Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Exhibition time

My constant fascination, and the subject of my work, has been intricate detail in nature. The works, are mostly inspired by photos that I take while out walking in the Australian landscape. The photos range from very close up views, using a macro lens, photos for example of the structure of a leaf, a seed head or a fungus, to views of groups of objects, taken from a few metres away. Because of the view, the work can appear either seemingly abstract, or reasonably recognisable.

Over the past few years I have chosen a particular facet of nature and then created a body of work which explores that facet, every 2 years, exhibiting the results in a solo exhibition. Four years ago, the work was all about patterns in shore platforms while two years ago, I explored the intricacies of the leaf. Now, having been working away since that time, my latest pieces, on the theme of Australia’s High Country are ready for exhibition (see invitation below).

Whilst the majority of the photos I have used for reference were taken in Victoria and around Mt Erica, north of Moe, some are from NSW and others from Tasmania. Working on this exhibition has been an opportunity to revel in exploring and then sharing my delight in the enormous diversity and beauty of the surface textures, summer flowers, fruit and foliage and above all the stunning bark of the Snow Gums that the High Country has to offer.

I have never wanted to work in only 1 medium and so have always chosen to create a variety of different types of works, within my chosen theme, including prints (lino cuts and collagraphs), drawings, paintings and mixed media works, as the photos illustrate.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Snow Gums

The four oil paint and string pieces for the alpine theme of my current body of work, came together quite easily but the last two, which were just oil paint have been an epic struggle. All six paintings were inspired by the amazing, colourful bark of Snow Gums and referenced from photos I took while walking at Mt Erica, about 2 hours drive east of Melbourne. Some of the photos were taken only centimetres from the bark, some at about 1 metre away and others from 3 or 4 metres. The paintings too reflect this macro, intermediate and broader view.

It was the intermediate view that I struggled with the most. I wanted to give an impression of the typical colours and mottled nature of different coloured strips of bark. But I also wanted to emphasise the beautiful and distinctive folding that occurs on the trunks of some of the more mature trees.

Achieving my goals, were quiet another matter and weeks were spent messing about in a haze of dissatisfaction, not helped by a lack of art time and ready mixed containers of paint going tacky.  The colours weren’t subtle enough. The folds didn’t jump out enough. I kept on looking at the canvases and shaking my head.

Finally, I had a clear space with no family commitments and no dramas so I painted for six days straight, and at last the job was done.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

String and lino

Two of the string paintings are done and others are still on the way. It has been a very Stop –Start business as art time has been constrained by a myriad of other duties imposing themselves on my life. I use quite thin oil paint and like to mix up small tubs, which will last up to two weeks if sealed when not in use, of the colours I will need. The paint does eventually go thick and sticky and I have to start the process again. When there are too few art days in the week to warrant paint mixing for the canvases, I work on other things.

The latest task has been to finish cutting a lino plate, which is very fiddly and painful and has been on the go for several months. Out came the trusty, rather grubby and slightly leaky hot water bottle again. I have tried putting the plates out in the sun on hot days but they just don’t stay hot for long enough for me, so the hot water bottle it is. I can get almost an hour out of that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Sticky fingers

There has been yet another prolonged silence with a wonderful overseas trip and then much family stuff conspiring to limit my art output. There is always some progress, but much of it has been finishing off drawings and prints and so, I thought, not of great interest.

However, I recently embarked on a series of paintings, inspired by photos of snow gums that I took at Mt Erica (see examples below). 

Four of the six paintings incorporate 2 grades of string plus some finer embroidery cotton, to create depth. So, yet again, Step 1 of the process has involved much stickiness as I apply the thread prior to painting.

I use Impasto Gel as my glue. It is great, just very sticky. I use a paintbrush to attach the string to the canvas and scissors to cut it to the correct size but I do have to use my fingers to move the more fiddly joins etc into position, from time to time too. A white rubbery substance builds up along the paintbrush, scissors, surrounding bench top and me as the glue dries, and we all stick to each other. I do keep a wet cloth to hand but even so, I sometimes find myself out in public, surreptitiously trying to scrape bits I have missed in my clean-up, from my fingers, hands and even face, after a session in the studio.

Below is one of the canvases with the thread part completed. Very abstract looking, I know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Making monoprints

Apart from the usual work on collagraphs that are in progress and finishing off drawings, the latest venture has been completion of a monoprint piece, made up of 3, 20 x 20 cms parts. It follows the theme of the High Country, and is referenced from photos I took of native beech leaves, in the forests of Mt Erica (near Baw Baw), one of my favourite walking places. Years ago, we used to walk to the summit there and sit and enjoy a panoramic view over the mountains of the Great Divide, stretching away in varying shades of blue towards the horizon. 

Now the walk near the mountain top is through snow gums which have grown back since cattle stopped grazing there in summer, and the panoramic view has gone. I do miss it, though of course the snow gums are beautiful too, with their vivid bark colours in never-endingly different patterns, tempting me to take just one more photograph.

The work is not just monoprint. Like all of my bright ideas, it involves lots of painstakingly cut details, collaged onto the monoprinted leaves, as well as some coloured pencil work.