Dawn Csutoros – Back in Beijing

As part of my 9-month art journey this year, I am spending the first month in China.

My link with China began 30 odd years ago when I started learning tai chi and looking into Daoism. But it had never really crossed my mind to travel there. Then in 2007, I received a commission for the JW Marriott Hotel, Beijing. I followed this up with a six-week artist residency in Fei Jia Cun, an art village on the outskirts of Beijing. The artist villages in China are amazing! Imagine a community made up predominantly of artists, the studios generally take up the ground floor of a two storey space, bedroom traditionally upstairs. Kitchen, bathroom and studio downstairs. The atmosphere is supportive, with neighbouring artists visiting each other, discussing ideas for their work and meeting for drinks and openings.  The energy is at once open and enthusiastic; a genuine curiosity to explore new mediums and different techniques.

Dawn group pic
Group picture with Brian Wallace, Director of Red Gate Gallery, Nikolaus Ellrodt, Curator and Director of The Showroom Gallery, Dawn Csutoros, artist, local international artists, Geoff Raby.

2008 came with an invitation to exhibit at the Australian Embassy in Bejing, opened by the acting Ambassador Dr Geoff Raby and Bill Shorten. 2009/10/11 saw more exhibitions including a collaboration with fashion designers for the World Expo, along with travel across the Gobi desert, climbing sacred Taoist mountains and journeying along the silk road to Dunhuang which has the world’s largest collection of Buddhist cave paintings.  This inspired new works, using mediums such as Xuan paper, ink; even tea and black coal entered the work. The materials implicit to the culture were being embedded into my compositions.

In 2013, I was in Songzhuang Art Village for a couple of months and now here I am again, but this time, to exhibit a selection of works spanning 12 years and to stay on for a one month artist residency in 318 International  Art Village, Beijing. The studio space is amazing.  As an artist, it is such a wonderful experience to be able to travel and live in new surrounds, to immerse myself in a completely different culture and see with new eyes. Very inspiring, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Installation of exhibition at 318 International Art Village, Beijing. Exhibition opened by Counsellor for Public Affairs and Culture, Maree Ringland and former Australian Ambassador Geoff Raby.












I only arrived Tuesday afternoon and the opening was on Saturday in April and the exhibition will continue for one month.  A slight glitch as my tube of drawings decided to stay on an extra day or so in Singapore. However, Nikolaus Elrodt, the curator took it all in his stride and everything was ready on time. Maree Ringland, the cultural attaché opened the show. We started at 3pm and finished the night dancing ‘til 2am.

The next day, I have time to rest and reflect and find myself wondering how my next body of work will evolve.  Despite the pollution, hay fever, traffic and trials with internet, it’s great to be back in Beijing.

Next stop Malta!

To find out more about Dawn, you can visit, http://dawncsutoros.com

Works from our Painting Students

Hilmi’s Painting Class for Term One focused on one composition with different Still Life objects. Students could choose what would feature in their work, including shiny porcelain vases, old books, pottery and painted wine bottles. They were also challenged with a backdrop of creased sheets.

The class focused on oil painting techniques and students were encouraged to develop drawing skills, conceptual understanding and technical proficiency in painting using a classical approach modified for contemporary use. Hilmi used some of the elements of Flemish Painting technique, which he has previously taught in a three-day workshop, with a faster contemporary, approach.

We are very proud of what our students have achieved! Below are their works in progress – we hope you enjoy them!

Enrolments are now open for Term Two Painting and we welcome people of all skills levels. You do not have to have attended Term One to join us – Hilmi will help you wherever you are on your artistic journey! You can enrol and find out more via our course page: https://melbourneartclass.com/painting-with-hilmi-baskurt/


Award-winning artist Irene Ferguson joins MAC

We are extremely fortunate to have artist Irene Ferguson in our rank of professional artists/teachers here at Melbourne Art Class!

