Saturday, March 30, 2019

Weeks 5 and 6 including Workshop 1.

Robyn Bauer Workshop

Finally some welcome rain! Unfortunately though it was the day of my first workshop in the gardens. I had several contingency plans for light rain, heavy rain or just spitting. Luckily for an hour or so it held off and we could draw outside.

My first workshop was entitled "The Body Language of Trees" and we worked with charcoal.

We started in the seminar room for the overall teaching component and then headed to the Australian rainforest area and Aboriginal trail. Here are a few pictures from the day.

Robyn Bauer Workshop

Robyn Bauer Workshop

Robyn Bauer Workshop

Robyn Bauer Workshop

Robyn Bauer Workshop

Apart from the teaching, I have spent several days in the Gardens drawing on location as usual.
I am still formulating ideas about how these observations will translate into much larger works. I have started a couple. But in the meantime, still drawing. Drawing is the basis of everything.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Week Four in the Gardens

Even though is is now Autumn, we had incredibly hot weather this week. I worked mostly in the studio apart from a couple of little forays outside to walk in the gardens.

Robyn Bauer- Lotus painting

I have taken hundreds of photos I can work from although I still want my work to have a quality of having been done on location. The magnificent lotus plants are growing in a raised pond just outside the admin and library complex at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. I wanted to capture both pods and flowers. I have finally moved to working on canvas after all the drawings I have done.

Robyn Bauer - costus barbatus

This brightly coloured flower is a type of ginger called costus barbatus and it really stands out against the more muted colours of the eucalyptus behind it. I am building these paintings up in layers and they are still works in progress.

I managed to get hold of these books about Australian landscape artist John Wolseley from the Mt Coot-tha library. Much of Wolseley's art has really been a search for a way of representing the uniqueness of Australian flora, fauna and the environment generally. They are visual meditations on the natural world. He seems to achieve a spiritual interaction with the landscape. (Aboriginal people have always done this) 
Many artists working in a western manner have never quite achieved this depth of response. The landscape has been painted, but there has been not so much focus on the flora and fauna except for natural history artists.

What I am aiming for is something that crosses these different traditions; Not a photographic representation or a collection of scientific observations,but something that takes from or blends different approaches. I am nowhere near achieving this yet but maybe after my year in the Gardens I'll have more of an idea. 

What I can say so far is that I want my work to show some visual clues as far as colours, shapes and a response to an object or place in the gardens. I have plenty of visual stimuli and my drawings have explored some textural observations. I am trying to find my own way.

There is also the excitement of process. As I've said before, I want even the studio work to have the immediacy of en plein air response.  The excitement of discovering something exotic to me will hopefully come across. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Week Three in the Gardens

I started the week off (Sunday afternoon) with a very long walk around the City Botanic Gardens and collected a bag of bits and pieces from the ground. (I have a special permit as Artist-in-residence to do this).

The first drawing of the week was done from examining these specials finds.

Robyn Bauer Botanical Drawing

These objects deteriorate very quickly and the colours fade. The red and yellow leaves were so vibrant when I picked them up, but after only one day they had changed colour.

Robyn Bauer Botanical Drawing

I know this one looks like a substantial departure from my usual work but it is something I have been wanting to do for a while. Firstly the collage using music manuscript and secondly the stencil cut-out idea. I had some fun with this. There is some quite detailed painting done over the top.

The music is relevant to me in several ways. I always have Classical music playing in the studio and also I find huge inspiration from how a classical piece is put together. Different lines or threads of various instruments to make a complete composition.  It is the sum of many parts.

Robyn Bauer Rainforest Painting

Now it is officially Autumn, the weather is cooling slightly in the mornings. A few mornings I arrived bright and early to get back to working on location which is my preferred modus operandi. I want all my work to have the feeling of having been done en plein air. There is a large of range of media employed and I enjoy the textural variations that result.

Robyn Bauer Waterlily Painting

I had really been yearning to get down to the Waterlily pond while the flowers are so magnificent but it's been too hot to sit there so far. One morning found some shade on the viewing platform. I took along some paper prepared with a swish of acrylic as a background to save time. I have drawn over it in quite a coptic manner, following the outlines of the lily pads. Water-soluble crayons used also.

Basically I have spent the week still exploring varying media and keeping everything fresh. I have some ideas for larger paintings crystallizing in my mind. Still not quite ready to start them yet. Having a rewarding time observing.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Week Two in the Gardens

Everything living has its own momentum. Seasons change, weather shifts and things gradually alter. They grow, develop and eventually decay. Each of these phases can interest me as an artist. Week two of my residency in the Gardens, I spent a lot more time just looking and thinking. The initial excitement of getting out there and drawing as much as I could in a week has been replaced by a quieter sense of things fermenting in my consciousness. I am looking deeper and closer and finding lots of tiny botanical treasures on the ground that I have brought back to the studio to examine in closer detail. I have done quite a lot of walking and have been to parts of the Gardens that I had never explored before.

Robyn Bauer Botanical Drawing

My subject matter this week has been various materials found in the Australian plant areas.  All of these "bits" I have discovered, are in various stages of decomposition. The shapes are what interest me the most. Such diversity and all found within the one week of February.

Robyn Bauer Botanical Drawing
This one above includes a large Bunya nut and one of its spiky leaves. Other berries and pods are in various stages of drying out.

Robyn Bauer Botanical Drawing

In some of these drawings I have traced around the leaves and used colour to indicate my delight at my discoveries. I am in a sense, interpreting what I find through the filter of myself. They are responses to the plants and to the settings in which I find them. There is quite a bit of fine detail and some of these objects are tiny, such as the white pods at top right.

Robyn Bauer Botanical Painting

I have used a colour overlapping effect that one finds in the Garden landscape, while at the same time giving each object its own space. I hope this makes sense to people reading this, because the real analogy is my life generally.  To really give this residency my best shot, I have attempted to make space in my own life to allow the response and creativity to happen. I have made a few sacrifices and given up a few other commitments to allow this to take place and I am happy to do so.

Robyn Bauer Botanical Drawing

The one above is mostly about the flowering stenocarpus sinuatus. There are a few other silhouettes of leaves behind the realistically painted ones. I can't resist a bit of pattern making as well.

Robyn Bauer Studio Shot

Finally a picture of my table where I am currently working. I have some botanical and Japanese prints as inspiration above the collected green paraphernalia.

I am fully aware that I am trying different approaches, media and techniques before I create some larger paintings where hopefully it will all come together. I am happy to share this journey and this process. I have never been more fully aware of the true value of process over results. I think that if I embrace the fact that I don't know where all this will lead, it will lead somewhere truly unexpected and worth arriving at!

See you next week.