Chris White


Chris’ painting career started partly as a result of frequent family excursions in the Victorian countryside leading to a lifelong love of the landscape, which still remains his prime motivation, particularly the west coast and north east Victoria.

His 40-year painting career has earnt him over 70 awards in Oil Painting, including two silver medals at Camberwell Rotary Art Show, the McCubbin Award 3 times, the Streeton Award 3 times, and the Heysen Award in South Australia.

His work is represented in numerous public and private collections here and overseas and his portraits have been accepted for the Archibald Prize exhibition on the three occasions he has entered.

Chris started his career in advertising art, changing direction to art teaching from which he retired in 2003 to pursue painting full-time.  A simultaneous career has seen equal success as a theatrical performer, the designer and director, earning him the Victorian Music Theatre Guild Award for design on six occasions.  As a secondary school teacher, he produced and directed 20 annual musical productions, 18 of them at Warrandyte High School, and a further 10 for various amateur and professional companies.

Since retiring from the Victorian Education Department he has been painting and designing professionally for the past 15 years.  Chris has also had strong association with Box Hill having grown up and educated here. At the age of 15 he won the Goya National Art Prize, from 50 finalists from all states of Australia and twelve months later commended in the Corio 5-Star Prize at the Geelong Gallery. At that stage of his artistic development, his style was non–figurative abstraction, which, over the years, has seen a metamorphic reversal into realism.

His painting he described as romantic impressionism and prefers the strong light of early morning and the last light of day.  He stresses the importance of working directly from the motif while emphasising a strong technical and traditional approach to his craft.  His habitual method of working is to produce one or two small works on location and larger works in his studio, although sometimes these are blocked in en plein air.  He strongly believes in not manipulating the compositional elements and prefers to be as accurate as possible in the anecdotal detail before him.  In this way his truth to subject suggests the importance of his lifelong love of place.

While appreciating all painting styles, his strongest influences include Sargeant, Velasquez, Corot, Monet and of course the Heidelberg School. Chris divides his time today between painting in his studio in Eltham or travelling to his favourite haunts in Victoria and NSW. He also designs and paints theatrical settings, being regularly called-upon to lecture on stage design and stagecraft.