Kuldeep Chaudhari – Photographer

Behind The Image

There has never been a shortage of photographic Artists since photography was invented. They are masters of capturing and saving remarkable memories of unforgettable images. Whereas some practice photography as a hobby, many of these Artists have made this art a lifelong profession. The amazing creativity captured by photographic Artists can be appreciated by analyzing the Artists behind these great works. Kuldeep Chaudhari is a Photographer whose work provides a fine example of the kind of creativity every ardent photographer would admire.

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The Artist

Kuldeep Chaudhari is a 29 year old Mumbai based documentary and street photographer in India. The post graduate and later freelance photographer was born in 1984. Photography was not his career choice in his early life. He started out working for a multinational company before he discovered photography. His interest in photography grew from his love for capturing images and moments on camera. What started as a hobby finally became a full time profession. He is a nature lover and a passionate trekker. His works include street images that have opened his mind and made him more sensitive to the world around him. His creativity is exemplified in one of his famous photographs titled “putting your best foot forward” which portrays men dressed in white performing exercises at an urban park in India.

During his journeys on the streets of his city, where he met new people and saw different things, he began to explore his artistic side. He found that through this exploration, photography helped  in opening his mind. Since then has become concerned and sensitive about his environment. Photography has not only helped him grow in confidence but has also contributed towards making him a more responsible individual.

Kuldeep Chaudhari has inspirational, touching and powerful works which can be found at Saatchi Online

Deborah Klein – Artist

DK Portrait

Deborah Klein divides her time between Abbotsford, an inner city suburb of Melbourne and Ballarat, in south-western Victoria. Her website is http://www.deborahklein.net/ and she has two blog sites:
Art blog: http://deborahklein.blogspot.com/
Book blog: http://mothwomanpress.blogspot.com/

Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?

I’m interested in other art forms, including, music, theatre, literature and film. They have all impacted on my work – particularly film.

Mildred Pierce on St. Kilda Pier, 1995, linocut, 65 x 46 cm

What are the main medium/s you work in…

Printmaking, drawing, painting, and artist books

Lace Face, 1996, linocut, 46 x 30 cm

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?

My visual language has evolved over the years and is multi-layered. Many works pay homage to women and their creative histories.

The work is unified by its concern for women: the untold numbers who have been completely written out of history, the courage of those women and girls who must still fight seemingly unsurmountable odds to have their voices heard.

Chocolate Argus Winged Woman, 2010, linocut, 40 x 40 cm

What fascinates you?

Recently I’ve become fascinated by animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger’s silhouette films, especially her masterpiece The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). Her films were the primary inspiration for my current silhouette-based work.

I’m also fascinated by silent film. Before the invention of sound, movies told their stories almost entirely without words. They had subtitles, but these needed to be succinct in order to ensure minimum interruption to the primarily visual narratives. I’ve only just become aware of parallels with my current artist books. Each one has a short descriptive title, but the narratives are entirely visual.

Homarsupial and Lyrebird, 2013, unique artist's books, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

Can you give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.

My first solo exhibition to focus entirely on silhouettes has recently finished. The exhibition was in two parts: a wall-based installation of thirteen vertical one-of-a-kind concertina books and an installation of miniature silhouette paintings. I’m now in the process of extending and developing both of these series.

Miniature silhouettes, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 9 x 7 cm, 7 x 9 cm and 5 x 7 cm

Why are you an Artist?

I’ve never stopped to question why – it’s all I ever wanted to be.

I had always loved art, but until early adulthood the only significant works I’d seen were in the National Gallery of Victoria or reproduced in art books. Moving to London in 1973 changed my life. Over my seven and a half years based there, I also travelled widely and saw a great deal of extraordinary contemporary and historical art in the flesh.

Soon after arriving in London I visited Paris for the first time. It was this trip and the artwork I saw there that galvanized me into becoming a fully committed artist, rather than just paying lip service to the idea. After that there was no turning back. I drew and painted for most of the time I was in London. But increasingly I felt the need for a more formal education. In 1982, the year after my return to Melbourne, I enrolled in art school as a mature age student.

