Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


Prints and Pen and Ink


Preparation under way for pop up exhibition at Muddy’s She Shed, part of the Surf Coast Arts Trail on the 13th and 14th of August.

These images, reproduced and hand signed made with intaglio combined with chine-colle onto which I added more imagery done in pen and ink and pastel are a way I can play with past compositions and push them further.

For example, Toward the Rock Ledge, 2016 was digitally printed, put into horizontal format where it suggested another composition and morphed into Interrogation of Rock.



Toward the Rock Ledge, 2016, intaglio, drypoint, chine-colle and handmade paper, 60x40cm








Vertically aligned Fracture, 2015, printed and in horizontal format with additional pen and ink has become Sounds of Brachina Gorge, 2016

Proof 5

 Fracture, 2016, intaglio, drypoint, chine-colle and handmade paper, 60x40cm




Sounds In Brachina Gorge, 2016

And Moving Toward Oblivion, 2010 became A body of Rock, 2016

Intaglio and collage

Intaglio and collage

'A body of Rock', 2016, intaglio print, ink and graphite, 28x14 cm

‘A body of Rock’, 2016, intaglio print, ink and graphite, 28×14 cm

An introduction to Nicola Perkin and her Australian Imagery

I would like to introduce Nicola Perkin and one of her recent collagraph experiments.

Nicky and I share a love of painting and printmaking. We are members of a printmaking group in Anglesea on the Surf Coast in Victoria, Australia.

The main theme in Nicky’s artwork, paintings and prints is her response to the Australian landscape. In her words:

” I was born and bred in London  where I only saw the horizon once a year on our annual family holiday; at times I am overwhelmed by the vastness and emptiness of Australia. In an attempt to find my sense of place, I explore my response to this alien landscape.”

Nicky’s printmaking and painting both have limited palettes allowing a heavily textured surface. Within her collagraphs the surface textures and limited palette echo those of the landscape; ” others are built up layers of colour capturing the changing light”.

“There is a deliberate silence to my paintings, by presenting the viewer with a space, the work attempts to engage the viewer. It is in our nature to fill that void, bringing our own interpretation to the viewing, remembering a similar journey or view “.

The mark making visible on the collagraph plate and second image that shows the detail in the plate’s surface demonstrate how important the texture through mark making can characterise and trace Nicky’s relationship to a particular place. Elements and aspects of abstraction make me feel that her imagery is very Australian in a sophisticated and understated way. The texture, flattening of surface and random marks draw in my eye and at the same time disperse that focus into the linear texture that amplifies the sense of stillness and space.

I enjoy how the texture becomes form and atmosphere, and the work while figurative is also abstracted.

Nicky's collagraph

Collagraph techniques are many and varied and generally have a painterly quality in contrast to traditional graphic line drawn etching.

The two vertical chine colle areas began as pieces of masking that were placed on the inked plate, then run through the press, peeled back and turned around and placed onto the print as another element within the  composition.

Nicky presents a sense of void where the viewer can bring to this element their relationship, interpretation and emotions about a particular aspect of this environment. I relate to the sunburnt terrain, aridity and drought resistant vegetation. I almost hear the sound of crackling dry leaves underfoot.

Other collagraphs:

Printmakers’ Exhibition (nature/culture/myth)

Exhibition Invite Background

The Anglesea Art House Printmakers have produced diverse body of artwork that consists of collographs, etchings and linocuts. We come from different backgrounds and experiences but share a fascination with printers’ inks, handmade and print papers, colour, tone, texture, shape and line and the many different materials from which our plates are made.

The most popular is the collograph plate process made from straw board sealed with shellac (or otherwise ply or masonite) perhaps allowing for more freedom of expression compared to the more constricting processes of etching in particular and linocut. Etching plates are usually metallic (copper, zinc or aluminium) or perspex or acetate.

However the collograph can produce a more painterly look compared to the often more graphic appearance of linocut and etching.

The  compositions/images depicted by our group vary from abstraction through to figurative imagery. The artists make visual commentary about their investigation, interpretation and response to different aspects of nature/culture and pre-Colombian myth.

A thank you to Nicky Perkin who designed the envelope, invitation and poster and to Lee Powell who organised this show.

