Thursday, April 10, 2014

OPEN STUDIO EVENT at Seed.Art.Lab this weekend, April 12 + 13 in Brisbane

This is a quick post ahead of a big weekend at my Brisbane Studio: Seed.Art.Lab to let you know all are welcome if you happen to be in this region and would like to come along!

I've just been finessing plans for our wee Pop-up cafe on the side of the Studio plans.... and went back to a favourite book of mine by Diana Henry for the recipe for Yoghurt and Walnut Cake with Coffee Syrup last night. Perhaps the Orange Almond Cake pictured above will be our gluten free offering.... the Walnut cake is not gluten free... but has substantially less flour being laden with walnuts! I go really light on the sugar in it as well... have made this many times and the flavours are sensational without loads of sweetness.

To read all the details about the event go to the website home page here.

Also on the home page is the link to the Latest Newsletter which you can read here telling you about my next residency at the brand New Plantbank Seed Research Facility in NSW and this event.

48 Meemar St
Chermside 4032
Brisbane,   QLD
m: 0430 599 344


Midday till 5pm both days
12 + 13 April, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March in the Studio

March at the studio was purposely quiet and perfect for painting with the kind of focus I'd not enjoyed in a long time. Moving last year and the period of 6 months without a studio meant starting again in September was slow and gradual... although I held a major Launch and was making the most of the new space. See the post I wrote recently at Visual Eclectica on new work.

This year I've loved the feeling of feeling of being much more at home in my studio ... and gradually getting into my strides again. I toyed with running workshops but in the end felt it beneficial to focus quite deeply and simply paint whist the chance was there for uninterrupted hours.

Now I am a month away from a residency at PLANTBANK in NSW, south west of Sydney at Mt Annan. I'm really looking forward to this ... it always brings so much input and new material that is takes a while to integrate all that in my work so to have have a quiet period beforehand has been ideal. More on Plantbank here and here.

Here are two images from the studio...

Above is work carried out for a deadline on the weekend... it was for a Local Art Prize that I entered... the first time I've had time to actually enter an Art Competition in the last 8 years. I started work in January on these 2 works above and had to send images and local them in as the entries before they were resolved works... so it was interesting last week completing them with a deadline...
and wondering if they were the best choice.

In the end however I enjoyed the process as the work I carried out in February and March was on a greatly subdued and limited palette... as seen in most of the work below.

The January work provided the impetus for the work that followed in the limited palette... yet when  I went back to the more colourful canvases it felt easier to tackle the challenge of resolving the work given the routine of focus and opportunity to discuss work with several people.

Weekend after next, April 12th and 13th I will have an OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND ... so watch this space if you wish to know about that... or contact me here.

Back soon I hope!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

catching up!

February has had its slow moments... but that was more about starting to feel restless more than anything. Maybe the heat... it makes one feel with summer around why not be off on a holiday somewhere... not trying to keep in good humour on long hot days!

Daydreaming aside its been mostly a very productive time.

I've been taking shots on the iPhone... rarely using my other cameras at all now.

a studio view... Ive been framing small works of late!

I've been through various painting phases already this year in the studio ...

I've been playing around with this simple visual idea lately

On the weekend I moved onto some large canvases... 100 cm x 150 cm approx.

I spent time Saturday applying gesso... and almost 12 hours on Sunday working on under-painting each canvas in a certain colour palette ... to become immersed in the ideas I have for these works.

These are the three works by the end of the day... ready for the next stage of working into the canvases... pushing the ideas and paint around!

Summer begins to get to me as it goes on ... the heat and the lure of the water. I drove up the Bay (Moreton bay) on Sunday morning and decided I will return soon for a day... bringing supplies and settling under trees and really enjoying this place.

This pool was in the back area next to an art studio at a tropical Garden I visited nearby in Brisbane recently. Although this looks like watercolour it is a photo I took which has then been altered using a Watercolour App which I was really taken by tonight and have subsequently played around with quite a bit!

