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Painting Australia -

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(generated from captions) and welcome to Painting Australia. Hi, I'm Sorrel Wilby on the most extraordinary journey, We're going to take you and exploring the landscape experiencing of our most treasured artists. through the eyes a bit like learning how to see. Learning how to paint is we'll be following three artists Over the next few days and their every brushstroke to create a masterpiece. as they attempt one landscape. Three artists, two days, I'm pumped for the show. thousands of viewers. I feel good about pushing myself on in an excited way. I'm feeling a little nervous and start painting. I just want to get in there I feel daunted in that do a great deal for me. traditional landscapes don't with one, big, complete work. I'm a bit anxious about coming up near the historic town of Braidwood The three artists will be working on the banks of the Shoalhaven River. at the Bombay picnic area of the Shoalhaven River The immense scale and physical power has inspired artists for generations. of Max Dupain's 'Sunbaker', From the casual modernism taken at the river's mouth, by Arthur Boyd, to the wonderfully iconic landscapes who was entranced by its terrain who captured its watery heart. and Brett Whiteley, including me This landscape has inspired many, I find it difficult to resist. and as a photographer,

Our location has been chosen painters, John R Walker. by one of our most renowned landscape and passionate environmentalist. He's a Braidwood local and a number of national prizes, John's had multiple hangings including of course the Archibald. Painting is a necessity, you know. really central. For me landscape and bush is It's what I know so well. So here's the challenge - whatever they see here our three local artists can paint but they only have two days, in whatever style they choose to modern masterpiece. two days to go from blank canvas Good morning. Thank you for coming. Hello! Welcome, welcome. Why are we here? What is it about the water hole? It's a mixture of really ordinary... but that's part of the challenge It's very beautiful some picture postcard-type thing. 'cause it's easy to end up with And it's a very, very ancient place. for 30 or 40 million years. This river's been much the same weave through this landscape All sorts of narratives once you have learned to see them. When you start working today looking at what you're painting try to work so you're not actually and putting it down. Look at something, look around you, and try and paint it from here. turn your back to it Come on, let's do it, let's paint! Beautiful. Spread out! All three of our gifted artists of their painting careers. are at an early stage from the comfort of their studios For all of them, the move of plein-air painting to the uncertainty will pose a whole new challenge. I'm not really feeling this area somewhere. I'm going to move down here what spot to pick yet. I'm not quite sure - the layering of the rocks. This spot here seems appealing to me and becomes vertical. The river sort of flattens out and the reflection, That play with the depth I'd like to work with. I think there's something here Yeah, this looks like the spot. I don't know from which direction. Yeah, I like this area here. too. I like that bright yellow over there I can put it all in, can't I? But if I'm using my memory different palette and philosophy. Each artist works from a very usually very contemporary, Trev's work is a tight formal composition style. creating landscapes using the Canberra School of Art I've been painting at and finished up two years ago. and making music too. I've been painting since what people think about my art. I don't worry about My art's pretty much for me. a big departure for Olivia, Working outside with landscape is in a realist style. who normally paints night scenes in that it is dark My work at the moment surprises me but a bit of foreboding in it. and I wouldn't say mysterious I probably am a bit fearful disappoint me. that my paintings will

so new to Kate. Landscape painting isn't digital photographs. However, she usually works from in some ways, how I paint. Having a son has definitely changed, more time-effective. It's definitely made me I know exactly what I want to do When I go into the studio "I'd love to get in there" because I've been thinking and I've just been too busy. While the artists get down to work too much for John. the lure of the landscape proves What are you doing, master artist? in this book. Just making a set of drawings back to the studio I then take this sort of stuff and make some sense of it all. and hopefully try

to the studio. Take me from the sketch book

time out in the a particular place I generally spend quite a bit of something about it has kept with me that... a place, and do a lot of wandering around coming back to a particular spot. I don't know, enough there, When I feel I've gotten, I come back to here. and landscapes John R Walker paints both portraits with the bush but it's his incredible affinity that make his landscapes memorable. as feminine He often interprets the landscape in many of his works. and you can see the female form of how I work. This book gives you a sense like my first attempt The book's function for me is of the walking. They're sequential. at some sort of wider synthesis in a journey. Yeah. It's like a sequential set of points one particular spot. These are more intense studies of and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it works

in there that's hidden. (Laughs) There's no shortage of stuff

The Shame Room. from time to time? You do get painter's block How do you overcome that? Oh, yeah. I go back out into the bush. at times, to put it mildly I'm a bit prone to depression go out wandering around in the bush, I find the best thing I can do is and just paint a bloody tree. making cups of tea Back at camp ideas are starting to crystallise. Trev uses acrylics to paint the hills behind the river.

