Colin Brown, February 2022
Hello. I am Colin Browne. I have been a Whitehorse Arts boy since the 1970s when it was called Mitcham Arts.
Bill Andrade gave me my first lesson in watercolour at Humphreys Avenue. (By the way his wife Enid, a life member, passed away just before Christmas.)
The club has been the main influence on my art. Two workshops, Life drawing with Rosemary Price and Alan Close, and Portrait, led by Elton Cassumbhuoy and later by myself, have developed my drawing skills. Then when Peter Nattrass employed Greg Allen to teach watercolour at Silver Grove I made good progress in that medium. Greg and Alan have been marvellous teachers. They can put into words what many great artists know intuitively but can’t or won’t explain to you.
Since my schooldays I have always drawn. The nuns at St Mary’s kept a kookaburra I drew in Grade 3 on the wall for years. As a De La Salle old boy I decorated the St Kilda Town Hall ballroom with large cartoons of the football team for the annual ball.
At Burwood Teachers College I produced much student theatre and always took on the set design and poster responsibilities. As a young primary school teacher I tried to make my room attractive.
I had a very elaborate map of the world on the back wall with strings to current issues. For Education Week, I presented a plaster cast model of the schoolgrounds for the parents. Friday afternoons in my class there was always an art option. Clay was messy but it was on despite the cleanup.
I found chalkboard frustrating with the pale pink, blue and green pastel colours the Department offered. Until along came Ostwald colours with real blacks, purples and reds. At last I could put up a decent chalkboard.
In my engaged years to Dot we used to go and sit in the Botanical Gardens and sit back to back and draw what we saw. Sometimes people, sometimes landscape. Great times.
As a family man I have been surrounded by artists. Our family all communicate our ideas by drawing as well as in words. We have never paid a newsagent for a card. We always make our own handmade cards for every celebration.
Although Jeanne’ is the professional artist, Dot, Cath, Mike and Dave have shown the talent too. A birthday card from Dot or a Christmas card from Col are highly valued by our friends. Jeanne’ has turned card making into an artform.
My favourite subject these days is portrait in watercolour, drawn live under time limits as we do on Wednesday mornings at the Hub. I don’t rate the artists who do portraits from photos, although they get better results than I do. I value the process of looking at the sitter in 3D and getting it down as a drawing. Then turning it into a watercolour with transparent skin colours is a skill to yearn for.
I do also love painting landscape ‘en plein air’ although I do not get motivated by the familiar local scenes. I seem to need to go on holidays to get my best work done. We had a marvellous bike tour of France which produced good work. And I love painting in Bali where we have a time share. I haven’t done much landscape since lockdown for obvious reasons.
I hope you enjoy this selection of my art.