Oil painting techniques and tutorial with Sandra Guy 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 hi folks, and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we are in Kingscliff, which is a little town just south of the border of Queensland, New South Wales. And we are going to be spending the day with a very talented lady, Sandra Guy. Welcome to the show. (Sandra) Thank you, Graeme. (Graeme) And Sandra’s a fantastic artist, I mean she has many credentials. She has a Masters Degree in Arts, and a Bachelors Degree in Arts, but paints some absolutely magnificent scenes of the local area. And we’re sort of here to go into a few things with that we do with M A T, Murwullimbah Arts Trail. And Sandra’s very much involved in that as we are as well, and also working with Destination Tweed on the coast, to make all this happen for Colour In Your Life, and the fantastic artists in the area. But there is one word that you use in conjunction with your art, and that’s the word sublime. (Sandra) The sublime is something that I believe everybody experiences. It’s that beautiful, unique feeling when you see something that takes your breath away. (Graeme) Sure. (Sandra) I would like other people to recognise that feeling when they look at my work. (Graeme) Yeah. (Sandra) To appreciate the extraordinary beauty of nature. (Graeme) And you had a lot of influence from your mum, who was a plein air artist as well, so it goes back a long way to your childhood. (Sandra) Yes, it does. So mum was very a very creative person. She used to get my brother and myself doing a lot of creative activities. (Graeme) Yeah. (Sandra) And I’d also go out in nature with her painting plein air. (Graeme) Sandra’s also a fantastic teacher of art as well, and she really encompasses all the disciplines that you need to be a good artist. But she does do a lot of different process, I mean her work takes a long time to paint, so we’re not actually going to see her complete a work today. But we’re going to go through a whole bunch of stages that Sandra actually does to get to the end result, and it’s going to be a really fascinating journey. The first part of that is working on a computer, so we’re going to have a look at how she starts that, takes her own photos, but we’re going to see how this all develops from there. (Graeme) Okay, Sandra, a lot of the work that you actually do is compiling your own photographs, (Sandra) Yes. (Graeme) which you go out and take. (Graeme) But really you, it’s a compilation of ideas you that put together for your compositions. How do you go about that? (Sandra) For example you can see here I’ve got a bank of images that I’ve collected over a period of time. In this situation I’ve been looking at the complementary colours of the green and the red at Cabarita Woolworths, would you believe. And I was really interested in the stop sign and the ten zone sign to juxtapose this against a landscape. Again, a little bit related to what I’ve been working on around experiencing sublime moments in any environment. So I started off with this image, and then I needed to find a landscape to fit that. I’ve found one that I thought worked with it which was this one here, because of the red in the sky, and I wanted quite a dark silhouette of the landscape. So I spent a little bit of time playing around with these images, scaling it up. That’s not the full image. I’ve then printed out these photographs, and the next step will be composing the image based on the photographs. (Graeme) Great, well lets hop into the studio, (Sandra) Okay. (Graeme) and have a look at the photograph and the montage you’ve put together. (Sandra) Okay. (Graeme) That’s another part of the process. (Sandra) Yep, okay. (Graeme) Okay Sandra, well coming from the computer, fantastic you’re using technology, and then going to your story boards where you really make a montage which is what you’ve done here. You also go on to do a maquette, a drawing of what you’ve made up. Explain that a little bit too me? (Sandra) Just to articulate my idea, I would start off by doing some thumb nail sketches. So I usually just rough them out in this sketch book here. (Graeme) Yep. (Sandra) So I’ve got a few examples here of thumbnails that I’ve done for other paintings. (Graeme) So in the process of putting all these together, we’ve got another one that you actually took photos of in stages as you went through. And as you can see we’re putting up all the images now of the way that this was actually put together. So what’s the motivation behind this? What are you trying to say with this piece? (Sandra) This particular area is an area of a lot of development. So the van was very temporary in nature, and also a little bit