These rough and ready quick chalkboard sketches were all done in one fairly short brainstorming session last night. I’ve got a solo show coming up soon, and want to make the main wall a grid of monotypes. I have a set of nine that I have shown before, as a single line of prints, but now I want to extend that series further and make a grid. The decision to hold the show was something of a short notice thing, and so now I’m planning on being quite busy with new monotypes over the next month. Hence returning to the chalkboard for brainstorming white drawings which mimic the way I like to make monotypes. Although I only had yellow chalk available for this lot. Had a reasonably successful printing day today and made four prints, of which two might make it into the show. I started with “Luna” from last nights ideas, as something not too difficult to warm up on, and then a different image entirely not featured in the chalkboard drawings. Not a bad start I think.
Posts Tagged ‘rocks’
You will recall, that I made myself a new chalkboard way back last summer. The idea of the chalkboard is that it is a way to ‘free up’ drawing practice. By using such an inherently ephemeral medium, not intended to be kept as a finished ‘work’ takes away all sense of anxiety over how a proposed drawing might turn out. Trouble is, this process does its job all too well and so I end up making a drawing I like and wish I could keep. So, this drawing was made last summer, and has just now been washed off, but not before a new version has been produced as a woodcut. A woodcut is of course a very different medium to a chalk drawing, and so off course they are quite different images. To see the woodcut, you had better take yourself along to the next show at The Left Hand Gallery in Braidwood, NSW. Open on weekends, 24/25 August, 31 Aug/1st Sept, 7/8 Sept. As Julian Davies, the resident curator at The Left Hand says of relief prints, “Once something is sliced away it cannot be put back. This is way of making pictures that asks for daring and imagination.” So the antithesis of a chalkboard really.
I came across this delightful feature in a small creek in Royal National Park recently, just upstream from my camp. Royal is on the outskirts of Sydney and is Australias oldest, and the worlds second oldest National Park. With that deliciously dark hole, it will definitely be making an appearance in some prints sometime soon. I’ve been thinking of it as The Eye.
In between teaching days at the National Art School in Sydney, I’ve been doing some walking and camping, time on Sydney Beaches, seeing some shows etc. This weekend I have traveled to Canberra for a bit of time in the studios at Megalo. It’s a bit like a second home here at Megalo, since I am so familiar with the studio and presses. I’ve been taking advantage of the big Hilton electric press to make some more monotypes, with the imagery referring back to summer in Queensland. I’m thinking a whole new series might be nice, with the figure in the landscape being more explicit than some of my previous work. They always take a lot longer than I expect though. I only took two prints yesterday, and one at least should be trashed. I’ve been here several hours this morning, and only the above print has so far come off the press, but I’m reasonably happy with it. Bleed printed in a greenish black ink on a half sheet of Hahnemuhle (76 x 56 cm). Below is the second print from yesterday, showing how the drawing changes each time, especially since I am only working from a rough thumbnail drawing about one inch square, which itself was drawn from memory soon after visiting this creek in Mapleton National Park. What might be lost in faithful realism, is amply made up for by what is gained in the freedom to express a mood and sense of the place without feeling the need to copy a photographic reference.
I’ve made a new chalkboard which is a little more manoeuvrable than the last one on an old door. Today I made the first drawing on it and here it is. It depicts a scene inspired by my explorations in Wollemi National Park recently. Well, more than inspired by, it represents quite a specific spot. From Newness Campground, the main Pipeline Track led off downstream along the Wolgen River. I followed an unsigned side track, that led off through the ruins of what must have been the fancier houses attached to the old oil refining works. Now only sandstone chimneys remain, like strange trunks amongst the forest. The track dwindles, as it traces up a creek line which becomes increasingly densely forested, with high cliffs looming overhead on both sides. In parts the track becomes difficult to follow, but after tracing it up and down several times in the days I was there, I can confidently follow it to it’s end, which is the place depicted here. A truly magical spot, especially the first time you see it. The deep narrow gorge, filled with high forest, is rather dark, cool and calm, oblivious to the sun filled and windy weather above. Here the cliff on one side is particularly shear – glowing orange up above in the afternoon sun, but with a deep recess at the base. Carved over the ages, by the smallest of ephemeral watercourses, is a great tube-like, vertical chute. It carried no water on the day I was there, not even a dripping, but instead it shone a column of soft reflected light onto the circular, sand-filled depression at its base. In the gloom of the forest it was like an enchanted stage, lit at just this time of day, waiting for the arrival of some cosmic actor.
I have photographs, though none look anything like this drawing. It was one of those places that was too large, yet at the same time close and intimate, to capture in one frame. This chalkboard drawing is instead based on a pen drawing from my notebook, made on that first days visit. Even in my sketch, there was a figure at the base of the chute, although I was there alone. I’m not entirely sure why I inserted the figure, perhaps to help with scale, but when it came to doing the chalk drawing, I certainly wanted to retain it, something to make the image more lively, and excentuate that point of focus at the base of the chute. The figure I had drawn was a rather generic standing silhouette, and really not sufficient, so I started browsing books for another pose. I soon settled on the works of William Blake as a good point of departure. When I saw “Albion Worshiping Christ” I knew I had the right one.
