Top Arts 2012 – Tim Cummins

I studied at St Leonards in Year 12. It was hard work, but I enjoyed the year; everyone came together and there was no longer any groups, it was just one big year level. I specifically enjoyed Studio Arts – with Year 12, you don’t have any direction forced on you so you can just do your own thing.

Studio Arts probably was my outlet subject. I did physics and maths and stuff, so they were like the total opposite. It ended up being recreation sometimes – I didn’t have to think on the same level and felt more free.

The meaning and direction of my work weren’t as important to me as exploring how to express myself. At the start of the year, I was basically unable to paint. I mean, I could paint – I had tone and line, but using colour remained for experimentation. I was interested in Surrealism, but choosing portraiture gave me a focus, because I didn’t have any, I felt totally lost. With portraiture, I took elements of style – style was the main focus, I needed to develop my own distinctive style. Trying to express people’s inner feelings secondary. I thought initially I’d be doing Surrealist sort of work, but it turned out more Expressionistic. I got into Fauvism a little bit – Matisse and Marc Chagall – that’s where I got my colour theory from. I didn’t directly study and borrow it, but it was an influence. And that came out not in the initial figure and chair, but in the background, that sort of abstraction.

It was interesting, because I was painting three works – I get bored easily, so I would change between them. What happened was I painted the figure in and I did the more realistic part of the work, and had the background, and it seemed the piece was lacking something. I’d been working on the one of my grandpa Ted (it’s in my folio but it won’t be shown in the exhibition) which is a really expressionistic piece, the whole idea and theme there is colour, colour as an expression of life. Because he’s an old man and the way I painted it is so vibrant it just pulls him out, gets him moving. I came back to the portrait of my Dad after exploring all that. It’s interesting, because even though you explore throughout the year, you explore a lot through the actual making of that last piece. I guess I realised that I had a little something else to add, I found that in making a different work that I could use the new abilities I found from the previous work.

I want to study a creative discipline. I currently don’t have a space like a studio to paint properly, so I’ve had to put painting on hold. I do draw quite a bit, and I’ve enrolled to study architecture at Monash Caulfield.

Being exhibited in Top Arts 2012 tells me that I have something slightly different. There’s lots of work that gets in that is of a really high standard, but I really tried the whole year to find a bit more of my own personal flavour, and I think that sort of differentiates me from the rest.

See Tim’s work in Top Arts 2012 at NGV Australia until 15 July 2012.