Andrew Finnie’s date to get serious

MAKING ART: Andrew Finnie at work in his Newcastle Community Arts Centre studio.
MAKING ART: Andrew Finnie at work in his Newcastle Community Arts Centre studio.

AS a young man Andrew Finnie made a date to get serious about his art.

‘‘I started as a child, like most artists,’’ he said. 

‘‘I made a promise to myself... I would take it seriously when I got old.

‘‘One day I woke up and I was 40 and that was old as far as I was concerned.

‘‘Ever since then I have taken it seriously and I have done a lot of painting.’’

Finnie moved to Newcastle in 1983 and many of his traditional-style works feature the city’s urban landscapes painted in acrylic.

‘‘In a way I’m an outsider, so I think I see Newcastle from an outsider’s view point,’’ he said.

‘‘And part of Newcastle’s beauty to me is all the old buildings, and I think a lot of Novocastrians are used to them and don’t see their value.

‘‘I think it’s my job as an artists to paint them while they are still there.’’

And this sense of urgency has been highlighted for Finnie based on the experience of returning to locations in order to put final details on works only to discover the subject of the painting had been demolished in the meantime. 

He works from a studio at Newcastle Community Arts Centre and shares the space with other artists. Together they are known as The Seven Painters.

He said working alongside others was very motivating.

“It motivates you because you see how the others approach their work. You learn from their achievements as well as their failures,’’ he said.  

About 12 years ago Finnie began to work digitally as well. 

‘‘It’s a big advantage being a traditional artist because you have all your composition skills and you know about colour, so when you go into the digital world you have a good background behind you.’’

Finnie has been working with an agent in New York for four years to try get some of his digitally illustrated children’s books published. 

‘‘I have been rejected by New York’s best publishers,” he said.

But Finnie remains optimistic about his chances.

‘‘I have about five children’s books that I have finished but because they are a bit unusual we are having a bit of trouble, but unusual is good because it sets them apart from everything else,’’ he said. 

‘‘There is a cultural difference between Australians and Americans. Australians have a sense of humour.’’

The works of Andrew Finnie will be featured in several Newcastle exhibitions in the coming months.

  • Art Systems, Wickham: You’ll Fest, Dec 4 to 20.
  • Gallery 139, Hamilton, Figure It Out, December 9 to December 12.  
  • Nanshe Gallery, Hamilton, January 6  to January 30.
  • Gallery 139, Hamilton, Dogs in Art, January 12 to January 30.