There is such a majesty & structural quality to these particular Australian wildflowers not withstanding their bright red colouring with deep green leaves & the fact the flowers occur on long stems coming up from the ground. They really can be ‘seen from afar’ as their name means.
For a while now I have planned to do a Tryptich design using waratahs as a kind of companion print for my Flannel Flower Tryptich. This particular print was a commission for someone as a gift for his wife’s birthday. Did I mention I also LOVE flannel flowers too?
Last year after my shoulder surgery I found it really difficult to work at all for a few months which was most frustrating! I knew I had to slowly get back so I started with thinking through ideas for new designs & taking some photos.
Eventually I was able to at least draw so one of the first artworks I started on was my Waratah Triptych.
I already knew I wanted to make it into a triptych & I had taken some photos pf both red and white waratahs over the years so decided to incorporate both into this design.
I worked as I usually do. First with the framework for the design, then trawling through the hundreds of images I have of waratahs and finding suitable ones for this particular artwork. This process is interesting for me as I gradually reduce the amount of images I want to work with so I refine the vision I have for this work. I ask questions like – is my point of view from below or above? do I want to abstract any of the images or stay more true to for? How simple do I want the work to be visually? How much black do I want to incorporate? DO I really want to keep the defining structure I started with or would I prefer to break out and change it a little? or a lot?
Eventually I end up with a series of images which I will use as the basis of the work. I then start the drawing.
Drawing is a process I love and have always loved. I feel that all artists no matter their medium of choice a strong skill base in drawing will always hold them in good stead. It teaches you to look more closely and especially in my case where I like the get the wildflowers I use botanically correct. Even if in the carving of the wildflowers compromise is made as to how they are depicted due to the process of carving lino, I know that they have started as botanically correct.
These are the final drawings of the three panels of the triptych.
When it comes to working the drawings into designs that can be carved I again work through creating black and white inked versions. This refines my designs and allows me to experiment with what I think I may be able to carve. These days after having to have shoulder surgery, I really value the ability to still be able to carve my linocuts so I guess for me if I have a clear template of what I want to carve it means I will hopefully will be able to a long time into the future.
I then transfer these final designs onto the lino ready to carve.
I must say after initially deciding to start small when starting back carving I just could not resist getting stuck into these three larger panels! It was weeks of carving and I must say did challenge my shoulder’s capacity to comply & caused a bit of pain. But I do have the most wonderful masseuse and physiotherapist who both help keep me on the straight and narrow & take away the pain!
And to printing!
For this particular design I decided to just do a colour rough using photoshop just to get an idea of the balance of the colour before handcolouring.
Finally I get to print the designs and then handcolour them! Finally I get to see the original concept from a few years ago actually come to fruition. I am really pleased with the results.
A little while ago Bronwynne Calvert from Irrewarra Bakery in Victoria contacted me about using a couple of my designs for new labels for their delicious Anzac Biscuits. I know they are delicious because, despite not living in Victoria and never having been to the Irrewarra Bakery, she sent me some sample packets. The biscuits are the large crunchy Anzac Biscuits & are so nice that they did not last long in my household full of men! (Bronwynne also sent some of their Granola – scrumptious!).
‘Hardtack Biscuits’ in WW1/Gallipoli apparently were not the lovely sweet versions we know now, but were a hard bread substitute of flat ‘wafers’ (I think ‘wafers’ is also misleading by all accounts as well – probably ‘bricks’ may have been more appropriate) – they are so ‘durable’ that the Australian War Memorial apparently still has some leftovers! By all accounts the sweet rolled oats and golden syrup ‘Anzac Biscuits’ recipe we know now, date back to about the 1920’s and are a favourite Australian biscuit recipe. I think they were a staple family biscuit/recipe since that time and are popular amongst the Country Women’s Association – CWA. Quick and simple and not needing any eggs, I know I have made them for years for my ‘boys’. You can find out about the history of the Anzac Biscuit at the Australian War Memorial, I particularly like the reference in this article to ‘other uses’ many soldiers came up with for the original ‘hardtack biscuits’ – including artists using them as ‘canvases’ to paint pictures on. One can only imagine! If you feel really motivated you can even make your own ‘Hardtack biscuits’ from the AWM recipe here.
Anyway back to the new labels using two of my linocut designs.
I have not done a lot of licensing of my artwork for products and am careful about how much and where my artwork is used but I simply could not resist this small bakery with its gorgeous produce.
I mentioned a while back the difficulties I had with the lino and re-printing the Mini Waratah but am very pleased with the newly carved clean and crisp linoblock and prints now. It was well worth the effort of re-carving this design.
Well I got an email from Bronwynne yesterday saying that the labels are all completed and on the packets of Anzac Biscuits and are being delivered to their suppliers today!! Here the pictures of the new packaging below! Whoo hoo!! How exciting!
Irrewarra Bakery sourdough breads look amazing – just wishing i could pop down the road & buy some of their bread for lunch! For the places to find their products here is the list of Stockists.
I think they’ve come up rather well and in time for Anzac Day on 25th April. Oh and Bronwynne said she is sending more samples with the new label – looking forward to that parcel!!
I visited a local farm today that has rows of waratahs – bliss!! I spent time taking 250+ photos and brought some waratahs home to draw and sigh over…
The Latin ‘speciosus’ means beautiful or handsome thus ‘speciosissima’.
‘Waratah’ was the original Aboriginal name.
I finally completed the ‘Waratahs’ linocut today. I have called it “Regeneration”. After the destruction that occurs in bushfires the waratah ‘regenerates’ from a ‘lignotuber’ which is a type of starchy or woody swelling found partly or fully on underground stems – like a life support system.
In this print the outside leaves that are destroyed regenerate into the magnificent waratah flowers of the central panel. Thus after destruction and when there seems to be no hope of regeneration something found below the surface holds the key for rebirth.
Here are the 3 colour samples I’ve worked on so far – I’ve noticed that some computer screens really mess with the actual colours – Waratahs Watercolour 1 – has pale green outside leaves – Waratahs Watercolour 2 – has deeper sepia type colours and Waratahs Watercolour 3 – has pale sepia colours.
…still deciding…any suggestions? comments?…