B r i a n S t r a t t o n O A M
For the past 58 years, I have exhibited in every annual exhibition for the Institute. Through these years, my work has evolved, my early works being based on observation and drawing followed by years of painting directly onto wet paper, creating spontaneous, inventive impressionistic works. Using a similar process, I produced abstract paintings, which contributed to the strengthening and appreciation of the design basis of my later paintings.
My works of ‘sand, sticks and stone’ have their genesis some 30 years ago when I returned to drawing, the arrangement of shapes, overall pattern, and heightened colour becoming paramount in my paintings. Over the past decade, I have also enjoyed painting the Outback with its deserts, desolation and ghost towns. With maturity, one’s perceptions change and perhaps one evolves from painting watercolours to painting with watercolour.
Brian Stratton began part-time art studies at North Sydney Technical College in 1952 and subsequently attended the National Art School from 1953 to 1957. Here, he considered the most influential teachers were Alfred Cook and Douglas Dundas. He was appointed a full-time teacher of Art in the New South Wales Department of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) in 1962, retiring as Senior Head Teacher in 1989 to paint full-time.
He has been awarded over 250 art prizes and numerous commendations, including the Mercedes Benz Prize for Watercolours (1981, 1988); four Rothmans Foundation Awards (1987–1991); the Grenfell Henry Lawson Statuette For Art (1990, 1994); Open Award, Currabubula Art Show (1993, 1994); Watercolour Prize, Bright, Victoria (1998, 2003); Open Award Kiama (2008, 2010); Open Award Central Coast Festival of the Arts (2008); Watercolour Prize, Central Coast Festival (2009); the Thora Ungar Memorial Award (2009) and the Watercolour Prize and Margaret Fesq Memorial Prize, Royal Agricultural Society (2013).
A winner of the 2010 Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial Exhibition Award of Excellence, Stratton was invited to hold the inaugural solo show, Sand, Sticks and Stone, in the International Watercolour Masters’ Exhibition series, Shanghai, China, in 2011. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Award of Excellence at the Shenzhen International Watercolour Biennial, and the Jury’s Prize for Excellence in the 2018 Taiwan World Watercolour Competition.
Stratton’s work was the subject of an article in Inspirations and Technical Breakthroughs: Secrets from the Contemporary International Watercolour Masters, Vol. IV, by Zhou Tianya and Ruan Hoe, published by Jilin Fine Arts Press, China, 2016.
Elected a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute in 1961 and made a Life Member in 1989, Brian Stratton served as AWI President 1964-1972 and 2006-2009. He became a Fellow of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales in 1964 and was a Foundation Member of the City of Ryde Art Society in 1959, served as President from 1962 to 1969 and became a Life Member in 1968.
Brian Stratton was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2006 for service to art as a painter and educator and to professional organisations, including the Australian Watercolour Institute.