Irene is currently teaching our popular six-week General Drawing Course, and her Sunday Studio Art Course begins this weekend (enrolments are still open!).

Irene was born in New Zealand and we are very lucky she has chosen to cross the Tasman after wandering all around the world. She completed a Master Fine Arts at the New York Academy of Art, (cum laude) and also has a Diploma of Fine Arts, with Honours (printmaking) from Otago School of Fine Art, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Irene Ferguson with Blue Girl

Irene has had over thirteen solo exhibitions and a number of group exhibitions in her career, and has worked as studio assistant for both Jeff Koons and Louise Bourgeois.

A highly-recognized artist, Irene has been a finalist in many prizes, including the BP Portaiture Award at the National Gallery in London.

Irene is best known for her portraiture work. In 2008 she won the Adam Portraiture Award with her work, The Blue Girl, Johanna Sanders in her Back Yard (pictured).  She travelled to Italy in 2010 to the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy to complete her training in portraiture. And Irene will soon be taking a portraiture class here at MAC!

We currently have one class with Irene with places still available – our Sunday Studio Art Course, where we invite all artists, whether you are a complete beginner and would like to learn how to draw or paint, or if have your on project you would like to work and receive critical feedback. The nine-week course begins this Sunday April 17th, and you can enrol and find out more about the course here: https://melbourneartclass.com/sunday-studio-art-with-irene-ferguson/.


Tim McMonagle – Buangor

Gnarly eucalyptus trees often seen on a well-travelled stretch of road near the town Buangor, in country Victoria, was the starting point for Tim McMonagle’s latest exhibition. Buangor is a collection of five oil-on-linen paintings, painted on McMonagle’s preferred square format.

Tim McMonagle 'The Admiral' 2016 oil on linen 124.5 x 124.5 cm
Tim McMonagle, ‘The Admiral’ 2016, oil on linen, 124.5 x 124.5 cm












Each painting consists of one tree in a uniquely contorted form with hints of vitality depicted in the occasional sprouting green leaf. The colours are mostly muted browns, pale blues and greys, mustardy yellows and olive greens. McMonagle added intricate details to his mesmerising trees; hints of vibrant oranges and yellows and texture with brushstrokes and thick paint. An energy is also present, particularly in Pull the Cup 2016.

To paint the twisted, mythical old trees, McMonagle relied heavily on his imagination, but also on a soundtrack to get him into the painting process. “It’s the music that got me into the right head space,” he says. “I put this on everyday I painted.” He is talking about the album, At Action Park by Shellac, an album that’s been described as rock, post-hardcore and punk. The influence of the music is evident in the dynamic and somber elements of the paintings. To expand on this, McMonagle borrowed song titles to name his paintings.

Tim McMonagle, Installation view
Tim McMonagle, Installation view

STATION Gallery, 9 Ellis St, South Yarra

5th-26th March 2016


Written by Elizabeth Fritz


I learned to mix black – this may have changed my world

Ivana’s inspiring experience during our Summer School

Ivana was one of a few students who undertook the challenge of completing both our Painting and Drawing Masterclasses in-between Christmas and New Year (not to mention the challenge of the heat)!

She has had previous experience in painting, however it was the first time she had ever experienced life drawing. We gratefully received her feedback and detailed experience below, and hope you also find it helpful and an insight into the classes we hold here at MAC. Thank you Ivana for allowing us to share your wonderfully candid account! This is why we love what we do.

“My objective in these classes was twofold. To refine my eye and hand; to learn specific technique and refine accuracy in representation as these are areas where I am poor. Also to dive into the Flemish technique as I’m obsessed by light and form but am yet to represent them in a way I find satisfying. The class was a remarkable opportunity to do that.

I see an immense difference and again, must say I’m thrilled with the result. I think I’ve come a long way in a short time. At home, I paint something I am more often than not unhappy, sometimes to the point of wanting to go all ninja on it, beat it with nun chucks and chuck ninja stars… You’ll be pleased to know that these works remain safe from Japanese implements of combat. J

…I’m also practicing Flemish technique on some small canvasses at home (I’m intent on capturing that light, dammit!) and am happy to share those once done and if I’m happy with them.

