Thursday, December 17, 2015

Drypoint and Carborundum

I'm currently working towards an exhibition in March at Grassland Art Gallery in Tambo with fellow artist Jo Taylor from Barcaldine.  The exhibition is titled "Big Smoke Little Smoke' and explores our personal relationships of where we live in relation to the natural world around us.

I'll be posting snippets of my progress to my blog as I create new works for the exhibition.

In the past week I've been working on a large drypoint for a piece titled 'Call of the Currawong, Brisbane CBD'.  This work is based on a personal experience - I observed a pair of Currawongs living in the Brisbane city area amongst the tall office buildings.  It struck me how very different that landscape is to their natural area in the Great Dividing Range, and I wondered how they had adapted to it.  And why did they choose the CBD as their habitat?

The essence of the work is the feeling of the movement of the birds as they fly between the buildings and their calls echoing off the solid structures, as opposed to the thick lush canopy of the forest.

So in my drypoint I used flowing lines and imagery of currawongs in flight, with carborundum grit to add dimension and tone.

The plate is a cardboard product I hadn't tried before, though I have used homemade plates of sealed mat board.  Its slightly bigger than A3, so quite a job to ink up.

My first few attempts to print onto tissue weren't overly successful but it did print nicely on soaked fabriano.  I plan to cut and collage the finished prints onto boards - this would have been easier with the tissue but I'll sit and think some more about the next step before I proceed.  Such is the nature of art and experimenting - things don't always go to plan and I always need to keep an open mind when on the 'journey' of creating!

Wiping off the ink to reveal the imagery

The inked plate

Finished print (detail)

Finished print (detail)

I took this photo as I cleaned up the plate,
I loved the tones left behind

Friday, December 4, 2015

Collaboration and Exchange

In late October, I attended a workshop at Noosa Regional Gallery, facilitated by artists Susan Bowers and Fiona Dempster in conjuction with their exhibition 'pas de deux'.  Their exhibition featured a series of artists books that they had created in a collaborative partnership.  I traveled up to the gallery to attend their very inspiring artist talk and workshop, making a full day of 'me time'.....a bit of luxury.

The project for the workshop was to 'collaborate' with either Susan or Fiona to make an artist book - they provided some of their own precious artwork plus some blank papers, and we were given permission to use their work in our books.  They also supplied inks, graphite, glue, thread etc for us to play with. Heaven!  I also took along some of my own prints so I could include them if needed.

There wasn't enough time to fully complete my book on the day, so I took my 'work-in-progress'  with me on holidays to Kangaroo Island a couple of weeks ago to continue working on it.

I did some drawing, stitching, and of course, gelli plate printing.  I discovered some wonderful bird netting at a local handware store on Kangaroo Island, bought 90c worth, and had a ball printing with it.  Definitely my new favourite toy!

The book is now finished, many thanks to Susan for allowing me to work with her etchings.  Her blog is here, she creates beautiful, sensitive work.

I very much enjoyed being on the receiving end of a workshop where I could play freely with someone else's materials and work.  It has opened my mind to other possibilities.

The restricted colour pallet was definitely a deviation from my normal choices so it was a challenge for me to keep it muted and earthy.  Hmmmm, I suddenly feel the need for some bright aqua blue and olive green!  I'd better get back to the studio  :-)

Printing using the gelli plate and bird netting

Printing in my 'studio' in our motorhome

Loose drawing to echo Susan's markmaking on her etchings

Some of the book pages - stitching, layering, printing, painting

Susan's work on the left, mine on the right

A piece of Susan's work stitched to mine

I stitched a couple of pieces of Susan's work
with crosses to echo the crosshatching of her etched lines

One of my favourite pages - gelli print with watercolour and pen

This page opens up to Susan's work

I used the gelli plate to echo Susan's lines

The finished book

I added some 'bling' on the coptic binding

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Monoprints from my Studio

I've been busy monoprinting this month, here is a selection of completed prints.  The scrub turkey has made another appearance, this time I experimented with subdued colours of blues and greys.  I also started on a bee series, inspired by a native bee workshop I recently attended.

'Society' - bee monoprint

'Kin' - bee monoprint with collage.

"Natural Selection' - I reused egg stencils from
 one of my original scrub turkey series.

'Natural Selection' - I love the contrast between
the turkey imagery and the serrated banksia leaves.

'Wonder' - banksia love!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My unique fashion label

Last week I had the dye pot out doing some eco-dyeing on cotton t-shirts.  Great fun! Then the second stage was monoprinting leaves onto the shirts.  Below are photos of the printing in progress and the finished shirts.

Revealing the monoprint, using dwarf banksia leaves

Printing using 'interesting' gum leaves - lots of holes makes for
a print with character!

The finished shirt and gum leaves after printing

The banksia t-shirt finished
And then I used the same gum leaves to do some monoprints on paper, here are a couple of the resulting prints.  I've titled them 'Where I meet the Earth'.  The prints reminded me of looking down at decaying leaf litter on a rainforest floor - perhaps one of those memorable occasions when I'm checking my hiking boots for leeches!   ;-)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Postcard Swap by Vast Arts Queensland

Help support Vast Arts, a  not-for-profit community organisation which supports regional Queensland artists.  Make 3 postcards, you receive two back from other artists.  One of your postcards will be acquired by Vast Arts for sale to raise funds.

More information here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


My latest artist book project features NaturePrint Paper I bought in the USA on my recent rip. This specially prepared paper is coated with light-sensitive chemicals, creating a white on blue print of whatever object is placed on it, aka cyanotypes.

