Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


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Mungo 2 – Final Stage

 

Edges of Lake Mungo, 2017

Edges of Lake Mungo, 2017, mixed media and oil on canvas, 120×90 cm

 

In the slide show I photographed defined stages of the composition in an almost monochrome image.

This was a painting that came together without too much pushing and pulling around of compositional elements.  Because the textural elements influenced and constructed the form of the image I felt that colour should be minimal. I tried to depict various types of soil around the dark surface of the dried lake bed that consisted of clays hence the textured surface made from torn frottage taken from parts of the lake’s surface with compressed charcoal and oxide powder (now painted over) as well as grated earth coloured pastel mixed in gesso.

Ink in gesso formed the underpainting over which oil paint graded tones unified disparate pieces of paper (frottage) one of which contain the time and date of making the rubbed area illuminating the earth formation beneath the paper pressed over its surface.

I often find myself reversing the composition when I seem so sure that it’s the right way up and how i envisioned it in sketch form. Then somehow the oil paint medium, its capacity to flow, bleed, make random shapes as transparent and opaque edges meet. It’s at this moment that something else takes over and I have to put all pre-conceived ideas on to the side-lines but then later bring aspects of the original idea into the hopefully concise paint mark-making often with the addition of an oil paint stick. Always love line.

 

 

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Mungo 1 & 2 continued

Both canvasses have been turned up side down. While I previously started the underpaintings differently, the paint texture and imagery that developed through pouring paint and drawing into it with an oil paint stick demanded re appraisal. Frottage beneath looked too much and unfocused but additional paint and colour made me re think aspects of the intended topic. Both were in the direction of listing soil types but too general and a bit waffly all over the place.

The first image became about the journey of red soil through the dunes and the second became about the desiccated remnant Lake edge sand and clay from which constituted part of the dunes and Lunette.http://www.facebook.com/elainedesterreart/


Lake Mungo – continued

When I reviewed the previous stage I felt that the composition required more focus, energy and contrast before I added more colour. The direction of an elliptical line referring to the remnant Lake, drawn with an oil stick, gives the composition a dynamic element and energy. More tonal contrast also became an area of focus – focal point.

I wanted to suggest path of water through this Lunette landform. However the white gash at the top of the image is a little too overpowering so in the next paint layer I think pouring colour and tone paint consistencies over this area will bleed and coalesce into random texture. But first the layer beneath needs to dry.


Mungo Landscape – another stage

Top section of the composition was top heavy and needed some reduction and veiling. I mixed a grey with added red green and ultramarine in very small quantities making an earth -grey that I overpainted sides and top third of the composition obscuring shapes beneath.

Later when paint dries thoroughly I plan to swipe paint on a rag across raised areas exposing faintly raised parts of shapes beneath.

At this stage too the circular shape seemed to fight for attention so I painted it over with the grey shape that leaves exposed the main part of the painting and then with a soft rag whipped back some paint leaving part of the circle showing through faintly. Also left exposed is a triangle shape reminiscent of a Mungo dune beneath which is my handwriting left uncovered through masking out noting time and place of making this frottage remnant. A few more layers needed yet. Do I see a strange creature emerging?


Open Day at Anglesea Art Studios

The studios are open next weekend – Melbourne Cup weekend – 4 – 6 November. I exhibit in a shared studio called Muddy’s She-shed at 5 River Reserve Road, Anglesea. 

All welcome to chat about the work and browse. Maggi Jean is exhibiting drawing, collagraph, gelatine prints, ceramic sculpture and artist books. www.facebook.com/muddys-she-shed/

I am exhibiting small drawings derived from my Lake Mungo series.


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Third Stage – Untitled Mungo Mixed Media

Background first stages (underpainting)

Layers beneath were thoroughly dry – frottage on art and printmaking paper glued with gesso containing some Indian ink for soft tone in areas then over painted with greys containing a little raw umber for cooler tones and warmed with the addition of Sanguine highlights.


In the overpainting I darkened the left side of the composition with a semi-transparent cool dark wash consisting of lamp black, raw sienna and raw umber. Then on the right opaque multi toned warm greys were moved around the canvas with a rag.


The next paint application consisted of pouring light pink grey brown pigment into a central circular shape as a way to unify the composition. Then with a black oil stick I drew a couple of line to hint at Lunette shapes of the Mungo landform. However the top of the painting isn’t working yet so time to down tools and let this layer dry.


