Fred Williams (1927–1982) was an Australian painter and printmaker who pioneered a new vision of the Australian landscape. During the 1960s he often took inspiration from the Victorian landscape where he lived, painting outdoors with gouache then working on oil paintings back in the studio. You Yangs landscape, 1967, and Upwey landscape, 1965, are inspired by the You Yangs near Geelong and Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges .
Rather than following a traditional approach to landscape painting, with obvious background, middleground and foreground and descriptive detail, Williams developed a distinctive abstract style that emphasised the colour, form and space of the landscape in a bold new way. Swathes of colour and gestural daubs of paint allude to elements of the landscape and capture the essence of place rather that describing it in great detail. Williams’s compositions reflect his observation that the Australian landscape was characterised by a random scatter of elements with no obvious focal point. His paintings appear deceptively simple, however every mark and element was carefully considered and the result of a careful study of the defining qualities of the landscape represented.With your class, look at the related artworks and use the following prompts to discuss Fred Williams’s approach to the Australian landscape:
Students design and create their own landscape artwork through the following steps:
Students share their artwork with a partner: