Friday, January 24, 2014

New Video + Seed Survey + Workshop = busy times at Seed.Art.Lab

Hi again,
      It's Sam,
I'm here for another exciting work day with Sophie after a very long road trip holiday over Xmas and the New year. 
My second time coming back to work has been just as eventful as my first last week. Unusually, last week we got together on Saturday because both of our personal commitments during the week had as running around like mad people. We decided to just run a work shop where we kind of did our own thing. We started off with sepia ink, painting with twigs and experimenting with different textures using seeds. 

All day Saturday I had a creature of some sort bouncing around my head so I let it out. I was quick to grab some water colours and some of Sophie's white ink. I could not of been happier with the end result. The picture below lets you have an exclusive sneak peak into the making of my creature and what happens when Sophie and I are working in the studio. Next to it is another one of my creature known as a 'Wispa'.

Sophie and I  were hard at work creating last week! An enjoyable 
peaceful time where we could both relax after our busy weeks.  
To see more of my artwork you can click on to  My Tumblr OR if  you are interested in any of my work feel free to email me here  and if you'd like updates on what i'm up to, you're welcome to like my facebook page.

We started  work today with a much needed staff meeting in a very creative and quirky cafe called the Shutter + Brew.

Sophie had fun distorting the picture to emphasise how quirky and unique this cafe really is!
Sophie and I talked about our survey that we set up late 2013.  Unfortunately we were very distracted with holidays and my being away so now we are back there is ONE WEEK to go before we will draw the prize

ENTER HERE to fill out the SURVEY FORM which will be sent to us with your answers and email address.

The Survey is really worth while ... and all results will be a great help in establishing understanding what people know about seeds  and current issues ... a very useful thing for the work of the Homage to the Seed project.

Just by filling in a few questions for us, you could win an original artwork by Sophie. You even have a chance to be in the running for the same prize if you share her new video! Enter Survey here.

I also want to tell you about the WORKSHOP Sophie has coming up on Wednesday 29th January. 

Because this workshop has not been publicised but arranged quickly to suit keen participants... we can offer a LAST MINUTE truly special price of $100 if you confirm HERE NOW and pay on booking ... there's two seats left at $100 each... normally $130 for a whole day starting at 10am.

DAY:   Wednesday, 29th February

TIME: 10 am til 4.30 pm

WHERE: 48 Meemar St, Chermside, Brisbane

WHAT YOU NEED: bring lunch to share ... morning + afternoon tea provided.
                                   Art materials provided + you can bring your favourite art mediums   
                                   + art journal/drawing book if you have one in progress.


Choose and research a favourite rainforest plant/fruit/seed pod ... ask Sophie re this!

You will spend the morning exploring various printing, drawing and painting techniques using any or all parts of the plant as the subject matter. 

In the afternoon you will work with these exciting approaches and ideas to produce a concertina style artist's book made from fine watercolour paper. 

Concertina book created by Barbara at 3 x 90 minute workshops I conducted
during a mini-Residency at Springbrook in December : Read more here.
Barbara had not created anything like this before. 25 yrs since leaving school
where she had not experienced being encouraged artistically. It was really
impressive seeing her observation shills out to good use... art classes would
could easily bring considerable satisfaction if she decides to continue on.

The work will then be documented onto a NEW Tumblr site celebrating seed and plant biodiversity...  for the purpose of building a body of colourful, informative work based on Australian plant species that can be shared with others. It will be important to know or discover the botanical name of the species you plan to work with... there are many places you can get information online if you are unsure about this. There are 2 Mac computers available for doing research in the studio.

Several participants booked in already have some work experience in the Botanical realm... not necessarily with art-making however. This  class is for anyone interested in learning more  ... no previous experience is necessary but of course is welcomed too!

journal pages from Springbrook

There is one last thing to share... 

Sophie has just had a VIDEO produced by the Global Crop Diversity Trust which was released this week. 

It takes 3 minutes to watch and is a survey of her various artworks with an audio recording of her work on Seeds and Biodiversity. She wrote all about this at her STUDIO blog here.

              To WATCH click on this U-TUBE link here:

Anyone who shares this video for Sophie will go into a draw to win one of her recent watercolour works... so please leave a message here or email us if you share this online anywhere so you can be in the draw for FEBRUARY 1ST!

is a water-colour work from this series!

Have a good week everyone and I hope to talk to you all soon!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Working large again ...