Harpy and The Maiden Flight, 2013, unique artist's books, 2013, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

 

Your art education was…?

and still is, broadened and enriched immeasurably by experiencing art firsthand, not just on a computer screen. There is no substitute for the power of the original work. The Internet is a useful resource, but as Jonathan Jones recently wrote in The Guardian: “The entire online world is less substantial than a single piece of paint on one of Rembrandt’s encrusted canvases.”

On a more formal level, I gained a Bachelor of Fine Art (Printmaking) at Chisholm Institute of Technology, Melbourne (1982-1984) a Graduate Diploma at Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education (1987-1988) and a Master of Arts (Research) at Monash University, Gippsland Campus (1995-1997).

Fuchsia and Cactus Flower, unique artist's books, 2013, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

What did you do before or during becoming an Artist?

For some years I worked in offices. In those pre-computer days I was an abysmal typist and gradually drifted into retail. The benefit of both livelihoods was that I didn’t have to take the work home with me. In my own time, I was free to make my artwork.

Immediately after graduating from art school I worked for several months at David Jones department store as on-call casual. It was a stupefyingly mindless job. Rescue came later in the same year, when I was offered a six-months long position at the Print Council of Australia. After that time elapsed, the PCA employed me as a permanent part-time administrative assistant. I worked there for over two years. It was demanding but also very stimulating. I learned a great deal, met some amazing people and made some lasting friendships, most notably with Diane Soumilas. Many years later she would curate the touring survey exhibition Deborah Klein – Out of the Past 1995 – 2007.

In the early-mid 1990s I ran occasional linocut classes for beginners at the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne. Between 1999-2008 I was a part-time lecturer in the Printmaking and Drawing Departments at RMIT University. I enjoyed teaching, but finally left to work as a full-time artist.

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far? 

In 1992 I received a letter from the Australia Council informing me that my application for a three-month studio residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris was successful. It was a tremendous thrill and completely unexpected, especially as it was the first time I’d ever applied for a grant. When I opened the envelope I was so geared to reading a letter of rejection, it took several moments to get my mind around the letter’s actual content.

Do you remember your first artwork?

One of the first artworks I remember seeing was Ulysses and the Sirens (1891) by John Waterhouse at the National Gallery of Victoria, which was then situated in the State Library of Victoria building. I must have carried the memory of that work with me from then on because decades later I began the Myth-entomology series, which included a flock of winged women. Although my linocuts and paintings were drawn from personal, rather than classical mythology, I’m certain the series had its origin in the Waterhouse painting.

Common Rose Swallowtail Winged Woman, 2010, acrylic on linen, 36 x 36 cm

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?

My family was always encouraging, although my mother had the greatest input, introducing me to books, film, music and the visual and performing arts. She also took me on my first visits to the Melbourne Museum and National Gallery of Victoria.

Art wasn’t viewed as a serious profession, however, and I was discouraged from studying it at tertiary level. By the time I put myself through art school as a mature age student, I’d lived overseas for several years, was passionate about art and knew very definitely that it was what I wanted for myself. But I’m still grateful to my mother for sowing those first seeds.

Fishwife and Sea horsewoman, unique artist's books, 2013, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?

Growing up in 1950s and 60s St. Kilda was in many ways a lonely and isolating experience. It was a very different place when I was a child and adolescent: sadly run down and rather seedy. Yet it had a certain mystique, and looking back through admittedly nostalgic eyes, far more depth than it has today. St. Kilda-related iconography infiltrated my work for many years, and even now occasionally makes an appearance. The Film Noir quality of the downtrodden St. Kilda of my past, with its fun fair, beach, pier and art deco buildings, was another driving force behind many of my works: the seminal Pirate Jenny Prints, 1988, the Film Noir series, including the linocut Mildred Pierce on St. Kilda Pier, 1995 and from the Tattooed Faces and Figures series, Luna Park Face, 1996 and St.Kilda Warrior, 1996.

