Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Painting with linocutting?

The other WIP besides the new oil piece is this reductive linocut. I had done two layers before Chile and last night had proceeded with the next one.

First: the current layer in orange.

Fields, WIP (layer 3)
Linocut on Cartridge paper, 25x20cm

Now, that's a fairly graphic linocut. I was actually surprised to see it like that after having printed my edition of thirteen (for luck) sheets.

Surprised because the accumulated ultramarine, lemon yellow, orange looks rather messy like this:

Fields, WIP
Fields, WIP (three layers)
Linocut on Japanese paper, 25x20cm

Admittedly, the blue got a bit darker in value than planned, I mixed the yellow in various values and with differing amounts of whites - the idea was to get to a green for the forest in the background and a light, opaque field in the foreground. The idea is to add two more layers: a darker green and a dark purple. - It's the field image developed here.

The aim: to paint with linocutting. I.e., to trick the imagery away from sharp, distinct, graphic fields of colour to a much softer, painterly image. I remember the linocut that Tom bought a while back from the artist Ruth Robertson. So I thought, I could try and trick the medium into behaving like paint. Probably five layers (even with shading/dabbing) won't get me there; neither will it probably not get me there with the variety of cut marks and playing with the interplay of positive and negative spaces.

But: I'm having a good go at it nonetheless. It's actually very good fun. I am thoroughly enjoying the relief cutting by now and am almost sorry for progressing onto more experimental markmaking and collagraphs (glue, mold stuff onto the plate to print with collage). However, these tasks are giving me quite a good sense of what may be possible. I could spend far more time with this and am certain, that any art in future will be more hands on than merely holding a brush.

I like the process of losing fear and acquiring respect for a medium, its shticks and moods. I think that's also one of the reasons why I do like posting WIPs... to see where something goes, how it develops, falls aparts, changes form and character and so on.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Spring steps

Elquí 1, WIP, Detail
oil on canvas, 70x80cm

... all across town. I must say I love Spring in Glasgow. It's delightful and fickle. It's full of promises. Promises that pretty much all involved know won't be kept. And it's ok. Well: not really. But seeing that the promises of days of light, warmth and sunshine won't last much past mid-June at the very latest and thus are made to be broken, everyone takes them as such.

So I grinned as I walked home from painting at lunch time, grinned again at the sight of strappy vests, painted toenails and that delightful expectation of promises you know will be broken.

I also grinned because of this: I condensed my pastel travel kit into: cadmium, cadmium, cobalt, earth pigment x2 and ended up with a zingy small palette for oils. Yes - I changed my mind - I had written off the oils until autumn but I want the space, the shine and the layering one, two or three large(ish) duck linen canvasses are promising me for the next couple of months.

And you know what: I know that that's a promise that won't be broken. And soon I will have Elquí Valle in large scale amazingness (well: if I can pull that off).

Now: where is my nail varnish? My sandals?

Elquí 1, WIP
oil on canvas, 70x80cm

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Going back to Elquí Valle

... I wish I was... but this has to suffice.

Elquí Valle

Pisco Elquí 1, Elquí Valle
Pisco Elquí 1,
Pastel on Board, 35x25cm

My fellow Watermarkers have been putting up a fantastic set of posts around Water on Earth Day on our blog as well as their own blogs. So, I thought I'd join (and have excuse to bunk off early from my tedious lecture and presentation writing tasks that will bug me for the next week).

I mentioned how much I loved the day in Elquí Valle and the night spent stargazing at Mamalluca. Some of the reasons for that I hadn´t mentioned yet though. Let me make up for that.

Apart from the great clarity of the air and sky and the high contrast between hilltops and lime green valley floor it was the fact that Carlos, our guide for the day, didn`t really speak any English (well, I think he would maintain that he does, but he really didn´t) - so the day was spent in Spanish.

Secondly, the fact that one of our first stops was the tomb of Gabriela Mistral, ¿recuerdala? The great Chilean poet of earthy mysticism, romanticism and essentialism. She was born far up in the valley, in Montegrande at the end of c19 and was buried there.

So, as it is befitting for a poet, Carlos's first Spanish lesson for R and myself was ´Las tres grandes penas de Gabriela Mistral´- the three great sufferings of Gabriela Mistral: her father abandoned her family when she was three; a man who was madly in love with her committed suicide when she was 20; and her adoptive son (her brother's child, abondoned by his father at the age of six) also committed suicide when he was 18.

I hate the thought that all that much tragedy is necessary to be a good artist. But maybe it's not necessary, right?

In any case, almost two weeks later I bought a tattered copy of Mistral's Poema de Chile at a market stall in Santiago. I think many of the poems were written in the 1930s, she presented some of them at a conference on the human geography of Chile in the US in 1938. It's a patriotic and romantic attempt at nation building in poetry. It reads like an old-fashioned regional geography: covering not only different regions of the vast country but also the light, the stars, the mines, alcohol, trees, and the ocean. R and I are planning a good bit of text analysis of this - she for her lectures in environmental management, I for the problems I have with romantic landscapism. But more on that later.

