Realism airbrushing techniques with Sharen-lee McLachlan and Teresa Franks | 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 playing) (Graeme) Well, hi folks and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we are in Ashmore today on the Gold Coast, in Australia, and we’re in the studio of two sisters funnily enough. We’re going to be filming both of the girls today, and we are with Sharen Lee McLachlan and also, Teresa Franks. Very interesting ladies, they work together, they work in the same studio as each other. They’re both award-winning artists, and you have a fantastic history. You both come from Gunnedah. Now tell me Sharon, what’s the influence of your grandparents involved in what you do? (Sharen) Our grandparents were artists and we used to go out into the forest and look for mushrooms and little fairy rings – a wonderful childhood. (Graeme) Well, your work actually portrays that as well, and it’s just quite amazing. So you actually paint a lot of women Teresa as well, so tell me a bit more about that? (Teresa) I love to paint women, because I know that there’s a lot of womens issues in the world at the moment, and I like to empower women. So a lot of my women are done in different colours, so it’s to say that it doesn’t matter what colour you are that you are strong and beautiful. (Graeme) Fantastic. Well we’re going to be doing two pieces today. Teresa is actually going to be painting one of a lady, and you’re going to be painting one of an arctic fox, I think it is. (Sharen) Yes. (Graeme) That’d be fantastic. All right, well I’m going to step out of shot as I normally do, and we’ll let the girls get on with what they have to do as well, so let’s go along for the ride. (Graeme) Alright Sharen, now before we even start, what type of airbrush are you actually using? (Sharen) It’s a Badger, (Graeme) Badger. (Sharen) one fifty. (Graeme) I think they’re made in the States aren’t they? (Sharen) Yes, they are. (Graeme) They are, and the inks that you’re going to be using today are Art Spectrum is that correct? (Sharen) Yes, that’s correct. (Graeme) Fantastic. All right well let’s make a start on this because it’s very interesting. There’s a lot of manipulating with that finger isn’t it? (Sharen) Yes, (Graeme) You’re just sort of pushing it in. (Sharen) dual action so. (Graeme) Duel action, okay. (Sharen) Yeah. (Graeme) Well let’s see where you start. I think you’re going to start on the eyes first on this fox. (Sharen) I am, just test out my airbrush to make sure it’s working. (Graeme) Now a lot of the love that you have for animals came from your upbringing as a child. And both your grandparents, yours and Teresa’s where artists themselves, and you used to go out into the areas down near Gunnedah, which is a fantastic part of Australia, and basically look at the birds, and the foxes, and the animals and all sorts of stuff. (Sharen) Yep, that’s where I got my love from, (Graeme) Yeah. (Sharen) from looking at all of those things and the forest. (Graeme) So when did you and Teresa decide to join together as a team, and make this into a business for yourselves? Because you’re obviously very productive and produce a lot of different things. You’ve got some amazing stuff that you merchandise as well, which is from coasters, to cups, cushions, tote bags, paperweights, prints. I mean you do just about everything to sell your work, (Sharen) We do, we do. (Graeme) which is amazing. And they’ve also got a gallery in the location as well, which is upstairs, so you can go and look at the girls work. Plus they’ve got a shop in there that’s got all their merchandising in it as well. So come along, say hi and get some commission work done. And it’s just a lot of movement from the shoulder and obviously different pressures on the, on the gun itself. (Sharen) Different pressures and depending on how far away I am from this as to how fine a spray it is, so it just totally depends on that. So at the moment I’m a long way away, so I can get more colour. (Graeme) Now you’ve got a picture here called Abandoned. It’s a picture of an old car out in the… lt looks like it’s been out at Gunnedah, somewhere I’d say. (Sharen) It doses doesn’t it? (Graeme) Yeah. (Sharen) I love doing all the rust work and everything on Abandoned. (Graeme) Yeah, and the beauty about airbrush work is you can just get these really great effects with the edges. They actually look quite photographic after a while. (Sharen) Yes, you