• Olivia Alexander

Dancing with Dragons


In May 2015 I finished a large painting, 122x91cm, featuring one of my favorite and unusual ocean creatures, the Sea Dragon.

Abstract Expressionistic in style, this work is part of my Oceans Deep series and is the feature piece for my solo exhibition, 'Oceans'.

The exhibition officially opens on 14 May, 2016 and you can find all the information on my events page.


Above: ‘Dragons Dance’ , mixed media on stretched canvas 122x91cm OEA 2015

The Work in Progress

I’ve been worked on this painting for quite a few weeks and to be honest, at times it has been like giving birth, - painful!

The trick is, how to make it not looked ‘worked’, when in fact it has been worked, if you know what I mean.

I like my paintings to be lose and not too constrained by me, the artist. I like them to flow and appear to have a life of their own.

To make this happen I work in layers of fluid colour. Allowing them to flow and mingle which actually means I have to let go of the control of the media to a certain extent.

Creating a painting is like having a conversation; I say something, it says something!

I have to work with the painting and sometimes it doesn’t go the way I want it to. And no matter how much I push it around sometimes it just doesn’t work and I need to reassess what the painting is actually saying.

A Delicate Balance

Interpreting plays a big part in how I create. We artists may call that ‘resolving’ a work.

Although I paint abstract or expressionism I often like to add a small element of realism to the art. One thing I have to guard against it adding too much of it and therefore eliminating the freedom in the work.

It isn’t just about my desire to express myself in a free style but also so you, the viewer, can have the freedom to see expressions of your own thoughts and life experiences in the piece.


Above: Close up of the sea dragons.

Layer Upon Layer

With this painting, ‘Dragons Dance’, I started off very abstract and loose with the first layers of paint but then had to decide how much of that to obliterate and which parts to highlight.

I soon found myself controlling too much of the work and losing the freedom in it.

The dragons became too soft and rounded, too real. Sea Dragons aren’t like that.

I then had to go back in and add angles and lines to add more tension and contrast to the piece.

Deciding when to stop is hard. I could feel myself fiddling and that’s always a sign that it’s time to stop.

When it's at this stage the painting will go away and I won’t look at it till a week later when I will pull it out and make any small final changes.

Perhaps a glaze here and there, we will see.

Capturing the beautiful tones of turquoise and the raw sienna with the camera (Nikon D3200) is now the next issue. The lens has trouble with teal colours and instead sees them as blue.

Think I need to take a course in Photoshop next, if only there were enough hours in the week!


Above: My poor old brushes were feeling the heat!

#ocean #mixedmedia #abstractart

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As seen on
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7th Showcase Winner,
Mixed Media, 2016
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International Competition
2nd Place Winner Aug 2010

Studio Atelier|  Gold Coast, QLD  Australia|

Mob: +61(0)411 197 254 |Em: olivia@oliviaalexanderart.com