Starting self portrait

Self portrait.jpg

This is just a sketch from a photo. I have used gelato crayons and brushed over them with water. I’m starting to think about what I might do for this project. Last time I did a self portrait was in this unit in first year painting.

FIrst year self portrait

This painting was about me and how I felt about the situation with my son and how I felt a need to confess my failures around him. I’m thinking this was done in 2015 but I’m not sure.

Since then things have moved on to a situation where I no longer feel the need to confess, and in fact have been surprised myself with the resilience and perseverance I have been able to sustain in the fight to get him help.

I’m going to attempt to show that in this portrait. My idea was to fracture my image and then reassemble, not quite right but held in one place with embroidery in a chicken wire pattern. Just a slight bit of leakage beyond the chicken wire.

My starting portrait could be a photograph, or it could be a painting like above where I translate it into a digital image that can be digitally fractured and then placed back in place by printing on fabric and sewing together.

Thinking maybe I will piece together lightly and then show the straining at the edges of pieces with stitch. I don’t want raw edges because I still want it ultimately to be able to be washed as a quilt. Maybe I don’t need chicken wire pattern – maybe visible stitch showing the pieces being held together with strong stitches, or maybe mended strongly?

? a bit of a hodge podge of facial imagery from painting and photos patched together.

Think first step is to use the above to do a bit of a small tester.
self portrait bw.jpg

Start by changing to black and white and printing an inverted emulsion down transparency

Painting week Four – Culture and Identity


Howard Arkley – colourful outlined work with a lot of the content being suburbia and the everyday.  Referencing both the everyday and art history.  –  made me think of my work with everyday objects and details and attempts to present them in an art context. Not particularly about culture/identity for me though. Howard Arkley.JPG

Triple fronted , 1987  Viewed 6 Aug 2020

Lindy Lee –Lindy Lee.jpg      Viewed 6 Aug 2020

These two included photos are the same photo but one is darker than the other.  It’s interesting how different it makes them look. Repetition with variation. This sort of configuration suits my work but I’m not sure what it says. To me it looks haunting and suggestive of loss. As though a lot of what might have been there in red has been covered up by black.

Kara Walker – 

Kara Walker

The keys to the coop   1997

In the tate article associated with this it mentioned the simplicity of silhouettes resonating with the simplicity of racial stereotypes.     Viewed 6 August 2020

I’m more interested in the potential of silhouettes as a process given that they work well with my solar fast imagery. There is a lot of detail in the image above but it has a kind of cartoon quality which I’m not looking to use.

Sometimes I think that the stencils yield up interesting shapes and a certain reduction in the distraction away from form that lots of internal detail can give. Having said that, I like to create internal markings that don’t necessarily reflect the exact detail of what is present but more create a certain mood.

In my dog work I was happy that the man had some degraded sort of marking within his silhouette to resonate with the idea that he was being lost.





Painting 2B Black dog

First experiment using solar fast to paint with and exposure as I went. Wasn’t very happy with the image itself although the composition was ok. Don’t like the soft edges and painterly quality. Too flat and uninteresting.

This is a composition of stencils with each stencil exposed to different colour solarfast individually. It is better than the painting but I’m still not sure it’s cohesive with the separate pure colours. It has a bit of texture from the prints but not as much as I would like. And I did really want the dog sitting on the man’s chest but I have placed it wrongly.

This third experiment was printed on silk/wool compared to cotton sateen for the one above and it hasn’t taken the colour as well as I would have liked. It appears very muted and I’m not happy with the beige appearance of the background.

I have moved on to dyeing with orange landscape to unify the background and I am reprinting some of the stencils on top to see if I can demarcate them better and strengthen their colour which was someone lost with the orange dye. Likely I will end up with a painting of brown shadows on orange. Not sure what I think about that yet. If its not as good I am going to stop and just use the second version because for me this is about experimentation. The experiment of using stencils has worked in my opinion but I haven’t quite worked out the best way of applying background colour. I may try just painting colour on the back and exposing it through the front after I have already applied the stencils. That may be less invasive than dyeing. Or maybe just expose the back in colour and enough may show through to the front to tint the front without altering the colour in the stencilled area.

Black dog final.jpg

Ok this is the final one. Not perfect but I am moving on. Fabric gives it a muted matte feel which is more noticeable on the silk wool weave than on cotton sateen. This one looked a bit muddy with more loss of colour than I wanted, and I didn’t feel that the planes were well defined so I added the stitching to try and define picture planes better.

I would definitely have liked to have more control over the background colour so that the front colours are not so muddied. I don’t might dulling the colours from the primaries but here I feel like I lost control of the process.

Good thing is that I am pleased with the sewing. Doesn’t interfere with the pleasurable sharp edges of the image but still serves a purpose to better define areas of the work.

Photography Week three- Survey and Story

Stephen Shore video – How to see

Take away from that for me was that with your normal vision the subject is always in the centre. Your fovea is a very small central area on the retina which is what sees colour and is the only area of vision that is sharp when you look at something. The idea of a bigger form is built up from lots of tiny central snippets put together in your brain.

A bit like cubism where all the snippets are assembled from different viewpoints, and then your brain is asked to put that together to suggest a form.

This sort of assembly of image suits well with my way of working in regard to a quilting background and wanting to work with fabric.

Berndt and Hilla Becker 

Lots of series of water towers and other industrial structures photographed in a way that seemed to isolate them from the environment with white sky and flat light and no people.

Nan Goldin

The Ballad of sexual dependency

Lots of photographs taken of her friends and people she lived with in interior environments. Nan Goldin took photos with many different cameras and believed ‘Content is important rather than quality of photographs’. They have the feel of old polaroid photos with the focus not completely sharp and the colours not necessarily true. This adds to the feeling of nostalgia, something lost or in the past.

