Fred Williams the master landscape painter of Australia

Fred Williams became enormously successful by remaining faithful to what he loved. This post features one of Australia’s most famous landscape artists.

His paintings were simple abstract works, but they sold for millions of dollars.

Australia’s most celebrated contemporary landscape painter was once a humble, hard working man.

Fred was born in Melbourne Australia in 1927 and died 55 years later of lung cancer. He was Australia’s most famous contemporary landscape painter who began his working career as a shopfitter and boxmaker.

Fred studied art at the National Gallery School in Melbourne and furthered his education in London. Upon returning to Australia he was inspired by the aesthetic beauty of the dry rugged bush landscape .

He faithfully followed this visual direction for the rest of his life.

Fred Williams Upwey Landscape 1965 oil on canvas Fred Williams the master landscape painter of Australia

‘Upwey landscape’ 1965 by Fred Williams Oil on canvas 147 x 183 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Felton Bequest © estate of Fred Williams

Point 1. Follow ones unique visual perspective and be faithful to that special direction.

However, he was isolated from his closest associates namely John Brack, Arthur Boyd and Charles Blackman because of his complete devotion to the unique form and style of his paintings.

Fred Williams developed a very deliberate, purposeful approach to his painting.

An approach opposite to his friend’s expressionist tendencies who pursued a more spontaneous and improvised style of painting. Expressionism was a popular modern art movement during Fred’s lifetime, in which artists sought the emotional experience, rather than a physical depiction of reality.

Point 2. Following your creative path often means you must let go of friends travelling in a different direction.

Fred Williams’ painting titled ‘Upwey Landscape’ completed in 1965 was sold for $1,987,700 at Christie’s during 2006. Then in 2007, another auction house broke their sales record with the Fred Williams’ painting titled ‘Water Ponds’ created in 1965 which sold for $1,860,000.

However, the most expensive artwork sold in Australia during 2009 was another Fred Williams landscape completed in 1965 titled ‘Evening Sky, Upwey’ which sold for $1.38 million.

Despite the record prices what I love most about Fred Williams is the richness he manages to achieve from such simple compositions. The textures he created are symbolic and meaningful to Australian art lovers.

Point 3. Williams creates dramatic contrasts between clean peaceful spaces and complex suggestive textures of earthy Australian colours .

Evening Sky Upwey by Fred Williams Fred Williams the master landscape painter of Australia

‘Evening Sky, Upway’ by Fred Williams 1965 oil on canvas 135 x 130 cm Private collection, Melbourne

The famous Australian artist and contemporary, John Brack, gave a touching eulogy at Williams’ funeral stating, “Fred brought us a new vision of Australia’s landscape…. He changed the way we see our country: an achievement which will live long after all of us are gone.”

Williams recognised that an Australian painter musn’t adopt a European mindset when in the bush landscape. English painters had tried before to paint the Australian landscape like it was England. Not surprisingly, they failed to capture in their paintings, the Australian outback spirit.

Point 4. Natives of the land understand and creatively interpret their homeland with most relevance and insight.

Fred Williams was adamant the Aussie landscape should not be compromised

And needed a non-European artist to produce a distinctly Australian feel . He was successful in his purpose and sold paintings for record prices. Australians could resonate with his contemporary abstract interpretation of their landscape.

Another landscape artist James Gleeson believes Williams to be one of those ‘rare landscapists who, like Drysdale and Nolan, have so imposed their personal visions upon a generation that we tend to see reality through their eyes.’

Point 5. Great works of art create their own reality, first seen through the creator.

He discovered a visual language to express a beautifully unique and spacious landscape only found in Australia. Notably, Williams took inspiration from the native Aboriginals in their traditional colour palette and intimate understanding of the dry harsh motherland.

Do you have any thoughts on this important Australian landscape painter? Please leave a message in the comments box below.
If you’re interested in purchasing an original Brushfield painting, or maybe you would like to commission Simon, please click here .

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Fred Williams the master landscape painter of Australia

Valuable Lessons I Learnt in Art School

This art post features the creative lessons I learnt in art school.

