Creative Cauldron - Tom Roberts

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Artist inspiration and artist influences. No biographies, dates or scholarly research here - this is a personal response to the work of Tom Roberts by Australian artist Fiona Morgan.

Evening when the quiet east flushes faintly at the sun's last look - Tom Roberts painting
Evening when the quiet east flushes faintly at the sun's last look

Tom Roberts is a revered figure in Australian painting. For me, he's a painter who has command of this country's subtle colours and a spine tingling ability to capture typical Australian light. This is something I wish to accomplish myself.

Eileen - Tom Roberts painting

He was a versatile painter, being accomplished in every genre. Although he is most well known for his landscapes, portraiture was his bread and butter.

A quiet day on Darebin Creek - Tom Roberts painting
A quiet day on Darebin Creek

If you get the chance to see his work in the real world, take it. He was an exceptionally technically talented painter. The sort of talent that is part natural and part hard won by pushing your skill boundaries every single day. Yes, he really was that good. Goosebumps.

Artist's camp Sirius Cove - Tom Roberts painting
Artist's camp Sirius Cove

After four years’ study in Europe he returned to Melbourne and was the lynchpin of Australian open air impressionist landscape painting. For encouraging and mentoring and championing Australian Impressionism, he is known as the father of Australian landscape painting. What a legacy!

Allegro con brio: Bourke Street - Tom Roberts painting
Allegro con brio: Bourke Street
 Part of what I enjoy about his works are his snapshot-paintings of his era. Telling the stories of life in that time.

A summer morning tiff - Tom Roberts painting
A summer morning tiff

Especially cheeky stories that get beneath the Victorian era veneer of endless perfection.
Bailed up - Tom Roberts painting
Bailed up

There is another reason Tom Roberts is so revered today in Australia. Not only did he have technical prowess. Not only was he an influential mentor. He had an ability to make iconic pictures.

A break away - Tom Roberts painting
A break away

His paintings of his era; of bushrangers, hold ups, pioneering life, sheering sheep, clearing the land - tapped straight into a nationalistic self image. They captured the public imagination. They still do. Many of his paintings are considered to have been creators of Australia's self image, of defining a common identity. At least if you were white and male.

Shearing the rams - Tom Roberts painting
Shearing the rams

While many artists realise that recording the times they live in, being a memorialist, is an important function of art, not many accomplish this in the way that Tom Roberts did. His ability to create far more than just snapshots or pretty pictures, that story telling ability of the sort that unites a community - this is what I really admire. The creation of iconic images.

More Tom Roberts links

About the Creative Cauldron series of posts

Creative Cauldron - artistic influences & inspiration for Australian artist Fiona MorganThe Creative Cauldron series of posts explores and showcases the visual styles, techniques, attitudes, ideas, artists and paintings that have had the most impact on me. 

The rest of the series is accessible via the Creative Cauldron page. Have a meander if you please, and remember to check out my artworks on Flickr, and have an insider peek at life as an artist on Facebook.

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