Waterless Lithography under the Mountain

Inking up

Inking up

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The profile of Mount Kembla features regularly in some of my landscape drawings. Last weekend I saw it from a different perspective, up close and reversed. Liz Jeneid’s eclectic studio where we had a hands-on workshop on waterless lithography, is nestled comfortably into the mountain.

IMG_3979Julie Krone, whose work I had seen in an exhibition at Wollongong Gallery some years ago had stuck with me and when I saw she was running the class, I thought it would be interesting to see how she works and the technique. She was fresh from an Argentinian Ace Residency and keen to pass on the intricacies learned from her investigations and experience with other artists.

IMG_3981Unlike stone based lithography, this method uses everything from silicon, acetone, brake fluid, photo-sensitive plates to print press.  Julie was generous with sharing her knowledge and excited by new marks made in different ways. It was learning experience for us all.

After completing our drawings and eventually a range of prints, it was obvious that although it was a technical process, individual sensitivities came through from the particpants.

Julie rocking the image in developer

Julie rocking the image in developer

For myself, I had made two plates, one more successful than the other, but it was the investigation of mark-making through both drawing and printing on transparent papers that has led me to go back to Rauschenberg for some more inspiration. Starting on a large drawing on Monday, I’m keen to scratch, transfer and rub, a little like Liz’s chooks and horses roaming the hillside. A fabulous shared lunch debating the value of arts education, topped off a wonderfully indulgent weekend.

 

Taking off the silicon

Taking off the silicon

The siliconed plate ready for ink

The siliconed plate ready for ink

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Plein-air & Plain Good

Tom Carment

Tom Carment

Tom Carment has taken out this years Parliament House Plein Air Painting Prize.  About time, I say.  He is just simply a good painter.  His work gets wall space in my studio and that is my measure of paint-worthiness.

 

 

 

Here is my blog from four years ago.

“A Random Sparkle”

Each time I visit the SH Ervin gallery, I seem to be drawn to the work of Tom Carment -I bought I wonderful book CH2.  Carla promptly told me I had bought her the same one. I had also bought a card of his work that was pinned on the wall in the Thirroul Studio. This afternoon I opened Artist Profile art mag for a well deserved read time only to find Tom Carment once again. Is it his plein-air-i-ness? The essence of subject? Maybe it’s what he describes as “the random sparkle.”

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Im-pressed

Michael in the studio

Michael in the studio

My friend Michael invited me to see his new baby, it was shiny, new and rolled like a dream.  Instead of that overriding smell of oil in his studio, a faint waft of fine etching ink.  Paintbrushes gave way to rollers and the floor tiled with sepia clad editions.  Printing to me feels like pulling wild hair into a ponytail.  That wild unkempt expressionist feelings are still there but they are under temporary control. The steps to prepare, dampen paper, ink the plate and roll, tie the wild into place but the output at the end, when the hair tie is released, produces the same expressionist marks, the abandon usually felt in the paint marks transferred to a print.

Drawing on the copper plate

Drawing on the copper plate

Michael has been prolific, monotypes, drypoints and a beautiful hand coloured book.  The new press has provided a tool for more drawing. We gave it a whirl and Michael did a monotype and I did a smudgy mess. Here’s a selection of his work. You can check out more of his work here.

The finished plate

The finished plate

Ready to roll

Out the other side

Out the other side

All important floor inspection

All important floor inspection

One of the Kosciusko series

One of the Kosciusko series

Another from that series, one of my favourites.

Another from that series, one of my favourites.

Beautiful hand coloured etchings made into a book.

Beautiful hand coloured etchings made into a book.

The Better Boatshed, Royal National Park Sydney

Royal National Park SydneyPlein-air painting can be difficult but when the weather is perfect, the location is devoid of onlookers, wildlife is abundant and the landscape is stunningly beautiful nothing is better.

Black cockatoos.

Black cockatoos.

DSC05265Michael Ambriano, my painting pal, took me to his local. The Royal National Park just south of Sydney is beautiful. Setting up our painting gear, a flock of black cockatoos screeched overhead and I knew it was going to be right.  We were soon joined by ducks, magpies and sulphur crested cockatoos.

I remembered coming here as a child. My family had a boat hire business further down the coast and we would visit another member of the family who had the old boat shed here in the National Park.

