This week at Bundanon I have been getting out to different parts of the property with my oils and boards to make small paintings. I have treated these paintings as small studies, mainly to reference colour. Colour and referencing the different aspects of the property has been my main concern this week. I can use these small studies, sketches and photographs to work on some larger works in the studio.
Due to the indecisive weather this past week, I have been occupied in the studio working on some larger oils on canvas. The paint application has involved mixing up buttery oil colours and applying them loosely onto the canvas with a palette knife and a combination of brushes, scrubbing in the colour, whilst recognising tone and the direction of marks to aid perspective. A broad brush has been used to drag the paint across the surface of the canvas before drawing back into areas with a smaller brush. I have been drawn to using colour whilst at Bundanon, whether through paint or drawing with pastel, this has been the most immediate way for me to represent the landscape. I am endeavouring to capture a mood in these large paintings and play with big skies. The paintings below are all works in progress!
Photographs further below feature caravans gifted to Bundanon titled ‘Travelling Colony’ by artist Brook Andrew.
Reflecting on my time in Bundanon after the first week, I can honestly say it has been food for the soul. The property is historically and artistically rich and I have spent much of my time exploring it. The property is overwhelmingly beautiful and there is a real sense of imagination that is present within the landscape, flora and fauna. I have been observing and making studies, predominantly featuring the landscape, by taking many photographs and short films, drawing and making oil sketches en plein air. All of my oil paintings have the lovely edition of bugs that did a kamikaze directly into the wet oil paint. Proof that the paintings were made in situ!
Much of my time here so far has been consumed with forming a connection to place and researching the history of the area, in and around Nowra and the site of Bundanon. This country was originally the land of the Wodi Wodi people who speak the Dharawal language and in 1805 Government surveyors made first contact. Transport to the area at this time was by punt up and down the Shoalhaven River and by horse and cart. The property has Scottish roots as it was bought and farmed by the McKenzie’s in 1839 straight off the boat from Scotland. They retained the property for four generations and built the sandstone homestead in 1866 that Arthur and Yvonne Boyd lived in.
Other places I have visited in Nowra include the Regional Gallery and the very quirky and outrageously painted all original Merroogal House; the interiors of which are sure to enter my work. The camera in this instance has become my sketchbook, snapping away at objects and artefact.
This week I will work up some of the oil sketches and drawings into bigger canvases in the studio.
Recent landscape paintings in the studio further explore the idea of imagined and invented space. These images were worked intuitively from casual observations of colour in the environment and cloud formations. These big skies have been etched into my memory as they float past, across time and place. These paintings have been produced quickly with energy from minimal source material, from the imagination or in situ of the environment. Drawing upon memory has played a large part in constructing my current paintings. Slight elements of abstraction have increasingly found their way into my work in the form of abstracted colour and shape, often placed with the palette knife or obscured with a broad brush. This transforms traditional subject matter and materials into a more contemporary practice.
My current painting practice explores the tradition of landscape with a focus on the temporal; the idea that places remember their past whilst always being at the mercy of human intervention and other forces of change.
As an expansion on ideas of ‘country’ and ‘place’ I also look at landscape in the context of nomadic subcultures such as the travelling carnival and, indirectly, the legacy and spirit of early pioneers and explorers- people in search of a place to dwell, if only on the fringes.
My paintings work with elements of pictorial ambiguity and mystery to explore these themes, perhaps evoking a bygone era, but remaining contemporary through the use of a variety of materials, processes and the deployment of discontinuous space.
I would like to evolve my work by making paintings and drawings en plein air in the Bundanon landscape and, as a new aspect of my practice, explore interior contexts; in this case the residence of the late Arthur Boyd. The observation and rendering of artefacts and the memory and absence of people assist the development of potential narratives.
I think that through continual contact and immersion with the specific physical aspects of Bundanon and the interior ‘memory’ of Arthur Boyd’s residence that I can generate studies that capture some of the beauty, historical richness and ‘spirit’ of this unique place. Transitions between twilight and darkness, internal/external and figure/field relationships are a means by which I can express the psychological and metaphysical aspects of ‘Landscape’.
Provided with the opportunity to evolve my practice on a deeper level through a residency at Bundanon, I believe I can produce a body of work that engages the viewer with the ideas I have outlined above.
Particular sites of interest on the Bundanon property I wish to explore are the natural amphitheatre towards the back of the property that I have previously visited as a day-tripper and also the Shaolhaven River and surrounding grazing meadows. My aim is to hold an exhibition showcasing work developed at Bundanon.
For more information about the Bundanon Artist Trust visit the website below
My current painting practice explores elements of pictorial ambiguity, intrigue and the deployment of discontinuous space. Bega Girl is a painting composed from a photograph taken at the end of the 19th century by William Henry Corkhill. Historical photographs often have an air of mystery about them and speak to us on many levels. Her image coupled with remnants of an interior and abstract space is used to heighten the psychology of the painting.
Over the past 12 months I have been exploring new subject matter with an historical content. Paintings of old-world faces and interiors sit alongside one another to create broken narratives, and an ambiguity that I always find interesting. I have focused too, on heightening the psychological aspect of portraiture by scraping a pallette knife ladened with oil paint across the surface of the canvas blocking out parts of the face. In particular, the eyes which communicate so much about a person. Some believe the eyes are windows into one’s soul. To erase the eyes from a painting immediately gives a portrait a psychological edge, promoting an element of mystery and intrigue.
Canopy, oil on canvas
Girl Disappearing, oil on canvas
The Help, oil on canvas
Visitor, oill on canvas
Time is Then (Ava), oil on canvas