Sep 062020

The Drawing & Painting Group

The Painting and Drawing Group meets each week on Thursday afternoons at Eltham High School. We number in the high 20s and range in age from 60s to 90s (92), we’re both men and women, and our skills are diverse. We draw, paint, print and occasionally dabble in collage. We work collaboratively and singly and we share a delight in all things artistic. We have leaders – Leanne Ipsen and Brenda Smith – and we are their free-thinking followers – teamwork all round.

Watch either this video (15 minutes) or this video (3 minutes) to see the group in action.

Sep 072020

The group has recently successfully applied for two grants. One is a $500 grant from Nillumbik Council for easels and the other is a grant for $3,000 from the State. This latter grant is for: a series of interviews of the artists in the group; some demonstration videos on how to approach watercolour, acrylic and gouache painting; a series of gift cards; and a photobook showing the group's work during the Covid-19 lockdown. Congratulations to Leanne Ipsen, Brenda Smith and Judy Vizzari for pursuing the grant opportunities and thanks to Fiona Vuong from the Council for assisting with the applications.

Jun 112020
During the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the members of the Painting and Drawing Group responded enthusiastically to their tutors’ – Leanne Ipsen and Brenda Smith – weekly emailed challenges. The artists worked in isolation and shared their work electronically. Have a look at what some examples of the artwork that they produced (pdf).

The featured artists include Anthony Guilfoyle, Brenda Smith, Catherine Dattner, Colleen Hall, Dennis Smedley, Jenni Bull, Joan Denison, Joy Quinn, Judy Vizzari, Kath Keppel, Leanne Ipsen, Lilia Deschamps, Lorraine Bassett, Patricia Bulmer, Rachel Brak, Robin Reed and Sue Dawson.

Sunrise by Kath Keppel
Mar 272020

Art has long been a fascination for the human mind. Sculpture, drawing, painting have forever been used to enhance religious experience, to awe subjects and to defy enemies, or merely to entertain and to beautify our surrounds. It has a complex and well noted history and is still developing apace with society. Art has been a solace for the bored and a mystery to the uneducated and that is where I come in.

Since my wife, Glenda, and I joined U3A, particularly to be able to ‘do art’ as a retirement project, our life has been enhanced. We already knew Leanne (Ipsen) and Brenda (Smith) but had no idea of the depth of their commitment to their subject. Enthusiasm is a trademark of their lives and is shared happily with the students of Thursday afternoons at Eltham High School. We Do Art!

On the appointed afternoon, we join many other keen students with various levels of skill to work on improving that budding talent under the watchful eyes of Leanne and Brenda, sometimes assisted by experienced students Dennis (Smedley) and Judy (Vizzari), who are equally happy to pass on their knowledge. Also we have been tutored by professional illustrators and artists who bring other experience to the table.

Unfortunately the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 have now changed the dynamics of our society and of our art group. It is difficult to maintain unbridled enthusiasm at home without the encouragement of our tutors and at home I’m not in the ‘zone’. When I see an apple, I dont know whether to draw or eat it. Here’s hoping for resumption of normalcy soon.

Mar 272020

The Drawing & Painting Group did an early project on doors, developing the motif of opening the door to our creativity and showing our own front doors to facilitate sociable communication and explanation.

I have mounted them in a multi viewed frame (see the photo).

Trish Bulmer did the door to knowledge (2nd row from the top, 2nd from the left), Rachel Brak selected a favourite scene from her English heritage (top row, 2nd from the left) and a new member, Lorraine Bassett, produced an immaculately detailed fineliner rendition complete with perspective (3rd row from the top, 3rd from the left).

Jan 262020

Yes, ‘2020 Vision’ may be a little clichéd, but I can’t resist the title … it seems so appropriate. Why? Because it describes our aims, which are to reflect, to learn and to record then to share what we think, see and feel. Clearly visionary?

But to get to that sharing stage we need confidence in our skills. If you’ve ever watched a child draw his first lines, you’ll see his fascination – no rules, no wrongs or rights, just pure pleasure. For us it’s not so easy – our challenge is to learn to blend our knowledge with our artistic desire. So even though our creative journeys may have started in childhood, it’s now, in our third age, that we are finally negotiating our bumpy road towards greater technical skills and artistic freedom.

