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.


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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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.

 

 

 

 


Stages in Mungo Painting with oil and frottage

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Mid way through this painting titled Red Soil Trajectory 3, 2017 I felt uncertain about how to complete this image. I was partly happy with it but it seemed to lack a sense of mystery and timelessness so characteristic of this ‘moonscape’.  I think my frustration shows as I turned the composition around and upside down but ended up as usual with my original concept.


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Original/ Digital Prints – first efforts

The latest David Hockney exhibition at the NGV has some artists and many art appreciative friends inquiring into these types of technique. A few years ago I explored different ways digital images could emerge with photographs wether drawn directly onto my iPad or iPhone or incorporating photographs of oil paintings with digital apps. as a way to completely change the image surface but retain the structure and composition.

Weathered Columns 2, 2008-09, oil on canvas, 214x108 cm.

Weathered Columns 2, 2008-09, oil on canvas, 214×108 cm.

 

 

I could print out the digital images onto small dimension printmaking paper and then rework the surface with traditional materials like pen and ink.

I still need to learn how to manage layers when constructing the digital layers but I imaging it may resemble layering oil painting techniques going from thin lean underpainting up through the layers to the thicker oilier opaque final layer depending on the painting style. Transparencies and semi opaque or semi transparent layers would make interesting texture as an element of the image. It’s also another way to try preliminary versions before launching into a large painting. The digital images could also be expanded into large images and placed photographically onto canvas. Just by using one image as a template it could be manipulated into countless versions transforming from a landscape into something else. Friends have pointed out that within the first digital rendition a head is emerging in portrait form. Turning the composition sideways into landscape horizontal form, a head appears to look out into a strange landscape too. I enjoy this type of response and interaction where different people see different things and reveal aspects of themselves in the process.