INSPIRATIONS FOR A NEW SERIES
It is funny, but at the end of a particular project, sometimes a feeling of flatness or aimlessness can occur. The same thing happened to me at the end of each year at Uni when I was completing my undergraduate for BA, my Honours year, and my Grad Dip Ed year. Now, after completing the last painting for The Last Fleet series, I have been feeling rather flat. I have a bit of work to do on each of them to ensure they are good for hanging in the Gold Coast Art Gallery before they are hung - such as making sure all edges look good, D-rings at the correct height, and looking for any areas in the work that might need touching up, making sure I have signed them all. But still I felt restless. So I decided that I needed to start a new series of works. I do intend to do more shipwreck paintings eventually, but need to get more material from other shipwrecks first.
I have been interested in Cold Wax painting for a while. I want to learn how to do it and perhaps eventually to add it as an option in my teaching classes. There are a few artists that I know of that teach Cold Wax, but they live a few hours away, and we are not currently in a position for me to spend a lot of money to stay overnight to attend these classes, so I decided to look online, which is a much cheaper option and almost as good. I purchased and downloaded Judy Wise's Online Cold Wax course. I am more than happy with the online lessons, and believe that I can learn to use Cold Wax by working through the exercises. Judy is an excellent artist and teacher and I would recommend her online course for anyone who is wants to learn this beautiful medium.
I also have a book 'Wabi-sabi - Painting with Cold Wax by Serena Barton which I am finding very inspirational, and following some of the exercises there. The ancient philosophy of wabi-wabi honours the imperfect, the transitory and the humble. This perfectly fits with my ongoing theme of exploring the surface of discarded, abandoned human manufactured constructs in the natural environment - a theme I started developing during my undergraduate study.
Because Cold Wax is characteristically layered and quite heavily textured, I will start with abstract images.
When I went for my walk this morning, I took close-up photos of things that are textured, or rusted, or graffitied. I would absolutely love to wanter through Italy, Spain, Greece to take photos of their weathered walls, but unfortunately this is not possible for me at this stage. Hopefully one day....... So I had to make do with where I am living. Below are some of the results. I processed them and adjusted the colours in photoshop and have uploaded them below into a slideshow. I think they are rather beautiful and inspiring. I can use these images as inspiration for composition and colour combinations to make a new series of works. I will post the results of my experiments with Cold Wax as I progress.
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For as long as I can remember, I have been able to effortlessly and accurately sketch or draw an object or persons likeness. I had an innate ability to look at a person or object, and accurately gauge the size, shape and colour, and distance, memorise that information and put it down on paper. As a child and teenager, I particularly loved to draw faces to obtain a realistic likeness to that person. This love also extended to drawing animals, and a lot of my teen years was spent drawing both from magazine photographs and from life. This expanded both to drawing from life and using my own photographs as reference.
Later, when I wanted to paint a landscape, building, or portrait of a person, I would complete a charcoal or pencil work as a preliminary study to work out composition, light and shade, and get a feeling for the subject. This enabled me to see things as they really are. Most of the time, my drawings were complete artworks in themselves.
Drawing dates back to pre-history and was the earliest form of non-verbal communication between humans. Drawing is a way to communicate thoughts and feelings, and enables us to see the world as it really is.
As Leonardo da Vinci once said,
“Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eyes, that is to say, darkness, light, body and colour, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.”
Some artists live in one part of the Universe of Art and explore a theme or themes. I have been strongly attracted to the exploration of different mediums, across the whole Universe of Art.
My early years involved mostly oil and charcoal, with forays into watercolour, pastel and acrylic. With these mediums, I explored landscapes, portraits, abstracts and surreal.
Recently, my life changed to allow more time for art, leading me into vigorous exploration of new areas of art. My two major new areas are encaustic art using hot beeswax and resin art using epoxy resin. At the same time, my life also changed with my marriage to a scientist with an interest in astrophotography and, with him, I have explored combining star images with charcoal drawings to convey the meaning of the Universe of Stars.
Painting with hot beeswax:
The ancient Greek art of encaustic painting with hot beeswax is another major realm in the Universe of Art. Moving into a new house with a new husband gave me the opportunity to explore this exciting new art realm, since this form of art needs considerable work in establishing a dedicated studio and developing new and unusual art techniques.
From 2014 to 2016, I developed abstract, image transfer and realist works, the latter focussing on a shipwreck series, which culminated in a solo exhibition called “The Last Fleet” at the Gold Coast City gallery in 2016.
I have also used the image transfer variation of encaustic painting to produce a series based on Australian native birds.
Painting with resin:
Over the last year, I entered yet another new realm of the Universe of Art: painting with epoxy resin. Like encaustic painting, this art form needs a dedicated studio, specific equipment, new techniques and a new approach to art. I am still exploring new variations of this exciting new realm of the Universe of Art but this exciting new area has already led to another solo exhibition called “New Beginnings”, at the One Arts Gallery, Isle of Capri, Gold Coast Queensland in the month of May 2017.
What is resin?:
Epoxy Resin used in art is an adhesive, plastic material made from synthetic polymers and mixed with a hardener in a specific ratio which varies for different brands. Coloured pigments are added, and the mixture is generally poured onto a surface, mostly MDF, but sometimes other surfaces. When cured, it becomes a very tough and hard surface.
When resin, hardener and coloured pigments are mixed, it is in a fluid form and extremely sticky – a bit like honey. An artist has to work very quickly to achieve their art with resin as it starts to cure after about 40 minutes – although it is possible to work a little longer before it becomes more like toffee. Then it must be left undisturbed until at least the next day before progressing further with it.
Frequently I work with multiple layers to achieve incredible depth, so depending upon how many layers I use, a good artwork can take several days to develop. The affects achieved with resin depend upon various ways that it is applied to the surface, and each artist develops their own techniques for manipulating the fluid medium to get the effects they want. There is much more involved than just “throwing coloured resin onto a surface”. An artist needs to develop a lot of skill to develop a unique and beautiful work.
Applying heat either with a torch or heat gun is an important step for proper curing of the resin and hardener mix. Proper mixing and exact volumes of resin and hardener are required for adequate curing. Whilst it becomes quite solid to touch within 5 to 7 hours, it requires up to 48 hours for a complete cure.
Epoxy Resin requires a moderate level of safety precautions to avoid contact with the skin and eyes as well as avoiding the accumulation of vapours in the room. I wear protective clothing, nitrate gloves, and work in a room with cross-flow ventilation and when using solvents, a carbon mask.
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