Archives for category: landscape

 

The kitchen garden on the Eyot, 1946

The kitchen garden on the Eyot, 1942

Born in England to a wealthy family, artist Leonara Carrington (1917–2011) lived most of her life in Mexico and died aged 94 in Mexico City. She was a rebellious girl, expelled from two schools, discouraged from pursuing art by her parents, but finally allowed to attend art school in London.

She became involved in the Surrealist art movement, meeting Max Ernst and moving to France to live with him in 1937. When Ernst was interned as an enemy alien in 1939, Carrington left France for America via Madrid, where she had a spectacular mental breakdown and spent months in an asylum.

Pastoral 1950

Pastoral, 1950

The experience of emotional suffering, painful medical treatment, and forced incarceration profoundly affected her, and despite the trauma of this period, it led Carrington to understand the alchemical potential of the body, an idea that would deeply inform her later work. When she learned that her family had arranged for her to stay in another mental institution in South Africa—presumably for the long term—Carrington hatched an escape plan, enlisting help from a Mexican diplomat she had met through Pablo Picasso. Carrington and the diplomat quickly married in Lisbon, and secured boat passage to Mexico.

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Green Tea, 1942

In Europe, the rise of fascism meant restricted movement and ever-tighter borders, but Mexico flung its doors open to the world. An artistic and intellectual community flourished: European artists like André Breton, Remedios Varo (who became a great friend to Carrington), as well as revolutionaries like Leon Trotsky, encountered Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Carrington’s paintings explore transformation, with a menangerie of animals, humans, and hybrid creatures. She often painted a white horse or a hyena as a symbol of herself in these magical compositions. In her paintings, bodies are unstable, moving between genders, species, life, and death, but her paintings have a dreamy amorphous quality, they are not macabre or dark. They are like strange dreams or fantastic portals to another reality.

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Figuras fantásticas a caballo, 2011


I recently finished a commission for my mother. She wanted some small works on paper depicting my Dad’s farm as a gift for him. We took some photos of the farm and a ruined cottage there, and she picked out which photos she liked best.

I decided to use pen and ink (or fineliner) with subdued watercolour, after I did a couple of roughs that she didn’t like. I photographed some of the work in progress and she ok’d them so I did some more. Now they just need framing. I hope my Dad likes them; I think they’ve turned out well.

tree trunks and dandelionsI think of Van Gogh primarily as a colourist, although his vivid colourful paintings were mostly painted in the last couple of years of his art career. His detailed descriptions of nature and his paintings can be found in his letters to Theo, his brother. Here he describes a landscape he painted at Arles in 1888:

A meadow full of very yellow buttercups, a ditch with iris plants with green leaves, with purple flowers, the town in the background, some grey willow trees — a strip of blue sky.
If they don’t mow the meadow I’d like to do this study again, because the subject matter was really beautiful…A little town surrounded by countryside entirely covered in yellow and purple flowers. That would really be a Japanese dream, you know.

And a beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer:

I took a walk along the seashore one night, on the deserted beach. It wasn’t cheerful, but not sad either, it was — beautiful.

The sky, a deep blue, was flecked with clouds of a deeper blue than primary blue, an intense cobalt, and with others that were a lighter blue — like the blue whiteness of milky ways. Against the blue background stars twinkled, bright, greenish, white, light pink — brighter, more glittering, more like precious stones than at home — even in Paris. So it seems fair to talk about opals, emeralds, lapis, rubies, sapphires. The sea a very deep ultramarine — the beach a mauvish and pale reddish shade, it seemed to me — with bushes.

At Arles he painted the same subjects over and over — wheat fields, fruit trees, olive trees, flowers, cypresses. One of my favourite paintings from the show is an olive grove. The sky is a delightful pale green with orange, yellow and blue accents, and the ground lavender blue, orange, green and pale brown.

olive grove with 2 olive pickersIt’s hard to imagine how revolutionary these paintings were at the time. They influenced many painters including Matisse and the Fauves. His vision was unique and the bold and surprising way he used colour is still amazing.

Van Gogh and the seasons is at the NGV Melbourne until July 9.

I recently spent the weekend at a cottage in Hepburn Springs with a beautiful garden at the edge of the forest. I was especially struck by a bare tree covered by a net which reminded me of a bridal veil.

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Ghost tree, watercolour, 2016

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Thistle, watercolour, 2016

I visited the Bendigo Art Gallery last week to see the Ben Quilty show. I’ve been a fan of his painting since I saw one of his car crash paintings and a documentary about him where he spoke about Australian masculinity and what inspired him. European settlement and the plight of Indigenous Australians are ongoing themes in his work.