Over the next two days I'll be able to do two large pieces if the wind doesn't blow the canvasses over. Kate, settled on her river spot, is already sketching onto the canvas. And Olivia is still searching for her final idea in the hills beyond the river. Now it's time for John to check on progress so far and give his feedback. Hi, Olivia. How's it going? Oh, well... puppy's snack, dog's dinner. (Sorrel and John Laugh) You've got to start. Yeah, I know. When it comes to the big stuff, you have to do it really fast and you might find it easier if you stand up. Ah, OK. Either stand up or put stuff on the ground and kneel in front of it so you can physically use your whole body. 'Cause when you start talking about bigger stuff the painting's here and here and in your back, it's not...finger. It's not in my chair. Yes. Do you use an easel? No. OK. If I stood up I'd be bending over this?

I suppose you would be a bit but you can... Yeah, OK. That's... You see what I mean? If I'm standing like this I can go...oh, shit. I can make a movement across the whole piece of paper. The first lesson you learn in teaching is never touch anybody's... Have a little tightrope walker through there. Hey. How's it going? Good. Getting there. It's just the start, really, at the moment. Yeah, just sketching. One thing you have to watch out for is that a painting is not a drawing. It's not a coloured-in drawing. They're really different languages. Yeah. These look interesting. For me, drawing is to familiarise yourself with the colours and ideas and by the time you get to the painting stage you've solved a lot of your problems. Probably a bit early to say much about it beyond that. I see you've got a second canvas there. Yeah. I'm toying with the idea of a diptych. When you're on a site like this, once you've cropped it off and limited yourself to a composition, what's in the peripheries? Yeah, I know. I'm expanding out every side of the canvas. You often think you're doing something interesting and it's actually something just to the left, in which case just dump that and do it. Just move over, yeah. Trevor. Well, I suppose it's an honest appraisal of being filmed, isn't it? (Laughs) Is that going to appear in everything? Yeah. Is it? You're a lunatic. There's some really nice things happening, though. The simplicity and directness of the... See the shapes through here? Bring in the pinks and reds. Starting to bring more space into the picture. There's some nice stuff happening up in here. I like that little moment there. Maybe you'll have to put a cameraman in it next. Could do. We've half an hour to go and fading light. Kate has taken John's advice and committed paint to her sketch.

Trev is still deciding on his colour palette. And Olivia has taken John's advice. Without the chair she can now paint with her whole body. Are you feeling confident you'll come up with the grand masterpiece? Um... ..yes, yes. There was a touch of uncertainty. There is uncertainty but I have to. (Whistles) Brushes down, everybody. So, sunset on Day 1. We're halfway through and Kate is the only artists to have started her final work. It's going to be a busy day tomorrow.

Have they achieved as much as you thought they might? They're off to a good start.

If we get a whole day's work tomorrow it'll be interesting to see what happens. Places like this do have this power to take you over. The dramatic landscape and friendly atmosphere of Braidwood has always attracted artists. A drink at the 150-year-old Braidwood Pub is the perfect place to wind down and talk art. Judith Wright would be the most famous artist or poet that's lived in this region. She could write about trees or forests as a living thing, a skin, something inside. Do you think the process of creating a great poem or piece of literature is similar to the processes involved in creating a great piece of art? The thing they have in common is you're looking for that one little thing that somehow maps or expresses this whole huge thing. CRICKETS CHIRP Yesterday was all about the gesture, the way the paint flows onto the canvas, the fear of failure even as you begin. Well, it's Day 2, the sun's up and it's anyone's guess what might happen. Plein-air painting can be a battle between time, technique and inspiration. Standing back from the work is often as important to the creative process as standing right in front of it. How did you feel when you came back today and you saw what you had achieved yesterday? Were you happy with it? When you've had a bit of a break from it you can see more how it's coming across. Yesterday I thought I was conveying things that I'm not. Today I think "I've got to change the approach a bit", freshen up and bring in the new canvas. Yeah.

Morning. Hi, Sorrel. How are you feeling? A bit more confident than yesterday? I think so.

Today's a day of reckoning but I feel quite good. Have you had any more thoughts from last night about what you might do? Yeah, I'm going to do some large paintings today. Whoa-ho - going big.

And one loose one where I might not even look at anything, just do what John was talking about and try and soak in the essence. It's a big ask - a completed work in less than a day. So much depends on the artist's ability to see the landscape in a new and original way. What? Can you see the X? Oh yeah, nice. See the reflection? Big-sign stuff. It's midmorning. John has some advice to Trev about his colour palette. You see how this is all going into a grey sort of thing? You need to bring a few areas... bring these stripy lozenges in in here for broken light. See if you can make some of them warm, some cool. It may take some time. They'll start shifting. Kate has started painting her second canvas and Olivia's work is really taking a new direction. Olivia.

