About michaelalaurie

I am so fortunate to be living in the high country of New South Wales in Australia not far from Canberra, our nations capital city. The landscape in this place has pervaded my soul. It is a land of “big” skies and rugged mountains overbrimming with elements of natural beauty formed by a harsh climate. I see this landscape everyday from my home and as I drive in my car. Views formed by windows. Distant hills with their rocky outcrops and weathered gums are distinctly silhouetted against the huge ever changing sky. These views never cease to draw me to them. Early morning and twilight skies, when these same hills, rocks and trees become dark silhouettes, their interior makeup disappearing to create a dramatic view which changes by the minute. The sky, so clear and light during the day becomes a luminous deep pool of colour at day break and night fall. I am fascinated by the layering of colours which create a sense of place. The beginning and end of each day when magic is played out and colours begin their hypnotic dance. No two mornings or afternoons are ever the same. I have been involved in learning and then practicing art for most of my life. Studying Fine Arts at University of Sydney, taking courses in printmaking and painting, working as manager of a gallery in CBD of Sydney and then becoming a full time practicing mixed media artist. My current art practice involves “painting’ with coloured pencils. I love the immediacy of working with pencils - as they are almost like finger painting and allow for a huge variety of mark making possibilities. The waxy consistency of the pencils allows blending, layering and glazing of beautiful rich colour just as when working with paint.

Progression

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‘Osprey Island’ mixed media coloured pencil painting. 71cm square

Sometimes I come to the end of the process and I wonder how on earth I got here. It is a little like the pictures themselves. Long long walks up hills, down valleys and jumping on flat stones to cross streams. A variety of music playing in my head. Stories of happiness and tragedy in the news and hearing about peoples lives on the radio. Thoughts about my life and of those I love. Then, I look up and there before me, is the destination. But when to stop and enjoy the view. I have to decide when to sit down and do no more.

I’ll turn this one around so I can’t see it for a week before deciding whether the journey is complete.

A few weeks on: I entered this piece in this year’s Hunters Hill Art Exhibition and Prize and it was chosen as a finalist to hang in this year’s exhibition. How happy am I 😀👏🏻💃. For details about this exhibition please go to the news section of this blog.

Chelsea International Fine Art Award New York

Gallery

This gallery contains 5 photos.

The results were announced yesterday for the 32nd Chelsea International Fine Art Awards held at the Agora Gallery in New York. I am very proud and thrilled to have been awarded an Honourable Mention in this years competition for the five works … Continue reading

Adventures in pen and ink

All of a sudden I needed to work on a larger scale. To do this using the techniques I use in coloured pencil would be difficult,  probably wouldn’t result in a nice smooth finish and be very very time consuming. I was creatively stuck and I was worried. Maybe that’s it. Maybe my creative mojo had gone away – maybe forever.

Then I started drawing with lead pencils of various hardness and lead thicknesses. It was fabulous. So then I went to my ink pens and found my creative mojo along with a whole bag of fantastical ideas had returned from its holiday somewhere in the great world of trees, islands in the bay and magical worlds.

Not an everyday Monday in July

There I was driving my son to pick up his car which had been serviced when, dring dring – the phone rang.

The voice on the other end said that it was the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney. Now this is a pretty unusual call to get on a Monday afternoon. I knew immediately what it meant – and it was a bit hard to keep the car steady on the road. It was a – mixture of shock, amazed excitment, blinking back tears while trying to be professional moment.

The selection panel for the 2016 Salon des Refusés would like to include your work “Fragile”entered in the Wynne Prize (the landscape section which runs in conjunction with the Archibald Prize for portraiture) in the exhibition at the S.H. Ervin Gallery. Following the Sydney exhibition, works in the Salon des Refusés will travel to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in Victoria.

Fragile 3 (2)

‘Fragile’ 45cm square mixed media coloured pencil, watercolour and ink.