Eve's Apple and Tree House, 2013, unique artist's books, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

Has your work changed much since your early efforts? 

There was a great emphasis placed on drawing from life when I was an undergraduate, which I’m very thankful for. But I don’t remember us being encouraged to draw from our interior lives. My first post-art school works were large-scale drawings and linocuts drawn directly from my immediate environment.

In 1987 I undertook a Graduate Diploma at Gippsland School of Art (now Monash University) as a part-time student. I was accepted into the course on the basis of my interiors and still-lifes. But these genres had already ceased to challenge me.

On a train journey to Gippsland I first got the idea for what became the Pirate Jenny Prints, a suite of linocuts inspired by a character in The Threepenny Opera, which I’d always loved. I remember scribbling like a crazy woman in my sketchbook for the entire journey, fearful of losing the germs of ideas that appeared to come from nowhere.

Written by Bertolt Brecht (book and lyrics) and Kurt Weill (music) The Threepenny Opera (1928) was set in London’s Soho and populated by prostitutes, thieves and murderers. In actuality, it was a satire of Germany’s Weimar Republic. At the time I conceived my works, I was back in St. Kilda, living in Grey Street, then one of its more squalid pockets. I wanted to tap into the singular energy and edge St Kilda had at that time, just prior to its gentrification. Prostitutes used to line up in front of my block of flats. It wasn’t too much of a stretch to transfer the opera’s original setting to my hometown, although in the end, it only featured in some of the works. The Pirate Jenny Prints freed me, enabling me to draw inspiration from other art forms and to incorporate more personal narratives. Essentially it became the cornerstone for all the work that followed.

This was a dual turning point, as it was also the first time I met Euan Heng. He was my supervisor and became a lifelong mentor. I had been accepted into the course on the basis of the interiors and still-lifes, but he supported and encouraged the direction into new and uncharted territory.

Pirate Jenny at Luna Park, 1988, linocut, 61.5 x 45.5 cm

Have your artistic influences altered over time (e.g. artists.)

From secondary school level, if not even earlier, my favourite artists were Rembrandt van Rijn and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, although Rembrandt’s work was more an inspiration than an influence. The line up has expanded considerably since then. But these two still loom large on my list, which now includes David Hockney, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Paula Rego, Maria Sybylla Merian, Rogier van der Weyden, Rene Magritte, Bill Viola, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Christian Schad, Euan Heng, Stanley Spencer, Edward Hopper, William Larkin, Caspar David Friedrich, Vincent van Gogh, Francisco Goya, Peter Blake, Johannes Vermeer, Hans Memling, Lionel Lindsay, Marcus Gheeraerts II, William Blake, Nicholas Hilliard, Hans Holbein, Annette Messager, William Kentridge, Gwen John, Grayson Perry, Marcel Dzama and Lucian Freud.

In addition, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Georges Melies, G. W. Pabst, Fritz Lang, Josef von Sternberg, F. W. Murnau, Louis Feuillade, Paul Leni, Robert Weine, Orson Welles, Charles Laughton and Lotte Reiniger have also been influential.

Corporeal_Ethereal, 2012, linocut, 60 x 50 cm

You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…

you are consistently making your work, setting yourself new challenges and goals, and remaining true to your vision, regardless of fads, fashions and the fickleness of the art world.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?

It’s essential that works be as well crafted as artists can possibly make them. Artistic creation shouldn’t just be about the concept. We owe it to our artwork and those who buy it in good faith. Shoddily made works can also create nightmares for conservators.

Craftsmanship is integral to my visual language – for example, the Knots and Braids (1998-2004). The main focus of the series was the high price that can be paid for physical perfection, exemplified by the women’s meticulously wrought hairstyles. If the imagery had not been well crafted, its basic concept would have been undermined.

Maid Made, 1999, acrylic on canvas 30 x 22.5cm (centre) 17.5 x 12.5 cm (L and R panels)

Do you have much contact with other artists?

My partner Shane Jones is also an artist, as are a number of friends. I’m very fortunate to have access to them for mutual discussions about work and ideas.

