Fine art Tips with a Free Wildlife Oil Art Lesson with Michael Upton on Color In Your Life



G'Day Viewers, My Name is 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 and lots of times their's an artist deep down inside all of us, so grab your Kids, your Brothers, your Sisters, your Aunty's, Uncles' and Mum's and Dad's and come and see how some the best artist in Australia do what they do. (Music Plays) Well g'day viewers. How are you?
Welcome back to colour in your life. Well as you can see behind me,
the beautiful Mount Warning, they call it the cloud catcher for a certain
reason; it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. But today we’re ah, going to go in
and talk to an artist called Michael Upton. And Michael’s a brilliant ah, wildlife
artist and mostly concentrates on oils, and he paints African animals, ah, and we’re going
to be doing an elephant with him today. But, ah, really talented man.
Let’s go in and join him. There he is. Gidday Graeme. How are you mate? Good matey, how you bud? Do come in. A wonderful day for it. Oh its beautiful pal.Absolutely. Viewers, I’d like you to
meet Mr Michael Upton. Hi Michael’s going to be
painting an elephant today. Yes, I’m going to try and
make a start on this. This will be great. Michael’s
an absolute world traveller. I mean how many times have
you been around the world? Six times round the world altogether,
but quite a few countries in between. Yeah, absolutely. You’ve actually
spent a lot of time in Africa haven’t you? Yes, I ah, been there three times.
The first time a good five month session, spent going from going from Niroby to
London over land, back of a Bedford lorry. Yeah? Yeah some twelve of us and
that was an adventure. Absolutely, it would have been. Yes, amazing, amazing time. And obviously the theme about our
subject today is elephants. I mean, I’m painting a bull. Yeah A few African bull elephants which is based
on one which I saw in the ChrobeNational Park Okay In Botswana. That was two years ago YeahSo I’m going to try and
put that fella on the canvas Absolutely. And you’ll see some
marvellous pictures of Michaels work as we go through the show today. It’s really
extraordinary what he does, lions, tigers, elephants. Actually, one of my favourite
animals too, is the elephant. Just because of the absolute
make up of their face Yeah Lines and you know If you really think about it, sort
of unbelievable the shape, size It’s incredible The magnitude of them.
There a marvellous animal And, and to be beside an African animal,
you sort of never get the scale do you? No Until you’re out there, and all of a sudden you roll
up in a little jeep and there’s an elephant beside Going up and up and up and you realise Just amazing aren’t they How big they are Yeah, let’s get a start and we’ll
go through some of the materials, and what Michael does and ah,
this will be pretty exciting today, this is going to be one of those great
images that is just going to loom out of the canvas at you. But ah, let’s make a start on it anyway. Well let’s have a look at some
of the paints you’ve got here Mike. Yeah, I’ve taken to using these lately.
Their water soluble, oil. Yeah? I’ve never used these before They’re English Yeah They’re made by Windsor and Newton Yeah And they’ve all the same properties as oil,
dry in the same time frame, not like acrylic that dries straight away.
But ah, everything washes up in water Wow Soanyone with an allergy, to turps
or whatever, these are ideal That’s incredible isn’t it? You really
got some fairly bristly brushes here I don’t want them too soft.
I like them to be firm Okay I like them to have a bit of body. Yah I’ve got some fine brushes, but
generally the larger brushes there, I tend to use probably three or four Okay And um, that’s about it really Okay, well let’s make a
start and we’ll go through it. I can see you’ve got some
paint on your pallet there. Yeah. I only put two colours down for this.
I’m just using Burnt Umber and Titanium White. Alright, I’m going to sit over there
and watch what you do and ah, come along for the ride guys. Always start top left, I don’t know
why. But it seems to work for me You’re just really using those light colours to I’m just establishing Highlight, okay Were the lights going to hit first.
It gives me a bit of an idea. I’m trying to get the shape of the
elephants head as well in there. Because some parts of the lights
really intense and some of it fades off. Yeah and see if you look at the elephants
eye, and there’s something quite magical about it Yeah, there wise and their ageless Yeah And their extremely clever Yeah And I think that when they look
at you, I think their just laughing at you Yeah They’re saying we’ve been longer than
you and we’ll still be here when you’re gone And there’s a lot of facts that people
don’t know about elephants as well, that they actually talk through their feet.