Ivana Dash, Still Life Imprimatura
Ivana Dash, Still Life Glaze (work in progress)









My focus was on learning; the technical in these two specific areas (refine my eye and hand; to learn specific technique and refine accuracy in representation) and that goal was achieved. I am thrilled with the results.

I think it’s also important to point out that these are my first still life and portrait paintings. Ever.

Now, with my drawing skills they are significantly less progressed and in respect to the drawing class, I think I was probably on a par with the others. I spoke with Hilmi about this before signing up as it was a Masterclass, and he encouraged me to do so as refining skills in this area would only be of benefit to my painting… even if I was slow and didn’t totally rock the class.

He was right.

First time working with charcoal, first time life drawing – I Loved It!

I don’t think my drawings will be hanging anytime soon, however even I could see the progress as the days progressed. See what you think:

Day 1: Still Life Gestural  
Ivana Dash








Day 1: Still Life, Charcoal. Structural. Dark Base w/ shellac and Day 4 painted highlights
Ivana Dash








Day 2: Still Life, Charcoal. Structural. Light Base.
Ivana Dash








Day 3: Life Drawing #1. Pencil + Black Charcoal:
Ivana Dash






Day 4: Life Drawing #2. Pencil + Black & White Charcoal:
Ivana Dash






Once again, I was thrilled by the results and have become slightly obsessed with life drawing. I need to do more. Soon!

I also learned to mix black. I think this may have changed my world.

I really enjoyed Himi’s teaching style. He’s quiet and confident, firm and precise but also gentle. I think one of the most important things in a learning environment is to have the freedom, comfort and latitude to feel free to make mistakes; countered with a confidence in your lecturer that they can pull you up on these without making you feel like an arse and have the skill to pull your work back from the brink so you can move forward. That’s a tricky balance.

Hilmi did this with me many times and I am hugely grateful and inspired to continue.”

We are very appreciative of any feedback we receive and also encourage students to share their work with us so we can share it with everyone at MAC!

We have two painting courses beginning this Saturday, running for seven weeks – Painting from Still Life with Hilmi Baskurt and Painting from the Life Model with Marco Corsini. These classes are open to all skill levels and our teachers will focus on drawing fundamentals in the beginning for those of you who are new to painting. We also have students in the class who have been returning for many terms. If you are interested in joining these classes, you can find out more information and enrol here: http://melbourneartclass.com/painting-courses/

MAC and Nando’s Fitzroy present an African Art Workshop

Nando’s originates from South Africa and specialises in producing Peri-Peri Chicken, which uses a sauce made of crushed Peri-Peri chillies as a key ingredient. But did you know that Nando’s is also one of the world’s largest collector of African art, with many of their restaurants featuring works from their collection?

Nando's Fitzroy African art collection
Nando’s Fitzroy African art collection

Michael, the National Marketing Executive for Nando’s Australia approached Melbourne Art Class with an idea about running a local art workshop as part of the opening of their new Smith Street, Fitzroy restaurant in Melbourne. MAC Director, Marco thought this was great idea as we love to support local initiatives, and invited Hilmi, awesome artist and MAC teacher, to meet with himself and Michael over some Nando’s for lunch. After some discussion and a great lunch it was decided that the opening would comprise of a presentation about the art collection to be installed in the Fitzroy restaurant and a painting workshop. Hilmi, who has studied African art, put together a wonderful presentation based on Nando’s local African art collection.

The other aspect of the night featured the making of artwork by the participants. It couldn’t be expected that the participants had any painting experience and they would only have couple of hours for a workshop, so the big question was, how were they going to produce something amazing under those circumstances? Hilmi came up with the genius idea of basing a design on a  traditional African design and sketching it out across thirty six, thirty centimetre by thirty centimetre canvases.