That's starting to fire up a bit. Mm-hm. Wow. This is so daring. It is. It's a huge departure from your work. I really like these weird points you've done on the ground. It's strangely evocative of the bottom of the river, sort of muddy algae. There's some very nice little passages in there. It's going well. Don't worry. There is a quality to most good art that I call nonchalance. It's just - put it down. That makes me laugh - the nonchalance. I just hope I don't kill it. I'm good at killing paintings. At the moment I don't want to say too much. There are times when you should just let it run. That's really beautiful, that rock there. It would make a lovely picture by itself. Just isolate it, yeah. It's got a lovely mystery to it. One thing is learning, two is learning how to lay things out. A major part is how to simplify. That's what I'm struggling with with those rocks 'cause if you overwork it you just make mud. I'm trying to be more deliberate. There's also being alert to the fact that "That's nice. The next thing I'll do is make a painting that's just that thing." With the artists engrossed in their work John and I took the opportunity to duck into town. Gold fever created Braidwood in the 1850s and it recently became the first town in eastern Australia to be heritage listed. Best place for a view would be? Top of the church tower, St Andrew's. Aren't the gargoyles fabulous? They look a bit like my cat when he's pissed off with the catering. Great vantage point. It is, isn't it?

You can see just about the whole town. Out there is Bombay, where we're painting. Back at Bombay, our artists are discovering why slow-drying oil paints can be a difficult medium in the open air. Yours is going to go, and it went. That's the reality of plein-air painting. I think you can get it off. It's going to be a genuine shoalhaven. The clock is counting down and there's a storm brewing behind the hills and now it really is a battle between time and technique. CREAK Brushes down, everybody. It's so beautiful. It's just lovely. I can't get over the yellows. It's hard to know when it's finished. It's hard to know...the white, getting a balance, how much to leave Yeah but... I think I'm happy with it now. Oil was reasonably experimental for me and I worked in acrylics and I didn't get too fluffed. So, happy with the process. What about the outcome? Um... ..reasonably. I probably would have liked another whole full day. I'm pretty happy that it's over.

Happy that it's over or happy with the painting? Happy with the painting, for sure. It's been an ordeal too. Did you get around that issue? Yeah, eventually. Well, this is it. After two days of inspiration, contemplation and a hell of a lot of perspiration, it's time for the artists to exhibit. Kate has done a diptych, two paintings sitting together as one. Remembering John's advice to simplify the landscape she's decided to leave large parts of her canvas exposed. Trev has also done a diptych in oil with a dash of post-Modernism.

Has he taken John's tips on board about use of colour? Using earth tones in a semiabstract piece Olivia has broken new ground, working on a bush landscape for the first time.

All the artists have met the challenge but what will John R Walker make of their efforts? Right, let's critique. There's some lovely bits starting to develop

like that tree with that glazed wash there. It's got real feeling. It's starting to sit up on the surface as a mark. It also feels like the tree. Again, there are bits going on there that are fantastic. Also here. It's the issue of how you organise and compose it together. How do you feel about it? I'm quite happy with how it went because it's a departure from how I normally work. The problem is, the picture's so big and it's such an ambitious thing that there's not enough time. I can see possibilities here. There's things, if you took them to much greater extremes, it could start to really sing. On to Trev's. I think Trevelyan is really interesting. When I first saw the ones done on the ABC thing and the surface was looking quite dead, I thought "Oh, God." Then this one's actually got some kick. It's working as a picture, not just as an idea. I particularly love the weird play between these stripy shapes, which are very Noland. Tonally and colourwise it's still a bit dark. Some of it has come from the fact that it ended arse-up in the sand but it could come up a few stops, if you like. I really think it's very interesting. I wouldn't put the little logo in but I'm very conservative. It's good Olivia. There's something, in the best sense of the word, naive about this painting. There's a strong sense of feeling for the forest. If there's a slight problem with it, it's probably this thing of structural integration. In some ways it would be more interesting if the didn't have the top bit. What do you think? I'm a bit uncertain about the top part. Sometimes I thought it looked like somebody's hair. I can see a few ghosts of things you've taken out. I've been really fascinated to watch Olivia struggle with... She said to me she really wanted to break open things. I'm pleased she's been able to do something which is a bit outside her normal range. Do you have a favourite? Of the paintings? Yeah, of the three.

Oh, that's a dreadful thing to ask! In my opinion people are either artists or they're not and it's either art or it's not. So have we got artists? Yeah, definitely. For me it's a starting point for a series of new paintings. What more could you want from a master class? I feel I sort of broke new ground in that I didn't mind too much working being scrutinised.

It's been a rewarding experience for the simple reason of kicking me out of the studio and getting me out here Three different artists, three completely different views. See you next week for more of Painting Australia. CLOSED CAPTIONS BY CSI