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.
I have managed to start caving some small lino blocks in the last week or so and it is all going well with my shoulder so far which is excellent.
Here is a small image of some of the carvings – they are a couple of small designs I was working on back in 2012. The one on the left is from a series of 15x15cm square designs and the one of the right is from a series of 12 ‘Deco’ designs. I had been having long-term problems carving for a long while but I did 2 days carving this week and all was fine!! Yippee!! Hoping to start on some large blocks and multi-panel designs I designed at the end of last year very soon!
I have also finished painting & getting some new stock framed for the Day Fine Art Gallery in Blackheath, Blue Mountains NSW. There are plenty of flannel flowers in this new selection and they should be listed on this page in the next week or so.
I also printed one of the earlier designs that I was working on based on those old-fashioned postcards utilising black and white design and colour into one design. You can see the design process for these here.
This is an image of the design that I added some Photoshop colour into.
I then carved the linoblock back in May 2012 – take note that the design is carved in reverse.
Inking up the lino block.
The first proof prints. The proof print is a ‘trial run’ to check the carving is all correct. I may choose to carve more ares out or fix areas before printing the final design. This shows the reversal of the printed image.
Handcoloured this week with watercolour.
This first completed on is Sturt Desert Peas – Retro Postcards
One of the curses of printmakers is dirt and lino chip particles that get mixed with the ink and end up on the block creating horrid little circles of missed ink in the final print. I have discussed it here.
After you have finished carving a linoblock you usually have small chips of lino still within the carved sections. These small chips are the ones that can cause the problem. So how to avoid it?
You can start by using a soft brush and gently brushing the chips out.
Then I lightly drop the block onto a clean table allowing the chips to fall out.
So you can see on my dark printing table the fine chips (and some larger ones) that potentially could ruin a print for you – costing you money because as you know the acid free rag paper is not cheap! There is nothing more frustrating than lifting the print back off the linobock to find one of those white rings indicating a lino chip or piece of dirt!
So after I have dealt with making the linoblock as clean of lino chips as possible I will set out the ink to begin printing.
With this cooler weather the ink often becomes quite cold and thick. So I will generally put the tube of ink onto a metal surface in the sun to let it warn whilst I set up for printing. Sometimes when there is no sun I will lightly put it near a heater – but not too long as it will then be too thin. It is an oil based ink.
There is something quite exciting about inking the block for the first time and seeing the design come to life.
And of course the first print off the block – exciting but also a bit nerve wracking hoping the image you designed and carved translates to what you wanted in the final print.
Print is now drying – hopefully will get to handcolour the first proofs tomorrow.
Whilst ‘on a roll’ I decided to update the info on this blog about another of my ‘Collections’ – Australian Floral Emblems.
In 2001 I was invited by Sutherland Shire Council Cultural Planning and Events Unit, for their Heritage Festival to produce a collection for exhibition based around the Centenary of Federation. This was the first invitation I received from this unit and came about after my participating as part of Group Exhibition in the Palm House Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney to celebrate the New South Wales State floral emblem – the Waratah – Telopia speciossima, in the‘STATE OF THE WARATAH’ EXHIBITION – OLYMPICS ARTS FESTIVAL SEPTEMBER 2000 – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, SYDNEY.
Having grown up in the Sutherland Shire it was wonderful to focus on the wildflowers – flora – of this area (and Sydney sandstone) and was a nostalgic link back to my childhood.
The result of this invitation was the exhibition called ‘Florafed’.
The focus of new work for this exhibition was the completion of the series of linocut prints based around the Australian Floral Emblems.
I then expanded the idea of using the central floral emblem surrounded by wildflowers found that State/Territory – recognising ‘state boundaries’ don’t exist for wildflowers! This took an enormous amount of research and help from experts who I am grateful gave me the time. The result was a set of eight larger pieces known as:
‘Australia: A Nation of Wildflowers’
Below is a closeup of the Nation of Wildflowers – Nation of Wildflowers.
To ’round off’ the collection I produced a celebratory piece – ‘Emblems’.
To add to the ‘Heritage Festival’ element of the exhibition I was commissioned to produce 2 works based on the Sutherland Shire – these now form part of a collection for the Sutherland Shire sister city of Chuo, Tokyo.
They are “Wildflowers – Sutherland Shire” based around the ‘Gymea Lily’ – Hazelhurst Regional Gallery is in Gymea in the Sutherland Shire and “Kurnell – Endangered Ecology” highlighting the endangered ecological community of flora found at Kurnell (part of he Sutherland Shire and ‘Birthplace of the Nation’) and the idea of an image of a book closing and losing these important flora communities.
To see the collection in full please visit my website – Lynette Weir.
When updating this blog today I realised that I had not mentioned the Celtic Wildflowers collection. It was designed at the request of Sutherland Shire Council Cultural Planning and Events Unit, for their Heritage Festival – Parc Menai Celtic Festival 7-9th March, 2003. The ‘brief’ was to provide ‘Celtic’ artwork using wildflowers from Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Isle of Man & Wales as these were the 5 regions being represented at the festival.
The 26 piece “Celtic Wildflowers Collection” took nearly 12 months in research, design and printing/painting.
It involved considerable research of flora of the wildflowers of – Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man and Cornwall. It also included an Australian Celtic Banner and Australian Celtic knots with links to Australian wildflowers as the Festival was designed to celebrate the Celtic heritage of many Australians in the Sutherland Shire.
The research included contacting photographers in the UK who graciously helped me out with some of the more obscure wildflower images. I visited many local ‘Open Gardens’ that Spring as many of these contained flowers from the UK and managed to get photographs as resources. Knotwork is interesting and for the idea of the never-ending ‘circles or lines’ – I imagined and even used small ropes! For the Glen Innes piece knotwork I thought of Gum leaves intertwining.
For the floral ’emblems’ section I chose a particular species for the central flower which is either the ‘symbol’ for the Celtic Region represented. The idea for this design was based around Gothic style window shapes to frame each wildflower.
The Australian set of this collection highlighted four well known Australian Wildflowers with knotwork.
In 2004 I was invited to bring the collection to exhibit at theAustralian Celtic Festival in Glen Innes and had such a nice time – always worth a visit! The Australian Celtic – Glen Innes Wildflowers Banner was designed for the 2004 Australian Celtic Glen Innes Festival Exhibition using wildflowers from that region.
I think my favourite pieces are the Wildflower Circles – where chose a particular species for the central flower which is either the ‘symbol’ for the Celtic Region represented, is endemic or commonly found there and the other wildflowers surrounding them are six wildflower species commonly found or in some cases endemic to that region.
The full collection can be seen over at my main website – Lynette Weir.
A couple of years back we went to New Zealand to visit my son who was studying over there. It was rather a flying a visit but we managed to call at Rotorua and spent an afternoon at Wingspan – it was one of the highlights of the trip. You can tell this by the smiles on the faces of my youngest son and husband!!
Wingspan is a Trust set up to care for sick, injured and orphaned raptors. Their main aim is to return these raptors back to the wild. However some of the birds for various reasons cannot be returned and they form part of their education program.
Watching these magnificent birds up close was amazing and the staff were so generous with their time and giving the opportunity to interact and insight into these birds. If you ever get the opportunity please visit them they are doing wonderful work both in education as well as rehabilitation.