February 27th Trevelyan Clay Oil Painting Demonstration 

This demo provided a fascinating view into the development of Trev’s painting practice over the ten years  since he graduated from the Australian National University. He told us about how, as a student,  he painted on really cheap boards, with maybe one coat of gesso, and used cheap oil paints. Some of these paintings ended up in collections, and when he went back to see one hanging at the Drill Hall  in Canberra, only 3 years later, he saw that the colours had already faded significantly.  This inspired him to start using good materials for his work.

The overarching theme of this demo was the  increasingly specific and considered approach to both materials and content in Trev’s work. Whereas earlier in his career, he would choose a colour, paint it on, choose the next colour in immediate response to the first one, paint that on, choose the next colour in response to that etc, now he mixes up all the colours he’s going to paint with first. “Strength from the outset” is how he puts it.

This motto underlies all of Trev’s choices, from the original move from cotton to linen, and then from acrylic primed linen to oil primed linen. It also covers his choice of paints – Michael Harding and Gamblin, and his use of good quality hog bristle brushes. All of these choices is very deliberately made. Once Trev changed to oil primed linen, he decided he would never go back, since he likes the way the oil paint looks so much more substantial on the surface, as the oil primer is much less absorbent the acrylic primed surfaces.

I was kind of  surprised, given how abstract Trev’s work is,  that this demo ended up with a spirited discussion of the benefits of life drawing. But it actually all makes perfect sense.  Trev gives considerable thought to the relationship between his abstract imagery, the kind of materials he uses, and the physical world around us, in opposition to the virtual world of smart phones and digital technology.

Julia Gorman 2014