Tag Archives: Art education

Developing your own voice as an artist… my personal journey…

I grew up in Sydney surrounded by the Australian bush – the Royal National Park and those amazing displays of the sandstone Australian flora that Sydney seems to be steeped in. Even the buildings in Sydney reflect the legacy of all this sandstone.

I loved the bush – disappearing either by myself or with others and exploring the caves, bush tracks and creeks. Surrounded by blandly named streets – First Avenue, Second Avenue right up to Tenth Avenue, National Avenue…but I grew up in Primrose Place.

Primrose Place was a culdesac nestled in amongst all these streets going somewhere – an enclosed street and neighbourhood community with a hill for billy cart racing, bike riding, skateboarding and roller skating with the other kids from this street, some of whom are still my friends.

Our house started out as a small 2 bedroom one bathroom fibro place right down the bottom, round the corner of the hill at the bottom end of the culdesac.

I loved this street, the neighbourhood, the other kids in the street to play with, but central to it all was the closeness of the bush – exploring the sandstone caves, running away from snakes, abseiling with ropes we found in the shed (with no safety gear), the bushfires, and of course the wildflowers and wildlife. To this day I love the blush of pink and red new leaf growth of the eucalypts, the towering Gymea lily flower stalks and the absolute thrill of finding wild waratahs, banksias and flannel flowers.

I absolutely loved growing up there and in a time where we could go off as kids and just explore. Most of all I loved climbing trees. The bush is part of who we are and it is no accident to think that it has always remained with my brother who is involved in Bush Regeneration and Land Management and myself as an artist.

I enjoy living where I do now but I miss the ‘wildness’ and familiarity of the Sydney Bush.

Days where we would go down to The Royal National Park sometimes and visit the Audley Boatshed (it’s still there and you can still hire boats).

For a few years after I got married we lived in Helensburgh and had our own little bushland with a yard with no fences and miles of bush beyond.

I spent 4 years at art college training to be an art teacher but I was really there for the art studio times, I found classroom teaching at high schools difficult.

When I finally started developing my own arts practice and linocuts in about 1998, I worked not only with lino and design but I also went out and did drawing classes, calligraphy and watercolour classes. I learned through workshops, classes and my own arts practice how to work with watercolours, papers, calligraphy, drawing, design, photography and lino. I explored how I could blend all of these interests and worked at developing my own style. It always came back to my main passions – drawing, photography and linocuts.

This is an earlier work from 1998 – the black and white waratah images (including the one above) I had taken years before my first inspiration for this linocut.

I deliberately chose to not research or even look at other linocut artists at this time and what they were doing – I knew a little of the historical linocut artists like Margaret Preston and Noel Counihan but again I put all of their images aside. The only thought  I had was that I was not going to develop work based around the still life of wildflowers in vases.

I took lots of photos, did drawings, explored and played with ideas and media.

It was not until I felt comfortable with my own style and where I was at with developed my own voice to express myself through my artwork years later, that I then allowed myself to have a closer look at what others were doing.

Probably it was around the time when I began to have more access to the internet and more information became available online. Living in the country, raising children and looking after elderly relatives my access to the wider arts community and even traveling to larger cities like Brisbane and Sydney has been limited.

Not everyone works this way but it is just how I have chosen to work and developed my own voice as an artist.

It has not been easy being a linocut artist working with more traditional subject matter as I have done. Galleries have found it difficult to fit my work into their collections. Within a traditional gallery paintings can be seen as ‘fine arts’ and linocuts as ‘crafts’, and within a contemporary gallery my more realistic representations and traditional working methods are not seen as ‘cutting edge’ enough. But I have tried to be true to my own vision of the work I am creating. I like beautiful interesting images and I love the Australian bush – wildflowers, birds and wildlife, so this is the work I try to create. I could have chosen to become more contemporary – have a different voice to fit in with the galleries view but it just wouldn’t be me. So I have continued down this path.

My website and business name is Soulsong – may sound a bit ‘out there’ but it isn’t really – the Australian wildflowers and wildlife I see as part of my soul, I can get lost and never lose my capacity to spend time in and around the bush and Australian wildflowers and wildlife. I never get tired of exploring this subject matter – it is embedded in my soul. My arts practice is my song, it is the way I express myself through my artwork – so quite simply my artwork is my soul’s song – Soulsong.

It has been a difficult path at times over the past 10 years and the busy pro-active arts practice I was developing from 1998 to 2002 had to be wound back until recently when I am again trying to re-establish myself as an artist. I have had children to raise who have needed me to be there and I have been a family carer for them and for my elderly relatives who have had no one else willing to step up and help them. I do not regret a day of any of that time, it was what was needed to be done, and I have many joyful experiences and learned a lot along the way about myself and human nature.

