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Moving Water

Incandescent 6

Incandescent 2

Incandescent 7


Exploring different moods of sea and sky

Water, sea and sky have captivated artists for centuries and no doubt will continue to do so. They have been fascinating expressionist artist Julie-anne Armstrong-Roper for several years, which is why they have featured frequently in her recent paintings.

Her work has been widely exhibited since 1991, especially in Melbourne, where she lives with husband Mark in Yarraville. She also enjoyed a major solo exhibition in London a few years ago at Australia House.

Julie-anne is now exhibiting new works, under the title 'Sea Above Sky', at the Leongatha Gallery at the invitation of outgoing exhibition coordinator Lerida Watt.

Lerida, who leaves the post at the end of the year, has had a long association with Julie-anne in Melbourne. "Julie-anne's paintings are rich in colour with a luminous quality that captures those special water and sky moods", Lerida said.

The painting easily evoke the elemental moods of South Gippsland with it's fantastic skies in summer and winter, at dawn and dusk, and the grand atmosphere of the wild ocean hugging its shores.

Julie-anne's early output was figurative, but "faces started to drop out and eventually figures faded out of the works altogether.

"From then on my work has become more expressionistic. Sometimes, with large paintings, I throw paint at the canvas, allowing it to be totally expressionistic.

"But I always make sure that at the finish the paintings are grounded, so that there are reference point for the viewer to hold on to.

"I am intrigued by how changes in sea, sky or weather can influence people's emotional state.

"To me the sky and movements of the sea are some of the most powerful elemental forces in our lives. They can deeply affect the way we think and feel not only on a conscious level but also subconsciously.

"There is nothing like a blue sky to lift our spirits, whereas a grey and rainy one can have the opposite affect.

"Sea and sky not only influence our mood and emotions, they can also mirror them, and artists for centuries have used them as a metaphor for our state of mind.

"Both sky and water are transient. They change all the time. I've discovered that I am comfortable expressing myself in them. They evoke people's different moods and they express many of my own moods. A lot of myself is reflected in the paintings" she said.

The works at the gallery and oils on canvas and contemplative. The 'After Clouds, fair weather' are four large canvases that take the viewer across from storm to rest, from water to sky, from turmoil to calm, or from war to peace in four metaphoric steps.

Other painting come in twos. For example 'Reflection' and 'Reflection 2', recall the complementary state of Yin and Yang.

The 'Much at sea' and 'Last Pale Gleam' are the only stand-alone paintings and intriguing because of it. They can be about solitary confusion and loss. But the spirituality of the painting won't be lost on the viewer, willing to go with the flow of sea and sky - and explore one's own emotions towards them.

The Star

Tuesday, September 27, 2005