Julia Wakefield

The home page of Julia Wakefield, an independent artist that specialises in illustration and printmaking. Online gallery, recent news and purchase links.

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Social media experiment

Monday, August 24th, 2015

I am conducting an experiment. I have been told that if you feature a stupid cat video on your website your hits will increase tenfold. As this particular video has had 3 million hits already, I figure I am going to become a superstar overnight. Particularly when I relate that when I found it had been posted on Facebook by some outfit called Mansion, I immediately wondered if Mansion might be worth following, so went straight to their facebook page – only to find to my disappointment that there were no more stupid cat videos. You will, I’m afraid, be disappointed to hear that I’m not intending to post any more of these videos on my website in future – unless I happen to shoot them myself – the videos I mean. I’m just curious to see if the urban myth comes true.

SALA is here!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

This amazing mobile is a present from Japan - come and see me and I'll tell you all about it!

   This amazing mobile is a present from Japan – come and see me and I’ll tell you all about it!

SALA invitation general revised

Once again I’m opening my studio to the public in SALA month, this time it’s every Sunday and Monday until August 31. The Postcards for the Reef are my big feature this year – I have still only done half the number I originally planned to do, but it’s  enough to fill the studio.  I have plenty of greetings cards and postcards of the four favourites, the turtle, the octopus, the parrot fishes and the snubfin dolphins, but if you like any of the others I can order some with a turnaround of about a week.

I also have prints from two print exchanges I’ve taken part in this year; I have another print like the one I sent to Japan in response to a call for an exhibition of prints made on Awagami papers, plus there are plenty of mugs, tshirts and rabbit cards as usual. I’m open from 11-4pm, bring the dog and take him or her for a romp on the beach while you’re down here.

Plus I’m in a show at the City Library with the Bittondi Printmakers and some other very talented artists that opens on Friday July 31.

Bittondi SALA Invite

Day 15, a unique Australian dolphin that may not be around much longer

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

snubfin dolphin, watercolour

snubfin dolphin, watercolour

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I came across these guys. No, I haven’t seen them in the flesh, they are shy and hard to spot and there are none in captivity, and they only inhabit the northern coasts of Australia.  They were only discovered in 2005, and their slow breeding habits coupled with their preference for shallow waters near human habitation means they are at serious risk of becoming extinct. There is a big campaign to draw attention to their plight so I hope you’ll spread the word.

Day 14 – it’s the day before the solstice and I’m not yet halfway through!

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Psychedelic parrotfish, hand coloured relief solarplate played with in Photoshop

Psychedelic parrotfish, hand coloured relief solarplate played with in Photoshop

When I started this project I intended to have 30 pictures finished by the solstice, then I realised the folly of this deadline and extended it to June 30.  That means I HAVE to do one picture a day from now on. My main problem is that each new subject sets me off on a new trajectory – the colours and patterns and extraordinary capabilities of these reef creatures are setting challenges that I’ve never encountered before. I’m loving it – but it’s exhausting!

Day 14 evolved out of an experiment with relief solarplate. I thought I’d try to project the amazing colours of the parrotfish by printing a bright pink over a blue background, but it actually looked rather dull and lifeless until I had the idea of printing the pink on white Hosho paper and hand colouring it with Dr Martens inks.  I’ve had these inks for over 40 years and they are still as fresh as the day I bought them – if somewhat depleted. I then scanned the fish into Photoshop and they bred rapidly.  The blue background certainly enhances their psychedelic colours!

Days 8,9,10,11,12 and 13!

Friday, June 5th, 2015

I’m actually two days behind in this project but I’m not going to rush it – will just have to catch up at some stage.

The starfish was done entirely in Photoshop: it really has very long arms but I love the pattern on its body. The background is supposed to be the glowing coral.

Starfish close-up, digital image

Starfish close-up, digital image

If you think Day 9 looks like something out of a children’s story or a science fiction movie, that’s exactly how it appeared to me. These shrimps with attitude have a symbiotic relationship with sea urchins – and as you can see they are advancing greedily on the poisonous baby tentacles, which have no harmful effect on them.

Shrimps with Attitude, watercolour

Shrimps with Attitude, watercolour

Day 10 is the Harlequin Sweetlips, also known as the Clown or the Manyspotted Sweetlips. Do not confuse with the clown fish (Nemo) or the Harlequin Tuskfish (that’s the next one I’m doing). These two are possibly mother and daughter, father and son or mother and son or even father and daughter – the juveniles transform into very different adults.

Harlequin Sweetlips, adult and child

Harlequin Sweetlips, adult and child

I had great fun with this one. It’s a harlequin tuskfish swimming amongst a coral spawning. It started as a monoprint, then got transformed in Photoshop. This is the digital image and I won’t do any more to it. I haven’t printed it on watercolour paper yet but I intend to.

