Colour explosion

By Jessica Ball

If the walls of Tony Nardella’s home could talk, they would tell tales of his two loves: family and art.

Hung beside his children’s wedding photos and happy snaps of his grandchildren are just some of his favourite artworks.

There is an abstract piece he created with printer’s ink, his visualisation of the Kimberley Rockies and his nephew’s ceramics.

Tony is a proud family man, and is equally as passionate about his art.

Among his collection is his very first piece. Inspired by the moon landing, the then-16-year-old used hot metal to create his interpretation of the moon’s surface.

“Even as a kid I used to muck around with pastels and texta pens and then printer’s inks when I started my apprenticeship in 1969,” Tony said.

But it wasn’t until three years ago, when he was recovering from surgery, that he found alcohol inks.

“I was suffering from a bit of depression and I went into the shed,” he said.

“You don’t think about the pain, you think about your art.

“I’d spend hours in the shed and it gradually got better.”

Now, most nights after dinner Tony heads out to his shed and gets lost in the magic.

“In the summer, geez I would spend hours,” he said.

“I just love being in the shed, I take a bottle of wine with me, or I take some scotch.”

With a single drop of alcohol ink, Tony can create a vibrant colour explosion.

Add another or a drop of isopropyl and the colours begin to blend together forming new colours.

A chemical reaction is transpiring.

Each piece of Poly Art, Yupo, glass or ceramics is an unpredictable blank canvas.

“I love the way the inks form when they blend into each other,” Tony said.

“It’s all mystic, you don’t know what the finished product is going to be, you don’t know where it’s going to go, you don’t know how it’s going to affect another colour.”

Tony creates layer upon layer of colour by manipulating the inks.

He uses air — a hairdryer or a straw — or gravity, tilting at different angles, to change the flow; cotton buds to add minute details; and isopropyl spray for a misty effect.

“I experiment all of the time,” he said.

“I use different techniques, I try different things.

“I might use a brush, which you don’t normally use a brush with alcohol inks but I might be able to change things with a brush.

“And if it doesn’t work, I’ll just add more alcohol and more ink and I can change the texture again to something completely different.”

Even once the painting is dry, Tony can change the final product with a different colour, more ink or isopropyl. And if he still doesn’t like it, he will just turn it over and start again.

For Tony art is a hobby, but if he sells a piece that means he has more space to create something new.

He can often be found at the Tocumwal market but he is still amazed every time someone asks him to create a commission piece.

For more information, like Tootsie Art on Facebook or follow @Tootsies_Art on Instagram.