For my project, I selected a range of different fern fronds.  I'm obsessed about ferns, and use them a lot in my monoprints, so it seemed fitting to try them out with this sunprinting process.  Previously I have used ferns and the sun to do prints on t-shirts, see my blog post here.

I exposed the ferns onto the paper with my solar etching frame for about 2 minutes in the sun, then rinsed in water for a minute.

Exposing in the sun

After sun exposure, you can see where the fern was on
the paper.  Rinsing in water causes the colour to develop.

I then used a re-purposed box to house the book, which is in a simple concertina format on blue card. I also included a poem that I wrote in haiku style:

understorey light
pattern stippled into shade
twilight silhouettes

I've photographed the book insitu - a rainforest floor, complete with maidenhair fern, mossy logs and leaf litter.  Appropriate I thought, given the title of the book 'Understorey'.  
Creating the book allowed me to explore a variety of fern imagery, concentrating on shape and pattern, with a simple non-messy process.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Moving on....a new eco-dyed artist book

At my recent exhibition 'Insight + Onsite', I sold a couple of my artist books.  One of them, 'Fern Gully' was quite dear to my heart, so in order to cope with my 'loss' (a good loss!), I had to make another book to replace it.

Using the same concertina structure of sewn double sided pages, I needed to find some double sided prints in my collection.  I found a concertina book, in the form of a 'snake' book, of eco-dyed backgrounds with monoprinted leaves.  Perfect!

The Eco-dyed snake book being deconstructed with a stanley knife!

I cut up the book (gasp!) then sewed the pages into a concertina strip of card, and attached little wooden beads and hard covers.  As a decorative element for the outside of the spine, I attached a small piece of handmade paper featuring gelatine prints.

Sewing the pages onto the spine using pamphlet stitch
and waxed linen thread

The finished spine

View of the book with covers on.
The covers are box board covered in mulberry paper.
 And to finish, I made a band out of card and a monoprint to slip on when the book is closed.

The finished book, with slip on band.

Sigh... now I feel better!  I named this book 'Underfoot' - it gives me a feeling of dragging my feet through leaf litter in a rainforest.  The purple colour of the spine and the earthy orange colour of the covers remind me of colourful fungi on rotting mossy logs.  Those colours are also reflected in the eco-dyed prints.

I think this book will be a new favourite of mine....until I make the next one (which I'm working on at the moment!).

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Insight + Onsite

From Tuesday 18th August to Thursday 27th August, I'll be working onsite at the Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens with artist Catherine Money.  Please pop in and say hello and see our latest works.  You'll also have the opportunity to contribute to our 'hanging sketchbook' collaborative work, with us guiding you through various art techniques like drypoint and relief printing or whatever you like.  Be inspired by our work, the extensive gardens and the reference books we'll have on hand.  There's plenty of walks through the gardens as well as lots of spots for picnics to enjoy our beautiful August weather.

Further information about the exhibition is on our invitation below.

All welcome, anytime between 10am and 3pm.  Open every day except Monday 24th August.

I'll be posting to my blog during the exhibition, for those of you who are unable to visit us and see what we get up to!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Monoprinting in Blackall

My final few days of my trip to the Central West of Queensland was a 2 day monoprinting workshop at Blackall.

My first trip to Blackall was 2 years ago when I did an artist in residence in association with Flying Arts and Blackall Cultural Association.

Jo and I travelled south from Barcaldine, and set up Maggie the etching press, and I shared my passion for monoprinting with 6 keen ladies.

I had a great time, and due to the small class size, I was able to print as well.

The photos speak for themselves......

Lorelei enjoying her printing.

Some of Lorelei's prints - an outback theme.
Jo printing - a big plate!

Ros positioning leaves on her plate, ready for printing.

One of Ros's prints from the plate she's working on
 in the previous photo.
Sally with her underwater themed prints.
Group shot with Maggie the press.
I'm holding one of Ros's prints as she was absent for
the photo.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Exploring the Central West

As part of my week with Barcaldine artist Jo Taylor, we travelled around her local area, including a day trip a couple of hours north.

My time spent in the Barcaldine community with Jo has been a very enlightening one for a city girl like me.  I've now seen the effects of the drought first hand, from the dry brown landscape to the never-ending line up of dead kangaroos killed on the roadside.

The rich red colour of the dirt and dust is amazing, particularly juxtaposed against the blue of the cloudless sky.  Its been a little warmer than usual and of course, no rain.

Our road trip took us up to an area not often visited by tourists - Gray Rock and Horsetailer's Gorge. The day was one of wildlife viewing, with Jo's knowledge of local plants and animals giving me an insight into the areas we visited.

Bushman's Clothes Pegs (grevillea glauca).  These
amazing seed pots were up to 5cm across and really hard.
The name refers to its historical use.

Black cockatoos feeding on the ground.

The dry landscape on the road to Aramac.

This is Jo after digging around in ochre powder - she's not doing
a mime impression!
Australian Bustard - one of my favourite birds I saw here.
Aramac selfie!

During the week we also worked in Jo's art studio on the verandah of her house in Barcaldine.  I taught her how to process solar etching plates, using her bathroom as a darkroom and the sun for exposures.  I worked on a series of monoprints using wren imagery and local plants, including leaves from a Black Iron Box tree.

Embossing on the reverse side of a monoprint.

Print in progress.  I'm lifting off grass from
a finished print.

Me printing using Jo's press 'Maggie'.
Happy days!

Jo and I in her studio.
p.s. I printed my apron using eco-dyeing and
solar dyes.

Here I'm lifting the print off the plate after printing.