Artists and Their Gardens

I like to travel and explore gardens and I have number yet to be visited on my bucket list.

As a passionate gardener and oil and watercolour artist, I find lots of inspiration in gardens and nature. Mine is an Australian bush garden that is designed to attract our native bees and birds. We have planted about 300 trees and now I’m on a mission to get even more rare and interesting natives, as I feel like I never have enough.

I’m about to paint a bunch of bearded Irises that were given to me a couple of weeks ago by my wonderful neighbour. Mine have not yet bloomed so I’m off to capture these wonderful display flowers in their glass vase. If you know of any wonderful artists and their gardens or gardens that inspired their paintings, please feel free to let me know so I can share them on this special page.

Handy Art Calendar

I try to keep track of the various art award closing and entry dates, but have found this can be tricky to juggle, especially if you are busy painting in your studio most of the time. So I created a handy list of well known and celebrated Art Award/Competitions and Prizes, including both Australian and International events and exhibitions as well.

For those artists out there who may be thinking of entering a competition, I hope you enjoy checking out my ‘Public’ Google calender at ArtWithSylvie which is easy to navigate and aims to provide you with the relevant website links and details for what’s coming up. Note dates may change from time to time, especially due to Covid 19 so it is highly recommended you check out the event calendar notes and website details for yourself.

Happy painting!

Conversations with Australian watercolour artist Heidi Willis

I recently learnt a great deal about the special and talented Australian born natural history watercolour artist and tutor, Heidi Willis. ‘The ‘Earthen Artist’

Heidi demonstrated her incredible dedication, discipline and focus needed to complete many of her highly sought after, painting commissions for botanical illustrations and birds. It was a joy to meet Heidi who was extremely generous, down to earth and knowledgeable in her sharing her work. After spending many hours researching her subjects, she always applies a ‘beginner’s mindset’, seeking to improve each and every stroke in her exquisitely detailed paintings.

Heidi shared her personal journey and how she follows her passion and dedication for illustrating native and exotic plants, flowers, fruits and seed capsules, as well as spectacular bird life around the world. Her work both inspires and offers great insights into the natural world as she experiences it. Hope you enjoy this interview and as I have take away some great thinking and new learning.

Conversation with April Rimpo in her studio painting cyclists with watercolour

I was recently had that ‘fly on the wall‘ experience watching a bunch of cyclists come to life in watercolour. I joined celebrated artist April Rimpo in her studio, in Maryland USA via zoom to watch her work. April paints a vast and varying number of subects using either liquid acrylics and or watercolour, or both. In this conversation with April, or short film, April takes us through how she prepares and works on, one of her favourite painting subjects, which is cyclists.

I thought it was particularly interesting to learn how April merge photos in photoshop and transports her subjects to new locations and or in this case, merges her subjects into a new painting capturing the movement and light.

April presents and fames her painting, not behind glass, but rather in an entirely new and interesting approach when exhibiting her delicate work of watercolour. So I hope you enjoy this short video and if you do please feel free to share it or leave a comment.

Captured Moments with artist Chan Dissanayake

On a brisk and foggy winter’s morning on Lake Burley Griffen in Canberra, our nations capital city. I was perched on the bank with my new trusty Canon M50 to film Master Watercolourist Chan Dissanayake painting ‘en plein air’.

We kicked off about 8.30am and yet the fog was so thick that we had to wait, as you could barely see across the water to the distance view of the National Library of Australia.

Slowly but surely the fog lifted on that chilly winter’s day and Chan was able to move his frozen fingers. It was a great spot with an almost 360 vantage point, from the city to the left of us, to the Lake’s fountain and the distinctive white Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, linking the city to the Parliamentary Circle, and the National Library on our right.

Chan set up his easel, paints and brushes and had to work quickly to capture the moments with the changing light and shadows across the water. Birds called out as cyclist, dragon boats and a multitude of joggers passing by. The water was every artists dream to paint, showcasing brilliant reflections of the historic over hanging Cedrus Atlantic trees and the old tour boat moored at the dock in the distance. On the right of Chan’s painting was the National Museum with its colourful red umbrellas leading down towards the water.

I have just now finished making a short film, in time I hope to showcase Chan’s talent and inspiration on that day. It was fantastic to be invited along and in a small way now able to assist in sharing Chan’s work. He has his upcoming Exhibition ‘Captured Moments’, opening tomorrow, Saturday the 12 September at the famous Bungendore Wood Works Gallery. I can’t wait to see the selection of paintings and hopefully, in the afternoon do a little more filming and some painting myself, as I surely will come away feeling extra inspired. I encourage you to make time in your diary for a visit to the Gallery and view Chan’s paintings, the Exhibition stays open till the 9th November. So I’ll see you there and or perhaps one day by the Lake doing some painting with my friend Chan. Please also feel free to share this special post on your social media and or leave your feedback, if you would like to learn more about Chan and his work.

Conversations with Paula Mitchell Painting ‘En Plein Air’

Excited to say I’ve finished editing version one of my interview with UK artist Paula Mitchell painting ‘en plein air’ near her home in Hampshire. Paula shares her journey and we get to see how she works and the wonderful scene she picked to paint by the sea. In this video you will not see a demo, but rather hear and learn more about Paula, while if you like you can freeze a certain part of the video and use this for your painting along with the artist.

Most of the video was shot on Zoom and we used Paula’s phone also to capture what we could. The weather changed and it was times rather tricky to film, but we got there. So hoping you find some new insights and enjoy the work of this amazing landscape artist.