The design chosen by Hilmi was based upon Kuba Arts which originated from Congo and spread out to every corner of Africa. Kuba Arts have a sense of order and rhythm, is flat but with a sense of movement. It has a structure but also a kind of randomness about it. Kuba Art was used in rich textiles to intricate bead-work to ceremonial masks, from architecture to paintings and in many types of rituals and ceremonial activities, these patterns are incorporated into images for dance and they are very much alive and present in our daily lives today from the patterns on our curtains and wall papers to tiles in our bathroom to patterns on our clothing .

Participants each painted in their section of the design and those canvases, when joined, created the design as a whole.

Hilmi's African design

The planning and drawing of the design took Hilmi many hours to get right. On the night, participants had a wonderful time listening to Hilmi talk about the African art collection installed in the restaurant at Smith Street and about Kuba Arts and then following his instructions for the painting of the canvases. MAC’s Fenja, was there to support participants with the painting. The results were wonderful as individual works and became a stunning piece when joined together, as you can see in the photos!

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Written by Marco Corsini and Hilmi Baskurt

Upcoming Painting from Still Life Short Course with Hilmi

A class for painters in both oils and acrylics working from Still Life. Participants are encouraged to develop drawing skills, conceptual understanding and technical proficiency in painting. This class is open to students from secondary school age onwards and all skill levels. Find out more here.

Saturdays: 14th November to Saturday December 19th, 3.15 pm – 5.45 pm

Some materials provided.

Cost: $280

Students’ life model work from Painting Term 3

We had a full class for Term 3 Painting and our students produced some incredible work which we are very proud of and would love to share.

Four sessions over the ten weeks were dedicated to painting from one life model, in an ongoing pose. Painting the figure is difficult but a wonderful way to develop as a painter. Marco is able to guide students through the drawing foundations of the painting through to the final techniques. The focus in these session was on establishing fundamental processes for painting in a short time. Marco helped students create fleshy tones, finding the lights and darks, and using colours you wouldn’t normally associate with flesh.  He was also aware of the different painting techniques of his students, and made sure his tuition only enhanced their personal style. You can see the different works produced below:

Long-time student Felice has a background in folk art which meant that she has a good mastery of certain brush techniques which have gradually expanded with her recent participation in the course.

Felice, Term 3 Painting, 2015
Felice, Term 3 Painting, 2015










Megan has been with Melbourne Art Class for a couple of years now and is a prolific oil painter. Megan returned to painting after many years away and has become an extremely effective painter.

Megan, Work in progress, Term 3, 2015
Megan, Work in progress, Term 3, 2015










Monika is a Graphic Designer by day but maintains a love for painting and continues to develop her painting technical skills. She has a natural disposition to describing the figure through painting.

Monica, Term 3, 2015
Monika, Term 3, 2015













Learn how to paint the Figure with Marco Corsini

This term we have introduced a short painting course – Painting from a Life Model with Marco Corsini. During this seven-week course, students will be encouraged to develop drawing skills, conceptual understanding and technical proficiency in painting.

When: Saturdays, 7th November to December 19th, 9am – 11.30am

Where: Enderby Studio, 314 Church Street, Richmond.

Cost: $375

Read more about this course and enroll here.

“Marco teaches traditional/proper painting techniques and methods from the basics, taking time to explain all facets of painting. I find the content inspiring and extremely beneficial to my art practice. I trust in Marco’s experience and knowledge and appreciate his very personable style of teaching.”

Monika, Term 2, 2015 student

Jennifer Whitten – American hyperrealist painter

Jennifer Whitten

We had the opportunity of having Jennifer Whiten, an American hyperrealist painter living and working in Melbourne, present for us at our Enderby Studio Art Program class.

Jennifer completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts: Washington University in St. Louis and is currently undertaking a Master of Contemporary Art: Victorian College of the Arts.