Etchings Works in Progress

The first layer was a washy pink over which I printed red, black or grey and also a rolled grey area in 2 versions of the image. While I have not altered the original image etched on to the plate I have altered the colour placement by way of masking and roll up. I enjoy making different versions of the one image which results in a variable edition.

A Patricia Sykes Poem “On your suicide coast”, 2013 : Allegory and Art

On my Home Page I have removed the previous images ( etchings; intaglio, chine-colle and collage) about the forces of nature from the series titled:

Return to Sand and Water

and added more images from that series which are about the artist and a process of insight. The artist like a diver plunges into the ocean of the mind and brings up ‘pieces of insight’ not the spark of an idea but the process of creativity that brings that idea to fruition. Also included is a poem titled On your suicide coast, by Patricia Sykes, 2013

Behind the process of insight theme depicted in these etchings was a tragic story.

Usually at Point Roadknight my impetus derives from the forces of nature or the sheer beauty of sunrise and back-lit cloud formations however this time was different. It was an unexpected tragic situation that I thought I’d forgotten about but which just popped up unexpectedly. On the ocean side of Point Roadknight rocky ledges reach like outstretched hands into the ocean and it was at this location that a friend called me on her mobile to hurry and meet her. What started as an early morning walk for her ended in both of us identifying a washed up body lying face down on the sand.

The very sad thing for me was that he could not be stopped from this ‘final dive’ by the beauty of this place.

We both  found an outlet in poetry and art for the topic of suicide but not as a collaboration. I had not set out to do a series of etchings informed by the poem.

Earlier I had some old prints that I tore up and collaged into new compositions. The torn image was one of the Hanged Man and was about an art student’s Performance as this persona; painted in white chalk, hanging from rafters with musician also performing on the side of the hanging figure. I turned the image around so that it could be read as a diving figure, omitted the musicians and integrated the male figure into the land/seascape and then it unexpectedly reminded me of the suicide.

The figure reaching into the watery underworld has been used in art and literature frequently as an allegory about art and poetry for example the image of Narcissus by Caravaggio, 1600 becomes an allegory of painting.


We had been working separately at different times with this material and I had put mine away for several years until recently when I noticed that they seemed in sympathy with each other – simpatico.

This poem by Patricia Sykes is titled:

On your suicide coast

a holiday of bodies in languid sprawl

as if death is never a stalker

a strange aliveness

       their lassitude

      disturbed by no breath of yours

       though they loll among the gone of it

some scan the horizon, the sky,

less from anxiety than the habit

of eyes as wings, the shadows

      fleeting their faces are mostly sea birds

      a streak of sooty crests

      through bright indifferent sunlight

did you admire the tenacity of terns,

how they hug the shore like guards?

my eyes your surrogates fly

      to 96° west, the SOS marker

      that hovered above your suicide like a metal angel

      it hovers still, its yellow vigilance

defies rust, its loyalty to the drowned

and the bereft told in griefs of flowers

though you were a stranger here

      though the last spume to touch you

      slid off the marker’s face

      like incidental sea spray

the wheeling terns are not crying

an absolute goodbye

death is constant burial

      I give you back to water

      the way a parent trusts an infant to a cradle

      this time the surge and thrash

is gentler; strange fish nibble my fingers,

as if you left a hunger here, the ocean

though speaks of nothing but cold


Patricia Sykes, 2013


Poetics in Imagery

One way I depict the content of a story in my imagery is through a time honoured method that can be termed poetics, metaphor or allegory; that is using one story to tell another in the case of allegory.

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Desert “Selfie” at Lake Mungo

In this “selfie” I tried to remember an experience at Lake Mungo and then depict the interaction and sensation between the body, head, landscape and a particular quality of light as the sun was setting. Generally I try to portray how forces of nature and different individuals act at different times.

We were standing on the dunes waiting for the most interesting shot, with cameras poised, as everyone hoped to capture the moment of maximum light and colour as it fell on to the dunes in a way that would produce amazing colours. I waited too long in anticipation. At the most opportune moment there was a flash of a cool citron light and then the sun seemed to set more quickly. Very frustrating. I felt that expressing this experience in paint may elude me because it was so fleeting.

