Fine Art Tips with Kurt Weismair on Colour In Your Life

Fine Art Tips with Kurt Weismair on Colour In Your Life

G'day viewers, my name's Graeme Stevenson, and I'd like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life.

There's an artist in every family throughout the world.

Lots of times there's an artist deep down inside all of us as well.

So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do.

(Music Plays) (Graeme) Well hi folks, and welcome back to Colour In Your Life.

Well we are in Southern California today, at a place called Mission Viejo.

I said that right didn't I? (Kurt) Yes.

(Graeme) Absolutely, and I am with a very talented man, Mr Kurt Weismair.

How are you pal? (Kurt) Good.

How you doing? (Graeme) Welcome to the show.

It's great to have you here.

You're a surfer, (Kurt) Yes.

(Graeme) been a musician, a drummer.

The combination of all the way through to the fact that you actually paint these days, and you paint one of the things you love most of all in your life (Kurt) Yeah.

(Graeme) which is the surf.

Tell me how this all came about? (Kurt) It was a long story, yeah I use to play music for a long time and then I found myself in a situation were I wasn't doing that any more, and I always wanted to paint.

So I picked up the brush and things just kind of worked right off the bat you know, (Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) and I got obsessed with that as I do my surfing or music or anything else, and then a few years later here we are.

(Graeme) Yeah, and you actually you paint in acrylics mostly, is that correct? (Kurt) Acrylics, correct.

(Graeme) Yeah, beautiful, beautiful paintings as well.

I think the ocean really sort of does have a draw to people, but particularly you as a surfer as well.

I mean you look a little bit like Kelly Slater, (Kurt) Yeah, yeah.

(Graeme) and that's actually happened to you before.

(Kurt) Yeah, it's happened to me before.

Yeah, I have friends who've met Kelly Slater and thought it was me for the first time.

That was funny.

(Graeme) That's a good wrap anyway – without a doubt.

But we're going to be working on one of your surf pieces today, one of the waves.

I think you're going to paint a sunset, is that correct? (Kurt) Yeah, I'm gonna paint a sunset, yeah.

(Graeme) Okay, and we'll go through with that obviously you know, asking questions as we normally do.

But Kurt does some really beautiful seascapes and obviously specialising in the wave.

I mean waters, waters tricky to paint at the best of times anyway.

How do you find the inspiration for your work? Do you hang out a the beach a lot? You were just saying before, when you go down there, the one scene that you see as a surfer, I mean obviously you're looking at the land when you're out there.

But the one thing that you notice when you get down there is just this one wave, (Kurt) Right.

(Graeme) and that's really – that's the inspiration for you.

(Kurt) Yeah, so when I first started painting I was looking for a subject matter, and I didn't want to do – I kinda wanted to be a little bit different and one day I just had an epiphany.

I was just sitting there staring at the surf, just checking it like surfers do – you look pretty much straight out to the ocean.

And I just thought why don't I just paint this? (Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) I don't really see this too often and that's probably why I took a long time to find that, to get to that place, you know.

(Graeme) That's fantastic.

We'll make a start on this; I'll get out of the shot so that Kurt can do what he needs to do, and then we'll follow along for the day.

So lets go and have a look at these waves.

(Graeme) Alright Kurt, one of the most horrifying things that an artist actually has to witness is a blank canvas.

We're going to change that today: sunset, seascape – gonna be beautiful.

Where do we start? (Kurt) Okay, so the first thing I start with on my paintings is just, I take a pencil and I sketch it out.

(Graeme) Okay.

(Kurt) It doesn't have to be perfect.

I'm just getting kind of boundaries and I'm setting my basic composition, or what I want to see actually within the frame and so lets get started.

(Graeme) Okay.

(Kurt) So I'm not you know, I'm not getting out a level, and I'm not making this absolutely perfect.

I'm just kind of taking my time, I'm not worried about anything at this point.

(Graeme) So you use one of those little clutch pencils? (Kurt) Yeah, whatever I really have in the moment, you know.

The reason I choose to make this composition today, is one for the size and that's just so the viewers can kinda see a painting come along fairly quickly, (Graeme) Sure.

(Kurt) as apposed to my other work where you're going to have a lot of detailed were it's not gonna be the most exciting thing in the world to watch.

(Graeme) So do you take your own reference photos when you head out? (Kurt) For my big detailed painting I'll use my own reference photos.

Yes, I'll just go down to the beach and I have a few cameras that I use.

Most of the times I'm just using my iPhone cause the camera's so good now.

(Graeme) Yeah, absolutely.

(Kurt) But for these ones there's no reference photo.

This is just a composition that I've developed over the past year (Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) and it really lets me explore paint and different color palettes.

(Graeme) Away we go.

So you use water plates for your palette? (Kurt) Yeah, I (Graeme) Just throw them away.

(Kurt) I use paper plates.