A year ago I became acquainted with Deborah McMillion, an Arizona-based artist. She first contacted me after seeing some of my work on the Internet and recognizing many mutual thematic similarities. She’s become a firm friend, although we’ve never met face to face. We frequently discuss our work, all the while discovering what an uncanny amount we have in common. I’ve come to value her informed and honest feedback, especially when I hit a brick wall with what I’m doing.

On occasion I’ve worked collaboratively with other artists on themed exhibitions. This can also be an extremely rewarding experience.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?

I’m currently making work for Wonder Room, a large-scale group exhibition at Maroondah Art Gallery that opens on 17 October. It’s an example of a collaborative project between five like-minded artists: myself, Rona Green, Heather Shimmen, Paul Compton and Filomena Coppola.

The exhibition’s point of departure is the Wunderkämmer. The idea of an eclectic collection is liberating – it encourages a far greater diversity of work, embracing differences and contrasts, rather than mix-and-match aesthetic similarities. As part of my contribution, I plan to extend and develop the fledgling silhouette works. In addition, I’ve created a collection of diminutive insect women – 30 watercolour paintings that reside in a miniature plan cabinet. Also in progress is a limited edition portfolio of “Unnatural History” illustrations comprising hand-coloured linocuts.

Emergent Cicada Woman, 2013, linocut, hand coloured, 22 x 18.5 cm

What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?

A key turning point was in 1997, when my linocut The Lair of the Lyrebird was awarded the Grand Prize, Silk Cut Award for Linocut Printmaking.

The Lair of the Lyrebird, 1997 Linocut on interfacing, hand stitching 64 x 74 cm

The prize was an all-expenses-paid stay in Amsterdam. I’m a long time admirer of Flemish art and the city is renowned for its museums, most famously, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum. It is also the home of Rembrandt, one of my first artist-heroes. His house, now a museum filled with his sublime etchings, was another highlight.

Winning the Silk Cut brought a nod of affirmation from my peers and also led to teaching work. The award was acquisitive; the National Gallery of Australia and Bendigo Art Gallery acquired the remaining prints from the edition of three.

The Lair of the Lyrebird was an experimental print made as part of my Master of Arts Degree at Monash University. I was awarded a Monash Graduate Scholarship, which enabled me to undertake a concentrated period of research. During that time my ideas and imagery changed dramatically; this was the work that spearheaded that change. For the second time, Euan Heng was my supervisor and once again he supported the new direction, rather than forcing me to stick rigidly to my original proposal. Conceptually this work sent me even further along the path towards the work I make today.

ARTWORKS FROM TOP:

Mildred Pierce on St. Kilda Pier, 1995, linocut, 65 x 46 cm

Lace Face, 1996, linocut, 46 x 30 cm

Chocolate Argus Winged Woman, 2010, linocut, 40 x 40 cm

Homarsupial and Lyrebird, 2013, unique artist’s books, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

Miniature silhouettes, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 9 x 7 cm, 7 x 9 cm and 5 x 7 cm. Wooden display case 32 x 32 cm

Harpy and The Maiden Flight, 2013, unique artist’s books, 2013, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

Fuchsia and Cactus Flower, unique artist’s books, 2013, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

Common Rose Swallowtail Winged Woman, 2010, acrylic on linen, 36 x 36 cm

Fishwife and Sea horsewoman, unique artist’s books, 2013, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

Eve’s Apple and Tree House, 2013, unique artist’s books, ink and acrylic on handmade Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open)

Pirate Jenny at Luna Park, 1988, linocut, 61.5 x 45.5 cm

Corporeal/Ethereal, 2012, linocut, 60 x 50 cm

Maid Made, 1999, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22.5cm (centre) 17.5 x 12.5 cm (L and R panels)

Emergent Cicada Woman, 2013, linocut, hand coloured, 22 x 18.5 cm

The Lair of the Lyrebird, 1997, linocut on interfacing, hand stitching 64 x 74 cm

Deborah Williams – Artist

Deborah Williams is a Printmaker liviving in Melbourne and is represented by Australian Galleries Melbourne & Sydney

She has been on a professional level since 1990 and you can find more information on her at  www.deborahwilliams.com.au

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Artist’s statement…

When I look at dogs in and around me, I question whether dogs are seen for what they are, as separate beings. I observe that while we do not objectify our dogs per se, our feelings are frequently filtered through human perspectives; these dogs are therefore, anthropomorphized brought unwittingly into our worlds.

