doing to ourselves – and they are truly gorgeous images

  • Lis Engel says:

    How we are dancing with the envirement and how we feel the rhythms – and really interesting to hear about the choice of technique and materials

  • Karen Wiseman says:

    Great feature Angela Congratulations 🙂

  • Robert says:

    Great paintings, and great studio space.

  • Murder Ballad says:

    i disagree about 'needing' good supplies.

  • Anthony Aquilina says:

    Beautiful bright colours I liked . writing from Malta

  • Sachie Reid says:

    I agree , Angela. I also buy my brushes from Rosemary & Co. They really look after you. I wish I had your imagination and inspiration 🌹 Thank you for sharing. (Just an afterthought – is it all right to still use alizaren crimson? It’s a fugitive colour. Also, is the under painting still wet when you block in the colours?)

  • btwilks says:

    And Graeme discovers yet another superb artist for us to enjoy! Really interesting paintings with lots of quirky humour but also (to me, at least) a persistent thread sense of barely-suppressed intensity … maybe a little like the artist herself? 🙂 Many thanks to Angela for sharing her work and equally many thanks to Graeme and his team for introducing such a brilliant artist to the rapidly growing audience of Colour In Your Life.

  • organicpaul says:


  • Sailing on Annecam says:

    Well done Angela, love your work, cheers from us up in Bundy

  • Sylvia Ditchburn says:

    Good demo. Not keen on portrait of Graeme as skin colour too grey. His skin colour is more ruddy.

  • Gillian Perrett says:

    Great show. Well done Angela; you are going great guns.

  • Mac Clift says:

    I'm very new to painting, so quite green still: What is Angela Walker painting on: it's not board, so it's probably canvas; is it bought in that colour, or did she paint it on?

  • Mac Clift says:

    Lovely to watch artists doing what they do best!

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