Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Prints Unforgotten

I've got a huge stash of print 'seconds' in my studio, a large boxful. This is one of the issues of being a monoprinter - for me, there are many more unsuccessful prints than successful prints that I frame and sell.

Recently I came across a few prints of wrens that I did back in 2012.  Most of the series has been sold but the last few remaining prints I feel need 'something' to resolve them.  So I decided to dig out the paper stencils I used in that series -luckily I'm a bit of a stencil/paper hoarder so I still had them, and more importantly, knew where to find them!

So I recomposed the images using the original prints which I cut down to bleed prints (that is, no blank paper margin). I then used the stencils overtop of the prints to create a new scene, ensuring that the stencils extended beyond the background image. I feel that this gives a fresh dimensionality to the original image.

The prints are now rehomed in new raw wood frames with fresh mats, and ready to go back into the world and find new homes.

Moral of the story:  Never ignore your past work.....perhaps just rethink it in the context of your current art practice.

The original monoprint
The stencils used to create the 'Dance' series -
the monoprinting process transforms paper stencils
 into beautiful collage pieces

Recomposing the original print by adding stencils -
looking at colour, shape and balance.

The new work 'In the Shadows'.
Detail of 'In the Shadows'

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Experimental Marbling

I recently attended a workshop doing experimental marbling, Turkish style, by artist Bronwyn Rayner (instagram raynbowcrowstudios).

Although marbling is not part of my usual art practice, it was great fun and very relaxing.  A bit like gelatine monoprinting but more freeform and delicate.   I did lots of prints on paper as well as marbling 3D objects like fans, pots, and rocks.

I also managed to marble lots of japanese papers like kozo and book pages - these lighter weight papers will be perfect to use for chine colle with my drypoints.

Bronwyn showing me how to marble a fan -
harder than it looks!

Lightly pressing the fan onto the marbled surface.

The completed fan - I'm all
sorted for summer now!
We marbled leaves as well - gorgeous!
Using a pipette to drop the colour.
I love the circular organic shapes at this stage.

Using a wooden skewer to create a design.
This is the really fun bit!

I love big swirls and drops, rather than
fine designs.

Lifting the marbled paper out of the tray -
so exciting (and wet)!

One of my favourites - marbled paper
from a Japanese book

Another bold design that I love!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Exploring Woven Concertina Books

At a recent meeting of Papermakers & Artists Qld, we learnt an interesting technique of woven concertina books.  I've also completed Helen Hiebert's online weaving course this year, so I've had an interest in the idea of using my old folio monoprints to create new images in a woven form.

For the upcoming Compassion exhibition (details below), I decided to make a small series of woven concertina books, using old monoprints, collagraphs and rusted papers.

The technique I used was to fold a long concertina and cut long strips through the middle (reserving the ends for covers).  Then weave pieces of another print for each of the concertina pages.  The result gives maximum contrast and interest to a couple of ordinary prints.  Most of the prints were double sided, but with those that weren't I added more strips of left over prints, some of them not even the same size.  I applied some glue so that the book didn't work itself loose and they look better without too many gaps.

I'm happy with the completed books....and my folio and print drawers are a little bit less full now :-)

These books will be on sale at the Compassion exhibition at the gallery shop.

Step 1 -fold concertina then cut strips along middle

Step 2 - weave strips of contrasting prints.
The width of each strip is equal to the
width of the concertina pages/

Finished woven books, showing prints
glued to create covers.

The weave.  This one is interesting - it looks like the
Magpie is walking past a Venetian blind :-)

The one weaves a feather monoprint with a brown collagraph.

Collagraph print as a cover, I love the scratchy texture
of this one.

This one has rusted paper with feather monoprints.

This is where they will be on sale.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Artist Book Exhibition - Compassion

Over the past few months I've been busy finalising a group of new artist book works for an upcoming exhibition called 'Compassion' (details as per image below).

For one of the new works, I wanted to use prints of feathers as a representation of bird species that are endangered or threatened (of which there are many!).  I did the prints a month or two ago with no idea of what I would create with them.  I've been doing some work over the past 18 months with migratory shorebirds so luckily I had a few leftover monoprints that I could use.

After digging around in my 'stash' (and avoiding the temptation to go the community second hand book shop!...again!), I found a lovely hardcover book entitled 'Birds of the Seychelles'.  I removed the inner pages, leaving the blue map endpapers intact.

Then I needed some time to think about how I wanted the book to look, pondering the options - concertina or not -  hunting through my library to explore possible techniques, scanning my saved images in Pinterest, thinking, thinking, thinking.....  I knew I didn't want to rush it, and it was tricky starting this process with the finished prints, and finding the right technique and format to suit my prints and to bring it together to communicate my idea about endangered shorebirds.