 Getting onto larger canvases again has been a good development over the last week in the studio. This first image shows the tentative start on the fresh canvas on the left.

I did have an idea of where I wanted to go with this... but not quite the colours.

I wanted the work to be loose and the linen surface to show through... that I was clear about.

After some consideration I decided I didn't want to persist with this cobalt blue.

I used Sepia ink to wash over the cobalt blue paint to tone it down considerably. The colours started to settle as a consequence of that.

'Seed collector's notations' 90 cm x 100 cm, acrylic and ink on linen

This is the painting more or less finished... four days later. I'm tempted to finesse a few areas... so I say more or less finished...  lightly!

close up of the work

The title struck me early one morning. I was thinking how these small symbols, dots and marks are like records, the documentation of seeds saved and counted, but not just in one place, by one person though. These notations are like inscriptions across time... the act of recording that countless people through history have done in order to take stock of seeds being saved. Long time inscribed in notations representing seeds.

In linguistics and semiotics, a notation is a system of graphic or symbols, characters and abbreviated expressions, used in artistic and scientific disciplines to represent technical facts and quantities by convention.[1][2] Therefore, a notation is a collection of related symbols that are each given an arbitrary meaning, created to facilitate structured communication within a domain knowledge or field of study.
Standard notations refer to general agreements in the way things are written or denoted. The term is generally used in technical and scientific areas of study like mathematicsphysicschemistry and biology, but can also be seen in areas like businesseconomics and music.

'Seed collector's notations' is a name that settles on this work so as if it had been painted with that in mind form the start. NB: This text come from Wiki... please google Notation to find this page!


notation (countable and uncountableplural notations)
  1. (uncountable) The actprocessmethod, or an instance of representing by a system or set of marks, signs, figures, or characters.
  2. (uncountable) A system of characters, symbols, or abbreviated expressions used in an art or science or in mathematics or logic to express technicalfacts or quantities.
  3. (countable) A specific note or piece of information written in such a notation.

The next work from the week is this one below. Drawn to work in colours I associate with the rainforests of far north Qld I began this work by creating blocks of colour onto which I began by hand-printing the motifs in alternating colours.  

Lino-printed seed capsule cross-sections of the species Ternstroemia cherryi

Image found here.
The attraction to this symbol is partly in the balance of the 4 sections containing the seeds... and that in this abstracted interpretation of the actual seed capsule they form loosely a figure 8 or, one could say, an eternity symbol.

So as a symbol this is both universal in this form and particular in its direct reference to the species 

Fruit, side view, cross section and seed. Copyright W. T. Cooper
Image from here
Its been a while since I've worked with such intense colours ... it was something of a leap of faith. 

Today I attempted to photograph the work which is close to finished. 

I found it virtually impossible to get a photo that gave the correct proportions ... so with these shots I didn't worry about that. The composition is defined by the horizontal selvedge in the top section of the work. I had some linen fabric that wasn't quite the right size so in the end I made the fabric selvedge joins part of the composition ... something that's been a compositional device in my work for a number of years in some works, emphasising the natural fibre and a certain rawness.

Image taken in my studio gallery

'Ode to the Cherry Beech - Ternstroemia cherryi'

This image was the best as far as capturing the textural qualities of the work. All I can say is that its a painting best seen in the flesh for true representation of colour, texture and composition.

It's at that point I could call it finished but I will sit with it first!

Time to get some more stretcher frames and keep working whilst the inspiration's there.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sepia ink and a week away!

Sepia ink was the substance that took my fancy when deciding what art materials to take on the recent mini-residency I undertook at Koonjewarre between Xmas and New Years. Although I packed up all kinds of materials to take along something about the darkish brown ink possessed my imagination.

"I was much interested, on several occasions, by watching the habits of an Octopus or cuttle-fish ... they darted tail first, with the rapidity of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the same instant discolouring the water with a dark chestnut-brown ink."

I'd quite forgotten that Sepia ink came from cuttlefish... not sure if it still does but I did very much like the hue and quality of the sepia I used!

Boxing Day I packed and went to the mountains 90 mins or so south of the city where I live. Springbrook National Park is a stunning destination and I'd not been there in 5 years and before that it was about 20 plus years since I'd stayed there so it was my good luck to have studio space on the mountain at a Retreat where I could work.