I’m not sure if the audience is aware of that, they put out these very low frequency
sounds that can go in the ground Right And can actually pick up those sounds,
literally miles away, through their feet. And they actually know that theirs
other elephants in the area simply by these low resonating sounds that go
down through their legs. I’m looking at you and I’m just noticing something
that I do and a lot of other artists do Squint, Is squint, Yeah You don’t want it in full focus Yeah, can you explain why
you do that because I’m, I know why I do it but I want you
to tell the audience why you do it l’ve lost my glasses It’s like you’ve completely blind The reason I do it is because you don’t
want it in full focus and there’s no hard edges in nature, so it enables you to
see the broader picture by squinting. Yeah Quite a few times, I’ve seen
a lot of tigers. I’ve been lucky Yeah They are getting few and
far between unfortunately You were telling me, telling
me the other day that um, the numbers have really
declined quite rapidly It’s a lot less than they say. The last
senses, I think that nearly four thousand left. Only, in the whole of the wild.There’s
such fragmented populations that the gene pool drop and I don’t know how we can recover
because there’s not enough land. India, it needs more land for tigers and it’s
just not happening. Ah project tiger was great, built the numbers up, doubled the
numbers so that doubled the poachers, and it went back down again 54Ah, my goodness Really,honestly it was disappointing. I went to
Syriska a couple of times and saw tigers there. When I went in 2005, I was just in
time to hear the last tiger had been shot Oh, goodness So they’d all gone. A total of 18
tigers had gone, in that park There was at the ah, turn of the century,
or last century, we had seven species of tiger, and now we only have, I think its three left The Siberian tigers fared better, there
up to around 400. But the —- for some reason, I don’t know, they’re not
so much hunted, but they certainly haven’t been
as successful at breeding up Yeah, a lot of the viewers are probably
quite aware now that all of these paintings are for sale. This is what these guys
do. I mean Michael’s a professional artist. Um, if he’s not traveling the planet,
going on some wild excursion to the Pantermiles or something, he actually paints in his
home in England and in Australia as well I was in India the one time, and decided
to go to the Kolbert National Park in Toranchal, in the north. Marvellous park and it’s
been enlarged now and I think it’s got about 500 square miles. Lots of tigers there,
lots of leopards, elephants Yeah Huge amount of bird life. Anyway, when
I got there, I introduced my guide to the tigers. His name is Vicky, lovely bloke. I said
to him, Vicky, what I’d really like, is to see a tiger on foot. And he looked puzzled, and said to me,
Sir, in India, all our tigers are on foot. I thought this is it, he cracked me up.
I thought, this is going to be a good holiday, and it was. It was brilliant. Tigers on foot. Your also
good friends and influenced by one of Australia’s really
famous artist, Darcy Doyle. Oh Darcy and I were good friends.
Yeah, such a shame when he passed. But um, I use to paint with him in his studio
there. I did a herd of cattle being rustled once, and he looked at it and he laughed
and said they’ve got ears you know. I hadn’t put one ear on so he
went through and did them all. They got ears you know As soon as I mention to a potential
buyer all the ears were done by Darcy Doyle, it sold. No, he was a good mate. I lived
just up around the corner from him, yeah, he was a lovely bloke. Whenever I do a
drawing I find as long as the initial drawing is correct, the eye spacing, the size, ah, whetherit’s
a lion, tiger, elephant that’s correct, then you can apply the paint and it will work.
Proportionally, you got to get that correct, there’s no sort of leeway if
you’re trying to do realistic one, or otherwise just do a Picasso
and distort them or whatever And go for your life. Which, ah, I have done but I’m not
really happy with that side for some reason. I think at the end of it I thought
I don’t know what I’ve done there. So there’s that um, one picture
of a lion running that your, you can obviously see know, on the
screen and it’s just all four feet are off the ground And you can see that thing ripping along,
old drawing, about sixty miles an hour Yeah, flat out And you can see it the movement
in it. It’s really great That was a Masi Mara. That one Was it? He actually caught a zebra Yeah And we went up to see him later
and one subsequent, one of him, when he was on the zebra. And he wasn
’t happy, he wasn’t happy as we approached him Okay I did one of him, Wow.
