I was lucky to receive a residency at Haefliger’s Cottage with thanks to the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Hill End Artist in Residency Program. I will be working on two projects while here – a body of landscape images that I will make into a small hand-drawn animation, as well as an installation work that is an extension of the In Flight/Becoming Raven series I have worked on previously. Here’s some images from the residency.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a few months of ‘no deadlines’. I decided to devote this time to practise practise practise. Practise things I find hard. Figure drawing and portraiture are difficult, however I’ve always felt that if I’m drawing the figure well then I’m seeing well and therefore improving my skills. Here’s some images I’ve been working on – these are images of me drawn ‘from life’. I have an elaborate set up of mirrors in my studio to do these. I think deep down these have something to do with aging and a long standing difficulty with body image.
I recently collaborated with Sandra Winkworth on drawing installation called ‘In Flight’ at Rookwood Cemetery.The work was made from aluminium flyscreen, shadecloth and cable ties. Images below are the work installed and progress shots from preparing the work. The imagery was based on my work becoming raven.
The idea continues my overall interest in the ideas behind ‘deep ecology’ or ‘depth ecology’ as coined by theorist David Abram ( refer Depth Ecology by David Abram, Ph.D.http://www.wildethics.com/essays/depth_ecology.html). In a nutshell, in very basic terms, deep/depth ecology takes a different approach to contemporary environmentalism – where we focus on alleviating ecologocial issues once they become obvious. Rather, deep ecology reflects and “seeking to transform, the more deep seated cultural assumptions and practices that have given rise to those problems.” This interests me as I’m constantly amused/bemused that it’s not until something is threatened with extinction or destruction that we seem to care and make a noise. Recent examples include the Moreton Bay figs being cut down to make way for new transport hubs in Sydney. The Sirius Building in Sydney under threat of demolition. Noone really gave these things much of a thought until they are now threatened. We cry, we rant, we get up in arms, share our outrage on social media (as if that will assist!). What if we, as a society, cared in the first place, maybe stopped and took notice of the trees for example. Praised their beauty a little more often instead of rushing by (looking at our devices)……. Enough of my rant!
For the series becoming raven, I spent a lot of time looking at and drawing the raven. There’s lots of ravens – they are a dime a dozen. As a result we often don’t take the time to look at them. Indeed we might shoo away if it came near us, we might be wary of it because of it’s reputation in horror movies. But when you do slow down and take a look, they are a magical thing.
I don’t find this whole art lark easy. I mean that ‘it’ (creation of work, coming up with ideas etc) doesn’t come easily to me: in the way it seems to come easily for others. ‘Others’ would no doubt say the same thing.
I have had quite a busy year doing some great things but for the first time in very long while while, I have nothing planned. No shows. No projects. No nothing. I haven’t planned anything and nothing has been presented to me. This is a little disturbing, and it could be testing. Can I keep going without the lure of a deadline.
I have decided to use the time to practice. Practice doing things that I find difficult. If I practice, surely things should be easier! ha!
Difficult things one in series of many:
Working purely from sketches/notation.
I have found working something up from from field sketches intimidating. What will I do without the subject in front of me or a photo? I have regularly thought I need to get over this! I have a bunch of sketches and longer sustained drawings in my visual diary from visits to a location in the central west. I like these sketches and drawings, all done out in the elements. It’s 5 hours away by car so I can’t cheat and go out and get more information. I want to see what I can do with these to work these up into something else – a painting, drawing more….here’s the original images. I will record what I come up with!
First off I didn’t stick to any process, and it didn’t go well…These are some paintings where I through the paint around and turned things upside down.
So I returned to a process that has served me well. Photocopy all the sketches, then cut them up and rearrange them as a collage to work out a composition.
Layering with mylar paper and drawings
Using these images to build new collaged and layered images:
Canson paper (blue), kraft paper, aluminium fly screen, hinge tape, synthetic polymer paint, on mylar paper pin
Here’s some final images of drawings and stills from animations from ‘Becoming raven’. Elements of this work will be shown at Newcastle Art Gallery for Just Draw. I will show the ‘flying’ ravens on rice paper – running over the top will be the animation of the landscape and raven in flight. This will be a short animation that runs on a loop. The animation can be viewed on vimeo (not in HD https://vimeo.com/148761238). This animation was created using oil paint on clayboard – this surface enabled me to ‘scrub out’ or wipe back each frame of the drawing to capture the bird in various states of flight, as well as the landscape – I was considering how the landscape changes through time.
The final imagery for this part of the project was based on the many different drawings and short animations that I made during the residency at Grafton. These were the ‘sketches’ or the maps for this work. I have several more separate but related works that I will now work on based on other animations and many drawings I made.
These images have animations that I am working on. I plan to run these animations over the top of the drawings. Still working on these!
If you read a book 1000 times, you’re sure to understand it…
I heard the life coach/teacher/author, John Kehoe, say this and it struck a chord. He said it was a Chinese proverb, but I can’t find a reference to that (I like to find references to these things!). Even so, I like it. I draw things over and over and over in a bid to understand them.
(refer to my obsession with the fig trees and the ravens)…. Interesting
A couple of videos showing animated drawings running over still images – this the point I left this work in Grafton. There’s still more to do over the next couple of weeks before I do a ‘test’ run showing of this work. The paper used is rice paper dipped in beeswax, this achieves a transparency. The overall plan is to bring the paper and still drawings ‘off the wall’ so that the work can be viewed from both sides. This will also mean that there will be cast shadows from viewers walking around the paper. Still more work to do but I feel it’s taking shape.
The following are some of the animated ‘flights’ that am working on to have run over the paper and still drawings. Sound to come.
So, final week of the residency this week. It’s no surprise that it’s been a valuable opportunity to focus just on artwork. This is the first residency I’ve undertaken and the first time since finishing college to focus solely on producing work – no other distractions. It’s a real luxury and hopefully not the last chance I will have! THe first three weeks were very productive, I decided to just throw myself into it and see what happened – with the idea in the back of my mind that that the final week would be pulling everything together. I was feeling good about where the work was going and confident that I CAN DO THIS! The final week is where things have derailed slightly – for me it’s the pulling it all together that’s the trickiest part and where doubt really starts to engulf me. It takes just one thing/person/thought to plant the seed of doubt and then quickly spirals into full blown overwhelm. What am I trying to say? What am I trying to do? Why am I doing this? I am a fraud! I’m pulling out of this exhibition etc etc. I suppose this is my testing period to see if I can push through this. Woe is me!!!!
‘I believe it was John Cage who once told me, ‘When you start working, everybody is in your studio—the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas—all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.’ Philip Guston
I’M WAITING FOR ALL THESE PEOPLE AND ESPECIALLY ME TO LEAVE!!!