You may ask – But what is the Salon Des Refuses? Here is the explanation from the S.H. Ervin Gallery Website:  http://www.shervingallery.com.au/whats-on/calendar/item/133-salon-2015

“Each year the Salon panel goes behind the scenes of the judging process, to select an ‘alternative’ exhibition from the many works not chosen as finalists for the official exhibition.  The criteria for works selected are quality, diversity, humour and experimentation.  This year’s selectors include Catherine Benz, curator, Delmar Gallery, Kon Gouriotis OAM, curator & editor, Art Profile & Jane Watters, S.H. Ervin Gallery Director.  

Our panel viewed the unselected entries from the 830 Archibald Prize and 710 Wynne Prize entered at the Art Gallery of New South Wales to select the 64 works for this alternative exhibition. 

The Salon des Refusés exhibition at the S.H. Ervin Gallery has established an excellent reputation that rivals the selections of the ‘official’ exhibition with works which examine contemporary art practices, different approaches to portraiture and responses to the landscape.

In 2016, 40 works were selected for the ‘alternative’ Archibald Prize & 24 from the Wynne Prize.

The Salon des Refusés follows the tradition made famous by Napoleon lll in Paris. He insisted that the huge number of works which had been rejected by the Academy for that year’s Salon, be displayed for the public to view and judge.  The very first Salon des Refusés included works by Manet and Pissarro. 

Visitors to the annual Salon des Refusés exhibition can vote for their favourite artwork in the Holding Redlich People’s Choice Award, the winner of this much anticipated award will be announced on 15 September 2016. ”             

So – I am delighted, incredibly excited and humbled to be one of the 24 Wynne works to be exhibited. And can’t help jumping up alla Toyota style and crying out – Yippe Yahouzzie.

 

From this to that – again.

Fragile 3 (2)

June 2016 seems to have rolled around very quickly. It feels like only last month that I was busy working on a large piece to enter into the 2015 Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW (see several posts ago). But here we are.

I usually work on a very small scale – in fact I love to work on a very small scale. So it is a huge challenge to scale up into large. Mind you, the winner of the 2015 Wynne was a beautiful miniature work by Natasha Bieniek titled ‘Biophilia’. For this exhibition there is only a limit on how large you can work – not how small.

2015 Wynne Prize

I give myself a challenge to work larger and not too far into it I start ranting and raving inside my head about how stupid I am doing this. Some mornings, it is with heavy feet that I walk up to the studio to begin another day’s work on my challenge. I have to force myself to work through the trials and feelings which can be very overwhelming and tiring. But the joy of coming out the other side makes the process, the hours and hours of patient scribbling and layering all worthwhile. I, like many others before me when their work is finished, sit back and think how on earth did that happen. I’m not sure that I could tell you what happened and if I could do it the same again. The process happens and you just have to work hard in the zone and let it wash over you. The minutes and hours roll on and sometimes I look up at the clock and see that several hours have floated by. The creative process is pretty incredible and almost magical.

Here is the documentation of the process behind my 2016 entry to the Wynne Prize. ‘Fragile’ – a comment on our beautiful world and how it needs to be cared for each and every day.

This work was created using Arches, smooth watercolour board, coloured pencils from Derwent, Faber-Castell and Prisma (I use them all as they each have their own special characteristics), watercolour/gouche and pigment ink. It is 45cm square.

Greeting Cards

Greeting Card Display

For some time now I have been procrastinating about making greeting cards from the mixed media pieces I have been creating. Many people have asked me if I could – and I have hummed and harred. From past experience the photgraphing – and then the printing (which has it’s own big bag of challenges), was a huge hurdle for me. I am very patient creating my trees and skies- but photography, well that’s a different story. I have no patience with it and I just want to point and shoot. A bit like computers, I just want to turn it on and get going.

I fiddled around with scanning the work. Then photographing it in various light situations and using different settings in my camera. Then recently, I started using the camera in my phone. The trouble seemed to be that all the layers of my scribbles didn’t translate very well to pixels etc. But guess what – the phone won out. Who would have guessed!

