Thursday, August 9, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs - Part 7 - Making the most of a moment in time

Drawing a toilet wouldn't usually be my idea of a great sketching opportunity, but this one had a bit of character.

Its a drop toilet (a hole in the ground) at a basic camp under a grove of Ironwood Trees. The camp has been well used over the years, but recently is being used for campfire dinners for tourist groups.

I had a few moments before the sunset, so at Amee's suggestion, why not draw the toilet.  And it was good fun, luckily no-one needed to use it at the time!

A 5-star roilet experience,
plenty of toilet paper!

Yes here I am, drawing the toilet!

Late afternoon light on the ironwood trees
above the campfire.  Beautiful!
The finished page in my sketchbook- I even
drew the campfire - it was the warmest place
when the sun started to set!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs - Part 6- The Magpie

There's a lot of bird life around the Curtin Springs Property, some the birds also live my home town in coastal SE Queensland, some I've  never seen before.

The Australian Magpie is already one of my favourites and has featured in many of my prints already.  But this is the first time I've sketched one from my own photo.

It took a few goes to get it right, I worked in pencil first then went over it in black pen, then finished with watercolours.

Australian Magpie, searching for food

Sketching from my photograph via my laptop

Putting a bit of colour into it

In the field, sketching

I've borrowed some bird books and plant id
books so I can add botanical information
in my sketchbook.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs - Part 5 - Drawing even the ugliest of things

The internet here is a bit patchy so my posts are short and sweet (and I want to spend every minute of my day as an artist!).

Today’s activity was to take a walk and sketch some cattle poo. Yes, cattle manure. I’ve seen a lot of it during my residency so far, and I had noted that the dry poo had a beautiful blue lustre in the sun. So I just had to sketch it – I also needed an excuse to use my new cobalt teal colour!

The line drawing

Adding colour.
I've got my new colours in contact eye cases.
My watercolour brush is my favourite tool.

Enjoying the peace - just me and the cow poo.

I'm sitting next to a cow pad - in other words
a cattle 'freeway'.

One of my new experiences - discovering
calf poo is different to adult cow poo.
Little dimes of poo - so cute!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs - Part 4 - The Blackwood Tree @ Rim Rock

Amee took us on a sunset excursion to view the Rim Rock on the Curtin Springs property. The Rim Rock is a geological remnant of the rim of a volcano.  The other remains of the volcano includes the impressive Mt Conner.

Unfortunately a lot of cloud cover prevented the full effect of the sun lighting up the gold ochres of the Rim Rock, but instead I turned my back on the view to sketch the beautiful Blackwood Tree we were sitting under.

The tree had been partially burnt in a fire in 2012, but half of the tree is still alive.  The burnt section of the trunk has the underlayer exposed and now weathered with time. The textures and colours were too good to not photograph and sketch.


The Bloodwood Tree, on the burnt side

The non-burnt side, in the sunset light

Its good to look up too, beautiful textures

close up of the bark

My sketch, the photo doesn't do it justice,
I laid dow a watercolour waah first, then drew over the top,
leaving just the wash on the background branches & leaves.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs - Part 3

After helping with the cattle for a few days, I had the opportunity to get working on my art project for my artist residency at Curtin Springs.

Doing the cattle work meant that I've seen quite a bit of the landscape and I was inspired to do some sketching of local birds and plants.  The vegetation around the homestead is a mix of exotics and non-local species (planted by Peter Severin, the original owner from 1956) so I had to go a little further afield to find some local plants - not very far, across the road to the 'home' cattle yards.

I've been spending some time there, enjoying the quiet and sounds of the landscape, recording with pen and watercolours in my sketchbook.  I plan to use the drawings to create an artist book of monoprints and drypoint. 

Sketch in progress of the Umbrella Bush.

Back in the 'Paper Room' art studio, identifying
the plants I recorded.

Interesting shapes and textures, spiky and fleshy plants that
suit the harsh environment.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs -Part 2

Here are a few photos from my first couple of days at my residency at Curtin Springs.  I spent most of the time out with the family and staff working the cattle.  They were rounding up the cattle to truck them to take them off to be 'processed' as meat.

