Watercolour painting techniques and tutorial with Louise Foletta | Colour In Your Life

Watercolour painting techniques and tutorial with Louise Foletta | 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. Well we are in central Victoria today and we’re in a beautiful place called Buxton. And we’re on the property and in the studio, a fantastic studio of a very talented lady, Louise Foletta. How are you? (Louise) Welcome, Graeme. (Graeme) Great to have you on the show. Now you really, your work is contempoary, impressionist landscape, I suppose. Is that the best way to put it? (Louise) I think you say landscape really drives my passions, yes. (Graeme) It’s fantastic. I mean Louise has had this extensive career, I mean you’ve been painting literally most of your life when you think about it, (Louise) I have, I have. (Graeme) and have travelled the world extensively in doing that. Now the passion for the landscape and the passion for the travel is that really culminated together to bring you to where you are now? (Louise) I think so, and it certainly helps keep life very exciting, but I’ve got to watch that it doesn’t feed me with too many ideas. And the thing that I do find even when I go to other countries, and I see what could be pictures, (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) or could be paintings, the minute I come home, and the minute I see a bit of earth, I like the earth, I’m excited. (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) It just starts to give me message that I have to paint. (Graeme) It’s fantastic work, and I would consider looking at your work it’s really you’re telling a story, because you tend to seperate the image, but tell stories in each particular area of what you’re doing with the paintings, and they’re fascinating. I mean one of them is the Black Saturday, when you had the fires come through and people had to go to the cricket oval. (Louise) Yes, I saw my role to record what had been like the actual landscape and how it looked burnt which doesn’t always look good in a painting. You know, things are in the wrong places, so they shouldn’t be like that. But I also want to record emotionally, so I’ve got some of those paintings that have got the red in the middle and how it’s divided our life, or my life, and all the people effected, so that’s where some of the story comes. (Graeme) It’s fascinating. I mean you’re a multi-award winning artist; you’re in collections, a number of collections. A fantastic teacher, you know, you were at Harvard, at Boston, at one stage, over there and then obviously teaching in a number of different places. People absolutely love what you do. But today of course, we’re going to get the opportunity to spend some time with Louise in her studio. It’s a fantastic studio, and I know that you can’t see the scenery around us, but it is absolutely glorious; it’s a glorious place to be. But I’m going to step out of the picture as I normally do. Louise has already made a start on this. She’s divided this into panels and we can explain that as we go along. But you’re going to see some really fascinating work come about today. And like I said, there’s a wonderful story involved in it as well. But I’ll get, I’ll get out of here. (Graeme) Alright Louise, well you’ve initially taped out some of the area that you’ve got there. And as I said your style is very individual. I mean I haven’t really seen anyone paint like you before. But where do we go from here? How do we make a start? (Louise) Well I’ll start, Graeme I’ll start with the sky, but before that I guess I’ll start with a little bit more information for the sketch you know, the backbone of my work. Now I’ve got a sketch book here and that’s the image that I’m using. The photograph I look on my way to where we sat down and listened to Reg talking when I did the sketch. And the photo isn’t, doesn’t give me all the information. (Graeme) So what type of pencil are you using there, Louise? (Louise) Now the pencil that I’m using here is a sketching pen, pencil, and it will partly get lost within the watercolour. Some times I’ll use a lead pencil so that it has lines, but this is a HB, but it’s just a guide. (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) If I’m doing something small, not a landscape I often do the drawing with the paintbrush. I especially flowers I always draw, and figure paintings I just do that all with the paintbrush. I don’t, I don’t draw with the pencil. (Graeme) Are you using Archers or Fabriano there? (Louise) This is a six hundred gram Arch, (Graeme) Okay. (Louise) and I haven’t I haven’t glued, taped it down because in this case I want the ragged edge to be shown when we frame it. (Graeme) Yes, I know that you’ve painted overseas and the vastness of other counties, I mean America being one of them. But you really do capture the incredible distance and the colour, and the heat just in those watercolours. You know, if I look at the piece Aftermath Over Flats to Buxton Peek, I see Fred Williams and some of the other contemporary artists in there coming out as well. Who’s