Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


Final Stage (commission)

Months have passed and now that my exhibition is over, I can return to this oil painting. Occasionally I had a chance to depict more detail within middle stages.

There were some considerations that needed attention such as the painting’s dimension. It differed from that of the original drawing in pastel and charcoal that the client had admired. More elongated in shape (to fit into a specific wall space) the effect of transferring the exact image meant that the composition looked too evenly layered.

Part of the image is incomplete as textures required more layering of tone and colour. While an oil painting will never look like a drawing, I have tried to keep a crisp line played off against opaque and transparent passages of paint. Below is a print of original drawing.

Gradually coming together but trying to resist urge to get too detailed and busy.


Commission continued


New Commission

This commission happened due to an art lover viewing on line one of my small studies in pastel and charcoal drawn over a digital print taken from one of my larger paintings. The study on paper sizing up often demands some compositional arrangement and more tonal subtlety. Translating a small pastel into oil paint always interesting.

So today I begin.


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Small Oil Paintings – The Bungle Bungles

Background

The studio painting began as an idea originating from this detailed sketch that was originally based on a digital print from my Mungo series. As I started drawing with pen and ink the image suggested a theme about my experience from The Kimberely in West Australia. The black shape resembled the amazing landforms in that area that resemble bee hives. Sediments placed in layers washed from ancient mountains inland over time eroded, transported by water and deposited in layers. Further erosion resulted in what resembles large striped mounds.

 

 

One of Two old discarded collagraph plates became a texture ground for a copy of the small sketch, an oil titled Journey to the Bungle Bungles, 2018

Bungle Bungles 2

 

The other became the ground for another version of that theme which I titled Memory of the Bungle Bungles, 2018.

 

Memory of the Bungle Bungles

 


Commission – Homage to Joan Miro/at Fairhaven for the Duration, 2018

The last stages always take more time for me than the early stage with their rush of inspiration. The other tricky thing has been the time it has taken for my hand eye coordination to click in so that I could depict fine lines and details in a graphic linear style, not my usual way of painting where random textures and washes of tone and colour are strong elements of the composition.Having been quite hesitant i slowly became more meditative as concentrating on drawing fine line work had a calming effect.

i felt that the right hand side of the image looked too fiddley and slightly disconnected from the white table shape. And shapes in the lower section seemed a bit floaty and needed more weight and anchoring into the composition.

I carried the musical notes across the composition and across the table surface, removed a shape on the right opening up the space so that small white Ladybird beetle tracks joined to the other pictorial elements without cluttering the space.

The duration of the annual holiday at Fairhaven on the Surfcoast in Victoria, Australia is a time of relaxation, celebration and summer activities whether in-door catchup of movies and books or outdoor sport or gardening pursuits  but in the background is the threat of bushfire. Rather than depict ominous signs in the landscape I depicted a Ladybird beetle in the right hand section of the composition and small flames appearing beneath a tent on the far right-hand side.

Below is a slide show of the painting’s progress.

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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.


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.


Self-Portrait as Allegory of Painting

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A re-hash of an image that began as an intaglio print and was put aside for a while before I tackled it again. Technically I wanted to combine oil paint with intaglio print. The image is part of a series about the theme of self-portrait as allegory of painting that seems to have originated in the seventeenth century. In this composition I tried to show how the artist’s mind may discern how light and dark reveal and obscure imagery.

Remaining paintings in this series:

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‘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.


Lake Mungo Overview

IMG_5807.jpgA radical rearrangement as I decided I didn’t like Red Earth Trajectory at Mungo 2 so it I turned it into a horizontal format and turned it upside down. I returned to my first idea about how to indicated to the viewer a state of mind where elements, that stayed in my mind as I left that vicinity and returned to my studio, could find expression as a memory of the essential aspects of the landform.

 

 

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Self-Portrait as Allegory of Painting (revisited)

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Behind the Mask, 2014

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Behind the Mask, 2014-16, oil on gesso and intaglio, 36×24 cm

Untitled

Lost Mirror Image, 2014, mixed media 35×25 cm

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Lost Mirror Image, 2014-16, mixed media, 35×25 cm

I returned to a small group of self-portraits that were out of sight for two years. The self-portrait image began as an intaglio print which I retained in these compositions. I gessoed the printmaking paper and then applied oil paint as a medium in which to complete the imagery that was about the self-portrait function as an allegory of the painting process. hence images of lights, mirrors, spectacles and imagery that alluded to the presence of absence of light.

I try to create the process of looking because as we turn away from the mirror image  (reverse) the artist ‘carries’ its memory to the brain which then has to be rearranged into something before hand and brush or which ever implement is used, moves. We don’t see ourselves as others see us.

 


Lake Mungo Landscape (from work in progress)

 

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Final stages continue Lake Mungo Landscape (work in progress)  where I felt at completion that the textures and shapes in the composition reminded me of how this place is scorched dry by the elements; sun and wind build the sand dunes to be gouged out, then eroded by rain fall into channels.


“Littoral” Blurb

Some artists say that paintings ‘speak’ for themselves but, while I partly agree, I feel that information about artwork increases viewers’ enjoyment and curiosity. I don’t think I’m illustrating words verbatim but I do get inspiration from written source material as well as from other inputs- observation, memory, dreams and many emotions. I like to read blurbs when I look at the work of other artists as it increases my sense of engagement. However my first engagement with another artwork is through its visual impact and my emotional reaction, then I search for the words.

Chatting with the artist- always the way to go. Saturday March 5 from 4- 6pm at:

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LITTORAL – Point Roadknight

Littoral

 

BLURB

Particular rock formations on the bay side of this small promontory have resulted in the action of mineralization and seepage over thousands of years. This calcified a system of tree roots that reach through an extensive dune. In this series of oil paintings, mixed media and etchings, my particular focus is on Port Roadknight’s seashore and landforms, an intertidal zone known as “littoral”.

