Established realist artist Christine Lawrence is drawn to the magical illusions that can be created on the surface of the picture plain. She captures the essence of her subjects, using them as a vehicle to study light, colour, form, space and reality.
Christine’s artistic career started in South Australia, where she studied then taught visual arts for over 20 years, whilst at the same time developing her own visual art career, until in 1984 she began working full time as a painter.
In 2016 Christine had a life change, moving from the Adelaide city to Wanarra Station in the Central West of WA. She is in awe of the vastness and varying landscape in Wanarra and has an endless source of inspiration.
In the below Q&A, Christine Lawrence tells us a little more about herself.
Enjoy Getting to Know Christine Lawrence
When did you first feel the desire to be artistic and realize you had talent?
From a very early age I was encouraged to draw and paint. Art has always been part of my life.
Where did you learn your art?
My mother was very talented, providing lots of inspiration, help and criticism. My focus was always on improving my artwork at school, at art school, working with other artists, observing and studying. One never stops learning.
What inspires you most?
The natural world. The play of light, the impact of colour, vast spaces, the surface of water, the unique qualities of animal life.
What message are you sending to the viewer of your art?
Focusing their attention on that which inspired me. Providing an image for contemplation, to see the beauty that is all around, sometimes found in the most simple subjects.
Describe your studio
A comfortable, light room in the homestead with French doors looking out into the garden. Birdsong all around.
The landscape is also my studio. Wanarra stations 1000 square kilometres present a wide array of terrain, huge granite outcrops, vast salt lakes, massive salmon gums, ancient york gums, acacia scrub, beautiful expanses of water after the rain and masses of wild flowers in a good season.
Describe your typical day of creating art
I’m a planner and very disciplined. There are always chores, animals to feed, garden to look after, so if I’m set up and painting by 9:00 I’m very pleased and will usually aim for about 5 hours painting a day once a subject is underway.
Some days I’m out collecting subject matter in the early or late light.
I always have my camera at hand to capture that special moment, being in the right place at the right time. Through painting I can enhance that which inspired me, distilling the essence of the subject
I spend a lot of time deciding on composition, then once the subject is drawn up I will block it in with lively underpainting or an overall colour that can glow through or add texture beneath the layers of detail. Each part of a subject is a different problem to be solved… how to create that magical illusion of light and reality. It is challenging and rewarding. Time flies!
Working en plein air when weather and insects permit, demands a more direct approach, working quickly to capture the everchanging subject. It is wonderful to be still in the environment for an extended period of time, birds and animals unaware that you are there, passing time marked by the moving shadows.
What mediums do you use and why?
I often combine oil and acrylic when working on Belgian linen, or wooden panels. Acrylic for the underpainting as it is fast drying, oil for the subsequent layers as it is sumptuous, beautiful to manipulate, be it in transparent glazes, blending wet in wet or adding final detail with impasto.
Gouache and water colour also have appeal, particularly when working quickly en plein air
I have recently begun drawing with charcoal and chalk, loving the intensity of the black and white image and the great range of tone that can be achieved.
What are you working on now?
A series of small studies of the Boranup Forest in oil on Birchwood panels aiming to capture the grandeur of these magnificent trees and the play of light through the forest, following a visit to Margaret River. Such a contrast to the central West
What are your recent career achievements you feel proud of?
My work with children as a visual arts teacher. Opening the Dalwallinu Arts festival as featured artist and speaking on the importance of art in our lives. Being true to myself as an artist not influenced by trends. Winning the Art Excellence Award and Agricultural Art Award at the Carnamah Art exhibition.
What do you love most about what you do?
I was born with a talent and to be able to spend every day using it is a gift, so satisfying. Creating three dimensional effects on the surface picture plain. Illusions of space, form and light. It’s magical.
Where can you see yourself in 10 years time?
Who knows. Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. My aim is to enjoy every moment.