I finally settled on the idea of the prints coming out of the book, attached to the endpapers, with the prints loosely sewn together with waxed linen thread.  I'm happy with the finished book, of course it features a lot of blue and blue-greens (its funny how I keep drifting back to the blue colour schemes!).

The book is titled ' Everywhere and Nowhere', and this is my artist statement:

"Migratory Shorebirds such as the Eastern Curlew make a twice-yearly migration across the world, over oceans, hopping from one island continent to another. No country or island is their home, as they are both everywhere and nowhere. We're making their world smaller by destroying their feeding and breeding grounds and as a species, they seem to be disappearing into nowhere."

A dummy run, trying out the sewing and
structure options.
Its a good idea to make a dummy when
using one-off prints to prevent disappointment!

Sewing the pages together

The completed book.  The feather prints
are on smaller panels.

This photo shows the altered book and how
I have the new concertina coming out from within.
The concertina folds up neatly inside the book cover,
because I've removed the book contents.

A more detailed shot, I love the feather prints!

Exhibition details.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Listening to Rain

I've just finished reading a wonderful book, titled 'The Song of Trees' by David George Haskell.  Each chapter is about an individual tree somewhere in the world.  Haskell weaves poetic stories about the links those trees share with their surrounding environment and how that influences the humans and other animals that interact with them.  This narrative of 'connectivity' of all things natural really resonates with my art practice, so I found the book a great source of ideas and inspiration.

One such idea that Haskell presents in his book is the physicality of sound, particularly the sound of rain and how it reveals the shape and structure of trees.

Here is a short quote from the book:

"The water that strikes the understory has already passed across many leaves above...rhythms of the understory are born in the diversity of leaf shapes.  We hear rain not through silent falling water but in the many translations delivered by objects that the rain encounters."

A few weeks ago, I posted on my blog about Remembering Trees Lost where I had printed a series of monoprints inspired by the removal of trees for road widening near where I live.

Some of those monoprints have been assembled and framed for a small series of works titled 'Memory of Trees', but I held back 56 of the card-sized prints to create a hanging book, inspired by Haskell's idea of the sound of rain and my recent experiences at the BioBlitz sitting in the rain beneath the rainforest canopy.

The prints hang on linen thread from pieces of repurposed wood.  The prints are graded from dark to light to reflect the intensity of the sound of the rainfall as if the leaves are speaking the rain's language.

The book is titled 'Listening to Rain', and will be exhibited next month at 'Compassion' an exhibition of artist books on the Sunshine Coast.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Where Arts meets Science - Part 4

Continuing on from my previous post.....

Day 4 of the Art-science BioBlitz at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

The Sunday dawned without a cloud in the sky, absolutely gorgeous!

My tree for this final day of the BioBlitz was Tree 3 - 'Mook Mook', Jinibara language for 'Ghost Tree'.

It was very busy around the base of the tree, as it was one of the trees setup for climbing that day.  To get close to the tree, I had to wear a hard hat and keep away from all the noise and activity.   This forced me to look closer at the soil and around the roots, with my drawings focussing on the beautiful fungi sprouting from the strangler fig roots.

The rest of the morning was spent back at BioBlitz HQ working with the other artists.  We were all a bit frantic at this stage, trying to get as much done as possible before it was 'brushes down!' and time to go for the closing ceremony.

We all had a fabulous time, it was a highlight to work with both scientists and like-minded artists.  I feel like I've established some new connections that will enhance my art practice and help me to spread the word about forest conservation and the importance of retaining biodiversity.

The 5 visual diaries were handed over to the Reserve staff, to be scanned and documented, and then put on show at the Reserve until 25 August.

Wearing a hard hat whilst sketching at the base of
Mook Mook,  something different!

Beautiful fungi, captured on toned paper with

My watercolour kit, wet and muddy and well used

The art team at work at BioBlitz HQ - me, Kim, Jono, Jason and Leisa
(left to right around the table).  Paula was out in the forest at the time
this photo was taken.
At the closing ceremony, still working on our diaries!

My favourite drawing from the 4 days of BioBlitz -
the Bat Fly!  AMAZING!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Where Arts meets Science - Part 3

Continuing on from my previous post.....

Day 3 of the Art-science BioBlitz at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Saturday's weather was showery and humid but at least it wasn't continually raining, so presented more opportunities to get out into the forest.

My allocated tree for the day was Tree 1 - Gureya, the Jinibara name for 'fig', another beautiful and awe-inspiring strangler fig. 

However, I was keen to spend some time with the Entomologists - Dr Geoff Monteith and Dr Kathy Ebert.  They were doing studies of native dung beetles, collecting specimens around the trees, as well as at different levels up into the canopy.  They were very helpful and knowledgable, keen to share their scientific methodologies and findings with us.  I was able to spend some time examining dung beetle specimens through their microscopes, its amazing the detail and beauty of these little insects that play such a vital role in recycling forest nutrients.

