Colour & Light in Oil - Maxwell Wilks

Colour & Light in Oil

Artist: Maxwell Wilks
Language: English 90 mins

Max has a strong emotional response to the effects of light, colour, atmosphere and form. He clarifies his subjects to a simple set of tonal shapes and, combined with good draughtsmanship and bright colour, captures the mood of his subject, producing fresh and lively paintings with an impressionistic feel. On the north east coast of England he paints in and around the busy harbour of Whitby and the picturesque coastal village of Staithes. Back in Australia he paints a view of the landscape near his home and a studio painting, working from a sketch.

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LEISURE PAINTER - October 2010

Review by Theodora Philcox

Maxwell Wilks’ Colour and Light in Oil follows the theme of his successful first film on pastel, and similarly splits the demonstrations between Yorkshire and Wilks’ home near Melbourne. Opening in Whitby with a view of boats and figures within the harbour, he talks the viewer through his materials and choice of colours, before showing how he starts with a very loosely painted sketch, and then builds up the shapes and colours, working from dark to light. His physical approach allows him to create texture and details by using his fingers, and rubbing areas out and cutting in sharper lines with a cloth. He emphasises the need to work quickly when painting outdoors, where conditions can rapidly change.

The second demonstration takes Wilks north of Whitby to the fishing village of Staithes. Here, another harbour view enables him to show how to be selective in order to improve the overall rhythm within the composition. It is interesting to watch how, after laying in colour on one of the boats, he deftly rubs the paint with his fingers, loosely blending it with that of the water, thus unifying the elements, and simultaneously creating a better sense of its reflection in the water.

Wilks returns to Whitby for his last British subject, aiming to capture the last of the light on the cliff tops as the sun sets. He explains the importance of simplifying a scene to make a more powerful image, and also discusses the difficulties of handling distant light. If painted too brightly, it comes forward, thus overpowering the areas nearer the front. To check how the tones work, he turns the painting upside down, and subdues areas or colours that jumped out. This is a very useful technique.

For the final two paintings, Wilks returns to Australia, first painting a fairly subtle landscape on location, demonstrating how to handle aerial perspective, combined with details in full sunlight. By contrast, the last painting is an exercise in texture and vibrancy. Worked back in his studio, from a small, fairly conservative painting of trees and landscape, he builds up the composition with energetic strokes of colour, creating a dramatic, dynamic interpretation. This film will encourage viewers to work in a more impressionistic style, and not be afraid to get their hands dirty!
THE ARTIST - December 2010

Review by Oliver Lange

Light is a key, inspirational factor for Maxwell Wilks, a highly accomplished and successful artist who lives near Melbourne, Australia. In Colour & Light in Oil he paints three wonderful plein-air subjects at Whitby and Staithes. Back in Australia, we join him in the landscape of South Victoria and then in his studio, where he works from a location sketch.

Maxwell’s technique is great to watch and his commentary is full of helpful tips and guidance. He looks for the big masses first, concentrating on tonal contrasts and sound drawing, while making the most of the colour potential to add interest and impact. Brushes, fingers and rag all prove their worth as he develops the sense of form, light and mood in each subject. Fresh, lively, evocative work is his forte. ‘Don’t work it to death,’ he advises. ‘More looking less putting!’

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