Harlequin Tuskfish, monoprint and digital image

Harlequin tTuskfish, monoprint and digital image

Well this is day 12 but I should be on day 14 by now! This creature, the Mimic Octopus, is a shape shifter extraordinaire. And it’s possibly the most intelligent marine creature in the world. In this picture it’s simply using its camouflage to blend into the background, but it can also imitate sea snakes, flounders, jellyfish and marine plants – as well as a host of other things.

a pair of Mimic Octopi, watercolour

a pair of Mimic Octopi, watercolour

This is what I want to do when I go to the Great Barrier Reef.  Unlike its cousin the stingray, manta rays don’t contain a barb, and have the largest brain to body ratio of any Elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates).  And despite its enormous size, it’s harmless to humans – that huge mouth eats plankton and fish larvae.

Manta rays and me

Manta rays and me

Day 7 – the Rabbits are fighting for the Reef too!

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

'Deep Sea Diva', relief solarplate with hand colouring

‘Deep Sea Diva’, relief solarplate with hand colouring

Of course the rabbits had to get in on the act. Even though I informed them that they were neither marine creatures nor endangered, they insisted on lending their celebrity status to the cause. They might not be quite in the same league as Tim Winton or Laura Wells, but I haven’t the heart to deny them a place in the postcards. I did wonder if their tableau was sufficiently ‘coral reefy’ but they pointed out the starfish and the jellyfish, which are both stock reef residents. And they had to get onto the Redbubble Tshirt as well.  Technique? Relief solarplate on Hosho paper – and the starfish and the mer-rabbit’s beads are hand coloured. Go to the Projects page if you’d like to order a postcard.

Days 4, 5 and 6 – and a new Projects Gallery

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Life got a bit hectic and I wasn’t sure if I’d get Days 4 and 5 finished, but Day 6 was a breeze.  Day 4 was a bit of practice on the new plastic engraving material I’ve been trying out. I printed a blue version on Hosho paper, then carved some more tentacles and printed black over the top – then added watercolour to the back of the paper to give a glowing effect. This is the tiny plankton stage of the Medusa jellyfish.

Day 4: Plankton stage, Medusa jellyfish. Plastic engraving limited edition print with watercolour

Day 4: Plankton stage, Medusa jellyfish. Plastic engraving limited edition print with watercolour

Then on Day 5 I found a linocut I’d done a while back and scanned it, printed it on watercolour paper and added some colour: that was quick and easy!

Day 5: Banggai Cardinalfish, linocut with hand colouring

Day 5: Banggai Cardinalfish, linocut with hand colouring

Day 6 was the most fun: I made a monoprint with the ink left over from Day 4, scanned it into Photoshop and played with it, then printed it on the watercolour paper and had more fun with watercolour wash! The paper wrinkled so it gives even more of an underwater feeling!

Day 6: Zebra shark, monotype scanned and enhanced in Photoshop, printed on Bockingford with added watercolour

Day 6: Zebra shark, monotype scanned and enhanced in Photoshop, printed on Bockingford with added watercolour

I’ve now started a gallery for all the images called the Projects Page, which you can access from the Home Page. It takes you directly to the Redbubble gallery – or you can order the postcards in batches of 10 from me via my contacts page.

Day 3 – a moody moray.

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Moray eel, etching scanned and printed digitally, enhanced with hand colouring

Moray eel, etching scanned and printed digitally, enhanced with hand colouring

Day 3 – it isn’t quite midnight and I’ve done my best with this one. It began as an etching which I’m quite pleased with, but I wanted to develop the image so I scanned it, printed it out again on watercolour paper and worked into it with watercolours and felt pens. I will do more to the etching eventually, but this is my postcard for the day. And yes – it’s a moray eel.

Days 1 and 2, Postcards for the Reef

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Well it’s now Day 2 and I have done two drawings/paintings, as I promised myself. When I did the the first one I suddenly realised the enormity of the task I’ve set myself: how will I manage to produce a drawing I’m really proud of every day, when each of these marine creatures presents a different set of challenges? I guess I shouldn’t have started with the wrasse, a highly colourful, intricately patterned fish with a distinct character – but I couldn’t resist it. By 10pm I decided I’d tried far too hard, and my husband’s comment was ‘it looks like a really sad fish’. Anyway, here it is, the Sad Fish:

'Sad Fish', Maori or Humphead Wrasse, also known as Napoleon Fish

‘Sad Fish’, Maori or Humphead Wrasse, also known as Napoleon Fish

In addition to having a reputation for being very affectionate to divers, the humphead wrasse is one of the few predators of toxic animals such as the sea hare Aplysia and Napolian Junior Ostraciidae and has even been reported preying on crown-of-thorns starfish.  So they are very useful in the ecology of our reef.  They are also apparently very tasty, but they are now protected because they are so easy to catch.

After studying the extraordinary patterns on this fish’s head, I now not only understand why it’s called the Maori fish – I also have no desire to eat it.  Those patterns on its flanks are also intriguing, and I’m sure I haven’t got it right. I need to go to the Reef and see one of these close up. I hope I will get the chance.