Its something I've never experienced before, so lots of 'firsts' for me,  I even got a ride in a semi-trailer - another first!

Travelling in the 4WD checkiing yards.
Mt Conner is in the distance.
The colours of the sky, soil and plants is amazing.

I got my first ride in a semi-trailer, the  tation cattle truck (woo hoo!).
This is the view in the side mirror - tons of dust but
you can see a cattle tail hanging out!

View from the truck - we were driving on sandy tracks,
not bitumen.

The huge road train, ready for loading, to take
the cattle away. 
Here I am, working the gates to help load the cattle
onto the truck.  Dusty work!

White-plumed honeyeater in the gum trees around the homestead.

Brown Goshawk

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs - experiencing life on a cattle station

I’m a true city girl…. an urban dweller with a love of the outdoors….but for three weeks I’m swapping my high heels and handbag for jeans, sensible footwear and a heap of red dust in Central Australia.

My temporary abode is at Curtin Springs, a large cattle station (100km long and 40km wide) situated between the township of Alice Springs and Uluru, in the Northern Territory.  I’m the current Artist-in-Residence, part of a new program that allows artists to work, create and experience life on a remote cattle station.

For those who don’t know me, I live on the coast in a city suburb, with plenty of infrastructure including sealed roads, utilities, and shopping centres. I live in a world of convenience and choice – access at all hours to fresh food and entertainment, but with the negatives of urban noise, busy-ness and traffic.

My residency at Curtin Springs is an opportunity for a change of pace, and to gain a deeper experience of the people behind a working cattle property that also provides tourist accommodation, fuel and meals.  They also operate a papermaking facility utilising grasses and plants from the property.

I arrived last Wednesday and its been full on since then as the family has been moving cattle, sorting and loading them, ready for market.  I’ve been able to get hands-on, helping with herding and working the gates.  I've never seen so much red dust, I'm constantly covered in it!

Between excursions out onto the property, I’ve had some short spells of art – working in my sketchbook, taking photographs and identifying birds and local plant species.  I’m planning on making an artist book that looks at the history of the property (plenty of that!) as well as the natural environment.

I'll be posting about my progress with my residency in the coming weeks.  I also post almost daily on instagram, my username is sandy_p09.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Dragonflies, Beetles and Bugs - freeform printing to create Artists Books

Its amazing how much good stuff I have tucked away in drawers and boxes in my studio.

In the past in my art practice I have used solar techniques to create etching plates starting with metal plates with a photo emulsion layer.  I printed copyright free images from my computer onto overhead transparencies and then exposed them on the plate to UV light to create the etching plates.  The plates are expensive to buy and the process can be fraught with risks - a lot can go wrong - exposure timing, washout etc etc.
So recently I remembered how much work went into creating those plates, so I dug through my stash to see what I could find.  Insects!  One of my favourite themes at the moment.  It was meant to be!

I inked up the plates and did some random printing on some lovely toned Stonehenge paper, not worrying too much about accuracy and print perfection.  Even the ghost prints (printing without re-inking) looked effective, with strong prints as a contrast.

I then overprinted a coloured background using acrylic paints and my gelatine plate.  Not too strong, just wanted some colours and impressions of grasses.

The resulting prints have been turned into 2 small concertina books. The covers are made from leather look papers, I think the scaly pattern of the paper suits the insect theme.

The books were a lot of fun to create with no expectations or pre-conceived ideas.  And I'm happy with the result, so I hope you enjoy my photos below.  At the end of this post there's also a quick video I took of the dragonfly prints before I folded it into the book.

So whats in your stash that you could re-use or repurpose into another artwork????

The solar plates.  Between uses I smother them in vege oil and wrap
them in plastic so they don't dry out. 

The ' Beetles and Bugs' book

The 'Dragonflies over the Pond' Book

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Fading to Grey - Solo Exhibition

I've been super busy, hence no blog posts yet for this month!  Well, its not quite the end of June yet, so here is my June post......

