Located in Newcastle, Rod Bathgate is arguably Australia's best pastel artist. Photo-like complicated compositions detailing light, water effects, beachscapes and the country with figurative aspects.
Rod has always been interested in art since he was a small child. Both his parents painted and drew. It was inevitable that Rod would find some paper and pencils and begin sketching from a very early age.
He had a deep interest in the old masters of the European Renaissance and the Baroque.
Through his schooling he was privileged to have very enthusiastic art teachers. Most were painters, some were poets and others came from different fields like sculpture and printmaking.
Rod’s time in the National Art School in Newcastle from 1977 to 1981 was exciting and gave him an opportunity to find a particular field that interested him. The fashion in 1977 was German expressionism but Rod’s desire was to learn painting and drawing skills ensuring a good grounding in realism and traditional techniques.
As these were not being taught at the time he found himself having to develop his skills through a series of trial and error exercises. Although disappointed in the lack of focus in this area Rod was exposed to many other fields in art school; such as printmaking [etching and silk screening], photography and conceptual and kinetic sculpture. So, I never considered my time there as ever wasted.
Coinciding with his Diploma and Post Graduate Diploma, Rod went to Tech. college and gained a journeyman certificate in signwriting he used this skill to work all over the country. For a time Rod worked with a trade sign writer in Nelson Bay, which led to many years painting sideshows and carnival backdrops.
In 1988 Rod launched into pastels as a serious field. He found the medium very natural and soon developed a naturalistic/quasi photo real style of seascape where his focus was dappled sunlight in shallow water. After a short while he established his 'signature' in pastels with water being the main subject.
Ever since then he has honed his pastel skills as well as illustration and cartooning [which he loved from a very early age].
Rod works predominately in pastels these days. He enjoys all mediums including oils, acrylics, gouache and of course pencil and pen and ink.
Rod believes he will never tire of the work he does. There are always new insights and things to learn about the medium and his subjects.