Monday, August 3, 2015

Dainty Paperwing Woman - a linocut in progress

The 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival is now in full swing. As regular visitors to this blog will be aware, MIFF is an event Shane and I attend every year. Pictured below in its early stages of development is one of two projects I'll be working on between screenings: Dainty Paperwing Woman, 2015, pencil and acrylic on linoleum, 23 x 23 cm (approx. image size).

The completed linocut is destined for Parallel Prints NZ/Australia, an exhibition featuring 12 New Zealand artists and 12 Australian artists. The exhibition opens at the Art Gallery of Ballarat on 3 October and will later travel to New Zealand. Full details will be posted nearer the time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

(Inter)National Moth Week

National Moth Week (actually a misnomer, as it is celebrated in several countries) is an annual event that runs from 18-26 July. The following Mothstralian stamps are my modest contribution. All feature the mysterious masked Moth Women who several years ago began life in my paintings, drawings, prints and one of my early fairy tales, then morphed into the far less pretty and polite Moth Woman Vigilantes (AKA the MWV). 

As previously documented on these pages, the reputed aim of the MWV is to overthrow the perpetually dysfunctional Ruling Party of the Penal Colony of Australia and establish a nation in which all are equal, that celebrates diversity and maintains an open-wing policy to political refugees. (This echoes the rallying cry of the Mothstralian Apolitical Party: 'Open Doors, Open Wings, Open Minds and Open Hearts!')  

Furthermore (in stark comparison to the current regime) if any member of the MWV needs to fly to a conference - or anywhere else, for that matter - she will use her own set of wings. Here alone (for those whose vision doesn't extend past their purse strings) the savings to taxpayers will be incalculable.

The stamps from this series will shortly appear in a new mini-zine. To preview the zine, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

 2015 Argina astrea Mothstralian stamp

 2015 Hyles lineata Mothstralian stamp

 2015 Eustixis laefitera Mothstralian stamp

2015 Agathia pisina Mothstralian stamp

 2015 Chelepteryx chalapteryx Mothstralian stamp

2015 Choreutis periploca Mothstralian stamp

2015 Othreis fullonia Mothstralian stamp

2015 Hednota bivitella Mothstralian stamp

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two reunions in one day

Last Saturday Shane and I reunited briefly with two old friends, fellow artists who once upon another time lived in Melbourne but now live and work elsewhere: Maryanne Coutts, currently Subject Leader in Drawing at the National Art School in Sydney, and Kathryn Ryan, a full-time artist who is now based in her home town of Warrnambool.

From left: Loris Button, Maryanne Coutts and Shane Jones outside the Art Gallery of Ballarat

Thank you to Loris Button, another fellow artist and mutual friend of Maryanne, for organising our reunion lunch at the Art Gallery of Ballarat cafe. (Thankfully Loris is based rather nearer to us in the neighbouring town of Creswick).

Left-right: Loris Button, Maryanne Coutts and I

After our lunchtime meeting, Shane and I headed for Warrnambool and the launch of A Quiet Place, the Warrnambool Art Gallery's 20 Year Survey Exhibition of Kathryn Ryan's work. The show is superb, charting the breadth and depth of Kathryn's connection to place. As the exhibition so compellingly testifies, the most significant and enduring of those places (which include Dubai in the UAE) remains the one in which she was born and bred. The exhibition, which is highly recommended, runs until 22 November.

Kathryn Ryan and I, snapped during the opening night of her survey show, A Quiet Place at Warrnambool Art Gallery

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fully formed Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata Beetle Woman

A rainbow-hued Homo-insecta is released from her warm cocoon into the cold, grey Australian winter:

Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata Beetle Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood, 32 x 30 cm

Pictured above: completed Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata Beetle Woman, followed by further progress views. (See also previous post).

Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata Beetle Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood, 32 x 23 cm

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An emerging Homo-insecta: Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata Beetle Woman

Of all the Homo-insecta we have been documenting of late, Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata Beetle Woman is surely among the most beautiful. She is also proving to be one of the most challenging to capture, if only in paint on wood. We hope we can eventually do her justice.

