Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


5 Comments

“Mungo Strata Exposed”: a painting commission

This commission began several months ago after an exploration of Mungo in printmaking ie etching etc media. Now returning to this topic, a combination of collage and oil, I feel a freedom painting on a larger surface. The surface consists of canvas on board which lends itself to application of any material with a staple gun.

The first image consists of printmaking paper onto which frottage images, taken from surfaces of Lake Mungo’s terrain adhere. In the background are oil washes that loosely resemble dunes behind the clay pan. The frottage was done with graphite in the left section and in the central area I combined it with part of the clay pan and clay/sand mixture. The paper in the right hand area had been moulded to the surface of the land leaving sunken shaped into which ink settled as well as grated pastel.

The piece of frottage dated 2001, lay in my plan draws until not long ago as I have found it difficult to get my head around how to express the feeling of total exposure and blinding light when first arriving. And while I studied it geology and history and took my usual approach of collecting data, I still couldn’t find a way into it.

I think I was side-tracked with a sense of romanticism due to spectacular sunsets and sunrises so stunning in a desert and which are popular subjects esp. for photographers. Anyway, the second stage as I felt my way into a composition began with tearing away excess paper, making cut-out areas into which I poured paint.

IMG_3709Close up of  2 sections

Also I blocked out with masking tape pieces of frottage that didn’t need paint yet or at all.


1 Comment

Etchings about Lake Mungo

The images are about Lake Mungo, its environment and how I reacted to it. Once again I continue the experiments with metallic leaf, this time silver leaf combined with intaglio and collage.

The Sounds of Mungo refer to the comparative silence of this flat dry lake surface and large lunette – shaped dune. The ear is almost eye – like as it ‘sees’ into the landscape and the blinded eye ceases to register outer observation as an inner sense of the place or mental image prevails.

The mention of “red soil” in the titles about trajectories refer to how the colour of the dunes opposite the red hills became an earthy pink colour. Blown from the west across the dry lake, the red earth deposited on the dune seeps down as it rains producing a washed out pink colour which at sunset creates a stunningly beautiful glow.

Other artworks started from the same plate but developed into a variable edition.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Silver Leaf and Intaglio Experiment

Background

The etchings in the slide show are earlier experimental versions using metal leaf with black etching ink with varying degrees of success.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In my most recent attempts, this time with silver leaf I also added a red ground because I felt that the silver may be too cool.


Painting stages for “Under the Image” (incomplete)

Background

This image developed from a torn up etching and a gessoed board, the surface for a painting demonstration six months ago. (We experimented with oil paint and how with triple and double loaded palette knives and brushes it could be manipulated to form the textures that characterise much of the Australian landscape).

The image is about how I feel as I find a way to represent the landscape and artist.  I like to imagine the earth as seen from beneath as though from some sort of underground position.  I create imagined textures that allude to the geology of the site and how this sometimes reflects the above ground terrain because I want the artist to be marked by the earth and landscape.

The painting process is incomplete because I prefer the image titled “Middle stage” where the forms and movement are more dynamic. The last image has become static so when it dries

the next few paint layers will hopefully be an improvement with more tension so that it looks as though I am ’embracing’ the landscape while at the same time I see the world upside down as the landscape imprints in my mind.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Artist, 2014, 20x25 cm, mixed media


The Artist

Background

This quick portrait sketch was unplanned but came about because of two separate incidents.

I used a very small smooth surfaced gesso panel suitable for a brush stroke demonstration in a painting workshop organised by several art students earlier this year. It was one of several different sized panels that were suitable for experimenting with glazes combined with different impasto textures such as double and triple loaded brush or palette knife application into a wet glaze rather than onto a dry surface. A wet in wet instead of the usual method of wet on dry created impasto strokes where some edges blurred and bled into the under painted glaze.

My demonstrations on the larger panels were clearer than on this small almost constricting sized panel (as I usually work on a large surface except for etching). The few brushstrokes depicting aspects of landscape features were hastily wiped off (and cast aside under other work in my studio) after the demo. because I couldn’t see an image developing in the paint.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I wondered if there was any hope for some remaining etchings that were grubby around the edges and couldn’t be turned into mixed media with gouache, pastel or charcoal. Time for some ripping up and throwing shreds around. One shredded etching landed on the gesso panel from the demo. The start of something?

