Contemporary imagery goes pop

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The last time Mornington Peninsula Magazine spoke with Andrew Owen, it was all about raising money for charity, hosting the Tech Games Fest at Chisholm Institute in Frankston, and sessional teaching. This time we discuss his love of oil painting, pastels and pencils, and digital art.

He explains: “I came back to drawing and painting about five years ago after doing other things like teaching and community work. My mum and her auntie were artists and it was quite weird when I looked at their work. It was as if I was looking at my own. My grand-aunt used to make postcards and greeting cards, and the work is so similar to mine it’s uncanny. I love exploring the theme of popular culture, whether it’s through painting, drawing or digital art as a medium. I do a lot of one-off commissions for private collections. The life-size 3D helicopter I made was used for the Hollywood blockbuster movie San Andreas, starring Dwayne Johnson. I also recreated the original movie poster for Barry Bostwick, the original Brad in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He puts them up at conventions across the USA.” 

But back to painting — Andrew’s work sits somewhere between fandom, traditional art and digital illustration. Focused on drawing and painting famous people, superheroes and characters from such shows as Doctor Who and Harry Potter, he spends hours and hours detailing faces to hone in on every expression and personality-forged line. He’ll have around 10 works on the go at any time and prefers to paint on thick paper and board rather than canvas. He’s messy too! He continues: “I’ve got paint and paper everywhere. I’m always amazed when you see those artists with clean studios and everything is organised. I’m usually covered in oil paint and so is everything else.” 

Working from his studio at home in Somerville surrounded by the likes of Jack Nicholson, Christopher Reeves, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Hugh Jackman and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Andrew is keen to take his figurative work further by entering the Archibald Prize in 2020. He explains: “I’ve already got a prominent Australian locked in and will be starting work on the piece soon. It’s exciting. The whole process will be very new to me. I expect to take a lot of photos and have multiple sittings. It will be great to see what I come up with.”

As an admirer of urban landscape painter Jeffrey Smart and Heidelberg School member Tom Roberts, this Coffs Harbour native who went to school in Sydney has lived on the Peninsula for the past 20 years. He’s most content when painting but loves making costumes for his two boys, Sebastian and Lachie, too. He also enjoys giving old toys a more lifelike appearance. “I’m happy as long as I’m producing something. My kids are like that too.”

Check out his remarkably lifelike imagery on Facebook @theAndrewOwen or on Instagram @andrewoonline to marvel in some creative contemporary pop! 


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