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Romping Rabbits and a Small Black Dog: The Art of Julia Wakefield, Printmaker

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by Moira Simpson (subscribe)
Artist, art educator, author and freelance museum and art gallery consultant. Teaches fibre arts and encaustics at her studio in the Adelaide Hills and organises visual art workshops taught by Australian and overseas artists. See
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romping rabbits and a small black dog
Julia Wakefield is an artist who uses a range of printing techniques, including etching, woodcut, and linocut, and also paints in watercolour. Her work is sensitively drawn and naturalistic in form, with sometimes quirky subject-matter.

After 12 years in England, Julia returned to Australia in 2001, bringing with her two fictional rabbits that had begun featuring in her work.

Like the rabbits introduced to Australia over two hundred years ago, 'they adapted successfully to their new environment', and have since proliferated. In a series of images, they are seen playing musical instruments drums, saxophone, violin, or harp twirling on ice skates, or dancing under a full moon. The joyous and whimsical images of romping rabbits bring a smile to the lips of viewers.

Blood Moon
'Blood Moon', solar plate relief print by Julia Wakefield.

."Initially," says Julia, "they demanded my full attention, requiring regular documentation of their travels and romantic escapades. Up until recently, they have been totally self-obsessed, narcissistic, and at times quite annoying, but they are now becoming both more socially aware and more preoccupied with family matters".

They and Julia recently lent their support to the world-wide campaign for freedom of speech, sparked by the murders of 12 members of staff from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Nous Sommes Charlie
'Nous Sommes Charlie', t-shirt design by Julia Wakefield, January 2015.

Her prints also feature the exploits of her friendly little black dog, Portia, after whom her studio is named, and who she describes as "part Kelpie, part Manchester terrier, part Tasmanian Devil, and part fruit bat".

'Standoff', wood engraving by Julia Wakefield, 2005

Now a full-time print-maker and art tutor, Julia has illustrated more than 50 educational books for children, as well as writing and illustrating A Disastrous Honeymoon, an Epic Poem for Short Attention Span. She teaches drawing and watercolour, and is keen to help people who are new to these art activities, or wanting to build their confidence and extend their art skills.

Julia also teaches printmaking using a variety of materials and approaches that can be adapted to the home studio, such as monoprinting and solarplate etching methods that use materials which are less toxic than traditional printmaking methods.

Her approach to teaching draws upon the work of the American art teacher, Betty Edwards. Edwards' 1979 book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain promoted the idea that drawing can be taught by encouraging the visual and spatial thinking, which seems to occur mainly in the right hemisphere of the brain, rather than relying on the verbal and analytical or 'left-brain' thinking, which is often dominant in everyday life.

Julia's approach to teaching is to use a range of drawing materials and exercises designed to draw out intuitive responses to analyzing shape, space and form, and help to break down preconceptions, encourage free expression, and build confidence.

Julia will be teaching a monoprinting workshop at Hahndorf Academy on Saturday 13th March, and a 5-day workshop at St John's Grammar School in Belair from 19-23 April, part of a new Creative Arts Retreat. Entitled Drawing and Watercolour for the Terrified, this workshop is ideal for those wishing to learn drawing and watercolour painting in a friendly and supportive environment. Find details of Julia's forthcoming workshops and classes here.

Life drawing
Life drawing by Julia Wakefield

Julia's prints, cards, mugs and t-shirts can be purchased directly from Julia through her website, and cards and prints are also for sale at the Hahndorf Academy, Gallery M, Pepper Street Gallery, Urban Cow and Red Poles Gallery.

You can visit Julia at Black Dog Studio, in the garden of her home at Christies Beach. It is open to visitors most Fridays from 11 am to 3pm, or by appointment. Be sure to call Julia on 0433 975590 before you come, even on a Friday, just in case she gets an impromptu urge to walk on the beach or go for a snorkel .

Julia and Portia in Black Dog Studio
Julia and Portia in Black Dog Studio

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When: 19-23 April 2015
Phone: 0433 975590
Where: St John's Grammar School
Cost: $750 including tuition, lunches, refreshments and artists' talks
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