Mentoring Emerging Artists
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MEDIUMS: Watercolor | Printmaking
SPECIALTY: ✔ Generalist
Christine Porter has been a full-time, fully self-supporting, professional artist since 1990. She is a painter, printmaker, teacher and writer. Her paintings tell visual stories about rural Australia, specializing in the iconic Australian shearing shed – to date more than one hundred different sheds, from the famous to the everyday, from Tasmania to North Queensland.
Based now in Lismore, in coastal NSW, she travels to spend time working on-site in a shed, usually at the request of the owners, then takes up to six months in the studio to complete a project. The initial sketches and ideas are in pen and wash, with the final works in watercolour. Sometimes artwork in other media evolves within a project, such as artist books. Often the ideas flow over to her printmaking practice, which is a place for her to explore more personal themes. Always the artwork she makes is a way to explore what is around her.
“Making artwork about shearing sheds is about the building. It’s about shape and colour, and patterns of light and dark. But it’s about the history too. Each board, post, gate, and the marks on them – accidental or deliberate – are layers of a past that can be read like the history of sheep and wool in Australia, and the story of this shed and its people”
MENTORSHIP GROUP FOCUS
My Group Will Focus On Making Paintings in Watercolor
Artists can expect to learn how to manage and enjoy this exciting medium, as well as learn strategies for making traditional representational paintings. There’ll be some attention to drawing skills and topics such as perspective, but this will vary with the group.
I concentrate on overall generalities rather than specifics: how to paint any building for example, or any tree, rather than simply copy mine. I will be concentrating on real life objects and places rather than painting from photos. Don’t panic – my first teacher would say: the problems of painting an apple on the table are the same as the problems of painting a tree out in the paddock. Good advice, I’ve found, that creates positive long-term outcomes.
We’ll look at other ways to present our paintings too – different installation opportunities, or bound in artist books, if there’s interest.
I teach the way I like to learn – allocated learning time often separate from studio painting time. I like to learn facts, techniques or strategies in a logical manner, then going away and assimilate that knowledge with guided exercises, ideas eventually becoming part of how I make a mark. I like to see how I’ve been going, so I have created a loose-leaf “Painting Learning Folder” which is a life-long, studio, reference tool.
Artists will be working towards developing an independent art practice and their own voice. I will be their “experienced bystander”- encouraging, supporting, and answering questions as they arise. Explanations, demonstrations and take-home activities will always include an “easy” version as well as a more complication option. Positive self-evaluation, acceptance, and empathy are paramount in my classes.
Listed below are this Mentor’s specialty skills. Join this group if you want to grow in these areas.
Specialty: ✔ Generalist
Color & Composition
Teach to Self Critique
Shows & Exhibits
Running Your Art Business the Day to Day
Products, Prints & Reproductions
MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST
Her artwork has received more than 300 awards including the McGregor Fellowship for international travel from the University of Southern Queensland. She has been collected by the National Gallery of Australia, the Brisbane City Council and many regional public and corporate collections, as well as by private collectors globally.
Influenced by many traditional Australian watercolourists such as Frederic Bates, much of her formative learning occurred in the dusty isolation of rural Queensland. There she learnt the value of simply getting out and painting, of brush to paper, hours at the easel.
However, no artist creates in a vacuum – learning occurs in the studio, and within community. She gratefully credits many of her teachers, be they deliberate or accidental, with the advances she’s made in her career. Being an elected member of the Australian Watercolour Institute has given her a place on the national stage, amongst some of the most respected watercolourists in the land. An undergraduate degree in Visual Arts has layered contemporary understandings over her essentially subject-based practice. A daily commitment to that practice, committing to watercolour and all its beauty means that, for this artist, learning isn’t finite, it’s as integral to the process as the product itself.
Her teaching reflects the importance of an artist developing a conversation with their own art practice rather than simple mimicry of other’s. Her strategies over the years have included workshops and classes in techniques and skills, however the most important element, one that intertwines it all even whilst talking brushes or glazing, is about the support and encouragement of artists in finding their own voice. True teaching isn’t just about facts, it’s about being an experienced bystander asking “how can I help you today”, and doing just that.