Starting a New Research Journey

I have been here before, so in the spirit of this Liminal space, I am quite curious as to where it will take me.

The next stage in my life is always unknown, and sometimes things cross my path and I feel that I need to participate. I am trying to recognise what really interests me, rather than trying to align with other peoples interests… this has been a lifetime challenge.

For me doing some research within my ceramics practice is unfinished business, for various reasons I have started a study before but did not complete, and this time I pledge to finish. So I will proceed carefully, as I have time, motivation and passionate interest in the topic I have chosen.

So when the FutureLearn course ‘Developing a Research Proposal’ popped up in my email, it piqued my interest, and this next series of blog posts in My Liminal Space, will be my reflections and writing as I move through this course.

There are a few pledges I will make before I even begin on this journey

1. PhD or MPhil or Research Masters… talking to potential supervisors to work this out.

2. Put aside morning time each day, at least one hour

3. Be confident …

4. Use the knowledge I have already

5. Keep the focus clear and reasonable.

So starting the course the first activity:

Where to I see myself in 5 years?

Hopefully with a research higher degree, I want to reignite my interest in philosophy, and research methodologies, and pursue my current interest in the narratives embedded in contemporary Australian ceramics.

I have already noted that I am not sure which sort of degree I will end up with, the only criteria in my mind is that it will be a research based qualification.

Having the right inks

I’ve been trying out monoprints using transfer printing, and not getting very satisfactory results with acrylic paint and extender. So feeling a bit frustrated, I bought some printing ink (there is water based inks now, very convenient and easy to manage), and fabric paint.

The results were fantastic. So much potential as I have have lots of ideas for where I want to take this.

I was really seeking the background and textures as well as the unpredictability of this print technique. So using my bird drawings and focussing on migratory birds, I’m really making progress at last.

Left is using printing ink on rice paper, right is fabric paint on cotton. I left the fabric paint a bit too long to dry so I didn’t get the background I was hoping for.

Below is my attempt using acrylic paint and extender, it dries out out quickly so half way through the drawing the image disappears. I will use this image and I can see potential with the disappearing bird (which is a strong message that this project is communicating), although the rice paper tends to stick to the plate as the paint dries.

Still drawing

We are over half way through a drawing a day project with a wonderful and inspiring group of artists. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to experiment and explore new techniques and ideas, and consolidate some older ideas. I have not ventured into figure drawing before as I thought it too daunting. However now I am exploring some artists whose work is less detailed, and really appeals to me I am quite addicted.

I still use digital drawing apps as they are so easy to use (once a few of the key tools are mastered). But I also like paint, brushes, and ink. Recently I’ve been using gouache, and loving its ability to cover and it’s matt finish.

Here are a couple of recent attempts using other artists to help me develop these techniques that are new to me. The first is in the style of Cezanne and the second is using inspiration from the wonderful Cathy Cullis with a hint of Matisse!

Looking through fresh eyes

Another walk amongst the mangroves with a view to finding a photograph to be the basis for a drawing. Looking around with a different focus meant that the photographs were quite different: essentially more close ups of mangroves. I want to combine text into this drawing so the explanatory boards are really helpful, although not sure what the text in my drawing will be yet.

The sun on the mangroves on a still day is really magical as the reflections are like glass. As I walked back over the footbridge, again I noticed mirror like reflections. All along the Noosa River these exquisite images in the water can be experienced, just by opening your eyes and spending some moment just ‘looking’.

Gaps between making vessels

I am not very good at finishing. I love finding new techniques and researching how to do them, maybe buy a book on them or Youtube, Skillshare, finding or buying the materials to start. Then I start and continue until the enthusiasm dies, or I realise I need a lifetime to master the skill.

But I lie, because I have been finishing the bird vessels and will take their photographs today for an exhibition and gallery. And therein lies the problem, because I have been so focussed on these that all other projects have been pushed to one side, for now.

I spent day with the wonderful painter Marvene Ash (and others) at the Kathleen McArthur reserve doing some Plein Air drawing and painting – so enjoyable and relaxing, and the image of the old paperbark tree was finished.

Paper Bark
At Kathleen McArthur park

So there is a time for finishing…. and starting…. and sometimes pulling up an idea from the back of the mind to rework on, and even make happen. And trying not to be too harsh on myself.

An example is my pledge to take and post 5 photographs a day, which I thought was a good idea at the time, but didn’t keep it up THEN. A few days ago I did take my camera to the river, and here are my offerings from that day. There are lots of pelicans at the moment, gulls flying (some seasonal visitors but I didn’t catch them) and the noisy, bickering rosellas are drunk on the nectar from the flowers on the eucalypts.


Close up!

I am really enjoying my extension tubes that allows me to get closer to my subjects. With the help of a tripod, high F and slow shutter I am really pleased with these results. They needed a bit of Photoshop tweaking as there were a few black dots. I am not sure where they come from, maybe dirty lenses.