Wednesday, 26 September 2012

walkabout .....

I know this is an art blog, but this evening I am going to take you on 'walkabout' around our ten acres. Some of you, my blogging friends, have asked for photos of my home and studio but I thought I would start off this journey, or reveal, with a walk around my secret place - our secret place.  I have only been living here two years so it is a work in progress - and part of my new life.

Before we get here at the bottom of our land, we need to start at the top, behind the house and just behind the garden shed where an 'x' marks the spot.

From here you can wander just a little way along the path before you get caught up in vines.

Though if you head down behind the shed there is a path that will lead you down and across some lawn and newly planted garden, to the beginning of the steps.

You won't know from this photo, but already things look different as plants are maturing.  I am looking forward to the Vulcan magnolia covering the side of the garden shed and the star jasmine falling all over it.

The distance is hazy but all that is the pacific ocean - about half an hours drive.  From inside our hom we look as far south as Redcliffe and up to the north as far as Coolum.  This large rock, now one of many, was brought up here from the bottom of the land.  From this point at the top of the stairs, the house is on the left hand side and my studio is at this level - the home extends two levels above. I will post another time on the home and studio. Or snippets of it ...

Heading down ...

This is the first flight of stairs down from the top ..... you can actually drive around the property too.  The open drain has now been filled with rock and covered so no longer looks so treacherous.

Little bits of interest on the walk down .........

This view of the house is taken between the first and second levels heading down to the bottom of the land.  At this angle is certainly looks as though we live on top of a hill.  Here below is the second level down from the house, where we have our fire pit and picnic area.  Soon grass will cover all this area forming a beautiful glade.

The next few photographs are further down still ...... no stairs now but roadways give access and as we have cleared so much, we are now able to walk in through the forest.  The light down at this level is just delicious.  Even from this level we can look out between the trees and see the ocean.

This photo is at the boundary of our land, leading further down hill onto another property.  It is beautiful to just keep walking as the shadows get deeper and the vines thicker.

Up around the house I have been planting lots of garden and this summer, once the rains come, we will be planting grass everywhere too.  The forest floor is beautiful in its own right though now that we have cleared most of the scrappy undergrowth and revealed the glorious tree trunks falling down to the ground.  I love it here - no need to mess with what nature has given us to enjoy.

And then of course is the long walk back up the hill.

Monday, 24 September 2012

sugar lift and ex libris .....

I have had a break from etching for a while and last week, after working in a studio in Brisbane for a couple of days, I remembered why it is that I love printmaking so very much.  I came home from there and re organised my studio so that one side of it is a printmaking studio, one corner is my office and the rest is there for book making etc.

One of my absolute favourite techniques with etching is the sugar lift - or the  'lift ground' process.  In order for this to be effective your copper has to be really clean and free of grease.  The whole process is time consuming and laborious but the marks made are worth the effort.  You then draw your lines on with a sugar or lift compound, wait for it to dry before applying a hard ground and then immerse the plate in boiling water.  The sugar compound dissolves leaving the copper plate exposed and then this can be covered in rosin, heated and baked onto the plate, before the whole thing is 'bitten' in acid.

These photos show what the plate looks like before it is immersed in boiling water  ....... all the speckled lines then dissolve and those areas become your marks. I actually love the photographs with the fluorescent light reflecting on the plate.

The heavy textured lines are those made with sugar lift and then toned by using rosin before placing in the acid.  The finer lines were made by re-grounding the plate and using etching needles.

I love the varying lines in combination.  This plate is the first of many that I am making that will then be printed together in differing arrangements.  I am hoping the next couple of days will see me having time in the studio to work on some more.  Some of the plates will be embossed, some bold with sugar lift marks and others very delicate.

I actually went down to The Studio in Brisbane to work on my ex libris project.  I am one of thirty printmakers who have been asked to produce and print 40 book plates.  These will all then be tipped onto larger sheets of paper and collated into solander boxes.  Each artist then will receive a boxed set and the other 10 boxes will be sold to libraries or other collections.  A fun project and I am looking forward to receiving my box of ex libris designs later this year.

Having ummed and ahhed over a number of different designs, I decided to go with a contemporary look in my design - a small plate using sugar lift technique once again.  At first I thought I would print the plates on Japanese washi paper but have since decided to use a lightweight Magnani paper - Velato Avorio 120gsm which is at the upper limit of the allowed weight of paper for this project.  My book plate will be on the smaller side of our allowance which will compensate for the slightly heavier paper.

