Transcript - Sebastian Clarke
Duration 9.11 min
SEBASTIAN CLARKE: I think year 11 was most useful in determining what I didn't want to do. Tamara would have quickly realized that I wasn't interested in working expressively or within pastel, and that I naturally leaned more towards drawing from the start. I think it was useful, however, to try out those other expressive forms. And I was able to take certain skills that were transferable and use them on my body of work. So I think a variety of students that have yet to choose one expressive form or another will find it useful to go through and at least try out and see what they're good at.
I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. So it was a sensible choice, in my eyes, to follow down that path. I did have a brief stint working with paint and a mache-type material, neither of which amounted to much. But Tamara and I agreed early on in the piece that whatever I-- whatever path I choose to go down should reflect the place where I grew up and the landscape surrounding it.
After deciding that a work set around home was the most logical choice, with the strongest conceptual background, the few paintings that I did do were of the countryside and of rams' heads, both of which I obviously continued to pursue right until the end of my body of work. Tamara and I spoke of portraits of different animals species and their effect on the land from an agricultural perspective. Tamara had always suggested, though, I attempt a large-scale color work. It was an area that I wasn't comfortable with, working large scale. I think it's why I created the smaller panels to accompany the larger work, just to do something that I was more at home with, working on a smaller scale.
The data projector that Tamara provided really saved me some time in the long run, particularly with the positioning and the scaling of the animals on the paper. She also brought me some masking fluid, in which I was able to cover over the finer bits in the-- of the work, where I was able to watercolor over the top of that with not too much worry at all. Tamara helped me source some 300- and 600-gram paper, of which I found the hard-pressed paper to be the paper that I like to use.
Experimentation with the watercolor pigments and Winsor & Newton blocks helped to add some much-needed color to my work. You know, in doing that, I was able to fill in large areas of paper pretty quickly. And that saved me a lot of time when it came to the crunch of getting it done, in that I mixed my own and found that subtle and dull colors best suited to what I was trying to achieve, and that it matched the color palette of the land that I was trying to re-create.
The drought really affected how the concept of my work progressed. It became more and more of a focal point as the year went on. And it was interesting, as well, to see how Australia reacted to the drought.
This was when the Buy a Bale program was just starting. And, you know, the dry was-- became such a massive focal point in the media as well. So it was a bit of a happy accident that my work became as topical as it did for, you know, a good or bad reason.
My VPAD was crucial in recording, developing, and executing ideas surrounding my body of work. I had photographs of many Australian artists' artworks that I felt were inspiring, and could look back on them and try and use them to better my own work. It was a tool that allowed me to test materials and techniques before trying to implement them onto my body of work. So I didn't have to make too many mistakes in that part. And it was great to receive feedback from Tamara, as she was able to look into the book and easily follow my train of thought, and was able to comment them, so that we could achieve the best outcome.
It was right from the word go that I wanted to draw for my body of work. But after attending a field day in Aubrey, I was told that drawing would never get me any high marks. So I ventured down the path of painting for a little while, an area that I didn't have any immediate talent in. So I'm glad that I stuck to my guns and proved them wrong.
Studying the work of John Wolseley, his practice of looking at the macro and the micro views of the landscape helped me to narrow down what I was aiming to achieve. His botanical studies, and his draftsmanship tell a story of place, such as the ram in my work representing a landowner surveying his land. I also found Joseph McGlennon's photographs beneficial, seeing a direction that I wanted to pursue, his subject matter being-- depicting animals in their natural environments and habitats. And I found that is something that I would like to re-create in my own work.
I've always enjoyed making art. And I think some level of interest is fundamental in your ability to stay on track and keep on top of things. You know, assessment tasks and the fear of failing were pretty good spur-alongs in order for me to reach my goals and deadlines.
Visits from my teacher and workshops where you were able to interact with other students in your class were all positive experiences because it's pretty hard to do it on your own. So if you can get some encouraging words, it's always a good thing.
In reflection, I think I spent too much trying to use forms that I wasn't comfortable with. You really need to find out what you're good at, and just run with it from there. Finding an idea that's conceptually strong and has a strong connection to the student, I think, is pretty key. You're going to stay motivated and interested if you like what you're doing. And most importantly, you've just got to start, and don't stop until it's done.