Fine art tips on How To Paint Oil and Acrylic Landscapes with John Turton on Colour In your Life


G’Day Viewers, My Name is Graeme Stevenson and I ‘d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life, There’s an artist in every family, throughout the world and lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well, so grab your Kids, your Brothers, your Sisters, your Auntie’s, Uncles’ and Mum’s and Dad’s and come and see how some the best artist in Australia do what they do. (Music Plays) Well g’day viewers and welcome back to
Colour In Your Life. We’re with a very, very talented man today, a Mr. John Turton,
and we’re at his studio in the mountains of Mullumbimby in the Northern Rivers of New South
Wales, and to say he’s got a great studio is an understatement, cause it’s really like
a loft over the top of this area that looks You can hear the birds in the background
; it’s really fabulous mate. But John’s had a very successful career since
the seventies; a very well known artist throughout Australia. You’re in collections, even Homes Accor (?)
You’re in his collection as well? Amazing stuff. And you would describe
yourself more as a colourist of landscapes, wouldn’t you? I’d say so, yeah. Yeah I really enjoy the colour,
putting it next to each other John’s actually put together a triptych today,
and we’re going to go through each individual one of these guys – and a triptych is
obviously three panels of the one piece – and go through some of his landscapes You’ve done a lot of travelling
across Australia, back and forth, so the influence really is, for you
the Australian landscape. Yeah, it sure is. And you’ve really had a very colourful career,
in the sense that you’ve won some major awards right across the country. You’re in some major collections as well.
Used to be a teacher? Yeah. You’ll probably have people phoning you
from everywhere going ‘oh come back and do it again!’ But we’re going to start on this today,
and you do a combination; it’s acrylics and oils? Yeah, that’s right. And you put the bases down.
So lets go to the canvas, find out what John does and lets see if we can create
a masterpiece today. Okay. Sounds great. Sounds good. Alright viewers, well as you can hear we have
a plethora of magnificent birds in the rainforest behind us, so you’ll probably hear
those intermittently as we’re speaking today, but it really is beautiful isn’t it? It’s pretty nice, yeah I just love it. Now, your canvases,
obviously we’ve got these set up there. You stretch your own canvases as well. Yeah, that’s right. And you’ve got like a little workshop downstairs
underneath the studio, where you’ll actually cut them all, stretch them yourself. That’s right. And go for it. Now you do something similar
to what I do, and we’ll use layers of gesso, one, two, three, four depending on what surface you want,
but you actually put a prime coat or a base coat or a neutral coat, which happens
to be a warm neutral coat. Do you do that on all of your work? No. A lot of times I prime it with white paint, yeah.
Because I’ve been painting for Darwin… Sure, sure. It’s kind of gone a bit red. Yeah.Well he actually has been doing exhibitions
up in Darwin the last couple of weeks hasn’t it? Yeah, that’s right. So… Okay, you’ve obviously made the start.
As you can see we’ve got these three paintings in various stages of completion. Where are we going to go on this one, and what
colours do you use to sort of build up the the momentum of your picture? Okay, well this one I’ll probably start off
with kind of a pink mix with a yellow ochre, and start off down here and
try and run this through here. Sure. And… Just keep the continuum going at this stage? Yeah, then I’ll probably just put some blue here
, just continually keep going and build up the yellows and the whites. Sure. So what type of paints? You’re obviously
using acrylics to start this off but what type of acrylics do you use?
Looks like you’ve got a real plethora of different acrylics over there. You’ve even got some
house paints down there as well. I do. [Laughs] It’s like ‘straight out of the bucket’. [Laughs] Yeah, well I find these
really good quality actually. Okay. [Laughs] I actually painted my house
in that colour there. [Laughs] [Laughs] That’s the base colour, that’s pretty cool!
-Yes, that is the base colour. I mean everything’s that colour. But okay,
so where do we go from here? I can obviously see you’ve got
some fairly large brushes there as well, and I think it’s just a matter
of mapping everything in is it? It is, yeah. Okay. I like to kind of start off with a fairly big brush
because it tends to just make things easier. A lot of the work that you do… they are
quite reasonably sized paintings? Yeah, they are. With small paintings
you tend to tighten up quite a lot. Sure, sure. So John, how long have you had the
desire to express yourself through the Australian landscape as much as you do? Ever since I was a little guy, when my parents
kind of drove from Perth over to here. Yeah. It’s pretty vast out there isn’t it? Ahhh, yeah. Amazing scenery. So much variance too from
state to state. Love it. Yeah, absolutely. But you’re obviously…
You’ve got a style that I would say is a little expressionist and impressionist at the same time? Yeah. And it looks like the impressionists have actually
influenced you at some stage in your process Oh they certainly have, yeah.
