Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


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Collage and Texture

When I compare collage and mixed media compositions with oil painted compositions sharing the same topic, I become aware of how different media often suit particular topics.

In this case contemporary art about the environment and the forces of nature somehow is suited to the dryness of rice paper as well as handmade paper as they become simulations of the earth’s surface and landforms. The dusty terrain, desiccated rock surfaces, cracked salt-laden and powdery surfaces and dry sand depictions, although semi abstracted, seem so much easier to portray with various collages than with the lush textures and viscosity of oil paint. Impasto especially can look too lush when alluding to Australia’s ancient land.

One solution to attain the powdery delicate but ancient bleached look was when I mixed grated pastel into gesso and then applied liberally on top of gesso ground whether on canvas, paper or wood surface. I usually begin with this technique but am often not quite satisfied with the end result so I will keep on experimenting.

I feel as though this small series has ended for now and oil painting is calling once again back to psychological portraits where oil paint is a sympathetic medium in which to portray subtleties  and nuanced tonal values.


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Anbangbang Billabong Revisited

Early this century I joined an art tour to the Northern Territory where we spent time sketching and painting in Kakadu and Nitmiluk National Parks at sites like Ubirr Rock, Katherine Gorge and at Anbangbang Billabong near Nourlangi Rock.

I produced, among others, two images one about Anbangbang Billabong and the other about Ubirr Rock on Fabriano print paper as it readily absorbed diluted indian ink and damp grated pastel and water plus a little gesso as I depicted part of the dried billabong quickly before the moist surface dried in the heat.

A collector bought the two originals. With permission I put their files into ‘Sketchbook’ and made a few alterations digitally from which several smaller prints of the digital images were made and printed onto Hanhlemehule printmaking paper in keeping with the originals. A small problem was that although I liked the colour before printing, later I wasn’t as happy as the colour seemed too bright. So I left them for a while and returned to oil painting.

 

But the November sales of printmaking, handmade and rice papers in Fitzroy turned out to be a paper fest. – so hard to go past so many wonderful surfaces, textures, semi-transparencies and muted colours all completely filling my plan drawers. An affinity between the drawer in which these gorgeous papers lay and the drawer below in which the reproduced prints lay sparked in my mind. I imagined the strongly coloured prints placed behind the recently purchased semi-transparent papers and thought that there could be an interesting juxtaposition between not quite literal format of the printed images and the wabi sabi effect of rice paper etc.  So I got to it – the evolution of an image.

In the  last image of the first composition titled Memory at Anbangbang Billabong, 2016 little remains visible of imagery beneath, having completely covered any reference to the landform in the background top section of the composition. The black and mauve shape echoes the original but is back to front. Beneath the semi trans-parent sheet of paper with an ink stain provided a surface into which I carved out short lines with a scalpel alluding to the lines in the original that indicated the presence of a dried flood plain minus its billabong having evaporated by scorching sun in a cloudless sky so characteristic of the dry season in northern Australia.

In Preliminary Sketch at Ubirr Rock, 2016 an ink washed piece of rice paper became the first layer into which I carved different shapes again revealing glimpses of the print beneath. The simplicity provided by the textured and slightly tonally graded rice paper alluded to rocky texture with out being too literal. Once again less was more.

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Just returned from Kardinia Framers where the buyer made a good choice with a plain wooden frame.


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‘Painting’ with Paper (continued)

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Point Roadknight Littoral 2, 2016, collage, 30×40 cm

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Point Roadknight Littoral 1, 2016, collage, 30×40 cm

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Foreshore Sunrise, 2016, collage, 40×30 cm

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Rock Pool, 2016, collage, 50×30 cm

Materials used in these collage compositions consist of handmade paper, failed viscosity prints, and their ghosts and a piece of frottage in Point Roadknight Littoral 2.  Once again I have ransacked my remnant department and the images almost arranged themselves, I think because of the way I am immersed in this coastal area and its atmosphere.