So it’s the, With the It’s the two paintings of the one animal Yeah, yeah Alright, were going to let Michael continue to
work on this piece and for a little while, because obviously there’s a great deal
that he has to do and were going to come back and ah, pester him with a whole bunch
more questions, but we’ll see you in a while As you can see, I’ve done a lot more
blocking in and I’ve just about finished that part, I’d add more detail as we go, and just
got to work down through the trunk Okay, Which is the main part,
the part which catches you And how do you find, I mean I know
a lot of artists ah work from photos, you’ve got your sketch there, but
but there’s a real sense of your journey, this is your mind doing this, there’s no photos at all 10Yeah, I think you have to. I love to
use photographs to get things correctly proportioned, as I went into before, but once you’ve
got that, and you’ve studied your subject enough, and just go into it because it’s
coming from you then Sure Instead of going straight from the
photograph and onto there, it’s coming from inside your head, Yeah So a lot more things flow then, and that’s
when you let yourself go and look back and add bits, and you can feel the animal. My
next step now quite time consuming. I’m going to do the wrinkles Okay The wrinkles it took me years
to get, but will be done in minutes So were going to, this is where
you’re going to put the yellow ochre on or the white or we just No, see I do the lines first, and I
draw the wrinkles first and the verticals and then I put the warmer shades in by,
which pain is staking slow. By putting the shadows on to each wrinkle
as you go, you’re giving it each one a form Yeah And highlighting the one side and
the tops of the wrinkles across here will receive the highlight as a
thin line as the sun hit’s it. And thenit’s brings the trunk out which
is where the character of the elephant is I think I’m still surprised you’ve still
got just the two colours there Oh, yeah it’s amazing what you
can do with two colours. Which basically, an elephant’s a very non descriptive colours. The only extraneous colours they have
on them is when they’ve been in the dust or mud Yeah Or something else, or leverets on their back Yeah Whatever, other than that they’re
basic colour is a very reflective light, I will add that as we go Sure Because I feel it’s needed, Yeah Alright Michael, I can see that
you’ve actually move on to, ah, to do the background. Just trying
to bring that elephant out, now are you Yeah, I’m just going to get an idea
where it is in space really. But I would say just a rough scumble,
it represents a bush really but it’s out of focus. And as I said before, I’m going to
put darker values right across the top here. I’ll refine this edge later when I do
the highlights of the elephant. I’m just going to bring this; it’s a
mixture of yellow ochre and ultra-marine Okay You sort of ah, disappear into the painting eventually Well you do. You don’t, you don’t know
how you paint it really. I find, sort of instinct. But I don’t think anyone can teach you.
I mean they can guide you, but everybody’s different, so every teacher, what to put in,
so I don’t know why I put it in sometimes. Why it needs that, some darker, darker It’s funny, you can leave a painting and
if you’re not quite sure and sometimes, not a lot, but you lean a painting to the wall,
and you won’t look at it for two weeks Yeah, I’ve done that Yeah, and you turn it around and oh,
there’s the mistake there. You just didn’t see it when
you were working on it And just, yeah, another point
is this stage that I get to, where I think is this going right?
So I just grab a mirror and look at Yeah, reverse And you can look at it and go,
oh my god its, its wrong. Like when you see a face in the mirror,
use to see, it’s different. You can pick it out; ah this has got to be changed,
just by looking at it differently. I’m going to leave the scum bling, just for
the moment now, to work on the face again. I think I need to lighten this up which I
do afterwards which I want to establish the trunk Sure, definitely Okay so I’ll give this boy a rest,
and I’ll um, change brushes. Change brushes Change brushes. So you’re really just highlighting
those ah, those wrinkles now Yeah I’m just working through;
I usually do all the horizontal ones first. I um have a few running fairly light in line Yeah Take those through And they really do have a lot of
wrinkles on them, don’t they? Yeah Do you realise that the elephant has
150 thousand muscles, separate muscles in his trunk, which enables them to be that emeadixtrus
with a long limb that has no bones? So, another bit of little trivia for
the world out here. The elephant doesn’t know that.
He doesn’t care does he? No he doesn’t Hmm, I saw some amazing footage of
elephants up in Burma, Asian elephant, painting. Yes, I have herd of that Yeah, they were painting each other, and got
details put in on, um, the eyes and everything Yeah Just on their own And it gives you an idea of if that’s the
case, of how intelligent the animal is Yeah I know We don’t give animals enough credit No. There’s too much of the old thing,
he animals were put here on this earth for us. But ah, it’s not true Yeah, absolutely They were here before us Absolutely Right, what I think I’ll do now,
as I’m working down I think I’ll add some highlights
to the wrinkles to see Okay How they come out. Because it um,
givesyou the shape, the shape of what’s in there There’s obviously, even on the wrinkles,
there’s a light and a dark side isn’t there? Yeah, this is exactly right Ar Ha, there you go That’s getting better There you go Yeah. It’s painstaking but it’s worth it Yeah In the end because it tends to
show the shape of each wrinkle Actually you look at the view
that you’ve got here out in those hills and it actually looks like the edges
of the Un Gora crater doesn’t it? Yeah, it is similar, which is green like that Yeah We camped down in inside the
crater so, which is, pretty rare to do that. But we did. In those days there were still herds, well up to five a time of black rhino down there. I think they’ve got three left in the whole crater Yeah, we saw, um, we saw a male
and a female um, courting each other Yes And they ended up mating.
