Painting with soul – Gina Davey

Written by April Spadina

When Gina Davey sent her artwork to Sydney to contend in the prestigious Archibald Prize, she had no idea it would be the subject of a massive man hunt over a period of months!

Gina’s gigantic painting of the then Acting Prime Minster Warren Truss was lost in the halls of the Art Gallery of NSW and over the next few months it evaded the frantic search party, completely unbeknown to Gina.

Gina will never know the adventures her painting went on, but she will always have that impressive story to tell and enhance the fact she was chosen as a contender in the prize that thousands of Australians strive to achieve annually.

Gina is up there with the best, and as a multi award-winning artist, she is delightfully humble and shy about her achievements. There is no need for her to boast of her talents, her art speaks for itself with richness and depth.

With a background in dance and ballet and a love for bonsai gardening, it’s understandable Gina would have a meticulous eye for detail. Her exquisite paintings are full of emotion and soul, a quality she achieves by only choosing subjects that stir her own emotions. Her technique involves layer upon layer of brushstrokes and working in oils means the paint must dry between each layer, therefore it can be months or even years before a piece is complete.

Equally her pencil and charcoal drawings are intricate and time consuming with layers of cross hatching to build up the contours and bring the art to life. Her wildlife paintings are so intricate, you feel you could reach in and run your fingers through the bristly fur. Her human portraiture contains a depth of character that tells a story. She has a way of capturing something behind the eyes, a fleeting moment of thought, a glint of light, a hint of suggestion, those things that make you stop and ask questions of the subject. That is what sets Gina’s artwork aside and gives her another layer of richness to her paintings – the emotional layer.

Gina has mastered the art of creating looseness in her style, amid all the control and attention to detail. This can only be achieved by “destroying” her first stage of the painting by splattering, scraping, and messing up the detailed initial layers. She then rebuilds, only allowing the pieces that makes her heartstrings tremble until she has seen the full effect of her re-invention. This technique is how she makes you fall into her art and swim amongst the layers.

Gina so perfectly describes her whole process as “a dance of art” and through music, painting, sculpture and pure heart, she creates a beautiful ballet on canvas.