can. (Graeme) Now your foray into the art world really was a circumstance about your husbands business as well, because he’s a panel beater. (Sharen) That’s correct, yes. (Graeme) Yeah, so at one stage you were doing cars and surf boards and skate boards and with so many people asking you for commissions all the times, you basically I can turn this into a business and you love art anyway, (Sharen) Yes. (Graeme) so it’s a great idea. (Sharen) Perfect idea cause it’s so much fun. (Graeme) Now with your love of animals, you’ve produced some wonderful pieces that we’re going to bring up as we go along. There’s one that you’ve got of a cheetah, that’s called Willow. (Sharen) Oh, yes. (Graeme) And I can see you’ve got a great picture here of one of our kingfishers, which is actually the largest one in the world which is the kookaburra, and you’ve called that one Chirika. (Sharen) I have, which means good faith. (Graeme) You guys get right into those names don’t you? The meanings behind certain species. (Sharen) Yeah, we do. (Graeme) Yeah. (Sharen) Yes, their all so unique and beautiful, so I love to capture all the different things, and I like to know a little bit about each of the animals before I, before I actually paint them. (Graeme) Yes, well you’ve actually been involved with the AWAMO, and for people out there who don’t know that’ is, that’s the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation. So tell me about your, your role and participation in that Sharen? (Sharen) I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with Nigel Allsopp, and he is the manager, general manager and it is a charity for Australian war animals. And so I’ve been lucky enough to paint three paintings, one of, Smokey the war dog. And I illustrated a Purple Poppy Book, which is for the war animals. And I also did a painting of a man from Afghanistan, so Shaun Ward and his dog Ozzy, so I’ve been very lucky to be able to work with them. (Graeme) That’s fantastic that you’ve been able to do that. (Sharen) Yes, it’s a charity that’s really close to my heart so, and it’s helping out the PTSD men coming back from war. (Graeme) Yeah, it’s a big pay, you don’t sort of really realise what they sort of go through when they’re over there. It’s all well and good us sitting here, but it’s pretty horrendous stuff that goes on. (Sharen) Yeah, it’s pretty horrendous and the whole program is set up to allow for dogs and horses to be involved with the military as they come back. (Graeme) Okay, well done. (Graeme) Well done. (Sharen) It’s a very big cause. Okay, so I’m just putting the… black part of the eye, just so you can see a bit more where they actually sit. (Graeme) Now you’ve been in a few magazine articles over the years as well, demonstrating your techniques both you and Teresa. (Sharen) Yes. (Graeme) Private commission works – you do a lot of that which is very important in an artists life. (Sharen) It is (Graeme) And (Sharen) very important. (Graeme) both you and Teresa actually do commission work, so everybody out there, wants any work from the girls you can go in and have a look at their website. (Sharen) Definitely. (Graeme) There’s a whole tonne of stuff in there. It’s at 2 sisters dot com dot au and go and have a look at what the girls are doing. There’s some really, really beautiful work. (Sharen) And I do lots of commission work of dogs and cats – peoples pets. Some of them that are still here, and some of them that are not on earth any more. (Graeme) Now the fact that you’re working on that one there, I’d like to bring up a picture it’s called Clyde, and it’s obviously of a mountain gorilla. (Sharen) Yes, it is. (Graeme) It’s great, the expression on its face its so human like sometimes I can’t get over it. (Sharen) I know, they’re beautiful.(Graeme) And you’ve got another one that you can see the mottled background, and the sprayed background and it’s great for putting that out of focus perspective on your work, but it’s called Chilli, and it’s one of our famous Australian emus. (Sharen) Yes. (Graeme) And that’s pretty close (Sharen) And he’s a cheeky teenager, Chilli. It’s the expressions on their faces that are hysterical. Okay, so I’ve got some white in there now, so I’ll just do some of the hairs. (Graeme) You’re just sort of really moving your finger across the (Sharen) Yes. (Graeme) start-stop button there. (Sharen) Yep, so down (Graeme) Yeah. (Sharen) and then it’s the movement; it’s what they call duel action. And