World travelled, talented and inspired – Ken Strong is one of the areas most talented artists.
> What is your relationship to Port Macquarie?
I have been associated with Port Macquarie since 1978, when I was first here as a student. My wife Jocelyn and I fell in love with the place and subsequently have lived here for the past 20 years. From an art perspective and being a landscape painter, there is a wealth of material at a stone’s throw from just about anywhere in the area. The coastline, the river valleys and surrounding countryside all provide an endless range of subject matter.
> How did your passion for art begin?
Not quite sure, but from as long as I can remember I had a pencil or paint brush in my hand. As a lot of painters do, I developed an early love for the Australian impressionist painters, probably because they presented images of this country that reinforce the difference in the Australian landscape and lifestyle to overseas locations. And 100 years on, the same differences still exist.
I think the passion came when I first began to experiment with paints and began to get a sense of excitement in using the mediums. Even though the thrill is often momentary (because the greatest critic of you own work is unfortunately yourself), as a painter you sometimes think you can touch something intangible with art, which makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. When you review the completed works, the moment is often lost, but the anticipation of finding this becomes a driving force to create.
I think the older I get, the more I get a great thrill at other painters’ work and the insight that they demonstrate with their chosen subjects. We are very privileged to have a wealth of great artists in this area, and I think this is only growing as time proceeds.
> How would you describe your creative style?
I suppose I would claim impressionist routes, but believe I have a more non representational slant. I try to use elements of reality in my compositions, but will look for other ways to help strengthen the intent of my composition. This may be through the use of abstract elements, strong colour and contrast, texture created by different application methods of the medium etc.
> You have worked all over the world. What have been some of your most memorable moments? Unforgettable sceneries?
In recent years I have been fortunate to have been able to travel to several wonderful places. Australia is always hard to break away from in respect of beauty and diversity of landscape, but I have undertaken a lot of painting based on subjects from Italy – Tuscany and Venice, Cornwall in the United Kingdom and the east coast of the US, specifically Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and surrounding states. All these areas are fascinating; it is difficult to choose one in preference.
I have always had a fascination for water, and as a result would probably nominate Venice and Cornwall as my two favourite overseas locations. Venice, with its unique character remaining much the same as it has for the past few hundred years. And then the Cornish coast, with its fishing villages and powerful front to the relentless North Sea is an amazing place to visit and paint.
> Which artists have influenced your work?
Probably my greatest influence would still be the impressionist painters from Australia and France, and perhaps my favourite painter from the past century, the English painter Joseph Turner. I have been exhibiting with John Morrison (not a local now, but was for a number of years).
John has influenced me greatly, not just for his finished works but the philosophy and ideas he embraces in the creation of his work. Again, as mentioned previously, this area has a wealth of great painters, all of whom have their own specialist passion in the creation of their artwork, all providing some degree of influence.
I think you must be prepared to learn from what is happening around you – especially when it is so dynamic.
> What do you love about the Mid North Coast?
Aesthetically it is beautiful, with a great diversity of landscape. It is a great place to live and isn’t too far away from other major centres. There has always been a great cultivation of the arts in this area. I have seen this grow exponentially since my involvement with the area over the past 25 years.
> What have been the benefits of exhibiting at Rayner Sunset Gallery?
I have been exhibiting at the Sunset Gallery on a regular basis since the Rayners took over in about 1993. The Sunset Gallery has been a driving force in the promotion of many artists in this area, which can be demonstrated by the number of exhibitions they have had since the Rayners commencement.
The Gallery is in a wonderful location in town and certainly attracts a great diversity of people, both local and visitors. The success of a business like this is consistency and quality, of which the Rayners embrace as key objectives.
> Thank you Ken.