News throughout 2020
2020 started like not that long ago and is almost over! I think that the presence in social media, something I find is a must for an emerging artist like myself, takes away the energy necessary to update blogs and websites. I still think a website is necessary, so I will continue, ever slowly, until something tells me it is not anymore.
I do not want to say much about the presence of COVID-19, it has been so present in all of our lives, except to say that I hope you are ok ?. It has been very sad to see the little support artists have received from the government during this time. Ironically, my impression is that many people have found important solace in art during this time and artists have been incredibly generous in sharing. So thank you!
A very quick summary of my most important artistic achivements this year:
- This was the first time I entered the Libris Book Award, a biennial artist book award held in Australia, at the Artspace gallery in Mackay. I was extremely happy to be selected as a finalist and although I did not win anything, my book was purchased by the gallery, so being in their amazing collection of artist books is a dream come true. My book was a small concertina book that in a way captures my art through this last decade. I used details of many of my figurative woodcuts, focusing on faces, and translated them into solar plates. Below each image there is a text that reflects the meaning of the image at the time I made it. The cover of the book is a small woodcut with a face and the book is called ‘Caras de Madera’ (faces in wood). The Spanish title seemed to suit the best because it brings my culture into the book
Needless to say the exhibition was fantastic. The variety of books and techniques incredibly inspiring.
2) Ignoring the fact that I have never been into painting I explored oil painting this year and have come to love it. I was asked to have a small exhibition at the Perc Tucker gallery, at the Vault Space, a small area used to showcase artists works for sale> This was somewhat unexpected and I wanted to continue my search with painting, so I showed a selection of small oil paintings as well as some drawings using mixed techniques. Over half of the works sold, mostly the oils so it was a great opportunity that pushed me to use different media.
Below is a selection of the works. I would loved to know where the sold works went, there are a few that I would have liked to have for a bit longer, just to see them 🙂 The one of the face at the bottom is probably my favourite.
3) I have come to understand that participating in awards is key to my own development. Not having the pressure of exhibitions or galleries that need my work, I find the goal imposed by entering awards pushes me to make works that are probably larger and more daring technically than what I often do as I simply ‘play’ in the studio.
I have been very lucky through the Townsville Art Awards, a yearly award of our city, held by the Townsville Art Society. This year I entered 3 pieces, two works on paper and one miniature and won the category for works on paper!
4) And to end this year, last week I received the wonderful news that one of my large woodcuts had been selected as a finalist for the Burnie Print Prize. This is the first time I entered this prize and I have now learned that being selected is the prize! everything else is a huge bonus. I am just so happy that my work is recognised as worthy of this competition. I am looking forward to hopefully visiting Tasmania next year, what a better excuse to go there? 🙂
There is much more but this post is long enough! For the time being, take lots of care, enjoy as much as possible every day, the simple things that we can so easily take for granted. Mil abrazos!
Good news at the Townsville Art Society Awards
I am really happy to say that I won the overall prize for the Townsville Art Society Awards this year, a second prize for the works on paper category and a highly commended also for that category. The winning piece is a largish woodcut (a mixture of multiple plates and reduction). Of course very happy with the news and extremely honoured. The judge was Ann Cape, an artist that I admire, so it was also a great bonus to talk to her and hear her comments about all the works.
A year in a (quick) review
I have been using Facebook and Instagram as a way to share my artistic experience. I do love sharing, often experiments, works in progress, little moments that result in a drawing. There is something about the reason for sharing that is hard to explain. I learn about what others like or perhaps don’t. I get to meet people, even if only in the virtual world, I get a lot of inspiration and I learn a lot at many other levels. It is very easy to post things in those platforms… not so much in the website! As a quick example, somehow I just deleted a page that had half of my bowerbird exhibition artworks as I was trying to complete it! so I decided to write a blog post instead 🙂
This year has been interesting and although I feel a bit flat at the end of the year, I think it is a reflection of lots of excitement and feeling during the year. What were the highlights?
- I won the Anna Eglitis Prize for Emerging regional artist at the Inkmasters Print Exhibition held in July. I went to see the exhibition in Cairns and felt very honoured to be amongst so many beautiful works. My artwork for this award was a large woodcut called ‘I would do anything for you’ . The prize consists of a residency at the Inkmasters Studio in Cairns, which I hope to do in the middle of next year
- I was a finalist at the Firestation Print Studio Monoprint prize, held in Melbourne in October. My entry was a relatively small ‘painterly’ work. It was very interesting to make this work, building the image with several passes on the press. Thinking back I am not 100% sure I could do it again!
I entered a couple of other Australian awards but did not get selected as a finalist. This is ok, I have now learned that reaching the finalist stage is a big achievement and it is in a way motivation to keep improving and finding my voice.