I strive to challenge the anthropomorphizing of dogs even though I acknowledge that my work, in common with historical and contemporary contexts of the representation of dogs, is none the less filtered through my own perspectives and brought into our world.

For a dog, it must surely be a complex relationship, enduring and interdependent, loving and loyal, yet simply ‘other’. It is the ‘other’ that I endeavour to depict.

It is this latter context, which I focus on. I aim to depict the dog not as a breed above, apart or beyond, but of its own. Captured in a moment.

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Why are you an artist? 

I’m not sure being an artist was really a choice as the drive is so strong that even when I have wanted to ‘throw in the towel’ I haven’t been able to. I think I would be lost without this ingrained desire to create.

How important is art for you? Well, it is my life, so incredibly important.

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Your art education was…?

2006 – 2011 MFA Research Printmaking, National Art School, Sydney
2006 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
1994           Bachelor of Arts (Honors) Fine Art RMIT
1991 Diploma of Education, University of Melbourne –Hawthorn Institute
1987-1989       Bachelor of Arts (Printmaking) Victoria College, Prahran
1986 Box Hill Tafe, Tertiary Orientation Program

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The craziest thing you did at art school was…

Act out the Russian Revolution for a project based on Russian Constructivism while studying at Box Hill Tafe (TOP)

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far? (Seeing your work in a particular collection etc…)

Representing Australian Galleries at the Melbourne Art Fair in 2008 was a huge buzz.

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What is your earliest memory of art?

Arthur Boyd’s Melbourne Burning. A reproduction of this painting hung in the hallway outside my bedroom door. I distinctly remember spending many nights looking at that image and discovering new elements I hadn’t seen previously. It scared me, yet intrigued me.

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What caused you to choose Printmaking?

I grew up with Noel Counihan’s lino print Hunger, 1959 . I believe my parents paid $50 for it. Counihan believed printmaking was a Socialist art form, easier to disseminate to the masses. This philosophy had a direct impact on my decision to study Printmaking and has continually inspired me. This in turn links into the Political household that I grew up in, which at times I rejected but essentially and perhaps subconsciously was motivated by. Instilled with a passion for fairness and social justice. And Counihan’s print illustrates just that.

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Does the sale of your work support you? If no what else do you do to support your art?

I am unfortunately not able to live off my artwork, however I am lucky to have employment in an area directly related to my practice. I teach Printmaking in the Diploma of Visual Art at RMIT University and I also do some sessional teaching at VCA in the Drawing Print media Department.

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Do you have much contact with other artists?

Many of my friends and work colleagues’ are artists. My life is enriched by having so many creative people in my life.

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Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?

Mike Parr, specifically his printmaking. His exhibition at Anna Swartz in 2010 The Hallelujah Chorus, has been one of the most memorable exhibitions I’ve been lucky to witness. An amazing series of collagraph and drypoints, they were almost sculptural. The physicality of his works, the immediacy of the mark, are both dynamic and raw. I’m not sure I’ve seen this in prints before.

Leon Golub is an artist I have admired since Art School. There is a great energy in his work, they are gutsy and evoke an emotive response. I am also informed by his use of space, stripped of detail.

Noel Counihan, his images keep me grounded. They challenge me to keep reflecting and I believe always will.

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Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?

Make the work for me, the moment I start making works to please people as opposed to responding to my own drive is the time I believe I should stop.

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Musical influences, Okay this is about Visual Arts but most artists have favourite music they enjoy while working or just in general what about you?

Daft Punk, Gil Scott Heron, Nina Simone, Mazy Star, Polica…….

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Some say the measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?

