Sunday, February 24, 2019

Gardens Week 1 - My new best friends

I can honestly say that I have hit the ground running with my Artist-in-Residency at the Botanic Gardens. I have been there every day and have done a sketch on location in charcoal. Obviously this involves sitting very still and being very quiet. And the wildlife have come up very close to check me out!

I don't know what sort of snake this is. Maybe someone can tell me? I could see about one metre of his body in the open.

This little guy was more persistent. I think he could smell the banana in my bag. He didn't get it though! Nothing would frighten him off, no matter how much I shuffled my feet.

There were dozens of these guys but they didn't come too close. Too busy scratching around.

I was happy to get a photo of four of these busy birds in the same shot.

And this rather well-fed guy was pretty good company in the City Gardens.

So these are all my new best friends! We will have to get used to each other.

I feel I am really being a witness to the Gardens and everything that is going on there.
To quote Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

"To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work"

I am being a witness from a space within my own imagination. I am also pursuing beauty and I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by it.

Robyn Bauer, charcoal drawing

I can chose a subject such as this textured trunk in on the Indigenous Plant Trail and while it is my main focus, everything around it opens up for me while I am sitting there.

Robyn Bauer Fig tree drawing

Most of the week I concentrated on Fig Trees and Australian plants while pondering possibilities of turning my responses into much larger and colourful paintings. Watch this space and these will eventually appear.

Robyn Bauer rainforest drawing

I chose a wider angle in this drawing and my main focus was the moving stream in the foreground. It was an extremely hot and humid day and hopefully that shows through too.

Robyn Bauer, tree drawing

This magnificent specimen is phaleria clerodendron which I spied in the Australian Plant Communities when taken on a guided tour by one of the head gardeners. It has tiny white flowers growing straight out of the trunk as you can see in the photo below.

phaleria clerodendron

I believe that because of the extreme heat we have experienced lately it is putting on a more elaborate show than usual. I used a range of ink dilutions to get the detail I needed in this drawing.

Robyn Bauer, Fig tree drawing

My final drawing for the week was another Fig tree, ficus sycomorus and it also has fruit growing straight out of its massive trunk. Quite thrilling to see and hard to believe unless you witness it.

I said in last week's blog that my reading was getting more scientific , but I haven't let go of poetry either.

Another quote from Mary Oliver -

"Let me keep my distance, always, from
those who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those
who say "Look" and laugh in
astonishment and bow their heads." 

Well I'm pretty astonished at what I am finding and it is only week one! I have 51 to go!

I plan to update this blog weekly.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

My Artist-in-Residency at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens 2019

I have started a very detailed daily diary about the project for the year ahead and I will share some of my thoughts here.
Naturally I have certain personal goals but the only thing that I can say with absolute certainty is that I hope at this stage to keep an open mind about where the project may lead. I can also say that I am really ready for this. Not only ready, but it is something I have been yearning for in my arts practice. Recent years have have had much narrower focus, but this is something with such possibilities for growth and expansion; for learning about the scientific side of things as well as the opportunity for my responses to my subject matter to rise to another level. A growth of the artist's spirit or essence. I could use the word "soul" or "anima". I hope you get the picture!

There has always been a wonderful relationship between art and botany. In real botanical illustration, the purpose is to show the different stages in the development of a plant; in bud, in blossom and in fruit. I have always loved such illustrations and have a whole library of books about them.

As far as my work is concerned the boundaries between botanical illustration, fine art painting and sketching on location, are something I intend to ignore. I am just going to work instinctively and respond to the place I am working.

My reading this year will be a lot more scientific than usual. I have steadily collected these books below over the last few years and the Mt Coot-tha Library is an excellent resource with extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff.

Hopefully the things I learn will inform my response to the Gardens, but I will never let go of my instinctive response. 
A quote from Rex Vicat Cole 1915 about drawing in nature -

" When we are with Nature all formulas and precepts must be left behind. If we go out to paint in a set manner we are conscious of ourselves rather than of nature: our practice will show that we are learned or ignorant, dextrous or clumsy, but but it will not show that which could have incited us to paint it"  

Here are a few drawings and sketchbook pages to get the blog rolling along.

Robyn Bauer sketchbook page, Gardens

There are so many aspects of the gardens to explore but so far I have always been drawn to the Australian Rainforest areas. Fig trees are a particular love of mine and I am looking forward to learning more about them. I will be observing the seasonal changes and the different stages in the fruiting cycle.

Robyn Bauer Sketchbook pages, Gardens

Finally a couple of charcoal drawings, one of which was done in the City Gardens. I will be varying my materials to suit the subjects and lets just see where it takes me!

Robyn Bauer Fig Tree Drawing

These drawings are done in charcoal on craft paper prepared with pastel primer. The one above is in the City Gardens and below at Mt Coot-tha.

Robyn Bauer Fig Tree Drawing