Art, Identity & Place

How wild places, deep time and archaeology inform my contemporary art process


Oil Painting Commission continued

Oil Painting Commission continued into the final stages.

Oil Painting Commission continued into the final stages.

Final Stages

In these last layers I  gradually intensified the colour however at present it is too colourful. I poured several wet in wet colours together hoping they would suggest reflection. Missing is the sense of shallow water although the illusion of varying depth is working. I want the paint fresher and crisper as well as mark making which is too furry in places.  This will come about when I reintroduce grey tones that allow the colour breathing space. Line created with an oil painting stick may definite a statement directly.

The composition also needs another look.  The  vertical triptych format can be made stronger and will flatten the surface as it reads from right to left rather than constructed as though viewed through a perspective window. Each section in the triptych format has its own story about erosion and change witnessed by rock disintegration in stages over time.

Untitled 1, companion to the commissioned oil painting.

Untitled 1, companion to the commissioned oil painting.

Untitled 1, a companion piece to the above painting nears its final stages too as I poured layers onto colour as a way to intensify it although I preferred the previous stage where there was an immediacy and freshness. However once again grey tones will allow colour and line which are elements of the composition to be a focus. This artwork termed a mixed media is less painterly than the above and more graphic so that the introduced frottage is visible and not obscured by paint layering.


Landscape,”…….and See My Etchings”

Early Stage

Yesterday I found an old zinc plate and decided to recycle using the reverse side. This side already coated in resist meant that it was calling out for a line etch, too large for hand done mezzotint but suitable for drypoint. However that was the theory, the practice was different.

The original side upon which were  twenty year old remains of the destroyed plate’s surface due to it being the surface of a limited edition. The surface texture looked very different turned upside down thanks to a fellow printmaker in the Anglesea workshop. We are most fortunate to have two printing presses at the Anglesea Art House and it was fortuitous that the fellow printmaker noticed the marks and texture of the ruined plate.

The top half of the plate already destroyed by open bite, burnish and drypoint balanced the drypoint bottom half.

Zinc etching plateI printed a proof in black ink on Cartridge paper to gauge what imagery remained.

Untitled 1 artist's print

Intaglio untitled 3, 2013, detail

Intaglio untitled 3, 2013, detail

The close up showed the amount of detail and mark making that reminded me of the subject matter in previous posts about my two commissions. This afternoon I saw not the rocks of Point Roadknight but the sides of Karijini Gorge. I recalled Dales Gorge and a particular rock sample at the base of the gorge. It was witness to early layering of red rust sediment thought laid down as oxygen slowly entered the atmosphere that caused the iron laden ocean to rust. The plan now is to burnish strata combined with red chine – colle as a way that may allude to an ancient at least 3 billion year old phenomenon.


Seascape Oil Painting Commission continued

Final Stages

The final stages of this commission take form as I threw paint, texture and line into the composition that now looks too busy and requires more focus on the statement.  Colour was an important factor for the person who commissioned this work as he asked me to include indigo. Very definite colour as a significant element in the composition often means that detailed shape and form take a back seat. My aim now is to simplify some of the textural areas, strengthen the composition without losing the organic animated gestural marks intended to live life to the image. The grey values also visually give intense colour space.

Oil painting Commission continued into the final stages.

Oil painting Commission continued into the final stages.

Companion Painting to the Commission

I enjoy the process of imaging several versions of an image. The untitled image measurements are 90 x 120 cm and is also an oil on canvas (linen). The painting in middle stage development is about the particular way a horizontal layer of chalky yellow rock forms an entablature-like shape that has weathered incrementally to its present position situated halfway along the length of the point (Point Roadknight).  On the sea side of the gap a remnant piece of rock  adjacent to an intact outcrop  kept in place by the soil and tree roots above it looked bare and solitary as weathering has removed above layers. Bare bones of rock washed by the tides are home to marine life on this section of the point; one side of the gap terrestrial life on the other marine.

Unfinished middle stage, Untitled 1, 2013,  oil and mixed media on canvas.

Unfinished middle stage, Untitled 1, 2013, oil and mixed media on canvas 90×120 cm

Second Oil Painting Commission

Fortunately another commission resulted from the first one described above. The subject matter taken from the same place named Point Roadknight situated along the Great Ocean Road is a fascinating, dramatic structure that changes visually due to tides and weather conditions and structurally because of relentless weathering and erosion. It’s almost as though my photographs, painting and etchings are witness to this process.

I think I’m at the late early stage where movement and gesture predominate and keep the image looking fresh within these layers. The aim is to retain this immediate fresh impression as the layers build up.

2nd Commission, unfinished early stage, Untitled 2, 2013, oil on canvas on board.

2nd Commission, unfinished early stage, Untitled 2, 2013, oil on canvas on board 90×122 cm

In the painting my focus is also on the terrestrial edge of this halfway gap along the rock formation. I will refer to last years photographic records as many of the ‘entablatures’ and ‘ columns’ washed away by rain, wind and sea show scars of their former location. We have in Australia one of if not the most fragile of coastlines in the world.

This area is a small section of the Great Ocean Road which is under consideration and part of a campaign for world heritage protection which if successful would put it on par with the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland and Kakadu in the Northern Territory.

In 2011 I completed a series of etching, chine-colle and collage titled Return to Sand and Water where I depicted images of this process of loss and change and likened it to my process of painting. The images can be viewed at desterreart.com.au as well as in my shop/gallery on Etsy named ElainedEsterre. There are also 5 images that resulted from my Kakadu trip which are part of a series of artwork titled An Archaeology of Landscape. The complete Archaeology of Landscape may be viewed at desterreart.com.au