Heres are some recent seed photographs which have been snapped on the iPhone, then put through the watercolour app and on instagram to come up with these variations.

I began to see endless possibilities for many photos Ive taken... 

I liked these images of favourite chairs... above on the back verandah of the previous family home where I lived for 5 years till last August. Below is the back outdoor living space of the new home.

And to finish.... my favourite chair... in the studio! 

More news soon!

Best to all!

Monday, February 3, 2014

SURVEY PRIZE drawn tonight!


Late last December  SEED.ART.LAB Studio interns Jane and Sam helped me draw up this survey which I was so delighted to see so many participate in … the first ever Homage to the Seed Survey!

Due to Xmas and summer holiday season we put it on hold and came back about 10 days ago to promote the survey for a February 1st deadline.

Names/email addresses went into a basket this evening and were drawn by Olivia, my 83 year old mother (and long-standing Art Patron) who was honoured to be given this task!!!

                                     Mary Robb! 

We've let Mary know and are keen to receive her postal address 
so we can organise to send the Watercolour Seedpod drawing!

RUNNER UP PRIZE:    A set of Homage to the Seed postcards!
Olivia drew Robyn West so we look forward to hearing from Robyn!

I decided tonight to add two other small prizes on the spur of the moment …

Back on Day 1 of the Survey …  our first lovely respondent Nat Billing will be sent a tiny seedy something!

YOUNGEST PERSON TO ENTER:  It was very interesting for Sam, Jane and I to note that responses were coming from the over 30’s…. well... from the over 40’s actually. So when I realised only one young person entered I decided to give 21 year old Jacqueline Wallis a small seedy surprise too. So do send us your details please Jacqueline!

I was very pleased to find so many thoughtful comments in your answers ... clearly we could have had a prize for that category too so I’ve added two  answers for you to read below! I plan to write a blog post and quote more answers on that… so stay tuned. 

Question Ten: What does the term Biodiversity mean to you? 

I thought I’s share entrant’s Corrine’s answer:

“life's variety - it is like a library of resources to keep the environment in balance - as we remove biodiversity we remove resillience, resillience to threatening processes (weeds, fire, extreme climate events and changes over time) and we lose vital links in the food web"

… good yes?

And this poignant one from Nicki when answering Q 9: Is there an environmental story that concerns you?

The grasslands that once covered the Darling Downs are classed as Critically Endangered and they are present at only 1% of their orginal level before European settlemnt. Another 70-100 hectares will be lost at Acland if Stage 3 mine is approved. This grassland has Austral cornflowers and blue grass and rare lizards. Cornflowers are one of the most beautiful plants in the world to me!





                                                   Sophie, Jane and Sam!


I've added the recent video on Homage to the Seed made by the Global Crop Diversity Trust ... its 3.30 mins and includes artwork with audio! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

a conversation about some photos

Last night I wrote a post at Homage to the Seed blog where I showed the photos of a branch with a cluster of about 36 small seed pods on it given to me by a friend of my mother's after they'd caught up that day. It didn't come with a note on the tree it was from so I will ask someone this week who's sure to be able to identify the species.

Last night I thought I might draw this pod cluster and found a white page to put it on for contrast. Just moving it meant a lot of seeds feel onto the paper so I kept shaking it till I had a good pile on the white page... thinking I might focus on drawing the scattered seeds.

Then I used my iphone to take some shots which led to about 30 shots as it was so difficult to get the decent angle and enough detail yet also manage an interesting composition. The funny thing was this particular specimen didn't particularly hold any appeal for me. I was more interested in the seeds at the start.

I kept shooting...  then downloaded images to iPhoto on the Mac

Thats when it got trickier trying to play around with settings that might enhance the shots. I must have spent an age doing this... so it was late when I added about 10 images to Facebook. I needed to see them together... so I put the post up on the Homage to the Seed Blog as well.  See link at top of this post!

When I awoke this morning there was a whole commentary waiting for me at the FB Album from an artist in Melbourne, Krista Petrauskas. It wasn't the first time she had left interesting comments... but there was something about these shots I found strangely compelling yet incredibly difficult to get into ... and that made her comments all the more helpful...  and hugely appreciated. 

