Holmes Art Prize – Steve Hillier Finalist

Stephen Hillier, Breakfast at Sweethearts, Oil on Canvas, 92x80 cms
Stephen Hillier, Breakfast at Sweethearts, Oil on Canvas, 92×80 cms

This is my partner, Steve’s entry for the Holmes Art Prize, a stunning painting of the Black Shouldered Kite. It was an education to see the meticulous dedication that goes into painting a work like this. Long after I thought it was finished, Steve was working away, adding details and making subtle adjustments that I could hardly see. Very unlike my own slap-dash approach. But hey, vive la difference!

You can see more of Steve’s work, including some of his un-feathered birds at Visual Emporium – https://visualemporium.com.au/artists/steve-hillier/.

And finally – the Blue Bird of Happiness to welcome in the New Year – paintings 99-102 for 2013

Bluebirds 1 - oil and mixed media on canvas board, 30x30 mounted on studio canvas 45x45 cms
Bluebirds 1 – oil and mixed media on canvas board, 30×30 mounted on studio canvas 45×45 cms
Bluebirds 2 - oil and mixed media on canvas, 30x30, mounted on studio canvas, 45x45
Bluebirds 2 – oil and mixed media on canvas, 30×30, mounted on studio canvas, 45×45
Bluebirds 3 - oil and mixed media on canvas, 30x30, mounted on studio canvas 45x45 cms.
Bluebirds 3 – oil and mixed media on canvas, 30×30, mounted on studio canvas 45×45 cms.
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Hooray! I’ve completed my 100 painting challenge for 2013 — in fact I have a few more left over that I haven’t posted as yet. Painting a lot is a great way to improve painting skills and learn to get the work down quickly. I’m very glad to have done it. Perhaps 2014 should be a year for concentrating on quality rather than quantity.

Shallow Waters – 77 – 84/100 for 2013

Shallow Waters - oil on canvas, 122 x 41 cms
Shallow Waters – oil on canvas, 122 x 41 cms
Tree by the Pool, graphite and Colour pencil on paper, 40 x 30 cms
Tree by the Pool, graphite and Colour pencil on paper, 40 x 30 cms
Ripple Tripping, 9x panels, 15cm x 15cms, watercolour pencil on watercolour paper
Ripple Tripping, 9x panels, 15cm x 15cms, watercolour pencil on watercolour paper
Creek textures, oil and mixed media on canvas board, 30x30 cms
Creek textures, oil and mixed media on canvas board, 30×30 cms
Patterns in the Water - oil and encaustic media on canvas board, 30x30 cms
Patterns in the Water – oil and encaustic media on canvas board, 30×30 cms
Serene Creek - graphite and watercolour on paper, 30x10
Serene Creek – graphite and watercolour on paper, 30×10
Roiled as a Torrent, liquid graphite wash on watercolour paper, 20x30 cms
Roiled as a Torrent, liquid graphite wash on watercolour paper, 20×30 cms
Rainforest filigree - mixed media on canvas board, 30x30 cms
Rainforest filigree – mixed media on canvas board, 30×30 cms

For the final year of my Fine Arts study I will be working in depth on a single subject. I’ve chosen the local creek, Mudgeeraba Creek, which is a beautiful little spot. There will be a lot more creek paintings coming up in future months. At this point I am trying out a variety of approaches. Hopefully along this journey I will discover my own special way of interpreting this subject.

Sunworshipper 2 – 76/100 for 2013

Sunworshipper 2 - oil on canvas, 75x75 cms
Sunworshipper 2 – oil on canvas, 75×75 cms

In this figure study I was trying out a more graphic treatment of the background while keeping the modelling of the figure realistic. There is more to do on this work, but as the year is rapidly running out, I am posting it up now.

Salome – 75/100 for 2013

Salome, oil and mixed media on canvas, 73 x 51cms
Salome, oil and mixed media on canvas, 73 x 51cms

Inspired by an old photograph of a Zigfield Follies girl, as I painted this femme fatale she started to remind me of the story of Salome, and especially of Oscar Wilde’s magic and disturbing play.