influenced you over the years? (Graeme) Oh, Fred Williams, definitely. (Graeme) Yeah, yeah. (Louise) That’s probably all I need for the minute with the drawing. Some of the drawing I will do with the masking fluid, and I’ve got a little trick there. And that is to put a little bit of soap on your brush before you start, because that makes it easier. You don’t have to leave it there much, but just it make it easier for you to wash it out of your (Graeme) Oh, okay. (Louise) brush afterwards. I’m choosing and old fan that’s purposely in a bad state, because I want it to divide a bit. This is near Lake Eyre on the Arabana Land and I’ve been there twice with Aboriginals. I’d been there just with some friends in two thousand, but originally my first time I ever went past here was in 1969 when on the Ghan. And the station we stayed on was where Donald Campbell had broken the world’s land speed record, (Graeme) And the Bluebird. (Louise) and the Bluebird and the sheds were there where he’d stored his car, and we went out to the part. Now we have to wait for that to dry before I can do much. I’m going to wet my paper just so it’s more manageable. (Graeme) Nice big brush. Generally the angel that you work on doing this? (Louise) Pretty much I think… Clean water. This will be the foreground. I might have to take some colour over here. (Graeme) Okay. I’ve noticed in your work you can get a luminescence in what you do. Very skilful to be able to let the paper give you the light that you need. A picture that you’ve got called Barabooka Evening Sky, you can see the luminescence in the sky because you let the white do the job. (Louise) Oh, yes, yeah that was a lovely paper. It was given to me as for Birthday present by another artist friend. And it hand made Indian paper and it had a nice, sort of hot pressed surface, but it was quite rough. It was quite interesting to use. I did enjoy it. (Graeme) As I was saying before, you’ve been really involved with a lot of art associations for a long time, and you’ve been president of various organisations such as the Contemporary Art Society, and the president of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors. So you’ve (Louise) Yes, (Graeme) been busy in the world of art. (Louise) I have, and when I was in America, and was working at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I also did watercolour course, I met people involved in doing things. When I came back to Australia, I actually went to the Council of Adult Education which was starting classes. And I taught with them for a long time and I’m back there teaching with them at the moment. But the thing I then tried was to have my own summer school here up in the dairy and using the buildings on the property. (Graeme) But you must have had an extraordinary time back in those days with the you know, painting in the dairy and people posing, and you had concerts in there as well. (Louise) We had concerts, people came and camped under the trees over by the river, and they tell me today that it’s still one of the best times ever in their life. (Graeme) I bet. I bet. Now those brushes that you use as well, you love using Raphel brushes, and Da Vinci (Louise) Yes. (Graeme) brushes, Maestro. That one that you’ve got in your hand there, that looks like it’s a fairly old and well worn brush. (Louise) It is, and I know when I’ve had this from 1990, because I had another one that I’d lost when Joseph, we went away and (Graeme) Joseph Zbukvic? (Louise) Joseph and John Burton (Graeme) Okay. (Louise) went away with me that trip. I put this in my backpack and lost it as I was walking along, so I had to replace it and it was expensive. By putting a bit of water in that helps to displace the blue paint. And you’ve got to sort of work from the top to the bottom cause this needs to be the whitest there. As I go down there’ll be a little bit more colour remain, and as the clouds which you do is more long clouds rather than more cirrocumulus up here. I’ll just have to wait a moment and then I’ll start working from the hills, but I just need that to dry a little bit. At this point I’ve got my sketch and I’ve got the painting, the photo I took from a slightly different position, so I’ve got to work out how it’s best going to work here. (Graeme) Okay. (Louise) I’m looking at the sketch, and I’m using the colour. These are all sand hills along here, and they don’t grow trees because it’s a very low rainfall area. (Graeme) This area actually was swept by fire 2009, (Louise) Yeah. (Graeme) and decimated a lot of the area. But you’ve got a painting here called Fire Across the Flats, (Louise) Yeah. (Graeme) And it just looks like, it looks like that there’s a fire in the middle of the night that it’s just hurtling across the ridge. (Louise) That was wasn’t actually the middle of the night. (Graeme) Wasn’t it? (Louise) It was only about eight o’clock, but it goes totally dark, (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) you don’t even know it’s day. (Graeme) It’s an amazing painting. There’s another one that you’ve done, Fire Front (Louise) Oh, yes. (Graeme) and literally that sort of tells its own story I think. (Louise) That was one from that, that night. (Graeme) Devastating. So where are we up to know? (Louise) I’m just doing the sand hills back here (Graeme) Yeah. (Graeme) and and, some of them are in shadow and some of them in the sunlight, so I’m just trying to establish something of that. (Graeme) Apart from Fred Williams, who’s influenced you over the years either personally or artistically? (Louise) Another person was Joan Gough, my teacher at school. (Graeme) Okay. (Louise) And Joan had worked with Mack, Hirschfield Mack who was out of the Bough House, he’d worked with the Bough House. But I did a portrait of Joan later in life and made me think, don’t wait till you’re really old to get your portraits done, because your hands aren’t so nice anymore and you know, there’s a few more problems. But I did it in her studio gallery so she was surrounded by her work, so it was quite nice to be able to record. (Graeme) Yeah, and you’re in a number of collections across Australia and Victoria. It’s wonderful. The Murdoch Institute, (Louise) Yes. (Graeme) Melbourne University. (Louise) Dame Elizabeth brought one of mine, and (Graeme) Dame Elizabeth. (Louise) that’s when I had the show at the Murdoch Institute. She opened it for me (Graeme) Yes. (Louise) and she brought a painting, and it was of the Mallee Scrub (Graeme) Yes. (Graeme) behind Lake Mungo there’s a little… and her daughter had just given some property to the state and she, it was of Mallee and she said, you’ve got it, you’ve got it, you’ve absolutely got it. That was a gouache on a coloured paper, and the paper’s not made anymore it was Bemboka, an Australian made paper. I don’t know if you remember it in the eighties? (Graeme) Yep, you’ve got one here called Into the Centre – Points of View. Great picture. (Louise) I did a trip in 2011 I think. There’d been big floods in Queensland. The water went down to Lake Eyre, and so we did a flight over it, but seeing the area above all those places it was fascinating. It was three days. We went out to Longreach and Birdsville (Graeme) Okay. (Louise) and places like this. Lots of birds at Birdsville. (Graeme) You’ve got one called Lake Eyre, and its… kookaburra’s like it too. But you can just see the shimmering on the water, and the distance in the blue, and just the colours it’s just you know that’s Lake Eyre. I mean if you’ve ever been to central Australia and you’ve looked at that, you can see it a mile away. (Louise) You know, I was saying MSPS have been, that’s Melbourne Society of Painters and Sculptors, but I’ve been there for you know, many years. And it’s interesting to see a lot of the committee members when I first met sort of, some have passed away, but they all seam to live well into their nineties, and I think that this is because when you do painting, you’ve always got something to look forward to. And you’re always going to do the next one which is going to be the best. (Graeme) Takes a lot of stress away from you doesn’t it? You’ve got a piece here called Lake Mungo Shadow Over Land. To me, that looks like space odyssey. What is it suppose to mean? (Louise) It’s interesting, but I started that because I’m very aware of the fact that this is actually Aboriginal Land. And when you’re there you get stories from the Aboriginal people, and I was aware that there’s going to be a lot of change and that was 1997 I did that. And since that time we’ve got much more respect for the Aboriginals. We are the shadow over the land. (Graeme) Apart from these particular geometric ones, you actually do paintings of the landscape that is natural geometry. It looks like you’ve been looking out of an aeroplane when you painted Neds Corner – Patterns of Time. (Louise) Yes, there was a map, and I used that but I used my knowledge I’ve flown over that place. And I found that I sort of have it I sort of have those maps in me, so I can sort of just paint and do that. (Graeme) Tell me a bit more about But Don’t Disturb the Bunyip? (Louise) Now that’s Yanga, and it was during the drought, (Graeme) Yes. (Louise) and the owners at that time. There was a meeting with Indigenous people and they were asking for permission to grow crops on the Lake, and they were told because the lake was dry, the lake bed was dry, and that actually makes great organic plants. And the Elders said, we give you permission but don’t disturb the bunyip, and that meant they mustn’t dig deep. That property is now a national park. (Graeme) That’s fascinating. Absolutely. (Louise) Alright, so what I want to do, I’m going to… this was to protect this, and believe it or not because I put a protecting layer I haven’t got much mess on there at all. (Graeme) That’s a good thing isn’t it? (Louise) It is. (Graeme) So you’ve going to take all of that off, or just the one panel? (Louise) I take this off, (Graeme) Okay. (Louise) and then I’ve got these little panels (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) to do some things in, to tell some stories. Some of these bits that