STUDENT MEMBER / MOUTH PAINTER
My name is Geoff Dossetor. I was born in 1967 in Melbourne and lived there until completing my education. Throughout secondary school I was particularly interested in sport and graphic design. I decided to pursue my love of sport and eventually graduated from university with studies in Physical Education and teaching.
I had been interested in Hang Gliding for some time and after completing university I took some lessons. Immediately hooked on flying, I spent as much time Hang Gliding as possible over the next twelve years. My flying passion became my job when I started instructing in the early Nineties.
I introduced over 5000 people to Hang Gliding through instruction and by taking them tandem flying, most of which I did living in Queenstown, New Zealand. I was quite successful in various forms of Hang Gliding competition, representing both Australia and New Zealand, winning two World Cup events and several national championships throughout the world. I appeared in television productions featuring Hang Gliding and wrote regular articles for magazines, sometimes with cartoons I had sketched.
After years of flying safely, a freak accident in 2001 changed my life. A passenger’s arm swung through and struck my neck when we stopped suddenly upon landing. Fortunately my passenger was uninjured but I had been left a quadriplegic. While many aspects of my life dissolved around me, I was introduced to painting in 2005 using a brush held in my mouth. I sent some of my early acrylic paintings to the New Zealand branch of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA). I was fortunate enough to be offered a student membership of the MFPA in 2007. I learnt a great deal from several local artists around where I lived in Queenstown, NZ, attempting a variety of paintings using oils and also gouache. I still receive advice from those mentors over the Internet.
I returned to live in Melbourne towards the end of 2007. Being a solo parent of my young daughter, I wanted to be closer to family and friends from where I grew up. During the time it took to settle back into city life, I decided to concentrate on oil paintings. Though I had moved from an area of natural beauty, there are many inspirations for my art around Melbourne. Shops, galleries, parks, buildings and local events all capture my imagination. I like to take art classes and sometimes join with painting groups, though mostly I paint at home. The AGRA Gallery is very close so I see a new realist exhibition every fortnight amongst many others taking place regularly throughout Melbourne. I can often be seen speeding around the Camberwell area in my wheelchair with my daughter riding on my lap on the way to one of her many activities.
I enjoy painting landscapes, real and imaginary scenes, buildings, people and the occasional flower. I imagine I will always be learning and developing my skills, knowledge and artistic tastes. I still consider myself very much at the beginning of my artistic journey.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Tell me a little about yourself… where are you from, where did you grow up.. what was your childhood like?
I am from Melbourne. Born here, educated here, studying Physical Education/mathematics major (Bachelor of Education) at tertiary level. Travelled extensively as a professional hang glider pilot throughout the 90s, based predominantly in Queenstown, NZ.
How did you first hear about MFPA?
I used to buy Christmas cards from the MFPA that I received in the mail before my spinal-cord injury. I thought it was a positive thing to do for people in that situation.
What inspired you to join MFPA?
After my accident, I met a student mouth painting artist who encouraged meto give it a try. After submitting my first 6 paintings, I was offered a student membership of the Association.
Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?
Unique. Though I appreciate lots of different art forms, everyone has different tastes and styles. My style is my own.
What is your artistic medium of choice? Why that medium?
I like to paint with oils, and more recently with water-soluble oils. I prefer their slower drying times as I often work slowly.
What has been your most touching or amazing moment you’ve experienced as an artist?
Attending the MFPA conference in Singapore. Being a part of the group exhibition and meeting so many amazing people/artists was a special experience.
What other artists have been inspirational to you in your work?
Lesser-known artists who helped me appreciate art prior to my accident were Queenstown-based Angus Watson and Ivan Clarke, then my early mentors and fellow MFPA members. I enjoy seeing all kinds of art though I particularly appreciate works by Impressionists and Realists. Colley Whisson and Richard Robinson are two modern Impressionists who have taught me a lot through their literature and lessons.
What’s your favourite art work?
I have a painting given tomeby Ivan Clarke, an impressionistic rendition of the road we both lived on beneath Coronet Peak near Queenstown. We were neighbours at the time. I painted my own version of a similar scene outside the house I used to own.
What is your dream project?
To paint a landscape en plein air in warm, windless conditions.
On average, how long does it take to finish a painting?
It varies. Some of my best paintings have been completed within a day or two, while others sometimes take months (especially if the subjectis daunting).
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
I would be honoured to be compared to any good impressionist artist.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
How to mix colours from a basic palette.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To create artwork that makes people smile or identify with.
What would you say to any aspiring MFPA artists?
Give it a try and keep learning, the learning never stops.