So I would encourage artists whether beginners or further down the track to work hard at making your own mark with your artwork, love your subject matter and medium and work hard at having your own voice or style of work.

At the end of 2013 I have relaunched my arts practice back onto a wider stage again with a ‘Wildflowers’ exhibition at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina. It is a beautiful old building & space in which to hang work. Even though I had to take a considerable amount of ‘down time’ in caring for my family I was always still working. I continued to draw, take photos, sketch ideas & develop work much of which just needed the impetus of an exhibition deadline to come to fruition and complete. So the lesson you can learn from this is – even when you cannot be producing artwork to its completion still keep seeing possibilities & still continue to take inspiration where you can  & sketch ideas or do whatever it takes to keep your arts practice alive even if it is just quietly in the background.

I still have a number of artworks to complete that I started over this time & am exploring different ways of extending my vision – still with the wildflowers I love but in new directions. I am looking forward to exploring this into the future.

Copyright – Lynette Weir
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Tutorials – Art Bytes from Lynette Weir’s Studio Practice

LYNETTE WEIR – PERMISSION FOR USE OF ARTWORK

Linocuts, design, drawing & illustrations by Australian Artist – Lynette Weir

These ‘tutorials’ are an insight into the working methods of Australian Artist – Lynette Weir.

All images, tutorial content on this site unless specified otherwise, are copyright to Lynette Weir and cannot be used without permission.

This tutorial site is a compilation of posts I have made to my Studio Diary – Soulsong Art. They are not a definitive way of producing a linocut or drawing. They are simply a guide based around my own working methods.

I have posted the tutorials here in an order that hopefully will make it easier for you to find information about linocuts or drawing.

Although a largely static site I will be posting additional tutorials and updates from time to time.

So if you want to keep up with these updates please follow this blog or any of my other links – SoulsongSoulsong Art, Lynette Weir

The linocut tutorials here are based on my own working methods. Artists/printmakers all work differently – some may work in a similar way to myself and others completely different. So the tutorials contained here should be seen within this context and as a guide to working or just as an example how one artist works.

All information is a guide only and is based on Lynette Weir’s own arts practice with Linocuts and Drawing – individuals should take their own due care in working with these and other artistic endeavours and mediums.

I would encourage everyone to take a look at how I work but develop your own style and way of working.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Designing a new linocut…and the use of photcopies and computers…

This is a design based around waratahs…we have 2 quite large local plants which flower really well each spring/summer. One is a roadside planting – mind you the people who live there wondered what this odd person was doing drawing and photographing the waratah – had to explain myself yet again! One of the funniest things was doing a similar thing outside a local farm with the farmer coming to check out what I was doing – “just drawing and photographing the scotch thistles (a weed here!), do you mind if I pick some them from your property?” was greeted with laughter indicating their great amusement at this weird fascination with a weed! She walked away shaking her head…

In designing a larger piece like this I thought I’d give a little insight into the beginnings of the process.

It started with a scrappy little sketch on the back of the only piece of paper I could dig out of the bottom of my handbag one day. I had an idea and just had to get the basics down on paper. Progressing on from there I have been researching, photographing, drawing up and developing different aspects of the original sketch.

This is the original drawing I did based on my research of waratahs, photographs and originals thumbnail concept that involved ideas such as the use of patternwork with leaves and waratah stigma/style, black and white sections vs colour…

I then photocopied this original drawing and using black permanent markers ‘ink’ in the design as a template for carving. It is at this ‘inking in’ stage that I may also adjust the design and use of black vs white areas. I often re-photocopy, cut up sections, glue on extra areas on or use liquid paper to white out areas. Eventually when I am happy with the final design I will photocopy the design one last time and this becomes the final template I use and transfer to the linoblock for carving.

Above is the final blocked in B&W design.

Another tool in designing process can be the computer – you can scan in parts and using photoshop (or something similar) move bits around and try out ideas. An example of this is the use of photoshop to get an idea of the colour tonal values in this new ‘Waratahs’ design. Basically the central waratah will be deep rich colour and the outside leaves will be pale washes of colour – I think they would be paler than here and not this particular green (basically hate both the greens in this photoshopped version but as I said they are only about the tonal values)! The ‘background’ central flower is black and white patternwork essentially. Although the colours I’ve used in the colour image shown here are really nothing like how it will look – the idea of the deep red/green tone and the pale tones helps me in looking at adjustments I may consider or make in the design. Another method is to photocopy a number of copies – even different sizes and cut them up and work with them to experiment with the design.

I try to take some time ‘thinking’ about the designs – though as in the case of this design sometimes I leave or get deadlines that make this hard which can be frustrating. Whilst watching the Rolf Harris portrait series on the ABC I noted there was made mention by the artists of the ‘thinking time’ in working on artworks. Not too long on this one though as I need to get carving the lino as soon as possible…

Copyright – Lynette Weir