How to Draw a Tree | Acrylic Abstract Art Lesson with Alex O’Hara
How to Draw a Tree | Acrylic Abstract Art Lesson with Alex O’Hara


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 there’s an artist deep down inside all
of us as well, so grab your kids, your
brothers, your sisters, your Auntie’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) (Graeme) G’Day Viewers. Welcome back to Colour in your Life. (Graeme) We’re at a little town of Burringbar at the moment and we’re
going to see a chap Alex O ‘Hara who is an extraordinary artist (Graeme) – very talented man and does some pretty wild sort of stuff. (Graeme) So, come along for the ride with me and we’ll see what he is up to. (Graeme) Well Alex, it’s an extraordinary studio you’ve got here , mate. (Alex) Yeah, it does for me. (Graeme) Viewers, I’d like to introduce you to Alex O’Hara. (Graeme) We’re going to spend the day with Alex and
he’s going to show us some techniques (Graeme) that are very specific to his work. It’s
quite unusual (Graeme) the amount of different
materials that you actually use (Graeme) to do what you do, but let’s
take that it through. (Graeme) I mean, how do you know to even start with what
you’re doing? Is this a neighbourhood tree or…? (Alex) Yes, this is actually up in Murwillumbah. What I’ve been doing
here is, I’ve just been driving through and noticed the
tree out of the corner of my eye that’s (Alex) triggered an idea, so, I’ve gone back, and
taken the photograph here of the trunk structure, (Alex) gone here and taken a picture of the
branch structure and I brought them home. (Alex) I always print them up in black and white, that way, no colour
reference, so it’s totally up to me to invent something. (Alex) This is something I find very important with all my others, (Alex) to actually connect with the whole painting, to connect with my
tools. Now, what I’m going to do here, which I’ve already started, (Alex) I’ve got the photograph of the painting hid away — Which is
the root system of the tree, I’ve got branches here, (Alex) and I’m making no effort to copy this or try and make it look like what
it is. What I am allowing myself to do just go with the natural flow. (Alex) I don’t want to get the sun or anything that is really strong,
but I just want to get a feeling that the light is coming from up here. (Alex) So that gives me the — what I can do with my tree. I realize that my
shadows are going to be basically on this side, which is nice and broad strokes. (Graeme) So what is the benefit of using that black gesso? Why do you do that? (Alex) What this does for me is – because it is thicker than paint, I can
actually build up a texture with the brush strokes. (Alex) I don’t want to get up too far up in the top of the branches, because they just
get too fiddley then, and I don’t enjoy painting fiddley stuff anymore. (Alex) So we’ll say, we’ll end our branches about there. (Graeme) How did you get in touch with this really free flow type of work? (Alex) One day I just suddenly realized that I’d completely loosened up.
Where in my previous paintings, I might had painted very tightly,
and used a lot of small brush work, (Alex) all of a sudden I had the confidence to allow brush strokes to flow,
and I just really followed my intuition in a way.
I call it basically ‘The Creative Process’. (Graeme) Music inspires you a great deal? (Alex) Well, to me, music and painting and writing and all creative art, if you
want to call it that, are all the same thing. They are all interconnected. (Alex) It’s very important for me to experience as much as I
can of everything, because one inspires the other. (Alex) Excuse me while I just dry this off. (Alex) This is a gesso primer. What it’s going to do, it’s going to
create my white areas, but it’s also going to give me grey areas. (Alex) where I can just follow it along like that,
straight in there, I don’t care if I slop around (Alex) because sometimes, even the little slop
arounds can create something really interesting. (Alex) It’s mixing with the black here to create a grey, bring that
around there, green – that lying around like a lovely, sort of… (Alex) Love the curve, love the curve. (Alex) There’s an artist I’ve met about 30 years ago
when I was in animation who taught me that.
He was the most beautiful pencil drawer I’ve ever seen, (Alex) and he just said that, “When you love the curve, your line work will
love you, and you won’t even have to think about it.” Boy, was that true! (Graeme) That’s a great saying. Really great. (Alex) And then it comes down to everything that you do, I guess.
Just love what you do, if you don’t love what you do, don’t do it.
Many people told — have said that before. (Alex) And another thing I love doing with painting sometimes –
it doesn’t mean I’ll always go that way, is I like to turn the painting around
and have a look at it from a few different angles. (Alex) Now, if I were to turn this upside down , I’ve
got a totally different image here, probably. (Alex) and I’ll step back and have a look at this this and think,
