Set amidst a gorgeous and serene garden landscape you will find a little piece of artistic paradise, where you can learn and develop your own creative flair. Barry and Lucy McCann are both exceptionally talented artists who share their love for art through special workshops at their gallery and studio space …
If you’ve ever thought about picking up a paintbrush and trying either watercolour or acrylic paints, why not give it a try!
Hi Barry and Lucy. What brought you both to the Armidale area to live?
Lucy: We were both born in Armidale and have spent most of our lives here. Both of our families, back to our great grandparents, have lived and loved living in the Armidale area. Armidale is cultural hub, which makes it the ideal place for us to run our business, McCann Fine Art, where we produce and teach art.
Where did your passion for art begin?
Barry: My interest in art began as a young student creating drawings for school assignments, as well as drawing for home. These talents and artistic flair proved invaluable when I became a chef and cake decorator, but when I enrolled in an introductory watercolour course at the Canberra School of Arts in 1990, I unlocked an insatiable thirst for art knowledge.
Lucy: I completed Dress Design at East Sydney Technical Collage (which is now the National Art School) where drawing played a major role within my studies, but it wasn’t until I participated in a watercolour workshop that my passion and talent for art was realised.
There is an old saying that goes “a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled”, and this could not be more appropriate for us both. From our first meeting, we had a pleasure we could share. It was this combination of two like minds that has fuelled this passion for art.
What forms of art do you both like to create, and what are your favourite mediums to work with?
Lucy: We are both traditional or realist artists and like to create art that includes items that are instantly recognisable to the viewer. Drawing is the foundation of all our art, and we try to incorporate an impressionistic feel to our pieces. We both studied the medium of watercolour exclusively for many years, and as a result this influences our approach to the other mediums today.
At present, Barry paints most of his work using the medium of acrylic paint, and I paint in both acrylic and watercolour, with a real love for the latter.
We both enjoy the constant challenge of attempting to portray the illusion of both movement and form alongside a narrative. Our quest for conveying beauty in our work is paramount, as we seek the place where traditional, representational art is fused with more modern looks.
What would you say your muse/inspiration is when it comes to art?
Lucy: My work is influenced by the art of Hans Heysen, the German born Australian artist. His depiction of Australian landscapes in both watercolour and oils are inspirational. My love of the land was fostered by my father and growing up on a New England fine wool property.
Barry: The work of American artist John Singer Sargent has a major influence on my artwork. The way Sargent could capture the effect light has on different surfaces is inspirational.
What do you most like about running art workshops and helping others with their creativity?
Barry: We conduct numerous art workshops in our studio/gallery in Armidale and throughout Australia and overseas. Imparting knowledge to help others pursue their creative dreams is very rewarding, as is the pure joy we see on the participants’ faces at the conclusion of an exercise, when they realise they can produce a painting.
We teach all levels of competency in our classes, from beginners to advanced, and strive to encourage the individual growth of our students. Our workshops help bring like-minded people together and cultivate creativity and open the students’ eyes to see the world a little differently.
What are some of your upcoming workshops?
Lucy: We hold workshops four times a year in our studio and gallery in the beautiful New England. The four workshops coincide with Armidale’s four very different seasons, summer, autumn, winter and spring. These five day courses are limited to nine people in each class, to ensure a personal experience. An acrylic class and a watercolour class run simultaneously, and both classes meet for morning tea and lunch. For further information regarding our workshops, please visit our website: www.mccannfineart.net.au
Describe your studio space …
Lucy: Our studio is a large, open space with high ceilings and plenty of light, which is connected to our residence. Our gallery space is a separate room linked to the studio via a covered walkway, which doubles as the second teaching space. We share the studio with a clear division of space.
Barry has his easel and tabouret situated in one corner, with his music next to him. He likes to sit and work on one painting at a time.
Barry: Lucy has two easels always set up, as she likes to work on several projects at a time. She likes to stand when painting in any and all mediums and likes to sit at a desk easel to do her detailed drawings.
We are usually working in the studio at the same time, which we prefer, as we seem to paint better and can get into a productive work flow. We believe it is a great advantage to have another artist in the vicinity to ask for a valued opinion or critique.
Are you available for commission work – and if so, what type/what’s the process?
Barry: We produce art mainly on a commission basis, or for a themed exhibition or show. Commissions are undertaken by us when the subject fits into the genre or style we like to paint and when we have some control over the process and end result. Most of the subjects for the commissioned works produced are either figurative or landscapes.
We like to be involved in the process from conception to presentation and like to work from our own experiences, whether from life or from our own photographic reference. This way we not only achieve a likeness of the subject, but are able to inject some feeling or our response to the subject.
We are more than happy to discuss any ideas for a commissioned artwork via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0412 778 253.
Our gallery and garden will be open to the public from the 23rd November to 23rd December 2018, which will showcase some of our latest works, including Lucy’s sculptures, which are made from reclaimed materials including wire, metal and stone.
What are your dreams/goals for the future?
Lucy: Our dreams and goals for the future are to remain healthy, happy and painting. We would like to continue to travel and meet people and try to capture in paint the beauty we are surrounded by. We see no reason to ever have to retire and if we did – we would probably take up painting!
Where can we contact you/find out more about you?
Barry: To see more of our work, purchase art supplies, receive some painting tips and find out about our workshops, please visit our website www.mccannfineart.net.au
Thanks Barry and Lucy.
Interview: Jo Robinson.