It’s hard to describe Geoffrey Carran’s artwork with words as they don’t seem to do it justice. But, here it goes. Geoffrey is a pictorial artist from Jan Juc in Victoria and his depiction of birds is simply magnificent. Geoffrey lives a quiet life close to the beach with his partner and his fellow artist Rowena Martinich. Their home is filled with artwork and surfboards and they are surrounded by nature. Being a short distant to the ocean is a key part of Geoffrey’s creative process, as his time spent surfing and procrastinating is imperative to discovering ideas and inspiration. Much like his subject matter Geoffrey is composed and attentive. He speaks with honesty and humility and his laid-back personality reveals itself as he eases into your company.
The sheer scale and detail of Geoffrey’s paintings is breath-taking. He is able to capture the personality of each bird and bury it deep into each painted layer. When I look at his birds I seem to understand what each one is thinking, their personality reveals itself to me, but only me as if I’ve been let in on a secret. Geoffrey transferred his large scale birds onto his clock and the result is no less spectacular. His colourful cockatoo centres around the eye, the clock hands have been shaped and coloured to become part of the artwork and change its appearance as time goes by.
Where do you draw inspiration?
I draw inspiration primarily from the natural world. Coming to Australia, the bird life really struck me as being unique and highly visible part of Australian ecology. There’s a parallel between the bird life and almost the personality of Australian culture, quite brash, cheeky, gregarious, all sorts of cockatoo traits.
When did you first start painting birds and how did that evolve?
I started painting birds when I was a child. Growing up in New Zealand I was fascinated with pre-history and how, as an island, it didn’t have any animals, there was only bird life. That was a theme that I was really interested in. I had sort of forgot about that and moved to Australia, studied academic art and forgot all about it. Then as soon as I put that aside, I guess it came back out. When I started painting full time, that was the product.
Can you describe the feeling that you get when you are creating?
Creating is a strange feeling, a mixture of anticipation, excitement, surprise, and intrigue. I think intrigue would be the one that is the major feeling, cause you never know where it’s gonna go, or what’s gonna happen.
When did you realise that you were a little bit more creative than the rest?
I don’t know if it’s being more creative than anyone else. It’s more about being persistent, and just following that creativity rather than abandoning it. I’ve always drawn and I drew more than my friends. When they gave it up, I just carried on. I never thought about doing anything else.
How do you start a new artwork?
I start out by thinking about the size that I want to work, and I staple it to the wall. Start doing underpainting and take it from there. I think about the colour. It’s sort of dictated by an idea of colour, scale, gesture and then personality.
What size do you generally like to work to?
My favourite size is about 2 metres by 2 metres. That’s the scale I love to work at because it’s human scale. It’s kind of indicative of my industrial background of house painting, and building, and landscaping. It’s a physical scale to work at.
How did you go then painting this smaller clock?
The clock was fine actually. It’s refreshing to work on a circle. Being the face of a clock, I just focused on the face of the bird.
How would you describe your work?
I’d describe my work as colourful and personable.
What is the most important part of your creative process?
The most important part, aside from the actual creation and physical time spent painting, would be the procrastinating, like going for a surf. While you’re doing that, you’re actually constantly analysing what you’re doing. You need to step back from it, and then you look at it with fresh eyes. I think if you’re constantly focused on something without that pause, it can become static, or maybe overworked.
How do you know if you’ve overworked something, and how do you know when it’s finished?
I think when all the elements come together, it sort of resonates. You know it’s finished. It comes with experience. In the past my paintings have been under finished because I’ve tried to rush through them, because I’ve been impatient. Where as now, I’m taking a bit more time with my work. I think it’s a threshold that constantly changes. It’s the expectations you set on yourself. It’s the level of finish.
What is something that not many people know about you?
Don’t know. I’m a bit of an open book here. I guess to know what people don’t know, then you gotta know what they know.
Why did you say yes to this collaboration?
Collaborations are fun. A great way of extending your practice, challenging yourself and doing something that you wouldn’t usually do yourself. Of course, you get to be part of this amazing creative culture in Melbourne and meet amazing people.
What was the inspiration behind your clock?
My thinking behind the clock was that I wanted something bold, and I instantly thought, cockatoo clock. I was focused on capturing a bold personality on the face of a clock.
Do you have a favourite bird?
No, I don’t have a favourite bird. I find them all fascinating. Just like everything else.
How do you start to paint the bird?
I always start with the background. I think it sets the mood, and that changes as the painting changes, but I tend to think of a block colour and how the bird would respond to that. It’s kind of like setting a personality and matching a colour to it that sets the mood.
What type of person do you think will be drawn to your clock?
I think the sort of person that will be drawn to this clock would definitely have to love colour. It’s pretty loud.
Where do you think it will end up?
I’ve kind of got a picture of this ending up on a white wall somewhere, you know, a vivid white wall. But I guess we’ll see.
Do you have a favourite medium to work with?
My favourite medium would be acrylic house paint and pen.
Geoffrey Carran’s Clock for the Hunting Collective 2016.
Geoffrey’s clock is made with acrylic paint and acrylic UV varnish. Geoffrey’s clock is available via online auction. To bid, click here. Geoffrey Carran is a pictorial artist based in Jan Juc, Victoria. Being a short distant to the ocean is a key part of Geoffrey’s creative process, as his time spent surfing is imperative to discovering ideas and inspiration.
A selected collection of Geoffrey Carran’s amazing bird paintings are available as limited edition giclee prints online at Hunting for George. These quality prints are done on 300gsm cotton-rag paper there is only 50 of each.