My wife was commenting about it one day that it seamed kinda silly you know, but I thought geez maybe Gloria Vanderbilt was a painter I think it was, (Graeme) Aha.

(Kurt) and they were showing a documentary and she was using paper plates.

(Graeme) There you go.

(Kurt) So my wife was like, okay that's fine then, you can use them, (Graeme) Whatever works.

(Kurt) Keep going yeah, whatever works.

(Graeme) And I can see you've got some Royal Talens, (Kurt) I've got Royal Talens there.

Liquitex, Winsor and Newton, and then you're using Princeton Brushes.

(Kurt) Princeton brushes, yeah.

So at a certain point you know, a lot of these companies the quality is not in question.

You know, it's more of a preference of what you like to use.

So when I was contacting people for either brush sponsorship through Princeton, someone else contacting them and other people.

The reason I went with them is the people that are behind the company.

It's interesting that sometimes you'll gel and work with people in a company and you'll get along with them.

(Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) You'll get a sense of why the company is how it is, and it's always because of the people behind it you know so.

(Graeme) Howard Kaufman, who's the Founder of Princeton, he's a fantastic man thats been involved in art for decades.

(Kurt) Right.

And I've been talking to Willow Wolf, who is a (Graeme) She's a fantastic artist herself.

(Kurt) She's a fantastic artist and she's just great to work with.

So (Graeme) Okay.

(Kurt) I'll lay on paint pretty thick (Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) and pretty fast.

(Graeme) You're sort of using the side of the brush.

(Kurt) I'm using the side of the brush for these ones.

It's strange how some techniques just make sense on certain compositions, and on certain other compositions it just doesn't feel right.

So just like the pencil when I'm sketching in, I'm taking my time but I'm not worried about I guess mistakes, if that's what you want to call it.

(Graeme) I noticed one thing that I think is really fascinating.

You have students but they don't really ever come to the house.

They're where they need to be where ever it is in the world.

(Kurt) Technology.

(Graeme) Yeah, and you actually teach people using Skype (Kurt) Yeah.

(Graeme) which is fantastic.

It's an amazing idea and anybody that's out there watching Kurt at the moment, if you want a lesson from Kurt, you can do it on the computer with him – which is great.

(Kurt) Yeah, all about convince.

Now days, half – maybe not half, but a good chunk of the actual marketing or business or the you know, work that goes into being an artist is learning to use technology (Graeme) Yes.

(Kurt) to your advantage, and just to communicate with other people, cause everybody's pretty busy right? (Graeme) Yeah, yeah, and even the inconvenience of traveling to a class, I mean it's fantastic to be in a classroom with a great teacher by any means, but if you can use the technology to convey to people the information they need – why not? (Kurt) And these ones, these compositions I've developed as well, because when I do my larger pieces there's a lot of detail involved, so it can get strenuous after a little while, and with these one I really get to have fun.

I mean I just you know, put a gob on there.

There's something about putting a big gob of paint on a brush, and just the sensation of a lot of paint running across a canvas, (Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) it's interesting.

(Graeme) You were saying before that there's a synergy as well between your art and music.

(Kurt) Yeah.

(Graeme) There was the cross over at that stage were obviously being a drummer, you sort of thought well deep inside with the passion to be an artist.

And I suppose it's very much the same thing in the end anyway.

(Kurt) For me it's very much the same.

For me, I relate to art through music.

Everything for teaching, explanations on anything, really to put it all into words, I always go back to music.

I was playing music for twenty plus years.

I did art in school, you know just like anybody generally does, and I remember like making some, some good paintings.

I was surprised, I was like wow, that looks pretty cool, you know.

But at the same time I had I haven't talked to him in a long time, his name was Courtney Hampton.

I met him freshman year, and he was already doing incredible stuff.

You know freshman year, so he'd obviously been painting for a long time.

(Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) And he was doing stuff that was really politically charged, religious themes really you know, and his palette was very complex, and it just looked just unattainable.

(Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) He was literally like doing magic you know, in the end.

Like when you seen a musician, if you've never played before, it's magic.

(Graeme) Yes.

(Kurt) It's like how did these people make these instruments sing like that, you know? And after a while you learn that it's just practice.

A lot of people are talented at lot of things.

(Graeme) Yeah.

But after a while of getting involved with something you realise not how little magic there is, but if you really want to get good you're gonna have to practice for the rest of your life.

(Graeme) A long apprenticeship, I can assure you.

(Kurt) Yeah, it never stops.

But with the internet you're really at an advantage to past generations.

(Graeme) Very much so.

(Kurt) Just if you're proactive with it, you can reach really unlimited – right off the bat, you can have hundreds of people looking at your stuff.

Just through Facebook, or whatever you want to choose, you know.

(Graeme) Colour In Your Life.

(Kurt) Colour In Your Life.

