Brush with nature makes an impression on local students

PICTURE-perfect views from Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School provided the ideal backdrop for keen high school painters to put brush to canvas this week.

Year 9 and 10 students from Farrer and Tamworth, Peel and Oxley high schools spent the day outside learning the finer points of the “plein air” art method or, put simply, painting outdoors.

The Telstra-sponsored workshop is one of 10 being held with students around the state in the lead-up to the June announcement of the winner of the NSW Parliament Plein Air Painting Prize. This year, for the first time, the student works completed in the workshops will also be subject to judging, with three finalists chosen to hang in state parliament alongside the plein air prize winner.

Armidale artist and long-time Plein Air Painting Prize entrant Peter Champion presided over yesterday’s workshop, passing on his vast knowledge of outdoor landscape painting to his pupils.

Mr Champion said with the plein air method, the works had to be fully completed outdoors, although not necessarily in the one sitting.

He told The Leader yesterday he was having a ball working with the students, whom he described as both talented and enthusiastic.

The most challenging aspect of painting  landscapes, he said, was interpreting all the subtleties of colour – it just wasn’t about a blue sky and green grass, there were a multitude of shades in between.

But, there was also a danger of overcomplicating the process.

“I work on the KISS principle – ‘keep it simple stupid’ – and you’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing,” Mr Champion said.

Jessie Browne from Tamworth High had clearly embraced that piece of advice, the smile on her face telling the story.

She’d never painted landscapes before, and never painted outdoors, but after yesterday said that might  all change.

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