Much of her recent work has used images of young girls in otherwise ubiquitous everyday situations such as cooking in the kitchen or dressed up in fancy dresses, common day stuff apart from that their faces are dominated by these massive mouths that obliterate all facial features. Jennifer described how each of these mouths form the shape of the first letter of a word and therefore carry hidden meaning which perhaps someone will unlock. The girls are all communication, and chatter, perhaps as they discover their everyday world and the language that represents and negotiates it.

Large areas of the works are left in flat ‘pop’ colour, negating the overall illusion of space and representation. These areas sometimes go as far as to suggest absence or a hole. These areas not only break up the cohesion of representation but suggest a sense of something beyond, another dimension perhaps. This other plane contrasts with the everyday banter of materiality which otherwise pervades the images. As she expressed an interest in the theory of the 4th dimension during her talk, perhaps Jennifer is looking beyond the limitations of a commonplace material existence and the limitations of how that existence is described.

Jennifer Whitten 1

Jennifer discussed her work, her technique and her position as a hyperrealist painter undertaking her Masters degree at Victoria College of the Arts. She spoke about finding her way through the current dominant visual arts culture which in Australian institutions heavily emphasises new media, installation and conceptual art. Jennifer spoke of the legacy of Modernism which reacted against the history of representation in art and that this reaction persists against the style of work she practices. Despite these difficulties, following a successful recent exhibition Jennifer has noticed a more open attitude to her work.

Jennifer has spent much of this year painting on glass and perspex rather than the previous wood panels and when I visited her a few weeks ago, she had a large panel of thick perspex suspended from her studio roof, upon which she was painting a life-size self portrait as Ophelia. It is an impressive piece of work requiring a wet on wet technique whereby the highlights are pushed through the existing wet paint. Jennifer prefers to work on areas of the painting wet and will sometimes work for days without stopping, to achieve this. I will post about this work as soon as it is finished.

Marco Corsini

– Other Worlds – Philip Wolfhagen’s Latest Exhibition

by Elizabeth Fritz

Other Worlds, is a collection of landscape paintings that embody the subtleties of the natural world; the changing light and weather, the evolving colours and the textural intricacies of the environment. But it’s the depth within the landscapes, the movement, and the emotional response that standout.

The landscape that surrounds Tasmanian artist Philip Wolfhagen, has been penetrating his being for a long time. They are triggers for new works, sources of colour and light, and they are a connection to the past and the present. Landscapes, and elements within the landscapes fuel his imagination and solidify a starting point. From here, with the inclusion of classical music, beeswax, and a primary colour palette his evocative and perceptual paintings begin to develop.

Philip Wolfhagen The Serpentine Path 2015 Oil and beeswax on linen 96.0 x 338.0 cm (overall) Image courtesy the artist and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne
Philip Wolfhagen
The Serpentine Path 2015
Oil and beeswax on linen
96.0 x 338.0 cm (overall)
Image courtesy the artist and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

The Serpentine Path 2015, a group of three paintings on linen with oil and beeswax, depicts impressions of the undulations in the land. Rocks, shrubs and paths and a never-ending horizon complete the picture. The subdued colours of browns, greys and greens are blended to create contrast, depth and texture all at once. For Wolfhagen, a landscape isn’t about precision and accuracy but rather a representation of the natural world, in which he harnesses the atmosphere, the mood and the light. His paintings are emotive and represent a snapshot of a fleeting moment in nature.

Philip Wolfhagen Other World No. 1 2015 oil and beeswax on linen 200.0 x 214.0 cm Image courtesy the artist and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne
Philip Wolfhagen
Other World No. 1 2015
oil and beeswax on linen
200.0 x 214.0 cm
Image courtesy the artist and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

The large scale Other World No.1 2015 draws the viewer into the landscape. The shear size is like a window you could move through. Strong shades of browns and oranges in the foreground are gradually teamed with greys and blues that fade into the distance. The painting commands stillness as the eye moves into the distance. It is as though Wolfhagen’s landscapes urge the viewer to stop and take notice.

