Paul McCarthy has been a guest artist on many occasions for KAS, however he is so amusing that on each occasion he has also been thoroughly entertaining. Paul’s’ demonstration was again enjoyable to watch, be mesmerised by his skill together with a florid running commentary throughout the demonstration.
Paul is an artist who paints and draws in everything, but tonight he demonstrated his unique use of pastel. He used as his reference, a black and white photograph of Ormiston Gorge (Central Australia) which had been previously sketched onto his surface. He said photographs are a starting point for the artist to interpret, not follow literally. Paul described his method of using pastels as “scribble for grownups!”.
Tone is the most important thing. He starts with the right tone and uses any colour he feels like (not the actual colour of the subject), as there will be at least two more layers on top. He often works in opposites, red under green or purple under yellow etc. Paul uses the pastel “any which way” in a haphazard fashion which he says is abstract gobbledegook. He said to look for patterns and rhythms in the landscape as this unifies the work. He never uses the pastel on its side, because it’s just not in his pastel method.
Paul said it was important not to draw shapes and then fill them in with colour, it’s much more interesting to just scribble the pastel over the lines of the drawing, preventing it from being too tight. He works mostly on a dark background, not any specific colour. He commented that it’s hard to get good darks in pastels, but that Unison make a box of dark pastels which are good. When it’s time, he starts basically with dark hard pastels, bringing brighter and lighter tones over the top with softer pastels. He likes to use lots of bright, ‘raw’ colours.
When using Canson paper, he doesn’t use the rough patterned side, but uses the smooth side and has found that a couple of sheets of newspaper underneath the paper he’s working on helps to keep the ‘tooth’ for longer.
To knock back distant areas, Paul scribbled the blue of sky over these areas and also moved this same colour into other areas of the painting to make a cohesive whole.
He noted that every painting, whether it is abstract or realist, has light, medium and dark areas, and that one must dominate. He pointed out that a painter should not think of anything as an object, rather just shapes and tones and to “negatively paint areas in the background”, which will bring the object out.
Paul kept us highly entertained throughout the evening with his quirky sense of humour, and as his demonstration drew to a close, he had a nearly finished but beautiful pastel painting, with bright colours and rich tones. Well done Paul!
by Linda Joyce
Paul has been painting and selling his work for the last 25 years. At the end of 2000 he left the corporate world where he worked in logistics management to paint full time. In those endeavours he has had numerous solo and joint exhibitions both here and overseas, including a joint exhibition in Soho New York in 2001.
Paul has worked extensively as a community artist in varied capacities including working with a remote aboriginal community, high schools, and acting curator for the Sydney Children’s Hospital. He has also coordinated several groups of volunteers working with groups covering the Sydney Children’s Hospital, the Sydney Cancer Centre at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as well as adults with disabilities at Studio Artes Hornsby.
He is a sought after prize winning tutor who brings a sense of fun and excitement to the classroom, encourages individuality as well as developing design composition and colour skills.