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High on Colour.

Step aside Monsteras and Agaves; Australian wildlife is making a comeback as the main source of nature on our walls.

Feb 28, 2020

Words: Asheda Weekes

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Step aside Monsteras and Agaves; Australian wildlife is making a comeback as the main source of nature on our walls. West Gippsland–based painter Aidan Weichard’s effervescent works offer an ode to our beautiful flora and fauna, as well giving you extra pep with their lush, lively colours.

Tucked away in Garfield is a small ‘fixer-upper’ that Aidan calls home. When he’s not working long hours in the studio out back, he’s spending time with his wife, Jen, either undertaking their renovations, tending to the garden beds or hanging out with their two horses, two Aussie Shepherds, some friendly chooks and a cat named, Flower. Garfield ticked all the right boxes for them — it’s on the cusp of Gippsland and feels wedged between the city and the bush. It isn’t where he’s from, but it feels right to call it home. Aidan adds, “In this space, I’m surrounded by what constantly inspires me — my beautiful animals and Gippsland’s region.”

It’s not only native wildlife that features in Aidan’s work, but also our industrious farm animals. Livestock and working dogs draw Aidan in time and time again for their stoic, hardworking and loyal nature. Initially, you may not believe that a painting of a bull could look amazing on your living room wall, but Aidan’s vibrant paintings fill his subjects with vitality and vigour. His biggest inspirations though are his two Aussie Shepherds — Disney and Faloo. As Aidan explains, “Their affection and loyalty amazes me every day. I find brilliance like this in all animals and have such an admiration for the unique markings and unmistakable characteristics of every species that I paint. Just being in the presence of animals has a dramatic proven positive physiological and psychological effect on us and my art tries to explore this using colour and texture”.

This love for wildlife’s incredible energy is something that’s been subconsciously ticking away in Aidan’s mind since he was young. When constantly drawing throughout his teenage years, Aidan’s works always came out in the form of animals.

This passion never went away, despite the career path he initially started out on.

For almost five years, Aidan worked in hospital science research centres that were focussing on paediatric sleep research. It wasn’t a dramatic shift away from research to art, but rather a slow burn that continually built his confidence that he could make a living out painting.

Originally, Aidan began with a few commissions that he would chip away during the evening, he then began moving away from full-time work to give himself more space to create, before increasing demand set him on a new career path as a full-time artist.
During his career transition, Aidan discovered the artistic style he felt did his subject matter justice and provided joy to those admiring the works.

“Once I started getting back into [painting], I went to the Manyung Gallery in Sorrento and saw John Giese’s work. He was painting a lot of animals, and I was overwhelmed with how he captured them in abstract and high colour. It hit home and I thought, ‘This is something I would love to attempt’.”

Much like his style, his subject matter has also been refined over time. Aidan began by featuring a lot of exotic animals, as he honed his process and technique. At the same time, his subject matter felt slightly off. They were big, powerful and majestic animals, but Aidan realised that we have majestic animals here too.

“I needed to bring it back home, and bring it back to native animals, Australiana and things that I genuinely love — things that I grew up being surrounded by. Once I made that transition, the light switch went on”.

Overidentifying with style is a challenge Aidan still wrestles with, but in a way it’s only to refine his techniques and become more a versatile artist. From using oil paint (frequently considered the superior paint) on canvas, Aidan is now playing with mixed media, such as spray paint, enamel on wood and painting on cardboard. It’s about having fun, flexibility and fluidity with his style, and by doing so he believes it,

“Dramatises and accentuates elements unique to the subject matter”. The core concept that guides Aidan’s work is simple — they are mindful reflections of this amazing place and the wonderful things within it.

When looking at Aidan’s work, you feel a brightness and levity in the subject matter. It can heighten the playfulness found in a cockatoo, the power of a bull or the vibrancy of fresh gum leaves. High colour is purposeful in emphasising character, persona or emotion.

“Keeping the majority of my artworks fluid and abstracted, contrasted against hints of detail in crucial components such as the eyes, forces the imaginative reconstruction to see a piece in its entirety.”

It may sound cool, painting all day in a studio, but that’s not only what Aidan does. We possibly forget that a lot of artists are technically small business owners, and that requires customer service, admin, networking and more. Digital platforms have helped with some of these tasks. Art marketplaces, like Blue Thumb, offer a huge opportunity to increase your reach as an artist and possibly tap into the international market. But these still require a lot of time (much like posting on the ol’ Facebook marketplace!) to write up, style, photograph and upload the artwork. But for Aidan, it’s absolutely worthwhile as spaces such as these, as well as Instagram, make connecting with fans and customers easier, as well as providing a means to build networks with other artists: “The art community is really vibrant. People are willing to help get connected and create spaces to showcase art”.

Aidan admires the strong art communities found across Gippsland. He appreciates the opportunities our local galleries provide and particularly values artist residencies, such as the FLOAT residency perched on Lake Tyers.

“There are so many great artists that live down here and are doing fantastic things. It would be great to set up places where artists can go in the highlands of the mountains that speak no end to the beautiful bush and being surrounded by Australiana.”

Aidan’s kicking off 2020 with a few exciting projects. First off, the biggest project he’s got ahead of him is fatherhood, which he’s absolutely stoked for. In March, he’ll be doing a solo exhibition at an Armadale gallery. The show will feature works that have him branching a little further in his fluid style, but keeping to his beloved subject manner. It’ll be showcasing his experimentation with different mediums and the exploring of memoryscapes — definitely a collection to check out!

Aidan approaches his work with thoughtfulness, intention and the desire to continue bettering his craft, as he respectfully celebrates our wildlife and, in turn, the joy he has for them. We’ve all heard before that we need to get closer to nature. Lucky Aidan gets to do that every day!

Browse Aidan’s paintings and prints via the links provided below. Also, Aidan undertakes commissions of your fur babies too. / Instagram: @aidan_weichard_art / Blue Thumb:

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