symbolising the transience of our world at the moment. Okay so what I’ll do is I’ll work on this and the pencil sketch concurrently, just checking to see that the composition is working. At the moment this is in just a pencil stage. But I’ll use the colour pencils to colour it to make sure and check that the compositions working. So from there I’ll grid up either the colour study, or the photo montage, to then translate onto a canvas of (Graeme) Okay. (Sandra) of a similar format. If I spend all that time trying to get the composition correct from that process, I want to make sure that the format in the actual painting is exactly the same. (Graeme) Okay Sandra, well we’ve brought the painting in that you’ve been working on and we’ve shown the stages. You’ve got a really interesting palette there with the glass and the neutral grey. Can you tell me about how you lay your palette out? (Sandra) Okay, so I lay all the colours out that I’m potentially going to use, and I leave them there. The reason for that is because while I’m colour mixing, I don’t want to think – oh my goodness, where did I put that particular colour. By laying out in the same place, I get use to where those colours are, and I can automatically go to those colours. So it requires a lot less thinking, and I can get a little bit more into a creative zone with that. And what I’m going to be working on this upper part of the clouds up here. So what I’ve done so far on this painting is I’ve put in some of the blue sky background, and I’ve worked on some of the dark areas, but now I’m going to work on the actual formation of the clouds in here. That’ll give me a much better sense of what’s happening in this area cause it’s starting to get a little bit complicated. So I haven’t put any colours out yet, and I’m going to start doing that now. This particular pink rosebud is quite a nice soft pink. Now potentially you can mix colours like this, and in the past I use to spend a lot of time mixing colours. But again, after that workshop with Jim Thalasuttus, he suggested that I actually purchase the paint colour, and that’ll help save me a lot of time in the colour mixing, and he was absolutely right. So I’m currently a bit time poor, so it’s much easier just to squeeze out a similar colour. Still means I’ve got to do quite a lot of colour mixing, but it’s ultimately saving time. I’m also going to squeeze out some Yellow Ocher which I tend to use quite a lot of. I’m going to put in a darker red which is, it’s actually a pink, Langridge Brilliant Pink. So I’ll squeeze some of that out. It’s a very, very strong colour, you only need a tiny little amount. And I’m also going to put out quite a lot of white and I’m using a Langridge Titanium White in this case. And I’m just going to pop out a little bit of Cadmium Red Light. (Graeme) You’ve got a few different brands of paint there as well. (Sandra) I do, I tend to these days try and use the best quality paint I can purchase. So at the moment I’ve got Art Spectrum, which is actually a really affordable oil paint for a lot of students and artists. And the better quality paint is something like Vasari, or Langridge. Alright, so just going to start off with putting down some white. I’m going to grab a little bit of pink and a tiny little bit of the crimson bright pink. And now I need to mix up a fair bit of this, so I’m slowly going to add this pink you can see it’s quite strong. So to make it flow a little bit better, I’m going to add a little bit of walnut oil. I’m just going to grab a little bit here on a spoon, and just going to put a tiny little bit of walnut oil into the paint – just a couple of drops. (Graeme) Why do you prefer walnut over linseed oil? (Sandra) Linseed oil I think tends to take longer to dry, so walnut oil isn’t as dense and heavy. It’s quite a sort of naturally lighter oil than linseed oil. (Graeme) Alright Sandra, while you’re mixing those colours I’ll just wanted to bring in some of the pieces that you’ve done over the years that have really brought you to where you are now, and just bringing the piece The Dreaming. (Sandra) You might notice that the merging with the landscape, so there’s a little bit of a reference to the Aboriginal Dreamtime or Dreaming, and the merging bodies, with the merging landscapes sort of suggesting that they’re part of the environment. (Graeme) And what about the picture Shipley’s Breath? (Sandra) Okay, so that painting was produced when I was living in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. That painting again, was a little bit about my relationship to the environment, and how the environment helped me to breath, and how I felt when I was in nature. (Graeme) Fantastic. Okay Sandra, well