so it’s just putting the air down and moving it backwards and forwards to take, to make the brushstrokes. (Graeme) Okay. (Sharen) I’m just doing a little bit of texturing around the nose, so it’s just mostly just using – moving around the airbrush. It’s just another technique that I can use. (Graeme) Talking about techniques, that really soft effect that you can get on the fur in the animal that you work on and the whiskers, you’ve got a piece called Asha. (Sharen) Yes. (Graeme) And you’ve got two of them, there’s Asha and Subu, which are both snow leopards. (Sharen) They are. (Graeme) They’re beautiful animals, they’re just amazing. (Sharen) They’re gorgeous. (Graeme) You’ve captured that softness needed in the eyes. It’s quite spectacular. (Sharen) Yeah, thank you. (Graeme) And there’s another piece just mentioning a gorilla, but there’s one that you’ve got called Hunter (Sharen) Yes. (Graeme) And that’s a gorilla, a mountain gorilla just looking around the corner. It looks like its a female. (Sharen) It is. (Graeme) Yeah, but it’s a brilliant piece I think it’s amazing. Yes, as I was saying before Sharon, you’ve been in a number of quite prestigious art shows as well, which is the Lethbridge Award in Brisbane, Brisbane Rotary Art Spectacular, Moran Bay Art Prize, figurative online competitions, all women competitions. So there’s numerous competitions that you’ve been in, and actually won first, second and third prizes and been finalist in all of them, so it’s pretty spectacular as well. Okay, Sharen, well it’s been amazing to watch your skills today, (Sharen) Thank you. (Graeme) and we’re going to – seeing we’ve never done two artists in the one show that actually happen to be sisters at the same time. So we’re going to wind that segment up, but as you can see there’s the finished piece that you’ve done anyway, which looks spectacular, and we’re going to move onto Teresa and see what she does. (Sharen) Thank you, it’s been wonderful. (Graeme) All right, now for you, Teresa. (Teresa) Hi Graeme. (Graeme) How are you? (Teresa) Good. (Graeme) You’re going to – which you love to specialise in, is women and fantasy as well. (Teresa) Yes. (Graeme) And probably could be very much coming from your graphic design background too. (Teresa) Yes, absolutely, so my favourite art genre would have to be surrealism. (Graeme) Yeah. (Teresa) I love playing with colours and I really feel very strongly coming from like a broken home myself, (Graeme) Yeah. (Teresa) and you know, being told to be quiet most probably of my life. I have an infinity with womens strength, and so I like to do things that hopefully will empower women. One of my works was auctioned off by Big Buddies to help women, and just remind them you know, women are strong and beautiful and no matter what the situation in life, they can over come and get better. (Graeme) Yeah, you’ve got some great pieces that you’ve actually done of women in your work. The picture Speak No Evil, is there a reason that butterfly is over that girls mouth? (Teresa) So when I was at my graphic design collage, I learn’t how to use Copic markers from one of my teachers, and so it’s a series of six drawings, including two extras that have – one has a butterfly over the mouth. All the others have flowers on the eyes, except for Hear No Evil, which also has a butterfly over her ears. The butterflies are a reminder from my grandfather that I’m always safe and looked after, and to let you know that it’s okay to speak, and what women speak is beautiful. I like to go in and do the main features first. (Graeme) Aha. (Teresa) This piece is using basically three or four colours, so I’m just trying to get the definition in first, so that she has a bit of a personality to start with. (Graeme) And you originally start with a projector to get your images. (Teresa) So what we do, because I’m a graphic designer, Sharon works out what she wants to paint, and I work our what I want to paint. And we sit down at the computer and we get a number of images. And then because I know photoshop, we’ll indubitably play around with images and colours until we get the result that we want. Then we print that out and we get a projector, so that we don’t loose the perspective, which is particularly important when we’re doing commissioned pieces. We use the projector as one of our art tools so that we can get the outline in. So already today I have parts of this drawn. So I have a part of her face drawn already, her