ArtChat [Blog Interview Number 19] – Paul Margocsy

Red Hill Gallery is excited to announce that the internationally acclaimed Australian wildlife artist Paul Margocsy will be gracing the walls of Red Hill Gallery once again in October. The self-taught artist has a penchant for wildlife and paints accurate and witty depictions of all Mother Nature’s creatures, especially birds. Commissioned by Australia Post and the United Nations  to paint a series of water birds and endangered species, as well as having exhibited at the prestigious ‘Leigh Yawkey Woodson Birds in Art show’  we are very privileged to have Paul in our Gallery.AC:         Paul, I think people will be astounded to learn that you are a self taught artist! How long did the development of your style to this calibre take? PM:        It took many years of practice and frustrating efforts to learn the technique I now use.   There was no one to teach me so I just experimented and finally developed my style.

AC:         Your work was disseminated in the thousands when you were commissioned by Australia Post to do a series of waterbird stamps. How did it feel to see your paintings whenever you opened a letter? PM:        To coin a phrase it was the first “feather in my cap”.  I was extremely proud and at the same time humbled by the commission, I still joke that in 1990 I was licked by 14 million people.

AC:         The technique you use is very unique; could you elaborate more on the process of creating? PM:        I found it very difficult to paint backgrounds and I found that they were competing against the complex work of the wildlife subjects.  Hence I started to use an airbrush to give the image a photo realistic approach.  In using water colour I found that using the traditional wet on wet treatment got me nowhere.  However, with my technique with dry brushing I can get incredible detail.

AC:         What shows through in your work is that you paint from the heart with compassion, knowledge and love. Have you always felt this way about wildlife? Where do you think this passion stems from? PM:        In all honesty I love what I do and love portraying the facets of wildlife; however the trip to Africa  2 years ago blew me away.  To see nature up close was a wonderful experience.  I’m very fortunate that I have a photographic memory and this enables me to move and create the paintings that I do.

AC:         The naming of your works seems like it would be a fun process, it definitely makes your fans giggle and smile, how do you decide on a name? PM:        I wait until I finish a painting, then look at the subject and words form in my head to suit  the painting, it can either be a film or song title or a play on words.  Rather than entitle a   painting “Bird study” I get a real buzz giving them quirky titles.  It’s part of my character.

AC:         What does you art mean to you and what do you think it means to your audience? PM:        My art means everything to me and I am so lucky that people enjoy what I enjoy. I try to paint images that people can relate to and it’s great that they take a part of me into their homes. AC:         What is your view from your window at the moment? PM:        I actually have a north facing studio and when I do look out the window I occasionally see “Pacific Black Ducks” landing in the pool.  Aint wildlife grand?

AC:         What do you do when you’re not working on your art? PM:        Unfortunately I am an AFL football tragic and during the footy season I follow the Bombers  and go to as many games as I can.  My other distraction is music and I have a vast collection of many different music genres to choose from.  I also love to travel and have recently come back from America.

AC:         You won 3 months supply of ice cream at the age of 12 as an art prize! Tell our readers more about this! PM:        My mother knew I could draw and in the late 50’s two television clowns (Zig & Zag Australian_performers) offered a prize for a drawing of themselves.  My mother knew I had won it before I had even finished.  For three months I had heaps of friends but after the ice cream ran out, so   did the friends.  It also did  nothing for my football career.

AC:         I heard you are a bit of music lover, who do you love to listen to when you paint? PM:        People assume that music can affect an artist and his art.  I love to listen to all forms of music but preferably 60’s to 70’s music.  However, when a painting is really looking spectacular I tend to sing along and have even been known to dance around my studio, how embarrassing!

AC:         Where did your last holiday take you and what was the most memorable bit? PM:        I took my wife to America for her birthday and as it has been 40 years since I was in San Francisco and New York it was quite a thrill for both of us.  I would imagine the most  memorable bits were the Broadway shows and the Gospel Church in Harlem.

AC:         As an animal lover I’m sure you have a favourite... what is it? PM:        That’s easy, Owls, I’m known as the Owl man in Melbourne, not that I stay up late but, I enjoy painting their big eyes and faces.  The Zebras and the Leopards that I do give me a  thrill and I would have to throw in Kingfishers and Wrens.

AC:         How does it feel to be the first Australian to be exhibited 2 years in succession in the prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson Birds in Art Show? PM:        The Lee Yawkey Exhibition was something I never thought I would achieve.  It was funny to be  with the world’s best artists and for them to say to me that they really enjoyed my work.  I didn’t   have the heart to tell them that I had actually copied off all of them when I was trying to teach myself, 30 years ago.  To represent Australia that way was an honour that I will never forget.  Never mind that they couldn’t understand my humour and accent. Paul Margocsy is exhibiting soon at Red Hill Gallery.  You can enjoy an online preview here - www.redhillgallery.com.au/PaulMargocsy2012.html