Around my place – paintings 68-74/100 for 2013

Herk's Chair, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cms
Herk’s Chair, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cms
Bedroom study - single colour - Venetian red
Bedroom study – single colour – Venetian red
Study blue and orange
Study blue and orange
Sleeping in - study in violet and yellow
Sleeping in – study in violet and yellow
The French Bed - study in magenta, cyan and yellow
The French Bed – study in magenta, cyan and yellow
Peacock Vase - study in magenta, cyan and yellow.
Peacock Vase – study in magenta, cyan and yellow.

These are a few interior studies of my house, using restricted colour palettes and featuring my housemate – Herk the wonder-pug.

Infestation of Beauty 66/100 for 2013

Infestation of Beauty: Water Hyacinths by the McLean River, oil on canvas 60x60 cms
Infestation of Beauty: Water Hyacinths by the McLean River, oil on canvas 60×60 cms

I was driving down the Pacific Highway, where the road follows the McLean River, when I saw these marshy fields infested with water hyacinth, (which is a horribly noxious weed), all in furious flower. I had to stop and investigate, taking lots of photographs. It looked from some angles like a Dutch tulip farm. The colours of the flowers were echoed in the stormy sky. It was kind of an ‘aha’ moment — yes, I see, beauty really is no guarantee of virtue, contrary to what Mr. Keats had to say (“beauty is truth: truth, beauty”)

Dancing on the Edge 65/100 for 2013

Dancing on the Edge, mixed media, 75x75 cms
Dancing on the Edge, mixed media, 75×75 cms

This was my entry for the recent Border Art Prize. Didn’t win, didn’t sell, situation normal. It’s a departure from my usual style. The painting started with a background of rust paint – you paint it on, black and gluggy, and then put on an oxidizer, that makes the surface, well, rust. When its rusted enough, you can seal it off. It makes a very interesting coloured and textured matt surface. Then I used some net fabric as a stencil to apply modelling paste, palette knife ditto, and a lot of dribbling, flicking and dotting. I was trying to get the impression of a group of rather graceful looking trees clinging onto a cliff face and swaying in the breeze. I think I got something of it there. The original photo reference, which bears little resemblance to the painting, was taken at the Minyon Falls lookout, Northern NSW.

Katoomba Cliffs 63/100 for 2013

Katoomba Cliffs oil on canvas 60x60 cms
Katoomba Cliffs oil on canvas 60×60 cms

It was about this time last year that I visited the Blue Mountains for the spring Garden Festival at Leura. I got some wonderful reference shots of the canyon walls, including the one I painted this picture from, taken from the top of Wentworth Falls. This painting is built on a textured base of torn strips of thick hand-made paper to suggest the feel of the rock strata. I’ve used unblended rectangular strokes of strong colour to bring out the colour variations in the cliff face. Sadly this year parts of the Blue Mountains have already been damaged by fire and many homes lost. Fire is a constant danger in this region and I fear this summer is going to be a bad one.

Silent Waters – paintings 59-61 of 100 for 2013

Silent Waters triptych 1, oil on canvas mounted on hardboard, 28x75cms
Silent Waters triptych 1, oil on canvas mounted on hardboard, 28x75cms
Silent Waters triptych 2 - oil on canvas mounted on hardboard, 28x75cms.
Silent Waters triptych 2 – oil on canvas mounted on hardboard, 28x75cms.
Silent Waters Triptych 3 - oil on canvas mounted on hardborad, 28x75 cms.
Silent Waters Triptych 3 – oil on canvas mounted on hardborad, 28×75 cms.
Silent Waters Triptych mounted.
Silent Waters Triptych mounted.

These are three paintings I developed from the small paintings I put up in the previous post.  They are all scenes from Mudgeeraba Creek, a few kilometres down the road, right up in the headwaters of it, where it is very shallow.  There is a fantastic quality of light there in the early morning, when the sun is lighting up the tops of the trees but the under-canopy is in shadow.  The colours of reflections this makes is amazing – like liquid gold and green satin.   The work is currently on display at Monet’s Art Garden Gallery, Metro Centre, Hollywell Road, Labrador.  The mosaic table-top in the foreground is also my work, if anyone is wondering.