Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


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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.

 

 

 

 


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Lake Mungo and Poet

This painting has been through the wringer. I was trying to capture an image of a poet or artist entering the landscape as it seeps into the mind and the person ‘becomes’ the landscape and the image of the person fuses with aspects of it in this case, one of the dunes at Lake Mungo. In my first rendition in moody grey green I returned to an older type of imagery of the visionary figure and interior, a total side track that I dropped and began the thought process. The harsh outdoors, the heat and desiccated landscape and its effect on the artist/poet took over again. changing from artist and brush and light bulb to artist near dune with sun replacing the light bulb image. The dune image also obscured the light bulb.

Reversal didn’t work and I felt that the weight and volume of the head had been lost in colour and brush strokes. I dithered and fiddled with the image of the ear representing ‘history’ and ‘information’ as it changed from an obscured shape to a clearer representation. Unhappy with head in box imagery and as time went by the painting changed  from that of artist into the representation of the poet with a vast blue sky background.

The meaning also evolved when I painted the head in mental constraints represented by lines of a box shape outside of which an ear reached to earth and so I titled the composition at that stage, The Sound of History at Mungo, 2015. Not happy and time passed again.

I decided to cover up what was looking like fussiness. The head solid but part of the forehead became dune shaped and also the dune image reflected onto the black spectacle lens. I repeated the image of the dune shape near the mouth as a way to represent the poet’s words. Then it seemed that the basic shape of the dune being a triangle was shared like the letter “A” placed on the left of the composition; the experience of the flesh merging with the matter of the landscape created the symbol. The title now is The Flesh Created the Symbol at Lake Mungo, 2016

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“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.


Frottage connection as the first stage of a new painting

This frottage taken at Mungo consists of graphite and red chalk is the first layer for a painting. In this underpainting the red chalk is similar to part of the geology known as the Gol gol formation above which the clay and sand of the dune formed. The red oxide-like pigment of the soil blown onto the dune by Westerlies gives the dune its pink colour as it gradually seeped into the porous sand.

I try to mimic aspects of the way the landscape formed by incorporating dry pigment and stained and frottage traces on paper into layers of paint.


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.

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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

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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.


Artwork with Etching continues

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This image evolved from my thoughts about how I felt in 45 degrees celsius heat when I saw, touched and took frottages from 2.5 billion year old bedrock in gorges in Karijini National Park in the Pilbara, W.A.

 

Untitled, 2014, 30x25 cm, mixed media

Untitled, 2014, mixed media 30×25 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This image shows a continuation of a past theme that I titled Eye and Site 1, 2 and 3. The main idea is about a process about different aspects of the artist’s vision. For example part of doing a self-portrait is when the artist turns away from the mirror-image. Derrida explained the sensation as one where the artist is plunged into darkness before addressing the blank space on the canvas. The moment is between the look and the mark making when memory, insight and emotion from an underworld or unconscious mind briefly rise up into consciousness as brush touches the canvas – looking above and below simultaneously. The process I try to capture here feels like a double act.