July 22 2020: Part 2—networking

1000 days ago, before committing to resolve some of the ideas and images that swirled around my practice, I struggled to find clarity of direction.

My practice is diverse. I can’t say that I love the media areas that I work in equally. I adore knitting. I have a great affection for digital media. I tolerate painting and drawing and their derivatives because I can make original and immediate marks using brushes, pens and pencils.

No, that’s not quite true and ‘tolerate’ isn’t the right word because once I get stuck in I love painting and drawing. It’s just hard to get started. There’s more to be said about that in future posts I think.

There are significant moments in the last 1000 days that are worth reflecting on and they all relate to finding ways for the parts of my practice to talk to each other. A couple of years ago I wrote about this on toomanypies.com in a post about Instagram.

Instagram is good for capturing on-the-run images that support my process. In this space my little pies can ‘talk to each other’.

They can talk colour ‘whoa! same, same’ or ‘wow! you’re very different…’ or ‘do you really think you have to be purple?’

They can talk texture and form ‘you’re a five-petalled flower too!’ or ‘what does it feel like to be a fabric design?’ or ‘let’s talk mathematically’

They can talk together about the world and imagination and struggle and influence and serendipity.

Components of my work have been networking and are building relationships. Here’s a snapshot of moments of significance in that process over the last 1000 days.

Fibre forms

I’ve been working on colourwork, lace patterning and layered patterning, and more organic forming when knitting. I now claim to be an ‘intermediate’ knitter, and am building expertise to create original forms and more complex patterns. There are some great free apps where I can create graphs of my own photographs and paintings which are knittable, and manipulate kumihimo braid patterns to better express an idea in a functional object. There is an increasingly closer relationship between my knitting and my art. A friend and colleague saw landscapes in my knitted work and inspired me to move in that direction.

Mixed media work

I’m a bit excited about some techniques I’ve developed in this area. My ‘talisman’ works are developed in processes that move backwards and forwards between the computer and the easel. The bowls in this series are ‘found’ public domain images of ancient and antique ceramic bowls, which are then manipulated digitally in texture, patina and form. The objects in the bowls are digitally created or manipulated, or drawn first. The composition is also created on computer and changed and added to as I work at the easel. Drawn and printed images that make up the composition are assembled on board.

I have developed a method for putting the elements together that includes scraping and thinning the paper, using gel medium as adhesive, using gesso and sanding in layers to provide a good surface for further painted and drawn elements. As I work at the easel I continue to manipulate the image digitally, usually adding shadows, reflections and highlights. I guess some would ask me why I don’t just draw or paint the image without all the other palaver. I would answer that doing it this way allows the conversation between media, tools and processes and the resulting image always shifts from the original intent. It’s like doing lots of studies prior to a finished work but using digital tools in the mix.

Exploration of the elements of nature

I’ve been testing the water here, haha pun intended. I’ve always been interested in the symbolism of the elements—both eastern and western interpretations. Over the last 1000 days I’ve allowed myself to play with still and moving water, clouds and mists, and stone and metal surfaces and objects. The conversations between media in this space are still whispers but I sense there is a strong connection growing.

Part 3 of this little exposition is about what I’m working on now and where I’m heading. I feel a new commitment to a deadline coming!


PL💚 NTS Exhibition*

* The exhibition was postponed due to Covid-19 but will open to the public Saturday 25 July ending Sunday 2 August. Open daily from 10AM-4PM.


Three of my digital collage artworks have been selected for display in the Lion Gate Lodge, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, as part of the PL💚 NTS exhibition in March/April 2020.

Artwork by Neha Gupte @theblckpen

The theme of the exhibition is our love of plants and the essential role they play in our lives.

Plants give us life. They make our air, our food, our clothes and our homes. Without them life would cease to exist. The Royal Botanic Garden is a living collection of thousands of plants in Sydney’s CBD. This oasis is the city’s lungs, the green heart of Sydney and Australia’s oldest scientific institution.

PL❤NTS is a brand new exhibition in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, brought to you by Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens. For this exhibition, we are shining a spotlight on the incredible diversity of plants living here and around the world. And we’re also telling the story of their friends: the many pollinators that disperse seeds and keep the Gardens humming.

Excerpt from https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/whatson/plantswithaheart

My happy publicity shot for the exhibition

My small garden is a place of rest and a source for personal and artistic growth. My recent works explore aspects of my garden and its place personally, globally and historically.

The three works that will be hung in the PL💚 NTS exhibition further develop my garden imagery in the traditions of Trompe l’oeil and Baroque still life painting. These digital constructions incorporate personal symbols in new narratives about what I wish for the world.

Idyll  39cm x 50cm Digital on paper

Prosperity  39cm x 50cm Digital on paper

Sanctuary  39cm x 50cm Digital on paper