I love Streeton’s work, yeah. Those bold, thick colours all the way through. Yeah. And if you look at their work
really closely, it’s just slabs like mine. Yeah. Probably a bit more intricate and stuff… [Laughs] [Laughs] You step back and I think the idea of
good art sometimes, I mean I’m a very intricate artist, but I think less is more.
if you can express the picture by only a few strokes in comparison to really working the
thing, and come out with a result that you’re wanting, I think you’ve achieved your aims. I think so. When you just look at it, I mean
paintings are just colour anyway, and I’m just kind of interacting all different colours,
which make your eyes actually dance around the canvas. And viewers can just make something up you know? Absolutely. You tend to. In different lights they all look different. And that is very true, cause you can sort
of… just with the boldness of the strokes and the colour, there is an interpretation for
the viewer, to do what they want it to do as well. Yeah. I’ve always kind of liked that. Even when
I teach the students, I try to get them to use these big brushes, but you know what
they’re like. They like to stick to the little brushes. Yeah, but I think a lot of that’s got to do…
– we discuss this a lot during the series with other artists – but its got a lot to do with fear. Yeah. It’s like ‘awww, if I’m that big, I’m bound
to make a mistake’, but not necessarily. Yeah. Really, they’re not realising
how much more easy it is for them Yeah. [Laughs] You don’t get all the little lines. You just gotta make the leap some times,
that’s what it comes down to. That’s right. So do you use any mediums at all? Yeah, I use wax mediums with my oil paints. Okay. But I don’t use any mediums with my… Oh, just with acrylics? Yeah. It allows your oils to flow very nicely,and it actually
retards them a bit so they don’t dry so quick. Oh okay. You were saying before that
in the weather – which is a really good point is that you’re up in the mountains and the
moisture obviously really affects the drying time. Yeah, it does. That obviously affects how
you process your work doesn’t it? It does, yeah. A lot of artists refer to photos. Does this
come out of your head a lot of this work, or do you have a photo database that you refer to? I kind of look through art books and stuff like that, but most of my paintings just grows. Just flows? Yeah. You can see certain lines, sometimes
when you’re priming it, and yeah, that’s what I’ve got to do. It’s interesting though. And the main theme in a sense… I mean obviously
this one here has got the sea in it, but is the main theme purely the
landscape? And what do you want to pick out in that landscape as well? I mean what really fascinates you about it? I do a lot of coastal stuff too. I don’t really know. I just kind of… It’s just the feeling of wanting to paint. Yeah! Yeah. I think that’s the essence of a pure
artist as well, is simply doing it for the love of doing it, and then I think it gets to the
stage where you simply don’t think about what you’re doing anymore. You just do it. That’s about right too. Specially when you’ve
been doing it for so long, it kind of becomes instinctive. Well you’re doing a good job. I love that pink.
I mean it’s a pink that’s squeezed directly out of the tube. It’s pretty iridescent isn’t it? Yeah, it really is. It’s the best way to
describe it. But from what I can see, you have artists that will sit down and mix a palette
and go through that process, but yours is really… it’s the moment, isn’t it? It is! I like that and I’m going to go with that. That’s about right. It’s great. No, but it serves
its purpose, absolutely it does. Yeah, I’m not a painter that does a lot of
drawing before a painting or even… I mean sometimes I have trouble trying to think of
what to do. I mean over so many years of painting, doing landscapes… You sort of think, ‘is there something slightly different’? Yeah! On a common theme. Exactly. So you’re always trying to search for
something different but one day it’ll probably change. But you know, in speaking of that as far
as the future of John Turton is concerned, you’re sort of alluding to the fact that
you really wanted to get even more abstract. Exactly You know, sort of bigger, bolder strokes as well. Yeah, that’s right. What I love about your work is these
really sort of… I call them precious moments. You look in there, and that there, and this
cloud, it looks sort of like in the distance of the sunset, and there’s a thunderhead
coming up. And then the subtlety of these colours in here, you could only really get
that with the method that you’re using. Exactly. If you tried to do that yourself it would just
drive you mad, but it’s that spontaneity in there that does it. It’s just fabulous, it really is. It’s interesting that you picked out that little bit,
cause I had the family up here and I said to them my favourite little bit in
the painting is this little section here. Yeah, right there. Just because there’s a
distance in it. It’s sort of almost like Turner or Constable, you know, when you look into
the distance there. It’s just beautiful. I really like it. So I can see in a lot of what
you’re doing, you’re doing it right now, you’re stepping back. Back and forth, back
and forth, to really sort of look at the picture You’re trying to
get a better perspective of it? Yeah. Yeah. I think as you get back you