Thinking about Painting

 

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‘Thinking about Painting’ and its process is a topic that I try to depict every now and then. I like to imagine different moments when between viewing the subject and then turning away, retaining aspects of the image before the hand conveys it to paint and canvas.

The black light globe indicates the moment when the artist looks from the subject and is momentarily ‘blinded’ as thoughts turn inward to the imagination where the mind delivers aspects of the remembered image to another mental place. One eye is obscured as thoughts about paint and how its qualities and manipulations are organised before the hand moves to depict some of the image. At the same time the warm colours situated on the artist’s head indicate the ‘ah ha’ moment when the remembered image and paint manipulation coalesce.

The composition became clearer as I moved through layers going from more detailed and complex to simplified. I often  put too much into the composition but usually cut away unnecessary detail eventually. Colour as an elements receded as I used a tonal less busy paint combination.


Mungo Lunette oil & mixed media – first stage

I placed frottage application of BFK Rives with compressed charcoal and graphite onto the canvas with gesso and then brushed some diluted gesso over the frottage.

The first two images are details showing different paint viscosities blending and forming different wet in wet texture.

The third image is the complete composition and the last is the first stage before paint viscosities form different textures.


Grated oxide pastel combined with gesso also made earthy texture. Powdered red oxide also has a similar effect but more intense so I use it sparingly.

I want to avoid over-working this one and keep the dry parched effect. 


Large Oil and Mixed Media – more of Mungo (cont.)

 

I waited for 24 hours and gradually peeled off  glad wrap (cling wrap) in two stages, the first being moister than the second and consequently edges were less defined while the rest were drier and crisper. The image looked better in horizontal format at this stage but that could change.


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Large Oil with Mixed Media : more of Mungo

This one began with a gesso underpainting into which I placed frottage and sketches done on site at Lake Mungo. Below are details and I placed them on the left of the composition making it appear lop-sided. Below are close ups of the work on paper.


Top half


Bottom section with postings of gesso mixed with Indian ink.

Then my attempt to balance the image resulted in


Three colours poured across the surface into which I placed gladwrap that I will remove when the paint dries a little.


The Elements at Point Roadknight

This oil painting began as a pen and wash on paper and developed many twists and turns as I cast it aside frequently quite happy to have a collage or printmaking distraction. At each stage I felt that somehow I hadn’t quite got it. I intended the horizontal composition stay that way but at the last-minute it became a vertical format. At one stage I thought there were possibilities for some of the more ethereal versions but my mood went on to its predictable cycle and changed mid-stream from blues to moody greys. After which an orange and red stage of the cycle will come to pass. I often retain stages and will come back to them later when I sometimes see things anew.

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From 1970 to 2017

 

Comparing Artwork from the last century with that of the 21st century.

The first column consists of my recent artwork which I placed adjacent to the second column. On my website home page are more images from the past, several of which were teaching demos. for students who wanted to explore the styles, techniques and artists of the Modern era. While I likes many aspects of Modernism I wanted to convey  sense of  specific persons and places captured at a particular moment in time which then led me to apply several combinations of style and technique.

On one hand this meant retaining some realism or naturalism in my later work compared to earlier depictions where the figuration was freer but on the other hand, paint was more free flowing and random in recent work but more controlled on earlier images. I like the different qualities of the wet on wet oil medium with random areas of flow, bleeding edges, transparencies and impasto so I gradually left behind some aspects of painting built up by using wet on dry techniques. The result is that I do combinations of both.

 

 

 

 


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‘Interrogating Rock’ – intaglio & metal leaf

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I produced these images on paper by intaglio technique and black ink using a zinc plate. The process began two years ago having done the black and white intaglio I wanted to experiment with metal leaf as a composition element. It was a struggle to apply the leaf ( copper, gold and silver) with ink resulting in several mistakes and badly printed efforts with the leaf tearing and printing in places not intended.

But my disappointment lifted when I looked at them from a distance and saw in these altered random elements an unintended continuation of my environment/geology theme with human interaction as integrated part, not separate from it. So the messy metal leaf became ore bodies as I recalled a period in my life when I lived in mining towns and ventured underground at a copper mine in Tasmania.