These proofs are done on the washi paper but the Magnani will be whiter and more crisp.  The finished plate, though having this design, will look quite different when complete.  I am ordering a professional embossing stamp with my initials which will then be added to the design ........ watch this space and I will post a copy of the book plate once I have printed them.  I must do some other work before I can allow the couple of days I will need to set aside to do the printing.  Yet it must all happen before the middle of October.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

landscape meditations .....

I am a great fan of the unbound book and employ it very often in my making.  I would go so far as to say it is my 'thing' - leaving a story unbound so that it can be rearranged to say something else.  Much of my past work has focussed on our ability to say, to interpret and reinterpret work.  Story telling is all the more exciting when the viewer is able to rearrange some of the visual ideas to show a different thought sequence. Or so I think.  Maybe it is that I don't like to reveal my cards, that I like to be able to present things in different lights ..... who knows what the basis is for this proclivity, I just like it this way! I have a propensity for ambiguity.  Let's leave it at that.

This book has been over to New York in an exhibition this year - not a book exhibition, one more to do with paintings.  Many people stopped at the booth Galleria Bacchus ran in this event and asked about the couple of books I had in their exhibition.  Both were unbound and for those unfamiliar with book based artworks, the concept was quite challenging.  Of course when you are at an Artist's Book exhibition you imagine people who attend have a solid understanding of the concept.

The front cover of this book uses one of my 'sugar lift' prints - very abstract.  This box is not a Solander box, as it only has sides from its base and the lid closes over flatly and ties.  I have used leather for the spine.

The box has been partitioned into two, but when open the cover can be used to hold one of the etchings and so three elements are visible simultaneously.  I love watching as people view the book and shuffle the etchings around, leaving the book reading in a way that is visually pleasing to them.

Each of the partitions houses 6 or 7 etchings and/or embossings printed on Arches Vellum.  The title of this book is 'Landscape Meditations'.

I have another of these book boxes prepared this time with three partitions.  Hopefully that is not over doing it - will try and keep the images simple to there is no visual overload!  As yet I have not played around with ideas but imagine they will be in the same vein as these above, and there may even be some overlap.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

heartbreak or mouldy miracles .....

Many, many of my books in storage over the last two years have met this mouldy, waterlogged state.  For most people this would mean the demise of part of their library and call for a book bonfire.  For we quirky arty folk, mouldy, torn, decrepit books open a world of opportunity ......

I am not sure that Oscar Wilde or Tolstoy would approve of any of the things that are passing through my mind as I take measure of the possibility the demise of their wise words present but they are not to know.  Or do they?  That is the question .......

Really yummy marks and texture though I worry about the archival integrity of working with these pieces. Seriously though, I am not worried as I won't care if they break down more - maybe they will be even more interesting.

I think some of these serendipitous bits will end up in my envelopes ..... maybe.

Friday, 14 September 2012

the third dance - pas de deux 3

 How delicious to have another collaborative piece to play with.....

Most of you who follow my blog also follow Fiona's and will have read about our Wednesday get together.  A wonderful restorative day leading to a bagful of possibilities.  Thirteen to be precise!  Ah, what will the envelopes contain?  Thirteen different stories, one story told thirteen different ways, letters, surprises ...... who knows.  One thing is certain and that is that each envelope will speak its own mind, or proffer suggestions which we either follow or tweak.  Really, there is one more certainty, and that is that this collaboration is going to be fun and for both of us, more light hearted than our last.

The day began with our choice of papers and then came the decision making in the designing of and preparation of our envelopes.  It is quite different this time as we are both starting with exactly the same structure and what we do with the opportunity each envelope opens up for us will be our own. And exciting.  Do we jump? Do we tip-toe? We both are busy with other commitments and so I suspect we will both be listening to our envelopes' chatter for a while yet.

This morning as visitors left, I pulled out a few threads to see if anything suggested itself for the completion of the envelopes .... some are still to be stitched or secured.  Plenty of choice ..........

This thread, courtesy of Jennifer  (who assures me it is also courtesy of Fiona who needn't have shared the bundle of threads that Jennifer sent her way!) will definitely find its way into the exercise .... not quite black and white but as close as I will get.  Much like this paste paper Fiona had in her stash which I love because it is a warm version of my comfortable black and white.

mmmm another Jennifer thread - reminds me of my scribble writing

is there room here for metal - mica or aluminium?

Well - I am excited and it will be wonderful whilst I am working on projects that I MUST have done before October (a bookplates unbound project and a number of etchings that need to be done in order for me to make some sculptural books I have been working on and need for a display late October) to have something this playful running through the back of my mind.