Discussion between author and Philip Wolfhagen

I have read that music plays a very important part in your painting process. One of the standout features in your paintings is movement, is it your engagement with the music that enlivens your paintings?

I would say that listening to music keeps me aloof from the act of painting. It is a means to maintaining a separation; it promotes more rational thought processes, and is a caution against too much self awareness. It is possible that the influence of the music translates into movement, if not in the image itself, then certainly in the accumulation of gestures that comprise the image.

Another standout feature is the depth you create in your landscapes. Does the depth represent the deep feelings you have with the natural world and the deep respect for the historical and cultural past?

The illusion of receding space is a vital element in my work because each successive painting is representative of a journey; a never ending reinvention of self. The passage from ones own position to the always shifting vanishing point is inexhaustible in its potential for meaning. 

Philip Wolfhagen
Other Worlds
1 July-1 August 2015

Karen Woodbury Gallery
Level 1/167 Flinders Lane

Melbourne Exhibition Review: Kate Daw – Love, Work (Show Me Grace)

Kate Daw: Love, Work (Show Me Grace)
at Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne

Elizabeth Fritz

Kate Daw’s exhibition, Love, Work (Show Me Grace) is her third solo exhibition at Sarah Scout Presents.

As I entered the gallery’s hallway, I was surrounded by pale lilac wallpaper with a floral motif. This is Daw’s installation that has been described as ambitious. It felt intimate and inviting and made quite an impact but on closer inspection it started to reveal a whole lot more.

I started noticing uneven edges and fraying, this wallpaper is in fact pieces of dyed calico that have been pasted to the wall. The origin of the floral images is twofold; the gardenias are photographs straight from Daw’s garden and her student created the linear flower drawing. These two images have been printed onto fabric to create a visually rich and somewhat feminine feel. The textural effect works well. “Striking” commented a man as he walked into the hallway.

Image courtesy of artist and Sarah Scout Presents.
Image courtesy of artist and Sarah Scout Presents.

The remaining space is comprised of a further two rooms. The artwork in the first room was not what I expected. There are two paintings, one on canvas with the word ‘MAM’SELLE’ and the other on reclaimed blackboards comprising of light blue flowers heads. On the adjacent wall was a series of small boards, some with text and some with images. I read the texts over and over trying to get a sense of the meaning. One of the boards posed this question; “What is important in your life? “Fresh coffee and a sense of autonomy” was the response. There are in fact big questions offered up on these small boards. Such as what true happiness might be? And is there ever a point of satisfaction we arrive at? What initially appeared to be a somewhat underwhelming room was suddenly being transformed into a contemplative space. Here the viewer could be confronted with weighty topics that were based on actual conversations between Daw and a few young women.

Daw’s diverse influences continue to be evident in the second room. Floral motifs, words painted on black boards and references to sisterhood dominate.

KATE DAW Blue Flowers (when we slept in the studio you gave me some good ideas) 2015 oil paint on found blackboard 41.5 x 60.5 cm (framed) Image courtesy the artist and Sarah Scout Presents
KATE DAW Blue Flowers (when we slept in the studio you gave me some good ideas)
oil paint on found blackboard
41.5 x 60.5 cm (framed)
Image courtesy the artist and Sarah Scout Presents
I am not really interested in logical links, rather how far I can stretch things both from their     original source and from one another. I am fascinated by certain books, relationships, memories and associative, sensory experience, among other things.
Kate Daw in conversation with author.

Love, Work (Show Me Grace) is a collection that showcases Daw’s interest in literature, design and reproduction but at the same time there is something jarring about how she paired the complexities of the underlying subject matter to the almost simplistic, child-like works of art. But perhaps this is precisely what makes it compelling and thought provoking.

Love, Work (Show Me Grace), until May 16
Open Wed-Sat 12pm-5pm

Suite 15, Level 1
12 Collins St. Melbourne