I was quite happy with my most recent portrait commission, which is a painting of artist, collector and gallerist Neil McLeod. I guess having a potentially controversial subject matter meant the chances of being selected for the Archibald would be fairly slim (mind you, second guessing the selection criteria is somewhat of a crap shot – after all, in a competition that is “supposed” to be about ‘Australians of note’, a portrait of Kid Congo Powers is eligible?!).
My chances were even slimmer given the recent bombings of Christian churches in Sri Lanka. I would like to clarify, that the explosion in the background is meant to represent nuclear testing at Maralinga in the 50’s; I essentially wanted to make an image that questioned the follies of authority, as well as weave in elements of Neil’s life and work.
For those of you in Melbourne – the bi-semi-annual Illustrators Australia 9×5 exhibition is currently on at the Collingwood Gallery in Smith Street until July 26, 2018. There was a great turn out for the opening night last Friday, and a record breaking 120 entries as well! For the first time, works presented were not only “traditional” paint on wood (all of the pieces are presented on 9×5 inch sized pieces of wood, reflecting the Heidelberg School artists of yore who used to paint ‘en plein air’ onto cigar box lids), contributing artists were also able to submit their pieces digitally, to be printed on the wood instead. I was amazed by the quality of the detail and colour – and, yes, that is my piece above: ‘Shout Back’.
Inspired by this new direction in gallery presentation, I wanted to push the medium a little further and decided to experiment with my first piece of ‘augmented reality’ artwork. I really had no idea how to go about this – I knew about the principle, of course, but not about which software or apps would be suitable. After a few dead ends, I came across a group of app developers in Vienna who have developed an app specialising in AR for artists – Artivive . I did a short animation in Photoshop and After Effects to expand on the ideas of the still image (you can download the app for Apple or Android and check out the results by viewing the image above through the app). I was pretty happy with the result!
I was also happy that the piece won ‘Best Digital’ piece on the night. Managed to score a pass to attend ‘Looking Glass’ digital drawing sessions at Jacky Winter, so I’m rapt! Thank you to generous sponsors Procreate (which I already use on my iPad Pro and am keen to learn more about). I’ll let you know how I go!
A sneak preview of one of my portraits featured in the upcoming ‘Shout Out to the Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women’ to be published by Penguin early next year! This one, of course, is of Vali Myers, who I would see occasionally when I had my studio in Carlow House and she had her studio in the Nicholas Building (a block away from each other on Flinders Lane, Melbourne). Unfortunately I was always too scared to actually ‘meet’ her :0
This is my second contribution to the upcoming ‘Shout Out to the Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women’ to be published by Penguin early next year… a portrait of Alice Anderson, a pioneering car mechanic who worked as a ‘chauffeur to the stars’ of Melbourne in the 1920’s, as well as establishing her own garage in Kew.
From the Penguin Australia website:
Let’s hear it for the Australian women who have shaped our history and are expanding our future!
Shout-outs to 50 awesome Australian women with easy-to-read biographies of their incredible achievements. From Cathy Freeman to Turia Pitt, Edith Cowan to Julia Gillard, Mum Shirl to Vali Myers, plus rally car drivers, molecular biologists and more, this book is a celebration of women in all fields, from all walks of life, and from Australia’s past and present.
Brought to life by colourful illustrations from female artists, Shout Out to the Girls is the ultimate inspirational read for young and old.
All royalties from sales of this book go to The Smith Family.