Propelled on our journey

Our tutors, Leanne Ipsen and Brenda Smith, understand the needs of mature age students who are either returning to art or first-timers so they provide basic tuition in drawing, colour mixing and painting to provide all of us with opportunities to extend ourselves. The use of different mediums plus exploration of techniques broadens our artistic knowledge.

We are a group. Leanne and Brenda ensure that our choices are collective – exhibitions to attend (Archibald and Camberwell Art Shows 2019), excursions (plein air sessions, artist supplies specialists) and who to invite to our studios (artists, cartoonists). What projects and collaborative works we undertake are also discussed jointly. The value of our methods is that all students are involved and all have opportunities to display their work (and occasionally to sell it).

We’ve achieved quite a lot in the past five years but what’s planned for 2020?

We’re about to leap into another year of creativity and already Leanne and her team have built a framework of activities to whet our excitement and to propel us down our road of discovery.

What we’re in for:

  • Exploration –
    • of mediums: watercolour and acrylic then developing these in second term
    • of methods: painting, drawing, printing and collage
    • of colours: familiarity with the colour wheel, colour mixing, colour effects
    • of skills: tone, perspective, upside down approaches, life drawing… seeing our subjects.

As well, we’re planning more:

  • Collaboratives – producing priceless projects for public places.
  • Excursions – to exhibitions, arts suppliers, studios, outdoor exercises.
  • Exhibitions – we’re always on the lookout for new venues to exhibit our work.
  • Guest speakers – sessions with local and well-known artists.

And we’re continuing our two studio structure, so plenty of choices all round.

2020 Vision will encompass challenges, learning and fun for the Nillumbik U3A Painting and Drawing Group… lots to look forward to.

We’re excited!

Judy V

Jan 012020

From 5th December to 6th January, Yarra Plenty Heritage Group and the Nillumbik U3A Drawing and Painting Group collaborated in a joint exhibition at Eltham Library. The exhibition was called Looking Back, Looking Forward: Summer Fun in Yarra Plenty and featured historical photographs and original artworks in a celebration of all things summer – picnics, swimming, boating, horsing around and enjoying nature with family and friends during long sunny days.

The whole Drawing and Painting Group were involved in supporting the exhibition, with particular contributions from Leanne Ipsen and Judy Vizzari.

Oct 012019

This exhibition lasted most of October. Our paintings, drawings and even a piece of woodwork, complemented an amazing knitting display presented by Wattle Glen’s Estia Health residents. Around 1,000 sightseers were greeted by our artists who were rostered to welcome visitors daily.


Oct 012019

This exhibition lasted most of October. Pictured is a photo of some of our exhibitors plus their friends.

May 012019

This was an exciting joint project – 17 one-metre high letters spelling ‘Research Preschool’ were cut from timber veneer by group member Dennis Smedley. Each letter was painted in a rainbow colour by Dennis and Leanne and then individually over-painted in varying designs by 15 members of the group. The resulting sign captures the fun and wonder of youth.

The letters were installed on the preschool’s fence by the expert handymen of Eltham Men’s Shed.

View some pictures of the installation.

Watch this video about the project.

Apr 012019

This exhibition lasted much of 2019. Pictured is one of the paintings exhibited: Objects by Brenda Smith.

Nov 012018

This exhibition lasted most of October and its focus was on the landscapes and eating places of Nillumbik. The subjects painted included Colin’s Cafe, Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse, Gennaros, Main Road, Montsalvat, Taffy’s on Looker Road, the bridge Eltham, the library cafe Eltham, and Wingrove Park.

Oct 012017

This exhibition lasted much of late 2017 and early 2018. There were around 30 pictures on display, with 17 artists from the Drawing & Painting Group represented.

Three of the paintings were collective works where three well known paintings were selected (by Renoir, Withers and Heysen), divided into 6 panels, and each panel was painted by one of the group. Once our individual panels were completed and re-assembled, their varied approaches offered interesting interpretations of the artists’ familiar works. The project led to much discussion and collaboration, and became a vehicle for learning about composition, colour and the artists’ unique methods, as well as about our own diverse skills.


From top left to bottom right: paintings on the wall; Bright Winter’s Morning after Walter Withers; Red Gums of the Far North after Walter Withers; and Bal du Moulin de la Galette after Pierre-Auguste Renoir.