It certainly is an intention of mine. I think if I can grab the viewer’s attention and draw them in, I have achieved my aim.

Do you ever question being an artist?

I question being an artist less so now than I did when I was younger.  There were periods when it was difficult to keep putting time and money into making work with little reward. I considered a change in career, however the drive prevailed.

What did your prices start off at?

I used to give my work away!

How many artworks do you work on at the same time?

The way I work is very slow so I generally have many works evolving. This is partly because I would get bored if I was looking at the same image every time I was in the studio. It can take months to resolve and complete a work. Having up to ten or so works on the go means I can easily move from one to the other.

How did you manage to survive financially at the beginning of your art career?

Lots of different part time jobs from bar work, gardening, house cleaning, waitressing and working in a Medical bookshop.

How do you establish your art work prices?

That is a very difficult task and thankfully I do not set the prices, my Gallery does.

Did you have any idea about how the art world worked in the beginning?

Absolutely no idea, I discovered the workings as I trundled along.

What is your work space like?

Organised chaos. I aim to be very organised but there is jut so much stuff! I do know where most    things are though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editions – For Printmaking and Art Photography

In Printmaking and Art Photography there has been a long standing tradition to “edition” the prints. There is a good reason for this which shows up in the history of printmaking and is carried on into more modern processes like photography.

Back in history, etching and other printmaking processes were one way an image could be distributed to the masses, people could see scenes drawn by Artists and Illustrators from other parts of the world for instance and thus a simple post card was born. Often these would be grouped together to form a range of scenes e.g. of a city. This was long before Photography.

Along the way Artists needed to have some measure of control over the number of prints made, as the image on a metal plate can wear down and quality lost. To ensure the integrity of their name and the quality of the image they would edition the ‘good prints’. If an assistant wanted to create more prints to sell on the ‘side’ the print would not have had the number and signature from the Artist.

Another point to add is the print often takes a number of runs through the press before the plate fully reveals the full image. The Artist should then select the best set of prints from a printing run to ensure the edition is equal in image quality. All other prints can then be discarded.

In the process the prints are numbered and signed. If their are 25 prints that were equal in final quality, then the edition would be 25 so each print is then assigned a number, ideally in the order they were printed. Therefore 1/25 – 2/25 and so forth.

In the process of printing there can be an initial ‘top quality’ print which sets the standard by which the other prints are compared to to check they match this quality. this print is then call the  “Bon å tirer” which is French for “Good to Print”. Often the initials bat are used where the edition number would go at the bottom of the print on the left hand side and can be signed as well to show they have approved it.

The Artist can also create other prints in the Edition one example is an Artists Proof, often a print the Artist keeps for their own collection, or sometimes given to an Assistant or the Publisher. This is signified as A/P in place of the number on the bottom left of the print.

The notion of creating an edition has also been used in Photography as a negative or digital image can be reproduced multiple times, to ensure the value of the finished art work using an editioning process ensure the investor/collector is assured no other ‘copies’ will be created, therefore maintaining the value of the work.

Printing studios or Publishing houses can also add a ‘chop’ to the final edition, this is an embossed symbol of the printers ‘mark’. This can add to the validity of the quality of the printed edition.

Shane Jones Artist

Shane Jones lives and works in Abbotsford and Ballarat, Victoria. He is represented by Charles Nodrum Gallery and The Art Vault. Shane has been making art for over 35 years you can see his website at www.shanejonesart.com and follow his blog here http://jonesartblog.blogspot.com.au/

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Shane, do you have any interests other than art you feel are important to mention?

Cinema, theatre, music, sport. Although it’s hard to say what impact these interests have on my art practice, apart from horse racing, which is a subject I am now engaged with.

What are the main medium/s you work in…

Mainly painting, but sometimes printmaking and sculpture.

Irreversible, 2005, oil on linen, 61 x 50.5 cm

How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other? 

My work is realistic but the subject matter is not always what is depicted. I see it as a mixture of  the realistic, the conceptual and the philosophical.

How important is art for you?

