Some of you will know that I have been preparing for a while for a solo exhibition in the access space at Umbrella Studio gallery, next April. This will be my third solo exhibition, although the second one in 2014 was a relatively impromptu exhibition of small works, quite a few already made beforehand . For this one I have had time to think, probably too much 🙂 . The theme is our local bower bird, the Great Bower Bird. I (and more so my husband…) have spent many hours observing and photographing this bird, especially the males and their bowers, and occasionally the females as they approach the bower. I can honestly say that if I liked this bird before, now I love it! Their behaviour is incredibly interesting, long hours of effort invested to mate.
I have learned a lot, still many things to do to complete everything I need to do, and waiting after to show the complete images, but here is a little pick at process, a photo of the beautiful male displying its pink crown, and a previous image of a small etching I did some time ago. Hope you like it 🙂
I think I am finding myself in a period of introspection because I want to make my art more meaningful and rich. Trying to clarify what it is that I want to do and also, importantly, how. I like many media and find myself continuously going from one to the others, so perhaps mixing them will be ultimately where I get.
However, in the meantime I also feel I need to be better technically at everything, but especially so at the printmaking media. So I jumped in at the opportunity and went to Melbourne to take two printmaking workshops at the Firestation Print Studio, one by Jazmina Cininas and one by Sarah Amos. Jazmina is a master in reduction linocut and Sarah is a master in collagraphs. They were both fantastic, very different techniques, very different approaches, very different teachers, which for me was perfect because I learned not only about the actual techniques, but also about variability in artistic process and approach. So, after worrying a lot about how much money I was investing on my practice, I feel it was very much worth it 🙂 fiu!
The artistic side was very stimulating but in addition I was extremely lucky to be offered accommodation with the loveliest couple you can imagine, Kathleen and Stuart, who so kindly offered me a place to stay in a beautiful part of town with very easy access to everything. It was truly wonderful and in spite of the short time, we became good friends and will always remember those days. They inspired me in many ways, healthy habits and attitudes to life. I have already made our own rich, healthy cereal and chocolate snack…….
I was keen to come back and try the techniques. Since it has only been a few days, I started with this linocut and I am pleased with the result. I learned a few things in the process (one of them that I would loooove to have one of the big, at least 30cm rollers!, not very likely for a good while!). I am sure each image presents different challenges, but hopefully I am learning to be less scared at having a go. This image is of a male sunbird, common in North Queensland. Size 32×25.5 cm. This work simply celebrates the beauty of our local nature and its beautiful birds. Sunbird are very small and although their yellow colour is quite strong and makes them easy to spot, sometimes you have to look carefully through the leaves to find them.
Bowerbirds are fascinating. I only have to walk for 5 minutes to see at least two bowers in the park, often active with the males displaying. Here in North Queensland we have the Great Bowerbird (species name Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis), which in spite of the exquisite complex behaviour is so common that we can delight in it, or probably often simply ignore it. The males build a ‘bower’ to attract the female. Different species have different types of bowers, some tidier than others, but the Great Bowerbird has a very beautiful one. It is built with numerous sticks, quite dense, forming two arched walls. The bower is adorned with ‘treasure objects’ many man-made that the birds find atttractive and ‘steal’ to take back for their bower. They even steal from each other!
My latest linocut shows a male by its bower. This one in particular had lots of white and red ornaments with white round pieces of styrofoam and red tops, and silver/grey screws. It is quite fascinating but somehow also sad to see bowers so full of our waste objects. It makes me wonder what the changes have been in time of the objects birds put in their bowers and how will it be in many years down the track.
I hope you all had a refreshing holiday. Ours has been hot…. pretty hot! one would think that as time goes by we get used to the climate where we live, but it does not feel that way. The fans are on 3 at night or reluctantly we have been putting the air conditioning on (it is nice to think that we ‘adapt’ but too many bad nights of sleep is a recipe for grumpiness!). However, it is still beautiful, the birds are active, the plants are green from the recent rain and I have been plugging along in the studio, full of plans in my head but also needing to give time to some projects that must be completed soon.
I received a beautiful small print from a dear friend, a linocut from the artist Anne Curtis, who is based in Port Douglas. She makes linocuts and uses the reduction method. The work is very impressive, even more up close than when you see it in photos. The colours are very bright and there are lots of details. Here is a close up detail of the work I now own.
I like the idea of the reduction method, it seems that registration should be easier and one uses less blocks. So I decided to have a try by making a small woodcut, 15 by 10 cm.
I missed the first two steps in the photos, where I used a light pink/flesh colour and a slightly darker one for the darker value in the face. I can see what went well and what didn’t. It was interesting to add a white final layer over the black background. The white does not really become white, which was the goal, and I think the bandana looks better without the dark surrounding… perhaps more natural?
Still lots to learn. Registration was easier but not perfect (I am just not very good at precise work!) and the order in which to apply colours needs careful thought. But definitely will keep trying!