A week ago, I opened my solo exhibition 'Fading to Grey' at Gympie Regional Gallery.  Its a beautiful exhibition (no bias of course) in a historic building converted to a gallery space.

‘Fading to Grey’ is an exhibition of printmaking, works on paper, installations and artist books that comments on human-initiated transformations of the landscape around us – urbanisation, agricultural monocultures, invasive species, and fragmentation of wildlife habitats.  The title of the exhibition references the change in the natural landscape when it is disturbed and developed by humans - the green softness 'fades' to monochromatic grey hard surfaces - brick, cement and bitumen.   I'm really passionate about the impacts of urbanisation on wildlife, particularly on insect pollinators and birds. 

This exhibition features a few works exhibited previously as part of a partnered solo with Barcaldine artist Jo Taylor, though most of the works have been added to or modified since then.

Having a solo exhibition is a chance to get all those crazy ideas up into a professional gallery space and make a statement about something you're passionate about.  Sharing my message is what drives my art practice.

The hero piece of my exhibition is 'Interconnection' - a wall installation of about 300 paper cutouts in the shape of hexagons, illustrating the diversity contained within natural habitats and the importance of pollinators for biodiversity.    The pattern on the wall reflects the spiral pattern of the native stingless bee hive.  The paper cutouts are made from monotypes, etchings, flight maps, book text, atlas papers and the centre piece is bees wax.  The work also features entomological pins, used for pinning insects in museum collections.  Great fun to create, sifting through ten years of discarded prints and my stash of papers.  Not so much fun to install, as I have to make sure I set up the spiral shape from the first hexagon.  :-)   Photos below.

Over the coming weeks/months, I'll feature more works from the exhibition, with some work-in-progress photos as well.

Installing 'Interconnection' - over 300 hexagon
cutouts and lots of blue-tac!

My installation 'assistants' - my Mum Jan
and my partner Craig.  Lots of help too from
gallery staff and volunteers.

Selfie view of part of the gallery space.

Opening day and I'm explaining one of the works to
a visitor.

Visitors walking through the gallery.

Here I am giving my speech. 

'Interconnection' - Image credit: Leeroy Todd Photography

'Interconnection' (view from below) - Image credit: Leeroy Todd Photography

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Second Glance

Back in February, I blogged about printing with weeds, see my post here.

The printing of weeds was part of a larger work originally called 'Dispersal', made up of about 50 monoprints of weeds on the inside of business envelopes.

I wanted to exhibit this work in a local group exhibition 'Tightrope' that had an environmental theme, but 'Disperal' was too large.   So I reworked my ideas to present a smaller work and reworked artist statement that reflected the theme more precisely.

The new work consists of 8 prints spaced on the wall into an area 1 metre x 1 metre.  To me, having only a few prints can have less of an immediate impact (I love repetition and making multiples), but the intimacy of the smaller work does beckon the viewer to look closer at the detail in the prints.

Sometimes its a challenge to rethink my ideas about my work merely to comply with display requirements, but on reflection, perhaps those challenges are a good thing.

For those living in Brisbane or South-East Queensland, here are the exhibition details:
Location:  Pine Rivers Gallery, Strathpine
On until 4 August, Monday to Saturday 10-4
I'll be at the gallery on Wednesday 13 June running a workshop on Drypoint printing with a pollinator theme.

There's some really interesting works that caught my attention including sculptures by Mary Barron and Kym Schoenberger and a video work by Deborah Eddy.

My artist statement:
Exotics. Aliens. Weeds.  There are many ways to describe those plants that pop up in places where we don’t want them.  We continuously uproot and poison our urban landscapes to rid ourselves of these spontaneous opportunists.   But perhaps we should pause and take a closer look to appreciate the important role of weeds in revegetating contaminated city spaces and providing habitat for connected species such as pollinators. 

'A Second Glance' seeks to readdress the imbalance and elevate the image of the garden weed.  The often unnoticed elegant patterns within a business envelope provide the background to showcase the weeds' hidden beauty and grace.

The work 'A Second Glance' on display at the
Tightrope Exhibition