 

 

 

 

Firstly at this site I recorded by sketch and photograph the changes driven by the forces of erosion. While charting these images over a five-year period I felt a sense of quiet desperation, loss and distress at the evident effects of climate change. The slow disintegration of this intriguing place expresses itself in the oil painting, Point Roadknight Erosion, 2007.

 

 

Point Roadknight Erosion, 2007, 92x180 cm, oil on canvas

Point Roadknight Erosion, 2007, oil on canvas

 

 

 

 

 

I then focused on a feature within the cliff face, often referred to by locals as “the petrified forest”. Rows of trunk-like ‘columns’, now almost lost to the sea, resemble ancient ruins. Colonnades, porticos and an entablature appear to emanate from the cliff face. An orange layer of horizontal rock runs along its length above the ‘columns’, a vibrant essence I set out to capture in Entablature, 2012.

Like an Entablature, 2012

Entablature, 2012, gouache 52×73 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resurface 2, 2010 and Sand Cradle, 2010 are an allegory, representing how a diver physically and an artist mentally descend into places real and imagined and resurface with treasure or inspiration.

 

The heavily textured elements in Petrified Forest 1 and 2, The Sun Rises and Sand Reflection, are an example of my handmade paper, which I made from marram grass picked from local sand dunes. I combined these with frottage, using graphite to make rubbings from broken ‘columns’ scattered along the intertidal zone.

 

In Aglow and Column Shadow, I aimed at how mid-winter sunlight at dawn falls on to the chalky cliff face, making it appear to glow before casting deep shadows on it. As the sun continues to rise this contrast defines the many imaginary shapes that emerge from this section of shoreline.

 

All welcome to come and chat about the work and that of other artists also exhibiting at 69 Smith Street Gallery in Fitzroy.

 

 


A Portrait of Thought at Mungo

I have ‘gone through the wringer’ to reach my goal with this painting on gessoed printmaking paper – from warm to cool colours, from an image of artist to poet and from right end up to upside down. Within the progression my aim solidified.

In portraits and self-portraits the artist usually tries to capture what is termed ‘motions of the mind’ where attention paid to the particular person’s expression takes shape and settles into the final visage as interior thoughts reflected through skin, bone and anatomy form by the artist’s mind and hand into a particular type of expression. This portrayal ‘becomes’ a depiction of a type of person, their character, status and position in society or not – perhaps as an ‘outlaw’ from a particular society’s strictures and norms.

Other examples are the icon type of portrait whether secular or ecclesiastic such as the image of, for example, chairman Mao or a deity or saint. In both types, the depiction of eyes raised imagery, the artist aims to direct the viewer by suggestion to the idea of thought existing on a higher plane.

Also there is a type of passport image, usually dead-pan expression a frontal or silhouette aspect where the eyes impartially look beyond the viewer suggesting that this identity is unknown or partially blocked to the viewer. Identity is found by matching dates and names with the image.

Then the selfie image is where the person’s identity is ‘portrayed’ by location, activity and accompanying significant others.

Whether the imagery created by an artist with traditional media or photograph, surrounding objects and elements of architecture are often seen as emblems and symbols that augment meaning contained within the portrait by alluding to ideas outside the image that exist in the real world.

I have always loved many artist of the Baroque for their amazing portraits that show artists’ abilities to capture ‘motions of the mind’ without the inclusion of 20th century expressionist (emotions) or surrealist (the unconscious) stylistic structures.

My aim has been to find a way to integrate and combine aspects of ‘motions of the mind’ techniques and conventions with some knowledge of an environment and place and manipulate parts of each influence into a visage.  Significant parts of the landscape indicate the geological forces of nature below the Earth’s surface. I use imagined elements that are part of this process and combine them with parts of the portrait or self-portrait to try and depict a moment within a thought process so my portraits ‘look’ through a passage of time. Plenty to explore here-how much can one capture on a 2-D surface?

 

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Two Self-Portraits at Mungo

Final Stages now titled Painted by Lake Mungo. In this painting I wanted to depict how the landscape paints the painter rather than the artist imagining that he or she dominates it.

In Painted by the Sunset at Mungo I tried for a similar idea in the final stages of this painting.

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Figure at Mungo (last stage)

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More incomplete painting as I tried to capture the feeling of frustration as I depicted myself trying to ‘fit into the landscape’  at Lake Mungo. Earlier stages during the painting process were about my sense of feeling upside – down in a very harsh environment exacerbated by the severe drought across the country at the beginning of the century in Australia.

It didn’t work and after several efforts I reverted to depiction of frustration where I tried to paint in heat, dust and flies and bees. As a result I could appreciate the frottage technique of taking rubbings from different parts of the dried lake and clay surface. Although I dont feel I can contribute more at present the  temporary title Paint and Elements will do for the moment until something comes up. But may be not because it does looks like an artist in a whirlwind. Perhaps it should be Paint and Mungo Whirlwind,– a bit happier now.


LANDforms Preview (Mungo cont.)

The oil painting titled Red Earth Trajectory at Mungo 2 refers to Mungo’s pink sand, the deposition of red soil from nearby hills and erosion by wind and water. Bed of Lake Mungo and Evening at Lake Mungo are collagraphs from the same plate but with part of the displaced print moved to the left in Bed of  Lake Mungo and chine-colle and collage combined with metal leaf in Evening at Lake Mungo. Ive just noticed how Evening at Lake Mungo, 2015 resembles Igneous 1, 2004 on the invite. Basic shapes are there but slightly rearranged even though one is a large oil and the other a small collagraph. Gone around in a circle!!