What fascinates me is the amount of paint he uses! When I look closely I always wonder how long his work must take to dry. I love his dramatically rough painterly style.

Kuta Rorschach No. 2, 2014, oil on canvas (detail)Kuta_Rorshach_detail

Three of his Rorschach series of large landscapes are almost symmetrical mirror images, reflected from a central vertical axis.
Fairy Bower Rorschach, 2012, oil on linen (detail)Fairy_bower_rorshach Read the rest of this entry »

I visited the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize recently. Forty-two painters make up a diverse show ranging from figurative and photorealistic painting to text-based and abstract work. I love painting and I enjoyed the wide range of styles and techniques used.

Adam Pyett’s Flowering Gum had deliciously thick paint and brushstrokes, scrapes and roughly applied patches of colour showing some of the underpainted canvas. I loved the sketchy and spontaneous quality of the work.

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Flowering_gum_Pyett
Read the rest of this entry »

Yarraville park
Yarraville park, watercolour on paper, 2014

Last semester in printmaking I made a series of prints using my local industrial landscape of Melbourne’s inner west as inspiration.

These are photopolymer prints from my photograph of an electricity pylon and the West Gate Bridge.

West Gate Pylon, 2013, photopolymer print

West Gate Pylon, 2013, photopolymer print

West Gate Pylon 2, 2013, photopolymer print

West Gate Pylon 2, 2013, photopolymer print

I also did some drypoint etchings, some of which I hand coloured with water colour and ink.

Stony Creek – purple, 2013, drypoint etching and water colour

Stony Creek – purple, 2013, drypoint etching and water colour

Stony Creek – blue, 2013, drypoint etching and water colour

Stony Creek – blue, 2013, drypoint etching and water colour

A few weeks ago now I visited the Monet exhibition at NGV. Absolutely loved it. I remembered seeing some of his paintings in Paris years ago at the Musée d’Orsay and L’Orangerie, but it was lovely to see so many of his paintings here in Melbourne.

The cafe was appropriately decked out with orchids…

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It was interesting to see some works I hadn’t seen before, like the landscape ‘Field of Yellow Irises at Giverny’ which had a freshness in the bright yellow, green and pale blues, and a beautiful sketchy roughness. There were also paintings of weeping willow trees in reds, browns and greens that I’d never seen before.

Field of Yellow Irises near Giverny - Claude Monet

One of my favourites was a large painting of water lilies and agapanthus in greens, purples, yellows and pinks. I loved the unfinished section in the in the bottom corner that showed bare canvas. When you look at his large almost abstract portrayals of reflections on water and lilies, you can see he was a forerunner of abstraction.

Agapanthus and Waterlilies - Claude Monet

There was also a beautiful video of Monet’s garden. At the end of his life Monet had cataracts and after being operated on, his colour perception changed dramatically – what a terrible thing to happen to a master of colour! The notes said he wanted to destroy some of his earlier paintings, but fortunately he didn’t. His round wire-framed glasses are displayed in a case along with a wooden palette and a pipe. The exhibition runs until 8 September.

I recently visited Action/Abstraction. It was inspiring. If you like abstract painting I highly recommend seeing this exhibition. Five painters are represented: Jo Davenport, Sally Gabori, Todd Hunter, Ildiko Kovacs, and Aida Tomescu. Let’s start with Aida Tomescu, a painter I’m growing to love more and more. Tomescu layers paint, scrapes back, drips and splatters, draws into the work, and adds more layers. Her paintings have a strong physical presence and are bold, complex, and beautiful.

aida tomescu_crossgrain_12
Tomescu was a finalist in the Wynne Prize 2012 with Crossgrain.
What I wanted to get to was a unified presence, full and ordered with a light and clarity of its own.
Intensively worked, scraped back repeatedly, and reconsidered, Crossgrain is not a painting about texture. Nor is the image trying to create a special illusion of a representative world – though if you want to think in terms of earth, air, the soft steps of the sky, it is all of those things.
I think of Crossgrain more as a space where mood, movement, vibration, the linkages of marks across the surface and their special behaviour form a particular experience.

(from her artist statement)

The exhibition runs until 24 March.

Aida Tomescu, Aspen, 2010Aida Tomescu, Aspen, 2010

Aida Tomescu, Tethys II, 2010Aida Tomescu, Tethys II, 2010

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