Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


Painting stages for “Under the Image” (incomplete)

Background

This image developed from a torn up etching and a gessoed board, the surface for a painting demonstration six months ago. (We experimented with oil paint and how with triple and double loaded palette knives and brushes it could be manipulated to form the textures that characterise much of the Australian landscape).

The image is about how I feel as I find a way to represent the landscape and artist.  I like to imagine the earth as seen from beneath as though from some sort of underground position.  I create imagined textures that allude to the geology of the site and how this sometimes reflects the above ground terrain because I want the artist to be marked by the earth and landscape.

The painting process is incomplete because I prefer the image titled “Middle stage” where the forms and movement are more dynamic. The last image has become static so when it dries

the next few paint layers will hopefully be an improvement with more tension so that it looks as though I am ’embracing’ the landscape while at the same time I see the world upside down as the landscape imprints in my mind.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Smartphone Fell into the Oil Paint 1, 2014, 48x34 cm, intaglio, oil, pastel and charcoal.


“Selfies” and the Smartphone

Selfies taken with a cellphone are self portraits in the sense that the genre is democratised as everyone can reproduce their own image. However there may be an interesting difference owing to the type of medium. Oil paintings on canvas are like permanent “precious objects”  where the artist depicts on its surface a contrived image that is placed in a staged background.

The image of the person portrayed very likely will ‘out-live’ the actual person therefore ensuring a type of immortality. Mosaics or stone masks are the  most permanent and durable of mediums.

How permanent then is a selfie? This image is shared often  as a candid shot but probably not intended to be permanent.

 

The Cellphone fell into the Oil Paint 1, 2014

My Smartphone fell into the Oil Paint 1, 2014

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Cellphone Fell into the Oil Paint 2, 2014, 48x34 cm, intaglio, oil, pastel and charcoal on gessoed paper

My Smartphone Fell into the Oil Paint 2, 2014

 

 

On the other hand the selfie may be immortal as long as it can be retrieved from a Timeline.

These two small mixed media images make reference to the portable cellphone selfie and its perceived fleeting nature and cult of individuality. Some commentators describe it as a form of narcissism. Whether or not by cellphone or more traditional media I see types of self representation as evidence of a journey about questioning ideas around mortality and the Self.


Artwork with Etching continues

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 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.

Ear to the Foreground, 2014, 62x84 cm, mixed media and oil on canvas from the series titled Poet's Process


Art and Poetry at Lake Mungo, part 1

Image from the series titled Inside the Poet’s Process

Painting titled Ear to the Foreground, 2014

Ear to the Foreground, 2014, 62x84 cm, mixed media and oil on canvas from the series titled Poet's Process

Ear to the Foreground, 2014, mixed media and oil on canvas

When my friend and I set out for Lake Mungo from a camping ground garden of tropical vegetation beside the Murray River our vehicle soon encountered the very familiar corrugated surface and bull dust-covered large pot holes of many Outback roads. The contrast between each environment could not have been more stark as the temperature soared, dust increased and vegetation became sparse. At Lake Mungo National Park having checked out the visitor’s centre I became aware of the silence, wide horizon and canopy of cloudless blue sky. This initial impression was what I tried to express as I relived the experience through a poem written by my travel companion poet Patricia Sykes. After many conversations with Patricia about identifying response to environment and what and how the word/image flows from one another into a poem’s structure; meaning, rhythm, sound, words their position, lines and their format, my aim was to imagine and internalise points in this discussion about a creative process. Instead of drawing and painting outlines of a portrait form in a background space I wanted inlines not to amplify perspective and form but to flow into the environment and coalesce into proto imagery as it formed mentally and often instantly appeared as if from nowhere in the mind’s eye. Baroque era iconography often referred to the connection between poetry and painting in the form of allegorical figures called Pictura and Poesia; one woman with brush and palette the other with pen and paper. I began by blocking in the image with thinned paint and compressed charcoal. The image started with a dune shape behind the head. I changed this because my first impression was a perceived emptiness as we both confronted the dunes from a distance. To reach them required driving across the dry lake bed of Lake Mungo.  I added an abstracted shape that alluded to the path of vision. The shape referring to the line of vision obscured the poet’s eye. I intended to make a reference to the black algae encrusted lake bed situated along this line of vision. But it didn’t work and looked too busy so simplicity was required. ( I always want to put in everything knowing most of it will be painted over.) I lightened the background colour as the previous layer looked thin and scrappy. Intense blue of the background needed some body before another application and adjustment and addition to the head image. This painting didn’t take long and the original fresh energy of the initial sketch carried into the final layers which I try to do but not always successfully. I like the underpainting to remain part of the final layer. This image can also be viewed at:  www.facebook.com/pages/Desterreart