For people that are maybe shy, at first there is that little hesitation, because you know, when you do play music, or when you do, do art, or when you do, do something with the public I guess there's always that sense of failure.

But there's a possibility that people won't like your stuff, but after a while you learn that's not the most important thing.

We all like people.

I do this, odviously I'm on your show – I like other people to see my art you know, but at the end, you know you got to do it for yourself.

(Graeme) Absolutely.

It's surprising how much diversity you can actually have when you're just simply painting a wave, because it's – none is ever the same.

There's one you've got called, Pacific at Laguna.

It's a beautiful spot down there.

It's one of the areas that you surf isn't it? (Kurt) Right.

(Graeme) It's just a beautiful piece.

As I said you could take a thousand shots and none of them would be the same.

Even the piece Pacific Opus, the light that's coming through is quite amazing.

You can see that it's an early morning shot, and then the shadow of the wave coming through the water as well is quite amazing.

It's really a beautiful piece; it's incredible.

(Kurt) Thank you.

(Graeme) You've got another one called Seascape, and there's one particular artist that you're very fond of that does cityscapes, (Kurt) Right.

(Graeme) and you're trying to apply some of those tecniques in your own work.

(Kurt) So we where talking about Jeremy Mann earlier, he was the first artist, he's a San Francisco based artist (Graeme) Aha.

(Kurt) and he the first artist where I saw all his work and I just said: that's what I want to do.

He does have a subject matter so he paints cityscapes and figures, but he does a lot of different techniques.

He would call it mark making, (Graeme) Yep.

(Kurt) and it's basically controlled abstraction.

For the sky, there's a lot of blending going on with the sky.

It as a matter of fact it's all blending.

Yeah, so this time of the year when fog comes around, is when you're gonna get get the best sunsets, cause you've got those clouds that come back.

In the summer time you just, its just (Graeme) Yeah.

there's just no clouds here you know.

And canvases, I like a lot of tooth.

You know, if you want to go linen, or whatever you can get a real fine you know, it's all preference, it depends on the artist.

But I really like a canvas that has a lot of tooth.

(Graeme) Grabs the paint.

(Kurt) Grabs the paint, even lately I've been using unprimed wood.

(Graeme) And you've actually got one, it looks like it's on a piece of timber – I think it's Birch, and using the texture of the timber.

(Kurt) I really liked it twofold.

One, for how the wood accepted the paint.

And then another way, I like the look of wood.

I think it looks really cool you know, all the grains and stuff.

I even do night scenes.

(Graeme) Yeah, you've got those, it's the Harbour Light series that you've done.

(Kurt) Yeah.

(Graeme) They look fantastic.

There's the other one, the Dana Point Harbour, which is a really dark piece but you can obviously see it's at nighttime so.

(Kurt) Right.

Okay, so we're just blocking in here.

So blocking in is, you know whether you're academicly trained, or you're self taught, or anything like that's definitely a huge step, is learning to block in.

Understanding that painting is a process, really no matter what you're doing and there's steps that need to be taken.

I think a lot of people when they look at art, you think that it might be perfection, that a person is doing a mark here, a mark there and it just perfectly develops.

But over time you really see how you really need to take these simple basic steps to get where you want to get to.

(Graeme) Yeah.

So there's another piece you've got called the Dana Point Shipyard, which is a fantastic piece.

It's once again very different from what your doing with your seascapes.

(Kurt) I like to experiment with different techniques, different tools, different colors.

(Graeme) One thing I have noticed is that painting a lot from memory, because you don't have any reference photos with you.

(Kurt) Right.

(Graeme) So it's coming out of the brain box.

(Kurt) Right, and that's why these ones are so fun.

(Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) You're not worried about copying something I guess you could say.

And you can see right away how you get that depth, and that warmth with the second layer, and you can still see how fast I'm moving, you know.

These paintings really seem to – they do come out the best the faster I move, and the less I think about things.

And it's funny because being a surfer you learn to observe nature a lot just to get the best waves that you can.

Okay, for the next part I'm going to start adding some clouds right now.

(Graeme) So you've just got Ultramarine and white there have you? (Kurt) Just Ultramarine and white and that's it, and I'll probably do another layer where I add some orange in there.

At a certain point when you're trying to master your craft, time is a huge part of that.

You don't want to spend forever doing one painting.

(Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) Being a drummer, I really relate to a lot of music through numbers.

You know, you have your time signatures.

I'm not sure you know when you have four, four beats, simple ones, and then you can go into more complex even scales and things like that.

Everything works in kinda the Universe works in a mathematical nature, you know.

Everything has a – can be boiled down to numbers.

(Graeme) The whole thing is based on mathematics.

(Kurt) And you can see as far as technique, I'm not doing that side swipe any more with the clouds.

I'm just kind of, I'm just going in a vertical, horizontal manner.

(Graeme) Making cloud shapes.