Originally I started with other experiences. My first attempt was to portray the desert night sky so I need to obscure the double image, (originally intended for a re-vision of the image of Narcissus who was portrayed by Caravaggio as an allegory of the self-portrait) in underpaintings 2 and 3. Then I changed to the heat and small intense black shadow at midday experience in underpainting 5. I abandoned that idea as it felt wrong and tried the sandstorm experience in underpainting 9. Another change of mind.

I had been avoiding the flash of yellow/citron light experience as I thought it may become very ‘chocolate box’. Why not give it a go so that in Underpainting 11 I finally started to get in touch with the suppressed feeling but not too quickly. Nothing like a gold icon background to make an art history reference yet another side track.  By underpainting 12 I finally got it and added the sun hoping it wouldn’t look too saccharine.

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The Citron Light at Lake Mungo, 2014

The Citron Light at Lake Mungo, 2014

Purple, pink, red and yellow I’m a bit uncertain but feel as though I achieved  the desired effect even if it is a bit pretty. Perhaps I’m onto a much more colourful stage with this small study?

From Rust to Rock 2014, 39x19 cm print, 50x35 cm paper, intaglio, frottage and collage

Abstract Landscape Etching (intaglio, chine-colle, collage) ‘Triptych’


The triptych has a history dating from the late Middle Ages to early Renaissance and was designed to tell a story. It consisted of a central panel with two smaller side panels placed behind the high altar. In an era before the invention of perspective this format was a device that illustrated the drama of the main protagonist, quite often a crucifixion scene, with supporting roles on the side panels .

Famous people and members of the aristocracy also found this form useful for secular story-telling, for example there is a triptych featuring a centrally placed Martin Luther accompanied by side panels that illustrated  his deeds; a type of curriculum vitae writ large. This type of portraiture was commissioned not only by aristocrats but members of the ‘middle class’.

By reading this abstracted landscape (which belongs to the series part of which is shown on my website Home Page titled And then the Ocean Rusted 2013-2014,) in a triptych format a viewer could detect an allusion to a type of geological narrative. In a way the central panel summed up the action on the ‘side panels’. It was all about rusty sediment.

The purchaser of these three prints decided to hang them together in ‘triptych’ format. I liked this arrangement. In comparison with the traditional triptych format the print on central panel is smaller than the prints on side panels. However the central panel/print although smaller attracts the eye first due to the intensity of colour and contrast in the composition, but also the larger surround of printmaking paper creates another contrast. The textures of chine-colle on rice paper and the frottage while enlarging both the panel/print images has a softening effect and gives the central image room to ‘breathe’.


Artwork titled “And then the Ocean Rusted”, 2013-2014

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The frottage prints from the Pilbara banded iron formation rocks done at The Gorges in Karijini National Park were applied to etchings and collage etchings. In these prints I combined  imagined geological processes with the immediate present day frottage recording process in the one composition. The frottage prints were literally like a touchstone when starting work in my studio in that they helped ‘bring back’ the gorges.

What drew to this topic was my sense of awe when touching such ancient rock and how it heralded the formation of life on this planet. In the Pilbara the landscape surface gives the traveller little clue as to the gorges’ appearance  and the intensity of their colour.

On my Home Page are larger versions of the slide show and further detail of each image can be seen at my shop at www.artfido.com/painted_by_elaine

Artwork with Etching continues

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This image evolved from my thoughts about how I felt in 45 degrees celsius heat when I saw, touched and took frottages from 2.5 billion year old bedrock in gorges in Karijini National Park in the Pilbara, W.A.


Untitled, 2014, 30x25 cm, mixed media

Untitled, 2014, mixed media 30×25 cm









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This image shows a continuation of a past theme that I titled Eye and Site 1, 2 and 3. The main idea is about a process about different aspects of the artist’s vision. For example part of doing a self-portrait is when the artist turns away from the mirror-image. Derrida explained the sensation as one where the artist is plunged into darkness before addressing the blank space on the canvas. The moment is between the look and the mark making when memory, insight and emotion from an underworld or unconscious mind briefly rise up into consciousness as brush touches the canvas – looking above and below simultaneously. The process I try to capture here feels like a double act.

Artwork underpainting continues

This small mixed media is “finished ” and when it dries very minor tonal gradation may be require in the background.

The underpaintings following need radical alteration notably ‘underpainting 8’ which is about halfway to getting there. The next image also needs more focus and the last one still requires more structure in the composition.