one of the things that really points out, or stands out in your work is the size of the skies that you do. There’s one piece called The Gathering Storm, and your right on the beach where you live anyway, so I’m quite sure this was probably influenced by your back yard beach. And then the other one is the Road to Mooball. And we really do live in a beautiful area, fantastic place to be. And the Road to Mooball is a pretty iconic piece as well, particularly obviously if you live around this area. And you really do use your colours fairly juxtapose on top of each other. (Sandra) Look sometimes I blend them together in the one sitting, and other times I’ll lay down a colour like the blue in the background, and I’ll be working on another colour over the top of it. So it just depends on what I’m actually working on, (Graeme) Sure. (Sandra) and how much I can get done in one particular sitting. (Graeme) As I said, the thing that really stands out with some of your major works, and they really are beautiful is the huge skies. And you’ve got a piece called Clothier Creek Bend, and it sort of epitomises the sunsets we get around this area. They’re pretty spectacular at the best of times. So it was in high school that you, because you loved science and geography, and art, but when you were in six form you ended up getting glandular fever, and it was really from sitting around doing that, that you started to get involved more in art as well. (Sandra) Look I was always interested in art, and felt like I wanted to follow that as a career. However that illness I suppose forced me to slow down, and really the only thing I could concentrate on was my painting. Yeah, I was happy with the outcomes of my works for the HSC, and that was selected in national sort of touring exhibition at the time. So I suppose also that little bit of encouragement helped my decision to move in to art. (Graeme) And you’ve been really quite diversified in the way that you approach your work, even some of the abstract pieces that you’ve done. (Sandra) That came out of the trip to Broken Hill, which was sort of a little bit of a turning point in my life. You know, I was in awe of the wide open spaces, but I was also reminded of our geological history. Both my parents are Geologists, so that was always a part of coming into my work. And the colours in the outback are quite incredible, and you’d be surprised that yes, those colours do exist. But I certainly was pushing the colours in those particular paintings. (Graeme) And you’ve got another piece here called Elements, which I really think is fascinating is these as I said, subliminal messages in your work. You’ve got this feather floating in the sky. It looks like it’s in some sort of screen laboratory screen of some sort. (Sandra) That work came about again, sort of through my experience out at Broken Hill. But I was moving a little bit into the symbolism of feathers for example, which were a little bit symbolic of freedom and flight. (Graeme) And there’s another piece here thats got Emergency Phone, and I’m sure people all across the world have seen pictures like that, but not really seen it through the eyes of the way that you’ve put it together – which is quite amazing. And my favourite after all the ones that you’ve got is called Red Light. And if you look into the distance you can actually see just Mount Warning, just that little peek sitting up there. And that’s the first place in Australia to get sunshine right at the top of that. And that’s actually just really at the Murwillumabah is very close to the base of Mount Warning, and that’s where we have the Murwullimbah Arts Trail. Well with the fact that you are also a teacher, at one of our local TAFE’s you teach the art, tell us what you are actually doing in conjunction with the Murwillumbah Arts Festival, as far as the TAFE is concerned. (Sandra) Okay, so what we’re doing is we’re donating a gallery space for the duration of the exhibition. We’re also putting on a series of free workshops for both the artists involved with the Murwillumbah Arts Trail, as well as the general public. (Graeme) And if you want to go and see any of the information on the fabulous Murwullimbah Arts Trail and our festival every May in this area, you can go to their website, the Murwullimmbah Art Trail dot com. And you can see all the amazing things that we’re doing in the area with Arts. The guys have been fantastic, particularly Destination Tweed as well, that’s really backed Colour In Your Life, and helped Roz and Sandra come on the show. Which is fantastic, they really do support the Arts in the area, so come along and have a look at what they’re doing. Tell me, what’s the motivation behind this painting? What