Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm working on painting enlarged versions of two of the tiny pieces I sent to Australia, Stalk and Invasive. They sold quickly, which was awesome, but meant I didn't have time to get tired of having them around.


Invasive, 6"x9"


 Stalk, 6"x9"


Before I spend a month executing each piece, I wanted to make sure I was going to be pleased with the impact of the final size--I also wanted to take a stab at working out color formulas. Both purposes were served by making a to-scale, brushy draft, which I did for both pieces.
 



I've gotten a good start these last couple of weeks on the large final version of Stalk. The piece is staged on the banks of Rotten Lake, at the Calperum Research Station in NSW. While there's a large figure dominating the scene, the real protagonists of this piece, I think, are the plants. So I'm invested in infusing the landscape with life and energy. Below are a few details of its development. Following the images, I've transcribed a brief passage from the AU field studies journal describing my first impressions of the site.











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The dry, good-natured station ranger (“yeah, these types like Rotten Lake, it’s artsy-fartsy”), led the caravan, while Jn followed in the second vehicle. We blazed down the packed dirt road away from Renmark, took a right down a softer dirt road, stopped to open a gate, then screamed back into full throttle again.

“All these guys drive like a bat out of hell,” Jn said, and I grinned and took note; coming from Jn that was something.

We zigzagged and backtracked for miles down seemingly identical dirt tracks until I was well and truly disoriented, and then we left anything I would have called a road at all—though occasionally it was discernible that there were two parallel paths that wheels had caused at one point—and mowed over bushes, grasses, even small trees taller than the vehicles. It was easy to lose sight of Gt only twenty feet ahead, but not hard to follow him by the thrashed branches. At last we came to a meadow, where the growth—mainly the purple-flowered succulents I’d noticed before—was low enough that we once again were able to pick up speed, and both vehicles flew in a straight line towards the lake, not even pretending to follow any semblance of a route at this point. I could hear Fk laughing and gasping from the front seat: “I thought we were supposed to care for the environment.”

We pulled up alongside each other and, like the plant life, stopped short on the edge of blindingly bright salt/sand. The lake—such as it was, low and stranded in the middle of the drying bed—spread before us in the late afternoon light, reflecting the changing colors of the sky, dramatic white clouds, and a rainbow completed the scene. Very pretty, truly. Rotten seemed an unfair name.

It was incredibly photogenic, and I went wandering and snapping, picking around the mummified bodies of scorpions and tiny frogs. First I tried to walk across the lake bed towards the water—but had only gone four or five steps in before my boots were sunk up to the laces. The tracks I left behind were dramatic, a centimeter of white crust giving way to black muck with each step. I began to understand...

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