NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) regularly holds drawing sessions with artists and a couple of years ago I attended one held by the incredible and prolific artist John Wolseley. Lucky me !
In his 70s but with the energy and enthusiasm of someone much younger, he talked passionately to a crowded room of over 100 people, set up with drawing boards, paper and pencils. The session passed quickly as we all “drew” from the collection of art-works on the walls. What remains with me from this brief but very interesting encounter with Wolseley is a significant piece of advice and wisdom.
As an artist he said “try and capture the ‘energy” of what you are portraying, recording, rendering etc.. The ‘energy’ e.g of a tree…. it is growing, it exists and it has an ” inner energy” a force that it gives out to the world. Use your mark marking . colours and lines to convey this energy.”
Now to transfer that memory of John Wolseley and his advice through my drawing….
Upon arrival at Stony Point my first thought was colour ! a range of intense blues, the bright limey green on the tidal shoreline and how these colours “pop” in contrast to the neutrals and ochres of the sand. Using the act of En Plein Air a French expression that means “in the open air” we were required to record impressions and information from this scenic site.
I am so glad I did a munber of quick sketches and recorded the shoreline and hungry pelicans there because later when I printed out the photos as another reference I was acutely aware in the photographs at the lack of detail and depth of field but most of all the absence of energy. An energy that you can feel when you are actually there in an environment the real connectedness you can imbibe into your work, the sun on your back/head etc the breeze the insects and the smell. Your senses are engaged in the environment when you immerse yourself in the very real world. A taste of Wolseley’s energy perhaps?
Looking at Wolseleys work you can feel that connectedness, the heightened prismatic colour he injects into leaves, plants, insects etc he has acute observational skills with masterful craftsmanship. Something to aspire to.