I leave you with another verse found on the main square in Pisco Elquí - the village was called La Unión until 1936 when the Chilean government, in attempt to authenticate Pisco as of Chilean origin and not Peruvian - changed its name in a grand piece of economic policy. Imagine, Oban was to be changed to Whiskey Oban. How bizarre... but: here's Mistral on the sensuous qualities of Elquí Valle (suitably written on a pisco barrel).

En Pisco Elquí

'Since my touch has left behind these sweet and splendid pastures,
all that I am left with is the dry scent of those vines and fig trees ...'

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Chile in pastel

medium - not hue, that is... distinctly too high in chroma to pass as pastelly sketches.

These are the plein air sketches (well: bar the two nocturnes which were done from memory).

Today's work again - I'm far too tired for 9.30 and it's bitter cold here, still: half of Glasgow is dressed exactly the same way as people in Santiago were, or even more summerly: bare tops, flipflops and plenty of blue skin on show - and that with about 15C difference in temperature. Nonetheless: my clothes drying quickly tells me that it must be fairly warm here too (the show of flipflops in Glasgow rarely indicates anything useful on my personal temperature gauge, I've found over the years).

The next week's will be busy - with work, but also with preparations for our next group exhibition - with the opening on 20 May. So, I figure: I won't drag Chile out too much longer, because I don't know what else will happen over the next four weeks. Thus: the whole lot of pastel sketches in one go. Here's the pastel kit I used - or rather: what's left of them.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Fields - Chilean ones this time

I've been spending ages with uploading photos to flickr, and I think my ISP has had enough of it, it seems to go far too slow for my liking.

On the way back to Santiago, on Thursday, we spend pretty much the full day on the top floor of yet another long-distance bus. After hour 8 on the bus, it got all a bit too boring, the air conditioning was terribly bad and the films weren't good - no guns, no kung fu and no car chases [on our early busy journeys we were amazed to find out in just how many B movies with car chases and guns Jason Statham had starred since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels], instead US romcoms in Spanish and with Spanish subtitles...

But!!!: we were driving through fields, fields and more fields. It started with foggy meadows in autumn and finally led to the high summer, parched corn fields I had sketched on the way to Temuco before. I took plenty of photos and some sketches. I am toying with an addition to the North German fields by some from Region Araucania and Maule. I think it's a fabulous plan and it will give me a start for when painting starts again on Saturday.

Here are some of the sketches and photos.

Campos / Freire
Colour samples, Fields between Villarica and Freire,
Pastel in sketchbook

Fields near Victoria
Fields near Victoria,
Graphite in sketchbook

Fields near Victoria
Fields near Victoria 2,
Graphite in sketchbook

Amidst the field excitement and the coach boredom, R. and I devised a little empirical research project: What do lorries transport along the Ruta 5? Easy question, easy methods: photo snapshots of every lorry we overtook for 1hrs or so; the methodology was flawed somewhat by (a) inattention at points when bad romcom was getting interesting; and (b) inability to press the button in time to capture load instead of empty road. Our findings:

+ one lorry with red grapes... v important and it shouldn't be left out.

Otherwise... multiply these 30 seconds x2 x60 x12:

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Sería Feliz...

... for some things I would be so lucky, for many things I am...

Tonight I will be for some sleep in my own bed, tomorrow it'll be Glasgow in spring mood with days that are already so long and light...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Postcard 10: and the new top of the list

Araucaria tree

It´s been difficult to beat Valle Elquí on my Top Days in Chile list, but yesterday just squeezed past it.

I am adding ancient beautiful forests to my top deciding factors for choosing holiday destinations in future.

Why? Have a look:

Parque Nacional Huerquehue. After 3 hrs steep uphill there we were in the middle of an ancient forest full of Araucaria trees and still lakes, noisy colourfull birds. And they all didn´t bother with our presence in the middle of them.

... and do ignore the bad whistling on the video... that´s no chucaos

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Postcard 9: our personal house mountain

Volcan Villarica, de Huerquehue
Volcáno Villarica, viewed from Huerquehue

Volcáno Villarica has been greeting us every time we look out of our window from Sunday onwards.

It is so clicheed that it yet has escaped my sketchbook, but photos are ok, I feel.

It´s rather beautiful, don´t you think so? It has a steady little plume of gases rising from its top; the town has a green line for evacuations in case of vulcanic emergencies, and it´s all very touristy. But thankfully, most of them are gone and once you´re out of town you have lakes with white and black beaches all to yourself.

... Sorry, no sketches today, I forgot to take photos of them...

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Postcard 8: and now into autumn

... as you may have noticed, it is Saturday evening and I have access to a computer again. Postcards are written, pictures are uploaded and we are sampling yet another very good Chilean red wine while the rest of Temuco is having a rather quiet fería for the Semana Santa.