Sally Mann

Series based on photos of her husband who was slowly dying of MS. That knowledge adds to the emotive quality of the photographs and the bare flesh adds to intimacy.


Continuing with Covid Toes Triptych:


covid toes progress.jpg

Nearly completed. All that remains is to turn in the edges with the same material as the central dividers. I don’t really like the wrinkles although they fit with the tired and worn nature of the subject.


Need to move on to Diptych. Wasn’t sure that I had to do both but seems we do.

Bricks and Mortar

This will be my subject for the diptych. Our house is brick built by a person who took a lot of pride in making things neat and strong and right. It is the proverbial brick shit house. In this covid time our home has become even more important than before. We have been finding new things to appreciate about it and are very grateful that we have this well built sanctuary.

I’m thinking I want to try photograms for this. Probably layered photograms.

For bricks I can use two bricks and work with photograms showing multiple differents angles of the bricks. Will start with the bricks covering most of the plate and then gradually overlay the smaller sides into the photogram.

Mortar poses more of a problem but I think I will first cast the mortar between bricks out of plaster. Then make similar photograms out of the sheet of “mortar”.

Rachel Whiteread

English artist who works with casting, often displaying the first cast itself. Effectively the negative space inside.

Famously giant cast of a inside of a house.


Rachel Whiteread.JPG   Viewed 28 July 2020

This artist uses lots of objects from the everyday and represent yet another way of looking at objects and the spaces in objects and to this end suits a lot of the work I do.

I’d like to make another cast or mould out of clay or polyclay of an everyday object that nonetheless has an evocative component.

rachel whiteread2     Viewed 28 July 2020

Stairs are actually turned on their side but you can see how this sort of work gives an alternate view of the commonplace.

Black dog test layout

Black dog layout test.jpg

I have manipulated a photo of my painting in photoshop and then made masks and stencils out of each element with a view to creating a new work with solarfast exposed under stencils. I’m hoping this will give me some sharper edges, some serendipitous marks and so complex mixing of colours.

In the process I decided to try and expand the size of the work and used the biggest incarnation of each element that would fit on a A4 sheet for ease of printing and laminating. As a consequence the dog is strikingly larger than in the first painting but I thought that this actually works. As a metaphor for depression it is appropriate to have the dog overwhelming the man.

re-member at Contemporary Art Tasmania    Viewed 26 July 2020       I would have used CAT website to access this but it was down.

re-member is about imagining across the cracks, filling in the gaps and stringing these fragments together.

Artists know how to make, and with that tactile knowledge comes the understanding that things can also be un-made. Artists are able to collect and reckon with residue from the past through assembling, visualising, performing and vocalising. In doing so they are un-making history, they are refocusing attention on alternative stories and reinvigorating what has been lost.
– Caitlin Fargher, re-member catalogue essay


Went to this exhibition on Friday night. Quite a lot of people there and not very relaxing in this COVID time.

re-member at CAT 24 July 2020.jpg

This work appeared to be like a lump of old clay dirt with some rusted metal and old wallpaper embedded in it and moss growing out of it.

Loved the potential of this – assembling, melding and growing your own artwork.

Gregory T Wilkins


Screen Shot 2020-07-25 at 3.11.43 pm.png

Gregory Wilkins: Varanasi, India: Portrait Number 1, 2017, Colour photography, acrylic paint, ink, graphite, embroidery thread, sewing thread, yarn, collage on canvas    Viewed 25 July 2020

Gregory Wilkins is an American artist who uses photographs, paint and stitch to create his works. I am lucky enough to be part of Textile stitch club which brings me mini workshops led by new textile artists three times per month. Last week was Gregory Wilkins.

It’s inspiring for me to see an artist working with photography to guide the work but with added texture and formal elements from both paint and stitch.

Starting with a photograph printed on fabric and building up from there is something I’ve done in the past and it gives me structure to work from and avoids jarring misproportions if that was not my intention. Starting with a blank page is very difficult for me and I enjoy the tweaking rather than the blocking in of the foundation.

I will definitely look at trying something with a fabric photo as base in the future.

I would like to try it with my current image but I need a male body to photograph on the bed and my partner just can’t be convinced. There are dogs next door I could ask to borrow for a photo. I don’t like to use stock photos. I was considering trying to manipulate the image I’ve been given to create a prone figure but not sure how well that would work. Still another thing to try.


Painting 2B week two

Lecture was on self portrait work. Next project relates to self.  

Artist at work – paintings showing the artist working on a painting, Eg. Lucien Freud – Painter Working.

Artist as other – Artist playing another role. Self fashioning Eg. Cindy Sherman – History portraits

The self as subject matter – Eg. Phillip Akkerman self portraits from 1981 onwards.

William Utermohlen

Williamutermohlen.JPG      Viewed 23 July 2020

This portrait was painted after he had been diagnosed with dementia that had been slowly coming on in the years prior to this.

So expressive with enough detail but bold lines, jarring colour and a sense of obliteration with the grey overlay to the face.

Did a couple of extra layers on my sketch painting and will probably stop there or might try and use bleach to put a bit of a rim of light along the top of the body. More to see if bleach will work rather than anything else. The fabric is tussah silk though so I better be cautious. Wondering how I can present my paintings though. I’d like to maybe add a bit of stitch. Or maybe that’s not necessary for this unit. This work is a bit representational. Don’t like that as much. Want to try making an evocative work but not as representational. Going to try using layers of stencils and painting.