I was sure the “finished” image was going to give me problems but it was the last image thought to be a breeze earlier that now looks tricky.

Artwork underpaintings struggle stage

This is always the push and pull stage: erase, reintroduce line, change the meaning, get a bit precious, attack with turpentine rag and wipe off image. Although these are small studies measuring about 50×35 cm they often challenge me more than larger works.

The journey from inspiration to creation is always tricky. For instance I’m inspired by the idea that the viewer is not a distant observing  subject capturing an object in paint or any other medium. I try not to produce an aesthetic of possession or of total control. In a way I feel observed by the terrain/land/environment/geology/geomorphology through which I pass and that my creative process mirrors that of the earths’.

Ideas like tectonic plates  slide under and over each other, melt, coalesce into different thought patterns. Images and ideas can well up unexpectedly and fracture safe, formulaic and comfortable assumptions and techniques. For me it is like a mirroring of creativity and the processes can be convoluted, unexpected, annoying and frustrating as “failures” often hold the seeds of new ideas and point the way to new directions and paths for further exploration.

For example the last 2 images have been a source of frustration as I was trying to combine two different pictorial formats, that is, how cupules in rocks produced 50,000 years ago and used as depression into which eyes were painted could relate to our pictorial conventions. Neither the idea, composition or technique has been resolved and it requires attention but I feel it is part of something further down the track.

The source of this rock art eye imagery was included in a lecture by the Kimberley Foundation.


Artwork and underpainting progress

The under paintings gradually take shape in unexpected directions.

Some minor alterations were required to lighten tones and enhance contrasts. Feeling ambivalent about the sombre colours. I want more vibrant intense colour. And on reflection I prefer some of the underpainting to the ‘finished’ image. Back to the drawing board. I wanted to express some of the reflections of being immersed in the gorges in the Pilbara. Untitled 3 looks more like the sands of Lake Mungo and the feeling often experienced in the desert where wind and sand appear to erase evidence of existence. (In fact fossilised footprints 40,000 years + old were found imprinted into what was originally a bed of clay).

Artwork and Under Painting

My process of image making is often accidental or an organised accident. Images often emerge from failed etchings or gouache where I hit a brick wall, put them in the too hard basket and walk away. When I return to them I see them differently. The examples here are failed etchings left for 18 months.


The solution was to create a mixed media image, keep part of the original image from the print zinc plate, change the subject matter and meaning from the mother Demeter self-portrait from Natalie with the Gaze and the Glance to that of artist engaged in the process of painting, challenging some of the conventions as an allegory for vision and insight.

The last three images are almost complete whereas the first ones are quite raw and  unfocused. Although untitled they refer back to earlier paintings in series titled Eye and Site 1,2 and 3. In the mode of Hildegard of Bingen who saw the mirror not as a source of vanity but of spiritual self-examination, I find the examination of the conventions of oil painting an endless source of symbolism that is about an inquiry in to how images of women are constructed and evaluated.

Segmented Glance 2, 1/1, 2010, intaglio, drypoint, chine-colle and collage

Demeter and Persephone Re-visioned in Double Portrait form

Artists, myself included often refer to myth, history, archaeology or religion when depicting imagery as a way to include several layers of meaning with everyday subject matter. Messages can be conveyed through obvious symbols or by disguised symbolism for example the Demeter and Persephone myth can provide an allegory for narratives and images depicting mothers and daughters.

The well-known story about a mother (Demeter) and daughter (Persephone) relationship described as a tragic and cruel rape, abduction and kidnapping of a child from her mother is often referred to as an allegory for spring in the patriarchal culture of Ancient Greece.

 I referred to aspects of the Demeter and Persephone myth but re-visioned it by tracing some of the symbols back to their original location in earlier rituals as a way to re-vision the disempowerment of women in this rape and kidnap cautionary tale. Often symbols remain but the story told about them changes. Their Minoan-like origin can be seen in an excavation by S. and N. Marinatos at Akrotiri in Thera. So I retained several aspects not in their narrative form but in a type of disguised symbolism.  In that way I could depict through a double portrait my understanding  and formation of a daughter’s identity by referring to this allegory about renewal and transition.

