Sometimes the sun and clouds ‘tell a story’.
The final stages of this commission take form as I threw paint, texture and line into the composition that now looks too busy and requires more focus on the statement. Colour was an important factor for the person who commissioned this work as he asked me to include indigo. Very definite colour as a significant element in the composition often means that detailed shape and form take a back seat. My aim now is to simplify some of the textural areas, strengthen the composition without losing the organic animated gestural marks intended to live life to the image. The grey values also visually give intense colour space.
Companion Painting to the Commission
I enjoy the process of imaging several versions of an image. The untitled image measurements are 90 x 120 cm and is also an oil on canvas (linen). The painting in middle stage development is about the particular way a horizontal layer of chalky yellow rock forms an entablature-like shape that has weathered incrementally to its present position situated halfway along the length of the point (Point Roadknight). On the sea side of the gap a remnant piece of rock adjacent to an intact outcrop kept in place by the soil and tree roots above it looked bare and solitary as weathering has removed above layers. Bare bones of rock washed by the tides are home to marine life on this section of the point; one side of the gap terrestrial life on the other marine.
Second Oil Painting Commission
Fortunately another commission resulted from the first one described above. The subject matter taken from the same place named Point Roadknight situated along the Great Ocean Road is a fascinating, dramatic structure that changes visually due to tides and weather conditions and structurally because of relentless weathering and erosion. It’s almost as though my photographs, painting and etchings are witness to this process.
I think I’m at the late early stage where movement and gesture predominate and keep the image looking fresh within these layers. The aim is to retain this immediate fresh impression as the layers build up.
In the painting my focus is also on the terrestrial edge of this halfway gap along the rock formation. I will refer to last years photographic records as many of the ‘entablatures’ and ‘ columns’ washed away by rain, wind and sea show scars of their former location. We have in Australia one of if not the most fragile of coastlines in the world.
This area is a small section of the Great Ocean Road which is under consideration and part of a campaign for world heritage protection which if successful would put it on par with the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland and Kakadu in the Northern Territory.
In 2011 I completed a series of etching, chine-colle and collage titled Return to Sand and Water where I depicted images of this process of loss and change and likened it to my process of painting. The images can be viewed at desterreart.com.au as well as in my shop/gallery on Etsy named ElainedEsterre. There are also 5 images that resulted from my Kakadu trip which are part of a series of artwork titled An Archaeology of Landscape. The complete Archaeology of Landscape may be viewed at desterreart.com.au
Middle Stage 2
Having waited several days for the top layer to dry I began another layer that built up the texture, strengthened the composition, adding weight to pictorial elements and added more colour and gestural brushstrokes. By using gestural brushstrokes made with a palette knife for small areas and a trowel for larger sweeps of paint I can give the composition a more dynamic structure. The structural configuration is the way I depict a type of narrative by dividing the composition into different time zones where the stages of erosion by water, mist, wind and rain change the land form.
I took several rubbings from different sections of particular gorges. This is my was to reconnect to a place when I paint it later in my studio. Often I adhere frottage or stained paper to the canvas surface by placing it in a gesso solution as part of the under-painting. Because the materials are rice paper and graphite or charcoal there is a flexibility that enables me to alter dimensions by folding or tearing the paper to fit the theme and the composition.
The image below is a mixed media titled Stress Fold, 2004 that is one of a series of images which I titled An Archaeology of Landscape. This previous series consisted of oil, mixed media, gouache and pastel stain and was produced as a result of exploring different sites in the Kakadu and Nitmiluk National Parks in the Northern Territory. Viewers may peruse this series at : desterreart.com.au Stress Fold is an example of how pieces of frottage meld into a larger composition.
The strong sunlight and heat drenched arid landscape above the gorges was a complete contrast to the flora and lush environment within the gorges. This first general impression left me with a mental image of many light and feathery textures; the soft blue-purple distant ranges with light grey-brown dotted lines indicating foliage or closer ranges sometimes light khaki in colour with rusty rocky ridges. A mixture of middle distance greens ranged from dotted pale olive and sage with dull Naples yellow background followed by foreground yellow and sage spinifex growing from red-purple soil. This image contrasted with the heavy muscular rock forms with strong vibrant coloured surfaces; red iron dark and shiny veins of iron ore as well as asbestos. Rich, lush greens of the vegetation varied from ferns to fig tree roots which like the Snappy gums appeared to hold together parts of the side of the gorge. Large boulders were strewn onto the gorge floor.
The image above was taken from Mt. Bruce a short distance from the gorges. In the gorges I selected particular reflections and vegetation as a point of contrast because they had a ‘Monet garden’ look about them without the horizon.
Leaving Perth on the way to our destination near Cervantes is a well know geological site in Nambung National Park called the Pinnacles. Thought by geologist to be perhaps formed by erosion and glaciation but then revealed by further erosion they appear as a sulphur coloured desert emerging from the coastal vegetation. Continue reading