So with images sorted, printing settings experimented with, I am ready to release my greeting card range. There will images added to the range every month. Pop over to the shop page for more details.

 

“The Perfect Gift”

An exhibition by AIM – Art in Miniature

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It was a perfect late Spring afternoon for the opening of “The Perfect Gift”, a fascinating and beautiful exhibition of over 158 miniatures by 19 members of the Art In Miniature ACT group of artists. The exhibition has been beautifully and expertly co-ordinated and hung by Camelia Smith, president of Aim, with help from members. What a mammoth task to hang all these tiny treasures – and to make sure that they stay straight and are lined up! It looks wonderful.

The exhibition is being held at Yarralumla Gallery, Cottage 1, Weston Park Road, Yarralumla. 29th November 2015 – 29th January 2016. The gallery is part of The Oaks Brasserie and café concept located at the heritage listed Old English Gardens alongside the Yarralumla Nursery, surrounded by the leafy trees of Weston Park. Man’s best friend is more than welcome in the specially maintained dog garden where they can enjoy canine delights offered on the menu!

AIM was formed to promote the art of miniature in the ACT and surrounding districts in all its very diverse forms. The criteria for this group is that the work must be 100 square centimeters or less in total picture area (many works are much smaller) and that subject matter is to appear in the spirit of miniaturization.

The opening was very well attended and was officially opened by Barbie Robinson from Artcetera, ArtSound FM Radio, who only day’s out of hospital, gave an inspiring and informative speech to a crowd on the back terrace under the trees.

Here are some photos: group 1 taken by Camelia Smith when the work was hung.    Group 2 during the opening.

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered how they judge the Archibald Prize?

Last Friday I delivered my large mixed media panorama piece to the Art Gallery of NSW for a competition. For some reason it is quite a nervous time for I’m sure all artists entering. It’s hard to be truly objective about your own work and at the end of the day the rational end’s up being “You’ve got to be in it, to even have the chance of being hung”. And wouldn’t that be an incredible thing.

20150625_154304sml At The Art Scene Framers

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The competition falls into three categories, the most well known being the Archibald Prize started in 1921. The Archibald Prize is awarded annually to the best portrait, ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’. The other two prizes are the Wynne for landscape pictures and sculpture and the Sulman for subject or genre pictures.

Judging for the Archibald and Wynne Prizes is carried out by 11 trustees of the Art Gallery NSW. ”One by one the works are carried or wheeled in by the gallery’s installation crew to be viewed by the trustees, who decide by consensus if the work is ‘in’, ‘out’ or ‘maybe in’. It is estimated that each works has about 11 seconds to impress the panel, just because of the sheer volume of thousands of works entered. How difficult would that be? A single judge is invited to judge the Sulman Prize each year. There is also a prize called the Packing Room Prize awarded by the hardworking men and women in the basement of the gallery who receive the works from the artists over the week before deadline and also People’s Choice.                                                   Artists also have the chance of being chosen to hang in “The Salon des Refuses” which is held at the S.H. Erving Gallery on Observatory Hill in Sydney. From the S.H. Irving “The ‘alternative’ selection from hundreds of entries to the Archibald and Wynne Prizes. Each year our guest selectors go behind the scenes of the Art Gallery of New South Wales to select the exhibtion. The Salon has an excellent reputation and the criteria for works selected are quality, diversity, humour and experimentation and cover themes such as contemporary art practices, different approaches to portraiture and artist’s responses to the landscape.”  This exhibition goes on to travel to other Regional Art Galleries.                                                                                                                      Then – of course, there are many artists who travel back to the art gallery packing room to pick up their art babies to take them back home to the studio, trying not to feel too dejected. Better luck next time.                                                                                               I’ve been in that boat twice. So full of dreaming – dashed. Back to the shed or studio.

Because my subject of the moment is the trees around where I live, I entered the Wynne Prize. I’ll let you know what happens this time. 

******* It was the long drive back to the NSW Gallery and then back to the shed.