The second situation involved one of the students who recently staged an exhibition and it was a sell out. I was overjoyed and an image came up and coalesced around the piece of etching and the gesso panel containing the torn etching. It happened quickly so that my process of recording stages didn’t happen.

The Artist, 2014, 20x25 cm, mixed media

The Artist, 2014, mixed media 20×25 cm

The images about two mental aspects about this artist are read from right to left. On the right hand side is a profile image that is meant to express the uncertainty of pre-exhibition hesitation when a person hopes that their work is met with an appreciative audience. Both images are placed on an easel. On the left the artist’s transformed image, depicted in a way where the image has become the paint and is not quite formed, is placed mostly within a loosely painted picture frame. The partly enclosing frame also dissolves in overpainting. A mental transition and sense of energy and excitement was conveyed by a red background.


Art and Symbolic Death

Some of the earliest images in which human features were represented whether sculptures or paintings are associated with funerary ritual. In this sense an imagined preservation of self and identity was contained within a portrait or a death mask. For example this sculpture is a 3 million year old pebble, Makapansgat cave, northern Transvaal, South Africa. 6cm across where one person may have fallen into this category.

 


MASK 2IMG_2290

 

 

Later many oil painted portraits show the sitter contemplating their mortality (momento mori) for example when the  hand was placed touching a skull or in a less obvious painting by Hans Holbein titled The Ambassadors depicting the skull at the bottom of the composition.

As early as the Neolithic people remembered their relatives by taking death masks or making a sculpture using the skull as an armature and then moulding over it with clay-like substances shaping it into a portrait and then painting it delineating the eyes in particular.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ear Alive, 2014

Ear Alive, 2014

 

In this oil painting on gessoed paper I borrowed from the Neolithic idea but I reframe the context so that instead of actual death it is the symbolic death of the artist in the process of creation that is my context with the idea of passing through a ‘portal’ into a different sense of reality. In the images of the rising/setting sun and the ear I refer to how in actuality it is the sense of hearing that lasts longest as other faculties die. Transferred to the context of the painting process the stories in my mind about what I portrayed in an immediate situation slowly fade and gradually ‘die’. These stories in my mind about the visualisation and technique used to make up the image are the last things that I ‘hear’ before I move on. They must ‘die’. In a sense I am ‘blind’ or in ‘darkness’ as the ‘sounds of insight’ about the image go leaving me with a sense of loss.

Rudgley, Robert. 1998. Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age. London : Century

My Smartphone Fell into the Oil Paint 1, 2014, 48x34 cm, intaglio, oil, pastel and charcoal.


“Selfies” and the Smartphone

Selfies taken with a cellphone are self portraits in the sense that the genre is democratised as everyone can reproduce their own image. However there may be an interesting difference owing to the type of medium. Oil paintings on canvas are like permanent “precious objects”  where the artist depicts on its surface a contrived image that is placed in a staged background.

The image of the person portrayed very likely will ‘out-live’ the actual person therefore ensuring a type of immortality. Mosaics or stone masks are the  most permanent and durable of mediums.

How permanent then is a selfie? This image is shared often  as a candid shot but probably not intended to be permanent.

 

The Cellphone fell into the Oil Paint 1, 2014

My Smartphone fell into the Oil Paint 1, 2014

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Cellphone Fell into the Oil Paint 2, 2014, 48x34 cm, intaglio, oil, pastel and charcoal on gessoed paper

My Smartphone Fell into the Oil Paint 2, 2014

 

 

On the other hand the selfie may be immortal as long as it can be retrieved from a Timeline.

These two small mixed media images make reference to the portable cellphone selfie and its perceived fleeting nature and cult of individuality. Some commentators describe it as a form of narcissism. Whether or not by cellphone or more traditional media I see types of self representation as evidence of a journey about questioning ideas around mortality and the Self.