Monday, June 6, 2011

Interview with Liz Johnson about Landscape and Pastels!


Stormy Day, pastel on paper by Liz Johnson.

installation of Landscape 021
Installation view of Journey Through Landscape, Sea and Sky.

We asked one part of the Journey Through Landscape, Sea and Sky exhibition, Liz Johnson some questions about her work and how this series came together for the exhibition.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I have lived in Melbourne all my life but have spent time living overseas in Japan, USA, and Canada. Although I grew up in the city, I spent many weekends and holidays in country Victoria. I am a wife, mother of two, teacher of Japanese and an artist. As a child I spent many summers at Brighton Beach, eating sandy sandwiches and looking for mussels. I have always loved being outside in nature, drawing and being creative.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?
I hesitate putting labels on my work, but it is probably both impressionistic and expressionistic. I hope to capture the sense or mood of something, rather that the reality, although I hope the places are somewhat recognisable. Largely I have been doing landscapes, but I also do still-life drawings. This series of pictures have been done in pastels, but I have done others in watercolour, pen and ink. Although I enjoy capturing the beauty and intensity of nature, I am often drawn to scenes that may not be so appealing, like rubbish snagged in the creek.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?
I love the portability of the pastels, immediacy of colour, and the opportunity to get my hands dirty, just like in kindergarten. You can work quite quickly; this is helpful when working outdoors, especially when it is windy and cold.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?
Since 2004, I have been creating works for group shows, the completion of each work is an accomplishment; however, I am most proud of creating a body of work for this exhibition.

IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?
I have friends who are writers and musicians; I would love to work on collaborative projects with them.
I love Fred Williams’ landscapes; he just seems to have captured the essence of the Australian landscape.
I would love to have painted beside Streeton and Roberts. And the atmospheric effects in Turner’s landscapes are inspiring. I appreciate when an exhibition spans a significant period of an artist’s life. I was lucky enough to spend a day in the Picasso museum and was inspired by his early works, which captured the landscapes near his home.

WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?
Honestly, erratic, my best intentions often get hijacked by the realities of a busy life. I do try to carve out chunks of time when my intention is to be focused and I work on site drawing or painting. I have a studio space at home, (the laundry), where I finish things off or work on ideas. I also have a pencil, fine line pen and small sketchbook with me always, so I can draw while I am waiting. I worked out of the back of my car whilst doing the work for this exhibition. I often need to run or walk outside before I sit still and work. When I do get to work I often work quite quickly and intensely. I also spend a lot of time reading and thinking and writing about my work. I also value attending a weekly art class and meeting with other artists and showing my work.

IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?
When I was working at the beach side locations, I always had the radio on in the car. I like listening to 774 AM. Sometimes, I like to work in silence, and other times I like to work to music, from my eclectic tastes, everything from brass band music to contemporary rock.

WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY WITH THEM FROM SEEING YOUR WORK?
I hope the viewer will get some sense of a journey. I have tried to capture a sense of the seasons in Melbourne. I have also wanted to convey a feeling of the elements, but within that a sense of calm within the chaos. I do like to remind people of the beauty that is around them.

HERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?
I hope to be more established as an artist. I hope also to have had the opportunity to explore some other mediums, like woodblock printing and Japanese sumie.

Journey Through Landscape, Sea and Sky features works by Liz Johnson and Rupert Gray.  The exhibition runs until Saturday 25 June with both artists talking about their work on Saturday 18 June at 2pm.

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