can kind of see what you’re doing, and you know where your placement is cause
it’s important to try and get it balanced. Yes, I spend most of my day walking… Going back and forth, back and forth? [Laughs [Laughs] Walking down to the house. That’s why you’re so slim! [Laughs] But yeah, I do spend
a lot of time… back and forth. But as obviously you can see by the work, and it’s
that type of work as well because you work so broadly. Yeah. You’ve really got to do things like that. Yeah. Well, especially if you’re painting
something like this. You really need to get back and have a look at it. Yeah, definitely. Okay, I think this is
just about there Graeme. Okay. So that’s… Really, those are the
acrylics; you’re going to let those dry? That’s right. And then we move… And you said this one was
fairly close to where you wanted it to be? Fairly close
, yeah. But now what we’ll do is we’ll move in to
this guy here while that one obviously dries, and you’re going to start using the oils on top of this? Yep. Sure. Okay, that’ll be great. Okay John, well I’ve stepped out of camera
because you really need to start manoeuvring around your piece, but you’ve
squeezed out a few colours there that are Art Spectrum oils, and you’ve got
a colour in your hand there, Australian… Red Gold. Australian Red Gold, and I’ve actually used
that. It’s just a great colour, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s a transparent colour, and you can
mix some beautiful greens, blues… you know? And when you put
white with it, it just glows. It’s fabulous. So from now on, you use
a lot… You’ve obviously put a lot of brushwork in for the acrylics, but you’re
going to be using a spatula now. And you’re very broad. The thing I love about your
work is once the colour goes down, you use It is, yeah. It’s a great effect, it really is.
So is that the Australian Red Gold? This is the Australian Red Gold. You can actually see that it really is quite transparent.
It actually has a bit of a glow to it, doesn’t it? It does. Yeah. You just get in and you put
white on top of it. It just looks… Yeah, look at that. It just really comes to life. It just pops doesn’t it? Yeah. That’s amazing. Yeah, you can just see that
this would be a scene somewhere out near Kakadu or up north on a river that you
just sort of walk over a ridge and look down and see it. It’s just great. I’m sort
of always looking at it from… you’re stepping back and I’m squinting my eyes. Cause a
lot of the time, particularly as an artist, you feel like you want to get involved with what you’re
doing. It’s like, ‘somebody give me a brush, this is great!’ It is, it’s exciting painting. Yeah, it’s wonderful. Especially when it’s going how you’d like it to go. Have you got any other art exhibitions in the future in mind at all? Red Hill Gallery often ask me
to have an exhibition there. Marg Rupert? Yes. She’s lovely. Yes, she’s a lovely woman. Lovely gallery. I really like that gallery. She’s one of the ladies that absolutely knows
what she’s doing in the art world. Yeah, she looks after
her artists. It’s really nice Yeah, she’s great. Alright John, well as a colourist, you’ve obviously
got a little bit of theory behind it, and sort of being an expert in your own
field at what you do, can you give the audience any hints on how you go about
this? Is it about squinting your eyes, stepping back? Is there any formula for it at all? I think it’s just instinctive really, for me.
I’m not one of these artists that really kind of think about what I’m doing all that much. Sure. And I think if you’d been playing with colour
for so many years, you’d tend to know what colours will go next to each other and
which will bounce out at you and which will kind of flow back into the painting. As I said, I mean a lot of what I’ve seen
you do today is really very much about taking the colours directly from the tubes,
and then sort of mixing just slight variations of what you feel you need.
But you’re still keeping the positive brilliance and the Chroma, the positive Chroma,
of all of those colours, and you’re not mixing them down. I think that’s why
they work so well with each other. Yeah. Yeah I think so too. Because I don’t
mix them down a lot, then they do tend to vibrate a lot more I reckon.
Like this beautiful green Yeah. One of the things I was looking at
was that green, and then that other sort of aqua green that you’ve got there? Yeah. That just really pops doesn’t it? Yeah. And just these
little chunks of red… Do you ever put any hidden
koala bears in there? [Laughs] It’s like a wombat under a tree. ‘Oh look, there’s a wombat there!’ I’ll try to do, you know, just funny things
like campers on the beach or something. They never work out.
They look silly. No, your work’s amazing I’ll stop doing that. [Laughing] I’m just going to introduce a couple of those little trees. Oh okay. So in saying that, you use a really… Yeah, I use a really thin liner brush, and I put
some white down, depending on the kind colour you want the tree. And this is obviously oil? White oil? Yes. This is white oil. But I dilute it down with
a fair bit of turps. So it runs off the brush properly. Okay. If it’s dry, it obviously won’t run off.
So you have to kind of make a bit of a mix. I think I’ve heard commented about your
work as well is that it’s very happy. Mainly cause of the colours you use.