- I participated in a great project, the Overwintering Project, coordinated by a well known printmaker Kate Gorringe-Smith, who has been amazing at driving this project to a huge success. The project consists of using art to highlight the vulnerability of migratory birds that depend on habitat conservation in many different places around the world. Artists contributed a print, which has been exhibited at many different locations. You can read all about it here including seeing all the artworks so far (including mine 🙂
- I have been experimenting with other techniques besides relief printing focusing mostly on drypoint. The advantage for me is that this medium allows me to draw more freely, something I truly enjoy. Here is the largest work I have completed using this technique. There is a lot more to explore
- One of my prints is in a calendar for 2019!! This was an incredibly nice surprise. A few years ago I participated in a similar project where artists created a print of one of the bird species using the Bimblebox Nature Refuge. The area is threatened by the proposal of opening several mega mines. The artistic part of the project has been coordinated by Jill Sampson, another amazing and inspiring person and an artist too. Their website has a lot of information about the refuge, updates, art, education and much more. Have a look here Bimblebox Art project
- There is much more but I think this post in long enough! so I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas holiday and also a wonderful New Year 2019! Muy Feliz Navidad!
Preparations for an upcoming exhibition
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 🙂
It has been a long time…. I am finding that it is so much faster to post a photo of work in progress using facebook, and more recently instagram, that I tend to go that way rather than spend the time writing a post for the blog….. uhmmm I think that one of the benefits of blogging is that it makes me think about how to put in words things that are floating in my mind…. and that’s a good thing (to some degree)
I now find myself working full time, almost busier than when I held a paid job. I can’t complain, the more I make, the more I like it, which is a wonderful feeling, in spite of the failures that come along.
I am preparing work for a small solo exhibition on our local bowerbird, but in between moments when I need a break from ‘another bowerbird’ I am exploring other styles and techniques. More recently I have explored more the reduction print and the theme of refugees, making figurative work.
The last print is quite a departure for me, but somehow I feel is still strong, so I think I will explore this a bit more!
Time to get back 🙂
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.
Back to work in the New Year
Things are now back to normal after a nice relaxing, not too busy holiday break. I hope all of you had a nice time and feel refreshed to put the energy in for an interesting and great year!
In November last year I had the very fortunate experience of being selected as one of the finalists for the Rick Amor print prize.
This prize is every four years since it is held every two years but it shares the prize with the Rick Amor Drawing prize, so each has a turn every two years. The event was held at Montsalvat in Melbourne, which is a beautiful gallery. The winning work was a lithograh by Jim Pavlidis. It was indee a beautiful work, you have to see it close up to appreciate the richness of the lithographic marks.
My work was on the topic of refugees. It is called ‘Missing the colours from home’ and it combines various relief techniques, including woodcut and lino. An edition of 9.
This work developed slowly since I made decisions as to the background as I progressed. This is typical of me which it is sometimes a problem if I wait too long to make those decisions and then the wood or lino is cut! In this case it worked well and I was very happy with the result. The experience left me on a high, but what I am learning is that every work I start becomes a challenge in its own right and the process doesn’t seem to get any easier. It is a lot about allowing oneself to just make art and accept with a positive view the many works that don’t quite make it but still have immense value in the subtle learning that goes on all the time.
I have been in the studio every day this week just drawing, printing, painting… the more I do the more I want to do. The last two days I have been making small collagraphs, a medium I am very interested but definitely not very practiced on it. I’ll keep working on it for a little while 🙂
One small etching
I decided today to forget a little about some deadlines coming up and trying to produce work that can be displayed to a public and sometimes that helps so much in producing something one likes. It is however not easy to separate that feeling from the actual making of art. So today I worked with etching, and a little bit with trying to understand the aquatint process a bit more since I am really very very unfamiliar with it. I produced this small etching of a figure and I quite like it. There is really too many unpredictable things happening in the production of this image and I am sure a next one could be completely disastrous…! That I think is what attracts me to this process so I can’t be too tight about the way I work with this medium. In any case, at least today it worked 🙂
Thinking of Refugees
The continuing and increasing number of people having to leave their homelands and seek refuge somewhere else is very sad. It is in fact impossible to imagine how it feels to have to leave the home, the place, the friends, the life that you have known for a long time if not all of your life. It is hard to imagine how it feels to lack for food and water, to have to keep walking when you feel weak and sick….. oh, just imagining hurts.
Thinking about refugees has inspired some of my art. Last year I made an artist book (loose leafs enclosed in a folio) using etching as a technique. I wanted to show in some way the marks that having to become a refugee must leave and etching provided some very strong marks that did achieve what I wanted. I also made a concertina artist book using the monoprint technique
More recently I have been making small drawings. I am not sure yet what I want to do with them, usually I just want to draw and then find the inspiration in this topic and these people. When I start one of these drawings I use as a reference material from numerous sources, for example, the UNHCR, Medecins san frontiers, Amnesty International, and others. I find an image that inspires me and draw it. I don’t try to copy the image and make a portrait, both for copyright reasons but also because I want to see the image as a representation of so many more people. I just try to capture something and then let the drawing find its own way to a final result. Often the lines in the paper tell me what type of colour to use or mark to make.
The drawings are quite small. I think the size allows an intimacy that is difficult to get at a larger scale. Initially I didn’t have a plan for these drawings, but I am thinking that I will try to make another artist book with them. We will see. In the meantime below are some of these drawings.