Friday, March 26, 2010

Rosalie Gascoigne - Icon painting

Considering Landscape
Acrylic, imitation gold leaf and collage on board
Each section 20x30cm

I have signed up for one more semester of a weekly painting class. This time we are 'imagining what if a medieval icon painter, Vincent van Gogh and Matisse came here - how might they depict the contemporary Australia?'
We first looked at icon paintings from Greece, Russia and elsewhere, especially noting the use of gold leaf, combination of simplified, flat depiction and often heavily modelled forms and drapery. Icon painters often begin with a red underpainting.
For our own effort, we were to think of a contemporary Australian icon - a thing or place such as Sydney Opera House, an activity eg. surfing, or anything else. I chose to depict Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999), an Australian/New Zealand sculptor who worked with found materials, particularly wooden drink crates, yellow and orange road signs, builders' used masonite boards, old sheets of corrugated tin, linoleum scraps and doll parts, to evoke the Australian landscape. She scoured local dumps (and sometimes traded beer with road workers) to collect her materials, being inspired by the landscape of the undulating Canberra region at the same time. Many of her images look like quilts eg All that Jazz and Off the Beaten Track.
This time we had to do a dyptich, carefully designing the composition. I am very hesitant about doing 'landscapes' but considering the genre through someone else's eyes was a good way in.The gold leaf is generally applied last and is very fragile and fiddly but I like the effect.
By chance, I found a book about Justin O'Brien, an Australian painter who lived for much of his life in Rome. He was inspired by icon paintings and painted a number of works which include landscape, interior and still life all in the one piece. There is a retrospective of his work at the Art Gallery of NSW in December.


annie said...

What an interesting class,Alison. I love the tryptich and the torn paper effect on the painting below this, and the arrangement of objects and the colors in this icon painting. As always, I am awed by what you and others know about composition anddesign--heavy work for me.

Thanks for the information about Rosalie Gascoigne and Justin O'Brien.

Hashi said...

Wow, this is pretty wonderful (as is Gascoigne's work)

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Fake gold, but is it expensive? A few friends here got into icon painting but they were imitating the old religious ones. It's good to move it on to something about Australia.

Delight not Fright said...

Ali you are fast becoming one of my favourite artists. I hope you post a lot more soon as I always check!

Alison said...

Wendy-The cost of the gold leaf depends on the number of sheets you buy in a packet - plus you need some special glue. It's best to share with others - the class shared and since, for these small pieces, we each only needed 2 - 4 sheets, total cost about $2.50. So not really expensive.

Claudia said...

Hello Alison, thank you so much for commenting on my blog again!- (But I have to admit that yesterday I was so silly that I used the "delete"button instead of the "publish"button when I wanted to publish your comment. I tried everything to reinstate it, but in vain...So I would be so glad if you please could return and write your last comment again; I will publish it at once!-
You did some fantastic painting ultimately which I hadn't seen because of my blog break. Keep up the good work and best wishes and happy painting!

Claudia said...

Hi Alison, thank you so much for returning to my blog and writing your comment again. This time I used the right button;-))

ElizT said...

What a great class.

Sarah said...

Hi Alison, I must have been asleep for the past two weeks as I've only just found your two new posts! I am also fascinated by icons and it's the memory of seeing them in churches in St Petersburg that I cannot separate from the candle-lit gloom broken by shafts of sunlight and the smell of incense and deep reverence. Have you thought of looking at any poetry as part of this project? I am thinking of the Blake Prize (about to be announced I think).