The first 3 images worked with some trimming but the others needed chine colle as a composition element and in one I scraped away part of the leaf. In another 7/10 print I combined a plate from another series about Brachina gorge with the first plate as well as applying gold leaf and chine colle.

As a result this type of edition, because although the images vary I retain in each print an element of the first print ie the black intaglio, is termed a variable edition. I prefer this way of printing which can look painterly, perhaps, to traditional editioning where multiples of the same image make up an edition.

 

 


Stages in Mungo Painting with oil and frottage

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Mid way through this painting titled Red Soil Trajectory 3, 2017 I felt uncertain about how to complete this image. I was partly happy with it but it seemed to lack a sense of mystery and timelessness so characteristic of this ‘moonscape’.  I think my frustration shows as I turned the composition around and upside down but ended up as usual with my original concept.


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More exploration of Lake Mungo in oil paint and frottage

These two oils began to take shape after pieces of frottage, that is rubbings taken from part of the lake bed, were incorporated into a larger composition. The 3 pieces of frottage in the large painting titled Soil Types at Lake Mungo, 2017, consisted of absorbent printmaking paper and graphite for the rubbing and gesso slurry in which crumbled pieces of soil partly adhered.
The oil painting process back in my studio happened in stages beginning with a washy layer building up to an opaque surface but leaving dribbles and wet in wet random texture suggesting erosion and staining of the Mungo lunette through rain causing red dusty soil from hill nearby to seep through the dunes.
In the smaller painting I tried to express another version of this phenomonon not as close up but the way that the dune was situated in a context where the whole landscape was under stress from the climate. I applied the paint more impasto using a trowel and making the paint and landscape textures compatable.



‘Space and Place : Elaine d’Esterre & Nicky Perkin’ (continued)

The exhibition opening was successful with sales and inquiring comments, a poetry reading by Patricia Sykes who composed a poem titled Desert Poet in response to one of my paintings and much discussion about ideas informing our work and the way that Curator Sally Groom created a visual dialogue between the images.


‘Space and Place : Elaine d’Esterre & Nicky Perkin’

In The last few posts I described how my collages about Lake Mungo, The Pink Lakes, Anbangbang Billabong and Ubirr Rock were constructed. Now they are part of an exhibition at The Art Space, Anglesea, Victoria titled ‘Space and Place : Elaine d’Esterre & Nicky Perkin’. Sally Groom as curator has arranged the oil paintings and prints in a way that emphasises the topic. Insightful analysis of our artwork is a helpful to the viewer.

The last touch to Evaporation at Lake Mungo 3, before Opening night on 11th April between 5 – 7  with live music – guitarist Gavin Cross.
However we are open this weekend and Monday so come and preview the artwork and have a chat with the artists at all times . An additional Meeting the artists session is programmed for 15th April 4-6.


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Collage and Texture

When I compare collage and mixed media compositions with oil painted compositions sharing the same topic, I become aware of how different media often suit particular topics.

In this case contemporary art about the environment and the forces of nature somehow is suited to the dryness of rice paper as well as handmade paper as they become simulations of the earth’s surface and landforms. The dusty terrain, desiccated rock surfaces, cracked salt-laden and powdery surfaces and dry sand depictions, although semi abstracted, seem so much easier to portray with various collages than with the lush textures and viscosity of oil paint. Impasto especially can look too lush when alluding to Australia’s ancient land.

One solution to attain the powdery delicate but ancient bleached look was when I mixed grated pastel into gesso and then applied liberally on top of gesso ground whether on canvas, paper or wood surface. I usually begin with this technique but am often not quite satisfied with the end result so I will keep on experimenting.

I feel as though this small series has ended for now and oil painting is calling once again back to psychological portraits where oil paint is a sympathetic medium in which to portray subtleties  and nuanced tonal values.

Contemporary landscape collage


Anbangbang Billabong cont.

 

 

The final rendition of Anbangbang Billabong with two more collaged digital images. In Journey, 2017, I returned to figuration referencing characteristics of Neolithic Goddess figurines where the creators combined abstracted anatomical elements with naturalism. I let random shapes suggest the presence of anatomical structure onto which I placed abstracted shapes to suggest particular anatomical features.

In Rock to Palette, 2017, I connected a palette image in the lower section of the composition with rock strata simulated and formed from different overlapped paper textures. Over time the formation of oxides complete a journey ending as pigment on a palette.