lips, her nose and where she is. And I’ll only use those as broad guide, not as what as what it will look like. I’m not aiming to get an exact finish, neither does Sharon, we just – it’s just what’s in our head coming out still. (Graeme) You both have a love for nature and animals, and your grandparents greatly influencing you as well, but you’ve got a piece called Caught. It’s a fantastic piece of a Kingfisher; it’s a real beauty that one. (Teresa) Yeah, Caught is one of my favourites. It was actually one of my first paintings. (Graeme) Aha. (Teresa) When I did the water in that one I almost cried. It was just – I couldn’t believe how much the airbrushing brought the water to life, and it gave a depth that I’ve never been able to get using other mediums. So with many of the Old Masters works, quite often you’ll see if you’re looking at them close up that they can look totally different to if you’re further away. Well, airbrushing is very much the same. We could do it stencilled if we wanted to, but what we like about airbrushing, is we like that soft etherial feel that we get to it. So we don’t personally like to use stencils, we like to keep it soft and flowing. (Graeme) You’ve got a picture called Women of Colour that’s pretty dynamic. It’s just this red woman with a blue background, it stands right out. (Teresa) The message behind those women is about three or four of those, is again, it doesn’t matter what colour you are. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world; you’re beautiful, you’re strong, you’re loved. (Graeme) Now with the picture entitled Sarah, did you use any frisk at all on that, or is that just free-hand? (Teresa) Sarah is actually a commissioned portrait. It’s a drawing (Graeme) Yeah. (Teresa) and it was done with Copic markers. (Graeme) Wow. You’ve got a really cool piece called Alchemy, and you actually use animal symbols within a lot of the stuff you do as well. (Teresa) Yes. (Graeme) So whats the significance of the kingfisher in that picture? (Teresa) The reason I wanted to put the kingfisher in was when I went to India with my daughter, we actually – one of my favourite days when we where there we actually saw a kingfisher. And I never realised that kingfishers were also native to India. They are much smaller than ours, and had totally different colours, so it was part of my symbolism of just you know, again, you can be anywhere in the world and be protected and guided, and be reminded of things that you love. (Graeme) There’s another one, a similar picture called Magic. It’s a Tawny Frogmouth isn’t it? (Teresa) It is a Tawny Frogmouth. When we were little, I remember one day at a church camp our grandparents were there. I remember after the sack race these kids were screaming out the side, and they were going – oh, you need to come and look at this, and look at this. And we went over to where they were, and I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t know what was there. And I stood there for five minutes and they going its a Tawny Frogmouth, its a Tawny Frogmouth. And yeah, until it actually moved its head I couldn’t see it. And so yeah, I just love the fact that there can be so much beauty there, and yet sometimes for lack of looking you don’t see it, because it’s one of my favourite memories, and I love owls so I wanted him to be included. (Graeme) It’s an amazing technique that you’re using there. It just – I mean for a normal artist to paint hair like that would take an absolute eon of time. (Teresa) It’s a very difficult skill to master. People really underestimate how difficult airbrushing is. A lot of people can do stencilling, but to do freehand, Sharon’s been airbrushing now for oh, gosh, probably ten years or so, and she taught me. I’ve only been going for three years, but it took me an awfully long time to be able to get anywhere near good. (Graeme) You’ve got a great atmosphere, a great studio, a great gallery, a great little store where you merchandise what you do. And I think if anybody wanted to come and see you guys, and be part and parcel of what you’re doing, they should go and see you at the website at 2 sisters dot com dot au, and come in and say hi. And if you want some commission work come and see the girls and have a talk to them. (Teresa) We love having people in here. If you do want to come and visit please do. We certainly do invite commissions. With airbrushing it’s not just limited to canvases, MDF board, cars, we can