A W (Bill) Morton is an artist and teacher of some 40 years experience. His approach to his work is predicated on a comprehensive knowledge of theory and a well developed control of technique.
Contrary to the prevailing philosophy in art education, that of not overloading the student with pedantic technique, Bill fervently believes the opposite. He feels that a thorough knowledge of technique is the very ticket to freedom of expression; in fact, it frees the artist to focus energy on the more intrinsic, empowering and creative part of the enterprise.
In addition, Bill’s work is influenced by two other major pre-occupations. The first is that artists are constantly confronted with the problem of the three-dimensional (observed) world and how that is transposed to the two-dimensional surface the picture is painted on. As a key part of the creative process, it represents what he describes as one of the great challenges of the western European tradition of picture-making. How do artists rationalize this dichotomy, this contradiction—the three-dimensionality of the observed world, how that is depicted on the flat surface at the same time creating the illusion of three-dimensional space and form on that flat surface?
It is Bill's contention that these issues are at the heart of why artists paint pictures. Indeed it represents one of the great challenges that have kept artists painting for centuries and will probably continue to do so for a long time to come. With that in mind, the significance of an essential need for a sound knowledge of technique assumes paramount importance. But it also raises Bill’s second preoccupation, which has become a lifelong quest.
It is based on a search for what can be best described as 'non-visual abstraction'. It proposes that good art, great art, to communicate properly, to work, goes beyond a superficial pictorial representation of the observed world; that it is imbued with an `intangible spiritual quality', an `energy' that is inherent in the work itself. It is as if the work contains a life force of its own—a kind of ‘resonance’.
Paradoxically, it exists in the work only; it is over, above and independent of the artist yet cannot exist without the input of the hand, mind and spirit of the artist. Many works of art exhibit this quality and there are notable examples from history. Rembrandt, Turner, Cezanne, Klee, Kandinsky, Vincent—all produced work that exhibits something of these qualities. That is not to say the artists actively pursued it; it is likely they were not even aware of it. But their work definitely manifests something transcendent, some energy that is over and above and beyond the merely corporeal, physical, tangible substances of paint, canvas etc.
Attainment of this most usually occurs in an `altered state of consciousness', probably not unlike the heightened, more focused and in-touch trance-like state achieved when working in the right hemisphere of the brain. A higher level of technical proficiency creates conditions where this state is more likely to occur; the artist is freed from everyday technical considerations, these qualities are more likely to be able to `surface' and the pictures that result are really ‘alive'.
STUDIES: 1964–1968 Central Technical College, Brisbane
1967–1969 David Fowler, Brisbane
1972–1973 Kathleen Browne Studios, London
1976 Peter Abraham, DDAAE Summer School, Toowoomba
1988–1989 USQ, Bachelor of Fine Arts (not completed)
WORK AND TEACHING: 1973 Based at ‘Echo’, Texas and commenced painting seriously, exhibiting from 1973–1974. Also extensive painting, exhibiting and teaching freelance in Northern NSW and South East QLD.
1975–1980 > Painting and drawing instructor, Inverell Art Society
> General committee member and society vice-president
> Gallery sub-committee appointee involved in planning, curating and staging exhibitions, including the Society’s major annual exhibition.
1980–1981 Based at Glen Innes, NSW.
1983–1987 Travelling art teacher for South West QLD,
Toowoomba College of TAFE.
1988 Established studio in Toowoomba:
> Exhibited in competitive, solo, joint and group exhibitions.
> Held private (one-to-one) and small-group classes and commission work.
> Travelled extensively to conduct two and three-day seminars throughout the region.
1997 Foundation member and president of the Range Artists Co-op Ltd involved in:
> Group management and promotion.
> Co-ordination/curating and staging group exhibitions.
PAINTING TRIPS: 1975–2008 > Tenterfield, NSW (1975)
> Inverell and district, NSW (1975 and 1976)
> Tamworth and district, NSW (1976)
> Warrumbungles, NSW (1976 and 1977)
> New England, NSW (1978, 1980 and 1981)
> North Coast, NSW (1978)
> Bali, Indonesia (1979)
> Ingham, North QLD (1980)
> Murwullimbah, NSW (1985)
> Snowy Mountains (and the snow) (1991)
> Cania Gorge, Central QLD (2003)
> Mt Barney, South East QLD (2003)
> Goomburra, South East QLD (2005)
> Texas, QLD (2006)
> Yarraman, QLD (2008)
MAJOR AWARDS: 1976–2009 > Inverell, 1976 and 1978 (drawing)
> DDAAE (Toowoomba), 1978
> Texas Easter Exhibition, 1979 (drawing)
> Caltex, City of Brisbane, 1979
> Inverell, 1980 (drawing)
> Murwillumbah, 1983
> Stanthorpe, 1984 (drawing)
> SGIO, Brisbane, 1984
> Inverell, 1985
> Waggamba Shire Acquisitive (Goondiwindi), 1986
> Myart (Toowoomba), 2004
> Toowoomba Art Society, 2004
> Caloundra, 2007
> Rosalie Shire Awards, 2007
> Yarraman, 2008 and 2009
> Lockyer Valley Awards (Laidley), 2009.
SOLO/JOINT EXHIBITIONS: 1975–2009 > Tenterfield, 1975 (solo)
> Inverell, 1976 (solo)
> Moree, 1976 (solo)
> Inverell, 1977 (solo)
> Toowoomba, 1978 (solo)
> Queensland College of Art, 1979 (solo)
> Ingham, 1980 (solo)
> Glen Innes, 1981 (solo)
> Toowoomba, 1992 (solo)
> Toowoomba Grammar, (guest artist) 1997
> Toowoomba, 2006 (joint with Bob Spensley)
> Toowoomba, 2007 (joint with Kathy Pollitt & John Reeve)
> Toowoomba, 2008 (joint with Devil)
> Yarraman, 2008 (solo)
> Goombungee, 2009 (joint with John Reeve)
> Corridor exhibition, Toowoomba Art Society, 2011 (solo).
OTHER GENERAL: Founding member and visual art director, R.U.F.F.A.A. (Rovering Under Fine Fellowship Art Adventures). RUFFAA was founded in 2008 by tour director, artist and bushman, Lynnsay Fryer. One of many events organised under the auspices of RUFFAA was the 2009 Nobby Easter Arts Festival and a major activity of this was the commissioning of a mural for Nobby town as a gesture from RUFFAA.
MEMBERSHIPS AND SOCIETIES: > Colour Society (Australia)
> Range Artists
> Toowoomba Art Society
> Watercolour Society of Queensland
PUBLICATIONS: Morton, A W (not published), Painting Light–The Theory & Practice of Painting Highlights & Shadows.
Morton, A W (2008), 'Copying essay–the hazards of copying', Toowoomba Art Society Newsletter, Toowoomba.
> Click to View PDF of Copyright Essay
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Germaine, M (1984), Artists and galleries of Australia, Boolarong, Brisbane.
Durack, N and King, P (1985), Downs Artists–a changing landscape, Darling Downs Institute Press, Toowoomba.
Millington, J (1987), Tropical Visions, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.
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