I also went out into the forest with Geoff and Kathy as they checked their insect traps.  I made sure I recorded their activities and insects collected in my visual diary.  I managed to escape the leeches though I noted that Geoff had several hanging off his leg at one stage....!

During the afternoon,  I spent some time at the base of the Gureya tree, sketching the blackbean pods that had fallen within Gureya's dripline.  Due to an approaching storm, I had the tree to myself, its a lovely experience to be sitting on a low stool alone in the forest, with the drizzle of rain filtering through the canopy.  Finally though the thunder and a need to dry my watercolour washes drove me back into BioBlitz HQ to work some more with my gelli plate and paints.

After dinner, Leisa and I returned to BioBlitz HQ to see the insect light traps that Geoff and Kathy had erected.  There were some very interesting looking moths attracted to the lights.   We also enjoyed the song of frogs in the nearby pond.

Dr Kathy Ebert studying and identifying dung beetle specimens

I'm using a magnifier to sketch some of the insect specimens

The view through the magnifier...needless to say I now have one too!
Out with Geoff and Kathy checking the
insect traps.

Nighttime insect light trap.

Next Blog Post:  Day 4 - the final day to record the forest!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Where Art meets Science - Part 2

Continuing on from my previous post.....

Day 2 of the Art-science BioBlitz at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Fortunately, the rain eased overnight and was just showery, so we all were able to get out into the forest more and work with the trees.

My tree for Day 2 was Dala (tree 4).  Dala is the Jinibura name for Staghorn, and the tree certainly had quite a few epiphytes that could be seen from the ground.

I spent the morning drawing at the base of the tree.  I also watched Ann Moran and her team doing a plant survey, identifying and counting the plants around the dripline of the tree to establish what sort of species germinate and live there which also reveals bird movements (given their role in spreading seed).

After lunch, it was my turn to 'go up a tree'.   I had the awesome privilege of being hauled up Tree 3 (Mook Mook), the Ghost Tree.  I'm not fond of heights and had some reservations as I went up, but it was so amazing I was quickly distracted from the fact I was dangling at over 40metres up.  Plus I knew I was in the very capable hands of the tree climbers so I could literally sit and relax in my harness.  I took lots of photos but spent most of my 20 minutes up there enjoying the view.

Looking the part....

Hanging on, though I'm actually sitting in a fork of the tree

a Bird's Nest fern halfway up, I stopped for a good look

I couldn't actually see the ground as it was hidden by the canopy
of the rest of the forest, so that made it really easy to ignore how high up I was.

My climbing chaperone Matt climbed up further to get this wonderful photo,
almost makes me giddy looking at it!

Next Blog Post:  Day 3 of the BioBlitz

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Where Art meets Science - Part 1

How long has it been since you were up a tree?  I mean, like REALLY up a tree.  Recently I had the privilege to sit in the canopy of a 48metre strangler fig in the middle of a rainforest.....

It was all part of an art-science BioBlitz at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, which is an island of rainforest in the mountains in the Sunshine Coast hinterland (an hour from my home).  Ok, so they really aren't mountains like some cities have, but in flat coastal Queensland they're pretty impressive.

I was selected to be one of six artists-in-residence for the BioBlitz, held over 4 days.  Five huge Stranger Figs were chosen as our focus of the project.  We worked alongside tree climbers, scientists and lots of like-minded volunteers - a wonderful opportunity for collaboration and 'to look over the shoulder' at science methodologies and discoveries.

My fellow artists and I had a job to do though - each fig had a blank visual diary assigned to it, and our job as artists was to respond creatively in each book to the tree, its surrounds, its biodiversity, and the activity of the BioBlitz.

I've got so much to share with you, I'm going to blog about it in several posts.  I wasn't able to blog during the BioBlitz as I was busy focusing on the job at hand, and enjoying the amazing forest!

Day 1 
On the first day, it rained and rained and rained.  Wonderful because we seriously needed the rain and the fungi scientists were ecstatic.  Not so wonderful as the BioBlitz got off to a slow start due to safety issues. 

I managed to escape into the forest in the afternoon.  My first tree was BarrBarr (Tree 2).   This was a tricky one, involving a log crossing over creek, then through the tangle of forest for 20 metres.  I spent a rewarding couple of hours in the rain, sketching at the base of the tree, before heading back to BioBlitz HQ to use my mini gelli plate to work in my visual diary.

The BioBlitz team

Standing in the rain, checking out the trees on
the first morning.
Leeches were an issue, they kept dropping
from the trees above us!

Misty in the rainforest.  Its the first time I've
walked through a rainforest in the rain - beautiful!
(except for the leeches)

Selfie with BarrBarr

Drawings, watercolour and gelli prints inspired by
looking through a microscope at mosses


A double page spread in the visual diary
using leaves from BarrBarr - gelli prints and drawings

Next Blog post:  Days 2 & 3 of the BioBlitz