Friday, November 16, 2018

Reworking old prints into Artist Books

You know you've got too much art stuff when you can't find something you know you have, especially if you saw it yesterday......  OK, I admit its also to do with getting older, but I know I have too much paper and art supplies.  Something has to be done!

So this was the impetus for a reorganisation of my art studio and storage room, starting with the recent acquisition of new plan drawers in which to store my extensive paper collection.  And I've continued to use that energy to keep sorting through the rest of my studio.

Sorting through folios, I've found heaps of prints. Mostly reject monoprints from past series, where I've sold the best ones and I'm left with the not-so-good ones.  The ones where the composition or colours aren't quite right, they don't work as a whole but have plenty of interesting marks and textures.  Not a frame-able masterpiece but not worth shredding for the compost bin.

These are the prints that are destined to become artist books.  Cut down, folded, glued and taped - they become a new object with a fresh story.

I saw an interesting book design on facebook.  The book starts with a hexagon shape (I love hexagons!), with 3 valley folds and 1 mountain fold.  The hexagons can be joined all facing in the same direction so the book stands up on its own (as per my examples) or you can alternate the direction of the hexagons for an interesting 'reading' experience.

Here's photos of a couple of artist books that I've made recently using that design.  It was an experiment just for fun to see what these old prints could give me second time around.

Ok now its time to get back to sorting, labeling, shredding, and adding to the growing pile of goodies to donate.......

My new plan drawers, filled with my papers and labeled appropriately.
Now that I can find all of my papers, I know I DON"T need any more ...!
Looking down at the book of Scrub Turkey images,
turkeys running in all directions  :-)

The covers of the book were made with mat board offcuts
and covered with prints

One of the pages of the turkey book,
showing the folds

Another book of the same design, this time
using prints from a Silvereye series.

Another view of the Silvereye book,
I love the textures and imagery in this one.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Riding, camping and sketching

I love it when I can incorporate my art practice into my travels, I feel like I'm capturing a moment of the new place I'm in.

Over the past few months, my partner Craig and I have been doing short bike rides with overnight camping in the local D'Aguilar National Park, within an hour of my home.  Its a no-fuss low-cost excuse to indulge our love of camping.

As the campsite isn't accessible by motor vehicles, its peaceful, quiet and we get it all to ourselves.  Our most recent excursion was to the Lightline Road Camp, a beautiful spot in the middle of the forest.  It had great facilities though no toilet or shower, which I'm OK to give up for one night.  I love the extensive local birdlife, with a melody of whip birds, bell birds and wrens surrounding the camp.

As this is a very lightweight camp (Craig carries most of the gear in his bike trailer), I have to pare down my art supplies to the very basic - a couple of pens/pencils and some paper.  But its all I need. I think its distracting to have too many art supplies when I only have an hour or two of light to work in.  Keeping it simple makes me focus on just doing something rather than deciding what materials to use.

The camp with Craig's bike and trailer in the foreground.
I carry our food in a backpack, so I get the easy job!

My sketching kit,  - 1 pen, 2 pencils, and two pieces of cardboard
secured with rubber bands holding a few sheets of toned paper.
I carried it in my backpack.

The contents of my sketching kit and some leaves,
and also the necessary glasses to help me see what
I'm doing!

Sketching quietly, listening to the birdsong
and the wind rustling through the canopy of trees.
A leaf and the subsequent drawing.
That's all I had time to do before I lost the light.
Not a masterpiece but fun to do - worth taking my kit for.

Relaxing by the fire before dinner.
Heaven!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Natural History Illustration

I'm halfway through completing an online Natural History Illustration course.  Its a 6 week free course offered by the Uni of Newcastle, and its been excellent as a simple tool to sharpen my sketchbook skills.

I've discovered that I'm not really into detailed graphite scientific drawings, my style is more sketchy and loose but I've developed more skills in how to measure and look more carefully at my subject before starting my drawing.

Here are a few pages from my sketchbook:





I took my sketchbook on a recent trip to Flinders Island, a hidden gem off the North-East coast of Tasmania.  As my luggage was restricted on the small plane flight from Melbourne, my sketchbook kit was an ideal art project.  I spent many hours in our campervan drawing found objects from the beach.

Quick plein-air sketch during a lunch stop at Sawyers Bay.


