Thursday, 11 July 2013

Watch the Yucca flower grow.

'Been too long since last put anything up, so here's a quick Inkling sketch I did this evening after watering the plants I couldn't resist sketching the amazing creamy white bell flower cluster on the Yucca. There's a couple of them and the sketch only shows a portion of what's there.

Watch the drawing grow from the Inkling Sketch Manager - unfortunately it always shows a grid background and doesn't output video so I used Snapz-Pro to 'grab' it.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Enter Bainbridge Open 2013 with 3 monoprints

I found out about the Bainbridge Open 2013 printmaking event through Ian Brown at Volcanic Editions and thought it might be too late to make an entry.

Looking back over a batch of some of my recent monoprints I decided to select three and give it a go so here they are.

These three seemed to work nicely together for their quirky abstract/graphic quality. I'd forgotten just how many monoprints I'd been doing and having been concentrating on other things lately it was refreshing to look back at them. There are several hand coloured ones too which work individually or as sets.

All my monoprints are created plein-air, on the spot, from observation. I carry a set of inked glass plates  in the panniers of my bike and ride out to find views. It's a messy process scaping and wiping off the ink and putting th eplates back into the carrying box I made then riding back and printing by hand burnishing on to damp paper. The direct response achieved this way always makes for exciting images that capture the feeling of standing out in the (often cold) country side in wind and drizzle scratching away.

I hope Bainbridge select them but even if they don't I've certainly got enough prints in various categories to stage an exhibition of monoprints. I ought to get them all scanned in and into an online gallery at least!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Solar Plate Etching at Volcanic Editions

After meeting Ian Brown at InkSpot Press I booked up for one of his courses to learn how Solar Plate Etching works. I've seen a lot of artists in California using photo-polymer plates for (usually heavily embossed) relief printmaking but was struggling to find out exactly how the process works. This, I think is the same process but used for intaglio printing.

On a sunny Saturday morning I headed down to Brighton, to Ian's wonderful purpose made studio where I was warmly greeted by Ian and 3 other students. The process itself is quite straight forward - An original is prepared on a transparent support - plastic trace film in our case. The photo polymer plate is a thin steel plate with a photosensitive emulsion on one side. Placing the artwork/film against the emulsion side of the plate it is then exposed to either sunlight or a UV source - which hardens the clear areas - so that when you wash the plate in tepid (25-30º) water for a couple of minutes, the unexposed parts of the emulsion wash away creating the intaglio plate. The whole plate is then hardened in sunlight before being ready for inking, wiping and printing in a more conventional etching technique.

The three plates I made where rough and ready images I had to make quickly with what ever was at hand just to test the process.

Why the stamp image?

Well there's a story! I had posted a cheque as requested when I booked the course. Ian didn't receive it so I cancelled the cheque and paid by BACs. Turns out the cheque then later turned up with £1.48 to pay as I'd embarrasingly managed to use a 2p stamp instead of a 2nd class one...... oops!

 The plate making technique is very exciting as it opens up some several creative possibilities mixing techniques to create the transparent original and bing able to vary the plate making exposures or even create several plates along the way to capture the image process at different stages.

The down side for and intaglio process is that you need access to an etching press to print where as if I can use it as a relief process I could print by burnishing or on the Adana. So there's more work to do.

So it was a great course. A good days learning. Good company and hopefully a doorway to future printmaking.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Snowdrops in snowy March

The last few weeks we've had the most beautiful morning and evening landscapes with and without snow. The light's been lovely accentuating the muted winter colours. Low laying mists have given that japanese woodcut look with trees vignetting out of the hills.
Shame I've been too busy going to and from work to have any time to stop and take it in!

A while back I did a quick sketch of some snowdrops in the front garden - I've had half an idea to do a series of simple plant prints throughout the year, so this might be a start.

Here's a very simple linocut I've just done a quick print from. I'm going to try one on coloured paper maybe with white paper under the flowers. We'll see.

Better sketch the daffodils soon before they disappear...

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Portait Painting at Tosetti's

Today I attended Gilly Lovegrove's one day self portraiture workshop at Tosetti's in Tunbridge Wells. The event was a chance sighting I made last week on their website whilst thinking of all things printmaking and it struck a chord with me as I had always loved portrait painting but haven't done any for 30-odd years (other than at life drawing classes) so booked to join in to see how it would go.

I arrived at the cold shop with hot coffee and was warmly welcomed by Daisy who directed me up to the studio. There were three other participants and Gilly started with introductions and our views of artists and their paintings. We chose easels and stuck small mirrors on the wall so that we could face our drawings and turn to observe the mirror.