After a brief stop in Santiago on Thursday night with two very nice people we met in the tiny boat on the Pacific while watching dolphins we drove some 1000 kms further south and suddenly we´re from desert heat in northern Germany or even South Sweden - plus some rather exotic plants, a few vulcanoes and the rather uninspiring Chilean cuisine which stays with us. R has been faithful to at least one empanada a day, I´ve abstaind from seafood for two days now (replaced with beef and plenty of avocado and tomato plus the current highlight: Merken, a very smokey very hot chili sauce which goes with everything and turns the blandest bread into something exciting... and, wow, can bread be bland).

So, I´ve made a couple of actual postcards on the bus journey south. They look surprisingly like the fields around my parent´s house, so I thought, some of my German friends may get them.

Sorry ;) (not really!)

South of Chillan
South of Chillán,
Pastel on handmade paper,
15x10cm each

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Postcard 7: Moonrise and Sunset

At the same time, a full moon was rising above the Cordillera and the sun was setting over the Pacific. It´s the full moon, and I was hoping for the Valley de la Luna, but this drive back from Punta Choros was just absolutely fabulous. How lucky are we!!!

Moon rise over the Cordillera

Sunset in the Pacific

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Postcard 6: Boats can be very small...

A boat and the Pacific

... and they may even disappear right in the middle of the Pacific. Like this one here. From one small boat to the other. And alongside us there were some dolphins, penguins, sea lions, cormorans, pelicans, eagles, picadors and assorted other wildlife (I think R thought she was in heaven, I was kind of more taken by the tiny boat in the middle of the ocean scenario... being the complete sucker that I am for big things likes stars, oceans, deserts and all that).

We drove to Punta Choros. Well: pretty much in the middle of nowhere, a small harbour at the end of a dirt track through the desert, somewhere of the Panamericana. Very cool! And excessively good fun, thanks to all of the above.

Punta Choros a Isla Choros
Punta Choros a Isla Choros,
Pastel on board, 35x25cm

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Postcard 4: ¡Digame que quieras, chica!

Y, la chica dijo: ¡Todos! Pero la cosa la mas importante es Saturno y sus círculos.

Que suerte erá ella: el solo planeto que puvemos ver ayer era saturno... con sus círculos. Y la luna. Una luna casí llena. ¡Que linda!



The observatory was on my wishlist. R was fantasising about the rings of Saturn, in the clearest night sky on earth: Elquí Valley. And, just below almost full moon, she got it. How lucky she was. Tomorrow it will be penguins and delphins for her.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Postcard 5: ¿El valle lo mas lindo de Chile?

¡Elquí Valle! ¡Claro!

... I think I´ll be slotting the days in as they happened, seeing that it is now Saturday and we are already 1000 kms further south.

So: Monday 6 April, we went to the Elquí Valley. Rura, rural, RURAL. Narrow, narrow, NARROW. The most fascinating contrast between densely cultivated vineyards and orchards on the valley´s bottom and the Cordilleras rising steep and bleak up to the sky.

Something like this:

Tres Cruces, Elquí Valle
Tres Cruces, Elquí Valle,
Pastel on board, 35x25cm

Pisco Elquí, Elquí Valle
Pisco Elquí, Elquí Valle,
Pastel on board, 35x25cm

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Postcard 3: Ruta 5

Ruta 5 Al Norte

Ruta 5 Al Norte - also known as the Panamericana. I am constantly in awe at the names of the stuff I see: this freezing cold water is not just any old ocean, no: it´s the Pacific. This stretch of road going up north with us sitting in the front under a glaring sun is not any old road but the Panamericana. So, over all this I forget that my stomach is still angry with me for all the seafood diet I enforced much to its dislike.

So, I thought, in addition to the Pacific, I am starting a new series. Imaginatively titled: Ruta 5.

Ruta 5 (2)
Ruta 5 (2), Los Vilos
Graphite in Sketchbook, 42x29cm

Have a few glimpses of its current state. I do need to make sure that we do reserve seats on the top floor in the front from now on though, otherwise the view would be different. Seeing that most of our next trips will go South from now on, that shouldn´t be too much of a problem (Yes: change in plan and programme, I figured that some green may be a good idea so it´ll be Lake District after our current stay in La Serena... Let me see if I can find a new Weather forecast thingy... Antofagasta, you have such a lovely name, but that won´t do it, this time. Only problem: South of Santiago, autumn has arrived, and e.g. Chiloé was covered by heavy rain and a lush 13 degrees. That is definitely too cold.

Ruta 5 (3)
Ruta 5 (3), Mincha Sur
Graphite in Sketchbook, 42x29cm
Ruta 5 (4)
Ruta 5 (3), 5/km264
Graphite in Sketchbook, 42x29cm

I think Torben will get this card... for the road... sorry, no street lights, but plenty of poor wiring :), and: I do know that this isn´t the kind of stuff you particularly like :)