I've actually added what she and I wrote at the FB page onto this post under the images she  commented on. My responses were a bit naf to say the least...  but nothing unusual there. I really liked the way she took time to think about each facet of these images ... thus allowing me to reflect on them more deeply.

On the one hand they are mostly a rough and unlovely bunch of images... but Krista brings such an interesting eye to the process of looking. Not only that she commented on about 4 or 5 of the images and also a few times on one or two. She wasn't afraid to say what she didn't like which was a great thing ... yet her manner is exceptionally kind and the result of this good critique meant getting to think much more about the process and what was compelling me.

This is the one I think I liked best  ... as did she!

KRISTA :  These works are sheer poetry - this 'drawing' has potent strength with vibrancy- very taken with the light quality and tonal contrasts, the drawing is so alive- bursting. The composition is seamless in the way the drawing holds together, interesting variety in the use of size and how it creates a cascading effect. The drawing is so striking.Lastly is the beautifully modulated textures and surface treatment. It feels like a watercolour.

SOPHIE : Have been reading your wonderfully stimulating thoughtful comments this afternoon Krista Petrauskas . I'm grateful you popped by and took the time to really respond. Its exactly the kind of feedback that gets one thinking harder about one's approach and what is being sought when one is compelled to persist with something which ultimately I was here. I think this might be the one image where there is a nice balance between the various elements at play to make it quite Ok to look at. Like the way you express these ideas .... that it arrives at feeling like a watercolour... that is good!

later comment...

KRISTA :  It should have read " this work is sheer poetry." Interestingly, the offset, large slice of variegated red leaf (reads as an area of colour) near the bottom (my) left actually helps anchor the work and gives the composition gravity and resolution as does the orangey leaf on the side. Both of these elements give the work a ground plane, dimension and depth of field. 'Painterly' is the other quality that this work has.Cover the red bit that I am talking about with your fingers.this use of this 'red' transports the work in to something extraordinary. I know it isn't a drawing, but, to me it has all the elements of 'drawing' or watercolour. The soft pinkish colour, next to the red, sweeping upwards back into the cluster, helps echo the red and continue the thread that holds this work together.The repetition of this pink colour in a swathe, upwards in the other pods is also another unifying element.The repetition of the orange shades in different proportions is another well used element as is the juxtaposition of the purplish hue, to the orange.the sparse use of the contrasting apple green gives the work something extra as well.

SOPHIE: 'Tis wonderful to read your reading of the image Krista Petrauskas ... think I'll copy and past this on a post at my studio blog ... a fairly private blog that does as a journal on studio working process. Good to go back to when musing on something. Plus here is so difficult to write and read anything lengthy... I will try and transplant the commentary to there. THANK YOU!

and later again...

KRISTA : I keep seeing extra compositional elements. The use of the element, direction and directional slants. A very strong cohesive element featured in the work.There is a lovely directional curving sweep,starting with lighter orange, open seedpod form, in the top left hand corner, which transverses the picture space in an arc and ends where it meets the pinkish shadows, jumps across to the red, then to it's sister leaf which is at diagonal slant that draws you back up to where I started from. There is a smaller arc made by the three pods that are hovering above and across the patch of red underneath them.Above this arc is a rest point created by the centrally positioned the cluster. There are others which you will have fun checking out. I'll come back to look at it with fresh eyes and without the analysis.

SOPHIE :  I have to transfer your writing my blog to read properly... Thanks Krista Petrauskas ... great to think about! I've just noticed an element I like here... will go back to the photo and play with duplicates.

KRISTA : As a photograph this works very well because of the composition - good use of cropping and selection of viewpoint, focal point and subject matter. It is striking.

SOPHIE:  Bit of a challenge to get close enough to get details yet far enough back to get the object in Krista Petrauskas . Took so many photos late last night in the attempt to capture something of interest. Today seeing them again after being out is good for a rethink!