There is nothing more important than art in all its forms. At its highest level, art shows us the best that human beings can do, and excellence and imagination can only inspire one and enrich one’s life. It’s the only form of true magic we know, since it’s beyond technical tricks that can be explained in a manual or a  secret that can be passed on.

Missing, 2010, oil on canvas, 83.5 x 60.5 cm

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?

I had been working as an artist for nearly 20 years before I went to art school, but  my work changed a lot when I did. I think what art school taught me was that instead of painting an object for its own sake, the greater aim was to paint an idea. Since art is an extension of your thoughts, then if you change your thinking you change your art. I didn’t need to change my realist style, rather it was more that I added something to it.

Quodlibet, 2006, oil on canvas, 122.5 x 81.5 cm

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?

I did not grow up in a visual art environment but I was always encouraged in art by my school teachers. There was a retired policeman who lived down the road, a Mr. Thompson, who once studied drawing at the National Gallery Art School at nights and  he was also encouraging. I grew up in Mordialloc, Victoria, which was then an important horse racing area and I became an apprentice jockey in my teens. This is significant at this time because I am making a body of work with horse racing as a subject.

Self Portrait, 2009, oil on linen, 35 x 25 cm

What or who inspires your art?

Artists, both historical and contemporary, have always inspired me, but life does too. Artists show you what can be achieved and life provides the experience and subject matter that leads to the making of art. I also think that if you see your own art progress, then that can be an inspiration too.

The Famous Straight Six, 2013, oil on linen, 76 x 91.5 cm

You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…

The word success is often misused where art is concerned. It usually means how many sales you have had or how your career is coming along. Artists like Van Gogh, Cezanne and Constable for example, were highly successful artists although they made little money from their work and had relatively insignificant careers. I think the best you can do as an artist is to move someone silently, inside, and this power is independent of the politics, marketing and fashions of the art world. If you can do this, especially for viewers of the future, then you are a successful artist.

Untitled #22, 1998, oil on canvas, 183 x 91.5 cm

What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?

I work mostly from life, so I don’t rely on preparatory drawings or sketches. I generally have a good idea of what the finished picture might look like before I start, and sometimes I carry an idea in my head for years before I act on it. Working from life can sometimes give me ideas I could never make up, like someone being in a particular spot, the play of light or the fall of a shadow. I love detail, so my paintings need many sittings to complete. Recently, I have been exploring the subject of horse racing, but I have had to rely on photography to make these works, so my philosophy of working directly from life has changed. It’s impossible to get a horse to pose, especially when you want the image to be of a horse in motion.

Untitled #26, 1999, oil on linen, 152 x 83.5 cm

Do you have a personal description of “Art”?

For me, art is light and space which is greater than its subject matter. Light and space give life to ideas and energize the mark making, but art is also the combination of craftsmanship, thinking and feeling. Sometimes subject matter is mistaken for the art, by that I mean that great and noble subject matter does not automatically mean great art. There can be more art in a simple still life than walls filled with political or social commentary.

Untitled #46, 1999, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 cm

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?

Craftsmanship means that an artist directly thinks and feels through the hands. If artists cannot make images with clarity, then they cannot fully bring their art into the world. Something beautifully made is not just about skill,  it’s about being involved in what you do, loving what you make. From a technical point of view, if making art is worth doing, then you owe it to your art to make it last.

Untitled #73, 2000, oil on  canvas, 152 x 83.5 cm

Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?

Much of my work is based on identity considered through the questions – Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Since these questions cannot yet be answered, it means that we do not understand who we really are. My work is based on the idea of identity as a question rather than a definition. I am also interested in space as something that contains mystery, which reflects the three questions.

I have always avoided story telling in my work, but now the horse racing subjects have perhaps provided me with a narrative to explore, which is reflected in the titles. It has also directed my attention away from an interior space into a more open dimension.

Untitled #87, 2001 oil on canvas 152 x 101.5 cm

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?

Two come to mind. Once a person said to me that I am not a real artist because I paint from life. But on several other occasions others have said that my work looks like I love what I paint.