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This cockatoo came in for a closer look at my work. The magpie had told him about it.

As much as I loved the lake and our home at Windang, I always felt Uncle Ralph’s was the “better boat” shed and yesterday I could see why I envied this place so much.  I remembered ducks gliding by on still water and grassy lawns falling into the banks. Plus Uncle Ralph had an eye-patch.

Michaels Studio

Michael’s Studio

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The "Better" Boatshed

The “Better” Boatshed

I’m a Sticky Beak

“I’m a sticky beak…” Angus Nivison

My stuff to get distracted by....

My stuff to get distracted by….

I can never get enough art.  I have proven this by the use of my time.  I listen to podcasts whilst driving, on the train and now even peeling vegetables.  There is always a backlog of something to listen to and this week I chose a great podcast by Angus Nivison, Wendy Sharpe and R. Ian Lloyd. It was recorded at the State Library of NSW to coincide with the launch of one of my favourite books, Studio by John McDonald and R. Ian Lloyd.  They were talking about the photo shots of their studios and listening over freshly de-strung beans, I tried to remember what they were like.  All I remembered was that I identified with Angus Nivison the most when I first bought the book back in 2007.

Angus Nivison

Today I pulled the book out and was keen to have another look after so long.  I’m not as Baconesque as Nivison’s studio but it was the similar materials, looking at the same books such as Bonnard, Giacometti, Indigenous art and open art mags that made it feel familiar.  It’s the studio I would have if there was more room leaving empty cans, stiffened brushes and empty tape rolls behind me in my wake.  In contrast Wendy Sharpe’s studio feels like a workplace. It appears to have the ability to perform without too much distraction or threat of injury, surrounded by working paintings. There are no tempting paint stained books open to trip over and cause loss of focus.  Shes does mention in the interview a central table where the books can be safely ogled.  I have tried this in the past but as you can see from the last photo, the table was close to the point of collapse after a short while.

Wendy Sharpe 1In the podcast the photographer talks about his experiences of first impressions.  The photos in this book are simply brilliant and the photo of Nivison’s studio taken while hanging from open rafters captures what I would love to do, flying overhead taking in the experience of studio-envy. In Angus Nivison’s words “I’m a sticky beak….”

Just another note, I also bought the DVD at the same time. I have loaned this to someone and cannot remember who. If it’s you please PLEASE give it back I love it and miss it. I can assure you it’s not in this mess.

My old studio table.

My old studio table.

The Artist’s Chair

Reverse Graffiti Chairs NewcastleMost artists who have a studio have a studio chair. This all important item compares to a brush.  Most artists need time to mull over what comes next. The painting gets to the stage where it’s close to breaking through and that sit and look time can be just what it needs to get to the next level.  I haven’t had a lot of different studios so I haven’t exactly been Goldilocks and tried them all.

Arthurs StudioThe closest to best was the chair in the studio at Bundanon. An old cane chair with a slouchy cushion, just right. I think it may have even featured in a couple of Arthur Boyd drawings or paintings.

The pink chair looked something like this....

The pink chair looked something like this….

 

 

Another of my faves was an old salmony pink chair. A sad case that was passed endlessly through the ex’s family who had no room for it and never quite fitted in with their decor. Funnily enough they wanted it back when we parted ways. Maybe they re-painted.

Thirroul studio

Thirroul studio

The Thirroul studio had the good old waiting room chair circa 80’s wrapped in vinyl and made a good double as an easel when not being sat upon and it could easily be wiped over.  Not being too comfy meant I spent more time off my butt.

My current chair is a bridge chair. It has a swing back and is good for procrastinating, leaning back and staring at the ceiling (and the top of the bookshelf) for inspiration.

 

 

I think the king of all studio chairs would have to be Willem De Kooning’s.  This photo from Architectural Digest shows that there were two, one for Elaine too. It appears to be a rocker and would be perfect with a rug for winter, drifting off  and dreaming of pink fleshy glazes and how the painting might end.

 

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“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries.”

“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries.”