Albion Worshiping Christ is one of the plates from Blake’s epic work Jerusalem , a book of 100 etched and hand coloured plates that took 16 years to produce. My drawing has omitted Christ, to be replaced by the wonders of nature, so it seemed a rather fitting choice. Of course my chalkboard drawing is only meant to be a temporary sketch, and the landscape elements did come fairly easily. The figure, however, was a labour. I re-did it many times, and also extra sketches on black paper. The more I worked on it, the less it looked like one of Blake’s cosmic men, and the more it looked like a distorted half man/half frog, perhaps by Francis Bacon! (I love the work of Francis Bacon by the way, but it really wasn’t what I was trying to achieve in this instance. I hope I get the chance to see the show on at Art Gallery of NSW) Eventually I stopped trying to force the figure into the particular scale and position where I though it should be, and instead let it and my hand have their way, and Albion came out twice as big, as he kept wanting to, over and over. He still took quite a bit of fiddling – perhaps I was trying to achieve too much with a piece of chalk and an eraser.
Once again it’s been a long time between posts. Lots has been happening since the last one, from teaching a wood engraving workshop with the Newcastle Printmakers Workshop, to Sydney and catching some of the Biennale. Then there was lots of time out in the bush, with plenty of walking and exploring and drawing. The above drawing was made in the majestic campground at Newnes, on the edge of Wollemi National Park, home of the rare Wollemi Pine. It was hard to stay focused on my drawing instead of watching the wombat wombling it’s way around camp, especially when it bumped into the big Goana making it’s way along the creek bank, but the shadows were changing fast as the sun rose and the frosty morning quickly turned to a hot day. From there it was a slow trip back to Queensland, via time in the Warrumbungles, the Pilliga Scrub and Mt Kaputar – all very different and fascinating in their own ways. Now it’s off out bush again, this time into the coastal forests between Grafton and Coffs Harbour, so posts will probably stay sparse for a while yet, but I’ll try and fill in the gaps with some more pictures soon.
This is my most recent wood engraving, the latest waypoint for this image, which began on a walk in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Since then the image has passed through drawings and large paintings, and now been miniaturised again. In the translation into print it has been mirrored as well. A new element has entered the picture now, with the distinctive outer shape bringing new associations and emphasising the internal flow of the image as well. It is the first block I have made from a small piece of Paper Birch that I collected a few years back. I’m always on the lookout for suitable pieces of wood – of suitable hardness, relatively free of cracks (or ‘interesting’ looking cracks), and importantly, small enough to carry away without causing too much of a spectacle. This piece came from a pile of prunings I noticed while leaving the dentist as I remember. I thought Birch would be too soft, but some of the commercially made engraving blocks are Birch, so thought I might as well try it. So after letting the wood cure for a few years, I made a block. It is certainly a little on the soft side, but with care is quite suitable. My quest for using wood that I find as my main material often leads me to use blocks that cold be considered inferior – but I think it just pushes me to fine tune my craft even more.
What source is being sought? Well that’s something I’d rather leave as a bit of a mystery for the time being.
Yesterday I finally did something I’ve been saying I was going to do for at least a couple of years. Not that it was difficult or needed a huge investment in materials, it just takes me a while to get to things sometimes. So, I’ve made myself a nice big chalkboard! As simple as buying some paint and applying two coats to the back of an old door. Fabulous. So today I got to play with it. Unsure what to draw first, I flicked through some old sketchbooks, and chose a small pen drawing that had never progressed into anything else. It was labelled ‘Nursery Hill from Little Pig Swamp’ and was in my sketchbook from 2009 when I spent a fair bit of time in Namadgi National Park. You’ll be able to find Nursery Hill on the official maps, but Little Pig Swamp is unique to my personal mind map. When you are in the bush on your own for a while, these things can happen. It was interesting to work up the tiny black on white sketch, into a larger white on black image, with the visual memory of the place somewhat faded now, so pretty much relying only on the sketch. Anyway, here’s the chalk drawing.
I couldn’t resist getting a snapshot of this rather overdressed (for the beach) man as he clambered on the rocks. There was something dramatic about the silhouetted figure against the bright seascape, dark overcoat flapping in the wind. Then I realised why the scene, as unusual as it was, seemed familiar. Nearly three years ago now I posted an image of an old favourite, The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Casper David Friedrich. As well as the original, it’s an image that is often referenced or parodied as well. A google image search for the title brings up plenty of contemporary examples.
These aren’t your average rocks of course. They are the Moeraki Boulders, on Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on New Zealand’s Otago coast. One of the famous boulders seemed particularly happy that day.