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Oil Painting Commission continued

Final Stages of Commission

Final Stages of Commission

Final Stages

At this stage I built up paint layers as an attempt to suggest shallow water on the left side of the composition. However still required is more structure and clarity of focus. Simplification of the colour with more tone might strengthen and give more solidity to the land form. A balancing of the form and the process of its disintegration through erosion needs more attention.

Untitled companion oil and mixed media

Untitled companion to Commission 1

Untitled companion to Commission 1

Untitled companion painting, detail

Untitled companion painting, detail

This composition also needs the structure strengthened and more tone to the left. A little more warmth in colour on the left and getting some overly busy areas consolidated are my next stage in the process. The image of the detail is the busy area under scrutiny.


Walga Rock

Walga (Walganna) Rock, 1.8 km long and composed of post-tectonic granite, is one of the many whalebacks scattered throughout the Yilgarn Craton. Situated on the Western section of the craton which consists of rocks of every Archean era with zircons dating back to the Hadean also clastic sedimentary rock. It consists of K-feldspar porphyritic monogranite that forms the type area thought to be approx. 2.5 billion years old.

Walga Rock cave entrance before sunset.

Walga Rock cave entrance before sunset.

Above the gallery situated on the cave wall are large slabs of granite in the process of ‘peeling off’  the main rock form. This process is caused by expansion and contraction of the surface because of extreme seasonal and diurnal temperatures in this inland (300 km), arid climate. Rain water and wind erosion molded and eroded the lower recessed section of the rock.

Walga Rock wind and rain water erosion ' peeling off ' slabs of granite.

Walga Rock wind and rain water erosion ‘ peeling off ‘ slabs of granite.

Wind and water erosion

Wind and water erosion forming cave wall.

The rock overhang protected the array of paintings. The depiction of a masted boat was quoted by archaeologists  as evidence of contact with sailors of European origin, firstly Dutch and then later archaeological evidence suggested a similarity between this depiction and the nineteenth century coastal steamer SS Xantho. (Bigourdan, 2006)

I took a rubbing/frottage from rocks as well as rice paper stains from soil far from the enclosure. They are a way for me to connect with the place via a tactile experience when I return to my studio. Often I adhere them with gesso to the canvas surface.

Walga Rock frottage, 22/04/13, 7.30 am, graphite and pastel on rice paper.

Walga Rock frottage, 22/04/13, 7.30 am, graphite and pastel on rice paper.

Walga Rock paper stain 1, 24/04/13, 7.40 am, soil stain on rice paper.

Walga Rock paper stain 1, 24/04/13, 7.40 am, soil stain on rice paper.

This technique is one that includes quick sketches done on site. Below are previous examples of this mixing of different media which I meld into large oil paintings. They may be viewed on my website : desterreart.com.au and are part of a series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.

Escarpment, 2007, 98x84 cm, oil and mixed media on canvas from the series titled An Archaeology of Landscape. Courtesy of the D. Hutton collection.

Escarpment, 2007, 98×84 cm, oil and mixed media on canvas
from the series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.
Courtesy of the D. Hutton collection.

Water Etching, 2003, 140x120 cm, mixed media on board from the series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.

Water Etching, 2003, 140×120 cm, mixed media on board
from the series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.

Igneous 2, 2004, 214x108 cm, oil and mixed media on canvas from series titled An Archaeology of Landscape

Igneous 2, 2004, 214×108 cm, oil and mixed media on canvas
from series titled An Archaeology of Landscape.

P.S.  Correction: Feldspar should read K-feldspar. The “K”, refers to the Potassium content of feldspar. There are 3 K feldspars: microcline, sanidine and orthoclase (orthoclase and plagioclase, another type of feldspar, are often easily seen in volcanic rocks, they’re usually a milky to pinkish white).