Our Guest Speaker for the KAS August 2016 Meeting was Jan Cristaudo presenting on Abstract / Oils.
As our advertised speaker, John Windus, was unable to attend due to illness, Jan Cristaudo
kindly agreed to demonstrate for us at short notice. Thank you Jan – your demonstration was
so interesting and your work beautiful!
Jan, an abstract oil painter from the Pittwater peninsular, began with a short, beautifully
produced video summarizing what she is about. (This can be viewed on her website,
jancristaudo.com.au). Jan set about showing us where she starts from. “I am most often asked
– Where do you start? How do you abstract something? Colour is the first thing I see and then
shape comes into it. Abstract painting is about feeling. Sometimes a painting is begun from an
unseen image. My painting called ‘Frozen’ developed from my daughter’s description of her
frozen washing while she was in Afghanistan.”
Jan also keeps a visual diary, usually in acrylic paint. “We don’t all have time to paint every
day, but quick reminders, which don’t have to be perfect, will take you back to that place.”
For the demonstration Jan chose a landscape illustrated in a book as a starting point. “If I had
been to that place and seen it, I would be thinking about how I felt and what I was thinking
when I was in that spot. At workshops I get people to bring in any image they would like to
abstract – something meaningful to them. At some point I say OK get rid of the photo now.”
“Paintings talk to you and you have to listen to them. You just look at it and you just go with it.
Don’t fight the painting.” Jan works in oils in the studio. “They take a long time to dry but you
can move them around and work into them. I don’t use a lot of medium.” Jan’s first marks are
made with light oil. “I don’t use charcoal or pastel as it will just keep coming through.” She
starts with the paint a little runny, and isn’t too precious at this stage. “All the underpainting will
shine through. Sometimes (if we try and save a part) it is that little precious bit that holds you
back. If I were in the studio I would have larger brushes and be working with my whole arm. I
am conscious here not to get paint on the floor! Don’t be tentative.”
Jan likes Classico (Italian) oil paints, and Michael Harding (“delicious colours”). “Colour is
important. My background is in design and colour and I sometimes use a colour because I
know it will sing off the other ones. Once the canvas is all covered I will leave it for about a
week. Especially in this cold weather. You think it is touch dry but when you start painting into it
it all comes away.” (If a painting is completed in 3 to 6 months, that is a quick one).
Jan will work on a number of canvases at the same time. She leaves them lying flat in the
studio so the paint doesn’t run down. For next layers the paint is thicker. “You do have to have
that little bit of structure. Start defining it a bit. Put marks in. Oil sticks are great, maybe for a
suggestion. If you have your colours in then you can make a few suggestive marks, like
rooftops.” Jan completed the initial canvas covering stage, and will take the canvas home to
work on in the months ahead.
Keep an eye out for Jan’s upcoming exhibition at the Incinerator Art Space at Willoughby………….. Tomasin Graham
Jan Cristaudo lives on the Pittwater Peninsular among Sydney’s beautiful northern beaches. This idyllic location, together with her frequent travels, provides an endless source of inspiration. The use of colour is her preferred method of expression and she has a distinctive style using oils on canvas to interpret the subjects that inspire her. Jan’s paintings are held by individual and corporate clients.
“Colour has always fascinated me. It is the first thing I see, then comes shape and form. As an abstract artist I use colour to interpret the way I see the world.”
44 Market Lane,
Manly, NSW, 2095
T/F: 02 9977 2416