It’s very enlightening, joyous work as well Yeah. I thoroughly enjoying doing it so… Absolutely. It’s fairly obvious. But thank you for saying that. From what I can see, you don’t use
any mediums, except for that wax medium, cause it’s simply straight out of the tube once again? Yes, basically out of the tube. But once
they’re all dry I use Damar Varnish or a re-touching varnish. And then… Cause they do
tend to dry out and dull off a little bit. Yes they do. Particularly the acrylics because
you’ll have spaces in between them won’t you? Yeah. So what I do, I put some of this with a
bit of turps, so I don’t actually put it straight out of here cause it’s a bit too shiny then.
Get it at certain angles and all you see is a big glossy kind of mess on your paint. Okay. I turps it down and then put two or three coats on.
It brings out the intensity of the colours really nicely. Yeah it does. Particularly with
the acrylics; it picks it right up. And protects them too. So once that’s dry, obviously the last thing
that you need to do with acrylics, or even with oils, is… I mean, the oils go over fairly readily
on the acrylics but if they’re wet, it’s a ‘no no’. Yep. That’s right. Because they just fall off the
picture after a while don’t they? That’s exactly right So you simply can’t use it. No. It’s a bit of a drying process. I mean, this
red will probably take two, three weeks to dry. Yeah, just to dry properly. Particularly in the
wintertime or with the humidity, it just takes a while for it to go off. It’ll dry… It just skins over. Yeah, it just skins over, but it takes a
long time for it to actually dry out. Where do you want to go with this now? I actually probably won’t do much more on this
one at this stage, so I’ll move on to this one now. And do you go back and forth then? Sort of like
you do a little bit there, and then come back again? Yeah. I like to keep the whole thing going
cause you don’t really want to finish one and have it different from the other one Yeah sure, sure. It’s really
balancing the whole thing out. Yeah, you got to balance the whole thing.
Yeah, I’ll throw some more white up here and maybe get rid of the blue. I’m not sure… I really like that blue. You like that blue? Yeah, the more I squint my eyes, you can
just sort of see through the clouds then. It gives it a real distance or a perspective on it. Yeah. Okay John, I see you’ve got the tube in your hand this
time. So you’re just squeezing it straight outta the tube. Squeeze it straight out, yeah. So do you do that with a lot of colours? Yeah I do. I think that’s probably where, when you
look at your work, you get that three- dimensional effect from as well, because
you’re pushing so much onto the canvas. Yeah, well that’s right. Yeah. It’s nice
to be able to create that type of three dimensional look. Obviously I don’t
use as thick as some people. So a question that people ask a lot, all the time,
and I think particularly with work like yours, is when do you know it’s finished? Sometimes it’s hard to know. Do you just sort of… sometimes put paintings aside
and put them to the wall and walk away? Yeah And let it talk to you later on at some stage? Yeah, I certainly do. I think light’s been
the most important thing in my painting. I’ve always tried to pick a light source, and the
more glowing you can get your paintings, the more I like it really. Absolutely. These are actually the watercolour
brushes that you’ve got there aren’t they? Yeah. And they give you the best
effect for what you need? Yeah. I kind of like the softness of them. Yeah… but your skies are really quite dynamic. I’ve always loved doing the skies. It’s probably
the most important part really of my painting You really create a good atmosphere
if you get a good sky happening. Yeah, absolutely. But I mean the beauty about it
is you know exactly where it’s supposed to go You can just see it there. A lot of times you can actually see your painting before you even start it But the fact that you’re using a lot of your
imagination to drive this for you… It’s really sort of pulling out from all the thoughts and the history
that you’ve had as an artist to create these things. Yeah, for sure. Alright guys, another great day spent with a very
talented man. John, thank you so much for having us. Pleasure That was just wonderful. As you can see
behind me, a triptych, which is absolutely fabulous, and this is the first time
we’ve had one of these on the show. An amazing piece of work bud,
and your style is very individual , really stands out on its own, and you’re an extraordinary
artist as well. Thanks very much for having us here. Thank you. Once again we move on. We’d always
like to thank our sponsors as well, but we’ll continue on, on our
adventure of Colour In Your Life. . If you want to see some of John’s work, as always,
you can come into our website, colourinyourlife.com.au and see some of his stuff in there. But, tell the
people what your website is as well bud. JohnTurton.com.au. JohnTurton.com.au. So go in there. John’s got literally
hundreds and hundreds of paintings in there As I said, very popular artist; has been around for a
long time. The guy definitely knows what he’s doing, no two ways about it Until we meet again, as I always say, remember,
make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Life. Colour In Your Life. We’ll see you next time guys.
Bye now! [Laughs] Bye! See ya! [Laughs]

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