Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


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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.


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Mungo 2 – Final Stage

 

Edges of Lake Mungo, 2017

Edges of Lake Mungo, 2017, mixed media and oil on canvas, 120×90 cm

 

In the slide show I photographed defined stages of the composition in an almost monochrome image.

This was a painting that came together without too much pushing and pulling around of compositional elements.  Because the textural elements influenced and constructed the form of the image I felt that colour should be minimal. I tried to depict various types of soil around the dark surface of the dried lake bed that consisted of clays hence the textured surface made from torn frottage taken from parts of the lake’s surface with compressed charcoal and oxide powder (now painted over) as well as grated earth coloured pastel mixed in gesso.

Ink in gesso formed the underpainting over which oil paint graded tones unified disparate pieces of paper (frottage) one of which contain the time and date of making the rubbed area illuminating the earth formation beneath the paper pressed over its surface.

I often find myself reversing the composition when I seem so sure that it’s the right way up and how i envisioned it in sketch form. Then somehow the oil paint medium, its capacity to flow, bleed, make random shapes as transparent and opaque edges meet. It’s at this moment that something else takes over and I have to put all pre-conceived ideas on to the side-lines but then later bring aspects of the original idea into the hopefully concise paint mark-making often with the addition of an oil paint stick. Always love line.

 

 

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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.


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.


Self-Portrait as Allegory of Painting

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A re-hash of an image that began as an intaglio print and was put aside for a while before I tackled it again. Technically I wanted to combine oil paint with intaglio print. The image is part of a series about the theme of self-portrait as allegory of painting that seems to have originated in the seventeenth century. In this composition I tried to show how the artist’s mind may discern how light and dark reveal and obscure imagery.

Remaining paintings in this series:

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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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