Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


Commission – Homage to Joan Miro/at Fairhaven for the Duration, 2018

The last stages always take more time for me than the early stage with their rush of inspiration. The other tricky thing has been the time it has taken for my hand eye coordination to click in so that I could depict fine lines and details in a graphic linear style, not my usual way of painting where random textures and washes of tone and colour are strong elements of the composition.Having been quite hesitant i slowly became more meditative as concentrating on drawing fine line work had a calming effect.

i felt that the right hand side of the image looked too fiddley and slightly disconnected from the white table shape. And shapes in the lower section seemed a bit floaty and needed more weight and anchoring into the composition.

I carried the musical notes across the composition and across the table surface, removed a shape on the right opening up the space so that small white Ladybird beetle tracks joined to the other pictorial elements without cluttering the space.

The duration of the annual holiday at Fairhaven on the Surfcoast in Victoria, Australia is a time of relaxation, celebration and summer activities whether in-door catchup of movies and books or outdoor sport or gardening pursuits  but in the background is the threat of bushfire. Rather than depict ominous signs in the landscape I depicted a Ladybird beetle in the right hand section of the composition and small flames appearing beneath a tent on the far right-hand side.

Below is a slide show of the painting’s progress.

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Commission-a homage to Joan Miro (stage five)

The next stage of the process was a gradual blocking in of composition elements and objects, emphasising some and placing them so that the composition remained coherent.

I felt that at this stage things looked too spacious but once built up and nearer completion I would have achieved my aim.

Having filled in most areas and made small adjustments to some objects – fading some and delineated others I felt that the composition now looked too busy. So back to scumbling over unnecessary line work, fading back other linear elements and painting over other objects and simplifying others so that I could stand back and re assess the composition as a whole.

Still too busy so let it dry. I am finding that this style of painting without my usual textural passages of various paint thickness and viscosities is such a change and seems more contemplative, less emotional and not as energetic as control of paint application consists of careful rendering as opposed to sweeping layers of paint with a trowel across the canvas. There’s something more relaxing about having this much control nothing left to chance here.


Commission-Homage to Joan Miro (fourth stage)

This stage has been the most frustrating so far as I considered the lower part of the background that depicted or suggested aspects of a beach scene to look too brown. After a day or so pondering and hoping that i would change my mind and like the brown I sought advice from a discerning advisor. We both gave it the thumbs down.

So a careful sanding and application of a veil of transparent white over the brown would fix the problem and allow for a more transparent and slightly more pink/orange overpainting.

 

 

 

 

 

I retained the yellow sunlit sky but carefully scumbled and then softly rubbed on the veil resulting in a bleached area that still allowed for the shape, line and lettering beneath to show through.

The glaze mixture consisted of Pilbara red and golden-yellow both transparent/semi transparent but with any Burnt sienna this time leaving a more orange transparency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once dry overpainting of figurative and text elements could begin. Lettering was my main concern so I employed as a careful rendition is not my forte. While there are strong linear elements in my compositions I mostly use oil painting sticks which leave a broken line or hatching combined with overpainting or sometimes compressed charcoal integrated into textural areas. Other line techniques include loaded round brush stroke or sometimes just squeezing out paint straight from the tube or making a line from a trowel edge. Or printed lines or string lines lifted from the paint surface or lines painted with the aid of masking tape, anything but hand drawn exact lines that cannot smudge as this painting requires the glaze surface to have as little disruption as possible. Luckily a skilled friend was at hand and  partly sketched in the text “Fairh’ (short for Fairhaven) and drew in some lines that indicated the figure.

I’ve been careful letting it dry before the easier lines and pictorial aspects can be blocked in before further layers strengthen the shapes and images.


Commission – Homage to Joan Miro (third stage)

This stage has been about glazes and very lightly rubbing them over impasto scumbled areas.

One third across the earth coloured surface and I have a slightly glowing bruised brown made from a mixture of burnt sienna, raw sienna and Pilbara red that are mainly transparent colours. Raw sienna modified the colours that cast to an orange tinge.

Close up of section of glaze.

Gradually covering the area.

Fully covered. I still think it needs more depth so when dry, I will lightly sand and apply another glaze. Likewise l think the sky needs more glow, however without all objects in the composition that will be rendered in a flat graphic manner it is a tricky process because those contrasts alter the way glazed textures look. Out in the winter sun drying before the next layer.


Commission – Homage to Joan Miro (second stage)

Once the under painting dried I selected a mixture of burnt sienna and a touch of Pilbara red to glaze in by rubbing the landscape area in the composition.

Text (“Fairh”) short for Fairhaven, in lower right required some refinement.

Then I lightly sanded the upper area before I rubbed in a very thin Pilbara red and scumbled in a light pink.

When the lower area dried I thought it looked a bit dull so I scumbled a pink in parts.

When this thoroughly dries I can glaze burnt sienna over it that should produce an orange brown. At this stage objects diminish as the colour takes over. Also felt that the composition required more balance on left side so I’m thinking of placing Miro’s octopus-like image floating in the sky of ‘Catalan Landscape’ in this spot. Once background colours dry all the interesting over painted detail can be emphasised in a graphic way. Still a way to go yet. Just trying to approximate the bruised but orange background and a quite acid but glowing yellow of the sky takes time because of successive layering but worth the effort.


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COMMISSION – Homage to Joan Miro (first stage)

Background

This client had fallen in love with the art work of Surrealist artist Joan Miro and asked me if it was possible to come up with an image that was homage to his work but not a replica or copy but somehow retain something of my style too. It would be an interesting challenge because I tried to absorb ideas and techniques from Max Ernst, Paul Klee and Joan Miro as an art student and still traces remain.

 

We both chose Miro’s The Hunter ( Catalan Landscape ) as a guide regarding the colour and aspects of the composition with colour and line elements taking precedence. Texture as an element was the background onto which lines and flat shapes were used to depict objects and figures. The dimension of the Miro was 60×90 cm approximately but my client’s painting required to measure 90×150 cm meant that too close a resemblance to the Miro would never work. Instead of a Catalan landscape I said I’d come up with something else and bring it up to Melbourne when the painting was in early stages and see if colour, composition and subject were acceptable because changing the size may have made colour intensity too much and space elements may spread, loosing compact design and focus. I wondered whether or not the sky’s intensity would be a bit overpowering transferred to a large canvas.


Instead of a background Catalan Landscape I chose a Surf Coast scene at Fairhaven.

Underpainting

Detailed objects refer to each client’s activities and personalities, beginning the journey of homage to Miro meets the Fairhaven crew.