People often ask me ‘how long did that painting take to create’?

Sometimes quietly thinking to themselves, ‘my child could do that’. Art challenges people. Especially, conceptual art. But art school taught me most of all, to challenge the way people think.

Because mostly, they need it.

Behind this question ‘how long did that take’ is a quiet cynicism about artists. Even famous artists like Matisse, who’s paintings and drawings are sold for multi-millions of dollars, are criticised for their simplicity.

Henri Matisse | Patitcha souriante (Patitcha smiling) 1947 | Purchased 1993 with funds from the International Exhibitions Program | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Henri Matisse 1947/Succession H Matisse/Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2011

Depending upon the person, I respond to the question ‘how long did it take?’ tongue in cheek, with either of two answers ‘5 minutes’ or ‘40 years’.

The paintings in the video below were bought for healthy prices in 2002, by a high profile school in Australia named Xavier College. The institution wasn’t concerned how long my paintings took to paint, nor did they say about my simplistic paintings ‘my child could do that’.


Download Video with Vixy.net |

Valuable Lesson 1. Genuine art collectors or art buying institutions collect painting’s they love, artwork that means something to the buyer. Customers connect to an artistic concept.

Sometimes my abstract art looks simple, but the customer buys the concept and the meaning behind the painting. They also trust my artistic judgment and authority from decades as an artist.

Strangely enough, conceptual thinking often brings the artist in a full circle, back to simplicity. Hence, the comment ‘my child could do that’. I agree that some modern art is mindless, but what people mostly see is a simplified solution disregarding the creative thinking behind the final result.

Like most professions, the complexities of a problem and the hours of deep reflection or chaotic confusion to reach clarity in a final piece, is mostly hidden from the layperson.

Valuable Lesson 2: Experienced artists and philosophers will tell you, achieving simplicity is a complicated process.

For my tertiary education, I was fortunate enough to live in an old mining town, attending the University of Ballarat. I lived in an old miners cottage with my beloved great aunt Glen and completed my Bachelor of Visual Arts.

At university I studied all the great masters of Art & Design. I was fascinated by the practice and history of Art. It was a very interesting period of my life. I was a curious 18 year old art student, living with my 80 year old eccentric aunt.

It was an experience I fondly remember, a world of extreme contrasts where my creative thinking flourished. Thankfully, I was forced to integrate two weird extremes in my life.

One extreme was my wayward free thinking creative friends, on the other extreme, was my very conservatively and celebate Catholic auntie, who had devoted her life entirely to Jesus.

Valuable Lesson 3: Integrating extremes in life, enhances your creativity and makes life more interesting.

Every evening I was instructed, by great aunt Glen to arrive home from university for 5pm dinner. This routine was a little odd, but fine by me. One night, I invited my girlfriend for dinner and introduced her to my great aunt.

Dinner went without any hitches, but then relaxing together in front of the television, I put my arm around my girlfriend. This brought a sharp rebuke from Glen and caused great embarrassment for my girlfriend.

On another occasion my great aunt Glen was rudely shocked by the nude drawings I’d created at university. ‘Oh Simon, the naked body should be kept hidden!’ Yet, the renaissance master artists proclaimed the human body was the pinnacle of natural perfection and beauty.

Here’s what I learned in ceramics class:

I loved this class, but it wasn’t my strength. What I discovered was that if the clay hadn’t dried out, it can always be reused and remodeled for another pot. In life we all make mistakes, we need to be patient with ourselves. Thankfully, we can scrap the old broken project and remodel our lives and create a better pot.

Valuable Lesson 4. Patience is essential in the creative process.

Sometimes during class, my clay pot would become lopsided and spin out of control on the wheel. I figured that was ok, the pot wasn’t meant to be. So I’d begin remolding the wet clay and start the process over. Miraculously, my next pot stayed symmetrical and was created perfectly.

The principle of patience in art is essential. If we are patient and persistent, the right artwork will somehow create itself, but it might take some time and many attempts before your creative universe is properly aligned.

