Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings

Three Studies about Memory

Return to Drawing

After several years of printmaking then painting I changed course unexpectedly and picked up dry media and applied it to printmaking paper.

My half-done large paintings and then a series of small head in landscape images demanded a more thorough exploration about how I could develop and create iconography where my ‘landscapes’ /memoryscapes showed more succinctly a connection between mind, geology, geography and biology. How we inscribe ourselves on to landscape and landmarks and how in turn they change how we see ourselves. I sometimes feel as though searching for special places for example fossils in the Flinders Ranges, I am ‘shaped’ by aspects of the land and passage of time.

Anyway these three studies began unexpectedly as I pondered the feeling and memory of homesickness and the longing for colour, form and texture in particular places. When I lived in Western Queensland driving for kilometres through brigalow forest and experienced the flat endlessly stretching landscape and blue dome overhead I longed of orange, purple and grey tones of cliffs on the Great Ocean Road. So in Studies 1,2 and 3 for a Coastal Memory I have exaggerated the intensity of orange and made gestural marks that simplify form as a way to express a sense of loss.

I drew with compressed charcoal pencil as well as pen and ink and pastels over photographs of incomplete large oils that I had digitally printed onto printmaking paper.

This method provides me with a starting point where I turn the old incomplete images upside down or sideways into which elicits old memories. Then I build up another image that vaguely alludes to a place by drawing with pen and pastel more facets and traces of its erosion on one hand and monumentality on the other.

Inscapes at Brachina Gorge

Three small oils on canvas about emotional experiences that I felt within this location in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. I try to capture a moment in time when I get a feeling as though I dissolve into a particular place like a mountainside or some other landform.

One opaque eye glass reflects the landform the other eye sees beyond into the future while the ear image refers to the past history of place and deep time seen within geological layering of overlaying strata.

On another level I am reminded of memento mori paintings such as those where a person contemplating a skull is pondering life’s brevity. In a similar vein I juxtapose an intense moment in time against and within that of a space that is a deep time calendar.

Stages of ‘At the Edge of the Pink Lakes’, 2019.

Early Stages of this mixed media image based on an area of northern Victoria, Australia where dried surface of salt lake shimmer across the landscape.

I was trying to represent the experience and feelings that may effect a person as they internalise the visual impact as it becomes a visceral bodily experience.

Middle Stages look a bit over worked as I wanted a more portrait – like depiction but the changed my mind.

The background didn’t quite work – did I want the image and background to be separate or integrate into the landscape and become the landscape?

Final Stages

Lost the plot with colour because I sanded back this desert colour and overpainted it with yellow. Once dry, I went back to another version of original palette, kept a small amount of yellow and melded the shape of the face with an oval lake – shape, then applied a light pink not too pretty but then overpainted this with same base with burnt umber to mage the pink earthy in appearance.

Oil painting (in Brachina Gorge) – early stages

In this large oil painting my imagery is about a human intimate connection with nature rather than seeing nature and as an example of the sublime.

I incorporated a frottage taken from part of the gorge into the composition. The solitary eye depicted beside the frottage, done with graphite on rice paper refers to a tradition in the late 18th century before the invention of photography where lovers exchanged an image of one of their eyes painted as if part of a jewellery on a type of brooch.

A rectangular shape could be a doorway and on the right is a fossil shape that refers to those found in that area that are 500 million years old examples of first animal life.

I’m sure that as stages develop the composition will need simplification.


Small Oil Paintings – The Bungle Bungles


The studio painting began as an idea originating from this detailed sketch that was originally based on a digital print from my Mungo series. As I started drawing with pen and ink the image suggested a theme about my experience from The Kimberely in West Australia. The black shape resembled the amazing landforms in that area that resemble bee hives. Sediments placed in layers washed from ancient mountains inland over time eroded, transported by water and deposited in layers. Further erosion resulted in what resembles large striped mounds.



One of Two old discarded collagraph plates became a texture ground for a copy of the small sketch, an oil titled Journey to the Bungle Bungles, 2018

Bungle Bungles 2


The other became the ground for another version of that theme which I titled Memory of the Bungle Bungles, 2018.


Memory of the Bungle Bungles


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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