Jul 112021

The Drawing & Painting Group

The Painting and Drawing Group meets each week on Thursday afternoons. They 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. They draw, paint, print and occasionally dabble in collage. They work collaboratively and singly and we share a delight in all things artistic. We have leaders – Leanne Ipsen and Brenda Smith – and they 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.

Aug 112021

By mid-year 2021 there was a glimmer of light at the end of our Covid tunnel. We were starting to look forward to participating in weekly sessions in the Eltham Guide Hall and to discussing plans for the second half of 2021 when, once again, Covid stepped up and sent us spiralling back into lockdown. It’s fair to say that painting and drawing are personal endeavours and are as absorbing when undertaken privately as they are in a group, but our group members thrive on sharing, so without their supportive atmosphere there was, for some, a sense of disconnect.

But we are stoic, we endure and we have big plans for the remainder of 2021!

Joan’s ISOchooks in the limelight

Some of you may have already visited Earthbound Bolton cafe in Bolton Street? It’s a relaxed, warehouse style cafe with a slightly bohemian atmosphere. It’s well worth a visit for its menu, coffee and decor.

Currently, Joan Davison is exhibiting of her now-famous ‘ISOchooks’ at the cafe and so, when we’re out of lockdown, why not drop in to see ‘the girls’ (her chooks) in action and maybe stock up on her avian themed greeting cards and fridge magnets as well?

An other-worldly exhibition at Earthbound Bolton cafe, opening 9th October

While you’re at Earthbound Bolton, you can also check out the other selection of artwork also displayed there. It’s produced by our U3A artists and includes an eclectic range of paintings and drawings.

If now isn’t the time to visit then, as part of the Seniors Month celebrations in October, there will be an Earthbound Exhibition afternoon at the cafe on 9th October at 2pm which will feature some of out current and newer works. Visitors are in for a treat – the afternoon will comprise our host, Andrew’s, Earthbound finger food and beverages and U3A artwork which might just be… out of this world!

PANArt at the Yarra Plenty Regional Library Gallery, mid-December to mid-January

If you miss out on the art at Earthbound Bolton, there will be another opportunity to see our artists’ work, watch our films and videos, read our story and stock up on our cards at the Eltham Library late this year. We are excited to have been invited to present our Covid 2020/21 collection to the Nillumbik community. The exhibition will be a celebration of art produced during very different times, a reminder of recent history and an opportunity to connect with local artists. The official opening will take place some time in mid-December in the library. We will publish more details later and hope to see you there.

Jul 062021

The group has been preparing some instructional videos on various aspects of painting. The purpose of these videos is to help people to start painting. As Judy Vizzari says, “Maybe you have been put off ‘doing art’ by the thought of sourcing equipment, setting up, or just knowing how to go about producing your drawing or painting. Well, ‘doing art’ is actually easier than you might think and it’s fun! You don’t need a load of equipment or multitude of instructions. Perhaps start with pencil and paper, then try other mediums. And, of course(!), watch our videos.

1. Leanne Ipsen demonstrates her equipment for acrylic painting. 2. Leanne demonstrates her outdoor painting technique.
3. Brenda Smith introduces watercolour painting. 4. Jo Ball demonstrates ‘flow painting’.
5. Colleen Hall discusses oil painting.
Jun 262021

Joan’s ISO chooks have recently extended from fence palings to canvases, and a selection of these are now on display. The photo is of the actual exhibition.

The photo is of the actual exhibition of our our Painting & Drawing Group’s work. All the paintings are for sale at very affordable prices.

‘Judes Jools’ by Judy Murfett are on display and available for purchase at $10 per set.

Apr 232021

The group has now produced a 15 minute video where various members of the group talk about how painting and drawing helped them get through the pandemic. Says Judy Vizzari: “Our PANArt video was a collaborative effort – thanks to everyone in the group for contributing their thoughts and comments during its making. Particular thanks to Leanne [Ipsen] and Brenda [Smith]. Filming continues to be a learning process for me, almost a film making class within a class!

The video was funded by a DHHS grant and complements their ‘PANArt’ booklet, which was published in November and which contains around 100 of their paintings. View or download the booklet (pdf – 60 pages).

Jan 082021

Drawing & Painting Group member Joan started painting her ‘ISO chooks’ on discarded fence palings during the Covid-19 lockdown. Over the last few months, they have gone viral and there are now some 3,000(!) spread around people’s gardens in Eltham (where Joan lives) and the surrounding suburbs.

The ISO chooks have been a major topic of conversation in the Eltham 3095 Facebook group, where some of Joan’s posts have attracted up to 500 likes and 300 comments.

As Joan said when interviewed by the Warrandyte Diary (see the article below): “I started my chooks because I knew a lot of people were struggling mentally with the shutdown with COVID regulations. I am an artist and I know the power of fun art, and getting a gift (just as a surprise), so I started painting chooks on fence pieces and leaving them on the letterbox with a ‘help yourself’ sign. … Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this crazy chook adventure.

The ISO chooks come in many different colours Joan with some of her newly painted chooks An article in the Warrandyte Diary

In January 2021, Joan her ISO chooks featured again in the Warrandyte Diary. We even get a one line mention!

Nov 032020

Our Drawing & Painting Group is excited to see the culmination of their 2020 artwork in the form of a booklet funded by a DHHS grant. The 'PANArt' booklet contains around 100 colourful and diverse images plus information about the group’s progress during the time of Covid-19 restrictions. They are a record of the commitment that the group has to its art. As the purpose of the DHHS grant is to promote art immersion as a tool to break down isolation during Covid-19 restrictions, copies of the booklet will be distributed to isolated locals and also placed in libraries and public places.

View or download the booklet (pdf – 60 pages).

Here is the cover plus 2 of the 100 images from the booklet.

Blue jug with oranges
Robin Reed
Dad and son
Glenda Guilfoyle
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.