what’s going on. What are the options here?
They look like a root system that’s going into the ground, maybe? (Alex) I’ve got this shape coming up here, and already I can think about…
Well, I could bring a few arms out here and a hand, and a maybe put a face… (Graeme) It’s a great point to make, is that you really
need to look at your work in different angles. (Alex) I like in a sense, I’m working towards– I’d like people to be able
to hang my painting any way, that would give them four different views,
which means they could change it any time they wanted to. (Alex) Now I really like something like this. For me, what I can see here…
might as well get a small brush and paint it in.
Because we can always paint it out. (Alex) The way I see things is, I could see perhaps a landscape going here.
Okay, so I got a bit of a mountain range here, and maybe I’ve got-
maybe some trees going into the distance, so I could do that. (Alex) And that gives the person a sort of contradictory
perspective to what they’re seeing here. (Alex) This here could actually become a rock, this could become a rock face.
So I could actually black that in, put some brown in, have a look around there… (Alex) if I wanted to, and be totally creative, because there are lots of things
I could do with these spaces. I could put a figure in here.
Who knows what I want to put in there, (Alex) I think what we’ll do today, we’ll stick with the conventional one because
it will be easier to put together, and then when I start to get some colours on,
I can have a look at it again, and maybe see a different way of producing it. (Graeme) So imagination is a large part of what you do?
Obviously, sometimes seeing the unknown popping out at you? (Alex) That’s the beauty. That’s what I love about this technique
that I’m using now is that, there are no rules. (Alex) So I’ll take these off because I’ve got the tree pretty much under control now.
I don’t know what colour I’ll do it. I’m not even thinking about it,
I just wanted to make sure the tree was going to work. (Alex) So! I’m building up. Just look at this! I’m layering it on I don’t know
what’s going to happen here. Things happen. I dont even think about
angles. Having said that, I think about bringing something around here. (Alex) Here you can see where there’s a bit of white gesso texture under here.
So, it’s missing that and just creating something good there. (Alex) Give that a quick dry, especially round
here, because that’s very heavily textured. (Graeme) So, we’re just going to join Alex again.
I think he’s got a pot of green out at the moment.
So, he’s definitely got stuck back into it again. (Alex) What I’m doing is using a Matisse Hooker’s Green, and I’m just
doing that for a bit of familiarity so that we know straight away. (Alex) I’m going to put some leaves in there.
So what I’m doing here, I’m sort of working, I’m trying to get a sort of
purple shadow under here underneath the leaves, (Alex) which will soften off here, and then I’m going to put a bit
of sky in through here and maybe filling the sky between the branches. (Graeme) All of that white is simply just going to disappear? (Alex) Not necessarily. Just for you, what I’ll do is I’ll leave it —
That’s nice. I’ll leave that going for you, and maybe that in there. (Graeme) I like that. That’s very generous of you, Alex. (Alex) All right. What I’m going to do now… I’m going
to mix a lighter green. One of the greatest
pleasures I think, when you can look at your painting (Alex) and just see things that are so random that you could
never have made them up and yet they just look so good sometimes. (Alex) Okay, work this down a little bit, gives that a sort of grassy feeling. (Alex) That’s better. Now we’re getting stuff I think.
There’s a bit of Van Gogh happening in here. (Alex) Certainly not intended, but I look at it just in a way, almost computer like,
that somehow I’ve learned something’s happened and I have
actually accessed my “Creative Hard Drive”. (Alex) For me, once I have done that, there are no boundaries.
And I’ve applied that to my paintings –
that there are no boundaries, no rules. (Alex) I really like that white shape in this, so It’s going to stay.
(Graeme) Yeah, that’s great. (Alex) That’s “Graeme’s spot” I can’t touch that bit. [laughs] (Greame) It’s exclusive real estate. (Alex) Now what I’m going to do, I’ll – because I feel like really brightening
that up a bit, I’m going to put a bit of sky in there. (Alex) I’m going to put a bit of red in here first. (Alex) Always listen to criticism, listen to suggestions.
They’re all valid. (Graeme) You’re mixing the white directly onto the red out of the tube? (Alex) … come back to this. and actually, put on a lot of colour still. (Graeme) There’s probably a lot of artist watching right
now that would go, “That’s the way I want to paint!” (Alex) [laughs] It’s right to the mark.
(Graeme) It’s stuck right into it. (Alex) I don’t know whats going to turn out here, but
it’s half the beauty for me is just the unknown. (Alex) Just done running the paint across the texture
