“It was a small work of Vincent Van Gogh’s in London that made me weep”.
There is no doubting the influence that Louise Stanton has had on the Dorrigo art scene. Louise’s involvement in the local arts spans more than 30 years, not only as a well renowned local painter and drawer, but also in the capacity of co-ordinator of the arts. Louise joined the Dorrigo Art Group in the early 80’s and soon after the Dorrigo Arts Council, at which time Louise lived in nearby Wiriri, near Billy’s Creek, where she remained until 2012, when, after the death of her husband, Louise moved to Dorrigo.
Louise only began painting in her 50’s, having been encouraged by her son. She joined a group being instructed by Ted Hillyer- ‘oils in plein air’, and immediately loved it. Early in her new found creative pursuits, Louise won prizes for her work at the Dorrigo Show and had success in Nambucca, Bellingen and competitions farther afield. While living in Wiriri, Louise opened a “home gallery” in the middle of the bush, where she exhibited and sold her work, and incidentally met many lovely people, intrigued by the beauty of the surroundings and her isolation. Life in Wiriri also involved daffodil and cattle farming among other things. During the 90’s Louise taught painting through adult education classes and in fact, Louise continues to teach now- drawing with Dorrigo U3A.
The Dorrigo Art Group has for almost 40 years organised the Fine Arts Section of Dorrigo Show and since 1985, Louise has helped hang this exhibition, frequently acting as Steward. Currently, Louise is the Group’s Treasurer, having acted as President for several years. The Dorrigo Art group also organized the first Easter Exhibition in 1991 under Binks Dowling’s co-ordination. This is now known as the Creative Mountain Arts Exhibition, still happening after 26 years.
I asked Louise about the greatest influences on her work and her preferred medium:
“The beauty of the Dorrigo Plateau, Bellinger Valley and particularly the forest around my home in Wiriri, have had a huge influence on my painting. I am always inspired by landscape and especially by the forest, its complex shapes, textures and colours”.
“I doubt if I have a distinct style, as the medium I use tends to dictate the way I approach the subject. I discovered pastels fairly early as an artist and my oils or acrylics are very different from the pastels, as are the fine line pen drawings I enjoy producing, almost as a meditation. Once I would have said pastels are my favored medium, but as I grow older and less inclined to paint, I am looking more to my fine black pens, and a range of pencils and mixed pens, (gold and silver) to play with”.
Louise does describe herself as a “borrower”, where she tries out snippets from a wide range of artists, discarding what doesn’t work for her. “Changes in my work tend to come from a discovery I make in the process of attempting something I haven’t tried before”. She admits to admiring everyone else’s work, but it was a small work of Vincent Van Gogh’s in London that “made me weep”.
Interestingly, Louise describes music as her ultimate passion. She plays the piano and recorder, and for a while, the clarinet, either for herself or with friends; and for over 25 years has provided community singing for the aged residents at Dorrigo Hospital (now the Dorrigo Multi-Purpose Centre). Tennis was also an important part of her life- Louise only put her racket down 4 years ago!
So where to from here? At 85 Louise has acknowledged “exciting projects don’t present themselves as often as they use to”. However, Louise did exhibit in Gallery 2453 last December and will, as always, exhibit in this year’s Dorrigo’s Creative Mountain Art Competition and the Dorrigo Show, “if I’m still alive”. “I am content to challenge myself at the moment with the difficulties of representing complex subjects with my beloved black pens”.