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Jon Molvig

In their own words

Recorded 1962

Jon Molvig
Audio: 2 minutes

I don’t know whether you’ve ever noticed it, but colour has a lot of psychological significance; some colours can make you happy and some sad, some heavy and some light. I try to use colours that heighten the feeling of what I want to say. For instance, if I was painting a young girl, I wouldn’t use browns and purples and heavy colours like that; I’d naturally use something that’s light and youthful and airy, happy, perhaps, depending on whether I wanted to make her happy or sad. If I was painting an old man, I wouldn’t use light greens and light blues, things like that. That’s only a very rough basis for psychology of colour.

Quite often I use drawings, particularly in portraits. When I have a portrait commission to do – not a commission necessarily but a portrait – I usually do a lot of drawings. I like to become familiar with the subject, especially the character of the subject and the general feeling of it. I usually throw the drawing away and do the painting from memory. But usually now, with an ordinary subject, I just start straight on the large canvas and work it out from there. Once a picture is started, it sort of paints itself. What I mean is: when you put a brushstroke down, it indicates the next brushstroke to put down and so on, it’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle in which you put one piece in place and you have to find another piece to fit in with it.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Jon Molvig is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

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Jon Molvig

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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