literally paint on anything. So I’ve just changed colours now, I’m just about to start incorporating some orange. With the airbrushes that we have, because they’re gravity fed, instead of a suction feed, we actually have the bottles down the bottom so it feeds up. So we chose these type of airbrushes because it’s better to use on a more industrial level, so because we’re not just airbrushing like you know, one painting every couple of weeks, because we do, do a lot of commissioned paintings, and a lot of work we needed to have brushes that will work very quickly, and that we can change without too much issue. (Graeme) You’ve got a piece here called Champion. You’ve split it down, it’s a little abstract in its presence – (Teresa) Yeah. (Graeme) looks great but. (Teresa) What I wanted to do, was I wanted to show that pet portraits don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to fit into any sort of mould; they can be fun, and semi-abstract, surreal, you can do whatever you like. It can be fun and it can fit peoples you know, colour scheme in their homes, so Champion was done for that reason. So what I’m doing is I’m just taking the end off this airbrush, and quite often the ink will caught on the end of a needle. There’s a needle inside and so the ink gets caught. So I’m just wiping that residue ink off, and hopefully that should fix my problem. So if it’s too humid, or too hot, or too cold, all these things can play a part in whether the airbrush actually wants to play with you or not. But one of the great things that Sharon taught me when we first started was that everything in airbrushing is fixable. So if you make a mistake it’s not a tragedy. (Graeme) Unlike watercolours (Teresa) Unlike watercolours. (Graeme) that’s it. (Teresa) Yeah, watercolours in comparison are just a nightmare. (Graeme) As you just said you can, you can put darks over that, and then white highlights on the lips for the gloss. (Teresa) Yeah, and that’s what I’ll do, I’ll come back in and fix up that colour. And the really good thing as well is that that’s dry. So unlike oils, unlike oils and acrylics that take quite a bit of time to dry, like I can go like that and I can go like that and I’m done, pretty much so which is a really good thing. (Graeme) And actually the beauty about it is that your works don’t cost a fortune either, (Teresa) No. (Graeme) and they’re very reasonable priced. (Teresa) We try to make sure that we keep it real, so that it’s affordable. Because we really, the reason why we make art is because we want people to enjoy art in their home. (Graeme) Oaky Teresa, well you’ve done a fantastic job there. (Teresa) Thank you, Graeme. (Graeme) We’ve had a great day with you and Sharen. It’s been amazing and as you can see the finished piece is there, and it looks absolutely amazing. But thank you so much for having us in your studio – both of you ladies – and it’s been an absolute pleasure. (Teresa) No, thank you so much. We really appreciate the fact that we can get our art out there. Airbrushing is not something that people see often, and it’s something hat we’re really proud of. Thank you so much for the opportunity. We really appreciate it. (Graeme) Well done. (Graeme) Okay folks, well an absolutely fantastic day at the Two Sisters Gallery and shop in Ashmore, on the Gold Coast. It was just wonderful. Teresa, did you have great day? (Teresa) It was really good. Thank you Graeme, thanks so much for coming. And you and the team have just been amazing. Thank you very much. (Graeme) And thank you too. And Sharen, how was your day? (Sharen) Oh, it was fantastic. I’ve had the best day ever. Thank you for being here, (Graeme) That’s great. (Sharen) and the crew. (Graeme) And also, if you would like to see the girls work you can go to 2 sisters dot com dot au, and see what they’ve in there, and it’s absolutely fabulous stuff. And we’re actually standing in their little merchandising store right now. So you can come along and say hi to them, and buy some of their stuff it’s really, really incredible. And you can also come along and see us at colour in your life dot com dot au, and come and see us on Facebook and at YouTube as well, lots of subscribers in these days. But we’ve had a great time. Thank you so much for having us in your studio. And as we always say – remember folks: make sure you put some colour in your life. We’ll see you next time. Bye now. Bye.

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