Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lord Howe Island Travel Diary - DONE!

Here are some photos of my completed travel diary that I wrote about in a previous post.  The diary is a memento of my recent week at Lord Howe Island, and contains my daily diary entries, likes and dislikes, bird and plant sightings, as well as gelli plate prints and photographs.

There's nothing 'scrapbook' pretty about my travel diaries, just a practical simple approach that reflects my no fuss approach to my art practice.

My journal started as a blank pre-made recycled book.

Every night I wrote in my journal, spacing the entries with
blank pages to fill with photos and other items afterwards.
I get my photos printed at Officeworks as 'collage' photos,
so that the photos are half the usual size.

I added information about birds that I saw on the island,
using snippets of flyers and brochures.

On the left, my artwork (a gelli plate print) ;
on the right a bought card
featuring the artwork of an island resident.
Other people's artwork provides another viewpoint
of the locations visited.

On the left, a photo collage of the boys BBQing,
and on the right, a gelli plate print on a used tea bag
overlaid on a photo of a sunset.  The tea bag
is only glued at the top, so can be lifted to reveal
the photo underneath.

My 'likes' and 'dislikes' page that I always
have in my travel diary, compiled during the trip.
I find this type of list is great a summary of the trip,
and there are always more 'likes' than 'dislikes'!

With some photos, I used the embellishing tools available
at the Officeworks photo kiosk to give different effects -
for example washouts, sepia, intensity.
This helps give more variety and fun to the images.

Pockets in my journals are handy to store bulky
items that I don't want to stick in.

A collage of photos and brochure information about
Heart Urchins, which I found on the beach.
Including both information and photos gives depth
to the recording of my experiences.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eco-Dyeing on Paper at Bec's Mt Tamborine Studio

Here are some photos from my recent workshops at Bec Andersen's studio at Mt Tamborine.  We did eco-dyeing on paper - two brews - Iron and Cabbage.  The cabbage brew wasn't a particularly strong one so we didn't get much grey blue colours but we still had a great time and everyone gained the skills to do their own dyeing at home.

Thanks again to Bec for being her wonderful 'hostess' self on the day, making my job so much easier. The yummyshared lunch on the studio verandah is always a treat.

I'll back in November 2015 to hold more monoprinting workshops with my etching press 'Thumper' so send me a message via this post or via my email if you'd like to be contacted closer to the date with more information and to book in.

Bundles ready for the dye pot
The dye pots.  We also used Bec's UMI Cooker which
allowed bigger bundles.
"This eco-dyeing is good enough to eat!"
Thanks Bec!

A bundle in the making, featuring leaves,
onion skins and pomegranate.

Eco-dyed papers drying, beautiful colours!
View from the studio window,
featuring one of Bec's monoprints
from one of my previous workshops.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Getting creative on Lord Howe Island

I've just returned from a blissful week on Lord Howe Island, off the NSW Coast of Australia.

Lord Howe Island is a small volcanic island, dominated by two mountains, and rich with bird life and tropical plants.  Mobile phones don't work on the island and there's very limited internet access, so as well as being a beautiful place to be, its also a rare opportunity to step away from electronic gadgetry and take a breath of fresh air.

And of course, being the eager artist, I packed my 2kg of art supplies, no mean feat given our check-in luggage was limited to 14 kgs (and my empty bag weighed 4kgs).

For this trip I completed a travel journal, opting for a blank book that I had already made.  

Other items in my art kit:
- small gelli plate (3"x5")
- 3 tubes of paint (blue, black, brown)
- rubber roller
- watercolour travel set & brush
- washi tape, brads, sewing thread & needle
- pens and pencils
- awl, small scissors
- glue stick & glue tape
- various small pieces of paper to print on
- small plastic bags for plant 'samples'.

All of this was packed into a clear plastic clip box that I bought from Officeworks, and fit snugly into the bottom of my suitcase.

On our hikes and daily outings, I gathered small plant samples.  I didn't have access to a microwave oven so I couldn't dry my samples to take home, but opted for printing to record them.

Some of the prints were done on postcard blanks, which I wrote on and posted home.  These will go into my travel journal when they arrive.

Each afternoon, I wrote of the day's events in my travel journal.  I also wrote of list of birds and plants observed, using small guides I bought at the museum to help with identification.  And a favourite of mine is to write a 'Likes' and 'Dislikes' list of my trip, a summary of the more 'memorable' parts of the trip.

During the trip, I collected brochures, maps, postcards, and cards. These all have been attached into the journal using various means - glued, taped, or sewn.

After I get home, I print a selection of my favourite photos to put into the journal, printing them half size so I can fit more in.

And I always aim to have my journal finished within a week of returning from my holiday, otherwise it all gets forgotten in the return to daily routines.....!

The text, photos and other attachments together with my small 'on the spot' artworks provide a multi-faceted approach, leaving me with a lasting tactile memory to refer back to after the adventure has ended.

A view over the Eastern side of the Island

I'm writing some 'on the track' impressions
 on a hand printed postcard.
Not poetry, not sentences....just words,
that's all that's needed.

