Elaine d'Esterre

Contemporary Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


Revisit sketchbook from Kakadu and Nitmiluk continued

From sketchbook to work on paper

My sketchbook images were reference for larger images mainly because I usually capture energy and movement in the initial mark making. Several images done on folded Fabriano print making paper meant that being absorbent the fibers would retain my application of pastel staining. Large pastel stick grated with my Stanley box cutter knife stained and bled into damp paper but also mixed in water like a slurry. Because the paper was tough and absorbent I made lines into which colour accumulated by gouging into the paper with the blunt side of my knife. For example:

Flood plain at Anbangbang Billabong

Sketch in ink pen from Anbangbang Billabong

Sketch in ink pen from Anbangbang Billabong

Two parts of this landscape captured my attention. Firstly the hole in one end of the background rock formation that reminded me of an eye. It felt as though we were being watched from afar. The other part was the dry billabong where triangle-shaped debris made of dry vegetation caught on sticks and branches. Swept into these shapes by a raging torrent in the previous wet season, they scattered across the flood plain . The other element captured was heat haze on the plain with blue sky. The pastel image with jagged lines resembling teeth may have been influenced sub-consciously by warnings to watch out for crocodiles.


Revisit old sketchbook, artwork from Kakadu and Nitmiluk

I revisited my Kakadu influenced artwork when a recent TV programme investigated park ranger’s work at Kakadu and Nitmiluk National Parks during the wet season that made possible safe passage for dry season visitors.

My previous series of works involved archaeological sites and Museums in Crete so the word “archaeology ” was fresh in my mind and also suggested by a fellow painter as part of the series title which is An Archaeology of Landscape. The reason was that I metaphorically connected the forces of nature and those of the archaeologist and miner. Both pare back layers of overburden although time’s span obviously vary to reveal essential structures or objects; the earth’s structures like ancient ruins and relics like specific types of rock.

As a dry season visitor and member of a painting group my immediate sketches were produced on site in gorges, beside billabongs and outliers. Frottage technique of rubbing pencil over a surface covered with paper as well earth staining paper from wet rice or handmade paper was another way to bring back to my studio impressions from this place.