It has been a long while since I posted on this studio diary. This is for many reasons including the ease at which Instagram & Twitter allow you to make quick updates & post images. So if you follow on Instagram or Twitter then you will see I am still working – drawing, designing, photographing & looking for inspiration every day.
I have also been working on small drawings & design works which I have been working up into larger works. I have not been able to carve in recent months due to ongoing issues post wisdom teeth surgery which I am still struggling with including issues with my vision. I have just got some new glasses which will help with that issue – I hope! Ongoing pain & nerve issues may take a bit or lot longer.
I have had to work in shorter bursts & in smaller & different ways
So lots of ideas, small sketchbooks, small drawings, designs, using my computer to develop larger works. This has meant a new way of thinking & working which I am quite enjoying.
I have also still been caring for family fairly closely for the past 2 years including extended periods of time away from home recently. It means I need to be fairly mobile with my artwork!
I have plans (and a venue with lots of support) for an exhibition in September 2017 & so I am now working towards a range of work to exhibit & expand my work.
I will be away again for a few weeks but have plenty of work & ideas to take with me!
Before I go I have been attempting a little carving which I haven’t been able to do for nearly 12 months & I realise how much I love this process & carving.
This piece is one of a set of 6 designs which are large & complex to carve in lino but I am looking forward to the challenge. Still have to figure out a plan to print them – need a much larger press than my little book press. Guess I’ll cross that issue when I get to it!
Many of my longer term blog readers will remember my old website – soulsong.com.au – I was able to build this website using a brilliant online management system that a friend had developed over 10yrs ago. Back then there was no wordpress or any other website builder you could access to build your own site. This system was ahead of it’s time – a login in system where you could build & manage your own website. Unfortunately it is no longer being updated so I needed to find an alternative. After much searching around looking at what was on offer from the many online management systems, I settled on using wordpress as I really like using this system. I have been using Elegant Themes for the last few years but could not find a way to build a simple easy to navigate system for my website that was similar to my original soulsong one.
I had been meaning to try out the new theme – Divi – for a while. It offers a non code dependent builder (my knowledge of code is extremely limited) & Woo Commerce compatibility. When I looked at it initially it looked complicated.
If you follow me on twitter etc you will know that a couple of months ago I fractured my ankle so have been stuck at home unable to drive or do a lot (could not even do artwork as it meant I needed to have my foot down & it ached). So I decided it was time to bite the bullet I spent several hours viewing youtube videos showing how it all worked. It was well worth spending this time to research how the page builder & modules all work as it made things a lot easier in building my website.
I have pretty much worked it out now but there are still some things I need to finish so obviously I will be tweaking things a little more & some of the images need to be updated.
In the meantime I would be very grateful of you let me know what you think & if there are any problems navigating the website.As a final aside: Please note that I do not get any commissions nor have any links to Elegant Themes – I have always found their support forum very helpful & I love the new Divi Theme they have developed for its flexibility to build the website I have been trying to develop for ages.
I was away in the Southern Highlands and Batemans Bay visiting relatives & taking some on holidays for most of March – it was a lovely break & I even managed to sneak in a bit of art making.
Before I left I managed to complete this new design – Australian Floral Emblems 2014.
It was commissioned as a gift for Lismore City Council’s Sister City – Yamato-Takada – for the Lismore City Council Mayor and General Manager’s visit which is currently underway and joins the previous purchase by Lismore City Council and Yamato-Takada 50th Anniversary of the first Sister City relationship program in August 2013. My linocut was presented yesterday by Mayor Jenny Dowell of Lismore City Council to Mayor Yoshida of Yamato-Takada Council.
Australian Floral Emblems 2014 – a Fine Art Handpainted Linocut by Lynette Weir
This Fine Art Linocut Limited Edition Relief Print takes the Floral Emblems for each State or Territory of Australia and weaves them into a design held together by the Australian Floral Emblem – the Golden Wattle – Acacia pycnantha.
Victoria – Common Heath – Epacris impressa
Tasmania – Tasmanian Blue Gum – Eucalyptus globulus
Australian Capital Territory – Royal Bluebell – Wahlenbergia gloriosa
South Australia – Sturts Desert Pea – Swainsona formosa
Western Australia – Mangles Kangaroo Paw – Anigosanthos manglesii
Northern Territory – Sturts Desert Rose – Gossypium sturtianum
Queensland – Cooktown Orchid – Dendrobium phalaenopsis
New South Wales – Waratah – Telopia speciosissima
The design begins as an idea in a small sketch, developed with a clear understanding of the structures of the wildflowers.
You can see the tiny thumbnail sketch showing the initial ideas sketch for the planning of this linocut in the top left hand corner of the image below. This little ideas sketch is then worked into drawings grounded in draughtsmanship.
The work is designed into a linocut/linoblock print in the tradition of fine art relief printmaking creating a template to follow for carving.I photocopy the initial drawing and ink in the black areas which allows me a guide to follow for carving out the white areas. I used to bot do this & found I often made mistakes in the carving which meant re-starting the carving of a whole new lino block! So this way I have a guide, not to say that I don’t vary this as I go – sometimes I will rework areas by drawing on the lino block itself. Some of my long term followers may remember my initial false start of this design a few years ago about the time my shoulder was playing up & making carving difficult. The less said about that the better – let’s just say even with the template mistakes still happen!!
