Art, Identity & Place

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


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Thinking about Painting

 

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‘Thinking about Painting’ and its process is a topic that I try to depict every now and then. I like to imagine different moments when between viewing the subject and then turning away, retaining aspects of the image before the hand conveys it to paint and canvas.

The black light globe indicates the moment when the artist looks from the subject and is momentarily ‘blinded’ as thoughts turn inward to the imagination where the mind delivers aspects of the remembered image to another mental place. One eye is obscured as thoughts about paint and how its qualities and manipulations are organised before the hand moves to depict some of the image. At the same time the warm colours situated on the artist’s head indicate the ‘ah ha’ moment when the remembered image and paint manipulation coalesce.

The composition became clearer as I moved through layers going from more detailed and complex to simplified. I often  put too much into the composition but usually cut away unnecessary detail eventually. Colour as an elements receded as I used a tonal less busy paint combination.


Mungo Lunette oil & mixed media – first stage

I placed frottage application of BFK Rives with compressed charcoal and graphite onto the canvas with gesso and then brushed some diluted gesso over the frottage.

The first two images are details showing different paint viscosities blending and forming different wet in wet texture.

The third image is the complete composition and the last is the first stage before paint viscosities form different textures.


Grated oxide pastel combined with gesso also made earthy texture. Powdered red oxide also has a similar effect but more intense so I use it sparingly.

I want to avoid over-working this one and keep the dry parched effect. 


Large Oil and Mixed Media – more of Mungo (cont.)

 

I waited for 24 hours and gradually peeled off  glad wrap (cling wrap) in two stages, the first being moister than the second and consequently edges were less defined while the rest were drier and crisper. The image looked better in horizontal format at this stage but that could change.


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Large Oil with Mixed Media : more of Mungo

This one began with a gesso underpainting into which I placed frottage and sketches done on site at Lake Mungo. Below are details and I placed them on the left of the composition making it appear lop-sided. Below are close ups of the work on paper.


Top half


Bottom section with postings of gesso mixed with Indian ink.

Then my attempt to balance the image resulted in


Three colours poured across the surface into which I placed gladwrap that I will remove when the paint dries a little.


The Elements at Point Roadknight

This oil painting began as a pen and wash on paper and developed many twists and turns as I cast it aside frequently quite happy to have a collage or printmaking distraction. At each stage I felt that somehow I hadn’t quite got it. I intended the horizontal composition stay that way but at the last-minute it became a vertical format. At one stage I thought there were possibilities for some of the more ethereal versions but my mood went on to its predictable cycle and changed mid-stream from blues to moody greys. After which an orange and red stage of the cycle will come to pass. I often retain stages and will come back to them later when I sometimes see things anew.

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From 1970 to 2017

 

Comparing Artwork from the last century with that of the 21st century.

The first column consists of my recent artwork which I placed adjacent to the second column. On my website home page are more images from the past, several of which were teaching demos. for students who wanted to explore the styles, techniques and artists of the Modern era. While I likes many aspects of Modernism I wanted to convey  sense of  specific persons and places captured at a particular moment in time which then led me to apply several combinations of style and technique.

On one hand this meant retaining some realism or naturalism in my later work compared to earlier depictions where the figuration was freer but on the other hand, paint was more free flowing and random in recent work but more controlled on earlier images. I like the different qualities of the wet on wet oil medium with random areas of flow, bleeding edges, transparencies and impasto so I gradually left behind some aspects of painting built up by using wet on dry techniques. The result is that I do combinations of both.

 

 

 

 


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‘Interrogating Rock’ – intaglio & metal leaf

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I produced these images on paper by intaglio technique and black ink using a zinc plate. The process began two years ago having done the black and white intaglio I wanted to experiment with metal leaf as a composition element. It was a struggle to apply the leaf ( copper, gold and silver) with ink resulting in several mistakes and badly printed efforts with the leaf tearing and printing in places not intended.

But my disappointment lifted when I looked at them from a distance and saw in these altered random elements an unintended continuation of my environment/geology theme with human interaction as integrated part, not separate from it. So the messy metal leaf became ore bodies as I recalled a period in my life when I lived in mining towns and ventured underground at a copper mine in Tasmania.

The first 3 images worked with some trimming but the others needed chine colle as a composition element and in one I scraped away part of the leaf. In another 7/10 print I combined a plate from another series about Brachina gorge with the first plate as well as applying gold leaf and chine colle.

As a result this type of edition, because although the images vary I retain in each print an element of the first print ie the black intaglio, is termed a variable edition. I prefer this way of printing which can look painterly, perhaps, to traditional editioning where multiples of the same image make up an edition.