I took this photo whilst walking in the bush below my house several weeks after bush fires went through. Australian native trees are remarkably resilient and can weather huge amounts of heat and burning. They will stand for a long while then gradually new growth will come through but it can take a severely scarred region up to 15 years to fully recover from a fierce fire. I expected our area to remain black, sooty and charred for at least a full 12 months before seeing any changes. However, after the rains I was amazed at how the surface charring sloughed off and underneath were some wonderful colours.
I started off by covering the whole paper with acrylic paint, then continued layering the paint in darker tones. I scratched into it with a toothpick to give a textural appearance. When this was dry I used a willow charcoal stick to rub the burnt areas in. I applied fixative and then later added the medium charcoal stick to define darker areas and a white charcoal pencil to add the white ash.
Having referred to my reference book on painting techniques of many great artists I decided to have another go at collage – Picasso has a piece called Still Life with Chair Caning (1912) which has a piece of oilcloth incorporated and it is very well documented in my book.
I started with an off-white fabric printed with crackle. This I glued to my paper background with small creases and bubbles to give a slightly uneven look. I covered some areas with acrylic paints and kept the paint very thick with no added water. I did one base covering fairly flatly before applying black crumpled tissue paper for the raised burnt bark areas. White gesso was heavily brushed on other areas and allowed to dry – this took a while as it was so thick.
The variations in the orange areas was then worked, along with black acrylic over some parts of the tissue. White acrylic paint was brushed over as a final touch. Some areas of white were heavily applied whilst others were lightly brushed over textural parts of the tissue.
The orange towards the base of the piece was especially interesting as I was able to use short flicking brushstrokes with very thick paint. This has given a very good textural surface.
Both pieces above are trimmed and mounted on off-white paper.
I think it’s fair to say that my drawing and painting skills leave a lot to be desired.
Top left: white Lumiere paint heavily diluted and with a touch of black ink to darken colour, applied to wet background. I dragged my fingers through the Lumiere and also let the water dribble to try to get the slight water movement. Lumiere and acrylic paint stippled on bottom corner to make gravel effect. Acrylic paint applied with finger to wet background on top corner. Thick acrylics for the shells – shame they look like scotch eggs!!!!!
Top right: water soluble crayons. Shells look marginally better, angle wrong and still flat looking.
Bottom right: Graphitint pencils applied dry. Decided to attempt cross-hatching to give the textural feel of the gravel. The shells are still not great but the angle is improved.