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!

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