does it mean to you? (Sandra) Okay, so this painting is a continuation of the Sublime series for me. It’s rather than a meeting point of the rural and the sublime, it’s more a meeting point of suburbia and the sublime. So the two thirds sky, again is representing the natural environment, and you’ve got here some sort of the suburban backyard fence, and you know, buildings. The plain right slap bang in the middle of the work is a reference again to mans need to try and dominate the natural environment. But it’s also about transience. (Graeme) Alright Sandra, well you’ve given us a great demonstration on how you put your skies together, and they look fantastic. But you’ve got one more technique that you wanted to show us, and that’s actually varnishing, and how to properly lacquer a picture when it’s finished, and you’re going to give us a demonstration of that as well (Sandra) Yep. (Sandra) Okay, now I’m going to finish off my paintings by putting a final coat of gloss varnish on them. This particular painting has been left for a while, and the surface is a little bit uneven. There’s some areas that are a little bit glossy, and other areas that are a bit more matt, and what’s called sunk in. So by putting on the gloss varnish, I’ll put a nice even sort of finishing layer which will bring out the colours. And by the way, it’s always good to purchase the best quality canvas that you possibly can, or linen, as is the case here. Often sort of gallery directors and your purchases will really appreciate having good quality materials. Okay, to start this process off I’m going to pour a bit of Art Spectrum Gloss Varnish into a sealable jar, so I can potentially use that varnish later. I’m going to select a nice soft wide brush to apply the varnish, and I’m going to apply that in broad sweeping strokes in one direction. Best also to do this on a cooler day, rather than a hot day, otherwise the varnish dries too quickly, and you’ll end up not making a nice smooth surface. So again, just broad sweeping strokes in one direction. (Graeme) And that pictures out of your series called Canal isn’t it? (Sandra) Yes, this is from a series based on again, my environment I was living in, Ocean Shores at the time, and my house backed on to a Canal, and I was fascinated by the reflections in the water. So it produced a small series of paintings based on the canal. Okay, so that is now evenly applied. I will now wait until that’s dried, and I’ll put a second coat of the varnish going in the opposite direction. So I create a nice even surface. (Graeme) That’s wonderful. (Sandra) Okay you can see there that should be nice and even now. (Graeme) Excellent. Very well done. (Graeme) Well a fantastically illuminating day. Sandra, thank you so much for having us in your studio. (Sandra) Thank you, Graeme. I’ve really enjoyed having Colour In Your Life here today; it’s been a great experience. (Graeme) Thank you. And we’ve known Sandra for a while, obviously the area we live in, she’s a local lady as we are as well. We also want to thank Murwillumbah Art Trail as well, for getting behind a lot of the artists and the festival that they put on every year in May – it’s just fantastic. And also Destination Tweed for their part and parcel in stepping up to the plate, and you know, allowing a lot of these talented people to come on to Colour In Your Life. Now your website address if somebody wants to come in and see your work? (Sandra) Okay, it is Sandra Guy artist dot com. (Graeme) So if you go in there? (Sandra) Yes, and if you go into there you can see a lot of my work. If you’re interested in any of the work, just feel free to contact me through that website. (Graeme) Fantastic, yeah, as I said I just love Sandra’s skies, I think they are spectacular. (Sandra) So, this one is still a work in progress, yeah, they do take several months. (Graeme) It’ll take a while, but you can see that as you go in the website anyway. And as we say, you can always come and see us at Colour In Your Life dot com dot au. And all of the other social networking platforms we’re on these days – there are many, and we are spreading across the world quite rapidly. But we’ve had a great time, this is a beautiful area. Please drop in to Murwillumbah at some stage as you go through your life, and look at the Art Trail, and what Murwullimbah and the artists have to offer. It’s a fantastic place. We’re going to head out of here; we’re going to go home just down the road. But as we always say, remember guys: make sure you put some colour in your life. And we’ll see you, we’ll see you at the Art Trail – that would be fantastic. Thank you, guys. Bye now. (Sandra) Bye.

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