Art, Identity & Place

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


Frottage Beginnings

Background

This mixed media painting began with frottage on suitable paper when I placed it over indentations at Lake Mungo and rubbed the surface with charcoal and graphite. Early days but this image developed very quickly when I obscured most of the frottage with too much gesso laden with graphite and pastel. I rotated the image to a landscape format  in keeping with a long sand dune. With the changed compositional format I blocked in the basic shape of the frottage and placed it into an abstracted landscape, tore away pieces of paper leaving en etched look that could allude to the eroded condition of the dunes known as The Walls of China. After pouring thin layers of opaque paint over parts of the composition I faded parts of it and then emphasised other small areas with highlights and red chalk.

 

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Artwork with Frottage

Background for Underpainting

Stage 1

The frottage for this painting ( 98×120 cm)  is a technique which allows me to connect with the landscape. The place was Lake Mungo in NSW. Particular parts of landscape marked the paper when I either rubbed a soft piece of charcoal and/or graphite across the surface that moulded the surface beneath revealing its texture or by another method placing wet paper into soil which over a short time stains the paper. Then later back in my studio I incorporate the frottage into larger paintings.

I began with a gesso washed and soaked frottage in order to seal the paper from later oil painted layers, a method to prevent discolouration and rot.

The triptych-like frottage shows three different textures. One was taken from a rock and rubbed with a mixture of graphite, compressed charcoal and water, the middle texture was a mixture of stain and a rubbing done over the clay surface in front of the dune called The Walls of China and in the third I tried to take sand imprints. That technique required an ink surface onto which randomly scattered sand was meant to absorb the ink which when dry would blow off leaving a dotted pitted surface (not totally successful).

 


Painting stages for “Under the Image” (incomplete)

Background

This image developed from a torn up etching and a gessoed board, the surface for a painting demonstration six months ago. (We experimented with oil paint and how with triple and double loaded palette knives and brushes it could be manipulated to form the textures that characterise much of the Australian landscape).

The image is about how I feel as I find a way to represent the landscape and artist.  I like to imagine the earth as seen from beneath as though from some sort of underground position.  I create imagined textures that allude to the geology of the site and how this sometimes reflects the above ground terrain because I want the artist to be marked by the earth and landscape.

The painting process is incomplete because I prefer the image titled “Middle stage” where the forms and movement are more dynamic. The last image has become static so when it dries

the next few paint layers will hopefully be an improvement with more tension so that it looks as though I am ’embracing’ the landscape while at the same time I see the world upside down as the landscape imprints in my mind.

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