KRISTA :  The repetition of elements shape,size, direction and directionality of the curving sweeps within the cluster.The repeated echoes of the concave interiors and similar fragments on the ground plane.

SOPHIE : Thanks for your thoughtful responses ... I do like those curving lines Krista Petrauskas ... think its always the capsules... the containers.. the inner spaces of the thing that draws me. The geometry of the capsule's form and again after opening. So many ways of seeing.

KRISTA: Like the top left hand corner of this one - perhaps too close to the subject, so the composition loses cohesion in the middle, It makes it hard to take in.It becomes an overall pattern. I would use a viewfinder to help find the best composition and play around with depth of field and proximity. There are some lovely sections within the frame.

    • SOPHIE:  Woeful photo really Krista Petrauskas ... totally looses itcompositionally... + in the middle... yes. What interests me is the texture of the lower pods.

      Homage to the seed I'm just home from a walk through a nearby park where I found a tree filled with these seedpod clusters Krista Petrauskas ... the tree was a little drier looking actually. I will ask my botanical friend coming wednesday what it is.

KRISTA:   Far too close up. The lack of definition doesn't give the viewer a way to navigate around the composition, having no focal point,, so that it becomes confusing, it falls between abstraction and overall pattern.Maybe, using line and outline might pull it together and help resolve the lack of cohesion. Choosing a dominant direction in combination with linear elements could be interesting. Some of the shadows and contrasts are interesting as well .There is more fun to be had with this one .

SOPHIE : yes Krista Petrauskas a bit stuck with how to work this close and where to push it with tonal adjustments. That's an interesting stage... half the time I think .... why bother... its just not working. But I do like observing positive/negative spaces and the dimensions even in this hard-to-read, cluttered space. What is that willing exploration for?

KRISTA :  I like this one.The bold choice of using monochromatic ranges of scarlet, suits the subject matter, and the inclusion of mangenta is a nice touch, the bluish tint of the magenta gives it a lift as well as a subtle contrast. The use of dominant size with the central seedpod gives the composition a strong focal point and makes for a strong composition, maybe quietening some parts of the background would tweak it even more, because I think the contrast in intensity would also strengthen the composition. I also like the emphasis on volume and 3D quality about the work.There is a sculptor in you wanting to come out. Also a photographer with a good eye.

SOPHIE : Yes... previous image where it was too much is cropped again here Krista Petrauskas ... much less going on helps viewer to see. Have you done a lot of playing with images like this yourself? Using the Mac iPhoto rather than Adobe etc I have not found a way to drop the background out more. I do remember noticing Mac's Aperture ... wondering if that is a much more sophisticated way of doing photo-shop? Have never learnt Adobe. And the other thing is I don't usually put much time into digital imaging as I like raw materials so much. Most of my large work is abstract so tends not to be a great use for this process. BUT you are so right I am very keen on 3D interpretations of seed forms... alway love to see work of artist's who go there...especially when the work has a raw element to it.

Having thought about this a bit more tonight I went back to this image  

If you look closely in the middle left you will see the seed capsule enlarged and shown below. Funny as it sounds... noticing that made my day as it's just the kind of form that translates into a memorable motif or symbol that I love to work with. What is it about the quadrant... within a rounded form containing it? There's symmetry and yet such beauty in the circular lines. This will have to become a form I work with... its satisfies both the aesthetic sense and something deeper and more mysterious... yet at the same time it is a botanical specimen and of the world and there to be observed in real time.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this might go! Soon I hope there might be something to put up here that unfolds from these photographs.  Will see!

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Blogging for me is an extension of keeping a journal which I have done in various forms over the decades. The difference being this is not a closed book! I like that it offers an opportunity to explore that which concerns me as an artist and as an individual about living and participating in this vastly complex, unquestionably exciting yet unnerving time in human history. Through the blog I hope to increase the possibilties for cross-pollination which I believe can strengthen the sense of being part of something both personal and universal that is vital, expansive and refreshing.