Wayne French is a phenomenal artist who creates some truly unique seascapes, sure to brighten up any day. He and his wife charlotte recently opened Greenroom Gallery in Coffs Harbour, to bring together their combined creative pursuits of a natural kind.
Where was your interest in painting first nurtured?
Like most of us, it was early school years, and by end of high school, I was getting top places and marks and loved every bit of art class.
Only problem was, I took art class into every other class and was chastised and caned occasionally for drawing seascapes / waves on any and everything – funny how things can turn around compared to then.
> Describe your style of work and the mediums you use.
You could say my style is realism with a bit of surrealism mixed in, some people say a kind of illustrative style also. My style can take a direction of any of these it depends on subject, mood, etc. I hope to give the viewer the feeling that their painting is also a kind of a window into the natural world.
I usually always paint with oils – especially with waves and ocean movement – as oil can be glazed (layer upon layer) to produce the translucency that I think is needed.
And as time goes by, the richness of colour deepens. It takes years to use them properly, with strict ground rules to follow. I usually paint on hardboard or new internal doors and apply Matisse under painting base. Also quality canvas, but I prefer hardboard.
> How have your life experiences influenced your work?
I received a book for my 16th birthday titled The Dreamtime, which was the Aboriginal dreams and myths painted by artist Ainslie Roberts. The way his paintings told the dreamtime stories via his brush really opened my mind and passion for painting.
Although I am a self taught artist and have never had an art lesson outside of high school, I loved to study and read about all the great artists and their techniques and have kind of stumbled to where I am now with technique.
I still have a long way to go with acquiring more knowledge; I am still only emerging as an artist. I paint subjects that I am familiar with. I have spent most of my life in and around the ocean, and I am intrigued with the energy, colours and moods of the sky, ocean and pretty much all of creation.
As a keen surfer, waves fascinate me, and much of my wave work are compositions of what we experience up close and personal.
We (Australia) have a different light in our landscape than the Europeans, and for me the last stroke of my brush on a finished painting will be dictated by the light that has to look right to my eye and heart.
> Tell us about the Wyland Ocean Artists Society USA and your recent induction into the group.
The O.A.S Is a huge organisation of selected marine artists, film makers and sculptors that are united to raise awareness and act on the marine life issues. They hold exhibitions throughout USA and Hawaii with charity auctions etc. and present opportunities for inducted members to show their art.
I was nominated by them via my website earlier in the year and then inducted into the organisation. It’s great to be able to paint what I do, but I feel it’s only right to be able to put back into responsible organisations that are genuinly fighting for what I see as reasonable protection of our oceans.
Being with the organisation is also a great data base for international collectors and gallery curators. I hope to be able to exhibit again overseas in 2011. I just have to weigh up the logistics and best location, as I have been invited to exhibit in 3 decent galleries in the US. It sounds great, but it’s costly to get my art and myself over there.
> Are there any other accolades you have received?
I was recently selected to have four paintings published in Best of Worldwide Landscapes, which will go on sale early next year from the USA. This is great news for me and should further credibility towards my paintings.
> You have recently opened Greenroom Gallery here in Coffs Harbour. Tell us about this venture.
Greenroom Gallery is the result of my wife Charlotte and I combining our passions: my paintings and limited edition prints and her eco and sustainable bamboo clothing and gifts.
To open the gallery was a big step. Although we were confident after the results of doing many markets, festivals and selling my originals through other galleries, we were not sure how another gallery would survive in Coffs Harbour.
But I really needed a showroom, as more people became interested in acquiring my art. The combination is working well so far.
> Are you working on any projects?
I recently finished a 2 metre long painting of a wave breaking over coral reef – Reef Visions – it sold before it left the framing shop.
It was my biggest and most expensive painting so far. Also, I have just finished a night time series of seascapes and a 2m long surreal wave with landscape work.
> Where can we view your work?
My work is always on display at Greenroom Gallery at the Promenade Shopping Centre on Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour (Ph. 6652 4207). Otherwise, people can visit the website, which is www.artbywaynefrench.com.au
> Thank you Wayne.