As the colours of spring continue to infuse our landscapes, this week we are celebrating colourist, artist and designer Ken Done. One of Australia’s iconic artists, his whimsical style and bold colour palette are infectious. His works quintessentially capture the Australian landscape with a playful and nostalgic approach.
Born in 1940 in Mclean, New South Wales, he moved with his family to Sydney at the age of 14, where he left school and became the youngest ever student to attend the National Art School. His studies took him into advertising where he spent most of the 1960’s working abroad until he realised that he could no longer contend with the cold, grey skies of the Big Smoke and decided to move back to a sun-drenched Sydney with his wife Judy.
Perched on the cliffs of the Lower North Shore surrounded by coastal blue waters and native flora, he witnessed the building of the Opera House and skyscrapers shaping the Sydney skyline. It was this landscape that began fuelling his inspiration for his art practice.
He was also captivated by the exquisite natural light that engulfed the skies and felt the need to capture it, so he began painting at the age of 40 and had his first solo exhibition in 1980.
Working mainly with oils and acrylic paints, his paintings reveal his intrinsic ability to understand colour, shapes, and tones as he effortlessly captures the vivid and expansive Australian landscapes. His paintings echo a childlike affection that is highly saturated and whimsically nostalgic, giving permission to surrender to the art of playfulness.
His works are joyously contagious reflecting an Australian sensibility as well as the significance of how colour positively impacts well being and our emotional senses.
In the early 1980s, Ken and his wife set up ‘Done Designs’. An exciting time for Australian Tourism, his artworks became commercially viable worldwide and he became a cultural icon for capturing the Australian charm within fashion and interiors.
And after 50 years they are celebrating his continued collaborations….
Ken Done’s bright lyrical lines represent an optimism and capture an Australian charm that is universally appealing. He continues to paint and is currently exhibiting his works created during the pandemic in his studio in Sydney, Australia. We hope you too are inspired by his creative flair and boldness!
“No art speak, no theory, just painting and drawing everyday, what a joy. I was so young I called everybody Mr or Mrs and I’m forever grateful for my parents allowing me to leave school at fourteen and a half and then to be accepted into the art school. Forever there will be theories and questions about art, I think there are only two criteria: one, that you should like it yourself and two, that it should have the power to give pleasure over a long period of time.”
– Ken Done