Barwon Heads artist Alison Fincher has been chosen to exhibit at the prestigious FabrianoInAcquarello in Italy. She speaks with Justin Flynn about her journey.
Alison Fincher’s Barwon Heads studio is impressive.
At her roomy, light-filled home, watercolours adorn the walls and tell many stories.
Her painting ‘Tidewater’ is on its way to Italy to feature in the prestigious FabrianoInAcquarello exhibition, albeit electronically.
“It happens in May and June each year,” Alison says.
“The Australian Muster calls for contributions from watercolour artists and the one I did called ‘Tidewater’ was nominated last year as one of the 30 best that they pick out of many entries.
“They nominate them to go to Italy for the Fabriono, the Italian exhibit.
“The past couple of years they have done that physically but this year it’s had to be digital because with COVID and all the turbulence in Europe, they couldn’t send them over physically this year because they have had a backlog in getting the last two years’ paintings back to Australia. They didn’t want to compound the issue so they are doing it digitally this year.”
Much of Alison’s inspiration comes from the local land and seascapes.
“I often ride my bike around Barwon Heads and if you go along Carr Street, there’s a couple of places that you can walk through to the river, for example, at the end of Geelong Road,” she says.
“Often you get amazing light effects because we get some fabulous skies in Barwon Heads which are really great for watercolour painting.
“Sometimes depending on the time of day and the nature of the weather, you get amazing light off the water.”
Alison was born in Boort, a small town in northern Victoria.
“Most people don’t know where Boort is,” she says.
She grew up in country Victoria, but has had a lifetime connection to the Bellarine Peninsula, coming here for holidays most years and her parents live in the town. She moved to Barwon Heads with husband Leo a few years ago.
She was always artistic as a kid.
“I always liked painting and drawing as a child,” she says.
“That came from a more academic family and my father was a skilled amateur photographer, but it was more as a hobby.
“When I finished school I studied design and wanted to do something more arty so I did more painting and drawing, but it’s been intermittent as life came along and then a professional career.
“In more recent years, probably in the last 10 years, I’ve been able to get back into it and in the last few years I’m pretty much full time which is quite exciting.”
She is now a renowned artist, but self-effacingly says she still doesn’t know whether she is any good.
“I don’t know whether I’ve realised I’m any good to be honest,” she says.
“You’re always evolving. I guess I could always draw otherwise I would never have undertaken studies in the arts or design field.
“It’s like anything, the more you do, the more you realise you don’t know and the more there is to learn.”
Alison says you don’t need to look at things a certain way to be an artist or even appreciate it.
“I think everyone sees things through their own filter and you see that with the choices that people make,” she says.
“Sometimes I think ‘why did you choose that one to buy?’, but people will often choose something that means more to them for a particular reason and not just purely for the aesthetics.
“So with a sunflower painting, somebody might look at that and think it’s a lovely picture because they have family in Ukraine so it will have an additional meaning.”
Alison is looking forward to being a part of the Bellarine Arts Trail this year and thinks it is a wonderful opportunity for people to travel around the peninsula and appreciate different artists in one day.
“It’s such a nice event that people can go to to look at all different sorts of work,” she says.
“It’s great having it all available on one day because it makes it worth coming down to the Bellarine to have a look.”
Alison hopes to do more portrait art in the future, but will always find the time to immerse herself in the outdoors.
“I find certain landscapes really moving,” she says.
“I think that makes me want to record it in some way. I go up to Falls Creek every year and it’s so beautiful up there. Every single year when I’m standing at the top of the summit and it’s a beautiful day I get my phone out and take photos.
“It’s ridiculous because I take 100 photos every year, but I can’t help it. It’s so amazingly beautiful and it’s a bit like that down here. The light across the mouth of the river here just this side of the bridge at certain times of day or certain kinds of weather you get a shaft of light coming through an amazing sky, you just can’t help but stop and do something about it.
“Painting water is a challenge. You keep on doing it and doing it to try and to capture that it’s often about the light and where the light is. What you want to reflect in the painting is that light and energy and creating a painting isn’t copying a photo or a scene, it’s taking that and manipulating it to convey that to the viewer and often you have to exaggerate things and diminish others in order to get that across.”
Go to alisonfincher.com.au to find out more about Alison’s art.