 

The Goanna Hunter

Sand Hills 2006 from Beyond Sacred Painting from Remote Australian Communities  Laverty Collection

Sand Hills 2006 from Beyond Sacred Painting from Remote Australian Communities Laverty Collection

alice trip 073The sad news of Mr Yunupingu – an icon of indigenous music eclipsed the news of the passing of one of my most favourite painters – Dorothy Napangarti. I was shocked to hear that she had died in a car crash in Alice Springs. The news reported that she had been on a goanna hunt, her favourite pastime. I would like to think it would be up there with painting.

I have very little wall space where I am so just the very few have pride of place and it his her work holds that special connection for me. I look at it every night before I go to bed, the small black dots joining my sleep.

alice trip 011When I was in Alice I heard of a reputable gallery and made sure on the last day that I would return to the coast with a work that epitomised the desert. I had been to the gallery on my first day here before heading out to camp and had pretty much made up my mind the work I wanted. I walked in and said I wanted to buy the work, a small beautiful piece. The gallery owner/attendant was impressed that I was so smitten with her work. He asked if a had a little time to spare and got up, locked the gallery and took me out the back, across an alley and up some stairs. It was where Ms Napangarti paints when winter sets in. Laid on the ground beautiful canvases in mid-flight and surrounding the walls photos of her and a huge grin with her family and a goanna dangling firmly from her hand. She looked happy. I hope her goanna hunting brought her as much pleasure as her painting and that little piece of desert dreaming has brought me.

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The Wingman

Lawrence Hargrave sculpture that sits overlooking Wollongong from the escarpment

Lawrence Hargrave sculpture that sits overlooking Wollongong from the escarpment

Bert Flugelman had a beautiful studio amongst lyrebirds in the rainforest. It was sad news today to hear of this wonderful Australian sculptor’s passing yesterday at the age of 90.  He has left us beautiful works that are part of the Australian landscape.

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Cones at National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden

One of my favourites is the work in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery in Canberra that is so familiar. The Australian bush is highly reflected in these wonderful stainless steel forms and people and birds are engaged by their distorted reflections.

Flugelman with Wingman by Guy Warren UOW Collection

Flugelman with Wingman by Guy Warren UOW Collection

His friend Guy Warren had won the Archibald  Prize in 1985 with a portrait “Flugelman with Wingman” and the work hangs in the library foyer at the University of Wollongong, commanding and inspiring.

Guy and Bert shared the wonderful commonality of Jamberoo, the little lush town where I had been only a few days ago with my artist friend.  The majority of his work so solidly metal and constructed had its roots in the organic and the love of the bush.

Tetrapus from Bondi Sculpture by the Sea

Tetrapus from Bondi Sculpture by the Sea

We All Like Robert Juniper…

Ferns & Flowers 1968 Robert JuniperI stumbled on the news that Australian artist Robert Juniper had died just before Christmas on the 21st December 2012. Being a Western Australian artist we unfortunately didn’t get to see much of his work over this side of the island.

I was saddened and wanted to share my admiration of his work. I had blogged about him previously in “No, He’s Not the Black Wiggle.”

Robert Juniper Desert Edge 1961I copied this work from Australian Painting Today an old and treasured book and it taught me a lot in early painting days about colour. My teacher had commented, “Robert Juniper, we all love Robert Juniper at some stage…”

J.R. Walker, The Elusive Platypus

Paint does the thinking. If you’re lucky something completely unexpected comes out. The making is the thinking….” *

Monotremes are rare – both of them found in Australia. The platypus frequents still parts in rivers. There is a little spot in Braidwood where we go and the platypus makes an appearance.  The old log where we sat and sketched had rotted since we were last there but as we approached the platypus took a dive and we caught a fleeting glimpse. It was midday, windy and noisy everything it shouldn’t be to spot platypus (or is platypussi?).

J.R Walker is a legendary Braidwood resident artist. As we came out of the bottleshop (a known haunt for artists – a bit like still rivers) J.R. was spotted on his bicycle and before we could gather our thoughts he was off. Peddling feverishly he ducked and dove out of sight. His saddle bags we could only guess were full of oily tubes of paint and inspiration and maybe merlot -it was on special.

This was a self-indulgent blog to show J.R. Walkers paintings. Something I have done before, here in Shaking Off The Sand & here  in Artist or Serial Killer. He, like the platypus is elusive and wonderful. A strange creature of talent and mystery and spotted from time to time in Braidwood.

*quote in article by Steve Lopes for Artist Profile 2009.