Maxwell Wilks was born in Melbourne, Victoria. He worked in the Graphic Arts Industry and then studied drawing at the National Gallery School under John Brack and Ian Armstrong. Commercial Design was studied at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and oil painting with the Artist Shirley Bourne.
Since 1982 Maxwell has painted full-time, mainly in oil and more recently in pastel. For some years he was a Council Member of the Victorian Artists Society in Melbourne and was elected a Fellow of the Society. He was Chairman of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society for seven years. The Society is one of the earliest established exhibiting group of painters in Melbourne.
Maxwell taught at the Victorian Artists Society for 16 years taking two classes a week teaching oil painting from life, and currently teaches oil and pastel painting at the University of Southern Queensland for two weeks each January. He also conducts a number of landscape oil and pastel workshops during the year.
Maxwell has chosen to follow the representational style of painting because of his strong emotional response to the effects of light, colour, atmosphere and form. In the tradition of Australian landscape artists he usually paints directly from
his subject and as a consequence his paintings have a fresh and immediate quality.
His objective for each painting is to enable to observe, select and clarify the subject to a simple set of tonal shapes which are then combined with colour and good draftsman ship to capture the mood and sensitivity of the subject.
His main influences are the exciting works by the French Impressionists such as Monet, Pissarro, Manet and Sisley, who leave the viewer completely absorbed in the mood of each scene, by capturing a fleeting moment in time. Whistler, Sargent and Sickert also provide inspiration because of their creative skills in handling their medium and their exciting choice of subject matter.