I have been focusing on painting over the last few months, to finish my Diploma of Visual Arts at SWTAFE in Warrnambool. You can see some of my landscapes in acrylics by clicking on the Paintings tab in the menu (left). I also need to complete a unit on still life painting and a coherent body of work. So lots more painting before the year is over, although I might try some watercolours and oil painting.
Since I sold the last few ‘Heart of the Southern Ocean’ prints, I have been working on the two lino plates pictured. A humpback breaching and three Orcas creating a ‘bait ball’ of small fish. There will be 20 of each hand printed on 100% cotton rag paper, in dark blue and black ink, respectively.
These 100% wool cushion covers are dyed using brown onion skins and eucalyptus leaves. I sourced secondhand woolen blankets and cut them to size, wrapped them around copper pipe and pieces of wooden decking, layered with leaves and then placed them in the large boiler. After simmering for several hours and leaving them overnight to cool, the colours and patterns were revealed.
A local lady, who worked as a machinist at Fletcher Jones, sews the zippers in and now I have six of these available for sale. No two cushions are the same, so each is an original hand made piece of art for your enjoyment!
What a great way to spend an autumn Saturday! While others were enjoying the football and netball, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with local artist, Caroline Healy. Caroline has a bright and bubbly personality and offers encouraging and constructive feedback. The aim of the day was to have fun, learn new skills and finish with an acrylic seascape.
Some of the good tips I took away from the workshop was to undercoat with red (easier to see where you haven’t painted and gives the work warmer tones), use masking tape for a straight horizon line and keep working until you’re happy. I still have a bit more work to do with both these, before varnishing. I really recommend taking one of Carolyn’s classes, even if you think you can’t paint or haven’t done any painting since leaving school. It is a wonderful way to relax, meet lovely people and maybe surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
We had a lovely morning in Hamilton for our first HIRL Farmer’s and Craft market stall. The HIRL is a wonderful hay bale and mud brick building, surrounded by community gardens and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Reserve. Lots of preserves, honey and baked goods, olives, fruit, vegetables and homegrown produce. My new fabric products (tote bags, tea towels and cushion covers) sold well, so I have some more printing to do!
It has been a really busy few weeks since my last post, with Christmas and New Year’s festivities, two markets at Port Fairy and two birthdays in the family. So lovely busy, not exhausting busy. Today I had the opportunity to travel to Portland Bay Press with my printmaking and market buddy, Denise Regan. We had lots of visitors pop in to the Julia Street Creative Space and the printmaking studio. We often get comments that people remember linocut from secondary school and I try to guess whether it was a positive or negative experience for them.
So this, my first linocut for 2019, is a sequel to “Upwelling”, featuring the Southern Right Whale and calf. This species of whale is a regular visitor to Warrnambool during winter, when sheltered beaches along the Southern coast become whale nurseries. I wonder if you can see the anatomical heart in the image?
I love the effect of linoprint on different textures, so I have been trialling some alternative fabrics and papers with these little bandicoots. Top left is white paper on a 30cm x 30cm canvas and top right is eco-dyed paper on unbleached, organic linen. Bottom left is the eco-dyed paper with several coats of shellac and mounted with wooden strips and leather hanger. Lastly, a 100% unbleached, organic linen tea-towel with the print. Which do you like best?
You might have heard of the Coastcare project that uses Italian sheepdogs to protect the Little Penguins on Middle Island in Warrnambool. In 2016, the Environment Minister announced funding to support a Guardian Dog trial that uses Maremmas as “Bandicoot Bodyguards”, so these little marsupials could be protected from foxes and feral cats outside their fenced enclosures.
This piece is a commission for a conservation ranger who works to maintain 100 acres of remnant bushland in SW Victoria, one of only three places in the world where Eastern Barred Bandicoots survive in their natural habitat. This species is classified as extinct in the wild, with only about 1,500 surviving in zoos and captive breeding programs.
The background is intaglio printed from a collagraph plate with pressed kangaroo grass, while the bandicoots are printed from a shape-cut linoprint. It was quite challenging getting the tone balanced across both processes and each of the eight prints are very different. I will have six prints available for sale at the next Port Fairy Community Market on 22nd December. The mounted print only is $80 and framed prints are $120.
This Saturday we had our first stall at the Port Fairy Community Market in Railway Place. It was lovely to speak to people who seemed genuinely interested in the different printmaking processes, some of whom remembered linoprinting from high school days. I was very pleased to sell several of my collagraphs and two more “Upwelling” prints. There are only five of twenty left in the edition. I was delighted to sell one of the prints to a newly married couple for their new home, so I hope they get many years of enjoyment by having this work on their wall. I will need to get busy for the next market in a fortnight’s time, so I have more prints available.
On the 20th October, the “Small Things Festival” was held on the Civic Green, outside the Warrnambool Art Gallery. It coincided with the launch and opening of the Paul Jennings exhibition, “Unreal”, so there were lots of children and families about.
Encouraged by the enthusiastic Colleen Hughson, Denise Regan and I brought our collections of marine plastics to create a mandala from debris washed up at local beaches. With the assistance of many of the children who attended, we formed a colourful pattern about 4m across over four hours or so.
During that time we talked to families about the issue – sources, alternatives and solutions to the huge problem of ocean pollution. The kids had the most creative ideas, suggesting alternatives to balloons as decorations, such as coloured flags, paper chains and lanterns, piñatas, bubbles and paper confetti.
We were able to collect signatures of over 80 people pledging not to use plastic cotton buds. We hope to present this to manufacturers and local suppliers, so alternatives can be made available in Warrnambool.
It was a great experience, with stalls promoting environmentally friendly products and workshops demonstrating sustainable practices.
“Eastern Barred Bandicoot” is a copperplate, hard-ground etching in sepia.
“Time to Leave the Pouch” is a copperplate, hard-ground etching in grey.
These two images were created using a copper plate, rolled with hard ground (a bitumen-like medium) and etched with a sharp implement. Submerged in ferric acid for about 20 minutes, the exposed lines are further etched. White areas are then painted with bitumen and the plate sprayed with acrylic (in lieu of the aquatint process) and submerged for another five or so minutes. Turpentine is used to remove the hard ground and bitumen prior to printing. This site, Non-toxic Printmaking, has several alternatives to the traditional methods.
Before the plates are printed, the edges are filed at an angle of 45 degrees to prevent cutting the wool mats. The plates are warmed before inking, to reduce the amount of ink used and to make the ink more fluid and movable. After gentle wiping with tarlatan, the plates are polished with paper and put through the printing press.