Pictured above are some early progress views of Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata Beetle Woman (2015, pencil, gesso and acrylic on wood, 32 x 30 cm). She evolved from the rainbow-hued jewel beetle Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata, which you can view HERE.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A visit to Newstead

Last week my partner Shane Jones and I visited our friends Leigh Hobbs and Dmetri Kakmi at the cottage in Newstead that they’ve periodically house sat for many years. It was our first visit to the cottage, which was utterly charming, and also the first occasion we’ve taken time to explore the area. After a hearty lunch (doubly welcome on such a cold day, as was the open fire) we all went for a walk in the nearby woods, accompanied by Dmetri and Leighs’ two eager hounds Snowy and Lulu.

Newstead is about 15 kms from Castlemaine; both are part of the historic Goldfields area of Victoria. The crevices and potholes in the photos below are remnants of its goldmining history. I have a project relating to this very subject looming (more about this in a future post) and was able to collect a great deal of reference material, namely the leaves (mainly eucalyptus) some of which are pictured in the final photograph below.

For a short history of Newstead, click HERE.

Into the woods

The man-made crevice (above) and pothole (below) date from the gold mining era

Left: Leigh Hobbs; right: Shane Jones

Shane and Dmetri Kakmi

Aside from a few scattered bricks, there is little evidence of the cottage that once occupied this spot

At the approach of dusk: Shane, Leigh, Snowy and Lulu

Shane in a spontaneous moment of levity - or possibly an attempt to levitate

A small selection of my own treasures gleaned from Newstead's goldfields

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Box of Beetles and a Line of Insect Women

A Box of Beetles was a recent lucky find in Horton Books, a favourite Melbourne bookstore. Located in Smith Street, Collingwood, it’s fairly local to our Melbourne place. Sadly, after 15 years in the area, Horton Books will close its doors in July. It’s a great shame to see the demise of another independent bookshop, particularly when it’s as special as this one.

Meanwhile, the diminutive treasure chest pictured below will provide me with rich and varied source material for a long time to come.

The Box of Beetles yields some of its treasures

As I research my next Homo-insecta works, here is the story so far, at least for the paintings on wood:

The first nine Homo-insecta paintings (acrylic on wood panels, 2015). Studio view, late June.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fully Formed Luna Moth Woman

Final stages in the evolution of Luna Moth Woman:

Deborah Klein, Luna Moth Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood panel, 32 x 30 cm

Friday, June 19, 2015

Nascent Luna Moth Woman

Further stages in the transfiguration of Actias luna moth to Luna Moth Woman.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Emerging Luna Moth Woman

Early progress views of Luna Moth Woman, 2015, pencil, gesso and acrylic on wood, 32 x 30 cm:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Homo-insecta in the making: Actias luna Moth

Lately I’ve been researching the ethereal Luna Moth (Actias luna) as a potential candidate for transformation into a Homo-insecta. Currently the Luna Moth lives solely to lay eggs and will survive a mere seven days. Once her evolution to Homo-insecta is completed, however, she will be expected to live richly and fully for several decades

Enlarged view of Actias luna Moth antenna

Macro view of Actias luna eyespot

This is not the first time the Luna Moth has appeared in my work. Previously it featured in the painting Actias luna Moth Mask, 2007, which was part of the Moth Masks series of paintings, drawings and prints (2007-09).

Actias luna Moth Mask (2007, acrylic on canvas, 25 x 20 cm)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Bluebottle Fly Woman, Part 2

As I've recently mentioned, the level of exactitude required with Homo-insecta such as Bluebottle Fly Woman is hard won (see Blog Post, Tuesday, May 19) but I’m learning a lot in the process. For beginners, I’ve now discovered that methylated spirits, delicately applied with a soft rag, will erase unwanted pencil marks. Unbleached Titanium acrylic paint, used sparingly, can be similarly employed, either to make minor corrections or refine the outer edges of the image. Its tint (lightened, if necessary, with a touch of warm Ivory White) is a near enough to perfect match to the blonde wood panels).

As with previous paintings on wood, surfaces were built in gradual layers. In this work, textures and highlights were created with extensive hatching and cross-hatching - techniques more readily associated with drawing, particularly pen and ink - or even with mark-making in certain printmaking processes.

Pictured below: Completed Bluebottle Fly Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood, 32 x 30 cm, followed by a series of progress views in reverse.