My collage paintings

Firstly, big virtual hugs and kisses to you all, for letting me know that you are thinking of me. You make blogging and connecting a joy. I am doing well, with only a little stiffness, and my energy levels are okay. I have even been making lists, a sure sign that I am getting back to normal.

Secondly, my art work.

I can’t remember what I have told you, so let’s go back a little.

I did an online course with Tara Axford during our first lockdown last year, maybe in April? One of the many things I learnt and loved was collaging. The loving part was a very nice surprise. In our second Melbourne lockdown we could only leave home for 4 reasons; one was exercise within a 5km radius. I spent a lot of time down at my local urban wetlands and the reeds and reflections fascinated me.

Collaging and wetlands came together.

Then I found out I had been accepted to have an exhibition at the Old Auction House in Kyneton. How exciting it that! August is still a way off, but it seems to be approaching at a rather quick pace. I am building up a body of collages to exhibit.

So far I have worked on two series.

The first is of the wetlands. Some are abstract reinterpretations.

Some are more realistic.

Then I decided to switch my focus to rock pools.

Over Christmas I was lucky enough to spend time at my sister’s beach house at Somers. Somers beach has the most amazing rock pools, with colours that took my breath away. And just happened to be the colours I have been using. How could I not be smitten by something like this?

Most of the time I can tell whether the collage has worked or not. There is something that makes me smile and feel satisfied. I don’t get that feeling from the rock pools I have done so far.

The last one is the only one that resonates. For me the first two are neither realistic nor abstract enough, neither one nor the other. I would love to know what you think.

I am not giving up on the rock pools. I need to loosen up, to let go of the detail until the last; not try to recreate them as they are, instead let the paint and shapes tell me what to do.

As for the painting, all of these have been ‘painted’ with an old credit card, which I use to scrape the paint across the paper. There is little control, but wonderful effects. Then I cut out the shapes that I see in the paint. Simple and works for me!

SAL

I have finished another similar work, so these SAL posts are more about the series of them, rather than an individual piece. I seem to be able to finish them within the three weeks of SALs.

When a name for the series popped into my head it struck me that these works are becoming a serious series. So, they are part of the series…..

Postcards from Liminal Time.

(Curious about liminal time? I wrote my thoughts about it in an earlier post.)

This latest one is the same size as the others ~ 12 x 17 cm ~ a little bigger than a postcard. It also follows the same ideas of being uncertain about the future, that my art is changing without a clear idea of where I will be. There is also the theme of emerging/disappearing, covered/uncovered and impermanence.

You can see that I have torn up a watercolour of my favourite melaleuca trees. When I painted it I was experimenting with creating forests. This was one of the early attempts, that didn’t quite work.

I worked quite hard on this embroidery. For some reason it didn’t flow, especially the top part, the red couched threads. I think it got there in the end. I am not really happy with the the tree on the right ~ or more specifically the band of rust/yellow stitching that runs across it. It is too dense for the paper, too definite. I couldn’t unpick it, because of course the needle holes would still be there. The best I could do was distract the eye with more stitching, without making the same mistake of the stitching being too dense.

What I do like, and this was unplanned, is the notion that the top part is a little like the tree canopy and the bottom grasses and undergrowth.

I am part of a group of stitchers who share their personal stitching work every three weeks. Go and have a look at the wonderful work that is being done all around the world. Everyone is doing something very different, but always interesting.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Reference photo for tapestry

SAL #5 ~ Portsea Cliff

This is where I got to last time…

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Now I can reveal the finished work!

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As you can see I worked on the sand and cliff. I wanted the sand to be unobtrusive, so I chose to do it in a simple half stitch, which linked it into the sky. The cliff, however, needed to be more wild, to create the texture that I love.

(The yarn is another merino wool yarn from Fibreworks. This one was specially dyed for me. It is a colour that, surprisingly, occurs in Australian landscapes. It is wonderful for eucalyptus bark.)

Progress photo…

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The next stage ~ the trunk ~ was trickier, and to be honest, I am not sure it works quite as I wanted it to. I am not sure how the branches merge into the canopy. Any thoughts?