The image from the template is transferred in reverse to the lino block for carving using carbon paper.
A view from my srawing/carving/painting board out to the native banksias outside my studio window.
I use a swivel table set at just the right height, strong lamp, specific reading glasses for close work & very sharp lino tools for the carving the lino block.
The completed fully carved linoblock!
A roller is used to ink up a glass plate and then roll over the lino block to transfer the ink. It is important to get an even thin layer of ink to transfer the image to the paper.
This is the lino block fully inked & ready to print. The more even & carefully applied the ink is to the block the better quality print you will achieve. Note that the design is carved in mirror reverse so that when it is inked and the paper placed on it fro the print it reverses and comes out the right way!! This is particularly important if you are using type or writing within your printmaking!!!
The paper is placed on top of the lino block and a felt is placed over that to help distribute the weight of the press evenly & not damage the paper & lino block in the process. I use a small wind down book press which lowers a heavy plate onto the block.
This is the very first print from the carved lino block. It is instantly gratifying to pull a lovely print the very first time. Sometimes the stars align!! But often they don’t! It may take numerous attempts before you get a good quality even print or edition.
This is the first ‘working proof print’ that has some imperfections in the printing. I use this to work on the first handpainting.
I use oil based ink for the printing & watercolours for the handcolouring. It is the old adage of ‘oil repels water’ so the watercolour is mostly contained within the oil printing. Although sometimes there will be the need to come back & remove some of the more opaque colours that may run onto the oil printed sections but it comes off easily without taking off the printed areas.
I have also made a little video which focuses on the handpainting of this linocut this time.
I was asked a little while ago about my the ‘series’ or ‘collections’ of works that I like to create, which got me thinking more about why I like working this way. My main motivation at face value was pretty simple – I like to create several smaller works that can be hung or presented together so they can be seen individually or as part of a larger multi-work artwork but I think there is perhaps a little more to it than that simple explanation.
When I was beginning my exploration of the linocut/relief printing medium for my artwork I was very conscious of what I see as the strong influence of Margaret Preston in the medium of linocut/woodcut & wildflowers. She created a vision for linocuts & wildflowers which has had a profound impact & influence on many artists working in the medium of linocuts. Many linocut artists have continued to work within the influence of still-life or wildflowers in vases but I made a conscious choice to not take this path. So I deliberately put away any images I had of Margaret Preston’s work, and in fact any images of other linocut artists particularly those who used Wildflowers as their subject matter. I wanted to explore & develop my own vision. I have a deep love of wildflowers in particular & they are my passion within my artwork. I love to explore not only the endless variety of Australian flora but also explore different ways two represent them within my artwork.
I have always worked hard at my drawing skills which underpins my linocuts, and I made a deliberate decision to study drawing alongside watercolours with some traditional water colourists.
I spent a few years attending workshops including with the wonderful artist & teacher Tom Offord. He was a regular tutor at the Grafton Artsfest & I attended several of his workshops, alongside other tutors – Jenny Macnaughton (watercolours), Jocelyn Maughan (drawing), Robin Norling (drawing) & Gillian Scott (botanical art). I wanted to develop & refine not just my own vision as an artist but also my skills base particularly in drawing & working with watercolours. It is interesting that watercolours was never taught at my art college back on the 1980’s & was frowned upon as ‘too traditional’ which is a great shame. I have however used the skills I gained with watercolour classes & workshops within the handpainting of my linocuts and within my drawing/illustration work.
I find I like to at times set myself a challenge within my arts practice – to work within a particular ‘frame’ or design/layout for a particular work or set/collection of works. I often explore what I think of as ‘windows’ – windows both of design & vision for exploring & representing wildflowers in particular. So I create these ‘frames’ and then set a challenge to explore how I can capture some essential essence of the wildflower (or wildlife) within that frame for window.
I push the parameters of the actual frames so that the wildflower is both contained & breaks out of the ‘frames, you can see above. An example of pushing the image beyond the frames can be seen in these two rainforest images of a Golden Penda and Firewheel Tree.
I also use ‘series’ of prints to create images for my wildflowers cards.
In some of my new work which I hope to move into in 2014, I am pushing some of the limits of these frames & my passion for wildflowers into new areas of visual exploration.
The Gymea Lily is an iconic Sydney wildflower and was a favourite of mine when I roamed around the bushland of Loftus growing up. The tall flower spike with the deep pinkish/red flower spike was a like a beacon and provided a great reference point when exploring. The flower spike is now used by florists and is a dramatic addition to large spectacular arrangements.
Now that I live in Northern NSW a common sight is the ‘sister’ to the Gymea Lily – Doryanthes excelsa – it is the Spear Lily – Doryanthes palmeri – which I grow in my garden.
The Gymea Lily is on the left & the Spear Lily on the right.
I have used the tall spectacular Gymea Lily flowers spike as the central focus of this work and added wildlfowers from around Australia.
Included are – the NSW Waratah, Flannel Flowers & Wax Flowers, the Western Australian emblem – Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Firewood Banksia, Geraldton Wax, the Hybrid Eucalyptus ‘Summer Beauty’ and the Australian Floral Emblem – Golden Wattle – Acacia pycnantha.