Briefly I referred to frescos that depicted a narrative ritual where women protagonists descend into an adyton (holy of holies) depicted within the architecture of the Thera excavation.  The frescos make reference to the underworld, vegetation, growth and the cycle of nature as does the rape of Persephone and abduction to the underworld by her uncle Hades. 

The sketches and Theran frescos below illustrate part of the ritual activity at Akrotiri (destroyed in 1500 B.C.) in Thera (Santorini).

The shaved head of a young girl painted on this fresco suggests that she may be engaging in an initiation ritual.

Tentative reconstruction of the entire room 3 showing the pictorial programme on both floor levels.

Tentative reconstruction of the entire room 3 showing the pictorial programme on both floor levels including the steps descending into the adyton.

The sketch depicts a girl with a bleeding foot and a crocus. All heads turned to the blood on the altar.

I extrapolated imagery from elements of this symbolism as a way to create abstracted backgrounds that refer to blood and the dark atmosphere of an underworld ritual where in my imagination often unconscious and inarticulate emotions rise between a mother and daughter. This is a privatised world not a public and sacred ritual however I avoid direct reference to the rape and violence of Greek myth.

I also used this narrative of underground ritual as an allegory about vision, insight and inspiration.


Marinatos, Nanno,  Art and Religion in Thera: Reconstructing a Bronze Age Society. Athens, D. & I. Mathioulakis, 1984

Etching and Collage about Sea Erosion

Sea Erosion Theme

This continuing theme expressed through etching and collage will replace the gouache and mixed media artwork about the topic on my Home Page. I wonder sometimes if the medium of etching, intaglio, drypoint on rice paper, handmade and printmaking paper seems a more urgent direct, stark way to represent this subject in comparison with oil and gouache painting where the element of colour tends to dominate. With colour taking a secondary place strong tonal contrast becomes the main game.

All these images are single, unique one off pieces of artwork. They are not part of an edition of prints. I enjoy playing with one etched plate and then combine the print with different media such as collage of hand made paper, chine-colle on rice paper, ink wash, pen and pencil drawing and also staples.

These artworks are part of a series titled Return to Sand and Water. 

Art about Heads, part 1

Metaphor for the Human Condition

Portraits can tell a story without a long narrative structure because the artist tries to capture a point or in this case points in time within the space of one image. The image is still but it alluded to action and thought. I tried to capture some aspects of the mother and daughter relationship at a time when the mother’s influence waned and prominence of the peer group and the daughter’s sense of identity took the stage. The abstracted shapes like the keyhole and window referred to elements of vision about elucidation, obscurity and transition. The red column shape echoed those in ancient Minoan rituals that depicted aspects of female initiation.

Above the Window,1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint on Fabriano

Above the Window, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint on Fabriano 28×18 cm print, 50×35 cm paper


The title of the series to which these prints belong is Natalie with the Gaze and the Glance, 2009 – 2010.

Red Column, 2009, intaglio and drypoint

Red Column 1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint 25×18 cm print, 35×25 cm paper

Red Column 2, 1/1, 2009, 26x18 cm print, 37x28 cm on Fabriano paper

Red Column 2, 1/1, 2009, intaglio, 26×18 cm print, 37×28 cm paper

Imago, 1/1, 2009, 25x21 cm print, 37x28 cm paper, drypoint and intaglio

Imago, 1/1, 2009, drypoint and intaglio 25×21 cm print, 37×28 cm paper

Growing Persona, 1/1, 2009,  intaglio and drypoint.

Growing Persona, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint 26×18 cm print, 50×35 cm paper

In Focus, 1/1, 2009,  intaglio and drypoint

In Focus, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint 25×18 cm print, 50×35 cm paper

Growing Focus, 1/1, 2009,  intaglio and drypoint. Sold

Growing Focus, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint. Sold

Risen, 1/1, 2009,  intaglio and drypoint

Risen, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint 26×18 cm print, 38×28 cm paper

Enchroaching Memory 1, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint

Enchroaching Memory 1, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint 25×18 cm print, 37×25 cm paper

Enchroaching Memory 2, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint.

Enchroaching Memory 2, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint 24×20 cm print, 35×28 cm paper

The Keyhole 1, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint on rice paper

The Keyhole Image 1, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint on rice paper. Sold

The Keyhole Image 2, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint on rice paper

The Keyhole Image 2, 1/1, 2009, intaglio and drypoint on rice paper.