(Kurt) Making cloud shapes, and that's just to break up the composition just a little bit so there's some difference in there.

So this part, it's such a narrow strip I have to do.

I have to be a bit delicate and a little bit precise but not too much so.

I just wanna make sure, I just wanna make sure that I'm not making a big splotch mark over here that I have t deal with, you know.

And even if I do put these highlights down, shadows on the water – whatever you want to call them.

Once they dry they'll really set in with the base of the navyish blue, and they'll kind of they'll really settle in and blend together really well, even if they look like they might be clashing a little bit at first.

I do like it when I put a color down and it doesn't necessarily match, and I almost can't now, I can't explain to you what color it is.

Almost say it's a red, but then there's kind of peachy-violet to it you know.

So then you know you're getting to really, your colors are getting a lot of depth to them.

(Graeme) There's another piece that you've got here called Waters Edge.

(Kurt) So that one, was one of the first ones I did were there's, it's not a crashing wave; (Graeme) Aha.

(Kurt) it's a wave that is in the process of crashing.

So there's almost a spiderweb of whitewater moving throughout the wave.

(Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) Okay, we're getting towards the finish here, and even though you know I'm looking for just tiny, tiny parts that I'm not necessarily happy with, but maybe the observer might not notice, but I will.

And it's really satisfying finishing a painting for some reason.

Starting a painting, putting a few swipes of color on really feels good.

And then putting those last few swipes of color really feels good as well.

It's somewhere in those middle stages where you're kind of pulling your hair out at some point, or lack of hair – so I dunno know what I'm doing.

(Graeme) I always figured about the three quarter stage of a painting, it's like – oh god.

(Kurt) It's almost there but it's not, and there's so much completed, but you know.

(Graeme) Still got so much to do.

(Kurt) Yeah, anticipation.

(Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) You know it's – I use a lot of different techniques.

This is just a technique I use for this composition and this subject matter when I'm painting.

But I really enjoy switching the size of the painting, the size of the canvas, and switching techniques just to keep things interesting.

The final bit going on the canvas will be just straight white.

And since I've been using this brush the whole canvas, I'm gonna get a fresh brush with no paint on it.

(Graeme) That one brush went a long way.

(Kurt) Yeah.

So that way that brush really has that solid white color.

And for this one as well, I'm not gonna dip it in the water.

I'm just gonna go in with a dry brush.

You know you imagine the sun being circular, you know what I mean? (Graeme) Yeah.

(Kurt) But in reality the way your eyes sees it, there's really a lot of times it'll be hard to see the boarder of it.

(Graeme) Yeah, (Kurt) That's where I was referencing form and color.

And then the final, final stage is the signature.

(Graeme) The final, final stage.

(Kurt) It's funny too, my signature has evolved over time.

You know of course on checks or something like that, it stays the same.

But before I use to do my actual signature and then for whatever reason, I switched to my initials.

I don't know why – just happened.

(Graeme) K W.

(Kurt) K W.

I think one of the reasons is because a lot of people have a hard time pronouncing my last name, so I was just making it easy on them.

A lot of time people will think they hurt my feelings because they mispronounce my name, but everybody does so you know, so it doesn't matter.

A lot of times with a signature I will go with the color that's opposite to the area that I'm painting.

So if I'm doing the signature on this canvas it's gonna be blue, because that's the opposite color.

So it kinda ties it in all together I guess you would say.

There you go.

(Graeme) Ta Da! Well done.

(Kurt) Thank you.

(Graeme) Well, fantastic day.

A surfer, that paints the surf.

That's pretty cool.

Thanks for being on the show.

(Kurt) Thank you, thank you.

(Graeme) Very, very well done.

(Kurt) Thanks for having me.

(Graeme) I think also with what Kurt does, particularly with the Skype lessons, it's using technology which Kurt is doing very much these days with his business, and art – it's a business for you as well.

It's well and good looking at art and sort of saying, I want to paint pretty pictures, but you've got to manage yourself correctly as well.

Skype is absolutely a great way to do that, and if people from all over the world want to come in and spend time with you.

(Kurt) Of course, (Graeme) Fantastic isn't it? (Kurt) yes, be my guest.

(Graeme) Your website details? (Kurt) www dot kurt weismair dot com (Graeme) Beautiful.

But that's fantastic yeah, I think it's a great idea.

Also, you can come and see us at colour in your life dot com dot au, and go into our Facebook page and our YouTube page – lots of things going in there these days.

Plus our Gallery, make sure you have a look at our Gallery; we've got lots of stuff in there as well.

We're going to head off again, we have to head down to San Diego, and see some people down there.

Had a great time, thank you very much, pal.

But remember guys – as we always say: make sure you put some colour in your life, and we'll see you next time.

Bye now (Kurt) Bye.

(Graeme) Bye.

Source: Youtube