Hand-coloured Magnolias


“I’ve always loved magnolia trees and their blooms—there’s something so beautiful about a magnolia blossom. It demands attention, and you can’t help but love those big, creamy petals and that fragrant smell.”~ Joanna Gaimes, The Magnolia Story

I haven’t had much success growing a magnolia tree on the farm, although I love to see the bare branches festooned with pink flowers in the early spring. They would have to be one of my favorite non-native trees. What I haven’t been able to capture here is the velvety brown undersides of the leaves and, of course, their lovely aroma!

Overwintering – Latham’s Snipe

Latham’s Snipe
Latham’s Snipe – collagraph

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” ~ Albert Einstein

After another very productive day at Portland Bay Press, in the Julia Street Creative Space, I finished my entry to the “Overwintering” project.  Congratulations to Kate Gorringe-Smith for initiating this wonderful project to raise awareness of our migratory birds.

Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) is a shy and cryptic bird that breeds in Japan and migrates to Victoria in the Spring and Summer. It was the existence of this bird at the Powling Street Wetland Reserve, in Port Fairy, that resulted in a VCAT ruling that a housing development be significantly scaled back to reduce habitat destruction. A committed group of local residents collected data that provided strong evidence that the site was crucial to the survival of this species. 

This winter habitat is critical to the bird’s survival, as it is here that it builds up it’s fat reserves by foraging for plants and a variety of mud-dwelling invertebrates. The creamy-yellow, energy-rich fat is what fuels it’s flight across the equator to the northern hemisphere. This fat is also what made the species a valuable food source and caused it to be hunted extensively until bans were introduced in 1970-1980. The species is listed as Near Threatened in Victoria and nominated for the Flora and Fauna Guarantee. (SWIFFT)

As a Biology teacher, what fascinates me about this bird, is it’s remarkable structural, functional and behavioral adaptations that enable it’s survival. Millions of years of evolution have resulted in individual birds that instinctively navigate their way across the globe. Seasonal cues cause constriction of the gizzard and liver and enlargement of the heart to power it’s epic journey. Extraordinary feathered camouflage make it disappear into the rushes and reeds of it’s wetland habitat. (Birdlife)


New Holland Honeyeaters

New Holland Honeyeaters
New Holland Honeyeaters – collagraph

“This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity.” ~ Edward de Bono

New Holland Honeyeaters are a common occurrence in our garden. They seem to love the Grevillea and Echium flowers, of which we have a few different species. This is a collagraph plate, produced from my old Botany herbarium, with the bird cut-outs pasted in. I chose one of my favourite colours, Payne’s Grey, for this print, to give it a smoky atmosphere.

Today I am working on another collagraph plate of Latham’s Snipe, for the “Overwintering” project and exhibition that may come to the Portland Bay Press gallery.  I rented a unit in Port Fairy for a short time, opposite the Powling Street Wetland Reserve, which is a known spring and summer habitat for this endangered bird. This species begin their migration in February and depart northern Australia in May. Their breeding grounds are in Japan, so they are protected under the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA).

Hand coloured Lotus pond


“From the mud of adversity grows the lotus of joy” – Carolyn Marsden

This linocut has been hand painted with watercolors, possibly a bit too soon after it was printed because the black ink has ‘reanimated’ in some places. Curse my impatience. One thing I need to learn from my art practice is to slow down and enjoy the process. Almost all my mistakes and imperfections are caused by rushing.

I am going to do a bit more work with this design to create a repeating pattern and recarve it. Since I have practiced with better quality tools, I can get finer detail and more consistent cross hatching. You can see another version of this print a few posts back, overlaid with a ghost print. Which one do you like best and what would you change to improve the image?

Ginkgo collagraph


“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control” ~ Julia Cameron

This plate (in progress) is a collagraph – cardboard cutouts glued to mount board with three coats of shellac. The intaglio ink is applied with a stiff brush and then wiped away and reapplied in a painterly fashion. I plan to use a graduated roll – green to yellow – to add more interest to the repetitive shapes. I might try eucalyptus leaves as well.

Eye to the tops’l


“Sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Unknown author

This nautical image was created from one of my grandmother’s photos, taken aboard the “Herzogin Cecile”. Pamela Cristobel Bourne was my father’s mother, who met my grandfather (Sven Eriksson) when he was the ship’s captain. She was an avid photographer, author and traveler, who recorded her adventures in two books, “Out of the World” and “The Duchess”. The ship is a big part of our family history and was wrecked off the coast of Devon in 1939.

Lotus Pond x 2


“I think in this life, it is important to be kind, be thankful and always be creative” ~ Bishop Brown

Yesterday I had a wonderful time at Portland Bay Press, which is part of the Julia Street Creative Space in Portland. They have an enormous water bath and huge press for members working in large formats, but I was very happy with the little Enjay. I inked up this plate from the beginning of the year, as I had only hand-burnished it before, pressed it and then turned the plate upside down for the ghost print. I quite like the effect and think it was my favourite print of the day.

A Shoal of Seahorses


“Nature is infinitely creative.  It is always producing the possibility of new beginnings.” ~ Marianne Williamson

The collective noun for seahorses can be both a “herd” and a “shoal” – I went for the more watery “shoal” for these four. I used coloured inks on wet paper for the backgrounds and then printed the linocut with Prussian Blue Caligo safewash. I had a very productive day at the Portland Bay Press, where members can use any of the Enjay presses and the well-equipped studio facilities. I look forward to meeting some of the members there, who are due to hang a new exhibition soon.

White-faced heron takes flight

White-faced heron takes flight
White-faced heron takes flight

“It is impossible to explain creativity. It is like asking a bird “How do you fly?” You just do.”~ Eric Jerome Dickey

This is a 15 x 15cm linocut – my second ever reduction print. The first layer is a graduated roll with blue ink and extender, to give a transparent effect. The three subsequent layers are light grey, dark grey and black printed with the same block, with cutting in between. I lost one print due to poor registration, but I am reasonably happy with the finished product. A better result could be achieved with a printing press and higher quality inks, but the school holidays are good for practicing the technique at home.

Safety in numbers


Safety in numbers – “Being part of a group makes one less likely to be harmed”

This is one of the first prints I made, using cardboard cutouts and the monotype method using a sheet of acetate. I love the sponteniety of monoprints and how a variety of effects can be created with simple tools. I have experimented with leaves and flower monoprinting to create backgrounds for linocut, which adds colour and texture.

Yesterday my two nieces visited and we used a gelatin-glycerin plate to create prints with leaves and bubble wrap. It made me smile to hear Chloe exclaim “I want to an artist!” with such enthusiasm.