We just stayed with them for the whole day. But very rare sight now. That was
actually in the Masi Mara,to I think it was It’s a shame because they use to
be quite numerous the blacks. Very aggressive animal but,
ah, certainly died out Man’s stupidity. Unbelievable.
What we’ll do is, we’ll let you keep working for
a while and, ah, we’ll duck away and come back
later on when you’ve made
more progress Alright, well I’ll probably
finish down here as well. And then I should have
the trunk just finished then Sounds great I put a lot more time in now,
and finished the background. Ah, really it’s a matter of me dotting my
T’s and crossing my eyes and it’s finished. So I’m going to put the highlights
across here, where the lights hitting, almost rim lighting. And then I
then brush some more light through here Yeah Ah, got to put the shade into the tusks Yeah And then the final thing I think is to,
build the dust up through there, just to, a molecule of dust. Nothing is precise
about an elephant. That can be a bit broader Hmm I will put more on this top That really helps to pop it out a bit more Yeah, this is where it’s hitting, first
before it drops back into shade. I’ll just continue on the rim for the
moment under there. I suppose when you’re thinking of things like this,
you probably drift back into Zimbabwe or Yeah TheMasai Mara when you’re doing it just to I tell you, Ziber National Park and Chobe,
are one of the best spot’s I’ve found Yeah, In Africa For seeing large amounts of
elephants. Huge, I mean were talking about herds
of three or four hundred. An absolutely amazing sight. It is.
One you never tire of I see that you’ve actually got
another pallet there Yeah, I’ve just thrown in,
um, the yellow ochre, raw sienna and white and I’m
going to try and put a bit of dust, scumble a bit of dust down here,
just ambling through Okay She’s not walking fast,
not kicking much dust up, but there’s always dust
around with elephants Yes SoI’ll just put this on loosely. Then I use
that dry brush with paint on it to scumble in a bit. First of all I’ve just got to, just got to
work out were I think Push it in there Yeah, push it right in Yeah. And once again really,
really dry mixture you’ve got there Definitely. Oh that’s better. This is shadow There you go Will be shadow in a bit, Yeah Come on, get that raw sienna in.
I just want to continue this a bit, as obviouslyhe’s been walking along Background there, so He’s um, a bit behind. A bit fainter,
because it’s settling I mean you started painting when
you were five didn’t you? Yeah, Apparently I started when I was about five.
My mother told me this story, ah, the teacher bumped into her
in the street one day. Said are you going to come up to
the school and see Mike’s painting? She said,yes I’ll come up, and
she went up there, and she’s looking around all these
drawings of doggy’s and trees and little houses and stick mums and
dads and said were is it? I said up there. I had apparently done a six foot dragon.
I’d taped all the paper together and she described it to me as being
every colour you ever had, big curling tongue and fire coming out of every part of
it can come out, and ah, so I think that was the start of my creative,
artistic, And away you went from there, I did, yeah Alright, well I think from
what you’ve done there, um, it gives the audience a great idea of
start to finish on how an African elephant um My interpretation Can, can be painted. It’s just been great.
Thank you very much Thanks for coming. It’s ah, thanks
for watching the Chobe Bull, I’ve Isthat what it’s called is it? Yeah, because he was born in
Chobe National Park Oh okay mate. It’s beautiful. Um
Michael’s probably going to finish this off in the next couple of days, and we’re
going to get some shoots, so you’ll see that just after we leave, but um,
once again bud, thanks for having us here Your more than welcome If you want to see Michael’s work,
and a whole bunch of others, I mean the web site is just exploding
these days which is great. You can come to ww dot, no three
w’s,colour in your life dot com dot a u, and you’re going to be able to see Michaels
work and a whole bunch of other people’s work in there, really,I mean the web site
is getting pretty extensive these days. It’s really cool. Lots of education,
and until we meet again, remember, make sure you put
some colour in your life Plenty colour in your life, See
you next time. Bye, Bye

6 Replies to “Fine art Tips with a Free Wildlife Oil Art Lesson with Michael Upton on Color In Your Life”

  1. Totally amazing, such a different approach with fantastic results. Thank you so much for sharing I learnt a lot. I have watched this several times and love it. Wishing you all the best with your endeavours. 🙂

  2. truly inspirational – my pencils and canvas are out and I am ready to tackle my next elephant project. thank you – you have also shown me that the drawings that come straight from my head, my heart are special indeed.

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