I wrote more on this at my Studio blog last week and I posted on my Homage to the Seed Facebook page regularly during the 6 days I was up there at Koonjewarre

Journal pages, working with twigs dipped in the Sepia ink.

Journal pages ... I was really taken with these 
Black Wattle seed pods that were so maze-like.

Stunning walks are abundant in this region.

 bush walking led to all kinds of magnificent views 
yet i loved the details as well as the grand vistas!

I gathered some small fruiting branches from a Rainforest species
and placed them over a quick drawing of the same species.

I liked noticing all the lines in these images

Candlenuts are a species I'd like to know more about. Late night
drawing I explored rainforest fruit species online... keen 
photographers documenting Far North Qld rainforest species

Carnavalia aralifolia ... actually from an 
image found on the internet from Far North Qld.

Loved this unique fern at the site where 12 of us went to volunteer 
clearing the invasive species Aristia, known also as Blue Stars. 

This grass below was noticed in the area where we were weeding.

I pulled together this series of images that emphasise
 line and also tonal contrasts, mostly in Sepia. When
downloading images tonight I could see more clearly 
what had captured my attention and its struck me that
I was also seeing this environment in a much drier
state than my other trips. It can be such a wet spot!

I set up a temporary studio and offered 4 short 90 minute
 classes to those in the camp running whilst I was there.

Drawing these acacia pods was intriguing!

A few of the class participant's artworks...  it was a group of
 7 who joined me for the drawing class at the studio over the 
week, most of whom are never involved in art of any kind. It 
was exciting to see how much they relished working visually!

A concertina book made of beautiful watercolour paper was
an ideal challenge for many new to drawing and making.

Using twigs dipped in the Sepia ink was a popular 
approach to drawing. Various people tried this approach 
with gusto and returned each day to work in this manner. 
It was an ideal medium for the class to draw the seeds 
collected around this particular location.

Being able to easily visit stunning scenic
 sites nearby was such a treat. 

This tree below was massive, however it was 
damaged and the lower trunk was all that remained.

More linear complexity...    

And a message noted down in one of the class session by a participant...

The focus of classes was Seeds and Biodiversity...  seeds were collected from around the grounds and  the Studio was lined with artworks and material relevant to the theme. 

We had two guest speakers over the week in this class. Also in residence was Peter Lawson whose career and subsequent years have been spent working around landscape and conservation, including Marine conservation as well. He spoke for well over and hour and we asked questions and clarified our understanding of the background to his experience and how in step his work has been with the unfolding of some major conservation themes in Australia. 

He started off at Forestry school around the 60's and talked about influences and perspectives on conservation that existed at the time and how he moved from Forestry to Conservation, Forest and Lands and then to Conservation and Environment over decades as the portfolios evolved and new departments were formed to deal with the increasingly sophisticated understandings of natural resources and how they best be managed and sustained. In the 90's a move to Qld took him into new work agendas and projects. Currently he is still involved with the Springbrook National Park through a connection with the Springbrook Rescue Project.

This dense and stimulating dialogue, and another similarly informative session with Deanna Scott talking about her extensive work in Bio-security within her Qld Govt role, provided an incredibly informative background to our exploration of seeds and Biodiversity in the workshops. 

Arrangements to go to the mountains in December were quite late in the making ... and I am very grateful that a plan that started out in a light-hearted chat evolved into such a poignant, educational and high quality experience. We discussed Eco-tourism whilst up there and its growing relevance... access to volunteering, education, projects and such. One has to wonder at the alarming waste of opportunity given how much movement there is on the planet and how often engaging more deeply with a place is passed over.

The same people who gave or engaged in the talks,  and took part in my workshops were also volunteering at the Springbrook Rescue Project down the road on New Years Eve. There was plenty of time for people to disappear and do what they wished, or go walking, or take off somewhere for afternoon tea even... but what was clear when I left was the way there had been a real engagement with place.

I arrived home late yesterday afternoon and have been missing this extraordinary region, its dense vegetation and wild weather changes all day long, the wallabies and the cool... low clouds hugging the mountain for part of the week. Today I downloaded photos, took care of some business but otherwise spent time catching up with my thoughts and processing this wonderful experience in the mountains.    

I've many more photos but thought I'd stay in theme here at this post.

Sending you all my very best greetings for a Happy New Year and a wish that your 2014 be a year to remember for a number of truly rewarding and uplifting reasons!