How to create art that appeals to large audiences: Lessons from Arthur Streeton

This article offers 8 ways past masters improved the level of desire for their art by appealing to large audiences.

The post includes time-tested, proven successful, creative ideas for todays artists.

Even after 100′s of years, Arthur Streeton is still one of Australia’s most well known and successful painters. He has a high public appeal to both Australian and international art lovers.

So how did he accomplish this?

Lesson 1. The artist held a strong and clear vision regarding the purpose of his life and art.

“Fire’s on” by Arthur Streeton. 1891 oil on canvas 183.8 x 122.5 cm Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Purchased, 1893

Streeton lived from 1867-1943 and focussed primarily on local landscapes which often depict a love affair with all things Australian. His artwork has enormous appeal to the Australian public, consistently selling his original paintings to wealthy individuals and organisations.

He held a deeply romantic vision of nature.

Lesson 2. The artist increased the saturation and intensity of colour in his paintings, in line with the native environment.

In this famous Aussie painting titled “Fires On” Streeton at age 24 perfected the flood of hot summer sunlight as masculine labourers excavate a railway tunnel in the heat and dusty outback of Australia. The sky is a rich heavenly blue, the rocks are beautiful sandstone and the Australian gums stand tall as bronze green pillars.

Streeton loved Australia.

Lesson 3. The artist held a deep and passionate love affair with the subject matter

Around the same period, the European Impressionists would describe this new style of working outside the studio as ‘plein air’ painting. Whilst creating this masterpiece, Streeton was sitting in the Australian bush and he writes, “I felt near the gates of paradise”

Lesson 4. Aware of current trends in Europe, the painter followed popular artistic techniques of the time.

Streetons landscapes are deceptively simple.  But subtley brilliant. He kept his creative process simple and uncluttered, using perspective to perfection, leading the viewer’s eye in a premeditated direction.

Lesson 5. Perspective is used effectively to lead people into the painting.

His judgment of tonal colour values captivated large audiences in the 1800’s as he captured the brilliant light of Australian summer days. But also the changing characteristics and moods of natural light as the day came to a close.

Lesson 6. The artists simple but effective compositions, allowed for complexity and brilliance of results.

Like many of the 1800’s Australian paintings, popular artists of the time captured the wild and dangerous elements early pioneers faced building the country. Painters like Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Charles Conder depict a romantic vision of nation building, whereby rugged outback hardships were mostly glorified.

Lesson 7. The artists, their art and indeed the nation, flouorished under hardship creating a visual romance on the canvas

The early Australian painters were a passionate rugged bunch. It’s clear they were strongly patriotic. A new era was beckoning and they captured it on canvas. Life was hard as a pioneer. But the rough Australian outback has a certain appeal and these painters loved their time.

At exhibitions, large audiences flocked .

The artists love for Australian bush life and their tough romantic identity resonated with the Australian public during the 1800’s. And still does today.

Lesson 8. Love is infectious. If an audience is touched by a strong feeling, they’ll pay handsomely for it.

About Simon Brushfield

Simon Brushfield is an artist whose work has been described as ‘poetic, enigmatic and dreamlike’ (Michael Berry, "Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia" book). His paintings have been exhibited and sold across Australia and internationally. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to Simons VIP list and have posts sent directly to your inbox.

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