even, just to see what I get, to see what happens. (Alex) The way it’s going to pick-up. (Graeme) Sort of just developing the shapes and the movement in the painting. (Alex) I’m not trying to achieve – to specifically look like grass,
or specifically look like a bush, but I’m just looking for
little shapes to maybe highlight out 3 dimensional effects. (Alex) I’m going to drop the painting onto the floor,
and that takes a lot of light off it. (Alex) I never worry too much about it, even if I get something wrong,
or do something the wrong-way around, because there are always options,
you can always get in there and correct things. (Alex) I can come back to this painting maybe about, three or four months later,
you’d be sitting somewhere and say, “Ah, why did I use that colour?” (Alex) and I’ll just suddenly change a colour, or do something totally different
which will just pick it up completely, but I’m hoping
we’ll actually get something really interesting out of this today. (Alex) And I’ll just start bringing in my branches.
I really want to lighten this tree up around the branches and that –
like the light’s bleeding it out. (Alex) Be aware of little things.
Little shapes happening in there.
May have it there. (Graeme) So at the moment you were searching for those shapes that
start to appear so that you can utilise them a bit more? (Alex) Yes, that’s correct, yeah. (Alex) I’m actually experimenting more than I ever did so, you
can’t expect everything you do to work. I never have, (Alex) but I’m finding more and more now, that the more you keep
pursuing just a total creativity instead of just trying to produce a ‘work of art’,
you find things just happen sometimes. (Alex) Okay, I’m getting a little bit more subtle here. I want to get this lighter inwards. (Graeme) So is there any reason that you use the Matisse acrylics
apart from any others at all,
or is it just something you’ve gotten used to, or…? (Alex) Oh, it’s something that’s available up here,
it’s a good product. It’s available up here. (Graeme) So I can see shapes starting to come out more now. (Alex) I might… I don’t want to touch that. I want to fill in pink,
like it’s almost coming through here. (Alex) Artist’s signature.
(Graeme) It’s in. (Alex) Let’s give Graham a “China Man”. [laughs]
(Graeme) Is it… There’s a China Man in there? (Graeme) Alex is going to take us through some different
techniques that he uses, using a lot of other types
of different materials that he uses puts into his paintings. (Graeme) It’s really quite interesting. He sorts of picks up bits and pieces
from everywhere, and we’ll go through the process.
You’ve got a whole bunch of things over there, Alex? (Alex) When I due textured work, which I do really love
doing textured work, I’ll just collect stuff around
the house – things that I see lying around. (Alex) Okay, so what I’m going to do now is, I’m going to just
put a bit of black gesso on the bottom of this.
and that will be enough to adhere it to the canvas. (Graeme) It’s very hands-on, isn’t it? (Alex) Isn’t it, Yeah. I love… developing a love of just…
fiddling around in paint and I think it will come to a point
when I’m using my hands all the time. (Alex) So what I’ve got here is a little bit of plastic tubing, it’s got a bit
of a curve to it, so I’m thinking, “Ok, well the tree’s a good spot
for it, where am I going to put it on the tree, let’s just have a look”. (Alex) That’s the thing which… Paintings always seem to be flat,
as beautiful as they are. They are always flat,
they just love the picture, but with a texture piece, (Alex) I like people to come in and actually feel the work,
feel the texture on the painting,
and could just get a connection with it. (Alex) We’ll put a bit in there too. (Graeme) You’d be barking mad if you didn’t.
[laughter] (Alex) You won’t mind if I spill gesso all over my sky,
whatever it does, because everything is textural build-up. (Alex) Okay, just whack that in there and see what it’s going to look like. (Alex) and up there – let’s go for it!
(Graeme) You’re gonna go for it?
(Alex) Yeah. I’m gonna go for it. (Graeme) I’ll take this and put it into the black area for you (Alex) It’ll just add a little perspective to it. (Alex) As much as it looks like I’m just slopping paint on it all the time, I’m still thinking about it, I’m still looking for options, I’m still looking for something unique, something interesting to come out of it. (Alex) All these textural things will allow me to put in really interesting highlights. (Graeme) )Well. viewers, as you can see, Alex has really moved ahead.
All the gesso has dried and he’s got a chain here, and a bit of pipe and
some string, there’s a fifty cent piece in this corner here. (Graeme) What’s your next move , Alex? Where do we go from here? (Alex) Well, I’m going to get into the trunk again. Well the trunk again,
now, the trunk of the tree, now that I’ve got all my texture down,
I’ve mixed some Lilac here of all colours. (Alex) The wonderful thing about random and creative painting is, I guess any