At dawn and pre dawn I often wait for low tide, no wind and some cloud before I capture  the transient nature of different elements such as the juxtaposition of water and sun, sand and reflections, rock face reflected in rock pools.

The photograph informs my work (as well as taking frottage) in a round about way that seems to make a slowly developing  mental pattern that over time distills into an image/s.

 

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Mungo Collage and Sounds of Drought

Both these images, the composition and forms were arranged randomly, settled into this format as I pushed around each element then blew air onto the, at first, carefully arranged pieces of collage and then let hand made paper waft around and land anywhere. A bit more shuffling around, walking away, letting a few more elements land around central pieces of imagery, tearing more paper, overlapping to obtain transparencies and nuanced areas until the desired effect settled in my mind.

The pieces of collage consisted of torn drypoint etchings, intaglio etching, pastel and handmade papers as well as dotted pianola roll paper.


Etching Collage about Lake Mungo

Two more images about Lake Mungo that refer to the landscape and how it may be understood in relation to its geology.

I have continued combining metallic leaf, handmade papers and intaglio with some intaglio as collage.

The Sun Descends, 2014


Artwork about Images of Change at Point Roadknight

From 2012 to 2014 

In this expanding series I always seem to return to this particular landform (apart from the others in far reaches of the continent mentioned in previous blogs). Sometimes this rocky protrusion, jutting into the ocean making a sheltered bay on its northern side, is referred to as “the petrified forest”.

I have tried to illustrate how an early morning photograph taken in 2011 titled  Erosion informed the gouache titled An Abrupt Transition, 2012 and then later quite unexpectedly last year I found layers of handmade paper made years ago at a university weekend workshop. Their textures suggested the appearance of rock. Also found were several frottaged pieces of rice paper taken from the surfaces of these rocks as preliminaries to a commissioned seascape.

The breach at Point Roadknight

The need to return at intervals gets a bit desperate as I hope that the erosion will slow. My quiet desperation comes about as I witness and find myself inadvertently recording gradual and not so gradual destruction of this beloved landform.

There is a transition in the work from the 6 shiny photographs to 5 gouache matte simulated textured images to 3 handmade textures reminiscent of rock and a collage with a piece of failed viscosity etching titled The Sun Descends.

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I like to observe the way transitioning through different media, using the same or similar subject, often leads into another awareness and reinterpretation about the interaction between structures and conditions. While not a plein aire painter I alway sketch and then carefully draw a subject as a way to sharpen my memory.

It is from memory and contemplation that my imagery arises, placed in an abstracted format with reference to the material object. The texture of the objects can be simulated in paint or another type of simulation that is, either rock-like handmade paper or frottage taken from the rocks in question.

Feelings are not all gloom and doom as my romantic side loves the colour of sunrise, glow of sunrise on rock faces, rock faces reminiscent of ancient ruins and then about 20 minutes after sunrise when the winter sun is in the best position and intensity I photograph their reflections in rock pools and wet sand.

My first attempt at capturing this aspect of the place is not quite as I would like it – a bit pale and wan.

Sand Reflection, 2014

Sand Reflection, 2014

The start a another direction perhaps?

Also at Pinterest


Etching and Collage about Sea Erosion

Sea Erosion Theme

This continuing theme expressed through etching and collage will replace the gouache and mixed media artwork about the topic on my Home Page. I wonder sometimes if the medium of etching, intaglio, drypoint on rice paper, handmade and printmaking paper seems a more urgent direct, stark way to represent this subject in comparison with oil and gouache painting where the element of colour tends to dominate. With colour taking a secondary place strong tonal contrast becomes the main game.

All these images are single, unique one off pieces of artwork. They are not part of an edition of prints. I enjoy playing with one etched plate and then combine the print with different media such as collage of hand made paper, chine-colle on rice paper, ink wash, pen and pencil drawing and also staples.

These artworks are part of a series titled Return to Sand and Water.