Untitled #102, 2002 oil on canvas 110 x 91.5 cm

How do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?

When I see my early works I sometimes wish I could retouch them. But I have also been pleasantly surprised to see works that don’t look too bad. Whatever I think of them, the one consistent thought I have is that it was the best I could do at the time.

Untitled #104, 2003,oil on canvas, 91 x 50.5 cm

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?

My local library was one of the most important locations for me when I started as an artist because it was the only way I could access great art. There was not one book that inspired me but the many books I discovered on the shelves. Too many to name.

Untitled #109, 2003, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 35.5 cm

Tell us about your studio environment (too big, too small, enough storage or not, the light, the position, how you found it etc)?

I have a place to work at home, but since I paint from life I have to be adaptable. I have painted portraits at the sitter’s home, painted at racetracks, the country side, street scenes from inside the car, in small rooms, large rooms, in windy conditions and in very hot or cold temperatures. So long as I can see the work in a good light then all other problems can usually be managed.

Untitled #110, 2004, oil on canvas, 102 x 92 cm

Is your work process fast or slow?

Sometimes it can take a year or two for a work to be completed, not that I am continuously working on that one piece, but rather it was the time it took to finish it. On other occasions it can take a month or two or a week or two, and I sometimes retouch a painting several years later. When painting outdoors, bad weather can mean long delays between painting sessions. I have never finished a painting in an afternoon though, unless it was a quick sketch for its own sake, which would remain the finished work.

Waiting for the Winner,2012, oil on plywood, 40 x 40 cm

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?

I think that is a great description of what a work of art should do and it’s what I would like to achieve with my own work.

How many artworks do you work on at the same time?

For many years my ideas have been expressed through still life and self-portraiture, which means I can set things up in the studio and work on them. This allows me to begin a work and see it through to the end before I start another one. But since I have been painting outside for these last few years, and as the weather can influence when I work on a painting, I now have a number of things in progress at the same time. I can have up to 5 paintings in different stages of development.

Tell us your most memorable art experience growing up.

When I began to study art seriously I found the most difficult questions to consider were how do you become an artist and what does this mean. For many years I thought about art and experimented with many techniques but made little progress. I finally went to London in 1981 and  came across the small outdoor oil sketches of John Constable in the Victoria and Albert Museum. This was a turning point in my studies because I saw for the first time that I should be working from life, and this important revelation has stayed with me ever since.

Does the sale of your Artwork support you?

I have never made a living from my art practice, but sometimes I think this might be a good thing for me. Since I paint slowly, I need a lot of time to make a single work or prepare for an exhibition, so I would need to sell my work for large prices to live off it, but this does not happen. I also like the idea of having time to think about what I am doing and experimenting, without the pressures of selling. Throughout my life I have had a several jobs like jockey, bricklayer, bicycle courier, self-service petrol station attendant, taxi driver, track-work rider, part-time art teacher and to date I have a small lawn mowing round which I’ve had for many years.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2013+

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LIST OF WORKS – From top

Irreversible, 2005, oil on linen, 61 x 50.5 cm

Missing, 2010, oil on canvas, 83.5 x 60.5 cm

Quodlibet, 2006, oil on canvas, 122.5 x 81.5 cm

Self Portrait, 2009, oil on linen, 35 x 25 cm

The Famous Straight Six, 2013, oil on linen, 76 x 91.5 cm

Untitled #22, 1998, oil on canvas, 183 x 91.5 cm

Untitled #26, 1999, oil on linen, 152 x 83.5 cm

Untitled #46, 1999, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 cm

Untitled #73, 2000, oil on canvas, 152 x 83.5 cm

Untitled #87, 2001, oil on canvas 152 x 101.5 cm

Untitled #102, 2002, oil on canvas 110 x 91.5 cm

Untitled #104, 2003, oil on canvas, 91 x 50.5 cm

Untitled #109, 2003, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 35.5 cm

Untitled #110, 2004, oil on canvas, 102 x 92 cm

Waiting for the Winner, 2012, oil on plywood, 40 x 40 cm