Halo Sci-arters

I have been here in Madang for a few weeks now and wanted to send in a quick report on my painting adventures with marine expedition in equatorial tropics of PNG.
It turned out to be not so much field work but 'lab' work, to the point where we are called the 'lab captives'. The schedule is grueling, these scientists never stop ! 15 hour days with 3 meal breaks 6-7 days a week for 6 weeks. Dive teams go out 3 times a day, technicians sort the catch then process them, it is a well running machine.

Painting... I found this humidity difficult for water colours, Geoff you said you did not have trouble so clearly you are a better painter than me. My attempts at washes applied one on top of the other, even with drying time tho in the one sitting, just ended up muddy with no clarity or definition. I tried a technique with a fine hard pencil and simple single washes worked nicely, tho the works are not the classic full colour painting style I am used to. It would be a great technique if I was more on the run/out in the field.  After a week of trying to settle in to the new surrounds and climate (it is super hot and sticky, I sit still while painting but I am dripping with sweat, everything sticks to me and finally I succumbed to working with a serviette stuck to my painting forearm) I finally settled for the dry brush technique I usually use on my vellum paintings. My very small brush is very dry with very pale colour, I apply it as if I was sketching with a pencil, using hatching or circular motions to build up the intensity of colour..... yes very slow but gets the detail I need.  Here I have only used 100% cotton Arches watercolour paper. I have sketched in a Moleskine sketch pad, very nice for graphite but not good for water colour, water colour pencils worked ok on this paper. I was not sure of what the conditions and program was going to be like, so I brought several different materials with me, keeping in mind my luggage limit. Turns out I have favoured the w/c paper .... of which I am now running low on !

I am only painting the information I need in order to reproduce a final work once back home in low humidity Melbourne. My attached pics of 'field sketch' is not the typical field sketch as they were done with plenty of time in the well equipped 'lab'.
Many crabs to begin with and then some deep sea fish for interesting relief. I have not painted many molluscs as the top quality photographers here do an impressive job with those. I am really only working on live or fresh dead specimens that may spoil or change in alcohol. I chose some very small creatures to represent as on the main they are not seen or appreciated for their beauty. My orange-jelly crab has only 2mm carapace width. I do not paint anything that is a repeat, ie symmetrical, as it is time consuming and I will finish off back home. The fish are not in this category and so are mostly finished works.

I wanted to thank all who helped me prepare painting ideas for working in the tropics last month.
PNG is an intriguing country. Even in safe Madang there has been several hostile and violent encounters with the local people, generally thru a misunderstanding of our purpose here. A few health concerns with one Malaria case and a Stone fish sting along with other usual tropical infections and such.
The blue water lagoons, coconut palms and sago palm huts are the stuff of dreams ! (the 'lab captives' have Sunday's off for these adventures out)

lukim yu bihain, tenk yu gen
............ Mali
I have more pics of work and environs if anyone is interested, let me know

Mali Moir
Botanical, Scientific & Natural History Artist
Melbourne Australia
Tel: 0422 575 034


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