Terms “gaze and “glance” referred to modes of seeing by artists, the first produced a structured work arranged in layers where underneath paint layers were gradually obscured until attainment of the desired effect for example in European oil painting. On the other hand the glance mode was more immediate and brush work encapsulated the image in one layer as in Oriental brush painting. I integrated both ways of seeing into my compositions.

In earlier blog titled Line drawing with faces and figures I discussed styles of line work and printmaking.

Ancient rocks, Banded Iron Formation on the floor of Dales Gorge, Karijini National Park in the Pilbara Western Australia

Landscape, Ancient Rocks in the Pilbara

Etching technique consisting of intaglio and chine -colle enabled me to express and evoke a feeling of mystery and the sense of the sublime when confronted with the age of rocks and their significance. When in Dales Gorge in Karijini National Park I felt awed by the depth of the rock-forming steep gorge. On the gorge floor strata within the rocks alternate from pink brown and red purple. This layering caused by oxidation of the iron laden ocean when oxygen produced from stromatolites photosynthesis gradually entered the Earth’s atmosphere.  The striped pattern built up from the ocean floor as early as three billion years ago. Water cut through the gorge over millions of years as  land gradually uplifted.

Several etchings are artist’s proof  and  require fine tuning before I print an edition. I print small editions because I prefer to change the plate and produce one off images because it enables me to see the subject in many different ways.

Etching about ancient rocks in the Pilbara,

….…and then the Ocean Rusted 4, 2013, etching and chine – colle 25×12 cm

Landscape etching titled ...and then the Ocean Rusted 3, 2013 by Elaine d'Esterre about ancient rocks in the Pilbara

...and then the Ocean Rusted 3, 2013, viscosity technique and chine – colle 25×12 cm

Landscape contemporary etching titled ........and then the Ocean Rusted 2, 2013, about a process of ancient rock formation influenced by a trip to the Pilbara.

…...and the the Ocean Rusted 2, 2013, etching and chine – colle 25×12 cm

Landscape contemporary etching titled ........and then the Ocean Rusted 1, 2013, about a process of ancient rock formation influenced by a trip to the Pilbara.

An artist’s proof in the series titled .….and then the Ocean Rusted, 2013, intaglio, 25×12 cm

Landscape contemporary etching......and then the Ocean Rusted, A/P, 2013, etching and chine- colle by Elaine d'Esterre. The image was about how strata of ancient rock built up parts of the Pilbara 3 billion years ago as oxygen introduced into the atmosphere caused the ocean to rust.

Artist’s Proof titled, ….and then the Ocean Rusted’, 2013, etching and chine – colle 25×12 cm

Landscape contemporary etching titled ........and then the Ocean Rusted , artist's proof, 2013, about a process of ancient rock formation influenced by a trip to the Pilbara.

……and then the the Ocean Rusted, A/P, 2013, etching and chine- colle 25×12 cm

 .....and the Ocean Rusted series, 2013

AP for ...and then the Ocean Rusted series

Landscape artist's proof etching and chine - colle for...and the Ocean Rusted 4

Landscape artist’s proof 4 for…...and then  the Ocean Rusted

My trip to the Pilbara in April this year can be read and viewed with photographs and frottages done on sight in my first posts on this blog.

This week I tried more proofs on different textured paper – rice paper, a thickly textured but porous spongy handmade paper as well as Fabriano.

I think line crispness suffered due to too much texture and the second last one looks too scrubby.

I love the intensity of black and my idea was that it would evoke a sense of mystery regarding this 3 billion year old clue to a momentous moment in Earth’s history.

I discovered a blog titled geo-aesthetics which sounded more accurate a description to my imagery than the term contemporary landscape because the content as well as the form is central.

The address of the blog is geo-aesthetics.blogspot.com.au

Landscape,”…….and See My Etchings”

Early Stage

Yesterday I found an old zinc plate and decided to recycle using the reverse side. This side already coated in resist meant that it was calling out for a line etch, too large for hand done mezzotint but suitable for drypoint. However that was the theory, the practice was different.

