Published on 25/04/2018
WE ASKED IAN MASTIN if he might have a recent photograph of himself in his studio. It’s always interesting to visit an artist in their studio, to see how they paint and to view their surroundings and their latest work. But Queensland, Australia, is rather too far for an impromptu visit.
Ian sent us the above image with this note,
I don’t know if this (somewhat unconventional but wholly accurate) image of me in the studio would be appropriate, but it was taken by my photographer nephew not long ago as a portrait study and was selected as a finalist in a portrait exhibition that was on display at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.
With my little indulgences on display, it could be titled "The Decadent Artist in his Studio”. For the impressionists, it used to be absinthe. For me, it’s my afternoon G&T and cigar!
Well, the ‘decadent artist’ deserves his afternoon drink and cigar. He is one of the most dedicated and hard working artists we know.
I used to work regular 70 to 80+ hour weeks but now I’m down to a slightly more sane 40 to 50 hours. I have also increasingly enjoyed making time available through the cooler months for landscaping in our garden — my other passion.
As a daily routine, I still usually find myself in the studio before 4 am each day, the first of many mugs of coffee in hand, and I find that at that time in the morning there are few distractions.
I love the period around first light — cool, a deep calm and with only the awakening of nature outside. I love the early morning bird sounds outside, (kookaburras and lorikeets particularly).
I listen to music in the background as an essential part of my work day. My iTunes must have tens of thousands of pieces accumulated by now, and my playlists are very eclectic, depending on the mood. I will often drop in a hint of a favourite piece of music or literature into a title or component of one of my paintings.
My most welcome late afternoon G&T and cigar interlude generally concludes my working day.
This wonderful little backwater called Woodgate I find is the perfect environment for such a charmed existence. If I feel stressed over anything, I only have to go outside and commune with our little coterie of pet chooks (hens) which I find are a wonderfully amusing and entertaining distraction therapy.
I have amassed a large number of subject items over the years and I’m particularly attracted to the old, worn and often imperfect or repaired items. There is a Japanese art form called ‘Kintsugi’ or ‘The art of precious scars’ which will take items, most usually pottery, that have been broken, and wonderfully restore them focussing upon and emphasising the beauty of the scars instead of trying to hide them. For me, the wear, tear and scars of old hand crafted items reveal a fascinating unspoken background story, real or imagined, and it is this aspect that inspires me the most.
It’s the same with selecting fruit. Whenever I'm looking for organic items to paint, I much prefer farmer’s markets to supermarkets because the first things that attract me to a piece of fruit or veg to paint are any misshapen, gnarled imperfections or over ripeness. Life is just as precious in our struggles and imperfections as otherwise.
Old books (another subject favourite) are the same. A book falling apart at the seams is infinitely more interesting than one fresh off the shelf. After so many years painting, I find I’m subliminally aware of and on the lookout for such rich stimuli wherever I go. I continually visualise how objects and images I encounter may look in a painting.
We often hear the comment that an artist is fortunate to have such talent, to be born with a gift for painting. Well, undoubtedly so, but the talent is nothing without hard work. Ian Mastin's detailed, minutely observed paintings are the result of long hours honing skills and practising technique, applying discipline and dedication.
We could scarcely find a less 'decadent artist' than Ian Mastin.
Ian Mastin — Intimations of Life continues until 15 May.