Artist Studios & Inspiring Gardens

I’ve been doing a little research on famous artists, their studios and gardens that inspired them. Interestingly I couldn’t find too many famous gardens that artists had created in Australia, not as many as I found in Europe anyway. You may be aware of some of these, in particular Monet’s garden at Giverney, France. Monet created a special garden and now historic site that inspired many of his painting including his now famous waterlillies.

In Australia I did find several gardens including the garden and studio of artist Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) at 15 RANGE ROAD OLINDA, Yarra Ranges Shire, known as ‘Longacres“. Streeton’s home included a gallery, a painting studio, a caretakers residence and several outbuildings in an informal garden on about 5 acres of land. To learn more, check out the helpful links I’ve added to a dedicated page on my website called Artists’ Studios & Inspiring Gardens. If you like this article please feel free to share this on your social media page and or leave a comment about a famous artist’s garden you have visited.

Finding the Golden Zone – Conversations with Artist Paula Mitchell

I’ve been avidly watching on my Fox Arts channel the UK Sky Arts ‘Landscape Artist of the Year 2019’ series and have been enthralled to find a number of outstanding artists that really impressed me with their unique styles and excellent landscape paintings. Paula Mitchell was one of those artists. She also had in my view one of the most fantastic submission oil painting entitled, ‘Ryde Beach’. I got in touch with Paula on Zoom and managed to view many of her wonderful oil landscape paintings in her home studio while exploring her ‘behind the scenes’ insights into how to use her oils, her drive for painting landscapes as well as what it was really like painting in the Sky Arts’ program.

This two part interview with Paula, presents a number of her recent paintings and her personal journey along with some excellent tips for painting in oils. Paula captures the light and tones in her landscapes so well, be they on her doorstep, garden greenhouse or out in the countryside where she lives in Hampshire England. One thing that really resonated for me was hearing Paula describe her being in the moment as she goes through her life. Paula lives this philosophy with a passion and a focus when looking for her next painting subject, thinking “I want to have a go at that”. I think this is a profound reminder for any artist, particularly in this time of Covid 19 and the lockdown, to always be thinking in the moment particularly when painting as our next subject could be right under our feet each morning.

I really enjoyed chatting and having a laugh with Paula while she generously shared how she works, structuring the composition of her oil paintings, including a number of her recent lockdown works both powerfully simply and beautifully painted. I hope you enjoy this two part interview AWS series which not only gives you an insight into Paula’s work but her indepth experience as a contestant in the Sky Art’s Landscape Artist of the Year 2019. To all those aspiring and experienced oil painters, watch this space as I and Paula will also shortly share an ‘immersive en plein airpaint-along experience‘ in our next upcoming AWS behind the scenes video together. I wish you many happy mindfulness painting hours during this ongoing lockdown period. I’m also looking for more subscribers on my You Tube Channel, so if you can share this video with a fellow artist and or enthusiast or on your social media that would be much appreciated.

Passion for Chasing Paint – Conversations with April Rimpo

My latest interview was with the wonderful contemporary artist April Rimpo in her studio, in Dayton Maryland USA. Dayton is about three and half hours drive south of New York City. April shared her story of becoming an artist and watercolourist along with some fantastic tips on how she prepares and plans for her unique paintings. In this interview, you can pick up some great tips for how to work with watercolour and fluid acrylic paints, particularly how to capture movement and emotion in your work. Every artist is unique in how they approach and tap into their creativity and April is a master at taking a fresh approach to each subject. April’s painting subjects are also “all over the map” given her natural curiosity, interests and great skill in capturing story in her work.

During this period of Covid 19, April has been busy working in her basement studio, which to me appeared super organised. If you look closely at the video you will see how April uses her space wisely with good light, and importantly some good storage for her many paintings, both on the walls and also packaged neatly ready to go to a new home.

I started the interview learning a little bit more about April’s creative background and heritage and very quickly started examining many of the stories behind her paintings and her journey as an artist, how she never looked back after finding the freedom and power of chasing paint in watercolour. I highly recommend learning more about April and her fabulous paintings either on this You Tube Clip or on her website, which I’ve listed at the end of the video. I’m really enjoying the journey especially after spending some quality time with the delightful April, a highly skilled artist and generous soul.

The Job of the Artist – Conversations with Ben Winspear

‘The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery”, Francis Bacon

Chatting to professional oil painter, watercolourist and more recently sculptor, Ben Winspear was intrigueing and fun. I had the good fortune of meeting with Ben and viewing his wide variety of painting subjects from hauntingly beautiful figures, landscapes to still life abstracts.

Ben is passionate about painting the Australian landscape and his paintings are powerful stories presented via a blend of representational realism and the abstract. What I particularly admire is Ben’s thinking behind his work using a sensitive approach to the treatment of light and dark ‘Chiaroscuro’ which combined to take the viewer on a journey of reflection and discovery.

Ben has been painting professionally for over 21 years and is a third generation artist. He works in his Melbourne, Australian studio and loves to paint outdoors. Ben is also an art teacher and he shared with me during this interview a few really good tips for students of art and also those budding art teachers out there. For example, one of a few great take aways I found in my conversation with Ben, was to remember to stop and look at my paintings early in the making and ask the question “Is it finished?” If it looks abstract that’s okay as it could be fininshed and possibly help to create some mystery.

One of Ben’s favourite quotes is by Francis Bacon, Irish-born figurative painter, philosopher and statesman who once said ‘The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery”. This and other quotes Ben uses to fuel and inspire his student’s creativity and thinking. So I hope you enjoy learning more about Ben and if you do, please don’t forget to subscribe and hit the like button. Enjoy the journey!