you find everywhere, you find this blue willow pattern wherever civilisation seems to have been. This is the colour that the petroglyphs expose that will become the rock. (Graeme) So you’ve got workshops through the years as well haven’t you? I mean you’re still teaching at the moment aren’t you? (Louise) Yes, yes I’m doing a few courses with CAE. I had to put some things off because you know, I went to America for a couple of months, and Canada, and you know, there’s only so much you can do in a year. (Graeme) Sure, well I was just about to say, if anybody wants to see your beautiful work, and even enquire about your workshops and all the education that you give to people through your art. They can go into Louise Foletta dot com dot au, which is your website, (Louise) Yes. (Graeme) and have a look at the extraordinary pictures that Louise has got in there of you know, what I consider, and I’ve traveled pretty extensively, but Australia’s a pretty amazing county. Is one of the few places these days you can go and actually be left alone. Yeah. (Louise) And every little place where you stop has not been, or made for tourists (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) for collecting. Now you could use masking fluid for this but I’ll get the right effect just with putting little dots down. (Graeme) What I would like to see is the whiteness of the paper as that masking fluid comes off as well. (Louise) This can be shocking and it can also be exciting. You see I’ve got a little bit of sunlight. This is the salt starting to come up. (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) It’s tough and you have to make sure you collect these little bits of rubber cause they, they go off and they get very sticky. Oh, there goes my land. (Graeme) So there’s a fantastic effect that comes out of that as well. (Louise) It does give you a sense of the light going over the landscape as well. (Graeme) Yeah, very much so. And you’re very good at doing that particularly implying or portraying the heat with watercolour. Its starkness. (Louise) And some of the first things when we went up to Tibooburra once, (Graeme) Aha. (Louise) I did quite a few of salt lakes, and I’ve been to Lake Tyrrell way before anybody in the eighties. It’s a popular tourist spot now. They especially take the Chinese because when there’s water in it, the stars reflect in the lake. (Graeme) Of course, yeah. (Louise) And that’s a bit of sort of outback which is about three and a half, four hours from Melbourne. (Graeme) There’s plenty of stars out there at night time. (Louise) You can feel where the masking fluid is you know, and if you can’t feel it all, you can also look in the light and you see a little shiny lump. (Graeme) Alright Louise, it’s been a fantastic demonstration of everything that you do, and you’ve taken us through a myriad of your different techniques. And we’ve been really privileged to see a lot of your work just quite amazing. But we’ve had a fantastic day with you, and (Louise) Thank you. (Graeme) it’s been extraordinary. Thank you very much. (Louise) Thank you, Graeme. It’s been a wonderful experience. (Graeme) Well a fantastic day in a beautiful studio, in an amazingly gorgeous area in Buxton. Now not only do you do workshops out here as well, you literally, you’ve got your own winery. (Louise) Got the winery. (Graeme) You have a winery. They have truffles here as well don’t you? (Louise) In the winter (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) we’re got the truffles, (Graeme) But that’s amazing. (Louise) and people come on truffle hunts. (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) And last year, or this last year we had wonderful picnic up on the hill with this view that Bongara, I’d painted. (Graeme) Yeah. (Louise) You know, there’s a lot here, and the river is partly why I always hung on to this place when you know, there was times that you probably should have sold it and done something else with our life – more painting. I couldn’t leave it cause of the river. (Graeme) No, it’s beautiful. And if you want to come along and do some of Louise’s workshops, you can go to your website. (Louise) Yes, (Graeme) You can tell the audience. (Louise) www, you don’t need to do Louise Foletta (one word) dot com dot au. (Graeme) Yeah, so go in and see her, there’s photos in there of this beautiful area. It’s a fantastic studio cause there’s so much light coming through, it’s just amazing, and just a beautiful area; it’s incredible to be here. You can come and also see a lot of what we do with obviously Louise as well, at colour in your life dot com dot au, and our Facebook page, and please come and subscribe on our YouTube site as well. We have many hundreds of thousands of people moving through that these days, and it’s incredible what’s going on. But from the beautiful valley of Buxton, and from this gorgeous place we would like to say, make sure you put some colour in your life, and we’ll see you again next time. Bye guys. See you know. (Louise) Bye. Bye.

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