For Day 2 I’d already decided to simplify the task, but I still had a major challenge: as today was World Turtle Day, I naturally had to draw a turtle. For my own sake and for anyone who might be contemplating a similar challenge, I broke it down into stages:

Pencil drawing, made using a number of reference photos. I transferred this onto watercolour paper using carbon paper.

Pencil drawing, made using a number of reference photos. I transferred this onto watercolour paper using carbon paper.

I then applied masking fluid to all the patterned areas. Blue masking fluid is easier to see.

I then applied masking fluid to all the patterned areas. Blue masking fluid is easier to see.Next I decided to stretch the paper – this is Bockingford rough 250gsm, ok for quick sketches but needs to be stretched if you are layering washes.

Dip the paper in water, no need to soak, then secure it on all sides with wet gumstrip. Leave to dry in the sun, if there is any!

Dip the paper in water, no need to soak, then secure it on all sides with wet gumstrip. Leave to dry in the sun, if there is any!

First I apply water to the area surrounding the turtle,  then I drop a light blue wash (cerulean and phthalo blue mixed) into it. My board is on a slope, so the wash gradually drips down to the bottom. As I reach the bottom I add more water, diluting the wash even further.

First I apply water to the area surrounding the turtle, then I drop a light blue wash (cerulean and phthalo blue mixed) into it. My board is on a slope, so the wash gradually drips down to the bottom. As I reach the bottom I add more water, diluting the wash even further.

Now I tint the whole turtle in shade of green. The background wash is still damp so we have a few 'halos' - I like the accidental effect, but if a dark wash bleeds into a light wash you often get unpleasant 'cauliflowers'.

These are all the paints I've used so far: Cotman's cerulean, phthalo and ultramarine blue, and W & N Gamboge.

These are all the paints I’ve used so far: Cotman’s cerulean, phthalo and ultramarine blue, and W & N Gamboge.

For the next stage, I mix a dull purple from ultramarine and cadmium red, and paint it over the head and flippers. The masking fluid allows the paint to puddle in interesting ways.

For the next stage, I mix a dull purple from ultramarine and cadmium red, and paint it over the head and flippers. The masking fluid allows the paint to puddle in interesting ways.

Finally I erase the masking fluid and apply more of the dull purple, closing up the white lines. I add a duller green to the shell and wash out some of the dull purple, as it  needs to look battered and worn, like an old overcoat.

Finally I erase the masking fluid and apply more of the dull purple, closing up the white lines. I add a duller green to the shell made from gamboge and ultramarine blue, and wash out some of the dull purple, as it needs to look battered and worn, like an old overcoat.

Final stage: I darkened the background a little with phthalo blue and added a bit of texture at the bottom to suggest a shallow ocean floor. One happy turtle!

One more stage: I darkened the background a little with phthalo blue and added a bit of texture at the bottom to suggest a shallow ocean floor. One happy turtle!

These two pictures will go on my Redbubble page as the first of thirty pictures that I plan to complete by the Solstice on June 21. See my last blog entry for the details: all the pictures will be available as postcards and I will donate all profits from sales to the Fight for the Reef Fund.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Drawing a Line a Day for the Reef

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Sea Dragons, silk painting

Sea Dragons, silk painting

I’ve been meaning to start a series of pictures of marine life, a) because I love snorkelling and diving and would love to share the feelings I get when I’m underwater (no I’ve never seen a leafy sea dragon except in an aquarium, so this picture is purely imaginary) and b) because I feel we need to raise everyone’s awareness of how precious our oceans are, in order to finally turn around the disastrous effects of our unthinking pollution and predation of this vital resource.

Today I watched this video and decided enough is enough. We all have to do something to stop this madness, and show we support our most iconic marine treasure. Rather than sit back and watch the Reef crumble into oblivion at the whim of greedy commercial exploiters and irresponsible politicians, I am going to take the action I am most inclined and suited to: I am going to Draw for the Reef’s sake. Rather than sit hunched over the computer every day, signing petitions and posting worthy messages on Facebook, I am going to walk into my studio and draw one endangered marine creature every day from tomorrow until the solstice, which is June 21. That makes 30 creatures. 

Every creature I draw will be posted on this website and turned into a postcard.  The postcards will be available to buy direct from my Redbubble pages for $1.99 each (30% discount if you buy 16 or more), or if you order them direct from me I can send you up to 7 of each design for $12, postage free (up to 15 for $20, postage free). You’ll also be able to buy them as prints, tote bags, phone skins, cushions etc. etc. from Redbubble, and I will donate 20% of every sale (that’s all I receive from Redbubble) to the Fight for the Reef fund, and I urge you all to sign this petition as well as this one! and this one!

If you love drawing, painting or photographing marine creatures, why don’t you join me? You can post your pictures on this Facebook page, Postcards for the Reef, with a link to your website, so long as you pledge with me that any profit you make from the sale of your postcards or other merchandise goes to the Fight for the Reef fund. Let’s all help to save the Reef and protect all our Global Oceans! I’m serious! Enough is Enough is Enough!!

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