Watercolour painting that Sawyers Bay sketch from
the comfort of the campervan.
The completed sketch and notes

Drawing found objects from the beach,
seaweed, kelp base and egg cases.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs - The Artist Book

Every arts residency has a goal, even if its to just 'think'.   My goal for my AIR at Curtin Springs was to complete an Artist Book.

However, as usual for me, it didn't go to plan.  I had a strong idea but was unable to resolve it whilst I was on site, so finishing my artist book was a priority when I returned to 'normal' life.

So its been a few weeks but I have finally completed the work, and I'm happy that it conveys the ideas that I developed whilst completing the residency.

Curtin Springs is a cattle station in Central Australia.  The current owners have been there since 1956 and so there's a lot of history retained on the property, particularly around the homestead.  A lot of used equipment is stored on the property for maintenance purposes, though the elements and nature have taken over and softened the rusted detritus.

To me its like a battleground, a skirmish between the man-made and nature.  Discards from the operations of the property gather red dirt and rust, with grasses pushing through the gaps.  My artist book was inspired by this disturbance, where things that don't belong gradually become part of the landscape.

My process started with rusty objects collected from around the homestead, and I used tea to stain the rust onto paper.  I also collected grasses and made collagraph plates from them, and printed them onto botanical papers made from those grasses (Curtin Springs has a wonderful paper mill).

The strips of printed papers run the length of the rusted paper concertina, wrapping around the covers.  The long format of the book reflects the view of the landscape, where the vegetation is relatively short and the view of the sky is from horizon to horizon.   The use of found objects gives a strong connection to the property's history.  Incorporating paper and prints made from local grasses recognises the value of the grasses to both the cattle operations and papermaking activities of Curtin Springs.

I'm still playing with a title for the book, but I'm leaning towards 'Colonisation'.  The rust can either be taken as a monument to life on the land or as a sign that nature is slowly claiming it back.

Grasses on the property - I love the
rich colour of the red sandy soil against the yellow grass.

Grass samples collected for making plates.
Rusty objects fighting nature
Rusting the paper

Close up of the rusting with tea bags.
The tannin in the tea makes beautiful
greys and browns, not orange.

Yummy marks!
Its tempting to move it before its dry.
Luckily its very dry air in Central Australia.

View of the Artist Book,
with handmade paper covers, rusted pages and prints
on handmade paper

There's some beautiful rusted marks on these pages.
I joined the concertina sections using a thin strip of
handmade paper.

Closed view showing the wrapped cover strip.

One of the pages showing the lovely rusted marks.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Artist in Residence @ Curtin Springs - back in the city

I'm back home from my artist residency at Curtin Springs, actually I've been home about two weeks but as you know the day-to-day 'stuff' takes over and demands your attention from the moment you step off the plane.....

I've finally had some time to reflect on my experiences at the station and in Central Australia.

It was my first time in Central Australia and what an experience it was!  I was given the rare and unique opportunity to spend time with a cattle property family who, for two and half weeks, shared their lives with me.

I experienced a range of emotions during my stay at Curtin Springs.  I've pulled together a few photos which reflect those emotions.

Being involved with working the cattle was at times confronting as
I hadn't been so close to non-domesticated cattle.
My experiences were previously limited to sedate milking cows at the
annual Exhibition!. For me, definitely character-building but very very interesting.
I now greatly appreciate the work involved in getting steak onto my plate!

The hospitality and generosity of the family
was amazing, considering I was a total stranger
AND a city girl as well.

My favourite art activity was sitting and sketching
by myself in the bush, a short distance from the homestead.
The only noise was the wind, total silence - heaven to a girl
used to continuous traffic and neighbourhood noise.


The space and the freedom - you don't get that in the city.

I loved the stories attached to places on the property.
This was the 'Halfway Tree', a old beautiful Desert Oak.


Walking the Salt Lakes was a big highlight,
particularly so because I was joined by my partner Craig.
Curtin Springs has a number of Salt Lakes, only accessible on
special tours or with the family.

The textures of the Salt Lakes were amazing.
Some crunchy underfoot, some soft.
 
We had privileged access to Mt Conner, another
beautiful asset on the Curtin Springs property.
We did a walk around the base so saw it up close.

Sunrise at the eastern end of Mt Conner, with
Craig in the foreground.
It was worth getting up early for.
This image is one of the most iconic from my trip.
Beats Uluru (Ayers Rock) any day.


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!