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I tried to include the background colours too. I suspect my problem is that I hadn’t thought it through ~ the original planning was incomplete. That area may well come out. However, I value your thoughts.

One of the things that I do love about this work is that it has brought be back to being creative after many months of obstacles. It has helped me realise that while I am not ready to get back to paint, pencils and paper, I am ready to solve creative problems (which I love doing!) with something that I can pick up and put down with ease.

In fact I have already begun my next SAL project. More of that next time.

There is a great group of creative stitchers involved in this SAL group, organised by Avis. Do drop into their blogs for their latest SAL posts. Prepare to be amazed!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny,Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie

 

My first week at Police Point

Yes, the first week has flown by.

There were a couple of hiccups, such as me stuffing up the dates yet again but they only little hicks. Now I am settling into a creative routine, which I will talk to you about soon. First let me give you a tour of my domain.

My little cottage is in Police Point, a park managed by the Mornington Peninsula Shire, who run this amazing residency programme. It has four rooms off the central hall ~ two bedrooms, a lounge and the kitchen. An addition out the back is a sitting room, the utilities, and my studio. It’s very snug, which is necessary as it’s Winter, and comfortable.

However, the studio is the best! It is spacious, and has big windows that let in the Winter sunlight, and let me look out across the green expanse to Port Philip Bay. I could sit here all day, just looking at the changing light, watching the clouds scamper across the sky, seeing the sea sparkle and turn silver, and work out the time from the ferries that go between Sorrento and Queenscliff.

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But I don’t just sit and watch…I have been working!

Police Point Park abuts the Point Nepean National Park, so there are lots of walks. And lots of interesting shaped trees. I thought I would be captivated by them from the get-go, but it is the cliff faces that have caught my attention. I will come back to the vegetation, because I have the luxury of three more weeks down here. But this week I have been exploring the gnarly, striated rocks of the cliff below Police Point. Rocks like these:

 

I thought I had a little understanding of the geology of these rocks until I came to write it down for you. Trying to explain it made me realise that I understand very little! However, I do know how the knobbly ones are formed. The sand was cemented by calcium carbonate and other minerals in the ground water. The water seeps down through the soil, perhaps along the pathways of plant roots, and precipitated the calcium carbonate to form hard rock ~ calcrete rock. The calcrete remains as the rest of the rock is eroded. The bumps and spikes are the calcrete and the holes and crevasses are formed by erosion.

I loved this rock on the waterline. I wonder how long before it gets eroded right away.

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So I have explored the beaches and the cliff faces, wandering, photographing and sketching. It’s made me think about weathering and time, and layers ~ layers of sediment, of human history, of vegetation.

Back in the studio I have set myself the task of producing something every day. I have been working on small studies of the rocks. They are only A5 size.

Study #1 was simply a first draft, and it told me not to rush, not to assume I understood what I was doing.

With Study #2 I felt confident enough to add embellishment from the sewing machine. I had learnt some things, but still not enough to capture what I was seeing in my mind. But there are a couple of good things about being here. Firstly, there is tomorrow to do it again. At home tomorrow would be filled with other things. Here tomorrow is filled with working in the studio.

Secondly there is time to reflect about the works, to think about why it’s not working.

With this study I realised that I had missed the sense of edges, of layers of rock, rather than frills. I quite liked the sewing, but it was taking things off in a different direction.

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Study #3 was more thoughtful, and I was happier with the edges. I think you could imagine feeling your way under them.

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But the sense of ‘rockness’ was still missing. I realised that it was lacking context, and drama. Friend’s comments on Facebook and Instagram confirmed what I was thinking.  So I looked at different rocks and came up with Study #4. Certainly dramatic!

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I had thought of putting in the background to give more context, but I don’t think I will.

And today I was fired up with confidence to create Study #5.

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With this one I have gone back to my default position of going straight to the detail. There is too much, especially at the top. To my eye it looks like a fancy old fashioned hat on top! Tomorrow I will give it another go and axe the hat!

It has been a week of settling in, of finding new routines and rhythms. Most importantly it has been a week of carefree and joyful creating in a very beautiful environment.