The original side upon which were  twenty year old remains of the destroyed plate’s surface due to it being the surface of a limited edition. The surface texture looked very different turned upside down thanks to a fellow printmaker in the Anglesea workshop. We are most fortunate to have two printing presses at the Anglesea Art House and it was fortuitous that the fellow printmaker noticed the marks and texture of the ruined plate.

The top half of the plate already destroyed by open bite, burnish and drypoint balanced the drypoint bottom half.

Zinc etching plateI printed a proof in black ink on Cartridge paper to gauge what imagery remained.

Untitled 1 artist's print

Intaglio untitled 3, 2013, detail

Intaglio untitled 3, 2013, detail

The close up showed the amount of detail and mark making that reminded me of the subject matter in previous posts about my two commissions. This afternoon I saw not the rocks of Point Roadknight but the sides of Karijini Gorge. I recalled Dales Gorge and a particular rock sample at the base of the gorge. It was witness to early layering of red rust sediment thought laid down as oxygen slowly entered the atmosphere that caused the iron laden ocean to rust. The plan now is to burnish strata combined with red chine – colle as a way that may allude to an ancient at least 3 billion year old phenomenon.

Posters, Portraits, Prayers and Comic Strips

Influences from the Poster Day Bill

I always cited the sources of my imagery or iconography  derived from art history books, museums or archaeology to have derived from so-called high art both old and new masters.   But re thinking was in order as some unconscious images came to the fore. Yesterday on eBay I scrolled through posters on display. They were arranged in chronological order ranging from recently dated reaching back to the 1950s. I found the change of style over time quite interesting as both ends of this spectrum showed how technology changed designs and their content.

Today it is possible to create tonally complex figurative imagery where a protagonist in a particular scene selected from the movie and situated in a complex perspective realist or hyper realist styled background constituted the poster format design. However many of these literal images selected as part of a narrative, often depicted using tenebrism, a darkened Caravaggio style  enhancing the feeling of action, were  often hard to read in an eye-grabbing  instant compared to the designs of the 1950s.  The shiny glossy surface was also a point of contrast placed next to the opaque day bills of the 50s.

Gina Lollobrigida starring in " Anna of Brooklyn ", 1958, Vintage Daybill movie poster.

Gina Lollobrigida starring in ” Anna of Brooklyn “, 1958, Vintage Daybill movie poster.

Recent movie poster

Recent movie poster

Even though the latest imagery is detailed (regardless of content which is another story), realistic, atmospheric, tonal ( the figures have weight and volume ) and are placed in a fairly realistic perspective space, the visual impact came from first posters for me. Disregarding the subject matter, the formalist values, the flattened figure with hard edges and bright colour caught my attention immediately.

The text showed  polished almost glowing 3-D lettering arching along the bottom line in contrast to the text in the early poster that is simple, flat probably done by hand or type set ( Letraset a few years away ? ) with no attempt at atmospheric perspective. However by placing secondary figures and other aspects of the narrative almost in miniature compared to the figure of the protagonist the sense of distance  fell into place.

One type of dramatic action was about an adventure and the other was about a romance rendered with flat contrasting colour.

I wondered why these old style posters apart from the nostalgia they evoked of a by-gone era  played on my mind. In that era without colour television my main sources of imagery from popular culture  were these posters, the movies, comics and comic strips in newspapers, Time and Life magazines and The Saturday Evening Post (Norman Rockwell). I became aware  a strong influence some of these posters had on the unconscious formatting of my imagery in a formalist sense.

For example the image from a mural titled Women  of the Interior while being about a protagonist who explored the Australian Outback had a composition imprint related to the first image though the colour related to the desert.

Elaine d'Esterre. Detail from a mural titled Women of the Interior, 1992, 12 feet by 30 feet. acrylic on plaster board

Elaine d’Esterre. Detail from a mural titled Women of the Interior, 1992, 12 feet by 30 feet. acrylic on plaster board

This image was also similar in that figures placed in the foreground had smaller images placed around the main figure positioned in a way to heighten the sense of drama. In the far distance, through the keyhole the artist engaged in the act  of painting  took second place to the foreground fantasy figures.

