AS A CHILD, Gold Coast-based artist Annette Raff would draw to keep herself entertained, tossing each drawing aside as the fun was in the ‘doing’ rather than the finished piece. “My parents joke that I drew before I walked,” she says.
That said, Annette’s pathway to becoming an artist hasn’t been entirely streamlined. She began as a stenographer and secretary before studying and working as a graphic designer. It wasn’t until she started a family that she was able to spend time at home developing her fine art practice, at which point she began teaching regular art classes. She has since completed a Bachelor of Fine Art and intends to focus on developing her practice and exhibiting her work while continuing to tutor. Appropriately, this path mirrors Annette’s approach to artmaking. Her pieces come together as beautifully mismatched amalgams of her experiences and techniques.
“I use pretty much anything that makes a mark,” Annette explains, which includes acrylic, watercolour, ink, oil paint, collages and graphite on various papers, monotype, other hand printing techniques – sometimes even cut and paste techniques with Photoshop. “At first view, my two-dimensional mixed media paintings could be described as kinds of exploding organisms.”
The experiences that shape these exploding organisms come, quite simply, from the world at large – “the shapes and textures in my surroundings, and organic, plant and geomorphic fragments can be seen in my work.”
Annette’s process usually begins with research and sketching, which generally involves reading philosophical articles and biographies on other artists and their practices. The artist also observes and draws intricate organic matter and vegetation during these preliminary stages, and uses these prepared drawings, paintings and textures to produce layers within the finished pieces. After a process of deconstruction and reconstruction, Annette will sometimes scan her work and reassemble it using Photoshop.
Most recently, Raff has been working on a collection of pieces that she describes as “painted, collaged, explosive arrangements”.
“These works were born of frustration,” the artist explains. “I began cutting, tearing and piecing together from what I felt were my unsuccessful pieces, playing with new arrangements and seeing how I could push my paintings further.”