Painting the Trail with Michael Herron
Artist Michael Herron, a Blue Mountains resident painter, drawer and teacher is leading new Art Expeditions into the Northern Territory this season. Before he heads out into the Australian Outback, we caught up with Michael to discuss his passion and insight into the upcoming art trips.
Michael, you have led an accomplished and award-winning career in art. Tell us more about your passion for painting and what inspires you?
I like to develop series of works exploring an idea, the last few years painting have been driven in part by my travels to the Australian Outback. In one way or another, the colour, light, texture, space informs my work and has come from those trips, many hundreds of drawings and paintings.
What do you look for in a landscape for inspiration?
Being there is like a being in a laboratory, testing ideas, experimenting, gathering, following through with an approach. That exploration goes on over days, sometimes answers and sometimes more questions. There Is always progress in everyone’s artistic story
What is you most important artist tool?
My favourite tool would be the brush, I have a brush for each occasion.
You are returning to the Larapinta Trail and Kakadu in the Northern Territory, why have you chosen these areas to lead the Artist Expeditions?
Being in the Northern Territory is inspirational and an artistic gift. I see people grow in their creativity over the week and see the ideas come together. You feel the pace of output pickup and there is something quite challenging for all artists being outside, paintings are more energetic, paintings are left earlier, the control of the studio isn’t there.
Drawing helps settle things down, helps you arrive, helps overcome the fabulous sensory overload. The slight feeling of overwhelming when everything is good to paint in every direction.
The Larapinta and Kakadu areas provide fantastic backdrops to fuel the creativity. Since my last artistic expeditions, I have relooked at the paintings and mulled over the new ideas of how to improve the collection.
What are you looking forward to on each of the trips?
The aesthetic rush, space, light, colour and clarity.
A place with few trees allows you to see the land features and the rhythms of the rock. There’s a lot of sky, more stars than you thought were possible. The colour is elusive, it changes through the day and glows in the evening. A week just starts the conversation.
Is there an artistic skill level participants need to join the expeditions?
There’s no artistic skill level required to go out on an art expedition and have a great time. Drawing, watercolour, working on pads of paper allows anyone to really get involved with a location.
I’m there to allow people to best experience the locations, give strategies, form a plan, set up an Artist practices and to build a body of work over the week. Participants return to the studio with finished work, paintings and lots of works on paper, the foundation for future studio works.
What can guests expect to experience during the artistic trip? And any tips for participants joining your exclusive trips?
Guests can expect an artistic journey, there’s enough time to build ideas, fill sketch books, review work and make lots of work. All the logistics are taking care of allowing art making from dawn till dusk and then a bit of sketching maybe around the fire.
You know things are processing well when people are up painting at dawn, or drawing out of the moving bus, there is inspiration all around. You can feel the pace, the enthusiasm grows through the week, as people make real progress with their work. Great friendships are made and it’s very interesting to see what other people creative.
I’m there to guide the group to create works. I sit and paint with people, demonstrate as need be, talk through ideas and review work. Ideas, strategies techniques can be developed over a week and I tailor my efforts to best help everyone individually.
In the past, you have also led artistic expeditions in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. How will the scenery inspiration differ when in the Northern Territory?
The Flinders Ranges are a slightly different colour, the scale is very similar, you are close enough to see detail in gorges and a good distance to sink your artistic teeth into. The Flinders Ranges is inspiring with different types of landscapes, whereas the Larapinta is brighter, with vivid oranges and reds. It’s the clarity and colour of the Northern Territory that is amazing. Your palette changes, the paintings are airier with more space.
Where can we see your artwork from past trips?