Strongly influenced by impressionist art, self-taught Australian artist Claire McCall paints light-filled images of everyday beach scenes. Visit her website to see more of her work.
“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” Edgar Degas
The greatest compliment someone can pay me is to genuinely stop in their tracks. They may want to take the time to study the range of values and textures of my paintings. Or they study the drama of abstraction vs realism that is my style. Or perhaps just because it captures their eye and holds their attention. This is when I feel that I have really made an impact on the viewer.
It was the exhibition of one artist that flicked the switch for me in my early thirties. I decided then and there, with blissful ignorance, that painting would be my second career path, even though I had never studied art or tried my hand with a paintbrush.
In fact, throw in some flawless optimism as I thought not of how I might learn to paint, but dreamed of my first solo exhibition. It has been said that “you don’t find art, it finds you.” Well, art found me, just a little later than most.
Twelve years on, there have been many painting miles refining my skills with varied and bold brush strokes to give my works visual texture. Originally, I picked up the palette knife to loosen my background painting technique. With a brush in hand, I was often tempted to agonise over the detail.
I actually love the loss of control that the knife provides. I love the application of oil paint with its buttery texture and beautiful surface shine when not overworked. The result has been a unique signature style, and a greater mastery of “alla prima” painting that gives my impressionist works spontaneity and freshness.
My colour palette is very limited, and one that I use consistently. I choose brushes or knives as large as the canvas allows to achieve an expressive feel. The human figure captured in everyday moments is my constant inspiration. Typically, it’s a figure turned away from the viewer in a candid pose. The viewer is invited to complete the story – to fill in the blanks about time, place, thoughts and emotion.
There have been no formal art lessons in my time as a painter, only a few demonstration workshops by a select few “painting heroes” of mine. My greatest teachers have been the artworks of the impressionist masters of yesterday and today.
As a visual learner, the written word has meant very little in my journey, but the images of bold impressionist strokes, rich colour and bright lights have been everything.
I am a signatory member of the Australian Guild of Realist Artists (AGRA) and have achieved success in a number of exhibitions, notably winning the prestigious Melbourne Clifton’s Art Prize.
My work is rapidly gaining recognition in Australia. Over the next few years, I will be working on broadening my exposure to international audiences. As for that first solo exhibition, I can proudly inform you that my dream will become a reality later this year (2015).
Claire McCall invites you to follow her on Pinterest.