Art can Strengthen Bonds Between People
By Margaret Vickers
Multi media artist, Liz Eastland was the guest presenter for the September meeting (2023) of the Lane Cove Art Society. Liz talked about her sailing adventure to New Caledonia and Fiji travelling over a thousand nautical miles with her husband. Her artwork was inspired by her interactions with the sea, land and people of this region. Art was the key to enriching her interaction with the local village people.
Liz received formal training at the National Art School graduating as dux in 2009 and then attended the Sydney College of the Arts where she gained her PhD in 2017. She has a love of creative writing, film making and painting. The first half of Liz’s presentation centred on her sailing adventure through the South Pacific region. The second half of her presentation focused on providing practical tips on doing “en plein air” artwork in pastels.
Liz showed the audience a map of her sailing adventure and pointed out the villages where they anchored. Her presentation detailed images of the rich interactions that occurred with local village people who were openly curious and enthusiastic onlookers when Liz was creating her pastel works in the field. On many occasions Liz shared art materials and did practical art classes with children and adults enthusiastic to learn. She was also invited to the local school to speak to the students about her art and her sailing adventure. What really was on display was the power of art to enrich the interactions between people.
The beautifully rendered pastel artworks became a record of her rich travel memories. Subject matter was varied from favourite local sights of village scenes, tropical palm tree dotted landscapes and scenic harbours. One wonders why pastel was the preferred recording medium. Liz did disclose that she “adores using pastels” because of their purity of colour. Her artworks were full of memories. Liz also disclosed that she is now working on another project, which recounts the travel memories from her one thousand kilometer pilgrimage along the Camino trail.
The latter part of Liz’s presentation centred on providing practical tips when working in the field with pastels. A hat that is washable and can be tied on is important. She showed us the large army backpack she uses to store her materials. An apron is used and also a light groundsheet is packed. A large board with clips upon which her paper is clipped. UArt paper that has a sanded finish is her preferred paper for pastels. It is sourced from the US but it allows many layers of pastel to be built up. A soft inflatable blow up pillow is also included to soften hard ground surfaces. To house her hard and soft pastels Liz has a compartmentalized wooden box with a foam lining on top and bottom that keeps the pastels in their respective compartments. Gloves are also useful to safeguard her hands. Rags both wet and dry are also packed.
Liz initially uses a charcoal pencil to roughly sketch in the scene. Four or five colours in dark, medium and light are used to capture the essence of the composition. Rubbing alcohol over this base layer produces interesting marks as the colours blend and melt into one another. Liz mentioned the Canadian artist, Gail Sibley, who is generous in sharing her information about creating pastel artworks.
Thank you Liz for sharing your adventures and your art journey with the Lane Cove Art Society. Not only did it show the beauty of pastel as an art medium but it revealed the power of art to bring people together across cultures and ages. It’s time to get that backpack organized and start on an en plein air adventure of our own.