Layers of colours redolent of life
Courier Mail – Heidi Maier
FOR artist Adam Cusack the moody hues and naturalistic themes of his paintings are inextricably linked to important times in his life — his childhood and his honeymoon in Queensland’s tropical north among them. Cusack, whose exhibition Thought Paroxysms is currently on display at Newstead’s Doggett Street Studio, uses a palette of pastoral colours to capture objects and scenes that remind him both of those closest to him, and of everyday life.
Paintings such as Sere Leaf, Compartment and Green Gum 2 are highly detailed reproductions of leaves that Cusack collected while on his honeymoon. Likewise, the landscape canvases depict terrain that is deeply familiar to the artist.
"Quite often I’ll draw something like that purely from memory. I’ll have sketched it or it will be clear in my mind."
"I'm pretty good like that. I sketch a lot and some of it will be for things I'll paint later, and some of it won’t," he says.
Drawing was Cusack’s first artistic passion and he believes that stood him in good stead to make the transition from sketching to painting. Similarly, he realises that his work as an art director has influenced his work.
“It was a natural progression from drawing to painting. I worked for a while with inks and I would put pastels on top of it. I tried dry painti ng and it didn’t suit; I tried watering the paint down a little and that felt a bit better,” he says.
Experimentation aside, Cusack’s most important artistic lesson came when he was studying figure drawing at university.
“I’d done a series of drawings, worked really hard on them, and my teacher came up to me and said he would like to see me cut them all up and make one really good piece. “That was the greatest thing I could ever have learnt, the best advice I could ever have been given.”
Cusack says his work pattern is a “nightmare”, often working on several canvases at a time and planning others while he painted.
“I try to keep ahead of myself, think ahead with what I’m doing, but sometimes I just don’t like somet hing and I realise I can’t go any further with it.
“Other times I’ll cut into it, add a bit of darker colour. Its hapbazard but exciting.
“I don’t like flat colour so I always strive towards something with depth, a sense of colour come to life and sometimes that can take four or five layers (of paint). I work with acrylic but I layer it, working with it like oil. It brings things to life, it brings the colours to life.’