Colour – Working with it…

Okay the heading could have said “Colour – working against it…”  as sometimes that seems like the case.

Many students (and Artists for that matter) find working with colour a challenge, getting one colour to work well with another etc. So I’d like to challenge people to work with colour and build a resource they can refer back to time and again.


Here’s one I prepared earlier…

There are books on how designers can use colour and they have fancy cutouts and flip through sections of delightfully printed colours in many combinations, they can be useful tools to play about with and use.

To really make colours work for you, try and build a resource you have had to work on, mix the colours and try various combinations.

Imagine you have trouble using a particular shade, tint, hue etc. so it makes sense to work with that colour asa  starting point. So perhaps try a series of A5 cards where the colour in question is painted in the middle and you try various colours around the outside.

After a while you will probably end up with hundreds of combinations you have explored. Think about varying shades of the one colour as well.

You could try doing the cards hard edged and accurately painted, or just a few dabs of paint quickly applied.

In the end you should be able to develop cards for a very long time and find colour combinations which work for you.

Teachers: Consider setting an ongoing colour exploration task like this so your students can get into colour on their own terms and create a resource they enjoy working with.

Talking about art Part 4.

Straight talk.

The Artist in talking about their work may have the opportunity to tell a larger group at an opening about the works being presented, or on a one to one basis as people ask questions. In this article I wanted to follow on from the previous article in Part 3, which, was more sales focussed. lets talk turkey as they say and give the audience what they want, the real you.


For many people talking about something as personal as their Art works can be daunting, intimidating and generally stressful, while for others it’s as easy as falling off a log.

Those who find it easy, may well have a different degree of confidence about the way they present information, perhaps they have been experienced in public speaking, or theatre work, being on stage in a band or some such. Whatever the experience is they seem to be able to get on with it with ease.

One approach to the situation is looking at the works and saying to your self.

There are a lot more options than this of course but hopefully you get the idea. The real power in creating a series of responses to these and other questions is getting and building your confidence to handle all comers. If you don’t do this you may find the following questions and or statements might stray into your thoughts…

Note how all of these are thoughts which will probably not serve the Artist well, in fact they can lead to a downward spiral and negative thought processes which can be harmful. It may take practice to pursue the positive questions and statements but it’s a stronger stance to work from.

Many Artists have said “Having an exhibition is like nailing  your heart to the wall”, so be prepared to handle the emotional roller coaster which presents itself, or you might find you are the one whose heart bleeds from a nail hole!

Talking about Art Part 3.

Leading on from Part 2 in this series. If you are an artist and are being quizzed about your work there is possibly an ulterior motive hidden behind the request from a viewer for more information. It may be they want to buy a piece (nice thought!) or want to follow your career to see if you will still have the strength of “Artistic conviction” you may have now, in a few years time.


Or they might simply be an art lover who may not want to buy, but admire your work for its real intrinsic value.

If you are out to sell your work, you need to be careful not to “Talk past the sale” and watch out for tricks they may want to use like “If I buy it after the show, can I get it cheaper and not have to pay the gallery’s commission?” Hmm nice try buddy! Forget it, althoughh it may sound like a win-win the gallery misses out. Let the gallery represent you, that’s what they do, or if you have hired the space and this seems like a good idea to save you paying out more money, think again. You might put  yourself into a poor bargaining position later on with no other prospects about to make an offer.

If you are more interested in discussing the value of the work from a story, metaphoric or visual language perspective, then the the discussion can be quite different. It’s a chance to “bare your soul” and let the world catch a glimpse of the “inner you”, what caused you to make the work/s, why you explored the subject the way  you did, or perhaps what you were aiming to communicate to the viewer.

Treat the exercise like it’s a chance to vent and be at ease with what you have produced and you will probably have a great time doing so.

Here’s the link to the next article in this series…

Talking about Art Part 2.

Following on from Part 1 in this short series of Talking about Art. Lets tackle the topic of an Artist talking about their own work, and not from a sales perspective at this stage.


Let’s paint a picture of a person asking the artist about their work.

Does the Artist become coy and reserved saying little other than “Oh I don’t know I think the work speaks for itself really…” Or do they do their best to “wax lyrical” about the work and perhaps give an brief insight, or perhaps go too far and risk boring the viewer with too much information.

I would hope the middle ground could prevail, so the viewer who has asked the question can say “I got enough information to satisfy my interest” and then be able to walk away content with the knowledge they received.

Getting the balance right comes down to being able to “read” the viewer and figure out what sort of information they really want, and you can do this by asking a few questions. “Tell me about your work…” Might seem like a great starting point, but for the Artist it should not be the only cue to jump in and tell all. It should only be the start to “What would you like to know specifically?”

From here the viewer might say “I want to know about the inspiration for the work.” (it could be an easy smoke screen question to get you talking on a deeper level too). So you might ask, “My inspiration for the series or this piece in particular?” This way you will be able to provide an answer which best fits to their needs.

Perhaps an Artist might do well to practice a few scenarios so they can provide information which can fit to a range of starting points. Consider a bunch of questions you might be asked and then figure out how to respond to those.

There. that’s a bunch of starting points, how you deal with each is up to you, however the major factor is presenting confidently so the person you are speaking too can feel you are not wishy washy or unable to talk in terms they want to hear.

There are lots of resources on reading personality types, talking other peoples language (so to speak) and ways to engage them. The important thing about all that is finding ways to make them see your point of view by talking their language in a way which appeals to them.

Have a think about how you might respond to these questions and bring together your language skills in a way which, you can feel confident with the results.

Here’s the link to the next article in this series…

Talking about Art Part 1.

I’m sure there are many Lecturers and Art Teachers who find it quite a challenge to get their students to talk about art. Mostly I guess students might think Art is a “visual” medium and trying to put things into an auditory or written language may well seem foreign to them. This article can be of value to students and artists alike wanting to get a stronger grip on the task of talking about art, especially for students in VCE Studio Arts.

talk art

Artists on the other hand can either find themselves buried in a swathe of “pontificating” about their work, or lost in thought, unable to articulate the visual medium. So what to do?

For the Artists, some are the type who can seemingly sell ice to Eskimos, so they can handle themselves verbally and build a solid persuasive story around their works. Others prefer to let the work speak for itself or to let a Gallerist chat to prospects and collectors about the Art.

What do you say about your works? Maybe it’s a loaded question, as I guess it depends on what you want to communicate. If it’s a regular collector of  your works that’s one thing, but a new person unaware of who you are, or your style of work etc then that’s another. Then take into account a student trying to make sense of evaluating an artwork of any kind.

There are frameworks for exploring the analysis of works, and ways of researching the Artist and their possible intent. It comes down to “What’s it all about…”

I can see it will be a big topic to handle so let’s leave this starting point as is, a point to ponder from… and break down the issue into a  smaller bunch of articles.

Heres the link to the next one…