Sewing on paper

Lately I seem to have blogged about non-arty things, although I have been talking about what I have been up to in my newsletter. (If you would like to have my art news delivered to your inbox each fortnight, simply sign up here.) Originally I added “….an update” to the title of this post, thinking I had already told you about my latest obsession ~ sewing on paper ~ but it turns out it is a long time since I have written about my art, and haven’t told you about the sewing much at all.  (See, it pays to subscribe to my newsletter!) So, here goes…

Last year I began sewing again, hand-sewing and machine-sewing, creating trees mainly. All the while there was the little thought at the back of my mind “What it I sew on paper rather than material?”. Those What if …..? questions are the backbone of my creativity. So I did. I began with some experimental pieces that I made exclusively for subscribers. They were a combination of machine and hand sewing. (Some are still available, so let me know if one or more take your fancy.)

I was hooked.

My next “What if….?” was “What if I sew over an existing watercolour painting?”. The composition of an old fig painting had never moved me, so I changed it by sewing over the top of the figs, cutting them out and attaching them to another piece of paper, on which I had sewn the outline of a fig leaf. A much better composition.

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Since then I have sold a capsicum

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a leaf

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a teapot

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and a pumpkin

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There is another pumpkin almost finished

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It is waiting for me to return from my latest series.

About a year ago I was playing around with watercolour representations of the trees on Flinders Island. There were parts of the pieces that I loved, but something didn’t quite work. Nothing to ruin by experimenting with sewing over the top.

This was the first one to go under the sewing machine:

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Definitely a good learning curve there. (At some other time I am going to blog about the things that surprise me when sewing on paper.)

And then the second:

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You can still the glorious watercolour, the way the colours mix together, while the sewing has given the piece movement and flow.

These two photos show the piece at different stages, to give you a sense of how it progressed.

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There is another work in progress……I love the watercolour effects of the trees in the original. It seemed to capture the canopy really well. The understory didn’t work; maybe the wrong colour; maybe too many trunks was stopping me from finding my way through. Whatever, it didn’t inspire me, until the sewing stage began. Now I am really liking it. It has a drawing quality about it.

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I think I will leave the canopies of the defined trees, and just work up the part that meets the sky.. I will see how that works, as I am not sure about the edge between the background canopy and the other trees. Perhaps highlights there will help. And I think I will leave the dark green area in the middle.

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The sewing has improved the understory, and I am still working my way around that, trying to keep the ‘taking a line for a walk’ effect.

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It has taken me a while to get to this creative place, a place where I feel confident that I have something to pursue, a direction, to create a series that might be interesting and different. I shall see where it takes me.

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The next edition should be out tomorrow.

 

 

Newsletter time ~ take 2

Well, the first newsletter came out last Thursday ~ phew!

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The opening section of the newsletter

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A little article about split complementary colours

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Some links that I added (NB this is only a photo, so the links won’t work!)

I still haven’t found a way of attaching the sign-up button to my blog. (Anybody out there know how to do it? Or know if it can be done?)

And I think I may have mucked up with sending the newsletter to blog readers who wanted to be on the list. So, if you didn’t receive it, and would like to, you can click on the link; you should go to the sign-up form. (Let me know if there are any gremlins here.)

Sign up for the newsletter

The next edition will be out on Thursday. Hurray!!

 

More trees

I have really appreciated the feedback you give me for my oil pastel trees. You have left me so many positive comments, as well some sales.

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Image and photograph copyright: Anne Lawson 2017

Oil pastels as a medium still excites me. In fact tomorrow I am going to a workshop where watercolour and oil pastels as mixed. You can imagine how my eyes lit up when I saw that one advertised!

I still have a lot to learn about colour, but I know that putting some colours side by side will make each one sing. To create with oil pastels I layer marks over other marks, as well as sometimes smudging the marks together. My usual method is to just pick up the colour that seems right; usually this works, but sometimes it doesn’t. I have decided to try  more rigour.

So I started my experimenting with a colour wheel.