Every drawing is beautiful in some way. Even a child’s drawing. You have probably heard the saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ well this holds true for art.

Here’s what I learnt in drawing class:

I was reasonably competent at drawing and I thought sometimes, I’d produced a beautiful drawing. During class we would have a nude model to draw and after a 30minute pose, I would quietly think to myself, I had just created a masterpiece.

Valuable Lesson 5: No matter how brilliant and talented you might be, there is always someone better than you.

But then I would proudly take a stroll around the studio to view my classmate’s drawings. Wow, there was so much talent in the room! So many beautiful drawings, it shocked and humbled me.

Especially this one girl named Fiona, she needed only to hold a piece of charcoal in her fingers and the paper would come alive with her wonderful artistic ability. I quickly came to understand…

Valuable Lesson 6: Because we are all so unique, competition is futile.

I have always looked at the great master drawings and been surprised by how simple the lines appear, especially for a master like Matisse. His drawings are incredibly basic, childlike but beautiful. Sophisticated in their simplicity.

I am quite confident to suggest it was his belief in his own lines that made other people believe too, that his artwork was exceptional. He wasn’t competing with anybody, just content to draw what he saw in life from his own unique interpretation and perspective.

6 Good reasons to be yourself and be radically unique

  1. Being yourself is the foundation of excellence.
  2. Plato the great philosopher said, ‘know thy self’.
  3. The bible says you’ve been created as Gods masterpiece.
  4. Being yourself creates joy for you and freedom for other people.
  5. Life is very short and people need the specialness you offer.
  6. There is peace and restfulness when you stop trying to be someone else.

Here’s what I learned in painting class:

Like most disciplines, theoretical rules learnt in the classroom are broken all the time. At university, I was amazed by my friend Fiona who’s paintings contained anything and everything she could find.

It was clear she was not operating according to the wishes of her teachers, friends, a gallery owner, or classmates. She used dirt, twigs, leaves, nail polish anything could be included into her mysterious paintings.

Fiona’s creativity was exceptionally unique. Every stroke of the paintbrush held incredible painterly quality. When she used color it was perfect, not too much, not too little, just the right amount.

She wore interesting clothes that expressed her unique personality and individual style. By being herself, unconcerned what others thought, she broke the fashion rules in unique and interesting ways.

Valuable Lesson 7: There are no rules in creativity enjoy your artistic freedom.

Sometimes, our lecturers at university would recommend mixing certain colors together because they were complimentary colors. My lecturers would disapprove of the wrong hues mixed together in a composition. But when Fiona mixed the colors, somehow the painting looked amazing.

As a senior lecturer teaching Art & Design, I am aware of the theoretical principles. However, I also strive to avoid teaching strict rules in creativity. What works for one person, may or may not work for the next person.

What was the most valuable things you learnt at College? I would love to hear your responses in the comments box below…

Spacecraft painting on backing cloth created by many layers of screen printing

Moments when you walk by a shop can change everything.

Spacecraft is a creative company that produces amazing abstract art and uses these original images on t-shirts, bed linen, men’s and women’s clothing, as well screen printed paintings on backing cloth. Commercially successful and very beautiful abstract art.

Spacecraft creates art that aggressively grabs your heart, reaching in through your eyes, reminding you how beautiful and curiously intriguing life and art can be. It was difficult to leave the shop, my eye’s wanted more.

Recently, I was walking through Brighton in Melbourne and a painting was hanging on the wall of a women’s dress shop. My eyes were transfixed. The image lured me in to the shop and I asked the shopkeeper who created the painting behind the cashier?

“Spacecraft” she said.

This was the second time a spacecraft image had aggressively captured my attention. The first time was in a surf shop in Manly Sydney many years ago, when the art was only just emerging onto the commercial scene. On both occasions, I was caught by chance and the experience left me moved and inspired.

Art lovers take notice. This company is very cool. Abstract artists based in Melbourne and they’re creativity is flourishing. I strongly recommend abstract art lovers to look up their stuff on http://spacecraftaustralia.com/.