We started with charcoal drawing, plotting out proportions and alignments. Gilly came 'round and pointed out things we should be aware of or had wrong and encouraged us to observe closely and correct as much as we needed to try and obtain good positions. Easier than it might sound. Sometimes it seems the more intently you look at something the easier it is to delude yourself you've 'got it right' - until someone else asks you to question a proportion and you look again and realise what you've chosen to miss! So that was the main lesson - to look objectively at your own progress, be self critical and not to be afraid of making wholesale changes until you are happy with what you see.

So the drawing went fairly well as a study to work from. Then we stopped and had a talk about painting. The idea was to break it down in to three tones and to start with the darkest. Drawing out the head on to the canvas was great. Having spent a couple of hours resolving the pose on paper drawing it on canvas board with a brush was straight forward. But as soon as I started blocking in colour was when I became uncomfortable. I don't enjoy working with acrylics (and I realise this is my weakness not the paint's) and I always struggle with mixing a colour I'm happy with (which is one of the reasons I took the course) but basically the same rules apply as drawing. It should all be about observing and placing things as you see them. The light in the room made it difficult (for me) to determine what was dark and what was mid-tone. Also I struggled with blocking in colour as when you observe skin almost every 'patch' seems to be a slight different colour and there's always that struggle between the local colour which you know something is and the 'real' colour with the effect of shade and reflections.

This colour observation and mixing pigments to match is where I really need to gain experience. I was getting quite disheartened at my appalling attempts. I seemed to be constantly destroying one set of information with another. It started improving slightly towards the end of the session but if I continue the portrait it will be to paint straight over it with much more considered palette - and as I'll physically be in different surrounding it will all be different anyway!

Gilly's course was great. My painting was rubbish but I feel as though I learnt a lot from the experience which hopefully I can develop by myself now.

On the bright side it looked like one hell of a suntan!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

InkSpot Press Morning

This morning I had a 'working' visit to InkSpot Press to join Amy's Woodcut and Lino morning session and to grapple with her monstrous hydraulic press! Before I got started Ian Brown from Volcanic Editions came by and we had a chat about solar plate etching which I hope to follow up later with one of his initiation courses. Then John Packer of Brighton Letterpress came to do some work in his letterpress corner and we had a typo-geek conversation. It's nice to meet someone so knowledgable and well connected in letterpress. After all the chatting Amy gave me some guidance as she showed me some of the other things going on in the studio and I soon had an inky apron and fingers and I rolled up the ink for my first proofs.

I hadn't been too sure about what to try to do but had prepared some damp printing paper to compare the difference between using dry and damp paper on the press. I had brought some (cheap) Bockingford NOT 90lb to experiment with - probably a bit too rough as it tuned out - which meant the damp paper printed much better than the dry, but to be fair I hadn't got used to the press set up and without supporting blocks the pressure was slightly uneven. Later we used a spare block to even out the pressure and the results were much better.

On the drying rack were some beautiful prints by Liz Toole which Amy explained had been done using the chine-collé technique. I wrongly thought the technique was done by over-printing a collage but it's actually done by applying tissue to the inked block with a glued surface face up, so that when the print is taken the tissue gets pressed - and therefore glued - on to the paper. My imagination was fired by the possibilities of the technique which Amy later got me to try on one of my linos - see below. I also printed a couple of old blocks I had knocking around that I'd never taken decent prints of.

As I was clearing up Lez Toole came in to do some printing which was wonderful to see her professional approach and the resulting print quality.

All in all it was a great few hours that I think I took a lot away with me although I didn't really do any great prints myself, I now know better what I need to do to get the results I want and have been inspired by the people I met to a few new directions. So well worth it! (Thank you all).

Sadly I didn't take any photos in InkSpot - should have done - may be another time...

Thursday, 21 February 2013

'Working at Home' Initial proof

Far too cold tonight to do any printing in the shed so for the first time I grabbed a couple of roller and my water-based ink and did a couple of prints in the house. No smell. No mess. Ideal way to proof in progress.

It's a deliberately loose lino print of the concentrated insular world of designer working from home. The scene is of the designer tight and controlled through the unrestricted eyes of the artist - in this case the mind's eye. The lettering is just as-it-comes with no attempt to make it precise or correct (as I would be designing on screen).

For me the joy of lino cuts is the crude almost medieval quality that throws the idea in your face. Much as I appreciate printmakers that do very controlled and technically clinical work, I've always responded to the more direct approach. If I wanted precise shapes without random edges caused by the process of cutting a rough material with a crude cutting tool then I'd do it in software on the computer!

So here's the print in progress, just a bit of cleaning up to do and then it's ready...