painting in some respects, that people see so many different things.
Everyone has their own has their own interpretation. (Graeme) You can see the texture and form all the way through it. (Alex) Now its starting to pick up all these little things. I can
come back, and put in some work and some black work
and some shading, do just about anything I want. (Alex) But what it’s doing now – is getting a bit of solidity and
a bit of purple where it came up, and that’s nice. (Graeme) And your mixture with your acrylic there –
is it once again,
straight out of the tube? (Alex) Yes, I’ve thrown some white in with some dioxane and mixed the product,
I don’t really mix it fully, because you just get a different shade comes out. Sometimes, rather than being stuck with one flat colour… (Alex) So, really experimenting all the time, with just about everything
I am doing. Never worry too much about – even if I get something
wrong, or do something the wrong way round, (Alex) because there are always those options.
You can always get in there and correct things. (Alex) You know, I mean, I could come back to this painting maybe
about three of four months later, you’d be sitting
somewhere and say, “Oh, why did I use this colour?” (Alex) I don’t know, and I’ll just suddenly change a colour, or do
something totally different which will just pick it up completely. (Alex) I’ve have a really nice curve in here.
I love it. (Graeme) The technique that you’re using there is a very similar to the
techniques that you’ve used in alot of your pieces in the past. (Graeme) and actually the viewers are looking at some of them right now, but you’ve really moved on to, as we said before, a lot more expressive than you normally are. That looks great – it actually looks like Alice in Wonderland’s door. (Graeme) Some of the stuff you have done in the past was actually quite detailed
as well, but you’re really getting in touch with the artist inside you. (Alex) I tend to like reflecting things too, so what I’ll do here is, I’ll just put a little reflection in here. So it’s actually, in fact it’s reflecting off here, then it’s reflecting on the chain, the light’s reflecting, (Alex) you’ve got this sort of feeling of sense of… (Graeme) Just got that one spot there. (Alex) Yeah. Just in… What I can do is really get in there. (Graeme) And this is all once again is… That brush is quite dry. isn’t it? The paint’s dry. (Alex) Well, yeah. The paints – there’s no water. I rarely mix it with water. (Graeme) From where I’m sitting, that tree looks
like it’s about 8,000 years old. [laughter] (Alex) I’m actually, trying to link the piece of pipe to the chain in some way. (Alex) Just drop it down here, and take a step back and look at certain areas. Just by introducing little bits of aqua
here and there …just a couple of spots in there… (Graeme) I like that dob.
(Alex) Isn’t that beautiful? Love it!
(Graeme) Instantaneous. (Graeme) Okay, well Alex – your journey and your future goals? Where
do you think that the style that you’ve got now, compared
to where you came from, where do you think it’s going to take you? (Alex) I honestly don’t know, Graeme. Honestly don’t know,
but I can only hope that the journey continues. (Alex) I love the exploring, I love the creativity, I love the renderness
I love everything that happens in this creative process. (Alex) And I just wish if I had a goal, I’d probably love to keep– I’ll show
other people how to access their “Creative Hard Drive”
and learn to feel as I do when they’re being creative. (Graeme) Well, you’ve done that today. I’d really like to thank you
for having us along anyway, and part and parcel of being
on Colour in Your Life is exactly what you just said, (Graeme) and that’s obviously helping other people being creative as well,
and you’ve done that today. I’d really like to thank you for
having to put us in your studio today. (Alex) It’s been my pleasure. (Graeme) If you’d like to see more of the great artists that we have, come to www.colourinyourlife.com.au. You can see all these wonderful, wonderful people. It’s a fabulous website with a lot of creative stuff inside it. (Graeme) And remember, until we meet again, make
sure you put some Colour in Your Life.

4 thoughts on “How to Draw a Tree | Acrylic Abstract Art Lesson with Alex O’Hara”

  1. Eleanor Saad Artworks says:

    that was pretty cool

  2. Leda Maria do Prado says:

    terrific!I loved, and I have already one of his paintings ( Called: Night Favela)  he is the one from Austrália !And I Hope I can bring him to give free lessons in New York in 2015.

  3. Julie Williams says:

    Hi Guys
    I know this is way way late….but i notice that in these early episodes you did not give out the contact/webpage information for the artist….does alex have a webpage? I could not find anything under his name on google….

  4. Maysoon AlDooriaines says:

    Another inspiring video and artist. Many thanks for sharing it

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