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Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2017

The triangle in the middle of the wheel shows the hues that make up a split complementary. Those three were my my dark, middle and light tones. What would I get if I limited myself to these six pastel sticks?

First layer were the blue and purple, to create the dark park underneath the canopy. Some smudging to merge the marks.

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copyright: Anne Lawson, 2017

The browns add some vibrancy.

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Copyright: Anne Lawson, 2017

Adding the light pastels creates the magic because they also smudge the other marks. Can you see how the yellow over the blue has created a blue-green? And how it changes the colour of the browns? So the six original colours have mixed to create more, and unexpected ones too.

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Image and photograph copyright: Anne Lawson, 2017

The next stage is to draw the ink branches and trunk. In black ink or brown? Probably brown, but maybe not…..

And after that I might have a play with another split complementary.

Cadmium red

I have only recently added cadmium red to my palette, previously using Windsor red as my warm red. My recent rose is the first painting where I have experimented with it.

The cadmium pigments were part of the range of pigments that came into use during the 19th century, as a result of the Industrial Revolution. The Impressionists and other artists loved their richness. Monet used the cadmium colours, and I presume that he used cadmium red in this vibrant work.

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Claude Monet Autumn Effect at Argenteuil [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Windsor and Newton is the leading paint brand, and on their website they describe cadmium red as:

…… a very strong, warm and opaque red and in the early part of the 20th century became a natural replacement for the distinctive but toxic vermilion.

The article goes on to say, with a safety message further down:

The production of modern, high performance cadmium red is an expensive and lengthy process requiring only the purest raw materials to produce the best possible colour.

Transforming the cadmium metal into a usable pigment means it undergoes several carefully controlled chemical reactions and procedures using various ingredients including mineral acids, sodium sulphide flakes, water, and selenium. Towards the end of the process heating takes place to create the pigment and it is in this heating process that the quality and hue of the final pigment begins to form. The emerging pigment is then ground down into tiny particles – these grinding processes affect the way the pigment interacts with light. Fine particles have a good diffused reflection and produce a colour that is very strong and vibrant.

Safety

Cadmium itself is a heavy metal and is toxic but cadmium pigments are not classified as dangerous for use in line with EC classification. The level of soluble cadmium in the pigments is so low that no hazard warnings are needed and they pose no greater risk after swallowing or breathing in than other pigment types. Cadmium pigments are restricted for certain applications but this restriction does not apply to artists’ colours.

The part about the EU is interesting, as apparently the use of cadmiums in paints are under review, and may be withdrawn.

I did a colour chart of sorts to work out my tonal values. (Note to self: more attention to the colours in the ext rose!)

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First wash on the lips of the petals, with my version of a colour chart. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

The finished first wash.

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(Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

The final work (which has just been put into my Etsy shop)

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The finished painting (Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

So, what did I find?

  • It was a much softer colour than I anticipated. However, I was using it as a wash, and colour in a wash dries lighter. As well, I was careful not to overdo the intensity and controlled the amount of pigment I was using. Another factor could be that it was brand of paint, Holbein, that was new to me. The same labelled paint can be quite different across brands. This was Cadmium Red Light which could be another factor.
  • I loved the softness of the rose, but it lacked oomph. The cad red wasn’t able to give me that, so I added a glaze of quinacridone magenta in parts. You can see it most clearly in the central shadow, just above the leaves. Also, it was difficult to get an intense dark.
  • I was pleased that red washes helped to cut back the intensity of the yellow that you can see in the middle photo. The glow is still there, but not quite the eerie alien glow it was before. That tells me that it is possible to fix up mistakes in watercolour!
  • I was delighted at how well the paint mixed on the paper. usually I make up a mixture of the paint I am going to use, and I did do this for the green. However I wanted to experiment with dropping in French ultramarine to darken the red. Often, on the damp paper I washed in the red, dropped in some French ultramarine and then more red over the top. I think it worked well. It allowed the watercolour to do its magic.

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Letting watercolour work its magic! (Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

Yellow will be my next rose colour. I do very little work in yellow, which has a reputation as being a very difficult colour to paint. So, more learning ahead!