Pictured on my post are two screen printed images on backing cloth and they’re a similar abstract style to which I saw in the Melbourne dress shop. Researching the Spacecraft website I read the words “intriguing chance association” which appropriately describes the art, but it also describes how I have come to know and love Spacecraft.

Life, especially a life devoted to art, means that sometimes walking along the street you might encounter an “intriguing chance association”.

Spacecraft Abstract art on backing cloth

Spacecraft stores are now located in:

Victoria; 225 Gertrude St. Fitzroy VIC Australia +61 (0)3 9486 0010

New South Wales; Planet Commonwealth  – 114 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, Sydney – 02 9211 5959

Also in Western Australia; VENN  16 Queen Street Perth 0405 127 427 www.venn.net

Listed as one of Australia’s trendiest hotels by trip advisor, The Art Series group of hotels was the brain child of Will Deague. Who established a collection of independent hotels and named each of them after famous Australian painters. The hotels are luxurious 5 star appointments, each themed through-out according to particular Australian artists. The art experience is highly acclaimed by visitors.

For example, the Olsen Hotel is located on prestigious 637-641 Chapel Street, South Yarra Melbourne. The interior decor focuses upon the artist John Olsen who was born in Newcastle, New South Wales and recognised as a highly significant Australian abstract landscape painter. Olsen was commissioned in 1970 to paint a large mural for the Sydney Opera House.

The painters accomplishments in the Australian Art world are astounding, winning the Wynne Prize in 1969 and 1985, the Sulman Prize in 1989, and the coveted Archibald Prize 2005.

Olsen has also been awarded national and international awards including an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1977 and an Order of Australia (AO) in 2001 for services to the arts. A long list of high profile awards illustrating the influence his work has upon contemporary Australian Art.

But what I love most about Olsen (aside from the beautiful abstract Sydney image pictured below) is this quote about his belief on art. “Art is not so much talent as character. It’s what you are, the qualities of the person.”

"Sydney Sun" 1965 by John Olsen. Oil on Three Plywood Panels 305 x 412 ©John Olsen. Licensed by Viscopy

For more information, check out the Art Series Hotels website http://www.artserieshotels.com.au/ or give them a call to organise a booking on the reservations number: +61 3 9040 1222. I think you will be pleasantly surprised surrounded by beautiful modern Australian Art.

Charles Blackman, Art Series Hotels: Melbourne exhibits Famous Australian Art

The Art Series group of hotels was the brilliant idea of William Deague. He established a collection of independent hotels in Melbourne and named them after famous Australian Painters. The hotels are luxurious 5 star and themed according to their particular artist.

For example, the Blackman Hotel on 452 St Kilda Road has a contemporary, boutique interior devoted to the popular artist Charles Blackman. The hotel is very close the central CBD of Melbourne and is a great inspiration to visitors, with the artistic theme running through-out the most intricate of details in the hotel.

Charles Blackman was born in Sydney in 1928 and created a large and spectacular series of paintings inspired by Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland. His work is romantic at heart and describes a poetic highly sensitive world of affectionate imagery. Blackman states,

“I am a romantic painter, (but not sweet) – oh no. That’s wrong. Dreams are what you’re made of, and very often nightmares, too. A dream is quintessentially a reality when it is fulfilled.

‘The Game of Chess’ (1956) by Charles Blackman. Sold for $720,000 Bonhams & Goodman (Melbourne).

For more information, check out the Art Series Hotels website http://www.artserieshotels.com.au/ or give them a call to organise a booking on the reservations number: 1800 278 468. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

One visitor writes on http://www.tripadvisor.com.au, “Our stay at Art-series The Blackman in Melbourne over Christmas was an extremely positive experience. It is a hotel with that extra touch of quality, good taste and personal service besides very good comfort, which really makes you enjoy your stay. The neat artistic design in details and the access to interesting books in the rooms are something we certainly will remember and which are rare in our experience.”