A Heart Urchin Shell, washed up.
It inspires so much, an object of beauty.
The live urchin is less exciting, the lovely design
hidden beneath small furry spines.

The lines and colours of the Kentia Palm trunks
make an interesting visual arrangement.

The intense aqua blue of the ocean will keep inspiring
artworks when I'm in my studio.

Selfie - printing in the kitchen area of our accommodation.
There's nothing more liberating than having a limited
range of art materials to work with.

Gelli plate printing in progress

Gelli Plate prints of local plants,
printed onto postcard blanks, japanese papers and tags

Ghost prints on Japanese papers -
these ones will go in my travel journal.
An alternative to putting the actual plant material
into my journal.  Much more fun!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Eco Dyeing on Paper Workshop

I'm running an eco-dyeing on paper workshop at Mt Tamborine on 29 November - and there's only a few places left to fill.

We're going to be folding paper then dyeing it 'shibori' style using a natural brew of eucalyptus leaves and fruits and vegetables (yum!) to achieve beautiful reds, oranges, greens, purples and blues.  And by using bundling techniques, we achieve detailed prints of leaves, plant material and other objects onto the paper.

Its a fun creative day, no drawing or art experience necessary.  Just a willingness to put your witches hat on and cackle with the rest of us over a hot brew......

The workshop is being organised by Bec, who has a gorgeous art studio in her backyard (lucky girl!). If you're interested in booking in, call her on 0438 147 352.

Her flyer for the workshop is below, as well as a few photos of my delicious eco-dyed papers.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Using a MicroFleur Microwave Press

I've owned a MicroFleur Microwave Press ( for some time, but hadn't really used it until recently.  I usually press my leaves using phone books and plenty of time, but thanks to Robyn (at my Kenilworth workshop) I've become aware of the advantages of pressing leaves when on site, rather than transporting phone books (heavy and bulky).  I prefer to monoprint with pressed leaves (not necessarily bone dry) as they are easier to handle and don't  leak plant juices.

To use the MicroFleur system you need a microwave, so that rules out camping and some hotel rooms, but is good for cabins and self-contained accommodation.

I took my MicroFleur press on a recent trip to Margaret River in Western Australia - a great opportunity as its currently wildflower season, so there were lots of plants in flower.

But my greatest find was the Bull Banksia - my new favourite banskia!  It has an unusual leave shape - very dramatic.  I used my MicroFleur press to remove the moisture from the leaf and flatten it, then stored it in a plastic folder to transport home.  I've now got a folder full of interesting leaves and plants for future printing sessions.

Out riding on the Munda Biddi Trail, with a Bull Banksia

A Native Wisteria, beautiful!

On a rail trail between Margaret River and Cowaramup

One of the locals wasn't happy about disturbing him
on the track!

Bull Banksia

Bull Banksia

MicroFleur Microwave Press

Inside the press, felts and cotton sheets.
Note the burn marks - I got a bit overzealous and left
it in the microwave too long a few times!

My folder with the pressed plants, to take home

Pressed Bull Banksia leaves

A gelli plate print, using the Bull Banksia,
more prints below.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Monoprinting at Kenilworth

This week I spent 4 days in rural Kenilworth on the Sunshine Coast hinterland running a monoprinting workshop, using both my etching press 'Thumper' and gelli plates to create images.

I had a small class of 4 students - Kylie, Robyn, Denise and Wendy, plus Morag for one day of gelli plate printing.

The resulting prints were spectacular and varied, showing off the individual art talents and styles.

Its always great to have several days in a workshop to help everyone to embrace the new techniques and different ways of creating images, and this really showed in the prints the girls created.  Well done!

Denise's Banksias.
She used a lot of objects in this print,
 but the repetition of the banksia shape
 and the horizontal and vertical lines make it all work together
in a vibrant and energetic image.

Denise at the press with her plate and a print

Kylie's Fern print - beautiful lines and colours.
The detail of the middle fern is 3-dimensional and
together with the rich colours,
it gives the print its WOW factor.

Kylie at the press working on her Magpie series,
lots of work to construct but worth it in the end

Robyn's delicate print,
Subtle colours and repetition of
line and shape, with the zing of the red
ginkgo leaf popping out from behind.

Robyn's fern print on music paper,
created via a gelli plate.  This one was created by
printing the fern onto the plate then onto the paper.
Also lots of washes and delicate background colours to
set the main image off without overpowering it.

Robyn at the press, with her print and plate

Wendy's gelli plate fern print - lots of
layers and interesting marks.  The white fern is a ghost print,
very carefully orchestrated to provide a focal point
 on a busy background.

Wendy's print - I call this 'Steam Punk',
a very industrial but earthy print.
It works well with a variety of shapes, textures and lines.

Wendy at the press with one of her final prints -
gorgeous colours and textures.
Her 'graduation' print I think!

"Legs up!" for the group shot after 4 days of printing,
showing off their favourite prints.
I managed to do a couple of prints as well just for fun.