Elaine d'Esterre. The Original Sudarium, 1994 - 1995, diptych, 132x180 cm, oil on canvas, from my PhD exegesis titled Feminist Poetics: Symbolism in an Emblematic Journey about Self and Vision

Elaine d’Esterre. The Original Sudarium, 1994 – 1995, diptych, 132×180 cm, oil on canvas, from my PhD exegesis titled Feminist Poetics: Symbolism in an Emblematic Journey about Self and Vision

Influences from the classroom portrait

Another unexpected source of imagery derived from old master prints was The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals and  Vincent Van Gogh self portraits that appeared to  stare down from above a classroom mantle piece.

Face and Horn, 1994, 76x66 cm, oil on canvas, from Feminist Poetics

Face and Horn, 1994, 76×66 cm, oil on canvas, from Feminist Poetics

Influences from the school chapel

As well as the format of the 3/4 view classroom portrait the prints in the school chapel included The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci .  The  frontal portrayal of Christ was also a well used iconic image.

Elaine d'Esterre. Through the Window 2, 2000, 50x75 cm gouache, from the series titled Eye and Site 1

Elaine d’Esterre. Through the Window 2, 2000, 50×75 cm gouache, from the series titled Eye and Site 1

Placed beside the altar in which hung the da Vinci The Last Supper print was a framed print of The Annunciation by Fra Angelico.

The Annunciation in Florence, 1440 - 60, Fra Angelico. Florence, Museo di  S. Marco. Fresco. ( Source: Baxandall, Michael, 1972 )

The Annunciation in Florence, 1440 – 60, Fra Angelico. Florence, Museo di S. Marco. Fresco. ( Source: Baxandall, Michael, 1972 )

d'Esterre. Subjectivity 2, 2004, 92x108 cm, oil on board, from Eye and Site 1

d’Esterre. Subjectivity 2, 2004, 92×108 cm, oil on board, from Eye and Site 1

This painting was about the relationship between artist and model. The model’s assertive behaviour reversed the usual procedure where the artist had control of the gaze.

Influences from the comic strip

My compositions some times constructed in triptych or diptych format hark back to an era of comics and comic strips. The topic may be complex and have embedded in the imagery reference to history, myth or allegory. By dividing the composition into segments the artist can suggest  many dimensions and layered meaning to the viewer where each segment became part of the whole composition.

E. d'Esterre. About Durer's Witch, 1995 - 1997, triptych, 90x252 cm, oil on canvas, from exegesis titled Feminist Poetics

E. d’Esterre. About Durer’s Witch, 1995 – 1997, triptych, 90×252 cm, oil on canvas, from exegesis titled Feminist Poetics

On the other hand an artist may want to portray  several versions  of a topic and paint a series of related images but each image can exist on its own.

Momento mori 1, 2006, 50x770 cm, oil on gessoed paper, part of a series titled Eye and Site 2

Momento mori 1, 2006, 50×770 cm, oil on gessoed paper, part of a series titled Eye and Site 2

Momento Mori 2, 2006, 52x70 cm, oil on gessoed paper, from Eye and Site 2

Momento Mori 2, 2006, 52×70 cm, oil on gessoed paper, from Eye and Site 2

Momento Mori 3, 2006, 52x70 cm, oil on gessoed paper, from Eye and Site 2

Momento Mori 3, 2006, 52×70 cm, oil on gessoed paper, from Eye and Site 2

Although the comic strip derived  images read horizontally I also enjoy suggesting to the viewer a sense of depth in parts of the composition  that could be read as though looking through a window. I enjoy fusing together different ways of looking.

Photography about Dawn Clouds

I like to capture unusual almost unnatural graphic romantic effects that can occur at times like sunrise and sunset. Low red light changing quickly to orange as the sunrises can appear to visually distort parts of the landscape making it temporarily alien.  This morning as I walked onto the beach before sunrise I witnessed an unusual cloud formation. I remembered the last time I observed a similar shape as it inspired an artwork titled Dawn Cloud Trajectory, 2010 from a series of artwork titled Return to Sand and Water

Dawn Cloud photographed by Elaine on the 27th June 2013 at Point Roadknight

Dawn Cloud photographed by Elaine on the 27th June 2013 at Point Roadknight

Dawn Cloud Trajectory, 2010, 15x30 cm print, 35x50 cm paper, intaglio and collage

Dawn Cloud Trajectory, 2010, 15×30 cm print, 35×50 cm paper, intaglio and collage